The Greens: one step forward and two steps back
The next time a Greens’ member says to me: ‘Well at least it’s a first step’, allow me to politely say in response ‘The Carbon Tax.’
I might also add ‘I told you so’ or some more involved variant, in which the words neoliberal and, borrowing from Elizabeth Humphreys, bike might also appear.
Certainly anyone reading my blog would know of my clear and unrelenting criticism of the Greens and their adoption of environmental neoliberalism and the failure that harnessing the market to fix the market was always going to be.
I might go on to ask if Tony Abbott’s direct inaction plan is now better than the Labor/Greens Clean Energy Futures program, much as the Vandals were better barbarians than the Visigoths?
There are two elements to the Greens as failure. They are political neophytes. Their conversion to the Church of the free market did not happen on the road to Damascus. It is the natural Blair-like evolution from High Church Anglicism to Catholicism.
The second element is their parliamentary cretinism and the complete abandonment of struggle as any way forward. Bump them into parliament and the problems of the world (well, its pimples, not its life threatening cancers) will be cured.
As the Greens’ carbon tax fiasco shows, they can’t even fix acne.
Labor is playing them for the fools they are. Labor is clearing the decks in anticipation of an election next year.
The Gillard Government is both attempting to neutralise political problems like the carbon tax and offering vague election promises – themselves ‘first steps’ in the lingo of the Greens – with ‘policies’ like a National Disability Insurance Scheme, (NDIS), a dental health program and ‘real action’ on education.
If you fall for that nonsense you’d fall for the Carbon Tax actually working. Oh you have, and you did.
Labor is promising a little, but postponing delivery until well after the next election.
Thus the new fairly mickey mouse dental health scheme will commence in two stages – on 1 January 2014 and 1 July 2014. Labor has abolished the Medicare Dental Crisis Scheme from 30 November this year, thus saving itself well over $1 billion to bolster the Budget bottom line and help produce a surplus.
The Greens have fallen for this with nonsense about it being a first step. So too was the Carbon Tax – a backward step.
Abolishing the Medicare Dental Crisis Scheme is a massive step backwards. The poor with major dental problems are being thrown on the altar of small steps, and the Greens are worshipping their sacrifice.
It is the same with education. There are vague Gonski promises but little in terms of the spending, other than that rich private schools will continue to have money shovelled in their direction for their swimming pools and tennis courts.
Again the Greens’ small steps thinking dominates. ‘It could be better but…’
All the while the schools of the poor and less well off will continue to be starved of adequate funding. Thus one of my local public schools is over-budget and from now on according to the Canberra Times will only buy toilet paper and soap. No other supplies.
Now that is a quality education for students – a quality education in class and its impact on learning.
The Finnish model of only public schools being funded, stressing cooperation not competition among students and real recognition of teachers’ worth is a much better model. But it costs money and challenges the dominant ideology of neoliberalism which infects and infests Labor, the Liberals and the Greens.
One variant in Labor’s approach is promising big but spending little. Thus the trial of the NDIS will cost about $1 billion. That is a small price to pay for pretending to be serious about address disability and disadvantage.
Of course the real scheme isn’t scheduled to start until after the next election and Labor have set aside no money for the full scheme. The impression of caring is cheap at one sixth the real price. Ah say the Greens, it is a step.
The problem in all of this is that none of these are real steps forward. They are piss and wind in Labor’s toilet of caring to get re-elected.
Labor’s abandonment of the Emissions Trading Scheme floor price and now its ‘failure’ to negotiate a buy out of brown coal electricity generators has destroyed the Clean Energy Future. Where to now Greens? Further backwards?
Is there an alternative to this parliamentary cretinism, the small steps, the one step forward and two steps back approach of the Greens?
Yes, we have seen a glimpse of it in Melbourne.
40000 teachers in Victoria struck today, closing down 400 schools. We are many; they are few.
An estimated 15000 teachers rallied at Hisense Arena in Melbourne today. Source: AAP
15000 teachers went to a mass meeting in Melbourne to demand better pay and the end of this Labor and Liberal party nonsense about teacher bonuses.
One part of any education revolution would be recognition for teachers for the vital role they play in educating the next generation of workers for capitalism. That means among other things paying teachers much much more.
Real recognition for teachers won’t be won by the Greens or even by voting for them. It will be won by strike action closing down schools until the Victorian Government and its Labor Party acolytes pay them better across the board. There are no small steps in this.
Similarly in Melbourne building workers have been fighting for better safety and union representation on building sites. Grocon has been unable to do any work on the Emporium site in Melbourne because hundreds have turned up to the picket. Now the dispute is spreading to other Grocon sites.
There can be no small steps when it comes to safety on site and the Greens have nothing to say to building workers as to how better safety can be won.
Striking and shutting off the flow of profits to the bosses who cut safety corners is the way forward, not dancing backwards with the Labor Party and its anti-worker Fair Work legislation.
In Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, Tony Abbott’s cane toad, is sacking thousands of public servants and cutting service after service to the public. Voting Labor or voting Green in nearly 4 years time isn’t going to stop him now. Next Wednesday workers are demonstrating against the Newman government and its attacks on workers.
That is a real first step, if it followed by further and widespread strike action to stop Newman in his tracks and send a message to Tony Abbott that he will be met with a tsunami of class struggle if he tries the same thing.
The Greens’ small steps backwards strategy means even their wins are smoke screens.
The real way to win progressive change in society is through industrial action and street struggles and then through building a socialist workers’ party that reflects and fights for workers’ interests and leads the class forward, not backward.
That means putting class and struggle on the agenda as the driving force of progressive change. It means we workers taking into our own hands our own futures through our own actions, not relying on the ALP or the Greens to deliver neoliberal policies dressed up as progress.
Victory to teachers. Victory to building workers. Victory to Queensland public servants.