There’s an interesting class struggle going on in Australia, focused in Melbourne.
Tl;dr: Construction workers were required to get vaccinated and their union supported this government policy. Workers then attacked the union boss and the head office until they were chased off by riot police firing rubber bullets. The government then banned all construction work for two weeks as revenge against the unruly workers.
Full-on footage and further background here.
This set off protests in Melbourne that involved both construction workers and assorted other discontents. The union bosses labeled their disaffected members and supporters as ‘far right’, which was odd but accepted by the media and half the public.
Note that protesting is currently illegal in Melbourne and will continue to be so even at 80% vaccination, as that level will only trigger the allowance of outdoor assemblies of up to 30 people.
Had the police allowed the protesters to march around and yell themselves hoarse, probably no harm would have been done. Instead, to prevent the spread of Covid, they variously tried to block the protesters or bottle them up so that all could be arrested or fined, leading to many injuries on both sides.
Further violent footage here. Lucky the old lady knocked over and capsicum sprayed while prone wasn’t black or those coppers would have been in trouble.
Police were initially caught off-guard. Calls for reinforcements in the inner suburbs went unheeded, as did distress beacons:
“When the [police] members were trampled at the [Richmond] cutting, multiple members set off their duress buttons and were screaming for help. A duress going off is a very rare event and I can assure you this is something that makes my blood run cold and makes me sick to my core.
“There is not a more helpless feeling in the world than hearing a call for help and knowing you are not able to assist. The Command’s response to this was to tell members to stop pressing their duress buttons.
The police will support the State, but the State will throw the police under the bus whenever convenient.
Authorities sent in the riot squad, who even other cops call psychos, and further protests were brutally crushed before they could assemble sufficient numbers to get started:
That last one was shared too widely on social media to be ignored.
Here’s an interesting video showing bystander reactions:
A bit of background: since the government closed the tech schools in the 1990s because all kids should aim for university, skilled tradesmen (‘tradies’) have been in short supply. They now often make more money than university-educated office workers, which the latter resent because (a) they paid for their degree and (b) they begrudge paying lowly plumbers a small fortune to come out at night to fix a blocked toilet. Social class in Australia does not neatly correlate with income.
This feeds into the support for police aggression we see here.
Many replies to tweets back this up, calling the protesters ‘uneducated’, ‘losers’ and that sort of thing. I saved a bunch but now I can’t find them.
Comment threads are split almost perfectly: champagne socialist Age readers are fuming at those unwashed, dunderheaded rioters while there is such broad support for them at Murdoch’s tabloid news.com.au that the editors often turn off comments for protest-related stories.
It hurts to say it, but anti-mandate and anti-lockdown comments tend to be poorly written. They lack mastery of grammar and punctuation. Anti-protester comments are written in the smarmy, polished prose of the middle class (much like tyou are reading now).
I’ve previously noted that lockdowns etc. have benefited the already privileged and screwed everyone else.
Despite enhanced welfare benefits, this bifurcation of fortunes has now calcified into class warfare we haven’t seen since perhaps the 1970s.
This time around, the sides are different. The left-wing, chattering classes who read The Age and work on laptops in inner-city apartments largely support lockdowns, vaccine mandates and rubber bullets for protesters. So do the unions, the ruling Labor Party and other branches of the elite.
Blue collar workers are in the odd position of being supported only by a rag-tag collection of New Age hippies, libertarians, certain hot-headed ethnic communities and the hard right.
Mass strikes would be far more effective than protests because Toorak wankers love seeing electricians and tilers getting tear-gassed but will cave in if they cannot get their pools fixed. Interests matter. So long as assorted restrictions benefit the elite, nothing will change. That is the dynamic that must be interrupted if the tyranny of the majority is to be broken.
A boycott of trade jobs on all homes, infrastructure and government facilities from the CBD out to Dandenong Creek would probably work. These are the well-to-do, L suburbs where hostile Age-readers reside. The workers mostly live further out or to the north and west.
The mass professions of teachers, nurses and police fancy themselves working class but tend to side with the elite in most battles. That is still the case. However, a minority are now joining the unofficial unions and are starting to resist. This is likely to accelerate now that vaccine mandates have been massively extended – that story tomorrow.
I’ll leave you with footage of their protests so far: