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John Passant

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February 2013



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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)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Labor’s crisis is about politics and policies, not personalities

Labor’s crisis is about politics and policies, not people. It doesn’t make much difference if Labor is led by Gillard or Rudd or some other snake oil sales person – the pro-profit and pro-business policies of the party would be much the same.

Labor’s foundational relationship with the trade union bureaucracy means the Party, like that bureaucracy, balances between labour and capital. Its ambition is to win power and manage capitalism. These two elements combine in the ALP as a capitalist workers’ party.

The Labor Party’s embrace of neoliberalism – let the market rule, curb union power, shift wealth to the rich and business – more appropriately make Labor today a CAPITALIST workers’ party. The contradictions between the two define the party’s nature but one can dominate over the other as is the case now.

Neoliberalism is Labor’s response to the crisis of profitability in much of the developed world.

The ALP’s first priority when in government is to defend and improve the profit system and profitability. All the talk about Labor values and fairness is so much bunkum to hide the reality of the ALP – that it rules in the interests of capital and the capitalist system.

When Labor does introduce progressive and pro-working class policies it does so for the benefit of capital as a whole or because it is driven to do so by the working class and/or social movements.

When profitability globally is falling then Labor joins in and often leads the attacks on jobs, living standards and the welfare state to try to restore profit rates.

The chimera of Labor values is clear after 5 years of the Rudd and Gillard Labor Governments. Poverty under Labor has increased. The gender pay gap is greater now than under Howard in 2004.The share of national income going to capital is at its highest and that to labour its lowest since records began to be kept. Inequality has increased under Labor.

The vilification of refugees sees Labor joining the Liberals in a bidding war of reaction and racist hysteria. The ALP has continued and refined the racist Northern Territory Intervention. Labor has followed the conservatives and continues the orgy of the killing of innocents in Afghanistan. The Gillard government is setting up a US defence base at Darwin as part of the Americans’ China containment strategy.

Even the repeal of WorkChoices sold us the snake oil of Fair Work, in reality WorkChoices Lite.

All of these reactionary policies flow from Labor’s Grundnorm – ruling in the interests of capital and their profits.

When the long boom of the 1950s and 60s collapsed after the tendency for the rate of profit to fall reimposed itself, politicians around the globe abandoned Keynesianism and embraced neoliberalism.

The election of the Hawke Government in 1983 bought this ideology of the rich to Australia. Neoliberalism is a response to the crisis of profitability, a crisis which Marx argues flow from the way capitalist production is organised.

The underlying cause of crisis in the ALP is the crisis of profitability in much of the developed world.

This expresses itself in all sorts of seemingly unconnected crises at a political level.

For example the Independent Commission against Corruption is daily reminding voters of the political bankruptcy of the New South Wales Labor Party.

We shouldn’t accept the few rotten apples argument. Parliamentarians are about running capitalism, a ruthless dog eat dog society of brutal competition to claw one’s way to the top and ‘earn’ more profits. MPs fiddling travel or corruptly enriching themselves are a reflection of the outcome and ideology of capitalist competition – the more dollars you have the ‘better’ person you are.

Because Labor is a capitalist workers’ party and its role is to manage capitalism these overriding priorities rub off on some of the Labor members of Parliament. Defending systemic profit elides easily into making individual profit. Without a strong radical current in politics the Labor Party’s shift to the right and its total embrace of the market means that individuals can succumb to the temptations that managing capitalism offer.

The same could Eb said of trade union officials, balancing as they are between labour and capital, operating as the retailers of labour power to the bosses. The destruction of rank and file organisation and control over the bureaucracy that the Accord produced removed the most vital layer of democratic oversight of the officials.

The outbreak of sudden family syndrome among 2 (so far) members of Gillard’s Cabinet indicates a government in crisis. To lose one Minister may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness. Well, actually Mr Wilde, it looks more like rats leaving a sinking ship.

Of course Evans and Roxon are resigning to spend more time with their family. I am sure if Labor were in a dominant position in the polls, looking likely to be returned with a big majority, they would still leave politics. I also believe in Santa Claus.

The crisis in Labor is a consequence of its explicitly pro-business policies and views.

The task of the radical left today is to build an alternative to Labor. Such an alternative must, given the systemically rotten nature of the ALP, not replace ‘bad’ Labor with ‘good’ Labor but work towards the day when the mass of workers, the vast majority of society, overthrow the whole rotten system.

