Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mumbai Brawling.

The Global Financial Clusterfuck and other failures of capitalism, plus eleven years of conservative government Muslim-baiting, has resulted in the outer suburbs of Melbourne being populated by unemployed, desperate and resentful Aussies and the poor migrant, refugee and international student communities they blame.

Anyone with a complexion the dusky side of snow is a terrorist or, at least, a stress-relieving source of income, and so the more dim-witted sons of a sunburnt country have taken to relieving young Indians of their spare cash and accessories with extreme prejudice.

However, now the Indians have had enough, and it appears it's Australia's turn to learn something as the spirit of Ghandi visits Melbourne for the second time in a year. Australian would-be revolutionaries a chance to observe first hand what appears to come naturally to the international student, security guard, convenience shop worker and taxi-driving caste – how to protest.

For the local born community, protest is not that simple – a cause must be decided on and ratified by 2/3 of the organizing committee, posters must be made, permits applied for and granted, police liased with, flyers and badges prepared, parks booked, entertainment laid on, vegie burger stalls and agitprop vendors set up, arsenals prepared, media spruikers interviewed and aired, and plenty of warning must dished out to the community at large as the protest organizers spend weeks massaging their constituency.

If the sun doesn’t shine or they get a better offer the people stay away in droves, but the Indian community have a far more direct approach to achieving their democratic aims with no committee, no posters, no permits, no police liaison, no flyers or badges, no parks booked, no entertainment, no veggie burgers, no propaganda, no media spruiking, no rocks, no molotovs and definitely no warning given –no, when the children of Mother India get pissed off in Melbourne they just go to Flinders Street Station and squat in the road until something happens.

Call them soft but its hard to see Simon and Natasha just plonking themselves down in the middle of the CBD's busiest intersection and refusing to budge– after all, Julia’s got a nut roast on the go in Brunswick and they could murder an ale after three whole hours of saving the planet/whales/refugees/civilisation-as-we-know-it – but that’s what the Indians do, by the thousand, for twelve, twenty-four, thirty-six hours at a stretch, sit down and wait with just a bullhorn and…patience.

Because that’s all you need. 14 reggae bands, 126 speechifying Arts undergraduates and 1583 dodgy mung-bean rissoles might make for a righteous day out, but where has it got anybody? The planet’s still warming, whales are still dying, refugees are still drowning and civilization’s not looking real flash, and no matter how many Action Days Simon and Natasha might attend the powers-that-be don’t seem to pay the slightest bit of attention.

The Indians, however, have worked out what should be the bleeding obvious and, instead of being polite and hopelessly bourgeois, they simply and immediately cause as much havoc as possible and don’t stop until they have. Excellent! Permits? What?

Nothing gives the powers that be more of a reason to go home for a good night’s sleep than a bunch of ferals having a sunny afternoon’s rallying, and nothing makes them yell ‘Fix this fucking NOW!’ more than a few hundred hardy souls camped out smack in the middle of city traffic.

For proof of this, just look at the results: When the Indian Taxi drivers hit the street last year, there was legislation to protect them was passed by the end of the week, and already both sate and federal parliaments are in heated discussion over what to do and legislation is on the way.

Maybe it has less to do with the personal safety of the Indians students and more to do with the safety of the income they represent, but what we do know is that if you want to get noticed you have to put something on the line. The Indian protesters face losing the investment they have made in their education, their livelihoods and their future, they risk deportation and maybe even further attacks from knuckle-dragging skippies fighting the War On Terror™ over here because they can’t be fucked going over there, so surely Simon and Natasha could risk a nights sleep and a nut roast?

The reports are that a few over-enthusiastic suburban brothers-in-arms did join in on Monday night and hurled rocks, got arrested, and generally failed to get the whole passive resistance thang but hey – what do you expect from the police academy? Look, rock-chucking has it’s place, don’t get me wrong, but there must be a place between the 30-minute-march-and-county-faire approach and the blacked-out, ski-masked, all-out anarchist melee for simply sitting down where you will cause the most disruption and refusing to budge until your concerns are addressed.

The Australian authorities are getting a taste of what the poms faced at the end of the Raj – a mass of implacable Hindus, Muslims, Seiks, Buddhists, Hari Krishnas and Christians settling in for the duration, and if the sated middle classes really want change, then this might be the way. After all, Gandhi moved a mountain called the British Empire with nothing but these tactics, so That Nice Mr. Rudd and the fast disintegrating USA should be no problem.