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John Passant

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May 2012
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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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The Greens embrace business

The Greens are now part of the political mainstream in Australia writes Tom Bramble in Socialist Alternative. And the party’s desire for respectability is reflected best by its own appointments. When Bob Brown steps down as Greens senator and party elder statesman in the next few weeks, he will be replaced by a man who boasts of never having been arrested and who has declared his intention to cuddle up to big business.

Christine Milne (L), Peter Whish-Wilson and Bob Brown.

Peter Whish-Wilson is every inch the modern Greens senator. He did his Bachelor’s degree at the Australian Defence Force Academy and is a former vice president at the New York head office of Merrill Lynch – an investment bank that went bust during the GFC as a result of its speculative trading in toxic assets. He also worked as an investment banker at Deutsche Bank in Hong Kong.

Since his return to Australia Whish-Wilson has split his time between working on his family’s vineyard outside Launceston and teaching international financial management and environmental finance at the University of Tasmania. In the latter capacity he teaches students where money is to be made from carbon trading, fishing quotas, water rights, fuel and commodities. Fellow UTas lecturer Tony McCall described Whish-Wilson as “a Green who reads the Harvard Business Review”.

Whish-Wilson’s nomination is only a consolidation of the shift to the right by the Greens. While the small number of real activists left in the Greens might not be enthusiastic about such a businessman winning a spot as the party’s second Tasmanian senator, his colleagues explained the characteristics which drew them to select him over 10 other candidates. New Greens leader Christine Milne said that “As an economist, business owner and campaigner to stop a polluting pulp mill in the Tamar Valley, he brings great experience and an excellent skill-set to the Senate”.

Of these three attributes, the first two weighed particularly on the party’s mind. On taking over the leadership, Milne told the ABC’s Lateline that the Greens needed to reach out to “progressive business”. Whish-Wilson will be the party’s go-to man in this respect. He told the Financial Review that “My background makes me a very different Green but I have experience in small business, markets and global finance that I could bring. I am more for opportunity than opposition”. The Age reported him as saying:

A lot of the issues tend to be perceived as being conflict between companies and development and conservation, but obviously it’s a lot more complicated than that. I’ve got a lot of experience in how corporations work. I believe that it’s time to start putting all the divisiveness aside.

Presumably the basic clash between the greed for profits by the big corporations and the need for environmental sustainability can be just wished away in an orgy of mutual backslapping between company directors and Green politicians.

Predictably the nomination of Whish-Wilson as the new senator was praised by the press which, rightly, took it as confirmation that the Greens are serious about jettisoning their old protest party image.

The nomination was also praised by the most high profile left wing figure inside the Greens, Lee Rhiannon, who said she “very much welcomed Peter. When you come to talk about dark greens, light greens etc. and about division… it’s shown to be wide of the mark.” The left in the Greens has consistently given way to Brown in recent years and show no signs of taking a harder line under Milne’s leadership.

This desire for respectability comes with a cost. With the Greens hanging on to Gillard’s coat tails, the party’s vote has plateaued since the 2010 federal election. Indeed, at the March state elections in Queensland, when the Bligh government faced widespread opposition for its privatisation programme, a situation when a left opposition to Labor could have won over many disgruntled Labor voters, the party’s share of the vote actually dropped.

Despite the hopes of many in the early 2000s, when Bob Brown spoke at the S11 anti-capitalist protest in Melbourne and heckled George W. Bush when he addressed parliament, the Greens have not become a left wing alternative in Australian politics. A genuine left wing alternative has to be built by building fighting movements in the workplaces, on campuses and on the streets.

Such an alternative has to reject all the “common sense” ideas of capitalist politics to which all the major parties, the Greens included, are committed and must argue instead for socialist solutions to the problems of the working class and the oppressed.

Such a perspective is a world away from the likes of Peter Whish-Wilson.

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Comments

Comment from alan taylor
Time May 24, 2012 at 8:18 pm

the greens have never been a party of the left. the greens don’t even see the current political landscape, or that of the future, in terms of left or right. they are redundant concepts. neither are the greens a party with an ideology. it is a party based on princples. how those principles are pursued is an open ended process of contingent design.

this confuses its critics who expect all policy to cohere to some outmosed, rigid, ideological objective. when some greens policies appear to be left leaning, some right leaning and some centrist, the cry goes up that the greens are muddled. nothing could be further from the truth. the intention of the greens is to introduce measures which bring greater democratic participation, greater social justice, a restitution of ecological balance and a progressive business base which will finance the pragmatic pursuit of those principles.

peter whishwilson fits comprehensively into a team dedicated to passing law which adheres to those princples espoused in its charter.

this confuses its critics who expect policies to cohere to a rigid ideological objective. when some greens policies appear to be left leaning, some right leaning and some centrist, the cry goes up that the greens are muddled. nothing could be further from the truth. the intention of the greens is to introduce measures which bring greater democratic participation, greater social justice, a restitution of ecological balance and a progressive business base which will finance the constant pursuit of those principles.

peter whishwilson fits comprehensively into a team dedicated to those aims.

Comment from John
Time May 24, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Thanks Alan. I’m not confused. The Greens are a mainly conservative party. The language you use is a defence of that conservatism.

Comment from alan taylor
Time May 24, 2012 at 9:05 pm

and of it’s radicalism. it is both conservative and radical. both and neither.

Comment from John
Time May 24, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Alan, one of the phrases the fascists use is along those lines – that is, an attempt to appeal to the middle class caught between big business and the organised working class. I am not saying the Greens are fascists but this idea of transcending left and right has many fathers. Clinton and Blair developed it too in their ‘third way’.

You say in an earlier post:

‘the intention of the greens is to introduce measures which bring greater democratic participation, greater social justice, a restitution of ecological balance and a progressive business base which will finance the pragmatic pursuit of those principles. ‘ First, that looks pretty ideological to me. And progressive business? Business is the impediment to changing the world. Profit stands in the way of people.

Linking with ‘progressive’ business also has a long pedigree in history.

But in terms of social justice, how goes the attacks on the Tasmanian education system? Are you going to follow the Greens model in Ireland? They got wiped out at the last election for allowing a government to implement austerity in teh name of the profit system. They might have talked about not being left or right but when push comes to shove they act in the interests of the profit system. They are right wing.

And if all this left right stuff is so passé, what is happening in Greece? In France? The Arab Spring? The Occupy movement. Le Printemps érable – the maple spring in Quebec (a play on words in French with Arab Spring connotations) which sees almost 200,000 students ons trike and 300,000 at an earth Day demo? The mass student resistance in Chile? The strikes across Europe? They all seem to fit a left/right narrative.