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John Passant

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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)

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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


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Which side are you on? Oppressed Muslims or oppressing cops?

Which side are you on?  It is the question for the Left.

When the oppressed resist their oppressors, as happened on Saturday in Sydney when peaceful Muslim protesters resisted police attacks, the Left does and must stand with the oppressed and their resistance. 

The fallout from the demonstration shows that some who mouth platitudes about being on the Left are in fact part of the neoliberal swamp whose sympathies lie with the State and capitalism and not with those oppressed who resist it. 

It also looks as if the media, after a bit of thrashing around,  have found their theme – there were kids at the demonstration in Sydney on Saturday with signs calling for the beheading of those who insult the Prophet.

‘This is not the Australian way,’ said our great leader Julia Gillard.

Forcibly removing asylum seekers to offshore concentration camps is the Australian way. Invading Iraq and helping kill over one million civilians is the Australian way. Helping to kill tens of thousands of Afghan women and children is the Australian way.

Evidently the police are entitled to brutalise protesters because of their placards.

Do those shocked by these placards apply the same standards to the utterances of Alan Jones, Grahame Morris and Robbie Farah with their seeming death threats against the PM?

You know, the suggestion from Farah that the PM should get a noose for her 50th anniversary. That according to Grahame Morris the PM should be kicked to death. And from Alan Jones, the lowest rat in the sewer of the capitalist media, along with Andrew Bolt, the suggestion that the PM should be put in a chaff bag and dropped out at sea.

Of course not. Those purveyors of seeming verbal violence are part of the oppressing class or its ideological factory. The media dn the right’s confected concern about a placard is a nonsense, a diversion from the real issue of police brutalising peaceful demonstrators in a further display of State racism.

Do those who profess being shocked by placards condemn the racist police raids on Muslim families that traumatised children and women last week in Melbourne. No. Deafening silence.

Are those sensitive souls shocked by placards also shocked by Australian forces assassinating a 70 year old Imam and his son in Afghanistan in revenge for the murder of 3 of their colleagues?  Are they shocked by drone bombs killing kids?

Is this the Australian way?

This lack of synchronicity, the difference in treatment between Muslim demonstrators and the violence of the Australian state,  points to something deeper in our society: the one percent will grab any excuse to bash Muslims and indulge in racism more generally.

It serves their interests in dividing workers, making them less willing and able to fight and distracting attention away for the ruling class attacks on jobs, social services and living standards.

And why are Muslims angry? Try being a Muslim for one day in Australia and suffer the racism and xenophobia meted out, and at the same time witness the contempt your brothers and sisters across the world are treated with by the West, including Australia, who invade their countries, kill their kids and impose dictators on them.

Gee, I dunno, maybe they have something to be cranky about. When the oppressed fight against their oppression I support them and don’t condemn them for placards when the police attack them with batons, dogs and pepper spray.

That won’t stop the hysteria and the rapid escalation of racism to new heights, or lows more correctly.

For the ruling lass it is a god send. It helps divert attention away from Campbell Newman’s 14500 job cuts; from Barry O’Farrell’s $1.7 bn cut to the education budget in NSW; from Victoria’s decimation of TAFEs and rotten pay deal for teachers.

It is no accident that on the same day Barry O’Farrell was railing against the Muslim demonstrators and defending police violence that he also called for an increase in the Goods and Services Tax and extending its base. He hopes to hide as much as possible this tax attack on workers behind the police violence on Saturday against peaceful protesters.

The fake left have taken the bait hook line and sinker. Peter FitzSimons for example in an ‘Open Letter’ accepts the police lies and then in true liberal fashion condemns those the police attacked. Like Andrew Bolt, FitzSimons stands with the oppressors and against the oppressed. It is truly an Open Letter for Closed Minds.

That is the point about the fake left. They are so trapped in the logic of capitalism they can’t see the state as a tool of big business. Or they let their Islamophobia overrule their critique of capitalism. Or they stand in the grand tradition of much of the leadership of the labour movement for the past century – racism. Or all of the above.

Of course their arguments are sometimes more subtle than Andrew Bolt’s but they have the same effect – propping up the racist State and its continued oppression of Muslims in Australia and those trying to come to Australia.

