John Passant

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Me quoted in Fairfax papers on tax haven use
Me quoted by Georgia Wilkins in The Age (and other Fairfax publications) today. John Passant, from the school of political science and international relations, at the Australian National University, said the trend noted by Computershare was further evidence multinationals did not take global regulators seriously. ”US companies are doing this on the hard-nosed basis that any [regulatory] changes that will be made won’t have an impact on their ability to avoid tax,” he said. ”They think it is going to take a long time for the G20 to take action, or that they are just all talk.” (1)

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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Real debate?
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System change, not climate change
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Links:

My Razor Sharp interview with Sharon Firebrace on 8 September

Here is a link to my 30 minute interview on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace on 8 September, including a discussion of the one year anniversary of the election of the Abbott government.

It’s shameful to use bogus claims of anti-Semitism to shut your opponents down

Jeff Sparrow writes in Overland on the bogus claims against Socialist Alternative and other supporters of Palestine. Here is a snippet.

Naturally, supporters of Israel don’t like to hear their views challenged. But that’s too bad. Politics, whether on campus or anywhere else, entails debate – and it’s shameful to use bogus allegations of anti-Semitism to shut your opponents down.

Here is a link to the article Pyneing for the Right student politics

Are you or have you ever been a member of Socialist Alternative?

At Monash University the Clubs and Societies’ executive has deregistered the Socialist Alternative Club as a consequence of its support for Palestine. A special general meeting of all Clubs and Societies will determine next week whether to support the deregistration or overturn it.

At the Australian National University claims earlier this year by Australasian Union of Jewish Students of anti-Semitic attacks by members of Socialist Alternative were dismissed for lack of evidence.

At Macquarie University security censored Socialist Alternative’s juvenile F**k Tony Abbot T-shirts.

At Sydney University demonstrators including Socialist Alternative members were accused of assaulting Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. One student was suspended. No criminal charges have ever been laid.

At Deakin University Socialist Alternative member Ryan Higginson is under threat of expulsion for a poster showing how student representatives voted on a motion to condemn the genocide in Gaza. The complainant has legal support from a firm closely associated with Zionist organisations. Ryan has been denied legal representation or time to organise his defence against ten pages of seemingly spurious claims.

At the University of Western Australia, the Socialist Alternative club is fighting deregistration following false claims orchestrated by student Zionists.

In Brisbane women on a Socialist Alternative bookstall on one campus have  been assaulted by a rightwinger shouting anti-capitalist slogans on more than one occasion. At Sydney University there is evidence of a Liberal assaulting demonstrators outside a university Senate meeting.

Anyone else notice a pattern here? One of the major organisations on campus that defends Palestine and Palestinians is under concerted attack at Universities across Australia. This is an attempt to silence one of the main organisations in the fight against Chrsitopher Pyne’s attacks on higher education.

Egged on by Education Minister Christopher Pyne, who in The Australian last week urged university administrations to ingnore free speech considerations in attacking the organisation, and supported by powerful Zionist forces, there will be more unsubstantiated claims made against Socialist Alternative.

Can the House UnAustralian Activites Committee, perhaps under the leadership of Senator Joe McCarthy, be too far away? Team Australia demands it.

First they came for Socialist Alternative …

We on the left must defend Socialist Alternative, its right to free speech and to organise.

Rediscovering Alexandra Kollontai

Leisa Petty in Socialist Worker US reviews a new biography of Russian revolutionary Alexandra Kollontai.

Alexandra Kollontai in 1910

MOST PROGRESSIVES and radicals today have never heard of Alexandra Kollontai. She is one of many underappreciated female revolutionaries who contributed practically and theoretically to the early 20th century socialist and feminist movement whose life and writings deserve to be more widely read, discussed and debated.

