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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)



Gillard and Abbott – the Bobbsey twins of conservatism

Real change doesn’t come through Parliament; it comes through struggle.

That truth of course doesn’t resonate yet with most people. The ruling ideas, as Marx once wrote, are the ideas of the ruling class.

So most workers think that change can come through elections and the imagined agency of that change in the past has been the Labor Party. 

No longer. The last 3 decades have been a  process of reform for capital – started in Australia by Hawke and Keating and continued by Howard and Rudd.

The reforms have been aimed at bolstering low profit rates.  They have in fact been an attack on the pro-worker reforms of the past. The slow privatisation of public services like health and education is the most obvious example. This is reformism without reforms for workers.

The class collaboration of the union movement and the rule of the ALP has seen the share of  national income going to capital is at its highest, that going to labour at its lowest since records have been kept.

At the same time the level of household debt has exploded, perhaps in response to this historic shift. Workers have substituted debt for extra wage increases.  

Working hours in Australia have increased so much that we now have the longest working day of any OECD country. Much of this increase in hours is unpaid.  

The role of Labor as the agent of change for capital is captured in Gillard’s 3 weeks as Prime Minister.

Her backdown on the mining tax has cost the revenue up to $14 billion, money that could have been spent on addressing climate change, bettering schools and hospitals and tackling aboriginal disadvantage.

That money would have paid for a denticare scheme for all Australians and still have ten billion left over for other matters. 

Gillard’s opposition to gay marriage is calculated to appeal to conservative voters and reinforce the myths of the family to help produce the next generation of workers for capital on the cheap.

Her support, like Tony Abbott’s, for the war in Afghanistan is a calculated decision in the  interests of the Australian bourgeoisie aimed at bolstering the American alliance and expanding our ruling class’s interests in the region and beyond.

Gillard’s  ‘tough on refugees’ approach is a dog whistle to many working class and regional people concerned about their working future, their jobs and wages. It diverts attention away from the real problem – the capital accumulation process and the wage slavery built on that.

What irony that the beneficiaries of the demonising of refugees – Labor and even more so the Liberals – are the very people who will take a meat axe to workers’ living standards if needed to restore profit rates.

While Labor and the Liberals race to the bottom in demonising dark skinned people from foreign lands, they attack our original inhabitants too. The Northern Territory intervention is  racist and paternalistic, aimed at imposing white man’s rule on aborigines and stealing their land. The two parties are united in their support for the invasion.

Workchoices might be dead and cremated but both parties will resurrect it if, as seems likely, the global economy goes into a second recession. This election is in part an auction between economic axe murderers. Whoever wins will introduce a horror budget once the democratic facade is over.

Workchoices isn’t dead. It lives on in Labor’s Fair Work Act and its restrictions on industrial action and attacks on the one group of unions occasionally using, or threatening to use, industrial action to defend workers, the building unions. That’s why the Liberals will keep it.

Gillard’s position as the Labor lapdog of capital means she will not, and cannot, do anything to challenge the 17 percent pay gap between men and women. She will remain silent on the issue during the campaign. Her class overrules her gender.

The trade union bureaucracy’s historic shift in the early 80s to open class collaboration has seen the movement degenerate in numbers and quality as that bureaucracy became more and more closely aligned with reforms that undermined job security and wage justice. It implemented the reforms.

This decline in class struggle has destroyed the political left as a force in society, other than for the revolutionary left, which remains precariously at the edges.

The Greens have filled the vacuum, not because they are a real political or industrial left but because the rest of the political class has moved to the right, making the Greens the most left wing mainstream party by default. 

And so those searching for change, the illusion of change, have settled at the moment on the Greens. They will be fair-weather friends.

While Labor and the Liberals have no policy on climate change – other than to do nothing and encourage the polluters – the Greens’ solutions rely totally on the market,  the very cause of the problem, and argue for energy price rises to cut workers’ living standards. 

The Greens’ concentration on elections hinders the development of a left in Australia committed to struggle. The greens build a false sense of change through voting at the expense of building industrial and other struggles. They are the Barack Obama of Australian politics.

In the past it has been the Labor Party which has been the valve for the steam of radicalism. Now the Greens  are becoming its stopcock. 

But these developments in society also provide an opportunity. The degeneration of the reformist left and the failure of the Greens to provide real benefits for workers means they will have little credibility in the next upsurge of class struggle, at least to an important section of workers.

The way forward is class struggle, not the Bobbsey twins of conservatism.



Comment from Alex
Time July 19, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Marxist activism seems disingenuous to me. Marx predicted capitalism would evolve toward socialism. So why do Marxist activists want to interfere with this process? The Soviet Union was a result of prematurely attempting socialism – merely an industrialised version of Czarism in ideological costume.

Marxist activism is a contrivance. It is one thing to ask for solidarity in enforcing industrial action to deliver tangible outcomes. It is another to cynically enjoin people in a struggle for an ideological end-game wherein an elite and duplicitous leadership feels no compunction in sacrificing their ranks in the name of some far-off ideological goal. Thus the individual is thought of as disposable for the greater good. This thinking then permeates the leadership in all matters.

I would also like to comment the positive aspects of capital accumulation, but I will leave that for another time!


Comment from John
Time July 19, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Thanks Alex. Actually Marx didn’t predict its evolution. He was a revolutionary who thought workers – the majority in capitalist society – had the potential to overthrow capitalism and set up a socialist society based on democracy and production to satisfy human need. If that didn’t happen he saw the common ruination of the contending classes. That’s why socialists are involved in the here and now struggles; to build the future.

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