Saturday’s socialist speak out
Australia has won a seat on the UN security Council for 2013 and 2014. While this is yawn material for the Australian working class, it is very important for our ruling class.
It gives them an opportunity to be at the forefront of debates about the relationship between the two major imperialist powers, the US and its growing challenger, China.
Lenin described the League of Nations as the league of robber barons, and that is an especially apt description of the UN security Council where the representatives of imperialism, and recent imperialism, and their acolytes like Australia battle over the division and re-division of the world.
That is what Australia’s security council priorities – Afghanistan, Syria, Iran and North Korea – are about. Australia doesn’t bring a new voice to the Council. It brings the priorities of US imperialism with an Australian accent to the Council.
There will for example be no mention of the war crimes and the death of over one million innocent people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Yemen for example which the current and previous leaders of the US, UK and Australia should be tried for.
There will be no mention of the genocide Israel is carrying out against the Palestinian people.
The Australian ruling class will not raise the ongoing genocide and the political repression and murder Indonesia is carrying out in West Papua. That would upset the Indonesians, the very people Gillard and in the future Abbott will need to negotiate with more fully, if they can, to ‘stop the boats’ and the few thousand desperate people seeking asylum in Australia.
I have just voted in the ACT elections. A very possible result (accepting more than ten percent of the population is undecided) is the status quo – Labor 7, the Greens 4 and the Liberals 6. it is also possible if the polls are correct this could change to 7, 3 and 7 or 8, 3 and 6.
It is probable the Greens will support a Labor Government again, and unlike last time, seek one or two Ministries of the five in total.
The re-election of a minority Labor Government will be painted as going against the nationwide trend to conservative governments, or as greedy public servants rejecting Abbott, or as some other form of exceptionalism, we King Canutes standing against the Liberal tide.
It is true that Canberra has the most well paid voters on average in any electorates in the country, and the one with the highest education levels.
I think what that makes Canberra voters responsive to in the absence of a mass, fighting left wing alternative is ‘caring’ neoliberalism, the sort of caring the ALP pretend to offer and the Greens talk about. As the Greens show in practice however in places like Tasmania, in power they are just as brutal in attacking social services like health and education as the other parties of neoliberalism.
The much vaunted Wayne Swan budget surplus is in trouble. Revenue from the GST and companies is down, and the Minerals Resource Rent Tax won’t raise the promised billions because of a fall in the commodity prices of iron ore and coal - the only 2 minerals to which the MRRT applies – and the high Australian dollar.
The shortfall on previous revenue predictions overall might be as high as $15 billion, resulting in a deficit of around $14 billion. If Labor continues its budget surplus fetish – a political and not an economic catchcry – this shortfall means either massive spending cuts or higher taxes on workers or both.
The Mid-Year Economic Forecast could be released as early as next week, and this may present an opportunity for Labour to attack spending in a mid-year Budget. This of course is the same Labor Government that on the day Julia Gillard made her famous ‘Abbott is a sexist and misogynist’ speech cut funding to 90,000 single mums by up to $100 a week, throwing them on to the dole, an amount well below the poverty line.So shafting the poor and working class is a big part of its agenda.
That is the problem. Julia Gillard may not be a sexist and a misogynist but she manages a system that is, a system built on shafting the poor and working class.
The fall out from the super-competition of professional cycling continues, in Australia too, with the resignation of two senior Cycling Australia members. The best article I have read on this is by a comrade of mine, Trevor Grant, in Socialist Alternative. As Trevor says in his article Corporate greed and Lance Armstrong:
Let us be clear about one thing. International professional cycling is first and foremost a business and run by some of the world’s biggest capitalists. The cyclists are merely workers acting under instructions from their profit-hungry bosses. Indeed, as the entire sports world pours scorn on Armstrong, it studiously avoids the real culprits – blood-sucking corporations that earn huge profits on the backs, legs, and hearts, of the riders, most of whom are paid a relative pittance.
