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John Passant

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October 2009



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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)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Reformers and revolutionaries

This is something I wrote at Left Focus in response to an argument by Geoff Drechsler that the ALP has a radical history which shows we shouldn’t write it off. The article is called From the past to the future: Unearthing Labor’s socialist tradition. Geoff wrote about the socialisation units in the 30s.  This is my response.


I write, presumably as one of those few remaining revolutionaries Geoff refers to. To dispel some myths, let me quote from Tom O’Lincoln’s analysis of the Communist Party of Australia at the time of the socialisation units (found in the August 2009 edition of Socialist Alternative .) Tom says:

‘In these years the CPA was often “ultra-left”. The party didn’t know how to build alliances with non-revolutionaries. The Communists saw the opportunist side of the Labor Party, for example, but by simply denouncing Laborism and leaving it at that, they missed important opportunities to influence rank and file ALP supporters. For example, when ALP members formed leftist groupings called “socialisation units” and rallied behind sacked Labor Premier Jack Lang, the Communists largely stood aside from these mobilisations. That was a terrible waste.’

Far from rejecting a radicalisation of the rank and file of the Labor Party, we revolutionaries would welcome it and work with those comrades in a united front of action.

But let’s be frank. The Labor Party membership and even leadership today is not the Labor Party of the early 30s. Where, to use one small example, is Labor for Refugees, campaigning against Rudd’s racism?

I think there is another element that needs discussing.

The socialisation units imagined the capitalist Parliament as the vehicle for socialism. A militant and democratic communist party could have oriented towards those comrades in the units to help them understand it was the struggle for jobs, against wage cuts and to save homes from being repossessed (to name a few), that was the way forward.

But by then the stalinisation of the CPA meant, although it led some magnificent struggles, that the idea of socialism from below had been destroyed as stalinism spread its influence across the communist parties of the world, and the USSR became a state capitalist country.

I welcome the opportunity to work with colleagues in the ALP when we fight for a common goal. I just don’t notice the ALP membership today mobilising itself, let alone wider sections of society, for anything progressive.



Comment from Marco
Time November 1, 2009 at 8:55 am


This is probably not the best place to ask this, but I don’t know whom to ask and I don’t know anything about these matters, or where to get the info myself.
Could you please write a piece about how elections work in Australia, say intended for foreigners? I am a citizen now, and I vote, but I don’t know how this preference thing works, or what are marginal seats or all these things especifically Australian.


Comment from John
Time November 1, 2009 at 11:53 am

Marco, the Australian Electoral Commission website has some detail.

Try this:

Comment from Marco
Time November 3, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Thanks for the tip. Great resource.

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