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John Passant

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April 2015
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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)



Reclaiming (white) Australia and the fascists

It is clear fascists were involved in the racist Reclaim (White) Australia rallies on Easter Saturday across Australia. There are lots of photos of Nazis present at the rallies, including this one.

A Reclaim Australia protester. Picture: David Crosling


This is not a one off. There are many other similar images of tattooed skin heads and beer drinking middle aged angry men to suggest a significant Nazi presence at the rallies.  Obviously not all of them got the message to leave their Nazi paraphernalia at home and some didn’t understand this might mean covering up fascist tattoos as well as not bringing swastika flags to the rallies or giving Heil Hitler salutes.

But the fascists were not just present at the rallies. One of the ‘national organisers’ of Reclaim Australia is Shermon Burgess, a man who a year ago was describing most Aborigines as dickheads and is, according to New Matilda, a former member of the fascist group the Australian Defence League.  He has since apologised for his anti-Aboriginal comments. Well he would wouldn’t he, now that the tactics of pretend respectability are gaining ground among the extreme right.

Burgess now runs a Facebook page called the Great Aussie Patriot which has 16000 likes and appeals to rank nationalism. Its main (surface) agenda seems to be to return to the days of White Australia (with a few Uncle Toms thrown in to support them on the way.)

Not all those who attended the rallies are fascists. However as a US Nazi site helpfully pointed out many of the people who are demonstrating at these rallies are potential recruits. While this more subtle approach of using concerns over Islam as cover for their real agenda might be new to Australian fascists, historically these tactics are not new. Trotsky identified them in the late 20s and early 30s when he wrote about the dangers of fascism in Europe.  Essentially the Nazis used parliamentary democracy and nationalist and racist rhetoric in a time of intense economic crisis as a cover for their main goal of smashing the organised sections of the working class, the unions, left wing political groups from Labor party types to revolutionaries, to restore the profitability of capitalism and particular capitalists.

A movement that starts off as the expression of the despair of the middle classes and disaffected, totally alienated parts of the working class or lumpen proletariat becomes the razor for the capitalist class to excise working class resistance to its agenda of driving down wages, and attacking jobs, conditions and so on. [As an aside, this explains why so much of the reactionary rights’ websites, including the Great Aussie Patriot, spend so much time attacking the left. ]

Here in Australia the fascists appear to be doing the same thing. Using totally irrational fears of Muslims, they are intertwining with the racist Reclaim Australia movement to win more appeal and influence.  In the past when the fascists in Australia have called demonstrations on their own they have managed to corral tens of people. Now, under the guise of Reclaiming Australia, they can bring together thousands across Australia.

The other point about the situation in Australia today is the weakness of the left. First, the revolutionary left is incredibly small. Second the reformist left is also incredibly weak. Labor might win parliamentary elections but its working class support base, although still big, is shrinking and is incredibly passive.

The trade unions for the last 30 years have been on a mission to  collaborate with capital in shifting more and more of the wealth we create from us to the bosses.  In this the union bureaucrats have been incredibly successful but at a cost to their own influence and power in society. Union membership is now less that 18 percent of the workforce and a major contributor to that has been the lack of fight by unions to defend and improve wages, jobs and conditions. This graph from Crikey last year shows the abysmally low levels of class struggle in Australia now and over the last few decades.

Bernard Keane, Crickey: from ABS


All of this, especially the lack of industrial action and the weakness as a consequence of the left, has created an opening for the Reclaim White Australia racists and their Nazi mates to scapegoat Muslims for the problems of capitalism. Further, state sanctioned demonisation and brutalisation of asylum seekers and Aborigines by both Labor and the Liberals has created a climate for acceptance of respectable racism.

Embedded image permalink


Although the mantra of Reclaim (White) Australia  is they are just fighting ‘extremists’, their demands paint Islam and hence all Muslims as the enemy.  These demands are ridiculous. They want an end to halal funding terrorism. It doesn’t. They want to stop Sharia law. Seriously? WTF are these people on? The answer to that question is that they are fed fear by Abbot and co and that feeds on their alienation and economic insecurity. They are either part of a middle class threatened by the economic changes going on in Australia right now or are declassed or fearful workers threatened by or the victims of  unemployment, real wage cuts,  loss of conditions and penalty rates, and attacks on the social wage.

As the Australian economy worsens the racist and Nazi voices will become louder and, as Europe shows, gain a real and much wider audience. We have to stop them doing that in Australia right now.

A strong vibrant and active left and trade union movement, with a clear understanding of the nature of capitalism and the threat respectable racism and its hidden guest, fascism, pose to the left and to working people, could act as a pole of attraction offering hope for these middle and working class people currently driven by fear. Building such a left must be our long term goal. In the medium term it means rank and file workers winning back their unions and building strikes to defend workers’ interests. In the short term we have to confront the racists and their fascist bed fellows every time they poke their slimy necks out from their sewers of hate.

I am proud to have participated in the demonstration against the racist rally in Canberra. The Canberra Times interviewed me about why I was participating. I have also recently joined Solidarity to boost the fight against racism, for refugees and ultimately for the working class to overthrow the rotten capitalist system that produces this racism and despair.



Comment from Mike
Time April 6, 2015 at 5:28 pm

As a committed socialist I would have thought you would be a bit stronger on the whole Halal scam.

It is classic rent seeking.

Like you, I have no doubt that it doesn’t fund terrorism.

But who does get the money? How much are they making?

There seems to be very little scrutiny of the Halal rent seeking industry.

Comment from Kieran
Time April 8, 2015 at 8:48 am

He John, good article, and good work on the Canberra counter rally!

There is only really one point at which I would quibble, you wrote:

Essentially the Nazis used parliamentary democracy and nationalist and racist rhetoric in a time of intense economic crisis as a cover for their main goal of smashing the organised sections of the working class, the unions, left wing political groups from Labor party types to revolutionaries, to restore the profitability of capitalism and particular capitalists.

Obviously smashing the organised working class was a big part of fascism, and the reason that the fascists were able to build an alliance with sections of the capitalist class, but we should remember:

As Daniel Guérin put it, the fascists ‘conquered power not only for the sake of their financial advisers but also for their own sake’.

Power is a goal in itself for the fascist, the left and organised labour have to be smashed because they are obstacles to the rise of fascist power.

If we were to look at Shermon Burgess and Reclaim Australia, they’re spending a lot of time hating on the left at the moment because the left has been organising against them (and in Melbourne, with some degree of effectiveness).

Smashing organised labour for the benefit of capital doesn’t even cross their puny minds at this point.

Comment from John
Time April 8, 2015 at 5:20 pm

‘Smashing organised labour for the benefit of capital doesn’t even cross their puny minds at this point.’ True, because they are very very small, and capitalism in Australia isn’t in crisis and doesn’t need to smash the defensive organs of the working class such as unions, basically because the union leadership have delivered massive shifts in wealth from workers to bosses over the last 3 decades. Whether that ongoing shift is enough in the years to come is a moot point as profit rates come under more pressure globally and in Australia.

As to being power hungry, maybe. But that doesn’t help you if significant sections of the ruling class do not want you in power and if some classes – the middle class and the lumpens – aren’t on constant ferment and under threat.