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John Passant

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March 2013



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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)



Saturday’s socialist speak out

The two wings of Labor Party neoliberalism tore themselves apart last week, looking for a saviour to lead them away from the political oblivion that beckons on election day on 14 September.

Instead of the Messiah we ended up, again, with a tussle between Gillard and Rudd, and one of the devils outmanoeuvred the other.

This latest decline into madness reminded me of something Marx wrote when he said ‘The capitalists, like hostile brothers, divide among themselves the loot of other people’s labour …’

In the case of Labor Party politicians it is a band of hostile siblings fighting among themselves how to manage the system that arises from the loot of other people’s labour among. This means essentially managing the rate of exploitation between capital and labour, how much profit the bosses can squeeze out of us.

The resignation of key, senior, Rudd supports and Ministers and others from the front bench as a consequence of Gillard’s victory has further weakened an already weak Labor Government. It is weak not because it is riven by differences. These differences are superficial compared to its neoliberal Grundnorm.

Labor is weak because it is a neoliberal party. Given its commitment to managing capitalism it can be nothing else. Labor has always adopted the dominant ideology of capitalism. When the bosses and capitalist intellectuals and policy makers were Keynesians, so too was Labor. When, after the crisis of profitability of the late 1960s and early 1970s saw the bosses and their intellectuals became Neoliberals and implement neoliberal ‘solutions’ in an attempt to address the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, so too did Labor.

The first inkling of that was the Whitlam government with its across the board tariff cut and savage anti-working class Budget of 1975. But it was the Hawke government of 1983 which embraced neoliberalism and implemented it in Australia. unlike Reagan and Thatcher, instead of attacking unions and workers, Hawke and Keating bought them into the tent of neoliberalism and used the trade union bureaucracy as the agent of neoliberalism disguised as class collaboration and wrapped in rhetoric about better living standards for all.

So it is no surprise that the Minister for mining companies, Martin Ferguson, in resigning from the Gillard ministry, invoked images of the ‘good old days’ of Hawke and Keating. He said the party needed to ‘reclaim the mantra of the Hawke and Keating governments to govern for all Australians.’ Now if you are going to govern for all Australians (which is really code for governing for all the big capitalists) then of course you would be surprised if Ferguson, the spokesperson for mining capital in the Labor Cabinet, to say:

The class war that started with the mining dispute of 2010 must stop. It is not doing the Labor Party good. The only way we will regain our electoral momentum is not to just focus on class-war rhetoric but to focus on the possibility for investment, jobs and training.

He didn’t have in mind the class war rhetoric of the Minerals Council and the mining maggots opposing a minor tax (pun intended) on mining company profits. He had in mind Wayne Swan, hardly a working class warrior, pointing out that mining companies made massive profits and paid little tax.

Ferguson was also head of the Australian Council of Trade Unions during the Hawke era and was a key player in the class collaboration that was the Accord. He is merely repeating the logic of class collaboration today. the way to create jobs in the minds of the trickle down neoliberals like Ferguson is to shovel more and more money into the hands of capital and the super rich.

All this did of course was to make John Howard in 1996 and now Tony Abbott in 2013 electable. It makes their class warfare, disguised as creating a healthy business environment, and the attacks on workers that will flow from that, even more acceptable. It allows of no alternative except to grovel before the feet of capital.

It is our side surrendering in the class war. There has been class war – a one sided class war by the bosses against workers, unchallenged more or less since the election of the Hawke Labor government in 1983.

Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine buying a copy of Socialist Alternative magazine

What is missing in Australian politics is a socialist alternative here and now to mobilise workers and others to fight for and defend their interests. The Marxism 2013 Conference over Easter in Melbourne is bringing together a thousand people which, with unity as one of its main foci, may lay the groundwork for building just such an organisation.

In occupied Palestine, Obama spoke platitudes about peace but dare not speak truth to his Israeli ally – that the process of genocide of the Palestinian people must stop now nd that a one state solution – a democratic Palestine for all who want to live there is the only way to solve the issue. that of course risks losing the attack dog for US interests in the region, so there is no surprise Obama does not talk the truth. Indeed his impassioned plea for a two state solution hides the very problem – that the process started by the establishment of the Zionist state in 1984, its logic, is the destruction of Palestine and its people.

As China looks to secure alternative energy supply sources and as its power grows, I wonder how long it will be before the Chinese ruling class throws more of its weight behind the Palestinian bourgeoisie or wanna be bourgeoisie in Fatah to perhaps undermine the US in the region.

The Arab revolutions, especially the unfinished Egyptian revolution, have the real potential to do that. ‘The road to Jerusalem runs through Cairo.’

The crisis of European capitalism played itself out last week in Cyprus. Cyprus is a tax haven. It has a company tax rate of ten percent. In the 2000s, its banks, flush with funds from Russian oligarchs and others, invested heavily in Southern Europe, especially Greece. The amount invested in Cypriot banks is about 3 times the GDP of the country.

Of the $30 billon or so, about $20 billion is from Russian capitalists. The value of those investments has collapsed as the contagion of crisis spread across Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy. On top of that, last year, as part of the bail out of Greece, the parties agreed to a haircut on Greek debt, i.e. to forgive some of the Greek debt. The 2 main Cypriot banks lost $5 billion because of that. The negotiations are over a bailout of €10 billion. The lenders wanted some sort of surety.

So the troika, the European Union, the European central bank and the IMF sat down with the government of Cyprus to nut out a solution. The troika suggested a tax on the holdings of the rich, on deposits greater than €20,000. The Government in Cyprus wanted it to include all depositors, i.e. to include its own workers, pensioners and the like as well as the filthy rich of Russia, presumably to lessen the burden on the tax avoiders and thus retain somewhat Cyprus as a tax haven.

The geniuses did not anticipate the fury of the reaction nor the possibility that workers in Southern Europe and elsewhere might see this theft of their savings as a dangerous new precedent that would or could be used in their countries to support bailouts of banks too big to fail. So they ended up with angry demonstrations in Cyprus and the possibility of bank runs elsewhere.

As in Australia, so in Europe. Whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.

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Comment from Chris Warren
Time March 25, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Looks like the Cardinals have appointed a terrorist as their new Pope.

Stands to reason – he follows a fascist.

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