This new society would be a thoroughgoing democratic system in which production is organised to satisfy human need, not to make a profit.

Like all posts on this site, comments (see the link under the heading) close after 7 days.



Comment from Dee Lowe
Time February 4, 2013 at 12:36 am

… the left is no longer “radical” … this is now the province of the bureaucracies of the right-wing conservative/religious organisations such as the AWU and the SDA (the bosses unions) to assist the ALP parliamentary wing in oppressing and exploiting the workers, the poor, the Aborigines, the refugees etc etc for the benefit of the rich …

Comment from Lorikeet
Time February 4, 2013 at 9:48 am

I have to wonder if Julia Gillard gave Nicola Roxon (Attorney-General) her marching orders because she had no interest in passing new anti-discrimination legislation which is likely to limit Freedom of Speech.

I noticed the way the PM was looking at her at one point while she spoke. Her look said:

“You had better get on with the cooked up story, so I can replace you with someone who will fulfill my communistic agendas.”

I think the defence base in Darwin is more of a smokescreen than anything else. It is a pretence at stopping the Chinese from taking over, while continuing to sell them large tracts of prime Australian land (such as Cubbie Station) continues apace.

It is also an attempt to keep the trade routes open, at a time when many Aussies feel like re-establishing our own manufacturing industries, instead of importing value added products from China.

Comment from Dave
Time February 4, 2013 at 10:37 am

‘communistic agendas.’? If only!

Comment from John Richardson
Time February 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Hi John.
Whilst I agree with your prognosis so far as Labor is concerned, I don’t hold with your view that we need a new’ socialist left party to ‘cure’ the problem.
I would argue that the capitalist system is running smoothly towards its own ultimate demise & all we need do is wait for the inevitable crash which will see all the deckchairs reallocated or, alternatively, controlled solely by the state.
The fact is that capitalism has always depended on a thriving/growing middle class to prosper … without this ambitious rump, able to produce disposable income & willing to spend it, capitalism becomes an store with no customers.
The current game of monopy is already nearly over, with ‘neo-liberalism’ recognised as a failed strategy not just in Australia, but the UK & the US.
The middle class has been debased & is in the throws of being impoverished, with only the appearance of reckless consumption giving lie to the crisis.
With half the assets of the US now owned by just 400 obscenely wealthy individuals, how long will it be before the music stops?
In Oz, where gouging the citizenry used to be the role of the private sector, it now has to compete with gluttonous governmnets intent on profiteering off the back of ‘essential services’, so it can continue to pay homage to the capitalist rentseekers who increasingly pay no tax & underwrite their profitability at the taxpayers expense.
As for there being any chance of Labor getting in-touch with its lost ‘heartland’, pigs will fly first.
Hell will freeze over before I will give my vote to Dullard or Lance.
Great piece.

Comment from Jolly
Time February 4, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Labor under Gillard is the problem. The only support for Labor this time around will be die-hard Labor supporters. Even if Gillard is replaced by a baboon these die-hards will vote in Labor. Most former labor supporters left during the Gillard-Arbib-Shorten-Bitar treachery against Rudd (a sitting PM). The tarnished image of Unions does not help either. Labor is controlled by Unions and people, including working class, have moved away from corrupt unions. Labor is lost. Come election, Labor will be trounced, and rightly so. A new Labor must come out of this disastrous defeat. Gillard killed Labor a long time ago.

Comment from Ralph Bennett
Time February 4, 2013 at 9:35 pm

The Radical Left has a confused de-facto “open-borders’ policy, because it is “selfish”, not to allow anyone in , if they want to come.

The mathematics of this means we will reach at least 40 million people, with a complete disregard for eco-system loss , due to the need for housing, water ( dams ), increased food production and the general trashing of the place through mining/fracking and asset sell-offs; as we try and fail to keep-up with infrastructure demands.

The Left is doing all the moral heavy lifting for the property speculators, banks and related entities, who base their business model on endless growth in numbers.

It is hard to put it kindly, but the Left and Right combine to make housing and the basics of life more expensive, stressing every indicator of sustainability and transferring wealth from the poor and middle classes and into the hands of the rich and super rich.

When Rudd was elected, within the first two weeks, he increased the immigration rate by 20%, maintained the baby bonus , even though our birthrate is double our deathrate ( ABS data) and later stated that he was proud of a big Australia of 36 million.

