So I had the pleasure of attending the launch of the Victorian Socialist Party last Sunday and I was not surprised about the numbers. They actually had to do all the speeches twice because the bar they held it at could not hold everyone attending and it was a decent sized bar. Many people have been curious as to how they have become so popular with young people, attending this event helped me to piece it together.
I put my cultural Marxist hat on for the night and spoke to a few people about what their thoughts were on the event as well as many political issues and the state of the left in Victoria. Turns out they are just as worried about the division of the left as the right are about division on their side. Hardcore socialists aren’t too fond of the moderate left. They call the Greens and the ALP (Australian Labor Party) “left-wing capitalists” and speak as if they are part of the problem but if you understand the goals of Marxist Socialists you can then fully understand these feelings.
I had to wait for the second talk which was held in the basement of the Grace Darling Hotel and I only managed to record the first speaker due to my phone running out of charge. However, the part that I did capture offers much insight into how the Socialist Party is running their campaign and how they have grown so popular.
The first speaker was longtime Melbourne Socialist campaigner Stephen Jolly, a London born councillor for Yarra City who spoke with high energy repeating the catchphrase “It’s about time.”
“It’s about time we saw some left unity, it’s about time the left got their act together but more importantly… about time we saw some political opposition.”
Jolly wants to “build a political alternative” to the other major parties. He wants to make housing more of a reality for young people and new families rather than catering to investors, addressing the housing affordability crisis we are seeing in major cities around the country. He stated that he is fighting for a massive “50,000” strong expansion of public housing and free public transport for the State of Victoria. He also condemned the scapegoating of Apex gang and refugees for many social problems around Melbourne and bosses who mistreated their workers with an emphasis on “young workers.”
Housing unaffordability is a huge concern for young people which is evident in many online trends and forums discussing land prices today versus land prises from thirty years ago. Unlike immigration, this is a topic that both the left and the right agree on but are using different methods to try and change. The major parties have touched on the issues but have not done much to change them due to the needs to pander to the wealthier older investors mentioned. It is also a popular trend to blame young people for overspending and being too lazy or naive to work harder jobs to make more money. Jolly is using this to make the crowd angrier at the current situation, to offer the “political opposition” that Australia needs to solve the problem.
Another technique Jolly uses is his inclusive language. He says “We” a lot which is effective when talking to young people. He goes on to state the achievements of young socialists over the years. Referring to Apartied in South Africa and how it was “young socialists” who played the biggest part in ending it. Language like this gives validation to the crowd. By stating that in the past they have achieved so much it implies that the current generations can achieve even greater goals despite all the problems he is outlining. It makes young people feel like they are a part of an important movement and that they actually can change things if they continue to support the ideology. This is a contrast to the stereotype that young people are lazy.
Jolly states that young socialists are the driving force of the movement, crushing the “young people are lazy” argument and empowering them to work even harder as activists. He even says “we make no apologies” further validating his supporters.
If you look back to the Trump campaign of 2016 you can see some similarities. The “Make America Great Again” campaign was modelled around the idea that America was once great but is now in trouble. Trump gave the American people validation by outlining the things that they had achieved in the past and blamed their current leadership and not the people for the “crushing defeats” they were facing in trade and immigration, criticizing both Democrats and Republicans.
I think we can all learn from this speech. I definitely do not agree with everything the Socialists are doing but you can hand it to them that they are very good at appealing to young people and bring together huge numbers. It will be interesting to see how this campaign continues.