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John Passant

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April 2012



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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)



Random thoughts on reformism, profit rates and the demise of Larvatus Prodeo

I was going to write about the rhetoric of reformism, the idea that while the words of the George Galloways and Jean-Luc Mélenchons of the world are radical their actions if they were in power would be less so because they would be running capitalism.

Further, as profit rates have fallen, the economic basis for redistribution to the poor and working class has been seriously eroded.

 My article ‘The return of reformism?’ gives some background to their success. 

Nevertheless the fact that Galloway and Mélenchon are getting sizeable support must give hope to all socialists. A large number of people are pissed off and they have swung their support behind radical sounding politicians. The task now will be to move this electoral response to an industrial one as well.

I also wanted to write about profit rates and the view among left wing writers on this that profit rates now in most advanced capitalist countries are about half what they were as the long boom came to end in the late 60s and early 70s. This means there is less social surplus to pay for the welfare state and public goods like education and hospitals.

The decline of profit rates has given rise to an increase in inequality across the developed world as a way to address the fall in profit rates (among a range of their strategies such as lengthening the working day.)

So it means that social democratic and labour parties across the world have adjusted their sails to the wind of falling profit rates and attacked workers living standards in the name of capitalism and its grundnorm, profit.

This in turn has led to a massive decline in electoral support for reformist parties in various countries. In Australia for example the Labor Party in Queensland won only 26% of the vote – a swing against it of 16%. The Gillard Labor Government is hovering at around or below 30% in the national polls.

And then I read that Larvatus Prodeo (LP) is closing down. It is probably the most read left of centre blog in Australia. It has been going for seven years but in the words of its founder, Mark Bahnisch, the caravan has moved on.

The reasons offered for closing shop are curious. Mark says:

There’s no longer the same need for a hub for political discussion, as lively debate has migrated to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and as the space for opinion and analysis around the shop has widened. The fact that the ‘blogosphere’ in Australia is no longer a term that makes much sense is an indicator of that change.

I doubt this. Twitter is useless at explaining complex ideas, but OK for providing links to articles with reasoned arguments in them. Facebook is the same – a good vehicle for links, and some discussion.

I must admit I’d like people to comment on my articles on the blog rather than Facebook, but at least on FB the community of commenters provides a more or less safe environment. And FB enables me to get to a wider audience than I would be otherwise be able to reach, some of whom might even read the article before commenting on it on FB.

Then I got thinking about LP’s mission. It is, it says ‘an Australian group blog which discusses politics, sociology, culture, life, religion and science from a left of centre perspective.’

For seven years Mark and others have blogged from a left of centre perspective, first against Howard, and then in different pieces, both for and against Labor at a federal and state levels but ultimately sympathetic to the ALP as government.

I think it might be the failure to resurrect the social democratic dream, the failure of the ALP to be anything other than a neoliberal party despite the rationality of LP’s arguments, that has seen Mark and others shift their focus to new as yet unannounced ventures.

Maybe for the reasons mentioned above the dream of a New Jerusalem is dead, and LP has died with it or at least among its more farsighted advocates.

I’ll miss Larvatus Prodeo and the cogent arguments it often gave for social democratic thought and policy.

But for me the need to communicate revolutionary socialist ideas to a wider audience continues and I can see no better way of doing that than through this blog and my activity as a member of Socialist Alternative.



Comment from Kieran Bennett
Time April 11, 2012 at 1:08 am

I stopped reading Larvatus Prodeo some years ago, but I do recall in my earliest forays into the exciting new world of blogging, Larvatus Prodeo and Mark B set the standard I aspired to exceed, but never did 😉

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