John Passant

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John Passant

I have been a socialist since I was 16, radicalised by the Vietnam War.

I am a liberationist – I believe in Marx’s idea of the self-emancipation of the working class.

So I reject Stalinism and recognise it as the opposite of socialism. A brutal dictatorship in which all the decisions about production are made by those at the top has nothing in common with socialism. It is state capitalism.

I have been a union and political activist for many years. I was a member of Socialist Alternative until late 2013. I now regard myself as an independent revolutionary socialist.

I love the Dragons, the ‘Pies, aquarobics and cricket. And my family.

And I loved taking my beloved Leo on walks in the back paddocks near where I live and talking to him about various social, economic and political issues. There was incomparable joy in these walks. That joy has returned with a new dog, a rescue dog, Teddy. I call him Ted. He too loves his walks and puts up with my discussions.

I have 34 years experience in tax. I taught for 9 years at the ANU and 2 years at the University of Canberra. I was an Assistant Commissioner in the Australian Tax Office and ran international tax reform there.

I am currently doing a doctorate on Marxism and tax.

By the way Leonie and Bill are pseudonyms I adopted in 2009 when I had a job that hadn’t yet approved my work as John on this site.

Comments

Comment from peter williams
Time December 26, 2008 at 10:21 am

John
Thanks for the site.
Although a long time ‘leftie’ I have read philosophy in general rather than concentrated on political philosophy. I wonder if you would take the time to offer me a brief explanation of Marx’s ‘self emanciption of the working class’ and make a comment as to whether Karl Marx is still relevent in today’s world – a world that seems more choked by nonsensical religious belief than ever before and fast tumbling down the economic slippery slope.
In general my politics are left and I see much merit in Keynesian economics.
I am a subscriber to ‘Australian Skeptics – Hunter branch’. I live in Newcastle, and although now retired I worked mostly in local heavy industry.
Thanks. I look forward to hearing from you.

Peter Williams

Comment from Kathy Pearson
Time January 11, 2009 at 5:29 pm

John,

Where were you educated? Your comments would indicate some deficiencies,

Comment from John Passant
Time January 11, 2009 at 5:37 pm

Thanks Kathy. Attacks ad hominem are welcome here. They show a lack of education in the attacker and a mind bereft of ideas and the ability to discuss matters rationally.

Try to address the issues and, perhaps, point out my educational deficiencies that way. I’d be interested to know what they are, bowing as I do to your obviously vastly superior intellect.

Comment from Kathy Pearson
Time January 11, 2009 at 6:01 pm

I was educated at Cambridge and LSE. Et tu?

Comment from John Passant
Time January 11, 2009 at 6:23 pm

So? An educaiton to my mind implies an enquiring mind, dealing with issues ratioanlly and rebutting others ina decent and well thouht out manner. your commetns so far don’t indiciate that. They do however indicate an elitist mindset.

as I ahve made clear to others, this is a blog site, not a bloody academic journal.

Anyway read my reply to your silly question on the ‘Anti-Zionism is not anti-semitism’ blog.

Comment from Karooseun
Time January 12, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Hi John a very interesting article,forget this Kathy Cambridge female,as it does not necessarily mean that she is educated,any bloody fool can go to cambridge and then claim to be educated?.I have the same problem with such educated ones South African Racists,when they cannot give reasonable replies to my stand against their Apartheid minds,they find fault with my use of the english language

Comment from John Passant
Time January 12, 2009 at 6:57 pm

Thanks Karooseun. I appreciate your support. It has made my day.

Comment from juan r
Time January 18, 2009 at 9:11 am

Hi John
It was great to see you Saturday at the demo for Gaza. Love your blog (my kids also like it very much) and plan to keep a regular vigil on your utterances/thoughts.
Ciao and keep up the good work
JR

Comment from John Passant
Time January 18, 2009 at 9:38 am

Thanks Juan.

It was good to see you too, and your adult kids. How we have grown old disgracefully!!

I’m gad you all like the blog.

