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John Passant

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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
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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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Dear ASIO

Dear Australian Security Intelligence Organisation

On 4 March I received a death threat on Facebook. I reported it to Facebook and in doing that it lost the photo of a man (me presumably at some future time) with his brains blown out. 

The message with the photo said ‘Fuck you. Or  BOOOOOOM and your head looks like that beautiful photo.’

There was also from memory some anti-communist symbol in the background, but that too disappeared with the photo or might have been part of it.

The Facebook name, Yuan Freeman, is obviously made up.

I thought about referring it to the cops or to you, ASIO. But despite friends urging me to do so, I didn’t. I thought about it but dismissed the threat as coming from some crackpot who would get perverse satisfaction if I showed any concern.

Now after the fascist attacks in Oslo I am not so sure.

There was another reason I didn’t refer it to the agents of the capitalist state. The cops, and especially you, ASIO, aren’t really about watching right wing terrorists. You have sympathy with them. Least of all are you about protecting socialists.

Why, the very idea is preposterous. ASIO sees the left as the enemy. It is why you were set up as in effect the Australian equivalent of the Stasi, spying on us, planting informers in our meetings, setting up the local cops to arrest us when we protest against apartheid Israel etc etc. The list of your despicable actions goes on and on and on.

You reject everything we stand for – democracy, decency, equity and equality. To protect us is to give succour to the enemy.

So I didn’t refer the death threat to you. I have no faith in you. I don’t trust you.  You are part of the organised section of the enemy.

The struggle for a new society, a democratic society in which production is organised to satisfy human need, will see the vast majority of  the producers smashing the state and setting up an alternative truly democratic one. That includes smashing the secret police of the bourgeoisie and its not so secret police, the ones in blue we see every day. Both in different ways have the role of protecting the rich and propertied. 

The crises of capitalism – environmental, economic and political – will force the bourgeoisie into more and more serious attacks on workers and their organisations.

The rise of fascism in the twenty and thirties was a bourgeois response to falling profit rates and the inability to drive down wages and conditions enough to restore profit rates without brute force.

Today across Europe, in the US and Australia we can see nascent fascist organisations and a more generalised disquiet among sections of  the bourgeoisie and small business. The middle class of course was the backbone of Nazism until the ruling class swung its support behind Hitler in 1932 and the fascists became the battering ram of capital against labour.

If the old methods of addressing economic decline and crisis do not work then these various groups, from the ‘respectable’ extreme right like the Progress Party in Norway and the bovver boys in groups like the English Defence League, can meld and try to carry out the bourgeoisie’s goal. This is to smash the organised working class – unions, social democratic and revolutionary organisations – and in doing that drive down wages and conditions and restore profit rates.

Thus Hitler’s concentration camps were filled first with the leaders of the working class.

To date different countries have different levels of extreme reaction. The formation of the Tea Party in the US shows the process has begun in the US but it appears to be maturing in some countries in Europe at a faster rate.

Thus Norway’s Progress Party won 23 percent of the vote by seemingly moderating its positions. Hitler did the same in the late 20s and early 30s, moving from putschist to ‘democrat’ to win wide levels of support, especially in rural areas. 

In Australia middle class disquiet found expression in the late 90s with the rise of One Nation, an organisation made up of small often rural business owners and other middle class elements together with some non-unionised regional workers.  Conservative Prime Minister corralled this vote, and gave the class focus through demonising refugees and aborigines. It will not always be ever thus.

These fascists in waiting serve a useful purpose for captial. They help drag the debate further to the right and provide a base for future assaults, physical, legal and economic, on workers and their organisations.

A common thread among the extreme right has been its anti-Muslim rhetoric. In Australia this has merged with anti-refugee rhetoric, a rhetoric made acceptable and broadcast by the two main parties of neoliberalism, the Labor Party and the Liberal Party.

This Islamophobia is widespread across Europe.  From France where the Conservatives have banned wearing the burqa in public, to Switzerland with its bans on minarets, to Luxembourg with its ban too on the burqa (the only joint action in an otherwise paralysed Parliament without government for the last 8 months), and on to The Netherlands and its Party of Freedom with 15% of the vote and the Danish People’s Party with almost the same level of support, the ‘Islamisation’ of society is a common theme. 

Now French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British PM David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have all declared multiculturalism dead.

As Socialist Alternative in its article ‘Mainstream Muslim bashing sowed the seeds of right-wing terror’ puts it:

Far-right organisations across Europe have flourished in the foetid atmosphere that has been created by a decade of imperialist war in the Middle East. The far right takes its violent cues from the racist campaign whipped up against Muslim immigrants by politicians of all stripes.

As the global economic crisis has savaged Europe, mainstream politicians have tried to divert anger over bankers’ greed and savage austerity measures by sowing seeds of hatred against Muslims and other minorities. They cannot now escape responsibility for what that hatred has unleashed.

Labor’s Malaysian solution and Abbott’s ‘stop the boats’ fit neatly into this agenda of racist demonisation and Islamophobia.

The murderous imeprailist killings in the Middle East and Afghanistan make our leaders even bigger terrorists than Breivik.

The fight against the encroaching extremism of the right and the cloak of respectability the mainstream parties here and across the world give it is the fight specifically against the fascists and their ‘respectable’ legitimisers but more generally is the fight to build a genuine socialist alternative.

That means as a first step building an organisation of thousands of workers and others committed to a new society in which the threat of fascism is wiped from the earth for good. Only overthrowing the system that breeds fascism can do that. Only the working class as working class, the millions for example in Australia who produce  the wealth of Australian society, have that power.

We have seen glimpses of that power in Egypt, in Wisconsin and in Europe generally and Greece and Spain specifically. From the workplaces to the squares there is resistance.

