Excise Labor’s ‘left’
I could of course give you chapter and verse from various Labor luminaries attacking John Howard’s attempt in 2006 to excise mainland Australia from the Migration Act as despicable, an outrage and the like.
But I won’t, because Australian readers will have read them and because they obscure the real point.
Labor has changed so much that it is now, on positions like refugees, to the right of Liberal Party moderates. That is not just the right wing of the ALP. It is the so-called Labor left in Parliament too.
According to reports, no-one from the Left in caucus opposed the excision. Some raised questions about it but no-one from the Left opposed it.
This is the same Left that has been silent on gay marriage, that has supported forcing single mums on the dole and cutting their support payments by up to $100 a week, that has supported extraditing Tamils and Hazaras back to Sri Lanka and Afghanistan respectively to face death, torture, imprisonment, that supports the war in Afghanistan, that refuses to argue for taxing the rich, that supports the Northern Territory intervention, that does nothing to defend workers in struggle against Labor’s anti-worker laws.
The list is long and I won’t go through every crime the Labor left has committed or is a party to…
Having a Labor left gives good cover for the right wing policies of Labor. Always was, always will be…
The Labor left is now a shadow of its former and more radical self.
The class collaboration, the Accord, the massive fall in strikes, Labor’s adoption of neoliberalism, all have contributed to a huge shift to the right in Australian politics.
And the soft and social democratic leftists, many of whom think it is Parliament that can change the world, have become not only a part of that shift; they are integral to it. It was their class collaboration, or that of the previous generation, that started this charge to the right economically, socially and politically and ahs kept it in train.
The decision to excise mainland Australia means asylum seekers who arrive on the mainland (rather than say Christmas Island) have no rights. They too like the Christmas Island colleagues will be renditioned to Nauru or blackbirded to Manus Island.
However the disgust that has greeted Labor’s excision might open up a space for the radical left.
Clearly something is already going on. Over the last 12 months there has been a bit of an increase in strikes – building workers, teachers and unions for example have been fighting back. In the Public Sector Association in New South Wales the PSA Progressive ticket has won a number of positions against the incumbents who led no fight whatsoever against Barry O’Farrell’s attacks on New South Wales public servants.
In Moreland in Victoria Sue Bolton, a recognised activist and campaign and socialist, won a seat on the Council with over 11% of the vote – the highest of any candidate in her ward. Stephen Jolly retained his seat on the Yarra Council.
The forthcoming merger of Socialist Alternative and the Revolutionary Socialist Party, and recently the number of high profile socialists and activists joining, has reinvigorated the revolutionary left and the debates there about the way forward and how to build a revolutionary organization to ultimately challenge capitalism.
For all those disillusioned with Labor, and looking for a socialist alternative, the website of Socialist Alternative not only has a large number of interesting articles on a range of issues, it also has a regroupment page with a number of different pieces by people who have recently joined the organisation and what the merger is about.
If you want a new and democratic society where people come before profit, if you think we need a revolution of the mass of workers to win that, then you should consider joining Socialist Alternative. Unlike Labor and its puppy dog left, we welcome refugees; we don’t demonise them, imprison them indefinitely in concentration camps, or deport them to possible death, torture or imprisonment.