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If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (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. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (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
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Sick kids and paying upfront

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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. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

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Australia day and reaction

My local supermarket had them in stereotypical glory – tattooed, thonged, wrapped in the flag and holding a slab of beer.  The men were the same.

Australia Day is ostensibly about the foundation of the first colony yet ignores the genocide of the aboriginal people that flowed from that. For many aborigines and leftists like me, this is a day to remember the fallen and mourn. It is invasion day.

Yet even for the nationalists who do celebrate, Australia Day has changed. It is now even more a celebration of white supremacy and intolerance.

The flags, the swagger, the tattoos (of the Southern Cross of all things, a disputed symbol of resistance), the incessant boozing, the air of superiority  – all point  to a degeneration in the way ‘we’ celebrate the national day.

The holiday is an attempt to unite workers and bosses in a shared history, a shared vision, a shared goal – the continued exploitation of the working class for the benefit of the bosses.

The system of exploitation and extraction of surplus from workers has seen major changes in my lifetime.  Taking a lead from Hawke and Keating, continued by Howard and Rudd and Gillard, the  Australian economy has become integrated into the world economy.

The trade union leadership has capitulated to capital so that labour’s share of the national product is at its lowest since records were kept.

Australians have the longest working week in the developed world.

Unions, the defensive organs of the working class, are in serious decline, with only one in seven workers in the private sector being members. 

The lack of industrial struggle – strikes and other industrial action are at one of the lowest levels ever in Australia – has seen a corresponding decline in social movements and the political left.

This means the left as an idea, let alone an actuality, has no appeal to millions of Australian workers. To them it is invisible.

Hand in hand with this de-unionisation and de-politicisation of Australia has been a massive shift to individualism in the workplace and its acceptance as the dominant ideology.

‘There is no alternative’ pervades the whole political discourse.  Conservatism rules. Change can only be minor and incremental. The market and pre-ordained low pay rule. What’s good for the boss is good for you.  You are the author of your own success or failure.

We have lost our history, our sense of the past.

The genocide that Australia Day celebrates is airbrushed out of our collective memory along with the valiant and courageous working class and other struggles against the ruling class.

The move to the right of the reformist left has seen a forgotten voice arise, the voice of the unheard especially in places where union organisation is weak, like the regions and some outer metropolitan suburbs.

Without a left-wing political or industrial focus some of the exploited, the forgotten and the marginalised have turned to nationalism and its twin, racism, as crutches for the loss of working class community and working class strength in action.

Australia Day is an outlet for and expression of that powerlessness.

Australia Day is above all else a day of bourgeois celebration, of glorification of its own success.

The working class celebrates the day with them but in ways that might suggest a yearning for a different road, a new society.

Last year half a million workers took a ‘sickie’ on the Monday to join with the holiday on the Tuesday and made it a four day long weekend.

This year with the holiday falling ona Wednesday I wonder how many five day weekends there were. No doubt the bosses will complain about lost productivity.

The working class seems to be saying: Bugger the bosses – we have worked our arses off for you for the last year and now it is our turn to kick back and relax and ignore the dictatorship of capital for a few days.

And some of the ways of celebrating – the booze especially – are inchoate attempts at escaping the cruel realities of capitalist exploitation.

In this they recall 6 February 1788 when the women landed in the fledgling colony and the rum ration was doubled. Bacchanalia followed as the convicts escaped their miserable existence for a day.

None of this is to endorse the day; it is to try to understand it and through that the mood of the working class.

We have a long way to go.

Readers might also like to look at Australia day celebrates racism and genocide.

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Comments

Pingback from Gerrys Blog » Blog Archive » #australiaday | Yahoo!7 Answers Blog Australia » Blog Archive » Happy Australia Day!
Time January 26, 2011 at 11:10 am

[…] En Passant » Australia day and reaction […]

Comment from Andrew
Time January 26, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Very good article.
…. and go the Dragons for back to back in 2011! 🙂

Comment from musicartstar
Time January 26, 2011 at 5:25 pm

I agree. Excellent Australia Day articles.

Still, amidst the flagwaving, cricket, booze and 4WDs, the only people i see “celebrating” are those with money to spare. People who are starved by broken social systems and supports are not as easy to see.