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John Passant

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June 2009
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Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
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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)



Parliament: recall the lying lot

The beaut ute email extravaganza has got me thinking about the Paris Commune.

How to govern?  That is just one of the questions each great working class revolution poses.

The answer has been remarkably similar.

The short lived Commune of the working men and women of Paris had some really strange rules.  Democracy was one of them.

Not the sham democracy we are currently experiencing involving nothing but blather about utes and emails and baaing for resignations, with representatives ensconced in their seats for 3 years.

I’m talking about real democracy where an elected representative is subject to automatic recall; where the decisions they make are debated daily by their electors; where the reason for their decisions is to satisfy human need.

It’s simple really. If workers don’t like what their representative has done they simply kick them out at the workplace meeting the next day and replace them with someone who does what they want.

The Commune was the first workers’ state. Here’s how Tess Lee Ack in her article History matters: the Paris Commune of 1871 in Socialist Alternative described it.

The Commune abolished the standing army, the police and the courts – all the repressive apparatus of the state – and order was enforced by the armed population. As a result, crime decreased dramatically – especially since the biggest criminals, the capitalists, had fled.

The parliamentary form of government was also abolished. All decisions were made and implemented by committees of elected representatives and officials, all of whom were subject to immediate recall and were paid no more than the average worker’s wage.

In this way, the masses were able to control their representatives and make them accountable. They exercised direct control over their government.

These were not peculiar to the Paris Commune.  Workers’ councils arise spontaneously in workers’ revolts, as 1905 and 1917 in Russia show. 

Other revolutions like those across Europe and in particular in Germany after World War One had workers’ councils in various degrees of development with automatic recall.

The long working class struggle against the barbarity of stalinism saw workers’ councils develop briefly in various countries in Eastern Europe as they battled the slayer of socialism.

In 1979 in Iran, workers began to set up councils to run the factories and provide enough for them to live on. 

General strikes and revolts against the established order force workers to adopt democratic councils to express their will and put food in their bellies.

Automatic recall of representatives is a necessary part of workers’ democracy.

Look, by contrast, at the goings on in the Australian Parliament over a bloody ute and who misled who.  Bourgeois democracy is reduced to the eternal insults of the class cousins.

Narrow, limited, bourgeois democracy demands representatives divorced from their electors, and in power for long enough to impose longer term solutions on the warring factions of capital.

These structures and strictures result in little else but parliamentary prancing and, in the case of the ute and the email, calls for the politicians involved to resign.

Real power lies in the hands of the bosses and their repressive organs of rule like the army, police, courts and public service.

How much more democratic if instead of this pretence of propriety, electors in their workplaces could tomorrow morning vote out Turnbull, or Rudd or whoever it is that has annoyed them.

Automatic recall makes representatives very attentive to the will of their electors because it is we who govern, not them.

If we couple this with representatives being paid the average wage, then utes and emails would not bother us. We’d simply change the representative and put someone in who can represent our class interests.

If this current ute farce sickens you, maybe it is because you want something more from democracy than rabid reactionaries ranting at each other.  Automatic recall, built by struggle from below, will give us a new democracy, a new society and a new life.



Comment from Frances Elise Kendall
Time June 23, 2009 at 11:27 am

I wish I had your faith in human beings. It’s a very long time since I heard of groups working together without one willing to go to any extreme to achieve domination over the other(s)