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John Passant

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December 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)



Abbott: the left misses the point

The left is missing the point about Tony Abbott, and in demonising him lets Rudd Labor run free with its Howard-like policies. It also possibly opens up a space for anti-Catholic sectarianism.

For example Guy Rundle in Abbott, God and the cosmopolitans in Crikey on Thursday argues:

There are three dominant ideas of God in Christianity at the moment. Leaving aside literal protestant fundamentalists, the division between the other two runs right through the middle of the Roman Catholic church. On the one side are those who believe that God may be a real entity, but cannot be expressed in human terms — and consequently the idea that God might have firm views on homosexuality, condoms, evolution, traditional aboriginal culture etc is a category error. On the other is the idea that God has a more knowable form with whom a dialogue of sorts is possible — if not exactly a Grandpa in the Sky, God can be thought of in terms sufficiently assimilable to humanity to make the pronoun “He” a meaningful one.

The division is not around the unique divinity of Jesus Christ, but around whether the creation of a specific moral and political order is a business of humans left to do it by themselves, or one in which God’s will and law can be interpreted and acted on.

Our society and politics is overwhelmingly of the first belief. It is a widespread belief that underlies the Australian polity as a humanist one. Tony Abbott is part of the second formation, and it is perfectly legitimate to pin him to the wall on it.

This is my response on their website.

An interesting but superficial analysis, devoid of any class perspective. You could of course apply the same analysis to Rudd, and perhaps come to the same conclusion.

Maybe Abbott’s ascendancy also has something to do with the split in the ruling class over climate change and the conflict between the state as arbiter of the needs of capital in general (the executive committee idea) as opposed to particular sections of capital on major issues.

There could also be arguments about whether particular blocs of capital (eg the coal cabal) have captured some sections of the Liberal party and all of the National Party , whether Abbott is addressing a need to stabilise the conservative liberal base and is repositioning the Party for the future if or when the economy double dips.

If the economy does tank again, then Abbott’s economic ideas especially could find ready acceptance among the ruling elite as a way of driving living standards down and propping up profit rates.

His ascendancy might also, without, let’s be frank, a real left any more of any size in Australia, drag Labor further to the right.

Indeed, arguably what is going on is a realignment within the conservative continuum of  Labor/Liberals/Nationals.

The left in most commentary I have seen imagines Abbott as the most important enemy.

The real enemy is Labor. Our task should be to build (or at least try to build) a mass movement for real climate change, defence of jobs and living standards, etc etc.

Guy responded:

John Passant, you’re right. My superstructural analysis has entirely ignored movements within the ruling class. Clearly the rentier-imperialist base of the Hockeyites is now in contradiction with the Abbottist Catholic petty-bourgeoisie. We’ll have a clearer understanding of what’s going on when Minsky gets back from the Putilov works with newspaper sales figures.

Yes, i agree with you that divisions with business round the ETS – one group wanting it passed for stability, another resisting – are worth taking into consideration (and something worth saying more about as a stand-alone article), but the idea of trying to reduce this complex multilayered political-cultural process to being a mere epipehnomenon is nuts on stilts.

It’s not only among the ‘ruling elite’ that an aggressive anti-tax etc Abbott economic policy would find favour, but among a wide swathe of voters. Indeed, Labor has left itself exposed to that by its airy ‘nation building’ stuff.

God yes, let’s build another movement for the etc of etc. There’s nothing like having a task. You first.


Struggle is alien to Rundle’s understanding of humanity and its progress (or otherwise).  Far better to pontificate in crikey than to get one’s hands ‘dirty’ with the proles and social movements  in struggle.

Far better to attack a Liberal Party leader for his Catholicism (epiphenomenalism itself) than to actually engage with the real enemy today – Kevin Rudd.

None of this is to gainsay the enormity of the task for those of us on the revolutionary left.  Our forces are incredibly small, and the idea of struggle (let alone its actuality) has been lost to a generation or two of workers and as a generalisation social movements in Australia.

It is this social quiescence that sees the intellectual left flounder and vacillate, developing ahistorical and non-materialist theories to protect weak laborism from real scrutiny.

This observation about the lack of strikes applies too to the revolutionary left in Australia.

We are so small and without any roots in the working class that we are like seeds in the desert of class inactivity; without the rain of class action we will not, cannot, spring forth and grow.

Readers might also like to look at The bosses back Labor – the Liberals split and Labor are the real enemy.


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