We socialists want to build an organisation of the most class conscious elements to win a new world. The first step to doing that is to build an organisation that relates to the struggles of the day and doesn’t sink into the sewer of racism and Islamophobia but which challenges at every step of the way the creeping extremism of the right and becomes strong enough to smash this violent and abhorrent expression of capitalism now and into the future.

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Comments

Comment from Ross
Time July 27, 2011 at 12:02 am

Anders Brevivik saw Muslims as the reason of the decay if Western Civilisation.This has been properagated via the popular press to the extent that many now see the moral relativism of stealing oil/resources as being justified to secure their living standards.

Today it is not only the facist right that is the problem.We have the facist environmentalists under the cover of totalitariarn communism of the Bob Brown ilk who want to make us subserviant.The elites do not care how they achieve their aims of absolute power.They use the cover of both left and right to achieve their aims.Bush did it under right cover and now Obama has achieved more wars and debt to the banksters under left cover because people trusted him.

As long as we get sucked into the left/right paradigm,the elites will play us off against each other and steal our wealth like they are doing now with their debt money system that owns our productivity via the private central banking system.

There is a very important word that goes with democracy and that is freedom.Freedom of the individual for self determination.

Comment from John
Time July 27, 2011 at 6:17 am

Ross, this communist conspiracy nonsense is the sort of bullshit Breviek sprouted. The concept let alone the reality of individual freedom cannot be divorced from the society in which it exists. There can be no real individual freedom in a society based on exploitation of the many by the propertied few.

Comment from Ross
Time July 27, 2011 at 8:25 am

You have missed my point John.They are using philosophies of left and right to gain total control.Whiel you and I fight over left and right isssues the elites us both to subdue us.The elites only believe in communism for the masses.They want power at any cost.We see is in Wall st where they socialise the losses and capitalise the losses. There is already far too much Govt in our lives.There is no denying the Green Movement has a strong communist streak.

Comment from MarianK
Time July 27, 2011 at 8:58 am

Of all the blog posts and media coverage I’ve read about the Norway massacre, this comes closest to both my immediate and ongoing reaction. The fact that the young people killed were targeted because they were the next generation of Norway’s centre-left wing has been all but missing from all the coverage I’ve read. Well done!

Having said that, however, John, I’m disappointed that you subscribe to the standard Western left-wing trope on the burqa-ban issue. The wish to ban the burqa and niqab in Western countries is not confined to the extremist right-wing, neither is it essentially Islamphobic – as the writings of Muslim feminists such as Mona Eltahaway show. It’s possible for Westerners to oppose both the racist right wing AND to favour the banning of intensely misogynist cultural practices (rather than tolerating them in the name of Western freedom).

As a socialist and a feminist, I feel pretty ripped off that both Western feminism and the Western Left has done such a great big Pontius Pilate cop-out on the issue. If you want to write about the rise of right-wing extremism throughout the West, there are much better and more alarming examples to use than moves to ban the burqa/niqab.

Comment from dan
Time July 27, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Mate, a threat like that on FB belongs with the cops more than ASIO doesn’t it?

Comment from John
Time July 27, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Telling Muslim women what to wear is not liberation. And you can’t divorce that authoritarian approach from who is doing the ordering – the capitalist state. There are Muslim feminists who oppose the ban both for its dictatorial approach to Muslim women and for the objective support it gives to the Islamophobic agenda. The French NPA (New Anti-Capitalist party) had this debate over a veiled candidate. They voted only very narrowly in favour of the veiled candidate who, with many others, left in disgust. Sarkozy of course isn’t interested in liberating Muslim women – he’s interested in garnering the racist vote and spreading Islamophobia as a diversion from the real issues..

Comment from MarianK
Time July 28, 2011 at 9:17 am

The NPA vote was over the wearing of the Muslim headscarf, i.e. the hijab . Culturally, the hijab is well within in the bounds of reasonable cultural dress. It was UNreasonable for the NPA to force a vote on a form of cultural dress, whose main aim is simply modesty and, I suspect, cultural pride.

By contrast, the burqa and niqab – which cover the entire face (the niqab only allowing a narrow eye strip) – strip a woman of her public identity and severely restrict her capacity for public movement and normal socialising.

It’s sloppy ethics for the Left and Western feminism to treat the burqa/niqab as just another tolerance versus authoritarianism issue. As a result of its absolution of this responsibility, the Left has given the Right a clear run to hijack the issue for its own ends.

Comment from John
Time July 28, 2011 at 10:44 am

Yes, and if this how the NPA reacts to the headscarf, imagine their response to the burqa. In fact some elements of the left (PCF, Lutte Ovriere) supported Sarkozy’s ban. But tell me, how is Sarkozy’s ban furthering women’s liberation? There is nothing sloppy in this and least of all is it an abrogation of responsibility. Opposing the Right’s ban on the burqa does not give the right a clear run; supporting it does.

Comment from peter piper
Time July 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm

If he hated islamic people, why did he kill Norwegians? Surely he got the wrong targets?

Comment from MarianK
Time July 28, 2011 at 1:34 pm

‘But tell me, how is Sarkozy’s ban furthering women’s liberation?

Conversely, how is the defence of one’s ‘right’ to wear the burqa or niqab furthering women’s liberation?

I endorse Sarkozy’s burqa/niqab ban because, regardless of the politics behind it, I think the ban is reasonable. However, I do NOT endorse his ban of the hijab, because I believe it’s UNreasonable. Neither am I naive enough to assume his motives for banning either the burqa/niqab or hijab have much to do with women’s liberation.

If you want to argue that Europe is moving towards Islamphobia and right-wing extremism, then the banning of the hijab is a much more reasonable example to use.