I’m planning to do one soon on Afghanistan, and Invasion Day (26 January), both of which should stir things up a bit. But I need some legal advice on the Afghanistan one before I publish because I vaguely remember Howard’s amendments to the criminal sedition laws might encompass talking about which side to support in the struggle against Western imperialism.

Keep in touch. Feel free to bag me out if you disagree, or comment if you agree.

I think you will disagree with my Cuba: Stalinism is not Socialism article, for example. But hopefully I don’t have the religious zeal we were talking about at the rally that some do in attempting to convert those who disagree!!

Comment from LucyB
Time January 26, 2009 at 8:49 pm

Kathy Pearson, Alexander Downer’s daughter got 3rd class honours and still got a scholarship to LSE. So be cautious about bragging!

Comment from Denise O’Brien
Time January 31, 2009 at 11:00 pm

Why do you dismiss what Ms. Pearson says? You are a typical Melbourne misogynist!! You think that only white men have the answers to everything.

Comment from John Passant
Time February 1, 2009 at 7:38 am

Thanks Denise. The line of thought from Kathy is inane. What do educational qualifications have to do with anything, other than earn people on average about 30 per cent more?

I’m from Canberra by the way, not Melbourne. If criticising an elitist woman is misogyny, them I plead guilty. I also criticised Margaret Thatcher (and her US equivalent Ronald Reagan.) I criticise Julia Gillard, and Kevin Rudd the Deputy PM and PM respectively here in Australia.

To oppose someone for their ideas and actions is not to oppose them for their gender.

In fact I am working on an article on domestic violence right now, attempting to show it arises out of class society and the recent development under capitalism of the nuclear family.

Insults are easy; thought is dear.

And one plea. Could my critics (if there is more than one) operating through Earth Link please put their comments or criticisms under the appropriate article rather than addressing my points say on Afghanistan under petrol pricing?

Comment from Denise O’Brien
Time February 2, 2009 at 8:55 am

While people are dying and freezing in the midwest United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama is throwing a SuperBowl party at the White House! George W. Bush was never stoopid enough to do that during Katrina.

Comment from Chris Warren
Time February 11, 2009 at 8:21 pm

Denise

The word of god – the old testament is misogynist. Religion introduced misogynist thought into society.

Have you read the Old testament lately?

There would be fewer misogynists and paedophiles if we got rid of god. This would be good.

I don’t want a world being ruined by bible-ites.

What is a typical Melbourne misogynist, and how do you distinguish them from a typical Adelaide, Perth, or Sydney misogynist?

Why didn’t god include Australia in the bible? Maybe we have to have a third testament.

Comment from Chris Warren
Time February 11, 2009 at 8:57 pm

Kathy

Most people here have been educated in Universities, according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_Ranking_of_World_Universities
are far superior to yours. Yours seem to give scholarships to Australian 3rd class honours.

You also expose your deficiency by even suggesting that your institution somehow was to be measured against other institutions.

You have been badly educated or you have not digested your education.

You do not know how to behave as someone who has been properly educated.

You have damaged the reputation of Cambridge and LSE.

Thanks

Comment from Abigail Petit
Time February 13, 2009 at 5:20 pm

She is absolutely correct.

Comment from luke weyland
Time February 17, 2009 at 4:34 pm

I could put letters after my name like BA, & BCom. Formalised education to the extent that it divides us workers becomes a minus not a plus. Personally I need to get more education in Marx, Engles, Martov, Lenin, Luxemburg, Trotsky and that whole blooming lot and how to apply what they have written to the current political and economic crisis.

Comment from John
Time February 17, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Excellent response Luke.

Comment from Abigail Petit
Time February 21, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Not very prescient.

Comment from friendsfromextremeblack&white
Time February 23, 2009 at 4:08 pm

You mad dog john.

Comment from Abigail Petit
Time February 24, 2009 at 4:12 pm

I agree, in naked spades.