This issue of support for the Muslim demonstrators is a dividing line for the left – a dividing line between the real left which stands with the oppressed and the fake left which stands with the cops and the capitalist state against them. 

The police who attacked the Grocon site in Melbourne are the same as the police in Sydney who attacked Muslim protesters.  Let’s hope some in the fake left camp can understand that, eventually.

As for the media… well, what did you expect other than rabid and relentless racism?  The truth? A real analysis of what was going on? Really? Are you that gullible?

Stand with the oppressed


 I wonder why Malcolm X said that? Could it be because, for the main oppressed group in US society, the one he belonged to and as a consequence suffered the racism of the system every day, it was and is true?

Maybe that is precisely what is happening with the media reports of the demonstration the other day in Sydney, the  peaceful Muslim demonstration the cops attacked. The violence at the demo according to at least 3 eyewitnesses was from the police.

However something positive happened. The protesters stood their ground against the racist police.

I was at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy Demo on 26 January this year. The media went berserk after some of the demonstrators want to a café nearby and bashed on the window to protest Gillard and Abbott. Even the ABC called it a riot. It was a peaceful demo, and in fact 3 months later a report concluded that and that no charges would be laid because the protesters weren’t ‘violent’. 

Why would the media lie? Because it is in the interests of the one percent to stoke racism and impose austerity on a divided working class. 

In some cases the media are so ingrained with capitalist ideology and thought they don’t even think to question, to analyse, to accept there might be different approaches. If they did question and think, they’d be writing blog articles for obscure websites read by few instead of news reports and opinion pieces read by many.

To those who believe the media and its analsyis of the police attacks on Muslims, next you’ll be telling me that Rupert Murdoch and his media network across the globe is a force for good and the truth. Or maybe that Andrew Bolt performs a valuable function in society other than just reinforcing the power of the elite, something in practice the likes of Peter FitzSimons also do.

There can be no half way houses here. We on the left stand with the Muslim demonstrators who resisted the violent police attacks, violence which is a concentrated example of life for many Muslims in Australia every day.

Standing with the oppressed may further isolate the real left for a while. We will be vilified and ostracised. But our principled position will win us some support and help unite us in action against the common enemy.  

And as the global economic crisis deepens and spreads into Australia our ideas about a whole range of things, about for example the crisis ridden nature of the system and the racism that is the glue the bosses use to bind workers to the system, will win us a bigger audience.

Our support for the oppressed today prepares us for the struggles of tomorrow against capitalism and its agents of oppression. 

The best way to do that right now and to help drive back racism and oppression is to support the Muslim demonstrators and any other struggles that do break out against capitalism.

We on the real left support the struggles of workers against job cuts, cuts to health and education services, we oppose detention centres to imprison refugees, we are for equal love, to give a few examples. 

We organise demonstrations and support striking workers on their picket lines.

Solidarity is not a light switch. It must be on the whole time.

Readers might also like to read Police brutally attack Muslim rally.

Socialist Alternative in Melbourne is holding a meeting this Thursday 20 September at 6:30 at the Victorian Trades Hall Council:

Challenging anti Muslim bigotry: Why the left needs to defend the Muslim protests


For those interested here is a statement by my comrades in Egypt, the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt, on the anti-Islam video protests.



Comment from John
Time September 16, 2012 at 10:35 pm

One of my little mates has been complaining I won’t publish his racist views. I believe in free speech. I make it clear in the rules that I won’t publish racist, sexist or homophobic material. I sometimes allow some comments through just to highlight the pig ignorance of those who make them. There are heaps (or more accurately shit heaps) of other places to peddle racist filth. I don’t get my articles published in any of the mainstream media. Or very often any of my letters. Should they be forced to publish my views?

Comment from Dave
Time September 16, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Actually no. Communists support struggles for human emancipation. There is always the possibility of the emergence of reactionary forms of anti-capitalism. Sure the state acts likes the state, sure there is a gross hierarchy of identity in Australia – but that doesn’t mean that events like these are part of the real movement to abolish the present state of things. If any thing we need to think why communist politics is so marginal and why reactionary forms of politics fill the void.

