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John Passant

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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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Saturday’s socialist speak out

A Parliamentary Committee in Australia has recommended that refugees be detained for a maximum of 90 days. At the moment asylum seekers can spend years in detention. 

If ASIO gives an adverse security report, they will rot there indefinitely.

They of course have committed no crime and these detention centres are really concentration camps and breeding grounds for mental illness.

Unless the Greens initiate and lead a mass campaign on the streets for refugees nothing will happen because Labor and the Liberals are committed to brutalising asylum seekers for what they think is electoral gain.

In Bradford in England George Galloway, a former Labour MP expelled for his opposition to the Iraq invasion, handsomely won a by-election there.  Galloway ran on an anti-austerity and anti-war campaign and attacked Labour for its complicity in both.

He romped in. The swing against Labour was over 36 percent. Galloway, standing for Respect, beat the Labour candidate Imran Hussain by 18,341 votes to 8,201. The Liberal Democrats, the partners in austerity with the Tories, lost their deposit.

This is a great victory for the left in England. While there were specific factors involved, the fact remains that someone opposing unemployment, austerity and war won a traditional Labour seat. The anger against Labour and the Tories has been given a left wing voice. 

Given unemployment and deep austerity are not yet the currency of the realm in Australia, although war is, the left is very unlikely to be able to replicate this result in the short term in Australia.

And of course election to parliament is not the be all and end all. It is the struggle on the streets and in the workplaces that determines whether workers will be victorious in their fight to defend jobs, living standards and stop the massacres in Afghanistan.

But Galloway in Parliament now has the opportunity to build that resistance on the streets and in the workplaces in the UK.

We might expect similar results across Europe as the battle against austerity intensifies. In Greece for example 40% of voters support the various far left parties, according to recent polls.

The swing against Labor in Queensland was 16 percent, but clearly it is on the nose, having received just 26% of primary votes. The swing went to the conservatives, the LNP, and to Bob Katter’s Australia Party with its populist appeal and support from some unions.

The left in Australia doesn’t have a figure like Galloway. For  a start no substantial ALP figure has been expelled because they all support the war in Afghanistan, attacking aborigines through the Northern Territory intervention, scapegoating refugees, restricting the right to strike, fining workers for industrial action, cutting funding to public transport, health and education and doing little on climate change.

But we do have small left wing groups here. The biggest is Socialist Alternative, of which I am a member. It is committed to intervening in struggles where possible and mobilising its members in support of such struggles where it can.

To me the task of the left in Australia is as always to try to relate to the underlying anger that is there among workers with Labor’s sell outs and attacks.

Socialist Alternative is too small to lead major class struggles, but we are involved in important campaigns like Equal Love, BDS against apartheid Israel and the refugee action groups as well as being active in our won unions. We were heavily involved in the Baiada picket line to help them win that fight.

And our forthcoming  Conference over Easter in Melbourne – Marxism 2012: revolution in the air – is the left wing conference of the year. With speakers like Malalai Joya, John Pilger, Gary Foley and Mamdouh Habib (to name a few of the 70 or so speaking) it is a must attend for all on the left.

The task as I see it is to build Socialist Alternative so the left has a strong voice in Australia and a commitment to socialism from below and can help build the fight back against the attacks of the bosses and their Labor lackeys in Parliament, against job losses, against war and for better wages and conditions.

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Comments

Comment from The General
Time March 31, 2012 at 8:31 pm

SAlt is far from the “biggest” far left group in Australia (unless you’ve managed to double in size over the last week).
By all means, let’s argue for socialism, and push the barrow of our own political outfit if we must, but fantasy, exaggeration and silly bluster will get us nowhere.

Comment from John
Time March 31, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Who is bigger? I’d be happy to change it to one of the biggest if you can tell me which organisation is bigger? As I have written elsewhere, being the biggest isn’t saying much.

Comment from Ralph Bennett
Time April 2, 2012 at 7:56 pm

John,

I love the Left for its’ compassion.

I loath the Left for its’ open borders position of endless population growth, which wipes out the poor and the other species that share the planet.

The high moral ground for the Left, is advocating spending 50-90% of our foreign aid, on culturally sensitive family planning.

Stabilisation then liberates, those billions of dollars that would have been spent on population growth infrastructure and services. … and alternatively
it can be spent on emerging, green technologies, health, education and disability services.

The Left at present do the heavy lifting for the property development lobby, with Green Washing and wishful thinking, predominating.

Where are you going to get the extra food and housing for the increasing numbers, without impacting on bio-diversity and greenhouse gas emissions ?

Time to stabilise our population growth by balanced migration ( 70,000 out, 70,000 in) and abolish the baby bonus.

Happy to answer any questions and comments.

Kind regards,

Ralph

Comment from The General
Time April 3, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Being the biggest may not be saying much – far from it in the Australian left – but the Socialist Alliance is considerably larger than Socialist Alternative. About twice the size, by my reckoning, and with a much broader spread.

You could argue that size is not the key indicator – and it’s not – but you’ve made the claim, and it’s wrong.

For what it’s worth, I’m one of those who thinks the left could be a lot more effective (“punch above its weight”, so to speak) if it had a greater degree of *formal* unity (ie not ideological, or even necessarily practical, unity – although there already is plenty of the latter).

