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John Passant

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February 2011
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Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
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)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
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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)



Some thoughts on higher education in Australia

I sent this to a colleague recently after they sent an article critical of online learning to me.


One solution to the lack of students on campus and in class seems to me to pay students a living wage. Australian capitalism will only do that if there is a mass movement which forces it to spend more on education. 

To me the lessons of North Africa and the Middle East are clear. If you don’t fight you lose.

But I am now learning to play the game. 40 percent is the new pass, 55% a credit, 65% a D and 75% an HD. As for real HDs…

And of course let’s all produce puff pieces for publication. The journals themselves often seem to be part of the neoliberal agenda.

In my field, tax, the ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling class, and nothing that strays outside that narrow neoliberal set of ideas – sometimes with vague Keynesian overtones – ever gets published.

This mad rush to publish puff pieces produces no societal benefits. It contributes not one iota to human development. It is a waste of time and energy.

The idea that online and face to face are equal is a complete travesty and I believe a reflection of the stranglehold neoliberalism has over most universities and many academics.

God help Australian capitalism in 5 or 10 years’ time when functionally illiterate graduates, with little capacity for critical thought or commitment to doing the hard slog of work, are in positions of influence in society.

A massive increase in spending on primary and secondary public schools might address these issues too, but again Australian capitalism is not going to do that without a push from below.

As for the academic workforce, it is quiescent, like the rest of the Australian workforce after 30 years of being led by a trade union leadership who believes in nothing other than class collaboration. What is good for the boss is good for workers is their motto.

Universities have tight control over all aspects of life to enforce and enhance the commodification of education, the proletarianisation of the academic workforce’s wages and conditions, the precariousness of employment conditions, the sausage factory approach to students.

Contract employment, Performance Development Reviews, after results student surveys, Cost Allocation Models, the ‘must have a Ph D’ employment conditions, the publish (often crap) or perish syndrome, are all part of the further neoliberalisation of academia.

So too is the incredible bureaucracy associated with academia – a top down approach of ordering us around and a world view which sees things in terms of forms to control us.

Where is our Tahrir Square? When is our Tahrir square? The sooner it comes, even on a local scale, the better off we will be.