Cathy Porter, in her biography Alexandra Kollontai: A Biography, recently republished by Haymarket Books, will hopefully make her life more widely known and appreciated. Porter’s biography is a product of tremendous archival research, only recently made available, that gives incredible detail to the life of Alexandra Kollontai, and the interaction between the early 20th century feminist and socialist movements.

For those who want to learn more about her life, this biography is must-read. But it’s also notable for providing a detailed, accessible and lively account of the Russian revolutionary movement, both its rise and fall, via the vantage point of one of its most prominent revolutionaries.

Alexandra Mikhailova Domontovich was born in 1872 to wealthy and conservative parents. Known as a shy but defiant child, she was impacted profoundly by the disparity between her upbringing and what she witnessed around her. At age 20, she snuck away from her family during a vacation in Berlin, and this is where she first discovered the Communist Manifesto. She developed an early thirst for reading and history and began devouring political literature wherever she could find it.

She married young, and against her parents’ wishes (where her name Kollontai was taken) to an engineer who worked on ventilation systems in factories. It was here that Kollontai witnessed first-hand the deplorable factory conditions that produced subsequent strike waves in the 1890s, including a strike in Petrograd of female textile workers that inspired her deeply.

She joined other women at the St. Petersburg Mobile Museum of Teaching Aids, an underground grouping of radicals and revolutionaries who sought to use the gathering space for discussion circles, classes for factory workers and fundraising for strike support. Under the guise of botany classes, they smuggled revolutionary literature alongside the botanical specimens and expanded slide shows into discussions of the latest socialist periodicals.

From these classes, a direct relationship between revolutionaries and factory women was established. Factory strikes increased dramatically in the 1890s and put revolutionaries, organizing secretly, into more open contact with militant workers, many of them women. And from this period onward, Kollontai remained a committed and organized revolutionary for the rest of her life.

In 1905, a strike wave movement swept Russia and women workers entered the realm of class struggle alongside men in mass numbers. Such a newfound sense of power profoundly impacted women’s views of themselves, translating into a new thirst for political equality. Kollontai wrote later in Towards a History of the Working Women’s Movement in Russia:

In the revolutionary years of 1905 and 1906, the woman worker also became aware of the world around her. She was everywhere. If we wanted to give a record of how women participated in that movement, to list of the instances of their active protest and struggle, to give full justice of the self-sacrifice of the proletarian women and their loyalty to the ideals of socialism, we would have to describe the events of the revolution scene by scene.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

KOLLONTAI WAS an integral part of the early revolutionary movement and argued that the injustices specific to women and the larger working-class movement were directly linked. Her writings specific to the relationship between sexual oppression and class are what she is most known for, although they were only one of many contributions she made to the Marxist movement of the time.

A women’s movement was taking shape internationally during this time that gave expression to women’s newfound sense of confidence. But the feminist movement of the time, led by upper-class women who focused primarily on philanthropy and suffrage for propertied women, proved insufficient to meet the growing demands of working-class and peasant women who shared little in common with these women.

In this context, Kollontai fought two battles: one against “bourgeois” feminists who opposed the revolutionary movement because it threatened their position within Russian society, and another within the Russian revolutionary movement to take up the specific demands of women. Her successes on both fronts provide revolutionaries today with a method for understanding the class nature of women’s oppression and why struggles against all forms of oppression must be integrated within the larger working-class fight for self-emancipation.

Kollontai wrote:

The world of women is divided, just as is the world of men, into two camps; one is in its ideas, aims and interests close to the bourgeoisie, the other to the proletariat, whose aspirations for freedom incorporate the complete solution of the woman question. Thus the two groups, even though they share the general slogan “women’s liberation” have different aims, different interests, and different methods of struggle.

Kollontai embarked on an ambitious initiative to organize around working women’s demands. While she believed that the fight for socialism incorporated “the complete solution to the women’s question,” she also believed that work specifically among women was necessary to combat the immediate discrimination and conditions of women’s lives.

