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John Passant

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July 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. (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

I went to the rally in defence of refugees today in Canberra. The photo above is part of that demo outside the front of the venue where the ACT ALP was holding a conference. Some ALP delegates joined the rally.

The rally was lively, engaged and political. Chants in defence of refugees rang out loud through the streets near the Woden Plaza as we marched from the Woden Square after hearing speeches to the nearby venue where the ALP conference was.

‘Shame Labor Shame’ and ‘K Rudd, don’t be a coward, we don’t need another Howard’ won lots of support, as did the usual pro-refugee chants such as ‘Free, free, free the refugees.’

The issue of refugees is the political issue today and will be for weeks if not months, including during the election. On the one hand we have the two parties of capital vying to outdo each other in viciousness, racism and xenophobia over a non-existent threat.

With some workers in a lather over the ‘threat’ the bosses can more easily cut wages and jobs. This ideological glue helps to binds worker to the bosses and their system.

That is why the Victorian Trades Hall Executive Council motion to support asylum seekers and condemn the deportation of refugees to Papua New Guinea is important. It says:

The VTHC believes refugees should not be punished for fleeing war and persecution to seek asylum. This is a right granted to all people under Australian and international law.

There are over 10 million refugees in the world.

Last year Australia granted 13,759 humanitarian visas. This is less than 0.2% of the world’s refugees. Australia ranks 12 in world by GDP, yet we rank 71st in taking refugees by GDP. On any measure, we do not do our fair share.

Over 90% of arrivals who travel by boat are found to be refugees.

This is an important issue because there is a long history of workers who support Unions being persecuted because of their belief in standing up for workers’ rights.

There are still many countries where working for a Union or being part of a Union can place workers in danger. We believe it is important these people, like all people fleeing for their safety, have the right to ask Australia for safety. We believe it’s Australia’s responsibility to treat these people fairly.

The VTHC supports the rally for refugees this Saturday 27, State Library, Melbourne, 1 pm and condemns the policy position of both major political parties.

At the moment defence of refugees is the key issue for the Left in Australia. It is mobilising tens of thousands of angry people across Australia. For many the scales about Labor have in one dramatic act by Kevin Rudd been lifted from their eyes.

There are two related questions coming out of the demonstrations in defence of refugees. One is how to win the campaign. The other is do we need a socialist alternative to Labor?

The demonstrations today of several thousand in Melbourne, 600 in Brisbane, hundreds in Adelaide and Perth and 350 in Canberra, with Sydney’s two demos tomorrow in the City and the West are the first step in building a mass movement for refugees.

When the Equal Love campaign started off, it was small. But it did the hard work of building support, especially through demonstrations, and turned  minority support into majority support over time. Equal Love is only on the political agenda today and part of mainstream discussion (and I might add, deception and manipulation from the likes of Rudd) because activists built it and saw the demonstrations they called grow and grow.

The demonstrations this weekend, with their anger, dismay and disgust, coupled with their compassion, love and hope, can be the first steps to building a truly mass movement drawing in more and more people to defend refugees.  We shall see.

One thing is clear. In the words of the Chill Out speaker at today’s Canberra rally ‘We will not go away.’

Rudd’s decision to deport asylum seekers to PNG is not an aberration on Labor’s part. Indeed it is Labor which has the strongest history of racism in Australian politics.  But Rudd’s action is driven first and foremost by Labor’s overriding raison d’etre – to win government at any cost.

And when in government its function is to manage capitalism, to rule for the one percent. racism and xenophobia re the tools of the ruling class to divide workers and to unite the major section of the class with their class enemy, the bosses. This can’t be done openly on the basis of skin colour given the different peoples who now make up Australia’s workforce, but it can be done by substitute racism – demonising and vilifying refugees whose skin colour is often not white.

In any event it is fear of the other, the outsider that this nudge nudge wink wink racism attempts to appeal to.

There is no mass party prepared to take on Labor over this and all the other sellouts it has perpetrated.

The Greens talk about politics being the art of the possible, yet their 3 year alliance with Labor has contributed to the very predicaments we face today. Rather than challenging the further shift to the right of Labor, a shift which lays the groundwork for an Abbott victory and a festival of reaction, the Greens have, through their concentration on Parliament, contributed to that shift and been part of it themselves.

What is possible is determined not only by what we do, but what we don’t do and the atrophying of the Greens as an extra parliamentary group and their complete focus on Parliament has limited what is possible to choices between Abbott in Rudd clothing and Abbott.

Rather than threatening to bring the Labor government down and forcing through some progressive policies under the cloak of that threat, the Greens’ complicity in the ALP government has contributed to the present descent into hell that is refugee racism today from both major parties.

It is great to see the Greens supporting and mobilising in defence of refugees. Let’s hope they can lead more and more of their members and supporters into the struggle, and do so not only in the run up to the election but well beyond it.

Some on the left are calling Rudd’s reactionary policy and the anger it has generated a turning point. This I think overplays the shift at the moment in society. There is a minority very angry with Rudd and Labor over its refugee decision. That anger is not translating into a significant break to the left, either among demonstrators or Labor members or unions and unionists.

Th task for the revolutionary left is not only to help build the fightback against Racist Rudd and Atrocious Abbott – in Canberra for example the demo was built by socialists – but to talk to the minority of the minority who know that Labor is rotten to the core and who are open to socialist ideas.

The dominance of the two major parties of neoliberalism and the ongoing and inevitable shift further and further to the right on not just refugees but almost every issue imaginable  can only be challenged by that minority of the minority understanding the systemic roots of racism and the need to smash the system to smash its various oppressions. That requires building a revolutionary socialist organisation to be the expression of the oppressed and the militant section of the working class.  In our own small way, aiding the development of that understanding and helping build the resistance is what we in Socialist Alternative are trying to do.