Comment from John
Time April 3, 2012 at 8:24 pm

But Socialist Alliance is an alliance of all sorts of people and groups, not all of them revolutionary or far left, isn’t it? And much of its membership as far as I can tell is on paper. I think the call for unity misunderstands the current political climate and the drivers behind some who do make that call. I would like to write about this in the context of the collapse of the ALP vote. That might be in the next week, or maybe later depending on other deadlines.

Comment from The General
Time April 3, 2012 at 8:46 pm

The Socialist Alliance is an alliance of explicitly *socialist* individuals and groups – people and organisations of the revolutionary and “far” left.
Much of SAlt’s membership is on paper too, as far as I can tell, but I’m sure you would disagree. Let’s just say that SAlt’s party building model doesn’t seem capable of triple-figure membership in, say, Wollongong, whereas the Socialist Alliance model of party-building is.
If you wanted to count the Socialist Alliance’s “paper membership” then it has *thousands* of members, not simply hundreds.
But I agree – paper membership isn’t a useful measure.
Nonetheless, it is – in terms of active, paid-up, flesh-and-blood members – at least twice the size of SAlt.
I think you profoundly misunderstand *both* the call for unity, and the political climate.
Also, given the consistently unilateral agenda of SAlt, I find your casual leading allusion to the “drivers behind some who” call for unity laughable – at best – and basically bordering on the blatantly sectarian.

Comment from John
Time April 3, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Ok. Whatever….

Comment from The General
Time April 3, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Oh, go on John, don’t give up now, confronted with only mere puny facts.
Share your insights and opinions, so we can have the discussions that the left needs to have.
The left in Australia is too small for bullshit, sectarianism or tantrums, so each and every of these discussions needs to be had honestly.

Comment from John
Time April 3, 2012 at 11:11 pm

The Socialist Alliance website ‘about us’ section doesn’t mention revolution once. Not once. No doubt the Socialist Left of the ALP has more members (paper ones or active ones) than Socialist Alternative or the Alliance too but just because they call themselves socialist doesn’t make them revolutionaries or a far left organisation or indeed today a left wing one. When the electoral Alliance (see section 3.1 of the Alliance Constitution) has as a condition of membership support for a working class revolution then we can have this discussion. Until then I remain of the view that Socialist Alternative is the biggest [revolutionary] left wing group in Australia.

Comment from The General
Time April 3, 2012 at 11:24 pm

So because the Socialist Alliance doesn’t explicitly call for revolution, it – and all of its hundreds of members – Marxists, revolutionaries and radicals – active in (and leading) countless campaigns within the working across the country – can be dismissed with a flick of the puritanical wrist?
Worse yet, because they don’t use the same jargon and code-words as you, they are no better than the Labor Left? Or – you seem to argue – not even “left wing” at all?
Sounds like quintessential sectarianism to me, John. The worst of the worst. The most utter of political bankruptcy.
Might I point out that just because Socialist Alternative calls itself socialist, Marxist or revolutionary doesn’t mean that it is any of these things, any more than the Socialist Alliance is. The test is in what you do in the actual class struggle.

Comment from The General
Time April 3, 2012 at 11:41 pm

You’re shifting the goalposts as you go, John, and are rapidly descending into the indefensible territory of the “no true Scotsman” argument…

Comment from John
Time April 4, 2012 at 8:32 am

Not worth wasting my time any more on your nonsense.

Comment from The General
Time April 4, 2012 at 7:20 pm

So, anything which criticises your aggrandising nonsense, or points out your mistakes, is “nonsense”?
What a wonderful world you seem to live in John. Pity it’s got little to do with the real one.

Comment from John
Time April 4, 2012 at 8:20 pm

I don’t deal with anonymous trollers. You are just another person who hides behind a made up name to hurl abuse at me for pointing out that Socialist Alternative is the biggest revolutionary group in Australia (a topic not worth wasting more time and space on). Stick to trolling, whoever you are. Find a site where your undoubted talents might be more welcome.

Comment from The General
Time April 5, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I’m not trolling, John.
You made a claim – in your article – about the size of your organisation, in reference to the need to build the left here in Australia.
I corrected that claim, on the basis that building the left needs to be done from an honest starting point.
Your response has been to dismiss – without explanation or justification – any point of view that doesn’t accord with yours, shift the goalposts of your argument, and then to accuse me of being a troll for daring to disagree with you and to point this out.
If that’s trolling, I’m the Pope.
I look forward to your next attempt to explain the political climate and prospects for the left in Australia. It should be enlightening…

Comment from John
Time April 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Dear Pope of Marxism.

BTW, he turned out well too didn’t he?

Or maybe gutless is a better way to describe you. Honesty might at least mean revealing your identity. But hiding behind a false persona and abusing people who have a different view to you – a typical Stalinist tactic – is all you can offer.

My next attempt, oh great socialist who refuses to reveal their identity? I was thinking of writing about the close intellectual and practical links between Stalinism and reformism, now finding its conclusion in Socialist Alliance and the DSP’s move away from being a Stalinist organisation to a reformist one and the declining membership of the electoral Alliance.

I have also been thinking for some time of writing about the essential sectarianism of the unity mongers. I just love the way Stalinist organisations deal with difference. You expel people or abuse them on the net at the same time as mouthing platitudes about unity. Gee, I’d really really love to be in such an organisation to expound different views. But I wouldn’t be allowed to disagree with The General and the other wombats. …Unity, Unity, Unity. What hollow words you speak oh Pope of Marxism.

Comment from John
Time April 5, 2012 at 1:40 pm

My claim remains correct. Socialist Alternative is the biggest revolutionary group in Australia. This is not saying much.