These initiatives were often met with hostility within the socialist movement, among those who feared that independent organizing among women inherently threatened working-class unity. In the context of bourgeois feminism posing a real threat to the existing class struggle, this is understandable. Yet the revolutionary movement was also not immune from the sexism that was rampant in Russian society, and separate “women’s work” had to be constantly fought for theoretically and practically by Kollontai throughout her life.

The first major initiative was a club established in 1907 by the recently merged Bolshevik and Menshevik Parties called the “Society of Working Women’s Mutual Aid,” which was intentionally located near the textile workers union headquarters. The response was overwhelming, with hundreds of women attending meetings, lectures, countryside retreats and cultural events.

This provided an important model of what type of separate political work among women workers was possible. Supported by the socialist parties but met with hostility by the bourgeois feminists, Kollontai began preparation for a political confrontation between the groups in the lead-up to a national women’s conference.

Kollontai wrote The Social Basis of the Woman Question as a polemic to be published and distributed beforehand, hoping to use the book and the delegation of female workers and peasants to argue for Marxist positions within a national forum. Unfortunately, the book wasn’t published in time. Today this body of work remains a crucial foundation in the Marxist understanding of the origins of women’s oppression and ways of fighting it.

Amidst this organizing, the Russian police issued a warrant calling for Kollontai’s arrest based on a prior pamphlet she’d written calling for revolutionary independence in Finland, forcing her to go underground. She spent the next nine years in exile in Germany.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

MOST RECOGNIZED historically for her contribution to the socialist movement on the issue of women’s oppression, Kollontai’s contribution to the revolutionary movement on the opposition to the First World War is far less known. In Germany, at the time of the outbreak of the war, Kollontai witnessed the devastating vote taken by the German Social Democratic Party, or SPD (of which she became a member), in support of the war. Shock, outrage and confusion swept the revolutionary movement around this question internationally.

The vote for war by the German SPD marked a turning point in the revolutionary movement, raising far-reaching questions around the nature of imperialism, internationalism, socialism and what type of revolutionary organization could be built. It was Kollontai’s immediate and uncompromising objection to support of the war that put her in direct contact with Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin. They began a written correspondence over the nature of the war and how Russian revolutionaries should respond.

In response, along with German revolutionary Clara Zetkin, Kollontai helped organize a women’s conference where they succeeded in winning a women’s vote against the drive to war. Lenin, who shared her opposition to the war, requested she write an agitational pamphlet that could be translated and distributed internationally. They hoped such a pamphlet, accompanied by an international speaking tour, could garner support for a Zimmerwald Peace Conference in place of the collapsed Second International.

This pamphlet, Who Needs the War, was translated into several languages and distributed to troops. It earned her international recognition and an invitation by the American Socialist Party to tour. In addition to traveling throughout Europe, Kollontai toured the U.S. on an antiwar platform, speaking alongside Eugene Debs and “Big Bill” Haywood in Chicago.

She described Debs as “bold as a lion, his eyes blazing…I was happy to be treated with such warmth by such a great and generous heart.” She said of Haywood, he “hugged me afterward like an old comrade. He’s a tower of strength, a storyteller and a romantic, and what a brave, sincere fighter too.”

Kollontai was becoming an increasingly skilled writer and orator, which was uncommon at the time given that women internationally didn’t even have the right to vote. She would become a leading orator for the Bolshevik Party in the years ahead, often dispatched to the front lines to agitate for revolution among soldiers. A journalist for a Swedish socialist paper wrote after hearing Kollontai:

Slender and dressed in all black, her eyes blazed with revolutionary ardor as she summoned up all her inspiration, her indefatigable energy and her infinite passion. And when she fell silent, such storms of applause were heard that it seemed they would topple the Tsar’s throne itself.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

WHEN THE outbreak of the 1917 revolution began, Kollontai returned immediately to Russia to take part. She re-joined the Bolsheviks and was elected to its central committee, its first woman. She was also the first woman voted into the Soviet Executive by revolutionary soldiers.

