*Toon: 2008. Paul Lennon in a hot tub stitching up a deal with Betfair at Crown’s six-star resort … Jon Kudelka said it was originally a large acrylic for an exhibition. Kudelka, https://www.kudelka.com.au/ used with permission
Victory for the little guys is possible, not despite the big guys, but because of them …
It was the 1830s and New Jersey had a problem. The once prosperous state was having its commerce strangled by the grasp of New York City. So New Jersey became the first place where someone could start a business and if it failed – unheard of! – walk away from it, without cost. No debtor prison, no lifelong servitude! Joisey had created the limited liability company, and capital flowed back in.
It was 1930 and Nevada had a problem. It was a pseudo-state, created out of three East Californian cities.. By the 1920s the state was broke. Then the Hoover dam came along. How to stop the big wages from workers there leaving the state? In 1931, Nevada legalised gambling.
In 1968, Tasmania was….
So it goes, so it goes. Weak states become gambling havens because they have nothing to sell but themselves, their licensing ability
They eventually become owned by the people they license.
So it has happened in Tasmania.
But this is simply a particular feature of a more general aspect of states that are ‘weak links’ within larger systems.
The contradictions are maximised. The state has state powers – police, monopoly on violence, twelve senators in Canberra – but a small socio-economic base.
From this contradiction, the radical potential of weak link states arises.
Thus the totalitarian state power of the Hydro-Electric Commission produced a proto-Green movement which had no choice, none, but to contest state power, where it lived (as the UTG), and take it.
From that, within the most conservative state, Tasmania became the most radical state, simultaneously, producing political advances that would not otherwise have occurred.
Those two products of the Tasmanian contradiction – the gambling-state and a social-movement society – have now come into conflict, for the epic stoush of the era.
In response to a social movement society – which has become smarter, broader, more inclusive as it has developed – the gambling state has become soft totalitarian, in its control of media, through money.
From this totalitarian response, the anti-pokies movement arose. The most radical possibility on offer – to remove pokies, supported by a party of government – has arisen from within that attempted totality.
Win or lose on Saturday, that has occurred. Cannot be undone.
The rough theory of Tasmania as a state of maximised contradictions offers a strategic/tactical insight for the last 48 hours of this campaign. Totalitarian processes maximise abstract, general and system control. Their opposition maximises human, free and lived meaning.
In other words, this will be won now, by face-to-face contact, persuasion. The social media campaign has been extraordinary. And the notion that Tasmanians are especially hostile to last minute campaigning is valid.
But the personal contact, the appeal to the person-in-society, to the conscience of the citizen, to the fully human to turn against the imposed system – that is where the 1000, or 500, or 20 or 10 votes will be found that will win this.
My argument – and it’s only an argument, and possibly annoying to people who are doing it anyway – is for one last push on the face-to-face, on the stray undecided. My argument is that that is to be preferred to any other outreach at this moment.
Saturday, should the house’s advantage prevail, is not the end. This may be the last Tasmanian election with a three-party array of forces of standard issue. Loss now – the contradiction again – may be more productive.
But – those contradictions again – victory is within grasp.