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John Passant

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November 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)



From uranium to gay marriage: Labor’s stampede to the right continues

I had the pleasure of listening to a press conference with Julia Gillard today.

She started off by arguing that the party conference, to be held in Sydney in early December, should overturn the current ban on selling uranium to India.

India is not  a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. 

I guess there’s ‘plenty good money to be made, supplying the Indians with the tools of the trade.’

The solution seems simple enough.

Uranium is so dangerous it should be left in the ground. Fukushima shows the end result of this folly.

But all Gillard can see is billions in sales and revenue. And false arguments about how nuclear power is the hope of the third world.

One of the drivers appears to be the ongoing isolation of China. Selling uranium to India helps bolster its growth as a bulwark of American imperialism in  the region against China.

The decision highlights the madness of capitalism – if it makes a buck do it and bugger the social, peace and environmental consequences.

But it also shows the stampede further to the right that is Labor under Gillard.

In the same speech Gillard went on to say that she wanted a conscience vote on gay marriage although she personally opposed equal love.

A conscience vote for ALP members will signal the parliamentary defeat of gay marriage because the Opposition will oppose it and will not allow a conscience vote.

The Joe de Bruyn group will vote with the Opposition against equal love.

Gillard finished off her press conference with a rah rah about getting that extra 8000 members to join the Labor Party.

What world does she live in? Selling uranium to India and effectively using a conscience vote to defeat gay marriage is not going to have people lining up to join the party. It will have them leaving.

The Greens may benefit from any shift. Their opposition to uranium mining, let alone selling it to anyone, their support for gay marriage, their support for refugees, their opposition to the QANTAS attacks on its workforce, their commitment to abolishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission and so on may see them pick up some disillusioned ALP supporters and members.

But I think something deeper is going on. I have argued in the past that the defining point about the ALP is that it is a capitalist workers’ party, or as I have put it, a CAPITALIST workers’ party. It is capitalist because it is about running capitalism. It has some workers’ element because of the links the party has to the working class through the trade union bureaucracy.

Maybe the time has come to re-evaluate this formulation.

A party draws its class nature from its membership, its leadership and its policies. On two out of three of those criteria the ALP is not a workers’ party. And its members are not members as workers but as individuals.

The links to the class through the union movement are attenuated and weak. Most of the trade union leadership is divorced from its own membership.

Perhaps there is a process of qualitative change going on which means the ALP is now just another party of the bosses with some tenuous links to the organised working class, an organised working class which hardly exists in any combative sense.

That may be changing as we witness the struggles at QANTAS, the fight of the Victorian nurses, the occasional stoppage by Commonwealth Public Servants, the Baiada workers’ picket line and the the maritime workers stoppages. Although a more likely explanation is that the upsurge in struggle is because of the happy coincidence a number of enterprise agreements expire around the same time.

But the workers here are fighting Labor’s industrial relations laws as well as the bosses. Labor is part of the problem.

The Occupy movement has shown a deep disquiet across the developed world and even in relatively prosperous Australia with the increasing inequality and lack of democracy that are the current capitalist arrangements.

But those movements have not in any real sense yet linked up with the one class which has the power to change society. There are some hopeful signs. Here in Australia for example the Occupy movement has built links to unions in struggle and physically supported the Baiada workers’ picket line.

Maybe none of this ‘qualitative change’ is new and it is just the inevitable contradictions of capital and labour in periods of class quietude playing out. Maybe.

But all the old shibboleths need constant revisiting to test their truth and validity. And that is as true of the ideas of a capitalist workers’ party as of any other.

Doubt all, said Rosa Luxemburg. Let us enter the age of doubt.



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Time November 16, 2011 at 8:17 am

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