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Culture War Roundup for the week of October 9, 2023

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The ABC's called it: the Australian referendum to enshrine special Aboriginal representation in the Constitution has utterly failed. They needed a majority nationally and a majority in four of the six states; they've gotten at last count 41% (possibly less; pre-polls are counted last, and while I wasn't expecting it they seem to have more No than the on-the-day vote) of the national vote and have lost in all six of the states (again, I was expecting Tasmania and/or Victoria to buck the trend - Victoria being the most urbanised Australian state, with 75% of its population in the state capital of Melbourne, and Tasmania having a long tradition of hippie-ism and being the birthplace of the Greens; they were also polling the highest Yes).

Most of the Yes campaigners - at least, those the ABC talked to - seem to be going with the line of "the No campaign was misinformation and this doesn't count because they were tricked"*. That's wrong (there were a few people with crazy ideas, of course, but for the most part what the SJers are decrying as "misinformation" is true or plausible), but it's at least wrong about a dry fact and not nearly as divisive as going "this proves Australia's a racist country".

The result does seem to have emboldened people to actually stand up against SJ; Opposition Leader Peter Dutton was very hesitant to go with No (though he eventually did), but in his speech upon hearing the result he specifically said that this result was Australians rejecting activists' claims.

At-least-partial credit to @OliveTapenade, who said:

If No wins, I think it will be taken as evidence that the Australian people are deeply racist and ignorant (hence the need for Truth)

...the last time we discussed this on theMotte. They mostly seem to be leaning on "ignorant" rather than "racist", but yes, they're saying "this demonstrates need for Truth".

*NB: this doesn't, for the moment, include Prime Minister Anthony Albanese; all he's said on the matter of "why No" IIRC is that referenda never succeed without bipartisan support.

One suggestion that occurs me, particularly as regards strategy, is this note:

This is key to understanding the Yes side. No decisions were taken without the authority of the key Indigenous leadership, including Pearson, Langton, Davis and Dean Parkin, who often made collective decisions in phone hook-ups and meetings separate from non-Indigenous members of the campaign.

These leaders formed the ballast of the government’s 21-member referendum advisory group charged with finalising the amendment and advising the cabinet on referendum strategy.

“Megan almost had veto power on some issues,” says one source unwilling to go on the record due to the current sensitivities.

I'm sure we've had discussion before of how excessive deference to identitarian concerns comes at the expense of competence of merit - this might be a good example of that.

But it's also potentially a good example of how celebrity or ego-driven campaigns can fail. Foreigners might not recognise them, but Noel Pearson, Marcia Langton, and Megan Davis are very prominent names that any Australian who's been paying a moderate amount of attention to indigenous issues would recognise. All three of them have been active in the field for decades.

However, the way the world looks from the relatively small world of professional Aboriginal activism - Pearson and Davis are lawyers specialising in indigenous issues, and Langton is a full-time activist - can be distorting, or might have contributed to poor judgement of the state of the Australian people. It might have been better for the Yes campaign if politicians or non-indigeneous campaign managers had been able to push back or develop other strategies. But a politics of deference, whether that's deference to Aboriginal people or deference to supposed subject-matter experts, cannot allow that.

They mostly seem to be leaning on "ignorant" rather than "racist", but yes, they're saying "this demonstrates need for Truth".

Yes: the BBC, having given both sides, puts the balance on the side of the "No" campaign being misleading:

Supporters said that entrenching the Indigenous peoples into the constitution would unite Australia and usher in a new era.

No leaders said that the idea was divisive, would create special "classes" of citizens where some were more equal than others, and the new advisory body would slow government decision-making.

They were criticised over their appeal to undecided voters with a "Don't know? Vote no" message, and accused of running a campaign based on misinformation about the effects of the plan.

... Many of the nation's best constitutional minds have disputed those claims, arguing that the Voice would not have conferred special rights on anyone.

But the campaign's slogan "divisive Voice" which covered No banners and posters, ultimately resonated with voters.

Having earlier themselves described the Voice as:

a proposal to amend the constitution to recognise First Nations people and create a body for them to advise the government.

How can you have a special body to advise the government and not have special rights?

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-67110193

As for misinformation, there were dirty tricks on both sides:

https://www.skynews.com.au/australia-news/voice-to-parliament/yes23-campaign-deletes-tweet-suggesting-no-voters-could-put-a-cross-on-voice-to-parliament-ballot-after-aec-flagged-it-would-not-be-counted-as-a-formal-vote/news-story/fba4dbf82898246908f446f7232e4aaf

No leaders said that the idea was divisive, would create special "classes" of citizens where some were more equal than others, and the new advisory body would slow government decision-making.

that sentence is kind of ambiguous. i guess the last 'and' makes the reading a bit more clear because you would expect that to be an 'or' if the 'No' at the start was not part of 'No leaders'.

Journalists' job is not to be good writers, so they often don't use punctuation like inverted commas in such cases, even though it would help for the reason you suggest.

ABC (the Australian one) has a votemap by electorate. Unsurprisingly, electorates with the highest aboriginal population roughly correlate with an increased NO vote.

Heavy YES votes were concentrated in progressive areas, particularly those with low aboriginal populations (such as in inner Melbourne and Tasmania).

As discussed, there is muted sniping that this is somehow a racist result, rather than people voting against any group being given special privileges above other citizens, or against deliberately ill defined powers and the likelihood of additional spending being given to first nation people.

Aboriginals have been allocated additional resources and spending for multiple generations and still face huge disparities in quality of life and success (insert standard HBD argument here). Australia already has a federal ministerial portfolio to address their needs. Of course after all of this focus being met with little success, progressives wish to pour even more money into the pit by backdoor means such as through the voice to parliament. Thankfully it didn't pass the sniff test and Australians (for all of their cultural flaws) seem to still have working bullshit detectors. For now.

(insert standard HBD argument here)

While I don't believe it's the main reason, there is also the possibility that it's the help the aboriginals are getting that's causing the disparities in quality of life and success -- that is, "helping" is largely counterproductive.

(insert standard HBD argument here)

I think much of this doesn't even need the standard HBD argument of "evolution doesn't stop at the neck". Even if evolution does stop at the neck, Aboriginals had no cities and no domestic animals and thus were not selected for disease resistance to the extent Old Worlders were; same thing as why most Native Americans died in the Columbian Exchange. And they weren't selected for dealing with alcohol because TTBOMK they didn't have any. You don't even need to talk about the brain to get a biologicalist explanation of The Gap (whether or not that's the whole story, I'm not sure).

NB: I think there is cause to put at least some additional resources into figuring out ways around the effects I mention, even if I don't think a failure to get parity automatically equals being terrible. Having shitty immune systems isn't their fault.

I'm glad this lost despite the overwhelming support from most institutions but like all one-sided election results I get the impression (anecdotally) that people are reading too much into the result - on the left that Australians are all racist or heartless or at least misinformed, on the right that we've heroically stood up to say no to wokism or some such.

As much as I'd like to believe that Australians are categorically opposed to this kind of thing, the voice was polling 60-40 or better earlier in the year, so its failure probably comes down to swing voters being unhappy with the details - or lack thereof. I believe the median voter wants to help Aborigines - but they don't want to spend too much money on it or give a political blank check to the government.

on the right that we've heroically stood up to say no to wokism or some such

I think there's some degree of a respectability cascade going on, where SJ's hold over the populace through fear and guilt has been shaken and being conservative is starting to look more palatable and less like being a moral mutant. Note how terrified the Liberals were of actually taking the "no" side early on, but now Dutton's saying this is a victory over activists.

