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John Passant

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August 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)



It’s the economy, stupid

Australia did not go into recession during the global financial crisis. Paradoxically this is undermining the Labor Government’s chances of re-election.

Compared to every other OECD country Australia was an economic miracle during the biggest systemic crisis of capitalism since the Depression.

China and its massive stimulus package, the Labor Government’s stimulus package, its bank guarantee, the shift to part-time work, the long work hours, the shift of wealth to capital at the expense of labour, the huge increase in productivity, the fall in real labour costs, the increase in household debt, all help to explain Australia’s seeming economic exceptionalism.

Labor’s stimulus and other policies, according to the Treasury, contributed, depending on the quarter,  between one and two percent to GDP growth.  Or so the Treasurer claimed.

In Australia unemployment peaked at 5.6 percent and is now down to 5.3 percent. Unemployment in the US by comparison hovers officially around 10 percent and stubbornly refuses to fall.  Unemployment across Europe varies but in Spain it is over 20 percent and in the UK close to 8 percent.

In other words, despite the real impacts on some sectors of the working class, Australia was a relatively safe harbour for labour during the GFC.

The last major economic downturn  in Australia was in 1991 with Keating’s recession we had to have. Yet despite this Labor won the 1993 election for a combination of factors, including the fact Labor were seen as the people who had managed the economy well over the last decade and the fact the Australian recession was not as severe as other countries’.

This time it is different. Much of the workforce has not experienced an economic downturn or loss of jobs permanently. Talk of catastrophe in other countries has little impact if unemployment remains low here, as it did during the GFC.

While the GFC created uncertainty, it did not create mass unemployment in Australia. It did however make Australian workers even more defensive.

A defensive and uncertain workforce accepts the dictatorship of capital unquestioningly. It is why the mining companies’ lies about the resource super profits tax for example found a real resonance among many workers. As if those billionaire bastards, who sacked 15 percent of their workforce during the GFC, give a toss about workers’ jobs.

Labor can shout to the rooftops that it saved Australia from recession.  Workers aren’t listening.  They are safe and receptive to the siren song of the last seemingly good economic managers – the Liberals.  After all, under the Howard/Costello Government, Australia avoided two international downturns – in 1997 and 2000/2001. Living standards grew.

Workers today feel less certain about their living standards. Some hanker for a return to the Liberals steadily improving real wages.

The idea that Governments can in the long term have any real impact on global recessions and soften the impact of stagnating profit rates on the lives of ordinary workers is a furphy. Government action cannot improve profit rates long term – unless it is to destroy capital either in value or physically. The experience of the last 30 years seems to show that no Government is going to do that.

During the GFC the state roared back to power – as nationaliser, guarantor and spender. But by saving those institutions too important to fail the capitalist state in the US and in major parts of Europe has prevented the destruction of capital necessary for a restoration of profit rates and laid the groundwork for the next anaemic recovery and worsening decline.

The second phase of the global economic crisis appears to be starting and working its way through the US, Europe and inevitably perhaps China. The rising labour turmoil in the market-Stalinist regime offers real hope for the future direction of humanity. 

Meanwhile in Australia the complacency of the working class, born of 30 years of class collaboration and acquiescence to neoliberalism by its trade union and political ‘leaders’, coupled with uncertainty and defensiveness, measn that the debates during our election are not about the economy and climate change and the possible crises coming but about the ‘threat’ a few thousand refugees pose and whether we are seeing the real personalities of the leading politicians.

Rome is burning and the Nerophiles fiddle.

Take climate change. The impending crisis demands action now but that threatens profit and so nothing is done, other than offer up half baked market solutions.

It is not surprising short-termism dominates political debate and working class thinking since that is the essence of capitalism – the quick buck over all else.

But that very short-termism creates the conditions for long term and serious thinkers and doers, like the revolutionary left, to reap some political benefits from the failure of the political troglodytes to adapt to the changing economic and political environment.

Revolutionary patience,comrades, revolutionary patience. That is what is needed – to strengthen ourselves for the economic and political crises of the future.


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