Much has been written about the 1917 revolution and the role women played. Porter’s biography, without going into detail here, brings to life this monumental year with great detail that provides readers with a unique vantage point not found in other accounts.

Kollontai was elected as the Commissar of Social Welfare and went to work immediately to address the direct requests made by women. The new revolutionary government immediately issued decrees, including the abolition of titles and distinctions based on class and sex, the legal sanctioning of secular marriage and the recognition in law the rights of all children. But more than decrees were needed, and Kollontai was empowered to organize a women’s conference to gather and generate the demands and needs of women in a new society.

The Social Welfare Department began work organizing tours of the countryside in the lead-up to the conference. It’s an inspiring imitative, yet the conference also provides a glimpse of what obstacles the Russian Revolution faced in carrying out the needs of women. For example, when women began arriving for the conference, there was not enough food to feed or homes to house them. While planning for a 12-day conference for 80 delegates, the organizers were astonishment when more than 500 delegates showed up, many with children, representing 80,000 women from factories, trade unions and various political parties!

Calls for maternity protection, shorter working days, equal pay and the liberalization of marriage and divorce were widely supported. The resolutions passed were then turned into law. Kollontai and her partner were one of the first couples to register their relationship under the new marriage laws in celebration of this victory.

Despite the scramble to make it successful, the conference was an incredible boost to women’s organizing in Russia and had an impact internally within the Bolshevik Party on the importance of this work. In addition to the new laws, a resolution for a Women’s Department, the Zhenotdol, was passed. Independent organizing among women had a new mandate, and the establishment of the Zhenotdol provided much needed resources for this organizing.

Porter writes:

Soon every province in European Russia had its Zhenotdel, and the delegate in the red head scarf became a popular figure, visiting women in their homes, adopting orphaned children to live with her, and picking up a rifle when necessary to fight at the front.

A debate continued within the conference regarding whether a separate organization within the Bolshevik Party was needed to ensure women’s specific demands were met. Kollontai believed this was necessary, but most of her collaborators disagreed. Most believed that the establishment of the Zhenotdol, within the revolutionary government led by the Bolsheviks, was sufficient. This debate would continue, although remain unresolved for the remainder of her time in the Bolsheviks, and become one of many political disagreements that led to her leaving the government by 1922.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

WHILE HER disagreements were many, and she joined and eventually played a leading role within the Left and Workers’ Oppositions, they all centered around a widely recognized conflict between the promises and potential the revolution held and the material basis for implementation in the face of coordinated invasion by those seeking to destroy the revolutionary government and legacy. She was impatient with the resources devoted to the Zhenotdel in particular.

Porter’s biography gives new depictions of these debates and provides a glimpse into the incredibly difficult position of the revolutionary government, the civil war and its impact on the ability to continue the revolutionary policies and the eventual successful counterrevolution led by Joseph Stalin.

Kollontai’s life was spared, unlike most of her revolutionary comrades, and after leaving the government she was assigned a role as Ambassador for the Soviet Government, a tragic end to her political life that left her in a state of isolation. She was one of only a few Bolsheviks who survived Stalin’s purges, and her distance and isolation from the realities of the Stalinist regime allowed for her to continue work for this new government with a combination of resignation, denial and a desire to survive.

She told a friend, “What can you do? How can you fight the apparatus? How can you defend yourself against attack? As for myself, I’ve put my principles into a corner of my conscience and will carry out the policies dictated to me as best I can.”

It was a world in flux and, ironically, this is a period where she writes some of her best work. Going beyond her previous writing on the social basis of women’s oppression, Kollontai begins to further explore theoretically the relationship between psychology and modes of production, the way social and sexual relationships have changed historically, and the potential for a new morality based on socialist principals. These were largely written in response to letters she received from young workers who were trying to make sense of the new possibilities the revolution provided socially and how it related to their personal relationships.

