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February 2010
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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)

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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (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. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (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
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Sick kids and paying upfront

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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. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

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Labor: making the Liberals look good

Is the Rudd Labor Government mortally wounded? Or is it just resting?

A Sun-Herald/Taverner poll shows both parties at 50 percent on a two party preferred basis.

So we have gone from Labor a few months ago in the stratosphere with nearly 60 percent of the 2PP vote to now being neck and neck with the Tony Abbott led Liberals.

The punditariat and soft left commentators will talk about the hit the Government has taken from the home insulation fiasco.

They will proclaim that Labor can overcome these problems and is still the favourite to win the election, due some time later this year.

They will argue the poll was only 609 New South Wales voters.

True, but even the Prime Minister says Labor will get a whacking in future polls.

In fact Rudd, looking very much like Mark Latham on Prozac, has proclaimed that the Government will deserve this whacking.

Mr Do Nothing is apologising for, you guessed it, doing nothing. But apologising is not action. Rudd won’t actually do anything positive to address the problems in health and education and of climate change.

The soft left experts might go on to make a few disparaging remarks about Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce and shake their heads in middle class disbelief that these two, along with Joe Hockey and Julie Bishop, could soon be running the country.

What they won’t do is analyse the insulation imbroglio and the swing to the Liberals even before then as something more systemic, something indicative of a broader malaise in Australian reformism.

In fact I think we are witnessing the slow ongoing death throes of the reformist project in Australia, death throes played out over the last three decades as a complete capitulation to the ‘free’ market.

Rudd Labor continues the Howard project. 

For example its Emissions Trading Scheme is based on the manipulating the market to price in externalities. 

Its insulation roofing program was a cheap political trick – jobs with a green tinge – that threw the lives of installers to the sons and daughters of Bjelke -Petersen’s white shoe brigade.   The market would regulate the roll out.

Even in those circumstances where Rudd uses the power of the state overtly – for example the Northern Territory intervention – it is to steal aboriginal land and put it on the market.

On Afghanistan Rudd echoes Howard – we are there as a down payment for the US/Australia alliance.

This is a compact under which we can expand into the Pacific and South East Asian region and be a bulwark of sorts with the US and its other reliable allies like Japan against Chinese expansion.

On asylum seekers Rudd’s anti-refugee rhetoric and actions match Howard’s.

The crisis of profitability in Western capitalism since the 70s has seen the nature of reformism change from reforms for workers (however piecemeal and half-hearted) to reforms for capital which will flow through benefits for workers, or so the Labor Party hopes.

The economic base for real pro-working class reforms no longer exists so the reformists now dress up their changes in rhetoric without substance. We are in the period of reformism without reforms.

Rudd’s Fair Work Australia for example retains much of the anti-union constrictions of Howard’s WorkChoices.

Politics in Australia is now the debate between two openly pro-boss parties about the best way forward for capital, with labour supposedly to ride on the coattails.

The trade union bureaucracy has facilitated this process with its supine capitulation to Labor’s pro-capital policies and the destruction of the ideas and practice of struggle for real reforms.

The end result is a battle between two versions of the same neoliberal ideology.  Because Labor doesn’t challenge the ‘free’ market but aids and abets it, those who many see as the natural defenders of that market – the Liberals – will have an audience for their ideas.

Couple the systemic degeneration of Labor with a more aggressive Opposition, the weakness of Rudd as a Labor leader and his lack of ideas to differentiate him from the Opposition, the Labor party’s commitment to the market as the solution to human problem (and the consequent failure of some of its programs) and the swing to the Liberals is not surprising.

The lack of class struggle and a left wing, radical and revolutionary alternative to Labor – something in the long run only the working class itself can rectify – means that the electoral toing and froing between the two wings of conservatism will continue for some time.

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Comments

Comment from Kelly
Time March 2, 2010 at 2:14 pm

I don’t really care which party run Australia, as long as we can have a new PM at the next election. Surely Labor has greater talent than Kevin Rudd.

Comment from Marco
Time March 2, 2010 at 6:30 pm

John,

The clearest sign that there is no real Left in Australia? Last week’s Gerard Henderson’s “Labor’s loose cannons allow friendships to turn frosty” (or his intervention last Sunday in ABC’s Insiders).

When a “free-market” apologist like Henderson starts to defend Mr. Rudd, against a chimerical “Left” almost as if Mr. Rudd was a Liberal (as he did, I bullshit you not), you know that there is something seriously wrong with the “Left”.

I mean, you remember that Malcolm Turnbull (an investment banker, for God’s sake!) had briefly flirted with Labor, before finally going Liberal.

And, to add insult to injury, the pundits say he would have been accepted, had it not been for that “fanatic communist”, Kim Beasley…

I rest my case.

Comment from Arjay
Time March 2, 2010 at 7:56 pm

We need a new political party that is not controlled by the corportates and bill of rights/responsibilities that clearly defines individual,Govt and corporate positions.

This will be a starting point.We then need an international agreement on monetary policy that allows all countries to create their own money and not be enlaved by greedy banking cartels.

This will be agood start.