Saturday’s socialist speak out
Evidently Tony Abbott is a feminist because he has lots of women around him. On that logic Henry VIII is the father of feminism.
One needs to look at the Liberals’ practice in the past and what they hint at in the future to determine their pro- or anti-women stance.
A good place to start would be wages and addressing Labor’s 17% gender gap between men and women for equal work. The Liberals like Labor have no real plans for doing that.
Tony Abbott will follow the lead of Campbell Newman and sack 20,000 Commonwealth public servants if not more once the inevitable ‘black hole’ is found.
They will target health and education spending and jobs, areas with a predominantly female workforce. The impact of health and education cuts will fall more on women than on men.
It was Tony Abbott as Health Minister in 2005 who stopped doctors in Australia from prescribing the abortion pill RU 486. As the Australian Medical Association said at the time ‘… the drug will now continued to be denied to Australian women for political reasons.’
It was Tony Abbot as a minister in John Howard’s government who supported the invasion of both Afghanistan and Iraq. Over a million innocent people, including many women and children, have died as a result of these invasions.
Abbott opposed Workchoices as going too far in Cabinet but defended it in public and will now bring back some reformed model if in Government. He will build on the 90% of Workchoices that Labor kept in its Workchoices Lite legislation, Fair Work Australia.
Remember that under Workchoices women workers were especially vulnerable. That was deliberate.
I am sure that Abbot is nice to pets too. That doesn’t mean he’ll stop the barbaric live sheep export trade, or oppose in any meaningful way Japanese whaling. (For those with long memories, yes I now oppose whaling).
I have been thinking too about the incivility of debate. This was bought home to me in reading comments on my blog after I posted Jess McLeod’s article on the Left winning at Curtin University.
This came about because, after Alan Jones made his infamous ‘died of shame’ comments, I wrote about right wing vilification and showed a poster put up by the Curtin Capitalist Society over Left Acton posters which read ‘Better dead than red’. I pointed out Rhys Williams had argued this slogan was used by the Nazis to physically attack the left.
On top of that I argued that chalking over Left Action so it reads Left Fagtion was homophobic and continues the climate of fear and oppression gay and lesbian students suffer.
The response was a torrent of abuse.
I suspect the students have little intellectual capacity and so have to resort to silly name calling, and of course hiding behind childish names like IP Freely, Ben Dover and Phil McCrackin. Or they send my name illegally to the Liberal Party to receive their newsletter. They misused my email address as their own. Not many of them have the guts or moral standing to use their real names.
I removed a post which threatened violence against people. It was clearly off the planet with discussion about SEAL training and ability to kill in so many different ways. When I first read it I wanted to leave it on to show the sort of weirdo response a sensible article about the Left winning at Curtin could produce, but the post was then being used by the Right against the Left.
A link has since been posted presumably by a Curtin student to its use elsewhere, with the almost mandatory comment that it is a joke. Except the right wing posting that shit on my blog gives the right wing at Curtin (Labor and the Liberals for example) an opportunity to bash Left Action by saying Left Action posted it. It is of course bullshit, as the fact that the poster who put the link to its use elsewhere can no doubt attest.
Then there is the defence of the indefensible – the use of Nazi slogans and homophobic chalking over Left Action so it read Fagtion. The poster ‘Better dead than red’ was put up by the Curtin Capitalist Society over Left Action posters. As Rhys Williams makes clear this was a slogan used by the Nazis to physically attack left wing meetings. No investigation, no police, no University reprimand.
Compare that to the reaction of the State and most of the public to the ‘behead all those who insult the Prophet’ placard.
By way of contrast, Alan Jones has made a range of comments I think are worthy of investigation. “The woman is off her tree – and quite frankly they should shove her and Bob Brown in a chaff bag and take them out as far to sea as they can – and tell her to swim home”. This was one of five times that Jones suggested this method of disposal for the Prime Minister in 2011. It wasn’t his only option for bringing about her death. In response to a listener’s criticism of Gillard, Jones replied “Yeah, that’s it. Bring back the guillotine”.