The Strewth column in The Australian had this to say about discussions on the left about merger:
One for all
THE unity of labour is the hope of the world, and with this in mind two of the nation’s Trotskyite splinter sects are moving closer together. The Socialist Alliance has written to the Socialist Alternative requesting discussions to explore possibilities for co-operation. “The class struggle is rapidly intensifying as state and federal governments increase their attacks on the working class and other oppressed sectors and on the social concessions won through years of struggle,” the comrades say in a letter seen by Strewth. “In the midst of these attacks, the ALP (which still dominates the labour movement) has severely weakened the fightback by consistently restraining any militant fightback and on top of that it has confused, disoriented and divided the working class by promoting the racist scapegoating of refugees and asylum-seekers.” If the groups combine, their new revolutionary vanguard will still face challenges. First off, they will need to find two phone boxes next to each other to meet in – problematic in this day and age.
A couple of things. The discussions between the two are at a very preliminary stage and I suspect there are differences which may prevent any meaningful merger, but may not prevent working more closely together.
However the report ignores (or more likely the author doesn’t know about) the merger talks between the Revolutionary Socialist Party and Socialist Alternative, a merger whose success at this stage looks to be highly likely and which will create an organisation on the left for all the revolutionaries who want to overthrow capitalism.
The postbox imagery Strewth uses is of course not only outdated; it is wrong. In Melbourne for example Socialist Alternative has 3 branches meeting on different days. In Sydney 110 people turned up to a Socialist Alternative meeting with Jack Mundey on rebuilding fighting unions.
Of course, in the grand scheme of things these numbers of members – a couple of hundred each – are small, but they are larger than the anti-left newspaper The Australian can imagine or want to imagine.
In one sense that is good thing because while they ridicule us we continue to grow, and the impending merger of Socialist Alternative and the RSP at Marxism 2013 in March 2013 (although it will in practice be in place well before then I suspect) creates an even stronger grouping of revolutionaries on the left.
If you are a revolutionary and believe that workers have to overthrow capitalism to create a new society in which production is organised democratically to satisfy human need, then the impending merger of the Revolutionary Socialist Party and Socialist Alternative might prompt you to ask yourself - to further my goal of a new socialist society through the democratic overthrow of capitalism and the smashing of the capitalist state should I now join not only the biggest and most effective but also the most open and diverse revolutionary organisation on the left, Socialist Alternative, as a way forward to winning that goal?
Different revolutionaries will have different answers but the merger I believe puts that question firmly on the agenda.
In the UK, Trenton Oldfield, the man who disrupted the toffs’ rowing boat battle, has been sentenced to 6 months’ jail. His jailing reinforces the very point his protest was making – we live in a society for and of the rich and bugger the rest of us. This is after all the society that jailed protesters for having in their possession looted water bottles while the bankers who caused the GFC go free.
This is a continuation of the trend around the developed world to criminalise dissent.
For example here in Australia, Bob Carnegie, a union and community activist, has been arrested and charged with 54 counts of contempt of court for organising support for the building workers’ union and their 9 week picket of the Queensland Children’s Hospital building site. The picket won a great victory.
Bob could be fined up to $400,000 and/or jailed if found guilty. As he says in an article in Socialist Alternative:
It’s a far-reaching attempt by capitalist Australia to shut down any activists who believe in solidarity action by organised labour against oppressive governments – so that anyone will think several times before they involve themselves for fear of massive penalties and the threat of jail.
The article goes on to say:
Bob has been swamped with messages of support but more is needed. Here’s what you can do:
Come to the first Brisbane meeting of the defence campaign at 69 Thomas Street in West End on Monday 22 October at 6pm. This meeting will plan support for Bob in Brisbane and nationally.
Get onto your union to pass motions of support for Bob.
Send messages of support directly to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Attend the fundraising concert for the QCH workers, at which Bob will speak, at the Serbian Hall at 243-47 Vulture Street in South Brisbane on Saturday 27 October at 7pm.
In the United States, the two parties of capital had another debate. This cartoon sums it up.