I don't think this is the entirety of the reason for the vote we got; there's causation both ways there, with the vote itself (and the polling) damaging the apparent SJ consensus - there's a reason I said it "seem[s] to have emboldened people" - and the proposal and Yes campaign sure did stuff up a lot. But it's got me hopeful. Still not really worth the price of having a giant CW fight, but silver linings.

I know we aren't supposed to make low effort posts, but you make sense, and your analysis convinced me to change my mind on this issue.

Note how terrified the Liberals were of actually taking the "no" side early on, but now Dutton's saying this is a victory over activists.

That kind of opportunistic "run with the hare and hunt with the hounds" reaction (if the 'yes' side had won I'm sure he'd be claiming this was a victory for equality or the likes) reminds me of the pithy and tart bon mot by e.e. cummings:

a politician is an arse upon
which everyone has sat except a man

If the referendum had been just to acknowledge indigenous people in the constitution, I feel it'd have gotten over the line. Tying it to adding another body for Indigenous advocacy to the untold score of them that already exist was the issue.

...the last time we discussed this on theMotte. They mostly seem to be leaning on "ignorant" rather than "racist", but yes, they're saying "this demonstrates need for Truth".

Sorry to keep spamming replies, but I want to note directly that there at least some leaning on 'racist'.

For instance:

Meanwhile, the CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, Nerita Waight, said she was "horrified" by the result.

"In 2023, we had a chance to move forward rather than to stand still," she said.

"Australia voted today and now I clearly know what lies at this country's heart — racism.

"In my view, there is no way this doesn't impact detrimentally on the path to reconciliation and healing."

Or:

The big winners of this campaign are racism and misinformation. Before his term expired, the race commissioner Chin Tan called racism a “tentacled monster that feels impossible to slay, and its venomous nature seems to have only mutated in recent times”.

Tan said his greatest fears were realised and the debate was allowed to “degenerate into one about race”.

Or:

Many Indigenous people have maintained Australia is a racist country.

This is not to say every person who voted “no” on October 14 is a racist.

Motivations driving individual voting preferences are complicated, contested, perhaps even contradictory. We must be careful to not equate an individual “no” vote as a marker of individual racism. But ignoring patterns of racism and the relentless racist dialogue from some in the “no” campaign is to be wilfully, and knowingly, indifferent.

Racism is a drug, and Australia has an addiction.

Now to be fair, these are only a few voices, and the dominant line from the Yes campaign has been more muted. There are people who have taken other perspectives:

Yes campaigner Marcus Stewart, a Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung Nation and elected co-chair of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were hurting.

“It’s a tough result, it’s an emotional result,” he said. But he stressed that people who voted No were not racist.

“The Australian people have decided that the 92 words that were put to them wasn’t the best pathway that they saw for us to improve the lives of our people,” Stewart said.

“Australian people are not racist if they voted No. I want to be absolutely, categorically clear.”

Overall, I think now there is going to be a battle to interpret the result, and it no doubt will be ammunition for people who want to argue that Australia is systemically or structurally racist. But at least right now the claim that the defeat is because of racism appears to be more of a minority view.

Yeah, there was one on the ABC too. But the panellists pushed back really hard. I said "at-least-partial" intending to imply that full credit is arguable.

Kinda surprised to see that from Marcus Stewart. He's someone I usually expect to be pretty loose with accusations of racism (e.g. he accused the much-more-visibly-Aboriginal Jacinta Price of racism during the campaign).

I think there's going to end up being a split between the Labor types who recognise the need to win swing voters to get anything done and see how counterproductive the "everyone else is racist" argument is, and the Greens types who are more interested in being angry than getting wins.

Another supporting detail: the highest voted post on /r/australia right now is

The referendum campaign has cemented racism into the body politic, and the ‘baseless’ rejection of ‘Yes’ will create a bleak future for Australia and those who stood with First Nations people

although oddly it's the only post on the sub where people who voted No aren't being downvoted to oblivion. I can't understand the voting patterns on there.
What's the reputation of "The Saturday Paper?" Is it one of those online propaganda rags, or does it have an actual history? Their coverage page on this has been wild.

Reddit is dominated by the very young. This may give some insight into the future; unless the opinions of the younger generation change, we can anticipate that in twenty years, this No vote will be seen as racism, and they'll try again for a successful Yes.

But older voters aren't paying attention to this. They're dusting off their palms and throwing a shrimp on the barbie or whatever Aussies do.

  1. Reddit is dominated by a particular kind of young person. The question is how representative is the modal Reddit user compared to their cohort?

  2. As you allude to, will their politics age as they get older? Maybe a lot probably depends on whether you think their beliefs are deeply held or merely fashionable beliefs.

True. My sense is that woke attitudes correlate negatively with age, and from what I read, attitudes formed in young adulthood stick around. See for example https://thingstoread.substack.com/p/adolescence-lasts-forever

From that, I presume that Yes is going to gain some ground over the next few decades as No dies off. To me a bigger question is what the even younger generation will end up wanting or believing once Reddit goes the way of the Tasmanian Tiger.

we can anticipate that in twenty years, this No vote will be seen as racism, and they'll try again for a successful Yes.

And then another generation or so after that, the old "conservatives" will be valiantly-but-futilely trying to conserve the outcomes of that successful Yes against the next big move leftward. Cthulhu may swim slowly…

Well, I think a lot of what people refer to as leftward drift is, or is really, drift toward the kinds of attitudes that go along with wealth, security, and technological advancement. Even though the social foundation has been worsening for some time, technology continues to improve, creating a curious anxiety and helplessness in modern individuals.

But my guess is that the economy will soon drift downwards as well, spurring a rejection of hollow technological distractions, and giving rise to something that might look like conservatism, but isn't exactly - I don't foresee a return to religion, for instance.

I mean, Reddit major sub.

This might be surprising, but I actually hadn't heard of the Saturday Paper before this referendum. The impression I get is that they're pretty progressive - their original vision in 2014 reads as progressive to me.

This guide puts them as leaning left - about as much as the Conversation or Crikey, only slightly lower quality. Considering the quality of the Conversation or Crikey, I do not find being lower than them encouraging.That said, that chart also puts the ABC and SBS dead centre, which I doubt a neutral outside observer would, and putting The Age as dead centre also feels off, to me. The sense I always had in Melbourne was that The Age is the centre-left paper and the Herald Sun is the centre-right paper. It seems to me that the chart (which USC took from Reddit, of all places) is probably directionally correct, but what it labels 'center' is actually centre-left, and what it labels 'leans left' is actually solid left. This site also puts the Saturday Paper as on the left as well, which seems right.

You've already covered it, but like you as soon as I saw the left leaning ABC and SBS framed as centrist I knew the guide was biased in itself.

It's a left-wing/socialist paper I think.

I don't know if it was actually going to be called "the Voice" or if that was just a placeholder name, but it's so comically ominous. "There will be a Voice!" "We must consult the Voice!" "What will the Voice say?". Like something out of a Lovecraft story with a cult and an Old One.

I assumed the Yes campaign's insistence that the Voice would have no legal force was just a bad-faith position, as it's fairly easy to conceive of a dynamic where the Voice doesn't need legal force because it has the liberal media waiting to brand any government's disregard of the Voice as ipso facto evidence of racism, which will be used to declare that government's positions as morally illegitimate. When your enemy is campaigning to build a new weapon, don't vote to give it to him.

