Lazy Luddite Log



Following my withdrawal from party politics I felt rather lacking as a citizen. Involvement in campaigning had defined me for much of my younger life and I suddenly felt negligent. In the decade since I have been overcoming that feeling.

What were the alternatives for me? Party politics had set other aspects of my life back a lot and I needed a rest. I have since gotten a more balanced life and need to maintain that. None of the parties entirely fit me anyway. I'm too much the classical liberal for the Greens, too much the social-democrat for the Reason Party, and not quite pragmatic enough for Labor. But there are plenty of alternatives.

For a while I considered active membership of pressure groups. But which issues matter to me the most? Which ones will allow me to have a political impact while escaping the frustrations of meetings and approval processes? What I did was simply become an active yet independent citizen. The benefit of this is that I can decide to do something and then simply do it. I may invest less time now than I once did but my time is far more effectively spent.

Some of this personal campaigning has included publishing letters on welfare issues, letterboxing pamphlets on queer rights, starting a petition on public transport improvements, making a parliamentary submission regarding religious discrimination, promoting an environmental rally and most recently donating to an Aboriginal legal service.

The Internet makes it a cinch to be involved in numerous campaigns. However there is one aspect of online political activity I have been limiting - debate among friends and acquaintances on Facebook. I have never adapted to what feels like a semi-automated slogan-swapping game. Others have taken to it and for some it is the only kind of discourse they have ever known. I feel more effective in the naturally flowing discussion that can occur on professional media comments sections.

There is only one problem with this - some seem to think that ones activity on something like Facebook is all one does and can be critical of seeming silence. Imagine if I had taken that attitude in the 90s and 00s while others seemed apolitical? I never did because of the futility and rudeness of such a stance. A lack of political activity tends to go hand-in-hand with a lack of power and if it looks like someone is apolitical then it is worth handling them with care.

The notion that 'the personal is political' has I think contributed to judgemental attitudes. While it is accurate in some contexts it can obscure others. Consider these three:

The personal is still personal - Each of us has a unique personality and faces a distinct set of life circumstances. If you try and understand that by fitting it into a purely ideological framework than you will very likely overlook something important in understanding others.

The political is still political - Politics is both a very complex subject and a challenging undertaking. A comprehensive understanding of it can only come from long study and experience. A crash course by political Internet memes cannot substitute for that.

The political is sometimes personal - What can look like a political quarrel could be a personality clash that has been rationalized in ideological terms. Take away the topic of an argument and it could well have been another thing that triggered animosity between belligerents.

This could be worth sharing with friends but one can never be sure how it will be received. I think it is better for me to focus on political activity that looks outward to our wider polity and there will always be plenty to do.



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