As the referendum over a First Nations Voice approaches, the No campaign is turning to deranged conspiracies that link Aboriginal rights with communism. But it’s not just paranoia — they’re drawing on a long history of racism and red-baiting.
Evan Smith is an academic and a writer in Adelaide, South Australia. He has written widely on political extremism, free speech, national security, and borders in Australia, Britain, and South Africa.
The contrarian website Spiked is now at the heart of an influential right-wing network in British politics and media. But the group behind Spiked started off as an avowedly Marxist organization before turning its back on left-wing politics in the 1990s.
The Right has successfully framed “canceling” as something leftists do. But it’s the snowflakes on the Right who have typically led the charge to censor culture. Case in point: when Britain lost its mind over the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Many liberal responses to Trumpism lament “polarization” on all sides. But the call to return to a sensible centrism ignores the real crises we face — falsely equating those who want to solve them with a far right who would make them worse.
Far-right organizing in Australia is nothing new. But time and again, coalitions of anti-fascists, union militants, and community organizations have stymied the far right’s rise. That history stands as a resource for the Left to draw from today.
Australian conservatives claim that “woke” students and left-wing lecturers pose a threat to free speech on university campuses. But the real “cancel culture” is coming from the Right.