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John Passant

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August 2012



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (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. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (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

Sick kids and paying upfront


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. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Equality in the defence forces?

Evidently what we need is more women in the defence forces. Who could disagree with gender equality?

In this case me, because this isn’t about gender equality. It is about recruitment, about numbers. In times of low unemployment and the still strong mining boom, who is going to join the armed forces, especially if it has a deserved reputation as an abusive and sexist organisation with a dominant male culture?

The Broderick Report is an attempt to beautify the soul of ugliness.

I am not going to side with Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick on this and agree that we need more women in more senior positions. Nor am I going to agree with the likes of Neil James from the Australian Defence Association trotting out tired old clichés about women’s (in)capacity to fight.

Let’s go back to basics. What is the role of the defence forces? To protect Australian capitalism from external and internal threats.

Yet, as the history of the Australian military shows, Australia’s defence forces are aggressors, not defenders. Our rulers have committed us to wars arm in arm with our ruling class’s big imperialist protectors the United Kingdom and the United States. And sometimes Australia’s imperialism sees our rulers invade countries in the region such as East Timor, the Solomon Islands and so on for their own purposes.

In other words the defence forces are an instrument of Australian capitalism, its cutting edge offshore and if needed in Australia. They exist to continue and expand inequality.

They are brutal killing machines. Having women in positions of power under capitalism doesn’t change the essence of capitalism and its oppression of women.

Julia Gillard isn’t liberated, because capitalism oppresses all women, although in varying degrees depending on which class women belong to.

In Iraq and Afghanistan Australian forces have been part of two invasions that have killed more than a million innocent people, many of them women and children.

Having women killing other women isn’t equality. It is killing in the name of. It is murder. It is imperialism.

More women on navy ships turning back asylum seekers isn’t equity. It is racism; it is pandering to xenophobia.

And because the role of the defence forces is to kill people, the training is a process of dehumanising men and women to accept the murder of others. It is as an accessory to this dehumanisation that the defence forces themselves are bastions of sexism. Abuse complaints in the forces are on a par with the wider population, but the number of unreported abuse cases is very high in this hierarchical institution.

This pool of sexism and abuse is essential to the role of the forces for capitalism and their training. Increasing the number of women in the forces doesn’t change their role as killers for capitalism or the dehumanisation necessary. It doesn’t challenge the abuse of women or the sexism on which the defence forces are built.

The way to do that is through struggle, either against the specific instances of oppression such as women’s oppression, or the system which creates them. Woman in the defence force if they want to have a chance of defeating the systemic sexism in their organisation should be organising strikes now. As if that is going to happen. Questioning let alone resisting authority is beaten out of them early.

Women in the Defence Forces strengthen Australian capitalism internationally and onshore. They reinforce the very system that condemns women to second class citizenry and oppression and postpone the days of real equality.

At best they give the cover of equality to an unequal system. At worst they kill women and children in the name of equality and democracy.

More gender equality in the capitalist defence forces? Not when it is really a top down push for more women to work in that hell hole of an organisation.



Comment from Ben Courtice
Time August 22, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Not your finest John. I think you patronise ADF women somewhat — “Questioning let alone resisting authority is beaten out of them early.” And do you think that working class women who join the ADF deserve sexual harassment, rape even, discrimination and all the rest? Is it good that this is allowed to happen? Your argument here isn’t new but I reckon it’s age-old “revolutionary” purism, sectarianism in other words.

And if, as you assert, sexism is really inherent in the ADF’s role (a questionable assumption really), wouldn’t challenging that sexism also be a partial challenge, then, to the ADF’s role for Australian imperialism?

What say you?

Comment from John
Time August 22, 2012 at 11:31 pm

I don’t patronise them, just as I don’t patronise police officers. The armed thugs of the state go through a rigorous training program to beat out their sense of humanity so they will follow orders and kill people unquestioningly. Of course that brutalisation and the concomitant abuse of women shouldn’t happen. I specifically say the women should not be treated that way; they could fight back, they could for example strike. No chance of that. Without that their better life will depend on the very hierarchical system that creates the conditions for their abuse. Better to concentrate our forces and arguments on places which are fighting back, like community sector workers did for equal pay for equal work or teachers and nurses (overwhelmingly women workers) have done and are doing now and not to imagine the armed thugs of the State are in some way on our side or can be reformed. The challenge to imperialism can only come if there is a left wing force in society big enough to make the arguments and lead the fight back.

Comment from John
Time August 22, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Sectarianism? Oh dear….How….

Comment from Ben Courtice
Time August 23, 2012 at 11:13 am

I think You are conflating what might be a priority for campaigns (where people are actually fighting back) with an in-principle position.

Your final line is “More gender equality in the capitalist defence forces? No thanks.” From that I can only conclude that you are opposed to women in the ADF attaining gender equality. Perhaps it’s just loose phrasing? Otherwise, I’d say yes that is sectarian, in the sense of setting an arbitrary principle (anti-militarism) against an actual struggle against opression.

Comment from John
Time August 23, 2012 at 11:32 am

Yes, I changed that. But where is this struggle or rather push for gender equality coming from? Top down. Not from the women on the ground. From the elite, from the 1%.

Comment from damien
Time August 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Unless the ruling class is overcome by some sort of Gandhi-like commitment to non-violence,I think it may be useful to have brothers and sisters who are trained in the use of firearms on our side when that great festival of the oppressed finally arrives.From all evidence,they aren’t gonna give up without a fight.

Comment from John
Time August 23, 2012 at 6:56 pm

There is some truth in this Damien. However the modern Australian armed forces are trained killers for the bosses. A conscript army might be different, but the current defence forces are not a conscript army, and their training destroys any links intellectually and emotionally they may have had with the working class. And as the rest of history shows it is not just military strength that is important; it is social strength as well. The working class has that social strength and in the process of realising itself as a class will be able to arm and train itself military and intellectually for the tasks necessary to defeat the small minority and their hangers on who currently rule.

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