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John Passant

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March 2011
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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
(0)

Sick kids and paying upfront

(0)

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)

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)

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Witches, bitches and fascistas

The shock jocks’ shock troops arrived in Canberra on Wednesday, dressed in their middle class finery and brandishing placards of sexism and other hate. ‘Ditch the witch’ and ‘Juliar, Bob Brown’s bitch’ competed with the leader of  her majesty’s opposition, Tony Abbott, to oppose the carbon tax, among other things.

This was not just a demonstration of a few thousand bussed in rent a crowd reactionaries against a carbon tax. It was a cry of the downwardly mobile middle class, of small business, farmers, the comfortably and not so comfortably retired and the like,  for recognition of their position and action to address it. With them were elements of the mainly non-unionised working class searching for certainty in a time of neoliberal uncertainty. 

These are particular victims of globalisation, of the free market and its relentless crushing of the economic middle class and creeping  economic and/or social immiseration of some working people in Australia.

The middle class is caught between big business and organised labour, between productive capital and wages.  Its lifeblood is the profit of big business and at the same time the living standards of workers.

As profit rates have declined, big business has used its power to increase its share of the nation’s wealth in response, aided and abetted by a complaint trade union leadership and quiescent workforce guaranteed some crumbs but not enough to prevent a decline in their share of the wealth they actually produce. 

Capital has been aided ably too by a Labor Party completely beholden to the ideas and practice of neoliberalism, a party whose role as the trusted lieutenant of capital has seen a significant minority of voters desert it, some to the Greens but some as well to the Coalition.

The comfortable economic middle class of the past, and the present, is caught between the two class giants. Their position would be improved by driving down wages for their own businesses, but unions stand in the way. It is why the petit bourgeois were so in love with Howard’s Workchoices and the ‘flexibility’ it provided to cut working conditions and wage costs.

As general economic stagnation globally reigns, the rewards going to the economic middle class decline. Its anger increases. It lashes out. And it has a ready ally in the country, in those less unionised areas close to major regional cities where agriculture’s role declines, where agribusiness continues to grow, where farm and farm dependent jobs are disappearing, where pay decreases and working days lengthen and lengthen.

Some of these workers flee to the mining sector to earn short lived big money, separated from their loved ones by the miles and the back breaking work.

Today the target of anger is a carbon tax; tomorrow, as it has been been in the past, it will be refugees or aborigines or welfare recipients or  the ‘lie’ of human induced climate change. 

The issues are a lightning rod for the anger, the underlying sense of alienation caused by a system that eats them up and spits them out.

The Hansonites fed on this anger, as did and do the Liberals and the Nationals. John Howard’s political genius enabled him to capture that anger and corral it within the mainstream conservative parties, destroying One Nation by subsuming it.

And yet he did this through a sleight of hand – talking the language that the alienated responded to but delivering more and more gains to big business at the expense of the petit bourgeois.

This joint venture may be unraveling, in part because Abbott does not have Howard’s skills , but more likely because the Coalition parties cannot actually deliver their part of the bargain, and the Hansonite constituency – the petit bourgeois and working class elements –  is beginning to understand that.

Hansonism was an embryonic fascist movement. It was overwhelmingly middle class with a layer of disaffected working class people attracted to it. The economic concerns which drove them have not disappeared; in fact they have increased.

There is no left wing movement in Australia to pull behind it the disillusioned and despairing working class, to act as a poll of attraction for the middle class and give both of them a vision for an alternative life free from the shackles of big business. We must build one.

There is something else in this people’s revolt that we saw in part yesterday in Canberra. Labor’s fake outrage at the disgusting banners and its feigned moral indignation that Tony Abbott could address a crowd with confessed fascists in it has diverted attention away for the tax itself.

Labor’s carbon tax will cut the living standards of workers. The compensation package for them as a class will not be full or complete. Workers as a class will bear the burden of the bosses’ climate change through cuts in living standards or public services or both. And they will bear it too through the ongoing environmental degradation global warming is unleashing.

As humanity faces possible destruction because of climate change, as the free marketeers cling grimly and absurdly to their non-solutions, as the middle class begins to chaff further and further at its decline, as disaffected workers look to the right for answers, the need for an alternative voice, a voice of revolution and democracy and human liberation, has never been greater.

