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John Passant

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October 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)



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 one of my colleagues 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 ‘A comrade’ 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.

To have your say or see what others are saying hit the comments button under the heading. Like all posts on this site, comments close after 7 days.




Comment from Emil Cholich
Time October 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm

dude, you get none.

Comment from Kay
Time October 7, 2012 at 7:17 am


You clearly have a view on the evils of capitalism that I don’t share – fair enough. I just think that issues are usually more complex, with more facets to them, than you portray in your posts.

I believe that humans have a range of good and bad attributes. But in general, we try to improve our lives as best we can for our own sake and that of our children – and most of us try to do that with the least negative impact on others. And of course there are those who could more accurately be described as ‘sociopaths’ or ‘psychopaths’. But whatever economic/social system prevails, there is bound to be a range of good and bad outcomes.

Having been brought up in a capitalist society, and having had the opportunity through education to give myself and my children better economic outcomes than I experienced as a child, then of course I am biased towards capitalism. I do know that it is a long way from being a ‘perfect’ system. And yes, there are those who are in a position to exploit others – ‘the ruling class’ which in a capitalist society means those with obscene wealth. I also realise I am lucky to have been born in Australia where ‘the poor’ are not nearly so poverty-stricken or disempowered as they are in many other countries. And yes, in those countries capitalism does exploit poor people in an horrific manner (aided and abetted by their greedy rulers), so your point has a lot of validity there.

But because this is what could loosely be described as a ‘democracy’, the Australian ‘poor’ do have some avenues of redress against the excesses of capitalism. So I see democracy as the best way forward throughout the world. And I believe the real enemy is our own human nature – not any particular economic system like capitalism. Greed will always raise its head and there always needs to be a struggle against the excessive greed of some, but that struggle is best facilitated in a democratic structure.

So I don’t believe that capitalism is the enemy, but rather it is our (human being’s) tendency to greed and desire for complete power rather than capitalism per se. I think that regardless of the economic/social system, those people with the greatest desire for wealth and power will always try to prevail. Even in a socialist society!

I believe that those countries where democracy and capitalism prevail, at this point in time appear to have a pretty good living standard across the whole of society. But I do believe that democracy is the most important component preventing the gross exploitation of ‘the poor’ by ‘the rich’ – regardless of the economic system. So I would rather fight for democracy rather than fight against capitalism.

Comment from Rigby Taylor
Time October 8, 2012 at 8:07 am

John! This is utterly brilliant! The entire essay hit’s the spots perfectly. Thank you.

Kay, When all public media are controlled by the people who are determined to maintain their unsustainable lifestyle, democracy is dead. Without the full picture, not the sanitised, USA censored ‘news’ we are fed, people vote in ignorance. How much coverage have the two other USA presidential candidates received on our news? Why does a story about a lost USA man receive twice as much time on TV News than a story about dreadful problems in remote Australian Aboriginal communities?

Comment from Kay
Time October 8, 2012 at 10:19 am


Maybe the trick is to watch and listen to a range of media outlets? For example, I like to watch Al Jazeera news on TV. Plus, for slightly different slants on world events, there is easy access to Deutsche Welle, the BBC, NPR, Radio Amsterdam, and if we could speak various foreign languages, there are the foreign-language news broadcasts on SBS. Plus you can listen to Aboriginal radio (which I do), or in some areas, watch Aboriginal TV stations (Imparja).

Re the content on Australian TV news broadcasts – there seems to be a range from the profound to absolute rubbish. We can all tell when there is a ‘no news’ days. And the topics covered very much depend on where you live. For example, I have no idea what you are referring to when you mention a “lost USA man”! And when I was holidaying in the NT, there was significant discussion about problems in remote Aboriginal communities.

Who exactly are these “people who are determined to maintain their unsustainable lifestyle”? Sounds like all of us – we would all like to maintain our unsustainable lifestyles! Unfortunately, as time goes on, we will all need to make adjustments to accommodate our unsustainable practices.

Comment from Emil Cholich
Time October 8, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Everyone is a racist I think, why wont the news repeat old stories about Aboriginal communities?! the people who say “it’s called ‘the news’ which is derived from the word ‘new’m because it should be new stuff every night not just a list of issues worth campaigning” are all just racist. I reject the fact that if the news kept repeating the same story for decades until someone resolved every problem in an aborignal community people would just stop watching the news, it’s because I read on a blog that the USA hates aborigines, it was a valid point because it was on a blog.

Thanks for telling how it is Rigby, you’re the man!

Comment from Lorikeet
Time October 8, 2012 at 7:59 pm

I agree with Rigby. Democracy in Australia is as good as dead, especially when media magnates are allowed to control information.

Comment from John
Time October 9, 2012 at 4:05 am

Democracy isn’t dead. Murdoch might own 70% of newspaper outlets, but he doesn’t own our minds. The day to day experience of workers contradicts much or some of what Murdoch or 2 GB and even Alan Jones force feed us. And while there is an ongoing authoritarianism creeping in, it hasn’t yet challenged in any major way the one power that exists that can defend our freedoms, working class organisation.

Comment from Rigby Taylor
Time October 9, 2012 at 7:38 am

Good on you John – I’m increasingly in awe of optimists – perhaps I’ve lived too long to believe in anything except entropy. Overpopulation, climate change and globalisation are already bringing the chaos that will see most of us back in feudal chains.

Comment from Kay
Time October 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Yes, John, I agree – democracy is alive and well in Australia.

As for us being ‘force fed’ by various media outlets, we only have ourselves to thank if we don’t seek out a range of views and attitudes to help form our views. As I pointed out above, there is such a wide range of sources of information available to us in this country, we have only ourselves to blame if we choose to confine ourselves to the major media sources. And of course, our own views should be constantly under revision as more information comes to hand. An exciting journey really.

Those who claim democracy “is as good as dead” sound very defeatist.

I see the much bigger threat to democracy coming from our own government as it tries to stifle any media outlets critical to it. It started when Bob Brown didn’t like the perfectly justifiable criticism in The Australian newspaper of the Greens and the minority government. That led to an inquiry, and now we have Stephen Conroy declaring that he has “unfettered legal power” over telcos, and probably over other media outlets. And now of course the government is considering ways of limiting the scope and power of the press. Murdoch’s existing, potential or imagined power pales into insignificance in comparison to a government with the power to regulate what we can legally hear and read.

The recent overblown furor over Alan Jones’ very cruel and tasteless comments plays right into the hands of people like Stephen Conroy. I hear he even wanted to bypass Cabinet to sneak through his reforms. I fear the Left of politics because of its attempts to stifle criticism and shut down discussion. The Right of politics has copped a lot of criticism too, if you remember the sort of abuse that John Howard received over the years, maybe justifiably, but he at least didn’t attempt to stifle the press.

Comment from Jake
Time October 12, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Very narrow view of the state of things in Australia at the present time. Mr Passant’s “revolutionary reflections on this world of ours” display little consideration for any viewpoints other than his own, and to label Curtin students as having “little intellectual capacity” is pig-headed, to say the least. This blog is a shit stain.

Comment from John
Time October 12, 2012 at 8:58 pm

The usual high level of comment. I don’t accuse Curtin students of having little intellectual capacity. I accuse those who abuse me, usually hiding behind fake names, those who try to set me up and those who post under silly names of that. I guess reading and comprehension wasn’t your best subject, Jake.