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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. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (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. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (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
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Sick kids and paying upfront

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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. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

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Marches in March show there is hope

 

Over 100000 Australians marched in March over the weekend and today, with the biggest demonstration against the Abbott government’s policies in Melbourne. There 25,000 people turned out to protest against the economic and social policies of this conservative government.

The smug Abbott feels safe in his conviction that this is just a whingeing minority and so he can insult them with comments about St Patrick’s Day marches.

The mainstream media will reflect that, attacking the protests for various crimes like depicting Abbott as Hitler, or the infamous Socialist Alternative F**k Tony Abbott T-shirts or ignore it.

What none of them will do is address the deep concerns many Australians feel about the economic and social programmes and policies of this government, and since they are really just an extension of the previous Labor government, with the Rudd and Gillard governments’ economic and social policies too, at least for some of the protesters.

These demonstrations, in towns and cities across Australia, were a magnificent display of opposition to Abbott. One task for the left is to figure out how to continue to relate to that anti-Abbott, anti-neoliberalism mood and to build on it if we can.

Certainly many among those who demonstrated were asking where to now? Some may see the fact of demonstration as enough. However 100,000 people in the streets of Australia on a one-off demonstration isn’t going to frighten Tony Abbott and his neoliberal economic and reactionary social agenda, as his dismissive St Patrick’s Day remarks show.

That means thinking about whether we can and should turn these demonstrations into something even bigger, and more regular, and linking up to the one class in Australia that as a class can stop Abbott in his tracks, and in doing that stop Labor too from implementing their neoliberal economic agenda and reactionary social policies when they are in power.

Building another demonstration in a few months time against the Abbott government, especially after it hands down its May Budget, might be worth considering.  However even if the demonstrations become bigger and better, there is no guarantee of success because the social weight of huge demonstrations, especially passive ones, isn’t great. It tooks years of dogged activity and campaigning by anti-war activists to turn the anti-Vietnam war demos  into outpourings of mass opposition.

Those demonstrations too were fuelled by and in turn fuelled by large strikes and in 1969 a rolling general strike across Australia. The number of strike days today is at best a few percentage points of strike days in the late 60s and early 70s.

More recent mass demonstrations, for example against the Iraq war, have faded quickly after they light the night sky all too briefly.  There is no major current of opposition, no background of class struggle, to give them hope and help.

This fading of demonstrations in recent times I think may reflect an underlying sense of hopelessness many have about being able to change the world when the two major parties essentially have the same neoliberal and inhumane policies and when the working class is not fighting back.  However the fact that over 100000 people turned out across Australia to demonstrate against this Government should give us hope that we can continue the fight and build a mass movement against Abbott and neoliberalism. Let’s try anyway and see what happens.

Can this happen? From all reports organised socialists were there in number and had some impact through sales of papers and other propaganda. Second, although some on the left have already written the demonstrations off as not fitting within their narrow anti-politics schemas,  or because Labor wasn’t condemned, or because these sorts of demonstrations didn’t happen under Labor when it introduced the same sort of neoliberal and inhumane policies, I think that misses the point.

Here was a movement against Abbott and his rotten policies. This gave the left the opportunity to make the argument now and into the future that Labor was the same and we need to resist both major parties, and I might add, the Greens with their neoliberalism too.

The fact that all Bill Shorten, the putative leader of the Opposition, could splutter was that people were entitled to demonstrate, may have reinforced for some the utter bankruptcy of the ALP. Labor, we noticed your cowardice in not turning up and mobilising your 50,000, 40,000, 30,000, 20,000 members to participate.

Labor couldn’t turn up because many of the policies people were demonstrating against were your policies in one form or another. Refugees, the NT intervention, cutting public service jobs, attacking single mothers, warmongering, fiddling with irrelevancies like the carbon tax while the planet burns, presiding over rising unemployment, shifting wealth from workers to bosses … They either originated with Labor or were carried on by them.

Of course nothing may happen. But it may well be that Abbott is forced as a representative of the profit bludgers to attack workers and social welfare recipients.

This could widen and deepen the anger even further. Let’s see.

However for the revolutionary left March in March confirms our analysis that there is a wide and deep layer of society angry with Tony Abbott as the representative of a government of neoliberal and inhumane policies. The opportunity to generalise that anger, even through specific activities such as demonstrations for refugees, exists, as it does to launch a mass fight against neoliberalism.

The union leadership could, but won’t, give a lead here. The timing couldn’t be better.

On top of that Abbott is threatening their position as the retailers of labour power because he sees driving down real wages as a good way of making Australian capitalism more profitable, especially with the news that China’s economy is beginning to falter. Smashing unions, and with it that non-working class layer, the union bureaucrats, is the best way, Abbott thinks, to do that.