I don't know if it was actually going to be called "the Voice" or if that was just a placeholder name

Definitely "Voice". Let me quote the actual text of the proposed amendment:

There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;

The term "Voice" is lifted from the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The word choice may have something to do with the significantly-aberrant Aboriginal use of English.

the Voice would have no legal force

Apparently I haven't been following this closely enough. Why were they bothering to have a referendum then?

As far as I can tell (from the full text quoted below), they don't actually have any power that a random Australian citizen lacks. Some guy could put together a club with his buddies, give it a fancy name, and carry out the same practices, create the same reports, and talk to the same people as the proposed "Voice".

Is there anything to it beyond a constitutionally-enshrined lobby group?

There was sort of this weird rhetorical loop between 'The Voice is a symbolic powerless body with no legal force' and 'The Voice will action real meaningful change due to its power' in which the former is probably more accurate but it never got firmly nailed down.

The constitution would require that the Voice 1) exist, though its specific form and powers would be up to parliament, and 2) be permitted to make representations to parliament and executive government. So it would be required to have access to government in a way that a random club would not.

That said, yes, beyond that it is toothless. There would have been no requirement for the government to take its advice in any way, and parliament would have the ability to disband, reform, or reconstitute the Voice at will.

It would probably have just been a publicly-funded indigenous lobby group in parliament. If it had passed I very much doubt it would have changed anything of note.

The lack of clarity around this is part of the reason it lost so badly. At least on the center and right there's also been some perception of the Voice as a possible Trojan Horse where in a few years a left wing government could give Aborigines a veto (or something less dramatic but still disruptive) and the High Court would shrug and say "Well, the constitution says Aborigines have a 'Voice', that could mean anything, so this is constitutional".

Considering that the voice's powers would have been whatever parliament decided they would be, "it would have no legal force" is a facile claim.

The constitutional amendment would have been:

Chapter IX Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

129 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice

In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia:

  1. There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;

  2. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;

  3. The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions, powers and procedures.

So, yes, it would have been called the Voice.

Well, it was an exciting night.

It was a very solid result. Antony Green called it at 7:24 PM AEST, only 84 minutes after polls closed in the eastern states. Polls were still open in WA at the time the result was known. I'd say this is about the best result No could have hoped for - they crested 60% nationally, and achieved a full, six-state sweep. That's about the same margin of victory that same-sex marriage had back in 2017, except this was more difficult. SSM was a plebiscite (i.e. optional voting), not compulsory voting like this referendum, and SSM was overwhelmingly supported by media, government, academia, and so on. For No to achieve the same margin of victory with the entire population, and going against the will of the elite blob, is very impressive.

I'd like to suggest, though, that the No campaign not take too much credit for it. There are now Yes leaders specifically blaming the No campaign for the result - Marcia Langton is predictably blaming disinformation - but I'm not sure that's accurate. Even leaving aside that, as you correctly note, the refrain of "misinformation!" was itself sufficiently questionable, some might even say dishonest, as to qualify as misinformation, we have to reckon with the relative lack of power and reach of the No campaign.

Anecdotally - I'm from a Victorian electorate that went No with around a 53-47 margin. Yet the No campaign had almost no public presence here. Yes yard signs were relatively common. I visited two different polling booths on the day, and both had Yes signage and highly engaged Yes campaigners handing out flyers, but no No campaigners. Businesses put up large Yes signs in their windows and by their doors, but there was no equivalent for No. The Voice campaigns, on both institutional and grassroots levels, may be examples of Hanania's theory about cardinal preferences. For better or for worse, the Yes campaign seemed more organised and had a louder voice.

To step beyond the anecdotal for a second, just glancing at the endorsements is striking - Yes had so many more endorsements, including five out of six state premiers, a huge number of professional associations, pretty much every sporting club, all the big banks, almost every religious institution and charity, even the grocery stores. Financially, in terms of ad spend, Yes spent far more money than No did. Given the relative weakness of the No campaign compared to Yes, if the conclusion is indeed that Yes failed to get their message across in the face of opposition, then Yes must have been punching considerably under their weight.

Money aside, the No campaign does strike me as having been more effective than Yes, though. They were running a 'fear and uncertainty' strategy, but that was probably the right call for them. People vote No for a huge number of different reasons, and No doesn't need a one-size-fits-all argument. In general, however, they found a few central arguments (the Voice will divide Australians on the basis of race; the Voice is a vehicle for radical activists; the Voice is expensive and wasteful; the Voice is legally risky) and pushed them clearly enough. The No cause, if not the campaign, also did a good job presenting Aboriginal people themselves as harbouring legitimate differences of view about this. Remember that most Australians do not see or interact with Aboriginal people on a regular basis, so probably most people's image of Aboriginals is coming from media representation. The fact that this referendum made us all familiar with prominent Aboriginals in every camp - Conservative Nos like Jacinta Price or Warren Mundine, Progressive Nos like Lidia Thorpe or Michael Mansell, and Yeses like Marcia Langton, Noel Pearson, or Thomas Mayo - effectively disarmed the Yes campaign line that "this is what Aboriginal people asked for". (Even on polling day I saw Yes placards touting the claim that 80% of Aboriginal people support Yes - a figure that was known to be false at the time.)

The Yes campaign, on the other hand, badly struggled to make its case. I feel that one of its major issues was the inability to imagine the mindset of someone who disagrees or has doubts, and they often resorted to clichés. "If you listen to people you get better outcomes" is so generic as to be uncontroversial, but it doesn't speak to why a constitutionally-enshrined Voice is necessary for that. In other cases I felt they never quite reached the point - they argued that it should be constitutionally-enshrined so that governments can't get rid of it, but given that bodies like ATSIC were abolished with bipartisan support, it seems as though there might have been popular support for abolishing past bodies that failed. It's not clear why we should want to give up the power to abolish a body if it isn't working.

In other places I feel they fell for the fact-checker's fallacy - that if you can quibble the factual accuracy of a statement, that's somehow going to win an argument. I've talked about the way the argument went around race before - if you're responding to someone worried that it's wrong to divide Australians on the basis of something they can't control, like their race or their ancestral background, nitpicking "indigeneity is different to race" or "the word 'race' is already in the constitution" is going to be ineffective.

But overall I feel their biggest failure was, in a sense, typical-minding the entire country. It's understandable that Yes supporters have positive affect around the idea of Yes, but obviously other people don't, so appeals to moral righteousness or attempts to guilt-trip people aren't going to be effective. Take statements like this - McManus and Albanese ask for Australians to be 'decent', to 'show what a wonderful country this is', to 'show kindness', to show 'generosity of spirit', and so on. But anybody who believes that voting Yes is the decent, kind, or generous thing to do is already a Yes voter! You have to win over people who don't believe that! Anecdotally I had Yes-supporting friends telling me things like, "Ask yourself the old question, what would Jesus do?", apparently seeing it as obvious that that leads to a Yes vote. But it doesn't.

This is a refrain I make a lot of the time, but things are not obvious. I think the Yes campaign thought that Yes was obvious. But it wasn't.

Polls were still open in WA at the time the result was known.

My understanding is that this would be a bit like calling a US presidential election for the democrats when California hadn’t finished counting; California/WA has such predictable partisanship that you don’t really have to actually check.

It's not exactly like that - they didn't assume anything about what the WA result would be.

To pass, the referendum needed a 'double majority'. That means both a national popular majority (i.e. over 50% of all voters nationwide) and a majority of states (i.e. at least four of the six states need to vote over 50% in favour).

