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John Passant

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June 2011



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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)



I love reading Rupert Murdoch’s Australian newspaper

I love reading Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper, The Australian.

It has been going since 1964 as a national newspaper and has never made a profit. 47 years without a profit! That has to be some sort of record, matched only perhaps by multi-national pharmaceutical companies in Australia.

One irony is that such are the profit pressures on media that The Australian is owned by a foreign corporation. News Limited used to be an Australian company but shifted to the US – the American tax haven of Delaware to be precise – to be closer to capital markets and its profit base.

The Murdochracy are so desperate for decent circulation figures for the Australian that on campus you can pick up a subscription of sorts for $20.  I pay $60 for year round delivery or access. The equivalent of 6 weeks at retail prices gets a year’s subscription.

But you’re not reading this to see what a loss earner The Australian is for Rupert. You’re waiting for the punch line, aren’t you?

Actually I do like the paper because it tells me what I used to call the fruitcake faction of the bourgeoisie are thinking.I now longer use that term because while it might seem obvious to me that The Australian is run by maddies, they represent an important stream within ruling class thinking. This is a stream that is best captured by Barry O’Farrell’s attack in New South Wales on the ability of unions to negotiate on behalf of their members over wages, jobs and conditions and by Tony Abbott’s leadership of the Liberal Party.

This is important because lots and lots of workers accept their snake-oil.   As Tony Abbott is showing, they might be mad as cut snakes but  they have a vision for Australia and the working class which is anything but mad.

The Australian is Tony Abbott’s paper and Tony Abbott is Rupert’s man. And the mining companies’ man. And the big polluters’ man.  And… but that’s a  story for another day.

Marx once wrote words to the effect that the ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling class. Yet the ideas of the ruling class are not monolithic. The bourgeoisie has differences not only of  opinion but of worldviews.  Well, sort of world views. Where they fundamentally agree is support for the rule of capital over labour and the extraction of value from workers to make their  profits.

In the newspaper world that profit can only be gained through sales, through competition in the market. And of course in the digital age that competition is also with forces outside the daily hard copy newspaper market.

The Fairfax group’s Age newspaper in Melbourne and its Sydney Morning Herald have a supposedly left of centre view of the world and The Australian a more conservative or even reactionary approach.  

yet they agree on the fundamentals of profit, profit and profit, not just for themselves but as the foundation of society.

Neither major media chains challenge the dominant ideology of neoliberalism. They argue instead over its application and the speed it spreads and deepens, depending on how much resistance the neoliberal juggernaut meets.

Rupert Murdoch doesn’t run the world. He influences it at the same time that his papers reflect that world. It is not surprising that in a time of reaction, where the Left in Australia is minuscule and both major parties are in the death grip of neoliberalism, that The Australian and its anti-worker policies not only survive but attract a large number of working class readers.

Barry O’Farrell’s overwhelming victory in New South Wales in March encapsulates this. Workers fled Labor and voted for the open class enemy. The Australian was as an unstinting warrior for O’Farrell as it is for the attack dog section of capital more generally.

That attack dog can only survive and thrive because the labour movement has been quiet for 30 years. Its leadership have been in bed with the bosses. The more the labour movement leadership roll over the more confident the Rupert faction of the bourgeoisie feel about attacking workers and the more strident newspapers like The Australian become.

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch is Rupert’s mother. She has led a life of incredibly privilege.

She signed, along with a range of other ‘prominent’ Australian’s, a call for a price on carbon. The Age wrote that her stand was out of step with the coverage in Murdoch’s newspapers.  This raised the ire of The Australian which then claimed that the Fairfax papers shared only information that supports their political positions.

Now it takes a certain amount of chutzpah from the paper that churns out climate change denialism, that froths at the mouth over union power, that consistently backs the Coalition,that enthusiastically backs the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, to claim it is the flag bearer of diversity. But that is precisely what it has done.

Under the guise of freedom The Australian gives free rein to a potpourri of reaction, with the occasional ‘left’ Labor hack supporting the key projects of conservatism in deed if not in word thrown in.

The Australian editorialised that the Age’s position ‘enlightens us to the dark heart of Fairfax, where complex debates are distilled to simple viewpoints, peddled to a deliberately misinformed readership.’

These are words that aptly describe the paper of reaction that is The Australian.  But it is true of all capitalist media. They paint a picture of the world that both reflects reality and lies about, to protect the profit system.

It is in magazines like Socialist Alternative that we can find a much better understanding and analysis of society today. This is a magazine that strips away the surface phenomena and shows the brutal reality of a system built on profit. This is a magazine that makes no pretence to bourgeois or other fake impartiality. It takes sides. It tells it like it is.

Read The Australian to see what the bosses’ future might hold. Read Socialist Alternative to understand how their system works and why we should fight for a better world now. Read Socialist Alternative to see what our future could be.


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