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June 2013
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Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (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. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (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
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Sick kids and paying upfront

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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. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

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Rudd wins, but Labor is still a disaster zone

Kevin Rudd is once again leader of the Labor Party writes Mick Armstrong in Socialist Alternative. But the ALP remains an absolute disaster zone.

Labor is still likely to face a devastating defeat in the upcoming elections – defeat at the hands of Tony Abbott, one of the most despised Liberal Party leaders ever.

If Labor can’t beat a disgusting reactionary like Abbott, whose whole social outlook is completely out of kilter with the mass of workers in Australia, then it should immediately be put out of its misery.

But rather than confronting the question of why they are so on the nose, why so many of their traditional working class supporters have been demoralised by the whole approach of this Labor government and why so many of them seem set to vote informal or Liberal, all the ALP powerbrokers have done for the last year is squabble over whether it should be Gillard or Rudd who will preside over the debacle.

Rudd as leader might mean that Labor will hold on to a few more seats in parliament. But leadership change does not resolve the core, underlying problems, because it is not the personality of the leader that it is to blame but the total failure of Labor to deliver for its working class supporters.

Betraying its supporters

Labor has sold its soul to the big end of town. One reflection of how far this has gone is the comments of former leading cabinet ministers Simon Crean and Martin Ferguson denouncing Gillard for supposedly engaging in “class war” rhetoric for a couple of mild criticisms of Gina Rinehart and Co.

Labor’s whole outlook is dominated by the neoliberal agenda of the rich and powerful. Everything is subordinated to the pursuit of profit, the dictates of the market and the dog-eat-dog drive to compete.

So mining companies and the big banks get away with paying virtually nothing in tax while single parent benefits are slashed, the dole is reduced to an absolute pittance, students are forced to pay more and more for their education, Aborigines are subjected to “income management”, the minimum wage is held down and basic services like health, public transport and schools are underfunded.

The result is an increasingly unequal society in which the benefits of the mining boom flow overwhelmingly into the pockets of a few billionaires like Rinehart and Twiggy Forrest while the rest of us are told to work harder and longer in increasingly insecure jobs.

Every which way you look, Labor is pursuing a reactionary agenda – maintaining the great bulk of Howard’s anti-union laws, throwing Julian Assange to the wolves, imposing a carbon tax that punishes workers rather than the big polluters, refusing to grant marriage rights to same-sex couples, boosting spending on war, locking up more refugees than even John Howard, backing Israel all the way, extending the racist Northern Territory Intervention and on and on and on.

It is not just Labor that has failed. The Greens may opportunistically at this late stage be making a few mildly critical noises, but for the last three years they have propped up the ALP. They have voted for and defended all of Labor’s budgets and refused to offer anything more than token support when people have taken to the streets to fight Labor’s attacks.

Trade union leaders

But the key reason that Labor has got away with its reactionary agenda is the failure of the trade union leadership to provide a fighting lead. The ACTU has repeatedly rolled over for the attacks by the government and the bosses or pulled the rug out from under any serious resistance.

We have truly reached the pits when ACTU president Ged Kearney could declare of Gillard and Swan’s latest budget: “This is a good budget from a reformist government which balances jobs and growth with fairness and compassion … There is much for workers and their families to be pleased about.”

On the few occasions that the union leaders have offered a lead – the construction unions against Grocon, the nurses and teachers in Victoria, for example – workers have responded enthusiastically. Indeed, whenever a union mobilises for industrial action, it is flooded with new members.

But strikes remain few and far between. The historically low levels of industrial action have enabled the bosses to keep getting away with murder and fuelled cynicism and demoralisation among millions of workers who see no alternative. Politics seems like a wretched farce, with no one prepared to stand up for the rights of the mass of people who work day in and day out to provide all the goods and services that keep society functioning.

Start the fight back now

The result of all this is that on Saturday, 14 September, we will almost certainly see the election of an Abbott government. Labor, the Greens and the ACTU leadership have paved the way for a Liberal government that will step up the assault on our living standards and conditions.

Whether Abbott will immediately go for the jugular like Campbell Newman in Queensland or Kennett in Victoria in the 1990s, or adopt a more cautious but no less vicious approach, we can’t know for sure. But what we do know is that we are going to have to fight. Otherwise we are going to get completely rolled over.

We are not going to defeat Abbott by “boxing clever” as the union leaders advocate, but by old style industrial militancy – all-out strikes, determined picketing, mass occupations, vibrant street protests to lay the basis for the sort of fight back that we need to rebuild democratic rank and file organisations in the workplaces and on the campuses.

We need to start now and not wait until after the elections. The first step in fighting Abbott is to stand up to the ALP government. In the lead-up to the elections, we need to be building the planned student demonstrations against the cuts to education spending, the protests for refugee rights and for equal marriage rights and every other element of resistance.

But we also need to be building a political alternative to Labor and the Greens. We need to build a party that stands determinedly against the whole capitalist agenda, a party that fights unswervingly for the interests of workers and the oppressed, a party that spurs on every element of resistance. Socialist Alternative is determined to be part of building a new socialist movement in this country that can rise to that challenge.

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Comments

Comment from Chris Warren
Time June 28, 2013 at 9:55 am

Geez,

If Mick Armstrong really thinks the ALP is “reactionary” then he ain’t seen nothing yet.

All this can only be resolved by socialism but this must be based on mass organisations of workers. This is the starting point.

It seems to me that far too many wannabe socialists are wasting away in hyper-activity everywhere else but within the mass organisations of Australian workers.

Comment from John
Time June 28, 2013 at 7:51 pm

The ALP lays the groundwork for Abbott. The failure of reformism over a century is clear to me, and the need for a revolutionary alternative, not some strenghtening of the failed reformist project is absolutely necessary. Join us, not a party of neoliberalism.

Comment from Kristie O. Haley
Time June 29, 2013 at 1:44 pm

When it comes to fighting the Liberals—the open party of the ruling class—socialists stand united with the millions of workers who look to the ALP to protect them from the bosses and to provide social welfare. This is why we have argued that the government should not back down on the mining tax and let the mining bosses win.

Comment from John
Time June 29, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Thanks Kristie. I stand with workers who want to fight against either party of neoliberalism. I don’t know any workers who now look to the ALP to protect them from the bosses. I might mix in the wrong circles but at best this manifests itself in the ‘Liberals will be worse’. True. But that is not a reason for siding with the second party of capital, the ALP. It is a reason for building a socialist alternative.

Comment from Benjamin Hill
Time July 2, 2013 at 10:24 am

This was not always so: in the 1900s, prior to the advent of the two-party system, Australia was perceived as a testing-ground for experimental, egalitarian policies. As the historian John Rickard wrote in his biography of Justice Henry Higgins, the first President of the Arbitration Court, social experiments such as arbitration, the eight-hour day and old age pensions led to Australasia being dubbed ‘the social laboratory of the world’.