Comment from John
Time September 17, 2012 at 12:28 am

Fighting against racism is not reactionary. You know, movements for better wages aren’t ‘a real movement to abolish the present state of things’ either. The revolutionary left supports them. Neither are equal love or anti-refugee campaigns, nor defence of Indigenous people. It is Marxism 101 that in struggle people’s ideas can change. The movements against Mubarak weren’t the sort utopian ready made communist movement you envisage either, but in the process of overthrowing Mubarak and now experience=in the new regime ideas are changing, at least among some sections fo the population, especially workers, where for some the economic struggle is now at the forefront and merging with the political struggle. it is early days yet, but I reiterate: people’s ideas change in struggle. And maybe underlying your comment is a view that religion is reactionary, or Islam, or that the demonstrators in Sydney were of a particular reactionary nature. None of this is true.

Comment from Dave
Time September 17, 2012 at 7:33 am

So this was a fight against racism was it? Or is a fight whose ideas must change?

Comment from Dave
Time September 17, 2012 at 7:38 am

…and I don’t know what Malcolm X would say but I do know that he felt it necessary to break with reactionary ideas and argue against them

Comment from Ian
Time September 17, 2012 at 9:11 am

Nicely written piece John. This is the only article I have been able to find 2 days after the event that even questions the proposition that the protesters were solely responsible for what happened on Saturday. I am not defending the actions of anyone involved as I don’t know what actually happened, but I know that the NSW police do not support free speech despite Andrew Scipione getting up and saying they do. Nor does the government or even the general public I fear when the speech is something they don’t like. The majority of Australian’s won’t have heard much of what you say about the actions of the global US hegemon and have no idea about the true nature and scale of the atrocities committed by them. Nor do they realise that Australian forces, even if they act in good faith, are guilty by association (and probably in deed too) in the eyes of many.

I wait with interest to see the response from the balanced police and mainstream media after the slated review of CCTV and news footage that will obviously show the protesters at fault and the police where just doing their job.

Comment from John
Time September 17, 2012 at 9:34 am

Which reactionary ideas? So you side with the cops? You believe the Rupert Murdoch narrative? Apparently a demo against racism and US imperialism sparked by a video should be opposed because all knowing all seeing Dave says it is reactionary. The only thing reactionary is you standing with the cops.

Comment from John
Time September 17, 2012 at 9:35 am

Do you mean religion is reactionary per se? Islam is reactionary per se? This is knee jerk anti-Marxist nonsense. Malcolm X was a Muslim.

Comment from Dave
Time September 17, 2012 at 12:20 pm

No I don’t think Islam is reactionary – I think demanding a limitation to expression no matter how idiotic it is on the basis of it offence to an identity as part of a larger politics is reactionary.
And no I don’t ‘side with the cops’. I think the point is to critique the state, racism and its roots in capital, without then saying that all expression and activity against them is something we have to sign up to.
I am also unsure about your use of the terms Marxism and anti-Marxism as they seem to have very little to do with the work of Marx…..

Comment from Sarah
Time September 17, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Had you been in Sydney you would spin a different line. The Police just stood there – they were attacked by the crowd. I clearly saw cops shouting to each other to “hold back” as the crowd forced their way into the police line. Only after a couple of cops went down unconscious did the cops start spraying and forcing their line forwards onto the protesters. I was in Hyde park for 2 hrs and, although its inconvenient, every confrontation I saw was started by the crowd, not by the police.

Comment from John
Time September 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I ahve 3 eyewitnesses who tell a different story. I believe them.

Comment from John
Time September 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm

I don’t sign up to all activity against the cops or the state. And I am glad you offer your thoughts on my Marxism, since those who side with the cops on this issue and who accept the Murdoch narrative are in my view part of the fake left, either in academia or elsewhere or worse the Stalinist ‘left’. Doesn’t matter how you paint it, here is a group of the oppressed resisting the capitalist state and you buy the Murdoch narrative. Fake left nonsense. Don’t patronise me. Stick to writing nonsense in academia as part of the Marx industry.

Comment from John
Time September 17, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Funny how the major revolutionary socialist groups in Australia support the demonstrators and a tiny sectarian group of stalinists who couldn’t organise a political piss up dare to criticise our Marxism and accept and contribute to the Islamophobia of the State. Keep up the pathetic work anti-Marxists.