Comment from Royce Burns
Time February 26, 2009 at 11:02 am

Hi, as an employee of the ATO I have to be somewhat circumspect but I have always tended to think of myself as somewhat a Fabian Socialist (if that can be relevant today). However I have been interested in your tax articles and quite agree with the tenor of your arguments but my question is, besides needing more grunts etc, do you think the move from branch offices has removed direct knowledge of senior people of the staff they oversee? My thinking is that there is a disconnect in the ATO of today and less willingness to listen despite a genuine attempt, I think, of the present Commissioner to change this?

Comment from John
Time February 26, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Thanks Royce

I think the Commissioner tries but is caught up in the logic of the system. Hence the Operations debacle to cut costs.

Certainly from my experience mananging people in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane etc was very difficult. But even if there were alternative structrues I think the very essence of the Public Service (like all enterprises) is top down, not bottom up or a cOmbination of both. Sorry, but this is a public internet café and I have to go because I am about to have someone to look at my computer.

Hopefully I can get back to this. Feel free to make copntributions as you see fit on Tax.

I am certainly not the font of all knowledge here, and some of my speculation may be well wide of the mark.

Comment from Royce Burns
Time March 3, 2009 at 12:29 pm

I slightly envy the Internet cafe problem – i.e. 7 day weekends. I agree the public service has a tendency to be top down but lately, with technology and other changes, there is a tendnecy to move much more responsibility upwards. Often a budget forecast is not made until September, when you have used a quarter of your budget not knowing what it was. Targets change and there is much more tendency to move decision making further up the tree than it was even ten years ago. To my mind the lack of flexibility, the tight controls and the lack of adaptability have stifled the organisation. add to that the problems of efficiency dividends, cuts to operations and the problems with the Change program and the problem is large with morale low. I believe the Commisssioner has recognised this and wishes to reverse it but there seems to be a failure lower down to implement his wishes, i,e to value people and inprove communication. I can’t see where the disconnect lies and wonder if it is a problem of public service and a large organisation in an ever changing world. I can’t comment on your calls for strike action etc but I am a member of the CPSU but to date I have not seen them taking your line of argument.

Comment from John
Time March 3, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Dear Royce

Would it be OK for me to put this comment under today’s ATO piece? I can make it anonymous there, although i suspect your name is already on this part of the site.

I agree the CPSU won’t take up my suggestions. In fact a draft article of mine (which I pulled after publishing it yesterday) makes that very point, saying the advertisements in Canberra and Tasmania from the CPSU urging the Government not to cut the Public Service are a substitute for action.

I hope to have it on the blog in a day or two.

Comment from Canberra Honey
Time March 3, 2009 at 3:32 pm

John, Does calling someone “gay” defame him? A quick Bidu.com search yields a string of libel lawsuits against a person or publication for calling someone a homo. But defamation law and court precedent, while not black and white, make one thing pretty clear: In order for a defamation charge to hold up, one must prove a false statement damaged your reputation to a “substantial and respectable minority” of your community. And that’s where things are very, very gray. Because it begs the question: Is it an egregious insult — the type that causes irreparable shame and embarrassment and damage to your reputation — to be called gay? If the answer is no, this matter is settled right now, and you can’t be libeled when someone calls you gay.

So I won’t.

Comment from Royce Burns
Time March 4, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Wasn’t reading until today john. I guess you can quote my comment under anonymous but my name is on the site. however I am supportive of where I work and most of its managment. As I said I think the Commissioner is attempting to implement changes but I feel there is a disconnect below him but I don’t know where it is exactly.

Comment from John
Time March 11, 2009 at 11:30 pm

Thanks Royce. Let’s just leave the comments where they fall. I hope you still enjoy th site.

I’ve been having a bit of fun with the Swiss Gigolo case and bank secrecy and hopefully i can put something on the site on Thursday 12 March.

Comment from Wang
Time March 13, 2009 at 12:53 pm

George W. Bush is a raging racist.

George W. Bush committed hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism (indicated in my blog).

George W. Bush did in fact commit innumerable hate crimes.

And I do solemnly swear by Almighty God that George W. Bush committed other hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism which I am not at liberty to mention.

Many people know what Bush did.

And many people will know what Bush did—even to the end of the world.

Bush was absolute evil.

