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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. 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
(0)

Sick kids and paying upfront

(0)

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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Saturday’s socialist speak out

Tired of capitalist crap? Want to attack war, poverty, injustice, inequity and oppression? Want to rail against all of this and more? Here’s a chance to speak out. Grab that megaphone and have a shout! Have your say. Hit the comments tag to see what people are talking about and to participate.

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Comments

Comment from anonymoose
Time May 29, 2010 at 7:07 am

There’s something ironic about a post for socialism right above an ad for mastercard.

Comment from John
Time May 29, 2010 at 8:35 am

Apparently anonymoose we socialists have to provide our services under capitalism for free. Is that it?
Yet we believe the working class is the class with the power to destroy the old and usher in the new – to set up a democratic society to organise production to satisfy human need . That class of course ash to sell its labour pwoer to survive. W don’t condemn workers for that. We realise that their wage earning is the basis for the destruction of capitalism.

Comment from John
Time May 29, 2010 at 8:45 am

Anonymoose workers sell their labour power to survive. Because of that and their role in the production process they have the power to destroy the old and usher in the new – a democratic society where production is organised to satisfy human need.

It is not ironic that they do so.

As for me, even socialists too have to feed their kids as well as get the message out there.

Comment from Marco
Time May 29, 2010 at 9:29 am

The iPad is out! I can die in peace now, knowing that human kind is in its way to a better future. Yes, siree.

Yesterday newspapers all over this sunburnt land were jubilantly reporting “long lines in Europe and Asia to buy Apple’s iPad”. Oh boy, oh boy! What excitement!

You probably saw the images on TV: long queues of customers snaking outside Apple shops in Australia and Japan hours before their opening and similar huddled masses turned out at stores in six European countries.

Is there anything more emblematic of the brave new world we live in? Think about it: ordinarily, people hate queuing, as any unfortunate “customer service” officer will readily tell you. And customers will make sure customer service officers know of their displeasure for the wait.

Yet, here we have thousands of anxious people, happily queuing for the opportunity of coughing up at least US$ 499 for the latest miracle gadget.

Have I finally gone bananas or there is something deeply disturbing in these marketing events?

Comment from John
Time May 29, 2010 at 9:54 am

There has been a bit of discussion about Bolivia.

Here are the links:

http://sa.org.au/international/2721-general-strike-challenges-bolivian-government

http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/44208

There are some points to draw out about the GL article.

Firstly, they disagree with Daniel’s article by claiming that the strike was small. This is wrong. The strike included urban teachers, health workers, miners and manufacturing workers. The health workers returned to work after a few days, but the rest stayed out. The adherence to the strike was clearly strong amongst teachers, thousands of whom marched. This shut down schools in Bolivia. The teachers’ strike continued the longest, and was the most radical in its demands. On the 18th of May, a mass teacher’s rally shut down the center of La Paz. The teachers were the last to go back to work, on the 24th of May.

As regards the miners and manufacturing workers, thousands marched across the country, and many more struck. While it is difficult to say how many struck precisely, or what proportion of miners struck, one indication was the government’s reaction. After a few days of claiming that the strike was a flop, the government changed tack and started accusing the strikers of sabotaging Boliva’s progress. After a week, Morales started accusing the strikers of being stooges of the Americans. He then accused the strikers of attempting to overthrow his government. He also claimed that teachers were undemocratic for striking and shutting down classrooms. All the while, the government was in ongoing negotiations with the COB (the striking union federation).

While the government did not acquiesce to the main demand of a 12% (as opposed to 5%) pay rise, these negotiations granted significant concessions around the age of retirement. Hardly the responses of a government to an irrelevant strike. Moreover, it is clear there was anger amongst at least some workers that the COB accepted this deal: the urban teacher’s union called the leaders of the COB traitors.

So, the GL is clearly wrong to say the strike was: “a lot of huffing and puffing by a few union leaders, and symbolic protests, mixed with a good dose of internal union politicking”.

But this all misses the point: the size of a strike is irrelevant to whether or not socialists should support it. It is a clear cut class issue; socialists need to stand with workers against governments and bosses at all times, not just when strikes are big.

This relates to the second main problem with the GL article – it systematically downplays the Bolivian working class in favor of indigenous people. This is doubly wrong because it substitutes a nationalist/ethnic analysis for a class one.

Many indigenous Bolivians are working class, while others are small farmers or peasants. The former are capable of leading social revolution; the latter, are not.

The article quite clearly supports the indigenous peasants movement that constitutes the mass base of Morales’ Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) party over the workers’ movement. It was this part of the population that supported Morales in 2006 against the militant miners and teachers who wanted to continue the revolution.