No police, no investigation, no capsicum spray, no riot police, no DOCS visits to kids of his audience making sure they are being looked after adequately after this sort of shit. Jones also said before the Cronulla riots: “This Sunday every Aussie in the Shire get down to North Cronulla to support the Leb and wog bashing day …”
Messengers of hate and inciters of violence, as long as they are serving the interests of capital or are on their side, are immune from any real investigation.
I think it is indicative of a society for whom neoliberalism has become the accepted ideology that it creates the environment for incivility.
So too do the wars we wage and our killing of innocent women and children in Iraq and Afghanistan. We dehumanise the enemy (broadly understood to include women and children) to legitimise our own lack of humanity in killing the innocent. In dehumanising the enemy we dehumanise ourselves and the abuse of political opponents becomes acceptable.
In Labor’s case it is also a tactic because they have little else to distinguish themselves from the Liberals.
I think there is something else going on too. The economic changes of the last few decades and the GFC have cut the ground of certainty from the middle class, especially its older section. That group – for example self funded retirees and small business – are angry with the changes and loss of income and the possibility they could fall into the working class.
That anger expresses itself against refugees, Muslims, Indigenous Australians, and the ALP under Gillard. It is the sort of middle class and less unionised working class anger Hansen appealed to as well.
The economic loss is real. I for example lost $7000 per annum from my retirement salary as a result of the GFC. However the anger of so many against the Other is misdirected. The problem is capitalism, not Muslims or refugees or Aborigines.
Jones is one of many lightening rods for that anger and his intemperate outbursts are an expression of the middle class and its feeling of being trapped between big business (eg the banks) and big unions, with arguments about wages being ‘too high’ for small business, removing weekend penalty rates etc etc.
Again and again on my blog the ‘it’s just a joke’ defence has come out. It shows a complete lack of understanding of what is a joke compared to what is a vicious attack. And for gays and lesbians the homophobia on display in chalking Fagtion is part of a wider societal homophobia that leads to higher suicide rates among young gays. ‘It’s a joke’ is an apologia for repression.
In the US the 2 parties of the 1% had a ‘debate’. In essence this is a debate about who can best cut living standards of workers to restore profitability – the man with the meat axe or the man with the scalpel.
It surprised some ‘pundits’ that Romney ‘won’ the debate. Well, since they agree on so many things, why should this be a surprise? They are debating detail, not substance.
In Australia the High Court ruled that a genuine refugee, whom the spy kooks had deemed a security threat, should have his case reconsidered. The man, allegedly a former Tamil Tiger, is a genuine refugee from the genocidal Sri Lankan government but because ASIO gave him an adverse security assessment based presumably at least in part on advice from the genocidal Sri Lankan government, he has been in custody without charge or trial for over 3 years.
There are 50 other refugees in similar situations, including pregnant Tamil woman Janini and her 2 children. She was happily living in the community until the ASIO assessment.
This unreviewable power that ASIO has undermines all democratic principles and threatens not just refugees but anyone ASIO might deem a terrorist. Of course this centre of reaction regards socialists as threats to the established order, akin to terrorists. Pastor Niemoller’s words keep coming back to me:
First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me
The Reserve Bank cut interest rates by a quarter of a percent during the week, and the big banks have passed or will pass on about 0.2% of the 0.25% cut in mortgage rates. Australian banks are the most profitable in the world and their failure to pass on the full rate cut makes them even more profitable.
The more interesting issue behind the cut is whether the Reserve is adopting a stimulatory approach in light of the deepening slowdown in China and the collapse of the mining super boom to a boom.
David Murray, former head of the Commonwealth Bank and the Future Fund, warned that without industrial relations changes and increased productivity Australia risked becoming another Greece. It is rubbish of course but what Murray is on about is shifting more wealth from labour to capital to protect Australia’s bosses from the encroaching great global recession or to ensure they are better placed than most to ride it out.
However, this great recession looks intractable, a result of falling profit rates across the developed world over the last few decades. If that is the case then there can be no ‘riding it out’. It will hit with a fury, not because of government spending, or high wages or financialisation per se, but because global profit rates are low.
The way capital will address that is to cut workers wages, social spending on health and education and other measures of workers well being and sack many many public servants.
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