The more astute union leadership might understand this and begin to organise strikes. However 2014 is not 1969, and there is no organised and fighting left wing across a range of unions now unlike then  among the bureaucrats let alone the rank and file to lead the fight back.

A first step would be to reclaim May Day as the day workers celebrate as workers and unions urge their members to walk off the job to join the May Day celebrations as a protest against  Abbott and neoliberalism.

The socialist organisations are too small to give a lead to thousands. They don’t have large enough roots in the working class to mobilise masses of workers.  It remains the task of winning people to our ideas, not just in their ones and twos but hopefully in the climate of Anti-Abbottism, in their tens and twenties and from that base to begin preparing for the fire next time by keeping the flame alight now.

Agitate in April.  Mutiny in May. Justice in June.  reJoice in July. Anger in August.  Strike in September. Occupy in October. Non cooperation in November.  Disrupt in December.

Here is a link to Socialist Alternative member Sarah Garnham speaking at March in March in Melbourne.

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Comments

Pingback from Marches in March show there is hope | OzHouse
Time March 17, 2014 at 11:12 pm

[…] Mar 17 2014 by admin […]

Comment from Kay
Time March 18, 2014 at 8:10 am

“This fading of demonstrations in recent times I think may reflect an underlying sense of hopelessness many have about being able to change the world when the two major parties essentially have the same neoliberal and inhumane policies and when the working class is not fighting back.” Actually, I think that while not all is perfect in this country, in general, workers are reasonably satisfied with their lives – whether it be under Labor or the Coalition. We have a generally peaceful democracy where effort and initiative is rewarded by reasonable financial outcomes. Why change it?

Not only that, but there is no impediment to ordinary people openly protesting against any policies that people are not happy with. And, if the discontent is widespread enough, major political parties will start to take notice and modify their policies accordingly. That’s what democracy is all about!

The socialists on the other hand, opportunistically join these protests with a view to whipping them up into a complete breakdown of democracy – and the establishment of a socialist society. Why? To create the type of society that has never succeeded for long anywhere in the world, and has in fact, in countries where government followed a revolution that was based on socialist principles, led to state-led thuggery. No wonder sensible people eschew this sort of outcome.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time March 18, 2014 at 8:51 am

Once again, I think Kay needs to get out into the real world of workers to find out what is happening to them.

The seniors’ blog has consistently informed her of the plight of workers being dumped from the workplace and replaced by casuals and those on short contracts.

She has been reliably informed that it takes a person in the 50+ age group an average of 75 weeks to find a new job.

The workers have a sense of hopelessness, primarily because anyone other than Labor and Liberals is effectively blocked by the media and described as a “splinter group” on national television to stop people from voting for them.

Here in Brisbane, you cannot march down the streets of the CBD without a permit.

Some might argue that the government providing a glut of workers is a significant impediment to ordinary people openly protesting against government policies.

To my knowledge, the federal Labor government brought in rules which financially punished union officials for organising strikes.

Kay should know that both of the major parties are attempting to break down democracy, with attacks on Freedom of Speech (federal Labor) and Freedom of Association and Assembly (state Coalition).

The people no longer trust the government, the unions or any politicians.

I think Tony Abbott is continuing to drive down wages and working conditions and remove the Welfare system to bring us into line with the two-thirds world. This is an agenda of the UN.

I also don’t support a Carbon Tax as I think it is primarily a means of global wealth redistribution which makes it difficult for Australian companies to compete.

It also gives corporates/capitalists another mechanism to make life hard for the poor with huge electricity, gas, fuel and water bills.

Comment from Kay
Time March 18, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Lorikeet

It sounds from your earlier comments that you have not spent very long in the work force (your comments about superannuation). I worked part time, then full time, for 30 years – after my 4 kids started school (that would also explain my higher amount of superannuation). During all of that time I was a union member, and for nearly 10 years I was a workplace union delegate, and also worked as an Industrial Relations Officer. So I do have some knowledge of workplaces – and unions.

It is no secret that anyone over the age of 45 or so finds it difficult to get another job once he/she is laid off. My son-in-law is currently in that situation. And, in times of rising unemployment, workers struggle. I think I am fully aware of that – it’s a ‘no-brainer’. But if the community was REALLY p***ed off big-time, more people would be out there protesting! That’s all I’m saying.

We all know you support “splinter” parties – DLP, Katter, PUP – and that you hate the Greens. Katter got plenty of media attention til people saw how limited he was. Palmer is always on TV, and people are seeing through him as well. The DLP is almost invisible! The results of election after election prove that the majority of voters support the two major parties – like it or not. And it is nothing to do with the dastardly UN!