Polls closed at 6 PM in the eastern states, and results started coming in quickly. Tasmania and New South Wales were both rapidly called for No, and then South Australia was called for No shortly after. By that point, three states had voted No, which made it impossible for a majority of states to vote Yes. At that point even if literally every single voter in WA voted Yes, it would not have made a difference.

Anecdotally I had Yes-supporting friends telling me things like, "Ask yourself the old question, what would Jesus do?"

Do you mind if I ask if your friends were actually Christian themselves? I'm try to gauge how common these sorts of arguments are made by the agnostic and atheist.

Most people irl who say things like that are at least nominally Christian, although often not true believers. It’s only on the internet that there’s an epidemic of atheists using that argument for spurious reasons.

The person who told me that specifically was an old family friend who I'm close to via church. She's the local organist, and I sometimes preach and lead worship. So we're both Christians. That said, she is an extremely progressive Christian, whereas I'm more traditional, so we do have our theological disagreements. It would probably be fair to call her a churchgoing agnostic.

Thanks for this detail.

I don't disagree, particularly, on the No campaign per se, although I don't know all that much about it since my main source is the ABC which didn't want to talk about it very much (I suppose that's evidence in its own right). On the other hand, there are two people who I'd say do get quite a lot of the credit (or the blame, I suppose, depending on your allegiance) - Pauline Hanson and Peter Dutton. Hanson and One Nation did the hard work of being the first to say "no", which started an honest-to-God respectability cascade, and Dutton's JAQ and insistence on the booklets were masterful. I'm not saying I endorse Dutton's strategy - more Machiavellian than I'd like - but it was very effective (looking at the polling shows a pretty-clear effect from the booklets).

I think Jacinta Price did more than anyone. The fact that she was against it so strongly and so early, was able to articulate the reasons why so well, and was visibly Aboriginal herself was in my view a major factor in getting the Nationals and then the Liberals to commit to a No position.

Honestly something that amused/amazed me on the life outcome gap between Indigenous & Median Australians is that it's about the same size as other countries with their Indigenous populations, regardless of treaty, reconciliation, privileges etc.

Maoris have about the same gap

The issue with aboriginals is that the urban population is full of whites with distant aboriginal ancestry (almost uniformly 75%+ European) using their newfound (they certainly wouldn’t have considered themselves aboriginal in 1973) identities for the usual grievances / racial spoils, and the rural population, where almost all aboriginal Australians who are half or more native live, deals with the same problems as every indigenous community from Greenland to Hawaii (principally alcoholism, drugs and - a less charitable commentator would say - fecklessness).

The problem is that modernity is unavoidable (especially in the developed world) and so when presented with the choice of continuing their harsh, strenuous pre-modern existence (as much as that might even be possible) or living off welfare and getting drunk all day, they pick the latter. It’s sad that visitors can no longer go to an Indian reservation and - outside of certain exhibits - witness the natives living in tipis and wearing carefully sewn native fabrics and headdresses and whatever, but let’s be real, that takes a lot of work compared to buying $2 t shirts made in Bangladesh. And, in defense of the natives, there are plenty of Europeans who similarly live off welfare and spend their days drunk or high, too.

Really, though, the above are just a few years ahead of the rest of us. If we survive the singularity then we, too, will spend our lives on our little reservations, everything provided from above, occupying our time in what will probably be ways no less degenerate than the average dweller in an aboriginal settlement somewhere in the northern territories.

the above are just a few years ahead of the rest of us. If we survive the singularity then we, too, will spend our lives on our little reservations, everything provided from above

It's worth considering that the rickety, shitey-arse state of many reservations etc. is as much the result of incompetence, indifference and bad faith from conquerors, as it is the inherent fecklessness of indigenes. Perhaps a hyper-competent, hyper-intelligent robot overlord would simply provide a better standard of reservation.

Competently-administed mandatory eudaimonia would actually be a wise policy on the part of any hypothetical roboking that was disinclined towards genocidal eradication. To keep humans in a sub-par state of flourishing would mean less predictability - there's always the chance of some freak behaving who-knows-how. Having all the decorative/ethically-sourced humans in a state that is the absolute pinnacle of human excellence means you can plan accordingly, and the odd freak won't "hop the fence" so to speak.

Even that practical concern aside, I think an AI inclined to keep us would probably keep us well. And for the humans, this is a life at least as fulfilling as that experienced by all the chaps in the old testament, in Greek myth, etc - a life of challenge, overseen by known gods. Not too bad really.

I kinda disagree that the conquers were negligent. I think that humans without a purpose, who have everything handed to them end up in a state rather like zoo animals. They no longer need those behaviors that produce flourishing in the wild state, so they no longer really do them. The6 become essentially domesticated in the sense that they simply expect things to be handed to them rather than going out and getting them, and expect the keepers to maintain and build their life for them.

That might explain why the aboriginals use substances instead of working(at least partially; I doubt there are many jobs to be had near the reservations), but the squalor of their conditions is because the Australian government herded them into the middle of nowhere, in one of the least densely populated countries in the world, and proceeded to provide squalid conditions instead of nice ones.

It might be unrealistic to expect government housing for an entire ethnic group to be nice middle class suburbs, but ‘it sucks because they ruined it for want of something to do’ requires evidence that they did in fact ruin it instead of it just being cruddy to begin with.

Having lived in Darwin for a while, there was an essentially never-ending loop of 'Nice new accommodation is built for local indigenous, indigenous move in, Indigenous culture around extreme sharing within groups and territorial violence between groups leads to nice new accomodation becoming teeming slum, nice new accomodation is built'

Not negligent per se; let's just say they didn't sincerely prioritise the flourishing of those they hadn't the heart to murder.

Suppose for example I'm the governor of some territory with a load of indigenes and colonists. Even if I set aside a physical space for the indigenes and make some financial allowance for basic medical treatment and what-have-you, there just aren't enough men or dollars or hours in the day to really ensure the indigenes' flourishing.

An AI will only be able to conquer and master humanity if it is significantly more capable than us. Consider how we might expect, say, a mediaeval army versus a modern polity to care for spare people in their charge. Now consider than any humanity-beating AI would be far more competent than a modern state, and by a much greater degree than the modern state outclasses some mediaeval horde.

I think an AI good enough to beat us could also husband us well without breaking a sweat.

I don't think it's true that a purposeless life need be as squalid as those of many modern indigenes - many perfectly nice and even quite good lives don't have any purpose that's apparent to their possessors. And honestly, life in divine obedience to a real machine God seems at least as purposeful as any of the religions of the book. I reckon it would beat "modern hedonistic self-actualisation" too.

I didn’t say that, I think the purposeless people in those conditions, no matter how “nice” you make them or how “well kept” they are will eventually turn even a middle class suburb condition into a shithole given enough time. Humans simply are not built for idleness, no animals are. And animals unable to act upon their instincts fend to have mental issues and end up creating worse conditions.

Right, so the AI creates busywork for humanity.

It works for dogs. Dogs that have jobs even if it’s just competitive frisbee or obstacle courses or herding tend to be better adjusted than pets left at home.

Sorry, that was a failure to convey tone correctly on my part - I agree with the busywork proposal, I wasn't being facetious. Perhaps some holy commandments like an obligation to pray x number of times per day etc

I have to wonder if this is going to end up like Irish referenda on social liberalisation (e.g. divorce); the pro- side argue each time that the loss doesn't represent the true views of the country, that there was misinformation and fear mongering and outside interference, and they're going to go again. Then eventually after a series of votes, where they finally get "yes" by a very slim majority - that's it. The people have spoken. No more referenda, this is now the law of the land, sorry "No" side you had your chance and don't get another chance to campaign (unlike us who got three or four goes to get the result we wanted).