Comment from Federico Fuentes
Time May 29, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Writing about my analysis of the events in Bolivia, John says that “the GL is clearly wrong to say the strike was: “a lot of huffing and puffing by a few union leaders, and symbolic protests, mixed with a good dose of internal union politicking”.”
For course as is always the case with those who refuses to grapple with reality, John presents no facts whats so ever as to the size and impact of the “strikes”. He just tells us that they happened (because he says so!), and yet cannot find a single article, comment piece, photo or anything to actually sustain this assertions. At least if John lived in Bolivia, i would be happy to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he is writing from Australia!!
So once again I challenge John to provide any facts that substantiate claims like “The strike included urban teachers, health workers, miners and manufacturing workers. The health workers returned to work after a few days, but the rest stayed out.” Or any of the stuff in the Daniel Lopez article. Who stayed out? How many? For how many days?
At least I can say that my article was a factual and sourced account based on a serious study of various pro and anti-Morales, left and right wing press sources, in order to try and get a sense of what was occurring. John on the other hand thinks that just saying something makes it true.
But we all know that John doesnt have any facts to present. Thats the problem with reality, its pretty concrete. Its hard to publish an article in Bolivia claiming a general strike has shutdown parts of the country when people can see and feel if this is true or not. But write similar nonsense in the magazine for a fanatically anti-Morales outfit is not a problem, because very few people that read it will have to confront this reality. Instead they just accept the “truth” presented in a biblical form.
John tells us his “reality” must be true because the government was forced to grant significant concessions. But again this is just his opinion, his guess from the other side of the world.
But it could also be equally true to say that the government, while remaining firm on its position that it could not raise wages more than 5% (although modify who benefits more but increasing lower wages more and higher wages less) also wanted to show that it does support workers rights and offered an additional measures, one which the government has been discussing with the COB for a while and was granted not due to pressure but becuase the government choose to present it once again. The pensions law has been under discussion for months, it was not something demanded by the workers, and was something the government was already discussing.
It is also possible true that, even though this was not a demand of the workers, and the “strikers” did not get a pay rise, they agreed and went home becuase they had a correct analysis of the weakness of their actions and that they were unlike to achieve more. Far from an type of “revolutionary upsurge” that John claims was happening.
But then John says it doesnt matter if the strike was big or small (or never happened!). Of course, this is simply an admission that he no longer wants to get bogged down in reality and facts.
But it does allow us to move onto more substantive issues.
Lets deal with this one at a time.
John writes: “It is a clear cut class issue; socialists need to stand with workers against governments and bosses at all times, not just when strikes are big.”
It is true that socialists dont premise support for workers rights on the size of the demonstration. My argument was never “size matters”, rather that for sectarians it is reality that doesnt matter. Anything that serves the purpose of proving they have the “correct line” and everyone else is wrong or “stalinist”, even if it means outrights lies, is acceptable for ultraleft outfits.
But John is deadwrong when he claims that socialists must stand with workers against governments and bosses AT ALL TIMES. This is just workerist horseshit.
Or did John support the rallies called by the Confederation of Venezuelan Trade Unions (CTV) when they joined with the bosses to carry out a coup against the Hugo Chavez government in 2002? Or the CTV supported oil strike to try and bring him down again later that year?
Does he no longer agree with Socialist Alternative’s position of support for the Soviet GOVERNMENT’S violent repression of the WORKERS in Kronstad?
Surely John you have read a little of Marx and Lenin, were they talk about the difference between a class in itself and a class for itself. Not everytime workers protests they are defending their own interests. Racist workers protesting “illegals taking our jobs” or protectionist rubbish deserve no support from socialist, without this mean one must support the government or not try to politically educate those workers that they are acting against their class interests.
In the context of Bolivia today, i have no problem with supporting workers fighting for higher wages. In fact, a much more serious issue is some of the anti-union elements currently contained in a draft labour law under discussion. I hope workers protest against that.
But im sure that these protest will not be to overthrow the government or anti-government in nature, rather they will be over a specific demand. Just like the recent protests, where unions leaders stressed that their protests were not against the government, just against the specific issue of the pay increase. This is the case with numerous other protests that are occurring at the moment which reflects a generalised sentiment that the Morales government is “our government” and therefore should starting attending more quickly to a vaeiety of small, sectorial problems that are the result of years and years of right wing pro-imperialist governments.
Where i do have a problem is with sectarians who try to conflating this with revolutionary insurrection against an “anti-worker government” in order to keep feeding shit to their members and proving they are the only “revolutionaries”. Training up young socialists with simplistic politics like “socialists need to stand with workers against governments and bosses at all times” or “workers make revolution, peasants dont” is just wasting the minds of potentially very good comrades.
John then says my problems is that i “systematically downplays the Bolivian working class in favor of indigenous people. This is doubly wrong because it substitutes a nationalist/ethnic analysis for a class one. Many indigenous Bolivians are working class, while others are small farmers or peasants. The former are capable of leading social revolution; the latter, are not.”
Again workerist nonsense from someone who has not bothered to study Marxism or Bolivian reality. The problem is not that i downplay the Bolivian working class, its that reality shows the “Bolivian working class” as it exists today is irrelevant in Bolivian politics. (Here we could also get into a discussion of what is the working class in Bolivia, happy to do so as long as we try and base it on facts). This is a problem, but it is a fact one has to deal with, and no amount of revolutionary phasemongering will change that.
One can only understand Bolivian reality if it understands that the key dynamic of the struggle today is an anti-imperialist movement headed by indigenous people, who are workers and peasants but identify first and foremost as indigenous. I wish reality was different, that what we have is a powerful working class leading a socialist revolution, but reality dictates this is not what is occurring, nor will it anytime soon.
The main problem, historically and now, is that left has DOWNPLAYED the indigenous people. That is why i pointed out that the 1970 COB thesis is a mistaken one as it does not even mention the word indigenous once! Rather than grappling with Bolivian reality the thesis is just a rehashed version of dogmatic European marxist that in the end can become reactionary.
One example of the reactionary nature of such thought is the opposition by urban teachers (led by trotskyists) to the right to have education in spanish and indigenous languages. In defending “workers rights” ie the need to not have to retrain teachers to learn a second language, these workers end up taking a reactionary position (i hope you agree on this or is this another one of those cases of defending workers against the government – and indigenous people?)
John finishes by writing: “The article quite clearly supports the indigenous peasants movement that constitutes the mass base of Morales’ Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) party over the workers’ movement. It was this part of the population that supported Morales in 2006 against the militant miners and teachers who wanted to continue the revolution.”
Well my response is yes: i support the real existing struggle of the indigenous majority (workers and peasants) represent by the MAS against an imaginary illusion. I decide my politics on facts and realities not wishful thinking and romantic (or better said dogmatic?) fantasies. My politics are not dictated by the interests of a tiny sect in Australia but by the real gains won by these masses in struggles that have overthrown presidents and placed one of their own in power.
Does this mean i think the struggle is over? Or that Bolivia is socialist? or that the revolution doesnt need a working class? Not in the slightest, and my article(s) say so. But i will not change my support of this and replace it with a figment of my imagination.
On the supposed “militant miners and teachers who wanted to continue the revolution” in 2006, you will have to fill us all in. Unfortunately peoples individual dreams are very rarely documented, as was the case with this revolution you dreamed occurred in 2006. i look forward to an account of this imaginary revolution in 2006.
Apologies for my tone, but frankly i am fed up with infantile socialists who from the comfort of their armchairs attack real living struggles, in order to justify a type of sectarian politics that the only thing it achieves is rotting the brains of very good activists.

