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John Passant

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August 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)

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)



If only we could elect better politicians eh?

This is a letter I sent to the Canberra Times on Friday in response to two letters echoing widespread dismay with our politicians.


Bob Douglas (Canberra Times Letters 19 August) has given eloquent voice to the despair many many Australians feel about their elected ‘representatives’. However I don’t think, as Bob seems to, the answer lies just in searching for better candidates.

The problem I suspect is systemic. Most Australian voters have an essentially social democratic outlook – a desire for better public health, education, transport, looking after those in need and so on. This desire is born I believe of the need for workers to sell their labour power to a boss. In other words it is innate within the very essentials of capitalism. Survey after survey shows for example that on most issues Australian voters are well to the left of either L-NP or Labor politicians.

Why then don’t ‘our’ politicians represent us? They are elected to an institution of capitalism. In power they manage capitalism for capital and often for particular sections of capitalism such as mining companies.

The global crisis of profitability in capitalism – what Marx identified as the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall – sees governments in power undertake policies which essentially attempt to redress that tendency by shifting more and more of the wealth workers create to the capitalist class. This involves a cut to social welfare, attacks on pensioners, the sick, the unemployed and so on, and of course a range of attempts to cut real, and in dire cases of crisis, nominal wages.

The fundamental weapon in the armoury of the elite in shifting wealth from us to them is limiting unions. There are two ways to do this – through up front attacks like those of the current government, or more subtly through winning the cooperation of the union movement through the election of a Labor government. Thus Hawke and Keating were more successful in this transfer of wealth from workers to bosses over time than Thatcher and laid the groundwork for Howard to continue the shift.

In other words the failure of Australian politics reflects the underlying crisis of profitability of the capitalist system, a global crisis now encroaching our shores and those of China too.This means electing good women and men to Parliament won’t solve the problem.

It seems to me the alternative is to build the resistance to each manifestation of neoliberalism when it arises, whether it be, for example, GP co-payments(first introduced by the Hawke government, by the way), attacks on single parent mums (Julia Gillard), cuts to pensions, refusal to recognise equal love (both sides), the bipartisan abuse of asylum seekers in Australia’s concentration camps or attacks on penalty rates, wages and jobs (for example public service job cuts by both sides).

Real power to win these campaigns lies in their radicalisation. I think for example that the equal love and refugee campaigns should now consider mass civil disobedience, with tens of thousands occupying our streets and stopping business as usual.

Any radicalisation must ultimately involve the working class and its ability to withhold its labour. The government that attacks Aborigines attacks penalty rates. The government that denies gays and lesbians equal rights and denies asylum seekers any rights restricts union rights. The government that wants to tax fresh food and increase the GST takes more money out of your pocket pro rata than it does out of Google’s, or Apple’s or any of the big mining companies.

So by all means consider forming new electoral alliances to fight for better representatives. But understand that the forces at play are much deeper and more entrenched than can be solved by having that nice Mr Turnbull or likable Mr Albanese (or variations on that theme) in the Lodge rather than the two pathetic alternatives offered up to us at the moment.

I have a declaration too to make, which may at first seem paradoxical or even hypocritical in light of what I have said above. I am considering, although I have not yet decided, to run as a candidate for an ACT Senate spot in the next election. I am not doing that because I think electing me will make any difference to the functioning of capitalism. I will receive few votes. If I did decide to stand it would be under the slogan put a socialist in the Senate to coalesce those anti-capitalist forces of resistance to the neoliberalism of the two major parties and to build that resistance into a real fighting force, or at least lay the groundwork for that into the future. My focus would not be the leather seats of the Senate but the workplaces of the voters and any struggles that erupt against the attacks of whichever party of neoliberalism, Labor or L-NP, is in power.


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