This work, largely within the three pieces Theses on Communist Morality in the Sphere of Marital Relations, Sexual Relations and the Class Struggle and Make Way for Winged Eros: A Letter to Working Youth, Kollontai expands upon several topics, from the Marxist understanding of the relationship between women’s oppression and the nuclear family to the impact of material conditions on sexuality and intimate relationships. Through this writing, Kollontai unbelievably still held out revolutionary hope that revolutionaries today can learn a lot from.

As Porter concludes in her introduction:

At the end of her life, we see both the bewildered pessimist, facing the collapse of all of her beliefs, and the incorrigible optimist, convinced that there was an alternative to capitalism…As austerity throws millions now into poverty, and women face a disproportionate burden of the cuts, her vision of a better social system and the collective struggle against injustice remains true and powerful to this day, and I had a sense it was time to rediscover her.

 

Cathy Porter, Alexandra Kollontai: A Biography. Haymarket Books, 2014, 520 pages, $24.

 

 

Australia’s adult government is one year old

Is it only a year ago that Tony Abbott’s Liberal and National Party Government came to power? It seems an eternity. How can we survive another 2 years?

Not to put too fine a point on it the adult government is one year old and spreading shit everywhere.

The election last year was a rejection of Labor and its neoliberal policies rather than an endorsement of the incoming Abbott government and its version of neoliberalism. That is why there was no honeymoon for this government after the election. The separation was almost immediate.

Is divorce inevitable? Not necessarily.

The Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has all the punch of a wet rag. More importantly Labor is trapped within the logic of neoliberalism.

Labor of course is opposed to the proposed $7 GP co-payment. In government in the 1991 Budget ALP Prime Minister Bob Hawke and his leftwing deputy Brian Howe announced a $3.50 co-payment to send a price signal to slow down the growth of health costs. Sound familiar to what the Liberals are saying today? The  left accepted a $2.50 co-payment to save Hawke.

The ACTU played its usual pathetic role. It wasn’t ‘convinced’  the co-payment would rein in ‘overservicing’. That is standing up to ‘em, ACTU.

It was only when Keating replaced Hawke that the Labor government ditched the introduction of its GP co-payment.

Labor too is opposed to the Budget cuts to universities, the very same $2.3 billion of cuts it proposed last year when in government.

Labor supports the demonisation of asylum seekers and their incarceration in the concentration camps on Manus Island and Nauru. They ar Labor’s concentration camps.

Labor of course supports single parents too. That is why in government it drove 80000 single mums off the single parent payment into deeper poverty.

Labor has joined the Coalition of the trilling on Syria and Iraq and the Western warmongers in the imperialist battle over Ukraine.

The Abbott government is a continuation of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd Labor governments just as an ALP government elected in 2016 will be a continuation of the Abbott government.

The real opposition to Abbott has been on the streets and from some sections of students.  But the demonstrations this month, although in their tens of thousands, were smaller than previous ones.

Each new government is a government of neoliberalism and of deeper and deeper neolberalism  in practice. Labor has the support of the trade union bureaucray in, arguably,  more successfully implementing neoliberalism while the Liberals have the support of most of the ruling class.

Shifting more wealth to capital from labour is the policy of both parties and, no matter who is in government, this will only intensify as the Great Recession in North America and Europe spreads into Asia.

What is missing is a working class response.  Not just marches, placards and angry speeches but actions that cut the flow of profit to the bosses, that is strikes. That won’t happen  under most of the current union leadership who are an impediment to successfully fighting Abbott.

Only rank and file members can build the fightback. If that doesn’t happen Abbott and co could win the election in 2016. Alternatively if that rank and file fightback doesn’t happen an Abbott like ALP could win government.

The attacks on the unemployed, the sick, the disabled, universities, the poor, poorly paid workers and public health and education are not going to disappear. They are driven by the needs of capital for more and more wealth to offset systemic falling profit rates.

