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John Passant

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November 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)



The bosses back Labor – the Liberals split

The bosses back the Labor Party. They have found in Kevin Rudd a man to carry out John Howard’s policies without the divisiveness.

This lack of divisiveness partly reflects the illusions millions have in Labor as a party of workers, as a progressive party.

It also reflects a long-term trend in the trade union and working class movement – class collaboration over the last 26 years. This is the idea that workers and bosses have common interests and should work together to achieve common goals.

In practice this means accepting that profit is sacrosanct.

The Accord between the Hawke Government and the trade union movement was the cornerstone of this approach.  It saw a massive shift of wealth from labour to capital.

It destroyed rank and file union organisation and seemingly banished class struggle to the museum of history.

This class collaboration and the lack of a left wing alternative made John Howard and his anti-working class ideas (disguised in neoliberal claptrap and nationalism) respectable to some sections of the working class.

After 11 years Rudd Labor swept Howard from power in 2007.

A major contributor to this victory was not only Rudd’s promise to abolish Workchoices, Howard’s hated industrial relations regime, but his ‘reassurance’ to the bosses that he was a fiscal conservative.  

Workchoices shows that class is important.  Workers rightly saw it as a systemic attack on their living standards and jobs by giving too much power to the bosses. (Any power to the bosses is too much power, but that is another question.)

Yet even that opposition to Workchoices was managed through the prism of class collaboration.  The trade unions marched us on to the stage of history with token demonstrations and then promptly marched us off again.

Such is the degeneration of the trade union leadership that television ads, not class struggle, became the focus for the campaign against Workchoices.

So Labor swept to power on the back of an inchoate and unfocused class opposition to Howard’s Government.

It is this class confusion which allows Rudd Labor to continue Howard’s policies.

While Labor presents minor tweaking (for example Fair Work Australia replacing Workchoices) as major change, in other areas like Afghanistan and refugees there is at best just a pretence of difference.

This Howardism without Howard suits the bosses.

It continues the redistribution of wealth from labour to capital without, they hope, any possibility of major social dislocation shifting society to the left and challenging that redistribution.

Wages as a share of gross domestic product are their lowest level ever, and profits their highest.

The ability of the Australian economy to withstand to date the global financial crisis has in part been a consequence of this massive re-distribution.

But this distribution is only papering over a deeper trend – the tendency of the rate of profit to fall.  As profit rates stagnate globally, and in Australia, the need of the system to further redistribute wealth to the bourgeoisie will reassert itself more viciously.

The bourgeoisie is united as  class against the working class. They are divided however by economic competition among themselves. 

It is this duality which explains the splits in the Liberal Party over the Labor Party’s emissions trading scheme.

 Global warming threatens the existence of the profit system. Yet any solution may impact adversely on some sections of capital.

Australia’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme may do that although a more realistic assessment suggests it is in fact a massive transfer of our money to the polluters to allow them to continue their current polluting well into the future.  What they are resisting is any loss in future profits from mining and burning coal.

The more intelligent members of the bourgeoisie can see that supporting the immediate interests of the coal cabal could threaten their exploitative system in the long term. 

For them Rudd’s CPRS – giving the impression of action without doing anything – is a good short term compromise between the interests of the polluting industries and the future of the system as a whole.

The deniers in the Liberal Party (and I might add their friends in the Labor Party) reflect the thinking of the polluting industries. 

The conservative side of politics (the ALP/Liberal/Nationals continuum) is having an internal re-alignment, one that is seeing a shift from the National/Liberal end of conservatism to the Labor version.

I think instead of obsessing about and gloating over the Liberals’ split, the left needs to develop its own voice in opposition to the resurgent Labor version of conservatism – the acceptable face of Howardism.

The real issue is the weakness of the left in Australia.  There is no voice mobilising the masses to fight for green  jobs, higher wages, refugees, equal love, aborigines…

Socialist Alternative is not that voice. We are far too small – a cork bobbing in the waves of society. Our aspirations are not our reality.

This will not always be, and in fact the skewing of Australian society to a battle between two versions of conservatism may open the way in the future for a shift to the left.  

That shift may well not be through the conservatising influence of the left of the ALP and trade union movement since that group no longer effectively exists or if it does has no working class credibility.  Anthony Albanese as radical leader? I don’t think so.

In participating in the struggles of today and helping to build them we are preparing for the battles of the future. 

The struggle going on in the Liberal Party is a sideshow.  Climate change threatens the future of humanity. Kevin Rudd giving $123 billion to the polluters isn’t going to change that.

The time to fight against the Labor/Liberal axis of conservatism is now.

Let us unite in the fight for humanity.

Readers might also like to look at Time for a mass movement to stop their climate change and Labor are the real enemy.



Pingback from En Passant » Abbott: the left misses the point
Time December 4, 2009 at 9:41 am

[…] might also like to look at The bosses back Labor – the Liberals split and Labor are the real […]

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