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John Passant

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September 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

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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. (0)



Saturday’s socialist speak out

It’s not really about the video. The video is just the spark for an outpouring of deep seated hatred directed at the United States and its symbols.

Why do they hate us? If you have to ask the question it shows you are not even in the game.

The US has invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, with over one million non-combatants dead as a consequence.  It threatens Iran. Its puppet dictators quash dissent. Until recently Mubarak was like one of Hillary Clinton’s family. Her words, not mine.

Drone bombs in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere rain down death on innocent women and children.

I was going to write that unlike the US, Muslim dominant countries don’t invade other countries. But then Saudi Arabia and Bahrain came to mind.

The US supported Saudi dictatorship and Wahhabi centre sent troops to Bahrain to support the American backed dictatorship drown the revolution in blood. And still they fight back, even today. Not that you would know from the ‘news’.

In Australia you can add to that global imperialism the fact of second class citizenship – the racism, over-policing, vilification that Muslims receive every day – as another factor in the deep anger and dissatisfaction with our ‘multicultural’ society. Here for example is an SBS video of the cops in action.

The wave of racism in response to the demonstration in Sydney last Saturday needs a clear and united voice of Left opposition. Unfortunately some on the left are infected with Islamophobia too and have joined in attacking the demonstrators as jihadist and even Islamic fascists. This is the language of Rupert Murdoch, not the left.

And of course there is US support for Israel and the genocide it is committing against Palestinians. Thus one of the main chants was: ‘down, down, USA, down, down Israel.’ Funny how the mainstream media don’t report that.

It is a simple question really. Which side are you on – the oppressed or the oppressor?

Islamophobia has increased as a consequence of the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions. It is a useful tool to justify targeting these countries, even if the ruling class itself doesn’t openly promote it. It benefits from it but can’t be open about it given the importance of its client states in the Middle East. So it does little to rebut Islamophobia.

And all the while Nobel Peace prize winner drone bombs women and children.

In an article a few days ago called Evidently right wing hate is OK I reproduced a poster put up by the Curtin Capitalist Society which they used to post over Left Action posters.

It reads ‘Better dead than red’ and I pointed out a not unreasonable interpretation of that was that it was calling for violence against the left. Certainly the history of this Nazi slogan makes that clear, as one of my comrades in the comments section pointed out. Here’s part of what he said:

The original context of the statement though (where it comes from, what it basically amounts to) is that it is a call to violence against Left wingers. The slogan (in the original German and in modern English) refers to both the personal subject not wishing to be red, but also means that for others it is better for them to be dead than “red”. “Lieber tot als rot” means not simply “I don’t want to be Red” but also “better for others to be dead than red”.

Simply because the CCS wants to impose their own context and meaning on to that statement (and ignore the violent connotations of those words) does not eliminate how others perceive it and it does not eliminate the historical or political background behind such words.

“Better Dead than Red” is a well-known in most parts of the globe as being an anti-Left slogan which promotes violence against Left wing people. It was first chanted by Nazi lynch mobs in the 1930s and by Freikorps shock troopers in the 1920s as they attacked (and often murdered) KPD and SPD members and militant workers on the streets of Germany.

It has remained a rallying call to violence against left wingers in Germany and elsewhere ever since. Just because the CCS does not know that history (or chooses not to acknowledge it) or believes that their use of the slogan is in a different context does not eliminate the connotations of violence that one can make from that slogan, especially if one is aware of the history of that term.

My original point in all of this was to draw attention to the different treatment meted out to different groups. The right wing and their words seem not to inspire any police investigation. If a Muslim person or group makes a placard the whole world attacks them.

Imagine if a Muslim group had put out posters saying better dead than red. What would the response has been? Very different I suspect to the lack of response to the CCS poster at Curtin. And that is my point. One rule for Muslims, a very different rule for non-Muslims.

These are dark days, with the tide of reaction and racism sweeping across the country. The principled left has to stand against the tide.

The out of touch Federal parliament voted against same sex marriage during the week. supposedly defending traditional marriage but in fact entrenching homophobia and discrimination. As Brett Goodin in the Canberra Times put it:

Calling our contemporary idea of heterosexual marriage ”traditional” is like calling blogging a traditional form of literature.

The struggle for equal love will continue and grow.

On the industrial front, Grocon is suing the CFMEU $for 10.5 m, and contempt of court charges against the union are being held.  Don”t pay if Grocon wins. And if any unionist is jailed or fined for contempt shut the building industry down. Remember Clarrie O’Shea.

The band of merry cutters – Newman, Baillieu and O’Farrell – continue their onslaught on public servants and health and education services.

The Sydney protest and the orgy of reaction have given them a tool to use as a distraction, if not cover for, their anti-working class attacks and their deportations of asylum seekers to Nauru and other places.

There were rallies recently in Queensland against Newman’s cuts, and in Victoria there was a one day strike. Where to now?

Surprisingly to some, events from North America show there is an alternative to lying back and thinking of England.

In Chicago, teachers took on Obama’s former right hand man, Rahm Emanuel, and won. How? A seven day strike run democratically by the membership. They beat back Emanuel’s neoliberal agenda for public education in Chicago.

Last semester around 150,000 Québec student went on strike against tuition fee increases. They picketed and demonstrated and were so effective the Liberal Provincial Government, in a measure called Bill 78, made the protests illegal. 

Québec students demonstrate last semester 

 300,000 then demonstrated in an illegal protest against the Government and for students. 

In recent elections in Québec the Liberal Government lost power. In its first act the new minority Parti Québecois Government rescinded the fee increases. 

Québec students organised and fought. They mobilised. They struck. They picketed. They demonstrated. They won. As the neoliberal project intensifies its attacks on higher education across the globe, there may be a lesson there for students and staff at Universities everywhere, including Australia.

To have your say or see what others are saying hit the comments button under the heading. Like all posts on this blog, comments closed after seven days.



Comment from Gary
Time September 24, 2012 at 8:55 am

Why don’t you run for the ACT Assembly? It seems to me that if Labor, Greens and Libs are failures, then surely the public are looking for an alternative?

I’m not being narky, but it’s so easy to snipe from the sidelines, to write about everything that’s wrong and that fails to meet your expectations.

Every day i see candidates out there – most i think are rubbish, but at least they’re out there arguing their case. Not a rally or protest, but standing for hours at a stall or shopping centre talking with people and trying to get their votes.

Why are you not standing John? It would be a good measure of how many people support your views – and i actually think many people do, or support some of your policies/ideas anyway.

Comment from John
Time September 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Good question. Running for elections is not our focus now or in the foreseeable future. For a start we are too small. Building resistance in our unions and workplaces nd on the streets is I believe more important than running for parliament. I don’t rule it out but given the right wing nature of society today I would be isolated there and in the wider society. It also means the vote for socialists would be and is fairly small. So until such time as society moves to the left and the union movement is stronger and more militant, even perhaps controlled by its members, I can’t see me standing. I might if it were to attract people to organised socialist politics and help build Socialist Alternative ( but that won’t happen at the moment.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time September 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm

At the rate at which Liberal Premiers are axing jobs and generally turning people off, we could soon see a more diverse group of people sitting in Australian parliaments.

These will come from the Left and Centre of politics, as a result of the general population being continually beaten down to the lowest.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time September 28, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Sorry, the last sentence should have read:

“as a result of the general population being continually beaten down to the lowest by both of the major parties”.