Some questions of direction post Brexit

In The Culture Wars, James Davison Hunter talks about how the liberal left lost control of large swathes of the working class vote in the US during the early 1980s. At that time, when African-Americans started to move into their jobs and suburbs and economic conditions left them fearing for themselves, growing working-class racism was met by tut-tutting from liberals, who told them off for it. While the liberals were right and the incursion of African-Americans into this traditional white space was not a bad thing, while racism is bad and should be condemned, there was also no attempt to try to understand the fears of the people and the causes of the racism. Powerless working class people saw their economic conditions being eroded and blamed the most visible, obvious culprit – even if that culprit was completely wrong. In turn, being called a racist and told off by those who are economically and educationally better off than you is a sure-fire way to make you turn away from, and in turn, condemn those “elites” as not understanding you, as looking down at you. And thus, the voters who had once been the mainstay of the Democrat Party drifted away to the right, to populism, to politicians who, while part of the elite who made their social conditions worse, didn’t tell them off but instead embraced their attitudes covertly or overtly, encouraging them and strengthening them.

In Paradise Postponed, John Mortimer writes of the essentially conservatism of the working classes of industrial Britain, the hiding behind “net curtains”, the fear of change. Leading into the Thatcher years, there is a demonstration of the way that, even when it is not in their best interests, the working classes can end up voting for that which protects them from what they fear, rather than what they should be afraid of. The odious Titmuss, conservative MP, is a product of these working classes, of their aspiration and their fear.

As we think about the Brexit vote from the perspective of the left, and as we look at the hate around the world of immigrants and the rise of the radical right, perhaps we need to think again about how we talk about these issues. As anyone who has ever had a fight on Twitter knows, you don’t convince anyone by telling them that they are racist/sexist/homophobic – in fact these responses are sometimes counter-productive. While I don’t think the answer is to tolerate or accept these attitudes or beliefs, perhaps there is a way through. The voting patterns for Brexit tell a story – younger people who are the products of an education system which educates people about acceptance and diversity, younger people whose perspective has become global, are clearly less likely think about politics reactively. It is difficult to know how to connect with those who are older and those who are fearful, particularly when disinformation has become truth in political campaigns. Do we abandon the struggle and focus instead of the young, hoping that reactionary conservatism will wither away as the fearful die. Or do we seek to find new ways to connect. How do we oppose racism and other hatreds without engaging in scolding which further alienates those with whom we should be connecting? There are practical, thoughtful questions we need to ask ourselves if we want to continue the project of making the world a better place for everyone.

This should be Eddie’s apology…

In a week when a woman was murdered while doing her job for doing her job; in a week the AFL has chosen to highlight the scourge of domestic violence against women, violence which has seen at least 30 women murdered in Australia this year; in a week where the AFL has finally announced the beginning of a women’s league; I really should have known better.

I should have realised that joking about killing a woman I dislike for the way she does her job is wrong. Not only wrong but deeply offensive. Not only offensive but a form of violence itself. A form of violence calculated to keep women from speaking out, from joining in, from doing their jobs without fear of retribution. I should have understood that these words help to entrench and reinforce the barriers to women who are knowledgable and interested in participating in the wider AFL community. 

I should have understood that all the women who so passionately celebrated the beginning of formal women’s participation in the sport now feel hurt and betrayed. That hearing this kind of thing makes them again understand that they aren’t part of the boy’s club which dominates AFL.

I should have realised that casually joking about violence against women is part of the pattern which makes men who see me and my mates as idols believe that there is nothing wrong with it. That it is acceptable to hurt women when they displease us. That this is exactly the culture that leads to the proliferation of violence and hate towards women.

I should have known that as a prominent man, what I say will be vigorously and even threateningly defended by other men when women say how it hurts, upsets and scares them, and I should have known to stop.

As a grown adult man, I should know that “joking” about violence against anyone is unacceptable and that “joking” about violence against a specific women is completely appalling.

I am profoundly sorry. I have thought about what I have said and I understand how it is upsetting to women. I understand how it encourages a culture of violence. I know that it is not an acceptable way to speak or behave. 

I deeply regret that I said it. Violence against women is not acceptable, joking about it isn’t funny. 


I regret it if what I said offended anyone and I am sorry they took offence.

100 sci fi women #87: Louise Kavanagh

Louise Kavanagh The Night’s Dawn Trilogy Peter Hamilton

Louise grows up a privileged, protected daughter of an estate owner, expected to marry to further the family’s ambitions on a planet which has enshrined a pastoral, class-based society. But Louise, a smart and beautiful young woman, has already felt the first chafing against these restrictions. As events over take her and her lifestyle, she shows that she is resourceful, tough and willing to risk herself to protect her sister. Louise discovers that she needs to make her own choices – about love and morality, about risks and dangers – and that she is not defined by her parents’ expectations. She is incredibly loyal to those who support her, and puts herself in danger to protect them – or makes sure that she does not hurt their feelings. Louise was full of intelligence and bravery and loyalty before her world fell into crisis, but she was not allowed to show it. So when the chance came, she went on to help save humanity.

Louise, I’m begging you. they’ll catch you. You’ll be tortured.

Not for long. After all,  we’re all going to be slaughtered.

