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John Passant

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September 2009
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Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)



Socialists: running to where the ball will be

It was Wayne Gretzky who once described his ice hockey greatness in these terms: I skate to where the puck is going to be.

As we socialists plough yet again the seemingly dry fields, it is a message we should heed.

Our work now prepares us for the ultimate goal, a class for and of itself, ready and ripe for revolution and the conquest of political power.

As we do our steady propaganda work, and educate ourselves in the ideas of socialism and intervene as we can in the struggles around us, we are in fact preparing ourselves for that historic battle of the two main classes for power. 

That doesn’t mean we ignore where the ball is now.  That helps us understand where it will be in the future. 

In doing that we begin to judge how best we can use the shifts in the class struggle to the advantage of our class.

Rosa Luxemburg wrote a classic and oft misunderstood piece about trade unionism in which she described trade union work as the labour of Sisyphus.

Trade unions are nothing more than the organised defence of labour power against the attacks of profit. They express the resistance offered by the working class to the oppression of capitalist economy.

… trade unions have the function of influencing the situation in the labour-power market. But this influence is being constantly overcome by the proletarianisation of the middle layers of our society, a process which continually brings new merchandise on the labour market. The second function of the trade unions is to ameliorate the condition of the workers. That is, they attempt to increase the share of the social wealth going to the working class. This share, however, is being reduced with the fatality of a natural process, by the growth of the productivity of labour …

In other words, the objective conditions of capitalist society transform the two economic functions of the trade unions into a sort of labour of Sisyphus, which is, nevertheless, indispensable. For, as a result of the activity of his trade unions, the worker succeeds in obtaining for himself the rate of wages due to him in accordance with the situation of the labour-power market. As a result of trade union activity, the capitalist law of wages is applied and the effect of the depressing tendency of economic development is paralysed, or, to be more exact, is attenuated.

Sometimes it seems we party building socialists are labouring like Sisyphus.

But our activity builds our intellectual and organisational muscles and prepares us and the working class for the day when it goes on the offensive.

At the moment we are small. There are perhaps a bit under 300 people in Australia in Socialist Alternative, the main political expression of the tendency I belong to.

But our activity and ideas regularly attract a small but growing number of people to us.

We have within us the seeds of a political party able to intervene in the class struggle and build a party capable of being the pistons to labour’s steam.

The level of class quietude dictates that the main focus for socialists must be the campuses where the battle of ideas is at its peak during times of class peace. 

But even there groups like Students for Palestine, the campaigns in support of equal love (organised and built successfully by Socialist Alternative members along with many others), the defence of Indian students, the ongoing agitation against Labor and Liberal attacks on refugees, workers, government services, students and so on show a heartening attempt to put theory into practice.

This campus strategy hasn’t produced a turn away from the working class as the agency of fundamental change in society and its own liberation.

In fact it reinforces it, with most students becoming workers after a few years at university, but workers now armed with an understanding of class and class politics.

Marxists can’t predict the future, but it seems likely that at some stage class struggle in Australia will return, perhaps even explode, despite the deadening influence of the Labor Party and the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

The more people who are prepared practically and theoretically for that day the closer we will be to a truly democratic society where production is organised to satisfy human need. Then begins our liberation.  

Join us in running to where the ball will be.