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John Passant

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September 2010



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The new Gillard Government: neoliberalism in crisis

The election has produced a deadlock for neoliberalism in Australia. Neither major bloc of free marketeers won a majority in the House of Representatives.

A trickle, nay a stream, of voters expressed their opposition to neoliberalism by supporting either old style protectionists on the right (or their more sophisticated spokesmen in the likes of Oakeshott and Windsor), and the Greens on the left.  Will it become a flood?  Maybe.

The election reins in aspects of the neoliberal agenda, those aspects which would involve attacks on particular sections of the ruling class for the benefit of the whole class.

 Thus economics editor Alan Mitchell, writing in the Australian Financial Review, the paper of the bourgeoisie, has described the independents’ deal with the Labor Party as producing a government whose ‘legislation will be hostage to the wavering support of men whose opinions will be set by the last rent seeker they have spoken to.’

What he means is they will be hostage to rent seekers who may not be from big business. But the situation is more complex than that. 

The bourgeoisie want a Government who rules in both their specific and general interests.  Often the two are in harmony, or the social surplus is enough to buy off some sections without attacking them. The result is often a Liberal Government who can rule successfully for business.

 But sometimes the needs of the system (especially as the rate of profit stagnates and the social surplus dwindles) require overriding the interests of specific capitalists. Historically the Labor Party has represented that wing of the bourgeoisie which could as an outsider impose solutions beneficial for capital at the expense of specific sections of capital.

The Resource Super Profits tax was but the latest example of this. It was an attempt to re-distribute profit via general company tax cuts from a super profitable section of Australian capitalism to all the bourgeoisie. 

Labor’s back down on that tax may be the tocsin of the changing nature of the Labor Party, indicating that its historic role as ruling in the interests of capitalism at the expense if needs be of capitalists may be changing.

Certainly the tax fiasco, coupled with the Emissions Trading Scheme which would have transferred wealth from the working class to the big polluters, are clear signals of this. 

On top of this the charade that Labor represents in some way the interests of working class people fell apart during the 2 and 1/2 years of the Rudd Government. The party has become a carbon copy of the Liberals.

The policy differences are minor. Where they exist they are debates about the detail, not the general neoliberal agenda itself.

The lack of a strong left wing socialist or even militant alternative to Labor has allowed the seeming opponents of neoliberalism, the Greens and various rural independents and the WA nationals, to win, combined, millions of votes.

This may well see some sections of the Nationals move closer to this protectionist and state interventionist faction of capital. 

The power the Greens now have – both with Adam Bandt in the House and the balance of power in the Senate –   may see them moving closer in rhetoric to the social movements while balancing the interests of the petit bourgeoisie and big business who will benefit directly or indirectly from their policies.

Big business wants ‘stability’. This means they want change managed for their interests and strict control over the working class and the rewards its receives for creating the wealth of society.

The paralysis of generalised capitalist reform – of neoliberalism – that this election has produced will see the ruling class force an election on the Government within the next year unless Labor can find a way to rule in their interests as a class and for particular sections of that class.

It is difficult at the moment to see that being possible.

Tony Abbot waits.

But so too do the opponents of neoliberalism. The task for socialists will be to turn that inchoate left wing opposition into an active fightback.



Comment from Auntie Rhoberta
Time September 8, 2010 at 10:24 am

The informal vote was up too.

Comment from Emerson
Time September 8, 2010 at 11:56 am

It’s true that one of the traditional roles of the Labor party was its ability to rule in the interests of the entire ruling class, and not be as beholden to sectional interests as its support base is from the working class.
However the second role, of being able to defuse or divert working class anger and struggle is still not in question. That was why the r.c. were ok with losing Howard – As Rudd kept most of Workchoices intact.
It’s hard to see what the ALP can offer now, to either the r.c. or workers.

Tony Abbott is definitely waiting in the wings.

Pingback from “Australian Govt plans to continue with mining tax” and related posts | Today Hot News
Time September 8, 2010 at 4:30 pm

[…] The brand brand brand new Gillard Government: neoliberalism in crisis – En Passant […]

Comment from John
Time September 8, 2010 at 8:50 pm

True Emerson. I thought I did make that point obliquely and might try to make it clearer somehow.

True Auntie Rhoberta, about the informal vote. A sense of despair about the lack of choice?

Comment from Caz
Time September 8, 2010 at 9:07 pm

The real Julia Gillard:
Julia Gillard was educated at ‘Mitcham Demonstration School’ in Adelaide. Brad Boyd, Deputy head at this school, claims that this is what made her what she is today. The history of education in Adelaide is interesting, with a very heavy Froebelian influence, and having been constructed in what we call the ‘John Adam St Gang’ in London (also called the ‘Adelphi Planners’) who set up colonies in NZ and Canada, as well as Australia and elsewhere. To read more about the influence of the Froebel gifts and the ‘architecture of the mind’, I suggest people go to the ‘lifeinthemixtalk’ website:
John Adam St Gang:
Considering that Tony Abbott supports a Constitutional Monarchy, we have both Gillard and Abbot as tools of the John Adam St Gang, the network centre of the old British Empire, which never went away.

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