Bush is now like a fugitive from justice.

Bush is a psychological prisoner.

Bush has a lot to worry about.

Bush can technically be prosecuted for hate crimes at any time.

In any case, Bush will go down in history in infamy.

Respectfully Submitted by Andrew Yu-Jen Wang
B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996
Messiah College, Grantham, PA
Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993

(I can type 90 words per minute. In only 7 days, posts basically like this post of mine have come into existence—all over the Internet (hundreds of copies). One can go to Google USA right now, type “George W. Bush committed hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism,” hit “Enter,” and find more than 350 copies indicating the content of this post. All in all, there are probably more than 1,000 copies on the Internet indicating the content of this post—it has practically become headline news. One cannot be too dedicated when it comes to anti-Bush activities. As I looked back at my good computer work, I thought how fun and easy it was to do it.)

“GEORGE W. BUSH IS THE WORST PRESIDENT IN U.S. HISTORY” BLOG OF ANDREW YU-JEN WANG
_________________
I am not sure where I had read it before, but anyway, it goes kind of like this: “If only it were possible to ban invention that bottled up memories so they never got stale and faded.” Oh wait—off the top of my head—I think it came from my Lower Merion High School yearbook.

Comment from Wang
Time April 12, 2009 at 3:22 pm

SCANDALS! SCANDALS!

URGENT!

SOME OF THE WORST CASES OF RACIAL PREJUDICE IN WORLD HISTORY!

PLEASE MAKE SURE PRIME MINISTER KEVIN RUDD GETS THE INFORMATION BELOW!

(There are thousands of copies of the information below on the Internet in Australia.)

LONG LIVE PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA!

Speaking of Barack Obama—Barack Obama is a racial-minority individual and does not like racism:

CONSTRUCTIVE WORLDWIDE DISSEMINATION OF INFORMATION RELATING TO SCANDALS:

(I) I do solemnly swear by Almighty God that George W. Bush committed atrocious, racist, hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism which I am not at liberty to mention. Many people know what Bush did. And many people will know what Bush did—even until the end of the world. Bush was absolute evil. Bush is now like a fugitive from justice. Bush is a psychological prisoner. Bush often worries. In any case, Bush will go down in history in infamy.

(II) It is opined that Bill Clinton committed terrifying, racist, hate crimes during his presidency, and I am not free to say anything further about it. ‘Be sure your sins will find you out’ (Numbers 32:23).

(III) What if basically all racial-minority people would subscribe to the interpretations that George Herbert Walker Bush committed monstrous, racist, hate crimes while he was the President of the United States? It will eventually come out: it is only a matter of time.

(IV) I know it may be hard to believe. However, Ronald Wilson Reagan committed horrible, racist, hate crimes during his presidency.

Respectfully Submitted by Andrew Yu-Jen Wang, J.D. Candidate
B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996
Messiah College, Grantham, PA
Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993

(There are thousands of copies on the Internet (by March 29, 2009) indicating the contents of (I), (II), (III), and (IV). For example, one can go to Google right now, type “George W. Bush committed hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism,” hit “Enter,” and readily find 1,000 or more copies indicating content of (I). For example, one can go to Msn right now (11 April 2009), type “It is opined that Bill Clinton committed racist hate crimes, and I am not free to say anything further about it,” hit “Enter,” and readily find more than 440 copies indicating content of (II). For example, one can go to Msn right now, type “George Herbert Walker Bush committed monstrous, racist, hate crimes,” hit “Enter,” and readily find more than 190 copies indicating content of (III). For example, one can go to Msn right now, type “Ronald Wilson Reagan committed horrible, racist, hate crimes during his presidency,” hit “Enter,” and readily find more than 170 copies indicating content of (IV). The contents of (I), (II), (III), and (IV) exist extensively in all major search engines. And there are thousands of copies in very many countries around the world. For example, there are countless copies on the Internet in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, the United Kingdom, etc.)