This has been air-brushed out of history.

Those wishful thinking pop boosters on the Left need to fix the problems we have now, rather than push at every chance to make matters worse , by applauding the endless growth of our species, both here and elsewhere.

Labour is now worse than the Liberals on growth.

Gough Whitlam was the last of the true Labour PMs, with the lowest post war growth rate of 49,000 net .

The blind spot of the Left on growth is the reason Australia has abandoned Labour. Join the dots .

Very best,


Comment from Denis L White
Time February 4, 2013 at 9:42 pm

John P. Thanks again for your rational perceptions about the labour party. but who do we vote for, Abbot, as you point out more of the same. Is there a body of voters in this country who have the integrity and vision to mount a viable alternative? A social democracy! I wish!
John R. To take up your point about the impending collapse of free market capitalism; something similar has occured to me. Corporate profit taking has probably reached the zenith of its growth since it by now has an almost unrestricted global reach. The market system relies on the demand/supply mechanism. The supply side is over catered for by the exploitation of enforced cheap labour resident in poorer countries. The corporations wield a double edged sword, they have now diminished the spending power of the populace in the richer countries through product substitution and the underming of local wealth producing industry and with the other edge they use the competition ideal to keep the poor countries in a position of vitual slavery. The result is that through excessive profit taking they channel the wealth away from the buyers who need the spending power to maintain the demand side of the equation. In simple terms, the more successful capitalism becomes at profit taking from the market mechanism the closer it also moves towards the collapse of that mechanism on which capitals existence depends. All seems a bit dumb really don’t you think?
Den 71

Comment from John
Time February 5, 2013 at 4:55 am

Other people are not the enemy Ralph. Your Malthusianism means like Malthus you are objectively opposed to poor working class people (mainly in today’s global capitalism, poor dark skinned people) and favour rich white people. The shortage o resources is a creation of capitalism; this shortage is a result of overproduction. But there is more than enough to feed everyone in the world; we currently have the capacity to to provide fresh water to everyone in the world; more than enough to house, clothe and educate everyone in the world. The problem is the poor are too poor to buy food, water systems, education, housing, etc under capitalism. The amount spent on arms is more than enough needed to eradicate global poverty. feed everyone, house them, clothe them, provide fresh water, health and education etc. This is not a blind spot of the left. Opposing immigration is objectively reactionary. Believing ‘over’ population is the problem is objectively reactionary. Read for example Ian Angus and Simon Butler Too many people?

Comment from John
Time February 5, 2013 at 4:58 am

Denis L and John R, inevitability is not, er, inevitable. As Luxembourg argued many years the choice is socialism or barbarism But without doing anything, without organising politically to win the majority class to socialism, the result will not be an inevitable rise of socialism but barbarism, or at best some form of capitalism mired in deep deep recession and impoverishing the rest of us in the name of profit.

Comment from John
Time February 5, 2013 at 5:28 am

The point i think is not about a vote every 3 years to elect one or other representative of capital but to fight, to organize struggles, in our unions, workplaces, social movements.

Comment from Denis L White
Time February 5, 2013 at 9:41 pm

John P
I Take your point. Tonight I have made a second attempt to join Socialist Alternative, I trust that from this attempt I may get some feedback.

Comment from John
Time February 6, 2013 at 4:18 am

Let me know how it goes.

Comment from Ralph Bennett
Time February 6, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Hi John,
It is an issue of how we relate to the other species , which “share’ the planet .

If there isn’t any empathetic connection to starving homesless animals, due to habitat destruction, then any rational argument to stabilise our species numbers, whatever the colour of their skin, will fall on deaf ears.

Poor working class people, of any ethnicity, are made poorer, by population growth.



Comment from John
Time February 6, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Why do you blame population growth? It has nothing to do with poverty. Why were so many people poor in Malthus’s day when the population was one seventh of today? ‘Overpopulation’ then? Maybe it has something to do with it a system which condemns much of the world to poverty so the 1% can make profit, profit and more profit.

Comment from Ralph Bennett
Time February 8, 2013 at 9:53 am


Just as habitat destruction is increased by population growth, so is poverty is increased by population growth by the following mechanism.