100 sci fi women #86: Casey Newton

Disney's TOMORROWLAND Casey (Britt Robertson) Ph: Kimberley French ©Disney 2015

Casey Newton is resourceful, smart, determined and idealistic. She is willing to break the rules for a good purpose, especially if it involves keeping her dad in a job. She is a nascent scientist and inventor: she devises ingenious approaches to trying to stop NASA decommissioning a launch site – both to protect her father but also because she believes in a future of discovery and invention which is embodied by space travel.  She is willing to take a journey on the basis of a glimpse of an exciting future full of scientific discovery and human endeavour. But Casey isn’t just a dreamer; she can protect herself in a fight and is brave in the face of killer robots and other unexpected dangers. But most of all her idealism, and her intelligence, are enough to ensure that the world is saved, and that a better future is built, which supports dreamers and inventors like her to blossom and continue to save the world.

Dad: Why do you love the stars so much, Casey?
Casey Newton: Because I wanna go there.
Dad: But it’s so far away.
Jenny Newton: It’ll take a long time. A real long time. What if you get all the way up there and there’s nothing?
Young Casey Newton: What if there’s *everything*?

7 Songs in 7 (ish) days: Come As You Are Nirvana

4 of 7

The other part of musical life at university was the discovery and growing love of seeing bands and wearing flannel and Docs and being grunge. Possibly the culmination of this was spending a summer floating around in the pool at Allen Grove reading a book and listening to Nevermind on repeat (meant I didn’t need to get out of the pool). Of course, I late had a moment of great shame when i didn’t realise I was on the same plane with the band when they toured sometime later until it was nearly too late.


7 Songs in 7 Days: Duran Duran Careless Memories

As a teenager music was very important to me and Duran Duran was everything. I slept under the giant poster, I cut up magazines and stuck them to my school books and folders, we debated who was our favourite (mine was Simon) and I saved up to buy their cassettes and singles and albums and everything. Duran Duran was the first concert I went to. I was entranced by the glamour of the videos for Rio, I loved the weirdness of the lyrics from Seven and the Ragged Tiger and while there were many bands I loved during the 1980s, none came close to Duran Duran. The best thing though is to find how much I still enjoy listening to their music, how much I shouted lyrics like a teenager when I saw them play again a couple of years ago, and that Simon still looks hot with a microphone in his hand.

7 Songs in & Days: Racey “Some Girls”

Here is Some Girls by Racey from the album Smash and Grab – the first album I ever purchased. Seventies pop at its finest, demonstrating some of the movement into synth that would dominate the 1980s. Nowadays there is a lot of other 1970s music I would listen to well before Racey, but to a ten year old with dollars to burn, Smash and Grab was the best. They were really my One Direction.

100 sci fi women #85: Nadia Cherneshevsky

Nadezhda Francine Cherneshevsky Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars Kim Stanley Robinson

Nadia is not the most glamourous of the women who make up the First 100 on Mars.  She is a practical woman, a calm woman, someone who gets on and does. In the early days of colonisation of Mars she is described as “the universal solvent” and she remains this throughout, quietly and industriously working to bring people together. Trained working on power stations in Siberia, Nadia loves to build, to create, to solve problems. While she would rather be driving a bulldozer, she comes to build other things as well – a constitution, a political coalition, a government and even a family. Describing herself of sturdy, Russian peasant stock, she does not see herself as beautiful, but others around her find her beauty and she has two strong relationships. She is able to use sense and reason and compassion to counter and soothe some of her passionate and emotional companions. Nadia builds Underhill while helping everyone else solve all the engineering process, she builds the constitution of the free Mars and then is its first President. But Nadia also knows that sometimes you need to destroy things to build and she is not without her passions. She is distraught by the death of her first partner, the revolutionary Arkady Bogdanov during the uprisings on Mars. She faces danger during the uprisings on Mars trying to save valuable infrastructure but when the revolution calls for it, she is willing to cause the destruction of Phobos, an entire moon. Nadia is the strongest woman on Mars, she survives, she builds, and she eventually has her own daughter to pass her strength onto. And she loves jazz.

I’ve got too much work to do, you know.

100 sci fi women #84: Gamora

Gamora Guardians of the Galaxy (film version)

guardians-of-the-galaxy-gamora-101682-101718Gamora is the last of her species, adopted by the evil Thanos, responsible for the deaths of her family and race. She has superhuman strength and agility and is a highly skilled warrior and martial artist, but more importantly she is enormously clever and patient. She is willing to wait a long time to take her revenge on Thanos and his lieutenant Ronan, who she hates but masks this hatred in the role of the dutiful daughter and warrior. Having spent so much time amongst people she does not like, Gamora is slow to trust and to form friendships. Nonetheless, once made, she is a loyal friend with a strong sense of righteousness. She cannot let Ronan and Thanos destroy an entire world, and is willing to fight this even if the odds are hugely against her. When she sees Peter being affected by the Infinity Stone, she does not let him die alone; she is the first to take his home. She may be a warrior and assassin, but eventually she is willing to learn to dance.

I have lived most of my life surrounded by my enemies. I would be grateful to die surrounded by my friends.

I am going to die surrounded by the biggest idiots in the galaxy.