“BAD NEWS FROM THE UNITED STATES: ON THE RACIST HATE CRIMES AND ETERNAL INFAMIES OF GEORGE W. BUSH, BILL CLINTON, GEORGE H.W. BUSH, AND RONALD REAGAN” BLOG OF ANDREW YU-JEN WANG

badnewsfromtheunitedstates.blogspot.com
_______________
‘If only there could be a Ban against invention that bottled up memory like scent & it never faded & it never got stale.’ Off the top of my head, it came from my Lower Merion High School yearbook.

Comment from Anonymous
Time April 12, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Interstingly this site is now blocked from within the ATO when it was not before. Employees can no longer access the site at work but can from home. Perhaps you can explain that more adequately than I but I presume it is because the ATO is meant to be non partial and non political.

Comment from John
Time April 13, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Thanks anonymous. The argument is that my site is political. You know, just like all those unabnned newspapers the ATO allows onto its sites every day.

My site is the ATO equivalent of the Fiji Times.

The ban is I assume because I criticise once in a blue moon ATO management.

The ACT has a human rights ACT which gives all canberra residents a right to free speech and presumably to acess all points of view. Certainly I can see no breach of the Public Service Act (and beign apolitical) in allowing staff access to my site, but there may be a breech of the ACT Human Rights Act. I am checking it out.

This ban flows from the very nature of work under captialism – the dictatorship of the boss is complete there and democracy is abnned in the interests of the extracton of surplus value from workers and the redistribution of that value throughout the boss class in the form of profit, taxes on profit, interest, rent etc.

Comment from Anonymous
Time April 14, 2009 at 8:25 pm

The Fiji Times comment tickled my fancy. I have seen your comments on the CPSU and their internal mail ha now informed me based on their survey 80% of staff reject the new Agency Agreement reducing conditions of employment, making lower pay rises over three years and lowering entitlements. Interesing times ahead. I will remain anonymous until I retire (or get retrenched). The ATO generally is more restrictive than it used to be but I know areas of the public service much worse. CSA for example.

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Comment from MacGregor Scott
Time February 21, 2014 at 2:01 pm

I find Kathy’s opening comment arrogant beyond description.. As an ‘educated’ person she knows full well whether deliberate or not, a rational person would/could assume she is judging peoples ability to assess topics of importance by their place of formal education and ONLY by their place of formal education. She obviously thinks that her own judgement of what constitutes a ‘proper’ education is the only relevant judgement neccesary on the subject. She is an arrogant elitist tosspot and whether coming from male or female, I find such an loaded and elitist question utterly repulsive.

Comment from Jaime Mejia
Time April 16, 2014 at 7:48 am

Dear John,

I would like to hear your opinion about Socialist Alternative’s Marxism event held every year. I went twice when it was held by the International Socialist Organization in the 90′s. I was disappointed the first time and I went the second time only because of pressure from my comrades back then. Ever since, I decided not to go anymore.

One of the reasons I had was that there was a protest against the occupation of East Timor in Brisbane that clashed with Marxism back then. I had a contact that was very disappointed and accused us of turning our back on struggles because we gave priority to our events and no ISO member attended the protest.

That experience convinced me that we will not make a revolution by attending this long weekend event. Socialist Alternative members from the local branch tried to pressure me to go and they don’t accept refusals.

This weekend there is an Indigenous people protest against the Royal visitors in Brisbane. This is where socialists are needed. No Socialist Alternative member will be present at the protest because all of them will be going to Marxism. I can see history repeating itself.

I am not saying that holding Marxist education events are not important. But I am not sure that events such as the annual Marxism events are the way to go.

That’s why I am seeking your opinion or the opinion of your readers. I am being too harsh on them or should I base my decisions to attend or not to attend on the circumstances of the day, for example, when there is an important protest or strike that clashes with the event?

In unity,

Jaime

Comment from John
Time April 17, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Hi Jaime, Marxism is the conference of the Left in AUstralia and an important part of the educational and propaganda program for the revolutionary left. I can’t go this year but would if I had been able. It has in my view some really great speakers and great topics and is indispensible in furthering our understanding of the way the world works. It also is great to meet some many other socialists in one place. It isn’t a case of either/or but both education and action.

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