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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)



Neoliberalism – back from the dead?

Neoliberalism has at its essence the primacy of the market; the idea that market exchange and relations are the best, indeed only, way for humanity to organise itself and production.  Concomitants of this are privatisation, deregulation (especially of labour markets), restriction of union rights and ‘small government’.

This latter at least may in fact be more ideology than practice and arguably what we are witnessing, especially during and after the global financial crisis Part I and now Part II,  is a form of neoliberal Keynesianism. 

In the words of Alex Callinicos in Bonfire of  Illusions, the state roared back.  But the state roared back not in ways identifiably keynesian to protect employment, but to protect profit and companies too big to fail.

As Callinicos also pointed out presciently, the illusions proved to have a somewhat stronger hold on the imagination than one might have believed at the height of the earlier version of the GFC.

But the ongoing crisis of capitalism now engulfing much of the developed world – Europe and the United States in particular – has produced a unifying and unified response – resistance to the neoliberal agenda.  We might argue about the strength or in Europe at least of the almost Sisyphean response of periodic general strikes at best and the way forward for the Occupy movement, but we cannot deny the anger and real action driven by the failure of neoliberalism as practice to deliver on the promises of neoliberalism as ideology.

Above all of this stands the Arab Spring – the entry of the Arab masses onto the stage of history, demanding freedom and food, justice and jobs. This is a challenge to the mainly Western supported dictatorships and their imposition over decades of the market as saviour on their people.

The West of course has responded by trying to corral the revolutions – for example in Libya through direct military intervention and in Bahrain through Saudi troops.   

In Egypt the generals kept Mubarakism without Mubarak, but the massive demonstrations against their rule contain the potential for a further deepening of the Egyptian revolution and the emergence of class – workers and peasants as workers and peasants – as the explanation for and driver of the challenge to the rule of the generals and behind them national and international capital and US imperialism.

The process of the Egyptian working class becoming  a class for itself still has a long way to go but one can at least see this as beginning rather than end.

Of course Keynesianism itself now comes in different flavours. During the Global Financial Crisis in 2008/09 Australia’s government handed out money to taxpayers to spend. 

Australia was one of the few developed countries to stay out of recession.  That may have more to do with our resource sales to China, our long working week and the shift of wealth over the last 3 decades to capital from labour.

Indeed it is arguably this latter wealth shift that has defined the policies and actions of both conservative and social democratic governments around the developed world over the last 3 or 4 decades, ever since the collapse of the post war boom. That collapse occurred at a time when profit rates fell. They have not recovered to those halcyon 50s and 60s levels.

So the response of the ruling class and its politicians has been to shove more surplus to capital in the vain hope this would redress declining profit rates.

Of course systemically all this does is reinforce over time the tendency of the rate of profit to fall (assuming competition drives investment in capital at the expense of labour) as both the global financial crisis of 3 years ago and now the current one show.

And the response of the bourgeoisie? To attack workers’ living standards and wind back the welfare state even more.

Feeding the one percent more and more will supposedly make them fitter rather than fatter and benefit all of us.

So it seems clear, based on the bourgeoisie’s response in Europe and the US, and the clamouring in Australia for budget surpluses and savage spending cuts, that neoliberalism remains the weapon of choice for the ruling class. That is because it operates both as a reinforcing ideology of capital accumulation under capitalism and its practice.

But something new has arisen. People are fighting back. The Arab spring, the European demonstrations and strikes and the Occupy movement are all symptoms of a system in crisis, a system that while it can provide benefits to the one percent now has to do so at the expense of the rest of us.

The ideology sometimes may be softened to appear Keynesian but the beast has to be fed and no matter what sweet words they use their only option is to expropriate more and more of the wealth we create for their own purposes.

Our only option is to fight back.

It is in the lack of alternatives the bourgeoisie have, and the resistance to neoliberalism this has produced, that the seeds of hope for a better world exist and can grow.

Egypt is at the forefront of that struggle.  Egyptian workers and peasants have a new world in their hands even if they don’t yet realise this. Events may be pushing them towards gaining that understanding.  Victory to the Egyptian revolution of workers and peasants.



Comment from David Grayling
Time November 27, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Soon there will be a very wealthy upper class and peasants. That will be it.

People will talk about democracy in the past tense.

War is Peace! Might is Right! Markets are Divine!

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