Does the Australian ruling class really want that Liberal Party idiot as their next Prime Minister?
Anyone who saw Leigh Sales demolish Tony Abbott on the 7.30 Report the other night must be shaking their head in disbelief that this buffoon could soon be their next Prime Minister. (For those who haven’t seen Abbott’s performance, here is a link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXhbg80E2JE&feature=player_embedded or here http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-08-22/tony-abbott-blames-carbon-tax-for-uncertainty/4216308)
Clearly the man is out of his depth dealing with questions of substance.
The fact that he is incapable of anything other than clichés and platitudes is unimportant to the ruling class.
What they want is a government which will attack workers and unions to deliver even more of the wealth we create to the rich, even more than the accommodationists in the ALP and their supine mates in the union movement have been able to provide.
Abbott’s strategy of attacking the government with soundbites has been working.
It has resonance with some workers because despite a decade or more of growth, and despite the fact Australia weathered the GFC, the wealth we have created has overwhelmingly gone to the rich.
We work harder; they profit. Many workers are pissed off with long hours and poor rewards.
What Abbott and co will do is accelerate that wealth shift to the rich, and attempt to increase our workloads. A worse slave master will replace the current bad one.
The fact that many workers cannot see this reflects the failure of the ALP as a social democratic organisation over the last 30 years because of its embrace, true to form, of the dominant ideology of the time, in this case neoliberalism.
Labor’s special relationship with trade union bureaucrats means that the ALP can often produce better results for the boss through persuasion and co option than the Liberals’ more open class war produces. The success of the ALP is in prosecuting the class war for the bosses often without having to fire a shot.
If needed, Labor will use the state to smash workers struggles, as Chifley showed in 1949 against the miners and Hawke in 1985 with his Labor Party New South Wales and Victorian mates against the Builders Labourers Federation and Hawke again, in 1987, against the pilots.
In addition, because Labor is not the direct party of the bourgeoisie it can impose solutions on capital at the expense of sections of capital, something the Liberals find harder to do because of their close relationship with business leaders.
What might worry the ruling class about Abbott is not the fact he is a buffoon. He is after all their buffoon. The problem is he might not be totally controllable. He is not thoroughly imbued with safe ruling class values. The monkey might upset the organ grinders.
His Santamaria background with ideas about the dignity of workers and their work might also be a problem. So too the fact he only won the election for leader of the Liberal Party with the support of the climate change deniers, the outright reactionaries.
At some stage his inability to thoroughly think things through might alienate sections, even large sections, of the ruling class.
At the moment of course they are united behind Abbott. Labor in power has continued to suppress workers and laid the ground work for a confident and combative bourgeoisie, unbloodied in battle for many years, to go on the attack.
However they may, like Howard and Workchoices, overplay their hand.
Abbott could also turn his fire on his side. For example his levy on big business to pay for parental leave, if replicated in power in some other mistake in the eyes of the ruling class, might put offside some sections of the ruling elite.
While he is cutting 20,000 public service jobs and slashing vital government services, the bosses will be happy enough. But if he strays into policies that impose some sort of burden on the capitalist class, or which by going in too hard provoke a strong working class industrial response, the bosses might turn to a leader better suited to their longer term aims and goals and more capable of delivering them.
Malcolm Turnbull might only have to wait 18 or so months into an Abbott government to meet his fate, especially if the visionlessness of Abbott is combined with an economic decline in Australia, made worse of course by the Abbott barbarians cutting down the government forest to let the free market weeds grow.
The bosses will welcome an Abbott victory. Buffoons can make good leaders for them, as Ronald Reagan and George W Bush showed in the US context.
But Abbott’s instability, his thought bubble approach to policy, his climate denialist base within the extreme right of the Liberal Party and the looming economic crisis in Australia all make for a possible tumultuous period of rule for the leader of the Opposition and his by and large unremarkable front bench if they win, as they will, the next election.
The key will be class struggle. How much longer can Australian workers not fight?
If they do respond industrially to a provocation from an Abbott Government and begin to realise their own strength, the bosses may consign Abbott to the dustbin of history.
We can wish that these battles were occurring now against the Labor barbarians at the gate, rather than in the future against the Liberal barbarians in the distance but coming closer and closer.
The real task in all of this will be for us on the left to continue burrowing away, trying to build a socialist workers’ party with enough roots and influence in the working class to help the fight against the barbarians, irrespective of whether they are Labor Vandals or Liberal Visigoths. That is what Socialist Alternative is trying to do.