Comment from John
Time March 18, 2014 at 7:15 pm

I think I have spammed a comment from Kay or Lorikeet aboput me and Chris being aligned to Socialist Alternative (apologies Chris) and that we or it are extremists. My apologies. I hit the wroing buttons occasionally, especially after a long day.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time March 19, 2014 at 8:29 am

The 2 major parties are supported because they have most of the say in the media.

I hope you read Clive Palmer’s letter which came via the letterbox. I agree with him that Queensland is not as broke as Premier Campbell Newman would have us believe. He simply wants to corporatise everything and screw Queensland workers.

Clive Palmer, Bob Katter and others get a bad rap in the media because they are Pro-Australian politicians. Most of the others are Pro-Global.

There are little splinter groups around who should join DLP, KAP or PUP before our nation slips down a hell hole. The DLP is small in Queensland but much bigger in Victoria.

Comment from Kay
Time March 19, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Lorikeet

The two main parties get the most votes because they come across with believable policies, and give the impression they are capable of running government. And, by and large, they do just that, and have had experience doing it. Some governments are more competent than others, and some I agree with more than others, but, all in all, they do the job.

The other ‘splinter’ groups, like Pauline Hansen, Katter, Palmer, the Greens, DLP, all push particular agendas that they (and many voters) feel are being ignored, or not addressed properly, by either of the two main parties. But these smaller groups tend to be single-issue focused, and do not impress voters as being able to actually manage to govern across all functions of government, nor to be able to rule for the majority. It is not the fault of the media.

Very often these smaller parties raise some very worthwhile ideas that the major parties then pick up on. As soon as that starts to happen, the smaller party becomes less relevant. So smaller parties greatly add to the strength of the democracy, and many of their policies do become mainstream ones. So they are very useful, and improve life for the community, but will never govern in their own right.

I am surprised you are still supporting Clive Palmer – even his own party want him out of the way! He stuffed his party’s chances in Tasmania! Clive is 100% out for Clive! I think Katter is more genuinely pro-Australian, but many of these issues are very complicated – given that Australia is part of a global economy.

Clive Palmer’s letter in my letterbox? Not in my letterbox – not yet anyway. How broke is Qld? neither you nor I know the truth of that. But I wouldn’t believe anything Clive says – he hates Newman so much! Very hard to get a non-political picture of the State’s finances! Clive comes across as such a bully, I can’t imagine ever supporting him myself!

Comment from Lorikeet
Time March 19, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Kay, the idea that smaller parties support single issues is completely wrong.

The Democratic Labour Party had no problem ruling Queensland. They just had a problem with the ALP and their anti-Australian agendas.

I know the DLP and KAP well enough to say that both could easily run the nation for the greater benefit of ordinary Australians, which is something that is NOT HAPPENING under Coalition or Labor/Greens.

Yes, it is true that the major parties steal ideas from smaller groups to cut them out of contention, just as the Greens try to cut out parties from the Centre by adopting their policies.

The DLP has governed in its own right. KAP probably form the Left Wing of the National Party which has also governed Queensland in its own right.

I didn’t say I supported Clive Palmer, but I am willing to give him a chance to prove what he can do for Australia. In his letterbox epistle, he is specifically opposing further asset sales in Queensland. This sounds good to me.

In fact the DLP, KAP and PUP are all opposed to the sell-off of Australian assets.

Yes, Rupert Murdoch loves to depict Clive Palmer as a bully. He does this for reasons that are financially useful to himself and his corporate mates.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time March 19, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Just about everybody hates Campbell Newman.

Comment from Kay
Time March 20, 2014 at 7:30 am

Lorikeet

I can certainly recall the kerfuffle over the DLP splitting away from the ALP in 1955 – basically because of alleged Communist Party infiltration of the trade union movement. The split was actually along both ideological and sectarian lines – initiated mainly by BA Santamaria, a staunch anti-Communist Catholic, in Victoria. The DLP was strongest in Victoria – and apparently still is. At the time my parents were members of the CPA, and also ALP supporters, so the DLP was despised in our house.

But, as I understand it, Vince Gair was Premier of an ALP government in Qld (1952-57) – not DLP. The ALP was in power in Qld from 1915 to 1957. Gair was expelled from the ALP in 1957, and formed the QLP, forcing him to go to an election as neither the ALP nor QLP had a majority. In 1962 the QLP merged with the DLP. Gair subsequently became a Qld DLP Senator from 1964 to 1973. Anyway, the move by Gair to split from the ALP led to conservative government (Country/National Party plus the Libs) in Qld from 1957 to 1989! So Gair did not get elected as a QLP/DLP Premier, and didn’t rule as such. And the DLP always directed its preferences to the Liberals – not the ALP – thus helping several conservative governments around Australia gain and retain power.