The grand historical irony is that that voice is weak and almost completely unheard.

As global warming threatens humanity, as the economic stagnation of the system intensifies over time,  the voice of the revolutionary left needs to become a crescendo of the working class if we are to avoid our society’s complete descent into barbarism.

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Comments

Comment from Ross
Time March 24, 2011 at 8:15 pm

John,Global Warming is not fait accompli. We as a species are more likely to destroy ourselves via war than burning fossil fuels.

The reality is thus.A few elites via the Bilderburg Group and Council of Foreign Relations have decided that there are too many people on the planet and it is time for the great cull,of which their selected groups will be the chosen people for survival.

The neo-cons in the USA and Europe are playing a game of high risk intending to use limited nuclear weapons to supress both China and Russia.Hopefully Fukushima will be a wake up call and stop their lust for global domination.If all the spent rods were in those explosions,according to Keith Snow,this will be equivalent to 24 thousand Hiroshimas.It was a total stuff by General Electric.Nuclear power can be safe with the right technology but profit/power is supreme.

Comment from Ben Courtice
Time March 24, 2011 at 9:11 pm

This was a good article, John. Minor quibble: “The middle class is caught between big business and organised labour. ” I think it’s caught between big business and recession. Organised labour isn’t that organised for the most part, these days.

Also I think the term “middle class” is too vague. I’ve been hauled over the coals on my blog for using it lazily. There’s educated workers, there’s well-off workers, there’s managerial and professional and technically self-employed workers, and there’s small businesses (the only literal “petit bourgeoisie”. They make up what is called “the middle class” in shorthand but I’m not convinced that they really make up a very unified social bloc.

Although “middle class” can sometimes be handy as a derogatory term when you want to annoy some people! 😉

Comment from John
Time March 25, 2011 at 4:26 am

Thanks Ben. I will clarify the middle class issue. I still think big business and organised labour is still true – driving down wages would help the petit bourgeois and unions stand in the way of doing that. However the economic conditions, the rate of profit, etc do create pressure on them.

Comment from Duanne
Time March 25, 2011 at 9:43 am

None of our main political parties can be trusted. The Australian people are waking up to this as would be noticed in the recent elections. Contrary to what many believe the fact is we are all slaves as were our parents grandparents and great grandparents to big corporations and banks etc. Our government politicians rule over us slaves by using Uniformed Commercial Code (UCC) Statute Legislation which is Maritime Law. We no longer have a justice system as the judiciary in Australia enforces unjust UCC legislation, this proves beyond any reasonable doubt they are acting for our governments and big corporations and the banks. Do people of Australia need to resort to what is happening in other countries and revolt to oust the slave master goverments?

Comment from MarianK
Time March 25, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Excellent article, John.

My only quibble is that, although I’m glad you mentioned the sexism of the placards (which none of the MSM did – at least to my knowledge), I was disappointed that you didn’t follow through more on this point.

When the middle and working class are under threat, one of its most popular scapegoats is women – hence the ‘witch’ symbolism.

When poor men’s livlihoods come under threat from rich men’s greed, there is some comfort to be gained by poor men re-asserting their traditional male superiority over women – hence reducing our first ever female PM to a male politician’s ‘bitch’.

The greater the gap between rich and poor, the more likely it is that women’s progress will go backwards. It’s happened before in history and it will happen again.

(Note: I don’t mean ‘men’ as individuals here, but as general patriarchal norms. This same misogynistic scapegoating is often applied by women as well.)

Comment from jack lee
Time March 26, 2011 at 3:32 am

Good thing there were no workers at the rally. That would have been a bit too difficult to deal with.

Let us not only build a movement to lead the workers, let us spend decades doing it and get nowhere.

Backwards!

Comment from John
Time March 26, 2011 at 8:17 am

There were workers at the rally, especially retired workers. My point was to appeal to those workers not through sexism or racism or backing the conservatives, but to build a left wing alternative to the Bobbsey twins of conservatism, Labor and the Liberals. In doing that we can be a pole of attraction to those workers opposed to the carbon tax which is an attack on the living standards of workers and retirees. To imagine Abbott is the friend of workers and retirees is to imagine Gillard is one too.

That is not and will not be an easy task. It may as you comment take generations to do that. I am prepared to start now and hope rather than give up.

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