Comment from Federico Fuentes
Time May 29, 2010 at 1:07 pm

the thesis is just a rehashed version of dogmatic European marxist that in the end can become reactionary.
One example of the reactionary nature of such thought is the opposition by urban teachers (led by trotskyists) to the right to have education in spanish and indigenous languages. In defending “workers rights” ie the need to not have to retrain teachers to learn a second language, these workers end up taking a reactionary position (i hope you agree on this or is this another one of those cases of defending workers against the government – and indigenous people?)
John finishes by writing: “The article quite clearly supports the indigenous peasants movement that constitutes the mass base of Morales’ Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) party over the workers’ movement. It was this part of the population that supported Morales in 2006 against the militant miners and teachers who wanted to continue the revolution.”
Well my response is yes: i support the real existing struggle of the indigenous majority (workers and peasants) represent by the MAS against an imaginary illusion. I decide my politics on facts and realities not wishful thinking and romantic (or better said dogmatic?) fantasies. My politics are not dictated by the interests of a tiny sect in Australia but by the real gains won by these masses in struggles that have overthrown presidents and placed one of their own in power.
Does this mean i think the struggle is over? Or that Bolivia is socialist? or that the revolution doesnt need a working class? Not in the slightest, and my article(s) say so. But i will not change my support of this and replace it with a figment of my imagination.
On the supposed “militant miners and teachers who wanted to continue the revolution” in 2006, you will have to fill us all in. Unfortunately peoples individual dreams are very rarely documented, as was the case with this revolution you dreamed occurred in 2006. i look forward to an account of this imaginary revolution in 2006.
Apologies for my tone, but frankly i am fed up with infantile socialists who from the comfort of their armchairs attack real living struggles, in order to justify a type of sectarian politics that the only thing it achieves is rotting the brains of very good activists.