These anti-containment protests, never attended by more than a few thousand people, are small by Australian standards. And unlike Americans, Australians are not politically inclined to demands for freedom and choice as much as we are to fairness and solidarity. (The name of the national anthem is “Advance Australia Fair.”) As the First Nations people of Australia knew and the Australian settlers learned upon their arrival, individualism is much less useful than collaboration. on a continent where everything from the weather to bugs is trying to kill you, all the time.
Even as some lockdown restrictions relax, Australians continue to comply with public health orders, which still enjoy overwhelming public support today. But where blockages persist, far-right activists have seized a rare chance to walk empty streets.
In September, a small rally of Melbourne workers protesting against vaccination warrants suddenly gathered momentum as far-right figures urged their supporters to join. The images of the carnage that followed were of course shared with enthusiasm by right-wing American influencers.
Once you understand the in-game coordination, where content is produced and returned in a mind-boggling loop, an eerie theatrical quality of these events really makes sense. The decision, for example, to congregate in places like an obscure suburban gorge near an Ikea complex in Melbourne seems odd – until you realize the excellent views it offers for filming the protesters then. that they rush on unprepared police. The fact that these protests are visibly accompanied by signs supporting Donald Trump suggests that their ultimate audience may not be local.
Yes, the Australian lockdowns seemed to us all endless. Cold and crowded Melbourne recently broke the dismal record for the most lockdown days of any city in the world. Many, including me, have been cut off from loved ones by the strict restrictions. But the reality that escapes propagandists is that Australia’s prolonged lockdowns are not a ploy for greater government control, but a failure.
A clumsy Australian federal government failed to ensure an adequate initial supply of Covid vaccines in the precious window of time before the arrival of the Delta variant. The Prime Minister, who sadly fled on vacation when the country was literally on fire, remains, alas, responsible.
Delta has circulated and blockages have resumed – yet Australia remains a free country. Even in the midst of the global economic disruption, the cogs of Australian free enterprise have managed to find new ways to turn, for better or for worse. Free and fair elections continued. Yet the truth is of no value to those who insist on policies that undermine public health.
After all, Australia’s lockdowns, masks and social distancing have kept the total number of deaths from the virus nationwide below 1,500. With its slightly smaller population, Florida – chaired by Governor DeSantis – has already lost 57,000 people. It is this cold reality that the horrible, eccentric and ridiculous propaganda seeks to banish. But it can’t.
Van Badham (@vanbadham) is a columnist for The Guardian Australia and the author of the forthcoming book “QAnon and On: A Short and Shocking History of Internet Conspiracy Cults”.
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