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John Passant

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December 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)



Holidays and other thought bubbles

Boxing day for me means cricket, not sales or sails. I love the tension that builds, the battle between the batsmen and bowlers, the chess in motion if you like.

This is my escape, or one of them, from a world of alienation, of repression and poverty, of dictatorship. In one sense so too is family,  ‘the haven in a heartless world.’

And so to Wollongong we went, the four of us adults (parents and kids) to visit Grandad for Christmas.  After 2 days he was glad to be back in his own routine, by which I mean to see the back of us.

And the kids went their own ways back in Canberra. The process of change makes the family both a haven and a dissolution of a haven. Even more, as Tony Cliff put it  ‘the [working class] family is both protective and oppressive, both a haven from an alienating world, and a prison.’ A prison for alienated workers, for women as home makers and cheap labour for capital in raising kids and for those who do not fit the stereotype.

This duality does not reduce the bonds of love. It focuses and reinforces them.

And now the adult children search their own ways in the world, looking for work as a (in my humble pinion) great guitarist or inspiration as a university student embarking on a journey of intellectual enquiry and wonder and activism.

While I too decide on what to do and think that at 58 maybe I should do that PhD on tax, the state and capital: a study in complementarity and contradiction full time and let the work world chase me instead of defining myself solely by being in 40 or 50 hour weeks of  paid employment.

And in Australia as elsewhere the result of 30 years of neoliberalism has been an increase in the hours worked, often unpaid, as one way to address falling profit rates.  We take less holidays.

Maybe the time has come for me to take more holidays.

As Trotsky wrote ‘old age is the most unexpected of all the things that can happen to a man.’  For me the unexpectedness is to do with the ability to do research in the two areas that have dominated my life – tax and Marxism – but as often separate streams in the bureaucracy where the Marxism was a suppressed understanding and the tax a ritual of interpretation.

In academia Marxism is not a good career move for tax researchers. The dominant intellectual trends are an empiricism and neoliberalism or, occasionally, social democratic yearning for a better world but with the market as a given, the grundnorm of profit holding up the tax sky.

My hope is for a 2012 in which,as one of my facebook comrades said, the 3 Rs come to the fore – riots, resistance and revolution.  As Eugene Pottiers put it in The Internationale, his homage to the Paris Commune:

Arise ye workers from your slumbers
Arise ye prisoners of want
For reason in revolt now thunders
And at last ends the age of cant.

My hope is to bring in my own small way reason in revolt to the world of tax and end the age of cant. That can only really happen if 2012 becomes the year of revolution, of working classes across the globe – from Egypt to Italy, from Wisconsin to Wukan – fighting back against the bosses and their state and setting up their own profoundly democratic society to satisfy human need.

Holidays can lend themselves to meandering thought processes, eh?

And for me right now?  There is always tomorrow’s cricket.


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