I will be interested if the pro-Voice side push for another vote down the line in X months/year's time.

I think the Voice proposal is dead. It was a shitty idea, pushed more for "something must be done, this is something, therefore we must do it" reasons than genuine conviction I think. There will continue to be efforts to get treaties or whatever other idea comes along, but that's it for the Voice.

For comparison, the rejected Republic referendum back in the 90s really did kill the Republican movement. Even 25 years later, with the Queen having passed away, there is still no heat or energy behind the idea of getting rid of the monarchy.

Is that actually what happened in Ireland? Or did support for the pro side grow over time, and then continue to grow even after they won the referendum, making campaigning for a reversal pointless? Considering the 2019 referendum to further reduce divorce requirements was a blowout with over 80% approval, I somehow don't see a reversal of the 1995 referendum as likely to win more than 10% of the vote.

My point is less about "did support grow" (yes, like the rest of the world, we were not unaffected by 'whiskey! democracy! sexy!') but that the side advocating for the change insisted after every reversal that they weren't going to stop campaigning until they got the result they wanted, and when they did get it, suddenly now no further votes were needed or wanted. Following figures pulled out of my backside but 'We lost by 60% to 40%, the struggle is not over" until "We won by 51% to 49%, that's it, this is now immutable unchangeable law and we don't need any further votes on this, and the No campaign can just go away".

That's in part why I am so rigid on "not an inch"; after abortion was legalised (to a limited extent in my country) all the public appeal about "well this is only for really hard cases and it will be limited and no it's not going to lead to abortion on demand" was dropped and the activist groups were quite clear, and publicly said so, "This is only the first step, we're going to continue until we get the liberalised abortion we want".

There is never any 'we only want this one small concession, why are you being so inhumane and heartless?'.

Which referenda are you thinking of? Gay marriage passed in 2015 with a healthy majority (there was only one county in which the No vote achieved a majority), and abortion passed in a landslide in 2018.

Not to dispute the existence of the phenomenon you're describing. My uncle lives in the UK and is every inch the archetypal Guardian reader. He's been insisting for the last seven years that the Brexit referendum was illegitimate because of Russian interference/"misinformation"/whatever you're having yourself. Although I think the prospect of the UK campaigning to rejoin the EU is effectively nil.

Gay marriage passed in 2015 with a healthy majority

Yeah, and both major parties supported it, which is a huge sea change in public opinion within my own lifetime. So the constant 'we are an oppressed minority living in a church-run society which is bigoted against us' script is quite plainly untrue, yet it keeps being pulled out whenever new changes are proposed.

Could not agree more.

Albanese's said he respects the result and the will of the people; he's not going to try it again this term (trying it again would also pretty much guarantee that that 60% would vote against him come the next election, and I don't think he's that stupid).

Down the track, who knows. Do note that Australia is TTBOMK the only country to repeal a carbon tax, so our right does actually roll things back from time to time (even if I might not agree with that particular rollback).

Do note that Australia is TTBOMK the only country to repeal a carbon tax, so our right does actually roll things back from time to time (even if I might not agree with that particular rollback).

I'm one of the more lunatic environmentalists on this site and I even supported rolling back the carbon tax. The carbon tax doesn't do anything to actually slow down the burning of carbon in any real way, it just gives a bunch of extremely rich people the ability to play financial games and suck some money from the public teat.

Ultimately this is always the nature of the game with progressive causes; opposing them requires constant vigilance and to win every single conflict, while they only require one (quite possibly gamed and/or cheated) win, and then that's it, the ratchet has advanced and never shall it relent. Anyone who tries to roll things back is painted as a vile fascist dictator trying to remove 'human rights' (that didn't exist until 5 seconds ago).

This is possibly why the Supreme Court abortion thing hit progressives so hard, because this is never supposed to happen.

This is possibly why the Supreme Court abortion thing hit progressives so hard, because this is never supposed to happen.

And why pro-life pregnancy centers receive so much ire. They are not exactly neutral institutions, but the vast majority of the things they do seem to be genuinely charitable(eg providing diapers to poor mothers), whether or not you think the state should be subsidizing them. It’s simply that pretending partisan advocacy NGO’s are just basic charity organizations and the only reason to ever oppose them is because you’re evil and hate whatever charitable work they supposedly do is only supposed to work in one direction.

Honestly I don't believe this entirely. The issue of try-try-try again-pass is real yes, but as Brexit shows it's an advantage inherent to the "Anti-Status-Quo" stance rather than inherently an advantage for progressives.

The problem is that conservatives believe you can just rest on your laurels and do nothing whatsoever to uphold your beliefs beyond voting, while progressives understand that to win you have to fight for your beliefs every single day. If conservatives tried half as hard to ban gay marriage as the progressives did to legalize it, it would be illegal.

Progressives collectively throw hundreds of billions of dollars towards their social goals, have numerous people whose entire lives and careers are dedicated to furthering the cause (many of whom abandoned more profitable avenues to do so) and have millions more who make art, put the values into their work, make public displays of loyalty, etc. Conservatives aren't even in the same ballpark of effort and commitment.

The sole exception would of course be Christian Evangelicals, who do all the same things progressives do to to actually attempt to win. And would you look at that, they did in fact get Roe v Wade overturned! Turns out conservatives can win if they actually care and put their money where their mouth is!

What I'm trying to get at is that "well this vote shows the people do/don't want this thing" only applies to the "anti-" side of any proposal after the "pro" side get their victory. I understand this tactic, but I don't see how you can shift from "we don't agree with this result so we'll keep going till we get the one we want", to "this result is now written in stone and can never be challenged". Unless you don't care a whit about the charge of hypocrisy and can be certain the tame media will never apply it to you, but always and only to your opponents.

That's my takeaway on the whole abortion debate: "why can't both sides compromise?" Well, because for one side, 'compromise' means 'surrender your principles, give us what we want, but we won't give you anything in return'.

"Why don't you permit abortion for rape/incest/threat to life of mother?"

(1) You don't? Heartless monsters who hate women and want them to die! (2) You do? Okay, you've already given in on the permissibility of abortion, that means you have no principled objection, so why not give in on the other cases we want? If you don't, then you're a hypocrite!

"If you really thought abortion was murder, why aren't you bombing clinics/putting women who get abortions in jail/executing abortion doctors?"

(1) You don't? Ha ha, you hypocrites! So that means you're lying and you don't have any principled objection to abortion, you only hate women and want to punish them for their sexuality! (2) You do? You heartless monsters! You hate women and want to punish them for their sexuality!

Progressives collectively throw hundreds of billions of dollars towards their social goals

They can do this because it's other people's money. They've infiltrated corporate and government institutions and act as corrupt agents, turning them towards the goals of the left instead of the nominal goals of the organization.

Currently that is the case, and my only response is "Yes, and if Conservatives cared enough they'd be stealing our money to fund pet causes too."

But it wasn't always true. The early progressive movements were largely funded by progressives, progressive sympathizers, and donations by those who supported the associated causes. Conservatives could do the same, but they don't. An expected counterpoint would be the funds seized from the trucker protest but 1. That's not America, and 2. You have to actually put money towards building power structures (like the Federalist Society), not just in response to a single politically hot event.

The progressives aren't about to let the conservatives pull the same trick; now that they've done it, they've closed the door to conservatives doing it. Progressive organizations get to engage in conspiracies in restraint of trade with no one blinking an eye. Conservative organizations get the stink-eye from the IRS.

