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John Passant

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April 2009



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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)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Is this 1929 or 1989, or both?

I went to Marxism 2009 in Melbourne this year with 1929 firmly in my head. 

But one of the speakers (quoting from a report in the British newspaper the Guardian) asked:  is this 1929 or 1989?

I hadn’t thought of the crisis in those terms before. 

Of course in Europe right now with mass strikes and demonstrations the situation is perhaps similar to 1989 and the political revolutions that overthrew the Stalinist dictatorships. 

 But it got me thinking – maybe globally this is both 1929 and 1989.

That’s why the mainstream media across Europe are talking in fearful voices about the new discontent.

What the bourgeoisie fear we should welcome.

What about Australia, where things are still relatively quiet?

Unemployment rose by half a per cent last month to 5.7 percent.  If that rate of increase continues, there will be 14 per cent unemployment by the end of the year.

Add in underemployment and the real figure would be over twenty percent.

Australia has come late to the unemployment crisis but, because of our dependence on trade and imported capital, we will go deeper into the red than other countries.

People and plant lie idle; yet there is so much to be done. 

For example to survive we must change in the foreseeable future from a carbon based society to one based on renewable energy.

The conflict between profit and need will prevent capitalism from doing that. There is so much that can be done, but the profit motive stops us doing it.

A green revolution is only possible with a red revolution.



Take the automobile industry.  The crisis has forced General Motors Holden in Australia to put its workers on short time – one week on and one week off.  This is a halfway house between full time work and no work and can’t last long as car sales dry up.

Most now recognise public transport as one element in the war against global warming.  What stops us turning the car factories into bus factories or solar energy and wind farm manufacturers?

The profit system.

The need is there, but we can’t fulfil it because it is not ‘cost effective’. 

Couple that with the fact that the ‘cost effective’ approach actually leads over time to low profit rates, and the bankruptcy of the system becomes clear.

This will become apparent over time as Governments of all persuasions embark on the new neoliberal project. 

The new neoliberalism aims to destroy capital and cut workers living standards.

The destruction of capital can occur through letting the market rip (the European approach apparently) or through managed state intervention (the Rudd, Obama and Brown approach). Either way the result is mass unemployment.

All the new neoliberals are united in wanting to make workers pay for the crisis of capitalism through unemployment, longer hours, less pay and less social services.

The convergence of the economic and environmental crises highlight the essential backwardness of capitalism.

It is not only that capitalism is now a barrier to human progress. As it grinds to a halt, it is leading us to barbarism.

We need a new society where production is organised democratically to satisfy human need.

The seeds of that new society lie in every fight back of workers’ against the stupidity of the system.  

In mass strikes and occupations the very question of how to organise the production of the necessities of life arises and workers almost automatically begin to establish democratic councils to do that.

Things in Australia are still quiet and indeed the impact of the Great Recession here might be to completely douse any sparks of resistance. 

There are tiny embers.

It looks like the flying Kangaroo is about to be culled.

Qantas has announced it will sack 1750 workers. this comes some time after management imposed wage freezes on workers.  Those wage freezes haven’t saved one job.

Last year Qantas sacked 4000 workers.  That hasn’t stopped the present attacks.

Yet people still want to travel.  They aren’t because they are worried about the future.

The transport workers’ union and flight attendants union are talking about strikes to protect jobs. 

Qantas is still a profitable airline.  It estimates it will make between $100 million and $200 million in profit in the coming year.

If workers cut off the flow of that profit, then Qantas may back down from its threat to sack thousands.  It would rather have low profits than no profits.

I doubt that Qantas management could withstand concerted action by the 34,000 workers it employs.  They would reverse the sackings if those workers walked off the job indefinitely and took over the planes to stop scabs running them.

In striking, Qantas workers could learn that they can run the airline themselves, without the bosses.

Every strike contains the seeds of revolution. Therein lies our hope and our future.


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