Firstly, it decreases the relative scarcity of labour and as an economic commodity , it decreases the value of labour. The casualization and poor wages growth
of workers, combined with the loss of working conditions in Australia, is evidence of that. Also, employers always want high rates of population growth to keep
labour rates low. We, now like America, have the rise of the working poor, who though holding down a full time job, struggle to pay even the rent.

The mantra from right wing business is that in order to soak-up the extra workers and provide jobs for them, then we must grow the economy .
However, economic growth is destroying the planet.

Australia ( and all other countries ) can have full employment without economic growth , if we stabilise numbers. Just as a farm can’t keep on being divided
to support ever growing numbers of people at a previous higher standard of life quality, the world which is just the combination of all of us put together, are equally constrained.

Secondly, it increases the cost of housing, either through rent or mortgage. It is the new invisible slavery design.

Thirdly, population growth takes money from taxes, asset sales, borrowings and invests this money in endless infrastructure projects, rather than education, re-training,
health, disability services and research /development for manufacturing. This is the “Opportunity Cost of Growth “. Our universities and schools are falling on world rankings
and early childhood intervention programs shelved because there is “no money”. However, the Govt can find billions for a new road system caused by population growth.

Denmark with just 5 million people export all over the world, because they invest in education and research.

“Why were so many people poor in Malthus’s day when the population was one seventh of today?” You can have relative poverty at any level of population numbers . Population growth makes the essentials of life more scarce, hence more expensive. The relative abundance of food and water at present, is a house of cards. Worldwide, aquifers are falling at alarming rates , the last of the great forests are going and there hundreds of millions on or at starvation . Just a few more starving, than in Malthus’s time .

Socialism is not incompatible with stabilization . In fact, educating socialists that it is kind to the Planet to have around 2 children at 30 years of age and balanced migration ( 80,000 out , bring in 80,000) enhances the socialist ideals of caring and sharing, in a truly sustainable design. This design is transportable , worldwide.

It also means, that eventually you can inherit a house, which is what happens in the traditional parts of Sardinia . No mortgage or rent. The banks hate this design.

From Wiki : It is the Italian region with the lowest total fertility rate[39] (1.087 births per woman), and the region with the second-lowest birth rate;[40] these factors, together with the high level of urbanization of population, allow the preservation of the greater part of the natural environment. However, the population has increased in recent years due to immigration, mainly from Eastern Europe (esp. Romania), Africa and China.

Very best,


Comment from John
Time February 8, 2013 at 10:18 am

So Ralph,as I asked before, why is ‘overpopulation’ a problem now and not in Malthus’s day (although Malthus thought it was then?) Why 7 billion rather than 1 billion being th trouble. What is the magic number? 1 billion, 3 billion, 7 billion, 10 billion? Population growth does not reduce wages; immigration doesn’t reduce wages. Their use by capital in the class struggle may lead to those outcomes but that is a result of their dominance in the struggle, not population. Unionised workers prepared to fight for wage increases for all workers is the solution. Population Controls are anti-socialist. They are about doing capital’s work. They are reactionary, not caring. Again read Ian Angus and Simon Butler on Too many people? It rebuts all you argue.

Comment from Ralph Bennett
Time February 8, 2013 at 11:49 am

John, Angus and Butler and it appears yourself, don’t care about losing the natural world to the needs of our species.

Like racism and sexism, specism needs to be highlighted and minimised.

Comment from John
Time February 8, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Not true of Angus and Butler or me. Did you actually read anything they wrote? As Marx said, it is the natural world which provides us with use values. He identified a metabolic rift that capitalism in England in the mid 1800s was implementing – a rift between nature and production and this has been built on by later socialists like John Bellamy Foster. Your speciesism is code for a return to medieval poverty.

My socialism is democratic organisation of production to satisfy human need, including not only feeding everyone with the more than enough food produced now but also moving quickly to renewable energy and re-establishing our natural relationship with nature. Your medieval approach doesn’t do that but promises fewer dark skinned people on the planet.

The guard is tired. Find somewhere else to propagate your essentially racist flat earth philosophies.


Comment from Ralph Bennett
Time February 9, 2013 at 7:14 pm

You and your kind ignore to your discredit, the direct link between population growth and habitat loss.

When you are challenged, you then become abusive .


Comment from Ralph Bennett
Time February 9, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Final one from me .

The link between population growth and habitat loss is supported by : Sir David Attenborough , Melinda Gates , Bindi Urwin , CSIRO, Australian Academy of Science , ACF and the United Nations.


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