I don't entirely disagree with this, though I would say it occurred largely because conservatives didn't care enough about their own values to maintain them. They could have done what progressives are doing now, but failed to do so, and instead let sinful behavior take control of the most powerful state to ever exist.

The solution now is to find new tricks, new takeover methods, that the opponent doesn't see coming. It is a war after all. You can't just reuse the old methods identically, but there are consistently functional principles that are timeless.

The solution now is to find new tricks, new takeover methods, that the opponent doesn't see coming.

And if no such things exist to be found?

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It is a war after all.

Sometimes the enemy just outclasses you.

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One of the things that was remarkable about this campaign was how overwhelming the Yes campaign's resources were. Over the course of the campaign I saw ads and billboards and people handing out pamphlets and even a choir promoting the Yes case. In comparison I saw exactly one (1) bumper sticker for No and nothing else. At the polling booth there were half a dozen volunteers for Yes and the whole fence was blanketed with their signage while No had one guy with one sign. And I've heard there were other polling places that didn't even have that.

I really wish people would learn that all this campaign paraphernalia is completely worthless, and arguably counterproductive. It was extremely clear the people with money and power wanted a Yes victory, but that doesn't actually convince anyone.

The proposal was the result of starting with the idea of putting Aboriginals in the constitution and then jerry-rigging it into an advisory body after people complained that they wanted something practical, but also trying not to do anything concrete or specific that could offend someone. It was a mess of an idea and really someone should have had the balls to stop this process before it got to this point instead of shunting off the responsibility of putting it down to the voting public.

I don't feel any joy in this result, though it's the outcome I voted for. We've had a bunch of angst and drama for no gain, and it seems clear no one is going to learn anything from the experience. All the talking heads are busy convincing themselves that the problem is somehow the sales job and not the product. No one is even thinking to ask if maybe it just wasn't a bit implausible that you needed a constitutional amendment to create an advisory committee, or that an advisory committee was going to somehow fix all the massive problems Aboriginal Australia faces. Maybe we just need to lecture people not to be racist harder next time. Yeah, that'll work.

...Australia allows campaigning at the polling place? That's an absolute no-no in Finland, you can't even walk in to vote wearing your preferred candidate's pin.

There's a 6 metre buffer zone outside the actual school hall/whatever that is being used as a polling place. So it's routine to run a gauntlet of campaigners trying to shove paper in your hand as you walk through the gate. It annoys a lot of people.

There's an old Chaser sketch exploring different ways to try to get through unscathed.

Only six meters? In Texas the electioneering exclusion zone is the same as the exclusion zone for guns, and people are regularly sent to the bathroom to turn political shirts inside out before being allowed to vote. Political action committees produce lists of endorsed candidates on unofficial letterhead(that is it doesn’t say ‘vote for real true conservatives’) so they can be carried into the polling booth.

Yeah, only six metres. And you're allowed to take party political material in with you - it's routine for parties to give out "how to vote" cards recommending an ordering of candidates (e.g. us first, our allies second, weirdos and fringe candidates in the middle, and our enemies at the bottom) to voters walking in.

We have ‘how to vote’ cards too, they’re just plain black and white with no letterheads or logos of a political party or advocacy group of any sort. It would be illegal to carry a flier into a poll booth but you can have a list to remind yourself.

(I know you specifically don't need to know this, but for non-Australians reading, I hope this is helpful.)

I'll add that the how-to-vote cards do have a practical function. Firstly, Australia's voting system is relatively complex compared to countries like the US, so having a little more advice on how to correctly fill out a ballot seems reasonable. Secondly, we have preferential voting, and one of the purposes of how-to-vote cards is to explain how the party would like you to vote.

Let me give a specific example - here's a Labor how-to-vote card for the 2015 Canning by-election. For a vote in Australia to be valid, it has to number every box in order. If you just write a '1' in the box of your favourite candidate, your vote will not count. However, there are twelve candidates in Canning! Twelve! Is the average voter really going to research every one of them and rank them in order? The how-to-vote card tells you how the Labor Party would like you to rank all the candidates. If you already know you want to vote for Labor, why not follow their advice?

Canning is an extreme case - there usually aren't twelve candidates. But anecdotally, I find that in my electorate it is usually somewhere between five and seven, and that's still a lot. Thus every party gives out cards like this.

The better cards, in my opinion, also give a little bit of information on the candidate's or party's platform, but that's up to the party. Still, they do have a useful role in educating and streamlining the voting process.

That said one worthwhile sidenote is that because a lot of voters just follow the order that their preferred party says, the people who decide the orders on the how-to-vote cards can have a lot of influence - this is where so-called preference deals can have a big influence. Often the parties will negotiate with other behind the scenes a bit for their preferences, and it can have a significant impact.

Obviously none of this matters for a referendum, because there aren't any parties and a referendum is a straight Yes/No question, but it is an interesting quirk of the way the Australian electoral system works.

For a vote in Australia to be valid, it has to number every box in order. If you just write a '1' in the box of your favourite candidate, your vote will not count.

Whoa really? Where I live there have been occasional rumblings about switching to preference voting, and I've mostly been agnostic about it. But this part seems like a negative, to me. If it's clear who someone meant to vote for, the vote should count.

I'm curious what the reasoning is here? Is this specific to Australia? Something to do with mandatory voting?

That's just how it works in Australia. To my knowledge, when preferential voting is proposed overseas, as in the UK Alternative Vote referendum in 2011, the proposal has been for optional-preferential voting, rather than our mandatory full-preferential system. Likewise I believe New York uses optional-preferential rather than full.

As to why that's the way it works here, I don't know specifically.

We adopted preferential voting with the Commnowealth Electoral Act of 1918, after WWI - the intent was that, since politics of the day were a relatively unified Labor Party which would likely win a plurality vote every time against a gaggle of competing alternative parties, preferential voting was necessary to ensure fair representation. In 1918 the Nationalists were in power, and there had just been a by-election which Labor won with only a third of the vote, against two conservative candidates who split each other's vote. Preferential voting was intended to prevent travesties like that. Naturally Labor opposed it at the time, but today both major parties are solidly behind it.

(Interestingly, the general dynamic of Australian politics still mostly holds today, in that Labor is consistently the biggest individual party, and it's opposed by a rough coalition of not-Labor parties, which today are called the Coalition. The general structure of Australian politics has been the interests of labour, represented by the Labor party, against the interests of capital, represented by the National/Country/United Australia/Liberal/Whatever party. That said, this might be changing as over the last few decades, Labor have been increasingly losing touch with their earlier working-class and union base, and both major parties are seeing their primary votes collapse, as voters leave the big parties for more ideological alternatives.)

Anyway, I don't know why we chose full-preferential voting in 1918. For better or for worse, we did, and no one seems to want to risk touching the electoral system today. So it's likely to stay.

(We did not have mandatory voting in 1918 - that was introduced in 1924, after the 1922 election only had 60% turnout, which at the time was considered extraordinarily low, and indeed too low to give the government a real mandate. I realise that sounds quaint now with countries like the United States usually showing sub-60 turnout - I guess it just goes to show what a different time it was.)

I use the how-to-vote cards to triangulate minor parties' and independents' positions based on the patterns of how major parties rank them. I'm a relatively-high-information voter as regards the major parties' positions (for 2022, once my single-issue-voting plan failed due to hearing crickets from all parties, I went through all the online platforms - or at least, four of them, since I seem to recall the UAP not even having one, and I don't think I checked the Nats since for some reason Bendigo gets Libs), but minor parties and independents are harder and I usually don't bother.