The Nats had complete power in Qld from 1983 to 1989 after 2 Libs defected to the Nats. Katter (Bob Jr) was part of the Bjelke-Petersen government, but did not lead it. Bob Katter Snr was originally an ALP member, but left the ALP in 1957, becoming a Country Party member in several Coalition governments. Bob Katter Jnr left state politics, successfully running for his father’s federal seat in 1992, winning a close contest on Liberal Party preferences. He left the CP in 2001 and became an Independent. In 2013 he only retained his seat on ALP preferences after a massive swing away from him (probably due to his support for Gillard and then Rudd).

So, whilst smaller parties may cover wider issues in their policy platform, they usually form on the basis of a single issue or idea, and never manage to impress voters as to their ability to manage the full scope of government.

I have a lot more time for Katter than any of the other small parties. He has been an excellent representative for his Kennedy electorate, and has constantly battled for Australian farmers, and industry. So full credit for that. But his own success in Kennedy has not really translated across to his party, at least not after his initial success in the 2012 Qld State election, in which KAP won 2 seats (a third member came after defection from the LNP).

Clive does not need Rupert Murdoch to paint him as a bully – he does that very successfully himself. Just watch him on TV. And he only formed his own party after his bankrolling of the LNP did not produce the outcomes he personally wanted for his company. He comes across as 100% for himself!

Comment from Chris Warren
Time March 20, 2014 at 10:40 am

In Canberra there will be a May Day rally, and this should be a focus of community, union, political party, protest against capitalism.

March in May.

More info: Unions ACT 6247 7844

Comment from Lorikeet
Time March 20, 2014 at 7:31 pm

Kay, I don’t agree with a lot of what you have said here at all.

The only reason Bob Katter lost votes at the federal election was that Liberals spent a huge sum of money trying unsuccessfully to get him out. They spent $1,000,000 trying to keep Clive Palmer out also, but didn’t succeed with either.

I can tell you at first hand that KAP and DLP have not formed on a single issue or idea.

From reading literature delivered to my letterbox, Clive Palmer has quite a list of policies also.

As we know, KAP and PUP are fledgling parties. Time will tell what they are likely to achieve.

I think KAP may be about to get a 4th member in the state parliament, especially since Premier Campbell Newman has threatened to replace angry public hospital doctors with foreign workers (which I consider was always his intention anyway).

I have had a bit of communication with the state MP for Stafford and he is a very hard working man who tries to do the right thing… certainly much too good to keep sitting in bad company with the Coalition.

Comment from Kay
Time March 22, 2014 at 5:47 am

Lorikeet

Looks like PUP and KAP are going to combine. That will be interesting. I can see the 2 parties combining, but those 2 big personalities???? As I said, it will be interesting!

Comment from Kay
Time March 22, 2014 at 7:19 am

Lorikeet

Apparently the Crown Solicitor has demanded that Clive Palmer retract his “false comments” about State debt and electoral funding in the letter and DVD distributed to letterboxes throughout Qld – the one you received, no doubt. I gather from the press report that the State intends to take legal action against Palmer if he does not retract his comments. It seems that Hansard excerpts completely contradict some of Palmer’s accusations. Oh well, nobody has more experience with litigation than Clive! His normal default position is the sue everyone in sight!

Comment from Scott W
Time March 22, 2014 at 11:12 am

Why do we require ‘widened & deepened anger’?
Surely a better focus would be a widened & deepened positivity about what indeed ‘could be’ would be more appropriate. This allows for creativity of the sort that would be revolutionary..
Most Australians realise that this system stinks. They dont need a Marxist analysis to understand that. What they want is a seriously creative alternative..

Comment from Lorikeet
Time March 23, 2014 at 8:10 pm

The Crown Solicitor is working for the Newman government and the very Coalition that spent $1,000,000 trying to ensure Clive Palmer did not get into the parliament.

I have been hoping for PUP, KAP, DLP, left wing National Party and certain Independents (including your personal favourite, Nick Xenophon) will get together and rise up against the Anti-Australian duopoly (plus Greens) for some time.

It would not surprise me if Hansard is so full of lies that a nose longer than Pinocchio’s is not printed on the front.

If Clive Palmer wants to sue Premier Campbell Newman, bring it on!

Comment from Lorikeet
Time March 23, 2014 at 8:16 pm

John, I think the comment you spammed must have been written by Kay. I don’t think socialists would enjoy reading very much of what she writes.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time March 23, 2014 at 8:17 pm

I was watching Bob Katter MP when Clive Palmer MP was making his maiden speech in the lower house. I thought he was looking upon him with a great deal of interest and respect.

Comment from John
Time March 24, 2014 at 3:50 am

Well Lorikeet, it was accidental on my part and what she said was worth discussing.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time March 24, 2014 at 9:30 am

Then it might have been one of mine then.