There is no alternative to defeating the neoliberalism of Abbott and the neoliberalism of the Labor Party other than class struggle; massive, unified strikes.

What’s the link between “family values” social conservatism and right wing anti-worker economics ?

The Abbott family

 

What’s the link between “family values” social conservatism and right wing anti-worker economics asks Ben Hillier in Red Flag?

The World Congress of Families (WCF), which held a regional “Life, Family and Freedom” conference in Melbourne on 30 August, argues that “the natural family is the fundamental social unit, inscribed in human nature, and centred on the voluntary union of a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage”. It is “essential to good society”.­

The conference was to be opened by federal social services minister Kevin Andrews, an international ambassador for the organisation. Andrews, previously in the role of workplace relations minister selling the Howard government’s WorkChoices legislation, is currently leading the charge to gut social welfare. He is a tireless campaigner for increased restrictions on unions, greater powers for bosses and lower wages for workers.

There seems to be a contradiction here. On one hand, “defending the family” is a mission statement of the WCF. On the other, those associated with the group generally want to undermine the living standards of the majority of families.

There is more to it than hypocrisy. Nor is it simple coincidence. There are several motives for the political right, the rich and their allies to embrace and promote the family.

Self-reliance or social control?

One is to wed workers to the capitalist ethic of self-reliance and thereby encourage stable work habits that benefit the upper classes. In earlier times, ruling class figures were more explicit about this. For example, British politician Henry Dundas in 1794 encouraged New South Wales lieutenant governor Francis Grose to increase the rate of family formation in the fledgling colony. “There can be no doubt that [female convicts] will be the means by inter-marriage of rendering the men more diligent and laborious”, he reasoned.

Family relations became a battleground in the colonial class struggle. It took nearly 50 years of legal sanctions and rewards, plus a great deal of middle and upper class proselytising, to establish this so-called “natural” union. Former attorney general Roger Thierry, in his 1863 memoir Reminiscences of thirty years’ residence in New South Wales, lamented that not until the 1840s was a marriage ceremony “regarded as an indispensable preliminary to the union of man and woman”.

It wasn’t just an early Australian conflict. In Britain, fear of the unruly masses, provoked by the French Revolution and rebellions in Ireland – as well as the social decay resulting from rapid industrialisation – moved the upper classes to look for ways to reinforce social and ideological control. Philanthropic movements, often associated with evangelical Christianity, sought to raise the moral standards of the populace, particularly the working classes, and consolidate family structures and values.

A second motive relates to the way marriage, as a legal agreement that regulates the inheritance of private property, mirrors and helps naturalise the contractual nature of capitalist life. In our society individuals appear and are treated simply as buyers and sellers of labour or capital, and of services and consumables. The family is yet one more contract – an economic unit in its own right, which is expected to provide, at a minimal cost to the capitalists, the next generation of workers from whom profit is extracted.

A third aim of the family project is related to the second: the subordination of women (tying them to the home to raise kids and cook for their laborious man) and the sexual and gender oppression which flows from that. This isn’t simply about economics, but controlling the most intimate aspects of people’s lives – their sexuality and sexual identity – in order to disempower them socially as well as create divisions within the working class.

More generally, the family unit is about social control under the guise of self-reliance (and self-protection from an unpredictable world). The domestication of the working class and its subordination within a system run for profit is partially achieved through a multitude of loving yet self-policing and disciplinary “partnerships”.

Cohesion or fragmentation?

The family, through these means, is claimed to create social cohesion. “Chaos and suffering”, the WCF counsels, are the inevitable result of the erosion of the institution. Many people sincerely believe this – and find verification in the great comfort their own family provides or, negatively, in the cruelty and hurt that can be associated with family breakdown.

In reality, however, “the family” undermines the community of interests that otherwise tie working class people together. That is precisely one of its aims. Marriage creates a union, but each union remains differentiated from and set against all others within a chaotic and competitive capitalist system. The more that people view “family” as the primary focus of their duties and allegiances, the less loyalty there often is to the working class and its struggles.

