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John Passant

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July 2013
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Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
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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)



Rudd’s nephew speaks out

Van Rudd

“Who would have thought I’d be swept into this shit again?” Van Rudd is beaming about the prospect of sitting for another interview about the Labor leadership, a subject in which he actually has very little interest he tells Ben Hillier from Socialist Alternative.

Apart from his surname, there is little to associate the 40-year-old radical artist with his uncle Kevin the conservative prime minister.

The two haven’t spoken since 2009, when the elder Rudd called to give encouragement to Van’s artistic endeavours:

“He did say, in regards to an artwork of mine that was censored by the Melbourne City Council, ‘Make sure you stick to your guns’ … So I have ever since”, he laughs.

His bemusement at the encouragement is understandable. Van became politically active three years before Kevin first became PM, in 2007. He’d already had a pro-Palestinian billboard artwork censored by a local council in 2006 and had been moved on by police in Brisbane during a national touring exhibition.

His further development as a revolutionary socialist has made him doubt the prospect of any future chats with the PM. “I guess he may have found out I was turning red for real in about 2009 or 2010, so I think I’ve been a little blacklisted in terms of simply being able to hang out with him.”

It isn’t something the activist artist is too concerned about. The corporate media, he reckons, place far too much emphasis on blood relations and not enough on human relations – the way society is structured more generally. His concern with the latter leaves him with little time for the ALP and the people leading it.

“What is this ‘labour’ that Labor represents? It’s the labour involved in the manufacture of lies. It’s the labour involved in writing cheques to big business. It’s the labour involved in scapegoating refugees. Labor is so disconnected now from the world movements of labour that have shaped history … Labour generally in the world is looking for representatives and just cannot find them in parties like this.”

Van leans well back in his chair as he speaks, his paint-stained right pant leg extended casually to the front. He is the epitome of laid back. In this respect, just as much as his political opinions, he is the antithesis of Kevin.

“All the ALP does is tell people, ‘We know how to run this society. Your job is to knuckle down, keep your head down, don’t disobey authority, keep the production wheels turning,’” he says.

Van, like the PM, has endured vitriolic attacks. But where Kevin has come under fire for seeking to advance his individual political position, Van has absorbed criticisms because of his commitment, through his artwork, to a politics of solidarity with the oppressed, which emphasises the participation of the mass of people.

Another of his pro-Palestine artworks was temporarily removed from an exhibition because of its uncompromising anti-apartheid message – something that excites rancour in the Australian establishment. The piece that caused the Melbourne City Council offence was a comment on corporate culture, juxtaposing a smiling Ronald McDonald carrying an Olympic torch with the image of a burning monk from an anti-Vietnam war protest.

“How do we challenge the ALP?” He muses, thinking about the future. “We have to take action on the streets. And we have to develop arguments that can challenge the dominant ideology that the Labor Party and the Liberal Party are committed to. It’s up to people like us – the workers who produce and distribute the necessities of life – to demonstrate through action that there is an alternative to a society that only benefits the rich.”

When I spoke to Van he was in the process of moving house. For the past eight years he and his partner have resided in Melbourne’s western suburbs, living humbly on the sort of income that artists and activists are accustomed to: “You know how it is, you get forced further out into the suburbs when you don’t necessarily want to be.” That’s one sentiment that his uncle should be able to relate to – politically speaking, at least.