One thing I will note about preference deals is this: there used to be a cordon sanitaire against preference deals with One Nation (I recall the Libs putting One Nation last under Howard), but it collapsed and the Liberals now preference One Nation second.

It is hilarious that preferential voting which was a Reddit fan favourite of 2010s and was surely going to herald true democracy…. ended up creating more backroom politics

What’s the problem with it though. In effect some uninformed voters voluntarily hand their preferred parties the power of their residual votes to use as they see fit, along with the main one. If the voter himself says : ‘I’ve seen all I wanted to see, go to the backroom’, it’s not really backroom politics.

It also succeeds at doing the thing it is meant to do - preventing vote-splitting from making third parties counterproductive.

E.g. the seat of Pumicestone in the 2017 Queensland election gave the most votes to the left wing Labor candidate (the amusingly named Michael Hoogwaerts), with 35%. The right wing vote was split between the Liberal National candidate with 30% and the even more right wing One Nation candidate with 23%.

FPTP would have given the seat to Labor, despite most voters voting for a right wing candidate. Instead, the Liberal National won it on preferences.

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For what it's worth I do think preferential voting is superior to first-past-the-post, but you're right that it does not end or remove backroom deals. I don't believe there's any form of democracy, or even of government entirely, that's immune to scheming and dealing behind the scenes.

In this specific case, alternative vote (i.e. not requiring every box be filled) would be an alternative to Australia's mandatory full preferential voting that would significantly weaken the power of preference deals.

One of the things that was remarkable about this campaign was how overwhelming the Yes campaign's resources were.

The amount of resources there are behind progressive politics is pretty much always immense, basically every influential institution was supporting Yes. At the entrance of my train station, there were Yes campaigners outside for days, handing out flyers to people. Even bodies that should strictly be impartial such as local governments (City of Sydney) were putting up advertisements all over the place telling people to support the Voice, which is frankly inappropriate and clearly overstepping the bounds of their ambit. As you note, it ended up being very clear that this was not some grassroots campaign for change, but a well-funded, dominant group filled with people who have an overwhelming influence over what the public gets to hear and see.

It's also very clear that the well-funded progressive elite, the people who populate the opinion-setting parts of the media, academia, and various other institutions, have hugely lost touch with the rest of the country and simply don't care to listen to them. Then every single time people turn against their policies, there always seems to be such a great amount of surprise and dismay that people would disagree with them, and a knee-jerk assumption that the reason for lack of support can simply be chalked up to stupidity or racism. Perhaps some of it is performative, but I do think that they really believe it.

It's also very clear that the well-funded progressive elite, the people who populate the opinion-setting parts of the media, academia, and various other institutions, have hugely lost touch with the rest of the country and simply don't care to listen to them.

From the descriptions of the amount of resources thrown behind the yes campaign(eg people handing out fliers in train stations for days) it almost sounds more like it was people who don’t have day jobs.

and simply don't care to listen to them.

Well, why should they listen to the opinions of a mass of inferior peasants, if they "really believe" those opinions are driven by stupidity and racism? If you have power, why not enforce the objectively correct and moral position over the objections of the ignorant and the wicked?

The issue is that this kind of rhetoric and behaviour only really helps you gain status within a peer group that already agrees with you, it doesn't help get people on board. It may be fashionable to dehumanise your outgroup and form representations of them as evil and stupid that justify not listening to them or trying to sympathise with their concerns. But the reality is that if you fail to try and properly understand the rest of the country, and form caricatures of them that simply do not align with how they really think and act, you're almost certainly not going to be able to convince them nor will you be able to convert people to be in favour of your policy proposals.

The entire Yes campaign has seemed to believe that the morality of an indigenous Voice is so self-evident that they don't even need to try and form much of a coherent argument in favour of why it's a good decision (well, outside of empty sympathy-mongering, sloganeering and other such tactics that attempt to substitute actual argument for emotional appeal, I believe @OliveTapenade has covered that topic in detail in this thread and in previous ones too).

One of the main arguments I see in favour of the Voice is that Indigenous outcomes are poor, it's the fault of whites and therefore Something Needs To Be Done. But even accepting the premise that the Indigenous deserve something, it doesn't answer the question of why what they deserve is a constitutionally mandated lobbying group that exists to promote their interests and their interests alone (especially considering the failure of ATSIC to solve these problems and how it became a corrupt, mismanaged fuckfest). Australia pumps lots of money into Indigenous causes all the time, does this not already constitute help? It's also unclear why providing help even requires any amount of differential treatment based on race at all (if the Indigenous are disproportionately poor, any policy focusing on socioeconomic status instead of ethnicity will also disproportionately help the Indigenous while also not neglecting other Australians in need). The woke arguments simply have not addressed these issues and do not stand up to this kind of scrutiny. Regurgitating empty platitudes about "listening to people affected" are not arguments, they are slogans, and not particularly convincing ones either.

The reality is that it's not as clear cut as they think, and their failure to make sensible arguments in favour of the policy or properly acknowledge the arguments of their opponents drives home to people just how intellectually vacuous the argument in favour of the proposal is and has always been. It really seems like Yes just can't conceive of reasons why one would vote No, and instead of actually dealing with the core-level issues inherent to the proposal they are supporting it mainly on vibes alone.

This is what I mean when I say they have "hugely lost touch with the rest of the country". Of course, I won't interrupt my enemies in the middle of making a mistake.

it doesn't help get people on board.

you're almost certainly not going to be able to convince them nor will you be able to convert people to be in favour of your policy proposals.

So what? So long as you have your fellow elites on board, you can just use your power as elites to force what you want on the powerless peasant masses. You don't need to "convince" or "convert" the peasant masses, just find ways to punish them for being ignorant bigots and voting wrong until enough of them eventually vote your way — assuming that, as it seems to be in this case, that you can't just impose your goals through the permanent bureaucracy, courts, academic consensus, or other such powerful institutions more insulated from democratic feedback.

"Democracy" is, and always has been, more of a sham than a reality. Society is always ruled by a small elite, and that elite always ends up getting their way, and the masses are pretty much always just powerless peasants who can do nothing but submit. Why should lords, with their superior breeding and wisdom, bother to listen to the ignorant opinions of dirty, stupid peasants, as opposed to just whipping the low-born curs into compliance?

So long as you have your fellow elites on board, you can just use your power as elites to force what you want on the powerless peasant masses.

Probably the wrong time to be making this claim, seeing as the powerless peasant masses just beat the elites handily.

The issue is that this kind of rhetoric and behaviour only really helps you gain status within a peer group that already agrees with you, it doesn't help get people on board.

Does the evidence pan out there? The impulse to avoid shame and being seen as part of a low-status group seems quite strong (e.g. I'd consider it the finisher of old school internet atheism, "in this moment, I'm ecstatic" or how that one went), and I don't know if the current Moral Majority was ever particularly more conciliatory on the path to its present degree of mass support. (If you do accept them as the descendants of the hippies of yore, they were already calling their outgroup fascists back in the late sixties!)

A lot probably depends on how many members of their remaining opposition still subscribe to their status hierarchy, and either side has a correct feel for this figure.

If you do accept them as the descendants of the hippies of yore, they were already calling their outgroup fascists back in the late sixties

I remember once watching a rerun of an episode of Dragnet — which ran back in the 50s — with a couple of proto-hippy California college students calling Joe Friday a "fascist pig."

A lot probably depends on how many members of their remaining opposition still subscribe to their status hierarchy, and either side has a correct feel for this figure.