This fragmentation of loyalties undermines social solidarity. This is a good thing only for the political right and the capitalists, who want to undermine conditions for the whole working class. For example, the idea that our primary responsibility is to family can be a strong inducement, both ideologically and in reality, to respect and uphold the contract we enter with an employer. That can mean putting up with the wages and conditions offered: “Sure, this job is horrible – but I’ve got a family to think about …”

And the more the bosses can get people to accept their lot, the harder it is for anyone else to stand against exploitation and oppression in the workplace.

Further, the family unit is used as a justification for attacking social welfare. That’s particularly true of the entitlements of women and their children, who can find it incredibly difficult or impossible to survive on the paltry assistance offered if they leave their husband or partner. But it flows through to the working class more generally, such as with the Abbott government’s plan for everyone under the age of 30 to be eligible for the dole for only six months a year. Implicit in the proposal is the idea that young adults too should be the responsibility of their family, rather than society.

The undermining of welfare in turn means that people increasingly are forced to rely on their family for shelter, food and comfort. This dynamic produces even greater social fragmentation. The more that people come to rely on relatives, the less confidence they end up having in themselves, the less relevant are ideas about collectivity and solidarity and the lower are their expectations of the world. Certainly it can make people – both those who are dependants and those who are providers – more desperate for work and thereby, again, more cautious about rocking the boat when employed. All that is good news for the political right, who want to smash unions and abolish penalty rates.

So “family values” appears as simple social conservatism, but it is actually a quite elaborate and historically based right wing project to control and fragment the working class. That’s why the most economically right wing government ministers are so often devout family men.

In defence of free speech; in defence of the Socialist Alternative club at Monash University against its banning by Zionists

This is an announcement on the Australasian Union of Jewish Students’ facebook page:

BREAKING: Following various complaints from AUJS, the Socialist Alternative club at Monash University has been deregistered, severely limiting their activity on campus.

We welcome this strong move against the spread of hate on campus.

Let’s get this straight. This has nothing to do with Socialist Alternative spreading hate. It is an attempt to shut down the voice of Socialist Alternative because it is a consistent supporter of Palestine and opponent of Zionism, the racist and genocidal philosophy of apartheid Israel.

In the last Gaza invasion, Israel killed over 2000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, including many many women and children. The support that Zionism world wide gives to the genocide of Palestinians, an active genocide which has been going on for over 66 years, shows you where the real hate is.

Socialist Alternative has been one of the staunchest and most active supporters of Palestine on campuses across Australia. That is one of the reasons the Zionists have moved against it at Monash University.

There is another reason. The Federal Education Minister Christoper Pyne has jumped on to the ‘Socialist Alternative anti-Semitism’ lie because Socialist Alternative is one of the main groups leading the opposition to his higher education attacks.

This banning of Socialist Alterntive at Monash Unbiveristy is about silencing Socialist Alternative because of its success in mobilising students against Pyne’s higher education cuts as well as its consistent support for Palestine.

The Zionists will reply with the lie that Jews were stopped from going to a Socialist Alternative meeting on Palestine on campus. This was a talk given by a Jewish student with a number of Jews in the audience participating in the discussion.

Daniel Taylor in Red Flag, the paper of Socialist Alternative, wrote an article called ‘Accusations of anti-Semitism against socialist students are lies’ on 13 August in response to this calumny:

The “lecture” at Monash University was a Socialist Alternative political meeting. Not only were Jews welcome and encouraged to attend, but the talk itself was given by a Jewish member of Socialist Alternative. Attendees were asked to sign a petition calling for an end to Israel’s illegal economic blockade of Gaza.

