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John Passant

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July 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)



More ‘extremist’ policies please Greens

The Labor ‘Left’ has joined in walloping the Greens for their ‘extremist’ policies.

You know, those ‘totally unachievable and loopy ones’ like fee-free TAFE, free higher education, a free health care system which includes dental care, less spending on rich private schools, taxing the rich, withdrawing from ANZUS, getting out of Afghanistan, fully funded maternity leave, a welfare system that ensures adequate incomes for all, affordable child care for low and middle income earners etc.

Oh, and real action on the environment.

All the things a Labor ‘Left’ might have once stood for.

This ‘debate’ is not about the Greens and their policies being loopy or uncompromising or unrealistic or unachievable or whatever the garbage is that the ALP muckrakers are putting forth.

It is about the utter degeneration of the ALP. It is about the supine nature of the Labor ‘Left’ and its complete capitulation to class collaboration and hence to the ruling class.

The ‘debate’ is about destroying the one mass party that hasn’t surrendered totally to neoliberalism, the idea that the market rules everything and produces the best outcomes.

Global warming anyone? One billion starving anyone?  You know, because market solutions have worked so well to date haven’t they to address climate change and mass starvation?

This ‘debate’ has erupted because the Greens do not accept every single neoliberal policy Labor puts forward as part of the ALP’s agenda to shift more of the wealth we create to the rich and powerful.

Labor has been spectacularly successful in achieving that, but because of the pressure of declining profit rates globally, the ALP’s ruling class masters want more, and more, and more…

The one sided class war continues in Australia and the Labor Party leadership and governments are on the, to date, successful bosses’ side. It is time for our side to fight back.

Labor and large sections of the trade union leadership are giving the bosses more and more. But in doing that they are laying the groundwork for a Tony Abbott victory.

Abbott is a man whose aim is to give even more than Labor to the rich and powerful.

He may be able to launch successful assaults on workers’ pay, jobs and conditions when he comes to power given the havoc the trade union leadership over the last 30 years has wreaked on the union movement and the destruction of rank and file organisation it has engineered.

This lack of fight will create its own gravediggers, temporarily, unless we organise, organise, organise and fight, fight, fight…

In fact the best way for Labor to counter the coming electoral wipe out would be to shift to the Left,  adopt some of the Greens’ socially equitable policies.  And the best way for unions to rebuild in a short period of time would be to begin fighting, like the National Union of Workers’ members at Coles are doing in Victoria.

The carry-on by Labor gives the opportunity to the Greens to step into the left breach if they are so inclined. But that would involve them in adopting more left wing policies, something that their shift to the right and electoral ‘respectability’ in recent years won’t countenance or allow.

Given that one of the parties to the civil union wants to get out, maybe the Greens should accommodate them, and make some real left wing demands on this milksop Government of class cowards and neoliberal nitwits.

Things like taxing the rich to fund a decade long transition to renewable energy, setting up a fully funded dental care scheme, making education free, cutting funding to rich private schools and spending it on poor and working class public and private schools, much more funding for public hospitals and public transport.

Greens, tear up the prenuptial agreement if Labor doesn’t agree to your demands.  Walk away from the abusive partner. Retain your dignity and principles and win more support from those left of centre voters disgusted by Labor’s anti-worker stance and further lurch to the neoliberal Right .

That would require breaking out of the strait jacket of parliamentary cretinism and mobilising people on the streets and in the workplaces around popular left wing demands. It may be a step too far for the respectable Greens.

As a party that manages capitalism Labor’s ideological and practical activity is determined by the dominant ideas of the elite.

In the age of Keynesianism, the ALP were Keynesians. In the age of neoliberalism, the Labor Party are neoliberal.

The ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling class, as Marx once put it, but rather more eloquently in The German ideology. So Labor cannot break out of its neoliberal death embrace, unless new ideas erupt on the scene and it is forced from its torpor.

That can happen from the point of view of the ruled if there is mass class and other struggle going on or, from the point of view of the rulers if the decline of profit rates spills over into massive devalorisation and neoliberlaism proves itself incapable of addressing the crisis.

