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John Passant

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March 2014



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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)



The Saturday Paper is not leftwing

Gerard Henderson might not be as bright as your average gibbering idiot, but his pug-faced sanctimony is still damned annoying wrote Corey Oakley in Red Flag last week. So giving him an open paddock in which to kick around tired clichés from the culture wars does not exactly count as doing the world a favour. Which is why Morris Schwartz’s Saturday Paper has a lot to answer for.

And that’s before the first issue even comes out.

Its pitch to potential readers and advertisers claims:“The Saturday Paper will be read by young professionals. It will be bought by well-educated people living in the inner-suburbs. They are 35-49. They are image conscious and environmentally-conscious, brand-aware and socially-aware. They are creative, with a high disposable income.“They see shows and travel frequently. They drive compact cars. He has a Moleskine and Netflix account. She subscribes to Vanity Fair and the New Yorker.”

Jesus wept. Is it possible to conceive of a demographic more unattractive than the self-righteous and self-absorbed middle class this advertising monstrosity describes?

Of course it wouldn’t matter a jot if this was all there was to it. If the Moleskine and Vanity Fair set want a newspaper that panders to their prejudices, why not say good luck to them? After all, no one begrudges the British aristocracy their weekly copy of Horse and Hound (well, almost nobody).

The problem, of course, is that over the last 20 years in Australia a concerted campaign by the right has largely succeeded in convincing people there is a connection between this latte liberalism and the left.

It was entirely predictable, then, that Gerard Henderson leapt at the opportunity with the enthusiasm of a terrier in heat. The new paper should be called “The Sandalista”, he suggested, before heading off on a mirth-filled denunciation of all his liberal and leftist enemies.

The “battlers vs. elites” myth – and myth is what it is – has created a narrative whereby concern for the human rights of refugees, or support of equality for women, migrants or LGBTI people, is portrayed as a luxury of the university-educated middle class. Worrying about such matters is allegedly counterposed to the bread and butter concerns of blue collar workers, whose interests are championed by Rupert Murdoch, Gina Rinehart and the Liberal Party MPs who represent working class heartlands like Toorak and the North Shore.

It’s a narrative driven by the billionaire lobby in the Murdoch press, and reinforced by cynical hacks in and around the Labor right. The latter cover their sneering social conservatism with phoney rhetoric about understanding the economic concerns of the working class, when in fact it is precisely the slash and burn neoliberal economic policies of the Labor right that are responsible for the party’s deepening alienation from blue collar workers.

It is not only the opponents of the left who are to blame, however. The long era of setbacks for the workers’ movement have led some on the left to abandon the class politics that are central to any meaningful definition of what it is to be left wing, and instead now see radical politics as little more than the championing of a series of compartmentalised social issues.

If the left is to be rebuilt, it needs to break decisively with any identification with the politics of middle class individualism, and contribute to the reconstruction of a labour movement that is the champion of working class struggle for jobs and decent wages and living conditions. The labour movement – whose core ethos is centred on collectivism and solidarity – is the real basis for a broader movement in which the struggle for the rights and dignity of workers goes hand in hand with a struggle against all the reactionary social policies that are used to divide the powerless against each other, and ensure that the Rineharts and the Murdochs continue to sit at the top of the tree.

If the first issue of the Saturday Paper says that, I’ll happily apologise for any offence. But I’m not holding my breath.

JP: It doesn’t and he won’t.



Pingback from The Saturday Paper is not leftwing | OzHouse
Time March 4, 2014 at 9:11 pm

[…] Mar 04 2014 by admin […]

Comment from Kay
Time March 5, 2014 at 9:18 am

I certainly don’t argue with your disgust when you read the pitch to “potential readers and advertisers”. I too can’t imagine a more revolting, self-centred cohort!

However, I suspect that the bulk of left wing votes come from the inner-city Greens-voting lefties. All the ‘workers’ I meet are anything BUT leftie! Mind you, most ‘workers’ I meet these days are contractors or employees of contractors (I do get work/repairs/improvements done around the house from time to time). In ‘working class’ areas here, the Greens have almost zero support, and Labor and the Coalition votes are fairly evenly distributed as assessed over time. It seems the ‘latte left’ (inner city) is where most left votes come from – apart from idealistic young uni students with limited life experience (I was one myself once!). BTW I live in a rural area close to several lower socio-economic suburbs/towns. One of my daughters, however, lives in a very affluent, leafy, inner city Sydney suburb and is overwhelmed/surrounded by Greens-voting acquaintances and neighbours (she is a Labor stalwart).

Comment from Sergei
Time March 5, 2014 at 6:50 pm

“Gerard Henderson might not be as bright as your average gibbering idiot, but his pug-faced sanctimony is still damned annoying wrote Corey Oakley in Red Flag last week. ”

Hardly the way to elevate the debate.

Comment from Kay
Time March 6, 2014 at 6:02 am


Unfortunately, this is par for the course for John. If he does make the occasional valid point, it is so hidden in his florid, completely insulting and ridiculous diatribes, that you completely miss it! He certainly does not write like an intelligent and informed academic. I’m sure ANU is embarrassed by his off-campus language and behaviour. The intelligent, reasoned development of an argument is definitely not John’s forte!

Comment from John
Time March 6, 2014 at 6:51 am

And the University of Wollongong Kay. Don’t forget how upset they too must be employing me just this week as a casual tutor.

Comment from Kay
Time March 6, 2014 at 8:51 am

Congratulations. At least you will be close to your beloved St George Illawarra Dragons! Do you commute from Canberra, or have you actually moved to the real world?

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