Saturday’s socialist speak out
Barack Obama, the Commander in Chief of Terror, is preparing for a possible war on Iran, a country ruled by a religious dictatorship which challenges US dominance in the region.
The mass movement last year against the dictatorship shows the possibility of a different result – the power of the people, and specifically of the Iranian working class although that was not really in play apart from some strikes – as the alternative to US imperialism and the regime. And of course, like the developments across the Middle East and North Africa, US imperialism has tried to co-opt the anti-regime forces for its own ends.
In Australia the Gillard Labor Government plods along, hiding a report recommending a national dental health scheme. The $4 billion price tag scares it. Given Labor won’t tax its rich mates this Government is trapped in the hamster wheel of reformist rhetoric and inaction.
Given that the social surplus is drying up and the demands of the bosses for tax cuts and that any spending be on them, there is actually less reformist rhetoric from Labor than in the past. All we get from Labor’s leadership is vague phrases like ‘Jobs. Growth. Fairness.’ And moving forward.
But there is no real action across the board to implement action in any sustained fashion, other than riding the coattails of profit and hoping wealth will ‘trickle down’.
It won’t. It hasn’t for example helped address the crisis in dental care. Taxing the rich to fund a universal dental health care system would.
The bosses in Australia continue to complain about Labor’s industrial relations laws – the best thing the bourgeoisie has going for it at the moment. But it knows a shift in support to Abbott and his conservatives means, even if people don’t yet understand this, even more anti-worker laws are on the way under a Liberal government.
So it is pressing Labor to accommodate by acquiescing to workplace law changes. Little things like cutting penalty rates, youth pay, further restricting unions and the right to strike …These might be a bridge too far even for this right-wing Labor government.
The Labor Party conference produced the usual hand wringing in the capitalist press, most of it inconsequential nonsense and often framed in the context of the ‘battle’ between Gillard and Rudd. This ‘debate’ is a bit like trying to decide if Prince Charles or his son should be the next king. A pox on both their houses.
Over at Ozleft I was attacked for the heinous crime of criticising the Conference and for making the point that the conscience vote was a cop out. And presumably for criticising Labor’s decisions to endorse offshore processing of refugees and selling uranium to India.
This is really a debate about the way forward for the revolutionary left. Should we be spending our time in a decaying degenerate party whose membership is deserting it because of its failure to push for let alone implement social democratic reforms and because of its thoroughgoing embrace of neoliberalism?
Or should we, small as we are, have a vision of building a mass party of the working class built on the militant section of the class? I am for the latter.
That doesn’t and indeed shouldn’t preclude working with Labor leftists on campaigns like equal love, refugees, the Northern Territory invasion, climate change and the like, assuming they can drag themselves away from their interminable chook raffle meetings to join us in the streets.
But working together does not mean we must silence our criticism of the ALP or those who view working within it as the way forward for the Left. Indeed, as the equal Love campaign shows, Labor (including its left) responds to the pressure from the grass roots campaigns. It follows; it does not lead.
That is why it is very important to redouble our efforts in the struggle for equal love, against imprisoning refugees, against the NT intervention and to be with all workers fighting for better wages and conditions and defending jobs.
That includes the fight of public servants against their Labor Party boss, a boss which is cutting 3000 jobs according to their union. The Conference was silent on this issue, perhaps because the Union leadership is in bed with Labor and rank and file union members feel powerless.
Durban has proved to be the failure these pages predicted. It has produced nothing in addressing climate change. Capitalism is a system whose essence – the pursuit of profit – is destroying its ability to survive. There could be no greater indictment of the system and its bankruptcy than the threat it poses to the future of humanity.
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