How to Confuse a Socialist Alternative Member

Today was the big rally in Melbourne against the Howard Government’s proposed changes to workplace laws.

I was catching the tram in to work, and running late because my tram was. I got off at La Trobe St, where the tram was turning, and stood at the corner watching the marchers go by and getting a little bit sentimental about the importance of unions and the rights of citizens to demonstrate against their government, because I am a big ol’ softie. I walked with them as far as my work, and then I had to dash because I was already late.

Much to my surprise, my boss was not in when I arrived. She turned up half an hour or so later and told me she’d been marching, because she believes in unions and “because you can bet that the bloody media will be playing it down, so they need everyone they can get!”. I thought this was pretty cool in itself, but also because my boss is legally blind and sometimes finds crowds upsetting for obvious reasons.

What was even cooler was when she said “do you believe in the cause?” and I said “yes” and she said “why don’t you go and march for a while then, and I’ll hold the fort?”

So off I went with my grotty pink backpack and a smile on my face, and joined the crowd, which was by now wandering slowly down Swanston St. It wasn’t long before I was accosted by Socialist Alternative members trying to sell me copies of their magazine, and not long after that they were asking me about my views on all matters political. Even when there are no magazines to be sold, I seem to attract members of the SA; sometimes I feel like I save “Ask Me About My Views on Marxism!” tattooed across my forehead.

One girl I was talking to was asking me getting-to-know-you questions in a bid to pretend she wasn’t trying to sign me up. She asked me why I was there and I thought honesty was the best policy:
“Actually, my boss sent me.”
“Your…boss?”
“Yeah. I got into work and she asked me if I’d like to march for a while, so here I am.”
“Your…boss encouraged you to march.”
“Yeah. Cool, hey? My housemate’s boss told everyone at their work they could march if they liked but their pay would be docked.”
“Ah! Well, that’s just typical and exactly the type of thing we’re marching against!” We were on familiar territory again.
“Yeah, it’s a bit lame. I’m lucky I have a cool boss.”
Her eyes clouded over slightly. We were back on that unfamiliar territory.
“So…does your boss have a boss?” She left unspoken the assumption that that could be the only plausible reason for my presence.
“Oh, no, she’s the owner of the company. Doesn’t report to anyone but herself. I guess she just thinks it’s important for workers to be able to stand up for their rights.”
That was obviously the final, incomprehensible straw. If this girl had been a FemBot, her head would have exploded and her boobies gone whizzing off in different directions. One of her friends appeared and she muttered something along the lines of “I have to go over there now” and made her escape.
Not long after I made the acquaintance of another SA member, a sweet boy with whom I had a rather good conversation about politics and who made an admirable attempt at pretending he wasn’t looking at my chest. Maybe I ought to get myself an “Ask Me About My Views On Marxism!” badge, and wear it pinned a little lower than would really be necessary. That’ll stuff ’em.

6 Responses to “How to Confuse a Socialist Alternative Member”

  1. adam Says:

    I was there too, with my boss. And nobody’s docking my pay. Have you seen the age’s front page report today? It’s all about the dramatic cost to the economy, lots of quotes from business and government, nothing from Trades Hall or protestors. Say it loud, say it proud: Fuckers.

  2. Aimee Says:

    I just went and read the Age’s website, and you’re right. Ooh, it makes me angry. Typical of the media’s focus on business, rather than looking in to why so many people thought it important to protest. I also noticed in the article I linked to yesterday that they’d done their best efforts to report the more extreme chants and actions, and make it look like a big pro-Labor rally rather than anything else. From where I was, most of the chants were specifically related to the cause. I don’t doubt that people were chanting personal things about Howard, but to report those slogans as the bulk of what was being chanted is just stupid and a misrepresentation of what’s actually happening. But I guess you can’t be too careful, after all those violent S11 protesters.

    Just remember: protesters = troublemakers! Much like a creepy lecturer I had once believed female students only ever file harassment complaints against lecturers to cause trouble and not because they might have, y’know, any valid grounds to make a complaint, the media seem to be enjoying promoting the notion that people only stop work and protest to cause trouble. There wouldn’t be any valid reason to do that, ever. Oh, no.

  3. Alexis Says:

    Sorry, just wondering: did you actually mean Socialist /Alliance/, or were you definitely referring to Socialist /Alternative/? (Too many ‘SA’ acronyms nowadays . . . . i check my news feeds, and see a headline like “SA protest against public housing restrictions”, and wonder: “Does that ‘SA’ stand for South Australia, Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alternative, or South Africa?” 😛 )

  4. Stuart Says:

    It’s always interesting to cast a critical eye over how different media outlets treat the same issue. Something as simple as referring to the issue as “industrial relations *reform*” vs. “industrial relations *changes*” speaks volumes about the political bias of the person using the terms.

  5. Aimee Says:

    Alexis, I was referring to the Socialist Alternative. Although I’ve got Socialist Alliance stories too…

    I agree re there being too many “SA” acronyms around these days. Also, if they’re as socialist as they say, why can’t they just have one organisation?

  6. Justine Says:

    Not to appear a history freak, but the ORIGINAL use of SA was, if I recall rightly, the “Sonderabteilung” (special dept.) of Hitler’s racial-purity apparat — the volks (sorry for the weak pun) who brought us the “final solution.”

    In case you were curious!

    Hugs, Justine