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John Passant

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June 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)



Saturday’s socialist speak out

Kevin Rudd is again Prime Minister. It is the same policy cart – rule for the rich – just with a different driver. There were no battles over vision, over policy, over the future; just who gave Labor a better chance at the soon to be held election. Such is Labor’s bankruptcy that the neoliberal approach remains the same.

That bankruptcy is part of Labor’s heart and soul. Its goal is to manage capitalism. This means in the era of permanent global recession but with an Australian economy not yet in recession that Labor’s role is to slowly and, as the attack on single parents shows, often viciously, cut social services, control and hamstring unions, keep wages in check and continue the shift of wealth from labour to capital. In doing that the ALP lays the groundwork for an Abbott government.

Abbott will become Prime Minister because Labor made him acceptable; Labor made him look good. By adopting neoliberalism Labor puts the debate not in terms even of Keynesianism versus neoliberalism but over which version of neoliberalism is best. For example both Labor and the Opposition united in neoliberalism on what is likely to be the last day of the Parliament sitting to vote against a Greens’ motion in the Senate to increase Newstart by $50 a week.

Given that neoliberalism is about wealth shifting from labour to capital, Labor’s electoral base is the target for Labor’s attacks to make that shift happen. But in doing that they both alienate their base and in addition, as their policies alienate their base, make the alternative – the Liberal’s version of neoliberalism – look attractive to some workers.

Having said that the crossover of votes from Labor to the Liberals is likely to reflect an anti-Labor mood rather than a pro-Liberal mood and so the neoliberalism of Abbott will, as well as wrecking many lives, also see disillusionment with an Abbott government arise.

Whether that translates into class struggle or not depends on the strength of the trade union movement, the membership and its fighting will and capacity and the class combativeness of the union leadership. Even to write the words ‘class combativeness of the union leadership’ is to invite the obvious answer. With a few honourable exceptions, there is no fighting spirit. The current crop of union leaders are class collaborators, born of the grand traditions of the ill-fated Accord. That Accord destroyed any rank and file organisation in Australian and has crippled the union movement ever since.

It depends too on the depth of the attacks. As the Australian economy falters, an Abbott government could be a government of extreme austerity and brutal attacks on unions and workers. That does not translate into an automatic fight back but it may spark an industrial response. Certainly one message from Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, the Middle East and North Africa, Brazil and elsewhere is that all it takes is one action – a fare hike, a slap to the face of an unlicensed vegetable seller, defence of a city park – to be the spark that sets the country aflame. This is because that one neoliberal action becomes the lightning rod for discontent with neoliberalism generally.

The rise of class struggle also depends in part on building a socialist alternative to Labor, building a mass party of the working class fighting for revolution. At the moment, with 300 or so members, Socialist Alternative is a long way from that. But that is the aim – to build an organisation that draws together the best and most militant workers in a political organisation to fight in the here and now to defend and extend working class benefits and win progressive social change.

Overseas, the US continues to hunt down Edward Snowden, the man who raised high the flag of freedom by revealing the extent and nature of the US spying program.

Last week war criminal Barack Obama finally put climate change on the agenda after five years of his Presidency. This was, as Chris Williams put it in Socialist Worker in the US, ‘the first, timid, grudging response of the U.S. state to the growing environmental movement against Obama and all that he represents: the economic, political and military priorities of U.S. imperial power.’

Climate change continues unabated. Obama’s drone program continues unabated. For all those complaining about how Abbott will be worse than Labor, the reality of this lesser evilism approach in the US is that Obama is a continuation of Bush; that Obama is not the lesser or greater evil – he too is evil. The task is not to support evil but to build an alternative that challenges the neoliberalism of all the major parties and the capitalist system that drives it.

A commentor asks why BDS for Israel alone? Well, Palestinian civil society has asked for it, that is why. It would not have happened if the Palestinians had not asked for it. But there is another reason. The Middle East is the spigot of the US. That is why it has supported and continues to support dictatorships across the region or reaches an accommodation with other regimes (for example Morsi in Egypt and Assad in Syria before the revolution).

As part of this strategy to dominate the Middle East and to keep control of the most vital resource to global capitalism (and thus the flow to China) the US not only supports Israel; it keeps it alive with its financial, military and political support. Israel is part of the Western clique, a settler state of imperialism. Its key role as an outpost of Western imperialism, its survival only on the basis of massive US funding and other support, its destruction of the Palestinians, its apartheid, and the request by Palestinian civil society for a boycott make it an acceptable target for boycott in the West.

To have your say on these or any other issues, hit the comments button under the heading link. Like all posts on this blog comments close after 7 days.



Comment from Chris Warren
Time June 29, 2013 at 11:04 am


Volume 20, issue 1 of Australian Socialist is now available.

Articles cover:

Accord Politics
Right to Strike
457 visas
Left Unity
Obituary (Pip Duncan)
Theory of Value
History of Palestine
Power of bankers
Hugo Chavez
Irish Political Prisoners

To obtain a copy, please send a cheque for $4 made out to “Australian Socialist” (or postage stamps to a value of $4) to:

PO Box 437
Jamison Centre PO
Macquarie ACT 2614

and include a clear return postal address.