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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)



2012: From resistance to revolution?

January is named after the Roman god Janus, usually depicted as having two faces to look back and forward. Janus is the god of beginnings, of movement and transition, of time itself.

So let’s look back at what happened in 2011 and what might happen in 2012.

We can hope that 2012 is the start of a new epoch, of challenge after challenge to the dictatorship of capital over labour across the globe, of transitions from capitalism to socialism, of a new epoch, a new time.

Across the globe last year there were protests, demonstrations and strikes against dictatorship and austerity, against the rule of the one percent.

They took a specific form in North Africa and the Middle East of mass movements against entrenched dictatorships, mostly Western backed or aligned. In Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen (when the dictator does leave) they were successful. In Syria the brave people in their hundreds of thousands continue their deadly struggle against the brutal Assad dictatorship.

Imperialism has struggled and scrambled to retain influence and control in the region and has been most successful in doing that in Libya. In Egypt the pro-US Supreme Council of the Armed Forces rules but the possibility of a second revolution against their dictatorship still exists.

In Europe the austerity regimes attack their people and make the working class pay for the crises of capitalism. 

In the US unemployment is officially around 9 percent although in reality much more if underemployment is taken into account and those too disheartened to continue looking for work included. Almost 50 million Americans, one in seven, are on food stamps.  Housing prices have collapsed.  By the way, the US is the richest country in the world. 

In Australia the strength of the Chinese economy has resulted in an Australian economy the envy of the developed world. Unemployment is low – about 5.3% although trending up – and living standards remain high.

Of course like the rest of the world inequality in Australia has been growing for decades and continues to grow as neoliberal government of both colours implement policies to satisfy the one percent. A large number of Australians are denied access to the boom.

2011 was a year of resistance and in Arab countries of political revolution. There were two driving forces for these uprisings – freedom and food, justice and jobs. 

In none of the Arab countries has the revolution yet delivered real freedom. And they certainly haven’t delivered food and jobs.

In Europe and the US the strategy of what John Quiggin calls expansionary austerity – get government out of the way and private enterprise will come roaring in – has failed.

As Paul Krugman puts it: ‘Slashing government spending in a depressed economy depresses the economy further; austerity should wait until a strong recovery is well under way.’

That is the problem.

The national and international bourgeoisie across the globe are trapped in the neoliberal nightmare of austerity. To restore profit rates they have to attack workers’ living standards and the welfare state.

Unlike Quiggin and Krugman I don’t believe increased government spending will save capitalism. It cannot restore profit rates. Devalorisation or physical destruction of capital through war could do that, but the human consequences would be unthinkable.

The issue is systemic – it is the way production is organised under capitalism that is the problem. The tendency of the rate of profit to fall is inbuilt into capitalism.

Studies show that in the US for example the rate of profit today is about half what it was in the halcyon days of the post war boom. So despite lengthening the working day, cutting wages, increasing productivity, the tendency of the rate of profit to fall has asserted itself. This is also true of other developed countries.

Restoring profit rates means attacking not just living standards but also rights – the right to strike, to protest, to speak out. The economic crisis for the bourgeoisie mandates that there be  less freedom, not more.  That trend appears evident in most Western countries as more draconian legislation and state actions restrict our various rights.

In Egypt the intertwining of the interests of the national bourgeoisie (including the armed forces who control between 20 and 30% of the economy) and US imperialism mean that the SCAF and/or the elected Parliament will be unable to deliver freedom let alone food, justice let alone jobs. The resistance there continues, and could boil over to become a  political and economic revolution.  

However here is something missing from all the countries of resistance – a mass revolutionary workers’ party.

One of the lesson of the last century has been that for there to be a successful democratic working class revolution there must be a mass revolutionary workers’ party. This is a party of the militant sections of the working class, both white collar and blue collar.

The task today in all the countries and regions of resistance, in the Arab countries, in Europe, in the US, even in quiet Australia, is to further the movement for democracy and the opposition to austerity and to build a mass working class party of revolution.

‘Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of the world, unite!’


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