Or how many notables among their remaining opposition can be subjected to sufficient negative consequences as to make others among the opposition switch sides out of fear of the same — "Kill the chicken to scare the monkey" and such.

But even accepting the premise that the Indigenous deserve something, it doesn't answer the question of why what they deserve is a constitutionally mandated lobbying group that exists to promote their interests and their interests alone (especially considering the failure of ATSIC to solve these problems and how it became a corrupt, mismanaged fuckfest). Australia pumps lots of money into Indigenous causes all the time, does this not already constitute help?

The standard reply to this was, "This is what they asked for."

If you suggest that a legislated Voice would do, the reply is to note that the Uluru Statement asks for 'a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution'. To counter with any other suggestion would be patronising and even racist, whitefellas once again failing to listen and telling Aboriginals what's good for them.

You might ask the question whether or not the Uluru Statement actually reflects the desires of most indigenous people. You might also argue that democracy is inherently a process of deliberation and compromise between different interest groups and there is nothing clearly racist about replying to a suggestion with, "We don't think that's practical at the time, but here are some alternatives that meet you halfway." However, I think the Yes campaign was very hung up on the idea that this is definitely the one thing that Aboriginal people asked for, and that it is so fundamentally reasonable that no one could possibly object to it. Both those ideas seem blinkered to me.

Ironically, at the time in 2017, Malcolm Turnbull's response was to say that "the government does not believe such a radical change to our constitution’s representative institutions has any realistic prospect of being supported by a majority of Australians in a majority of states". Despite being roundly criticised for that at the time, six years on it appears that he was entirely correct. Perhaps the drafters of the Uluru Statement might have done better to do some listening of their own, and consider what Turnbull - a sympathetic politician - was telling them was practically possible.

The standard reply to this was, "This is what they asked for."

I'd add that what people deserve is a matter that is able to be litigated, not a matter that is unilaterally decided by the beneficiary and that everyone else is obligated to blindly agree with. Making "what people asked for" the basis for one's reasoning is untenable, as even in a situation where someone has been wronged and everyone agrees they deserve compensation there are indeed requests that can be made which are unreasonable or disproportionate or just plain impractical. Just because you deserve something doesn't necessarily mean you deserve to get what you want. And these are holes that can be poked even after one has assumed that the progressive framing of poor Indigenous outcomes is correct, and I don't.

Are we sure this is not due to some Russian trickery with the elections?

As we know, it's not real democracy if the people vote for the opposite of what the establishment want them to.

Surely Trump/MAGA/QAnon must be involved somehow! 😀

The Sydney Morning Herald helpfully reports:

Anti-Voice rallies organised by pro-Putin conspiracy theorist

Putin strikes again.

I wish I was ten percent as competent as the left believes Putin is.

I wish I was ten percent as competent as the left believes Putin is.

So does Putin.

I've been refreshing the counts for the past few hours, and this referendum failed even harder than I thought it was going to as well. 60% rejecting the proposal and losing all states is a pretty damning result for The Voice. I'm particularly surprised by Tasmania's rejection, because it was a state that Yes supporters were relying on to support the referendum, and surveys before the referendum indicated it might vote yes.

Something that Mundine stated in the aftermath of the referendum results did resonate with me quite heavily:

Warren Mundine, the leading no campaigner, has credited his side’s focusing on migrant communities for helping defeat the referendum.

Mundine spoke to Sky News, noting “some of them come from countries where they were second-class citizens” and were open to a message about the voice causing a divide.

We knew that the migrant community is 50% of Australia, either born overseas or their parents have been born overseas. We deliberately target that group.”

I'm the kind of migrant that has experienced this, and am incredibly opposed to affirmative action. Progressives might think their ideas are revolutionary and new, but their mindset of victimhood, group accountability and unequal racial treatment on that basis is basically endemic in many third-world countries, and many migrants have been on the wrong side of policies that look and quack a good amount like progressive politics.

As a result, I was in support of No from the very beginning, and though I couldn't vote in it I am happy with the outcome of the referendum. If the Voice had ended up with too much influence it would essentially have been a permanent, constitutionally mandated lobbying group which constituted an outright subversion of a proper and impartial democratic process, if it ended up with too little influence it would have basically been useless. Both would have warranted a No vote.

surveys before the referendum indicated it might vote yes

"Shy Tory" effect? If indicating you are thinking of voting "no" gets you tagged as a racist white supremacist hater -phobe -ist, then why on earth would you admit to any pollster your true intentions? I think it also indicates we should be sceptical about polls that are all "X is a sure result" for whatever side, because it does depend where you are polling, who you are polling, and how the questions are phrased.

Nah, more likely just small subgroup samples. Tasmania only has 500k people, it's normal for polling to be unreliable. You have to poll a lot of people to get enough Tasmanians to get a reliable subsample.

What is the pollster going to do to you?

How confident are you the pollster isn't compiling a list of political enemies? What do you gain by answering honestly? If the answer to the first question is "less than 100%" and the answer to the second is "Nothing," why would you ever answer honestly? It just seems like the obviously wrong decision (for non-Kantians, at least.)

I've never heard of someone in the US pretending to be a pollster to create a list of potential enemies, so I'd be basically 100% sure.

This same argument would cause you to expect a shy progressive effect that doesn't seem to exist.

Modern Western society does a lot more cancellation, hecklings and punishment of the insufficiently-left than the insufficiently-Right

As long as the chance is not zero, the argument says you must lie.

What's more important - that you answer a poll honestly or that someone likes you? In this world of anxiety and influencers it doesn't matter who the pollster is, only that they exist and might think less of you.

Is there less of a shy tory effect in online surveys where there isn't even anyone on the line who might judge you?

I dunno man,I have tended to give the answers the surveyors wanted to hear whenever I've been picked for one. Though these were over the phone, not online.

It's just a bit awkward and easier to tell them what (you think) they want

Don't think it's shy-Tory. The No result was stronger than the polls in most states, but it's not stronger than the trendline of the polls (the polls showed Yes collapsing over time, so it's not surprising that Yes continued to collapse between the last polls and voting day). And the very last polls in Tas do show a sudden and massive shift to No, fairly consistent with the actual outcome. Maybe something happened in Tasmania that I don't know about.

Agreed, the Aboriginal grievance industry is still very fixed in this idea of blackfellas vs whitefellas, and it's increasingly disconnected from the very immigrant-heavy multiethnic country that actually exists. Their messages just do not resonate with people who neither share their grudges nor feel any white guilt for their circumstances.

I fully expected it, but I'm still gratified to see No performing extremely strongly in areas with heavily non-Anglo demographics. A country like this can't work if people don't buy into the idea that race doesn't matter.

This is veering pretty close to waging culture war and, while not building consensus, assuming consensus.

My understanding of the spirit of the Motte is that when you write on the Motte, you should not assume a background of people who share your political views.

That is, my understanding is that this is not supposed to be a place where you share excited "inside opinions" about how your preferred politics are going.

I say this not as someone who is for the "Yes", but just as someone who does not want more culture war waging here.

Is there something I assumed that you'd like explained in more detail?

Sorry, I was drunk-posting when I read the above and I think I read something into it that was not there.

On re-reading it, I realized that even if there is some little bit of culture war waging in it, which I'm not sure, it's very minor by Motte standards, to the point that it would probably be hard to write anything about politics without having a similar degree of slant.

My apologies!

I mean, I did neglect to explain what I meant when I challenged the "misinformation" claim, and you prompted me to remedy that. But yes, apology accepted.

Might as well be proactive regarding the "misinformation" issue. Using the