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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 right is bigoted

Cathy Wilcox.

Good old ‘lying rodent’ George Brandis, our esteemed Attorney-General. Evidently everyone has the right to be bigoted.

Funny isn’t it? Sometimes when the rabids on the Right talk about rights they trash them as some great big left-wing, union, commie, ratbag, rent-a-crowd conspiracy aimed at undermining the family, the nation, Christianity, the economy, right-thinking people.

In their more rational moments some of them add in talk about responsibilities.

Funny then that Brandis this time didn’t talk about responsibilities at all. Well George, to turn your own rhetoric back on you, with the right to be bigoted goes the responsibility not to be.

And funny too (not) how all of this rights agenda talk doesn’t extend to the working class and their rights to organise and to strike. I wonder why.

Indeed the anti-bikie laws, the legislation repressing demonstrators in Victoria, the massive increase in the number of Australian spies, the anti-terrorist laws, the attacks on the left, the attacks on unions, all indicate a society gradually strangling any working class rights because they threaten the ultimate right under capitalism – the right of the 1% to make profits from our labour.

And if bigots have rights, why don’t asylum seekers?

If people want to be bigoted in their own homes, all well and good. (Not really, but that is another matter.) I don’t mind if bigots like Andrew Bolt practise their dark arts in the privacy of their own homes. In fact it would be a step forward if Bolt were in home detention where he can talk to his heart’s content to himself.

It is when the likes of Bolt preach racism to an audience of hundreds of thousands that I have just a teensy weensy bit of a problem.

You can see the impacts of this in relation to a diatribe Bolt launched in the Herald Sun against Socialist Alternative’s Marxism 2014 and the vilification of a number of academics in the organisation or as guests attending the event. As Diane Fieldes wrote in a letter to The Age a few days ago:

A month ago, Andrew Bolt used his Herald Sun column to launch an attack on a number of academics who had the temerity to be speakers at the Marxism conference in Melbourne this Easter. With Bolt playing the victim this past week, Age columnist Richard Ackland’s comment was particularly apt: ”If he can’t stand the heat, Andrew Bolt shouldn’t fan the flames of public opinion” (”Hypocrisy adds insult to injuries”, Comment, 19/3).

Those of us named in Bolt’s anti-Marxism diatribe have received a taste of the public opinion that Bolt fans. In the week after his column, mysterious envelopes, crudely addressed with our names and the name of the university Bolt had associated us with, began to arrive in the mail. These contained Islamophobic diatribes.

Now most of these are middle class white people. Imagine the impact of one of Bolt’s diatribes on the marginalised and the powerless – people with dark skin for example, especially the original inhabitants.

It is not just that Bolt supposedly has a right to be a bigot. He, unlike most of us, can exercise it under the guise of free speech and inflame racist passions among many of his readers.

The right to free speech is no right at all if most citizens are in practice denied it. That is the case under capitalism. Workers are hit with bolt after bolt of bullshit. They have no outlet under capitalism for their views to be heard. They are the recipients of other people’s exercise of free speech.

So while the mainstream media is full of Bolts, Devines, Joneses and Ackermans, and even has left liberals writing for it, there are no outlets for the voices of reason, for revolutionary socialists. How many real red ragger socialists have articles published occasionally let alone regularly in The Australian, the Financial Review, The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald or The Canberra Times? None. Zero. Zilch.

Is there even a regular column for leftie union leaders from say the CFMEU? Why are there business sections but not union sections in newspapers?

The answer is simple. When the Right talk about free speech, they mean free speech of and for capital and capitalists.

When they argue people have the right to be bigoted we have to see that in the context of a society divided by class and the value top down bigotry gives to the ruling class. It distracts and divides workers from the real enemy, the bosses.

So repealing section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act is a pre-emptive move to allow the ruling class, if it needs to, to unleash a tsunami of racism, xenophobia and bigotry on us. If the economy worsens expect more and more of this abuse, both verbal and physical, from the Right.

Of course we already live in a society where state sanctioned racism and xenophobia abound. The Northern Territory intervention and Operation Sovereign Borders are racist policies targeting the weak and powerless and perhaps inflating the self-importance of some members of the working class living under alienated and alienating capitalism. Certainly if the class or sections on it are focussing on Aborigines or asylum seekers, they aren’t looking at Abbott.

Both the Liberals and Labor have embraced these racist programs, although they sometimes differ a little on the detail. They are both on the right. They are both bigoted.

Our tasks are twofold – to build a movement to resist the racists and to build an organisation of the revolutionary left capable of organising with workers to challenge the system that produces bigotry and racism.



Pingback from The right is bigoted | OzHouse
Time March 24, 2014 at 8:11 pm

[…] Mar 24 2014 by admin […]

Comment from Mike Ballard
Time March 25, 2014 at 7:25 pm

The right of free speech should be defended by the left and the right should be taken to task for restricting it in oh so many ways. You have named a few of those ways, Comrade. The left should be demanding more free speech rights and attacking libel laws which put a chill on discussing why it is that a certain so and so is acting like a political cretin.

Comment from Kay
Time March 26, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Well, I’m strongly in favour of freedom of speech that does not constitute racial vilification or incitement to violence. I believe that saying something that merely ‘offends’ or ‘insults’ someone else should NOT be a crime – after all, these feelings are very subjective and at times quite unpredictable. Why is it that it is usually the Left side of politics that constantly seeks to restrict freedom of speech – like Labor’s recent ridiculous attempt to reverse the onus of proof when they were in power?

The answer to offensive speech is better public education and condemnation by society as a whole. Making it a crime merely forces bigotry underground and prevents it being challenged by the community at large. I believe that when offensive comments are made they should be roundly and publicly condemned – as they were in the Andrew Bolt case.

As soon as freedom of speech starts to become eroded by making some offensive comments illegal, it can easily be extended to make a whole range of critical debate illegal. I just see it as the beginning of a ‘slippery slope’ to repression.

Comment from Mike Ballard
Time March 28, 2014 at 3:01 pm

I agree with you Kay. The left does itself no service by siding with those who would restrict liberty. Of course, the libertarian capitalist crowd lap up our every error here while at the same time making apologies for the suppression of liberty inherent in wage-labour.

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