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John Passant

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July 2010



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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)



Build a socialist alternative

Labor and the Liberals have the same policies on war, refugees, attacking living standards, cutting public services like schools and hospitals, screwing Universities and doing nothing about climate change. They both run the system for the bosses and their profits. It’s time for a real alternative – a socialist alternative of democracy where production is organised to satisfy human need. The first step in that process is fighting against the attacks of whichever party is managing capitalism for the bosses. Come along to hear John Passant from Socialist Alternative argue the case against capitalism and for socialism and why you should be a socialist on Thursday 22 July at 6 pm in room G 40 Haydon-Allen Building ANU.



Comment from Eli Cash
Time July 22, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Are you really saying that socialism is on the table? I think this misreads the present impasse quite dramatically.

And what would it mean for production to be ‘organised to satisfy human need’. Isn’t it always organised to satisfy human need — why would there ever be production if it was not humans organising to satsify some need or desire that they have? Isnt it the historically specificity of what counts as valid ‘human need’ or desire that is the problem? That slogan seems rather simple.

Comment from John
Time July 22, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Eli No. Socialism is not on the table. I am saying that to get to that position we need to build a socialist organisation committed to the democratic rule of the working class and to the working class and oppressed in the battles of today.

Let me illustrate my point about production by using food as an example. There is enough food produced today to feed everyone more than 2500 calories a day. Yet 2 billion people are starving or malnourished. Why? Because it is not profitable to feed them. Profit is an obstacle to the most basic of human needs – food – for one third of humanity. A rational planned democratic society where production is organised to satisfy human need – not in some abstract fashion as is the case under capitalism – but by actually feeding everyone – is the only sensible alternative.

Comment from Eli Cash
Time July 23, 2010 at 2:16 pm

But you say: “It’s time for a real alternative – a socialist alternative of democracy where production is organised to satisfy human need.” Is it time for that alternative or not?

The problem with he ‘human need’ things is that, taking your example of ‘food’, people don’t eat food – a universal but particular sorts of foods. I think the problam with the social democratic approach that you seem to be putting, is that it takes phenomena in a very poitive fashion: there just is food, for example. Instead there is a very definite social formation that produces particular sorts of needs and desires: people don’t eat food they eat McDonalds or Sushi or Tofu Burgers. A clearer example might be: people do not want to be alive, they want some particular sort of life – a life that they have reason to value – and we know that people give up life in order to achieve the possibility of the sort of life they would value. So talking about production for human need is just nonsensical, ‘human need’ isn’t a phrase that means anything for concrete human life. It also suggests that there is some transhistorical ground of human need, a centre that human society is trying to find. I find that implausible, and obviously contradictory with historical materialism.

Comment from John
Time July 23, 2010 at 7:10 pm

But Eli, the productive forces of capitalism objectively mean socialism can be on the agenda. We have the productive basis for a life of plenty now. But the consciousness of the working class makes that an impossibility at this moment in Australia.

Not sure about my ahistoricism. Here’s part of Engels’ eulogy at Marx’s funeral:

Just as Darwin discovered the law of development or organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history: the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc.; that therefore the production of the immediate material means, and consequently the degree of economic development attained by a given people or during a given epoch, form the foundation upon which the state institutions, the legal conceptions, art, and even the ideas on religion, of the people concerned have been evolved, and in the light of which they must, therefore, be explained, instead of vice versa, as had hitherto been the case.

Comment from
Time July 24, 2010 at 1:42 am

“We have the productive basis for a life of plenty now. But the consciousness of the working class makes that an impossibility at this moment in Australia.” But the productive basis is inseparable from capitalism (only analytically is there an ‘economy’ – it doesn’t actually exist), and you previously said that this didn’t produce for your ‘human needs’. So it now can, but we just aren’t conscious of this?

Comment from John
Time July 24, 2010 at 10:55 am

Eli I think we are discussing matters at cross purposes. Capitalism provides the material basis for socialism – eg enough to feed, house, educate everyone. It doesn’t because production is for profit, not satisfying need.

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