After the Arab Spring, the European strikes and demonstrations against austerity and the rise of the Occupy movement it is no accident that Marx’s ideas again became popular (at least intellectually).

This debate is not just about the degeneration of Labor as a social democratic force – from capitalist workers’ party to CAPITALIST workers’ party and the cacophony of the ‘There is No Alternative’ brigade in the ALP.

It is also about the Greens not bowing down to the racism that Gillard Government refugee and Aboriginal policy is cloaked in or dog whistles to.

That racism of course is part and parcel of the ALP and the ruling class in its divide and conquer tactics over an alienated working class whose traditional social democratic props – the Labor Party and much of the trade union leadership – have effectively abandoned it. They do the work of the bosses in our class.

According to the right and left of the ALP, evidently the Greens don’t care about jobs. Apparently Labor do.

In fact this part of the debate is about the ALP wanting to protecting the profit of the polluters and the miners (often the same person or company).

Mining is a capital intensive industry and employs less than 2% of the workforce. During the GFC the mining industry laid off 15% of its workforce.

As Ken Henry, Secretary to the Treasury at the time said, if the rest of the employing class (my words, not his) had followed suit unemployment in Australia would have been 20 percent during the GFC.

The time has come for unions to fight for jobs, for better wages, for a bigger share of the national income pie for workers. Otherwise we will be ill-prepared to resist Tony Abbott.

The Marquis of Queensbury rules don’t apply when you are taking on street fighting barbarians like Abbott and his Labor Party trainers.  

Where is the recognition among the union leadership of the need to move to a renewable energy society in the context of defence of jobs and conditions?  Where are the union demands for retraining, for full pay for workers who lose their jobs until they find new ones, for many many billions to be spent each year on creating a totally renewable energy Australia and many many new jobs, and for the bosses, not workers to pay for all of this?

Where even are the union demands for a reduction in working hours to share the mining boom around? A 30 hour week with no loss of pay, jobs or conditions should be on the union agenda given that the share of national income going to capital is at its highest since records were kept and that to labour its lowest.

The demand for a 30 hour week without loss of pay, jobs or conditions of course is ‘too extreme’ not just for the ALP and the ACTU, but for the Greens as well.

It is outside the parameters of debate in polite circles (ie outside the debate the one percent wants and will allow.)

The Labor attack on the Greens is part of that process of completely limiting the parameters of any debate to what is acceptable to the 1%. In large part they have been largely successful because the Greens policies and proposals are hardly that radical.

Now the one percent want to smash any who dare challenge their ideas at all, even fairly mild socially left wing ones.

Back to jobs. Plans for moving Australia to a renewable energy future do in fact create jobs. 

A planned and democratic transition from greed to green, involving a proper debate and discussion among workers about the threat global warming poses, and from my point of view how capitalism may not be able to address that threat because of its focus on the short term and not long term, should be part of that transition.

It won’t happen under capitalism. It would under socialism when workers set up their own democratic institutions and organise production to satisfy human need.

There is no human need that demands we destroy our planet.  The profit motive on the other hand does in fact demand we do destroy the planet.

As Rosa Luxemburg mused many years ago, it looks to me more and more like the choice is socialism or barbarism. The ALP continues its lurch to barbarism.

We on the left have to continue our fight for socialism and a new world free from hunger and deprivation, a world liberated from the exploitation and oppression of capitalism and no longer threatened by environmental breakdown and catastrophe.

Labor is  a roadblock on the way to that reality.

Readers might also like to read another recent article of mine Just who are the real extremists: Labor or the Greens?



Comment from paul walter
Time July 11, 2012 at 1:59 am

Two things got to me today.
One was Abbott doing a Himmler and urging those responsible to toughen up on asylum seekers boats turned back to their uncertain fate.
The other involved Smith, the Defence Minister, who in trying to add yet another set of boots to the mob kicking of the Green,s described Labor as not an activist party, then stuffed up by saying Labor passionately agreed Greens policies, when he meant disagreed, a Freudian gaffe the reporter gleefully pounced on, like a cat on a mouse.
What gutless wonders our politicians are.

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