A small group of organised Zionists attempted to gain entry after refusing to sign the petition, and attempted to disrupt the meeting. They gave up after being told the meeting was for supporters of Palestine. There is nothing unusual in this. Socialist Alternative has in many previous instances barred disruptive right wingers who have attempted to disrupt and air racist opinions at our meetings. Even if you don’t agree with this policy, it has nothing whatsoever to do with anti-Semitism. In this case, the meeting went ahead peacefully, with Jewish students both delivering the initial talk and contributing to the discussion afterwards.

Immediately afterwards, the Zionists who had attempted to disrupt the meeting began a social media campaign claiming that Jews had been banned from campus events. Socialist Alternative members immediately contacted them to clarify that Jews were welcome, but that the meeting was not for political defenders of Israeli occupation. No retraction was issued and their campaign continued, proving the utterly cynical use of allegations of anti-Semitism to smear and undermine progressive politics on campus.

Deregistering Socialist Alternative at Monash University is a gross denial of the right to organise and the right to free speech on that campus and a harbinger of increased attamepts to suppress the left across Australia. It is the logic of the long Zionist campaign to silence pro-Palestinian voices and is part of the systemic neoliberal drive to quash dissent on Australian campuses.

If you support Palestine, and if you support free speech, I call on you to support Socialist Alternative at Monash University and across Australia in defence of Palestine, in opposition to Pyne’s higher education armaggedon and to join the fight against political repression.

Sign this change.org petition to call on Monash University to reverse their repression of dissident voices.

Allow free speech on campus, and overturn the decision to deregister the Socialist Alternative Club

The Monash student newspaper, Lots Wife, is reporting that ‘Clubs & Societies President Ben Zocco has … confirmed that an Extraordinary General Meeting will be held on Thursday, September 18. The sole item of business is the appeal of the Socialist Alternative club against their deregistration as an affiliated Monash Student Association club.

Readers who agree with this might also like to look at Minister Pyne’s claims of anti-Semitism by Socialist Alternative are lies; Zionists slander and attempt to suppress supporters of Palestine; Daniel Taylor’s other article in Red Flag, The anti-Semitism slander and Omar Hassan in Red Flag on Zionist students use lies, abuse to silence Palestine solidarity activists.

PS: You may well not be able to access Red Flag, the paper of Socialist Alternative. Co-ordinated Zionist denial of service attacks from thousands of sites across the globe mean it is often forced to shut down, another example of Zionism’s repression of pro-Palestinian voices. At the time of publication it was accessible.

My Razor Sharp interview on 2 September 2014

This is the link to my 30 minute interview on 2 September with Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp. It deals with Iraq, the Islamic State, war, the US Alliance, government popularity, budget distractions, unemployment,  and many many other matters.

Me on the mining tax

My article ‘The Minerals Resource Rent Tax: The Australian Labor Party and the continuity of change’ has been published in (2014) 27 (1) Accounting Research Journal 19. If you have University Library access you can have a read if your library has subscribed. It borrows from the ideas of Tom Bramble and Rick Kuhn about a capitalist workers party and the changes over time of the Labor Party. Here is the link to volume 27(1) special tax edition of the Journal if you don’t have Library access, but it will, I assume, ask you to pay for access.

Why is the ATO losing the battle against multinationals?

This report, by Noel Towell, is in Tuesday’s Canberra Times.

Why the Australian Tax Office is losing the battle against the ‘transnationals’.

Global companies like Google, Starbucks and IKEA are cashing in on cuts to the Australian Taxation Office’s ability to make them pay their fair share of taxes here, an ATO insider has warned.

Click here to read more.

This echoes something I wrote in 2008 for the public sector informant in the Canberra Times.

I also wrote something about the ATO cuts in July this year on my blog called ATO to lose 3000 staff by October: what happens to revenue collections from the rich and powerful. I offered it to the mainstream media but none were interested. Good to see them beginning to get the message.

There is also this letter of mine a few weeks ago in the Canberra Times about the strategy of ATO staff cuts being to benefit the 1%. Scroll about half way down for my letter Cost of ATO jobs outweighs salary savings.