Re: Howard's brutal wedge politics
- Bob raises some important issues for socialists, namely whether a formation
such as Socialist Alliance is viable and useful today, and what attitude
socialists should take to the ALP, but unfortunately once again what could
be legitimate if wrong positions reflective of quite a few people in the
workers movement are clouded by a chronic case of DSP-phobia, which
periodically breaks into acute attacks, a symptom of which is the invention
of convoluted conspiracy theories.
For his own well-being I've previously recommended to Bob Ockham's Razor,
which apart from being a Radio National show by the great science
communicator Robin Williams, is a principle named after a medieval monk
dude who stated "entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem",
"entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity". I.e. The explanation
with the fewest complicating assumptions is often the best
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_Razor). I.e it's much more likely that
SA activist Peter Breen is a real person rather than a fraudulent avatar,
that there really were 90 odd people at the Victorian SA conference, that SA
really does have over 700 financial members, including a range of respected
activists including still all bar 2 or 3 of the well-known "non-affiliated"
activists who have joined since 2001, it's presence really is felt in a
range of areas, it really is growing a bit, and migrant left organisations
such as the FMLN in Melbourne and various others in Western Sydney really
are attracted to it, than all these things being inventions supported by a
complex conspiracy theory. Any sensible discussion of the viability and
usefulness of SA, including its problems, limitations and errors made in the
past, needs to take into account these facts, which are supportable by
evidence, unlike Bob's repeated assertions (and if Bob particularly thinks
membership figures are fraudulent he's really out to lunch because for a
registered party financial and membership records can be audited any time by
the capitalist state.)
In regards to the ALP, it's of course been a vexed question for the
Australian far left for 115 odd years, and the far more prevalent and
serious problems have been adaptation, co-option and muting of criticism
rather than ultra-leftism and sectarianism (not that the latter can't be
problems). Bob claims Dick Nichol's statement at
http://www.greenleft.org.au/2007/715/37145 is demented sectarianism of the
wacky wsws sort. To be fair the summary version on in GL of the statement is
less nuanced than what appears on the SA site, which includes, rather than a
call for the unions to right now stop funding the ALP, the more nuanced call
for demands that:
> It¹s high time Rudd and Gillard stopped attacking unionists who are just doinghttp://www.socialist-alliance.org/page.php?page=662
> their job, and started talking about what Work Choices is really doing to the
> lives of working people.
> ³For example, they might begin by expressing some concern about the work
> regime at Telstra, which as Four Corners showed this week, drove two workers
> to suicide.²
> The Socialist Alliance spokesperson concluded: ³The ACTU and individual unions
> like the CFMEU should demand that Rudd and Gillard stop their union-bashing
> drivel that just helps the Coalition. To ram the message home they should
> threaten a redistribution of union election funding away from the ALP towards
> those parties with a more principled pro-worker and pro-union stance.
In any case Bob dishonestly doesn't bother to mention that the *same issue*
of GL has a statement by Joe MacDonald on why he's fighting to stay in the
ALP http://www.greenleft.org.au/2007/715/37144 , an interview with him
http://www.greenleft.org.au/2007/715/37143 , a full page article by an ALP
member on the right to strike that contains very mild criticisms of Rudd &
Co. http://www.greenleft.org.au/2007/715/37126, and the previous GL had
extensive quotes from Dean Mighell
On the whole a fair rather than phobic assessment of both the GL and SA
coverage would be that it's intervening in, and publicising, the debate in
the unions and the ALP, while putting forward an alternative, all from a
pretty understandable socialist perspective. To take up Howard's "wedges"
effectively I don't see how socialists could act much differently without
pandering to the ALP leadership.
I'll yet again ask Bob which militants still in the ALP have run screaming
when reading this stuff (besides him that is), rather than mutter (to
paraphrase what a few ALP members have said to me) "it's all pretty true but
I don't see you guys are serious enough yet".
Bob's idea of criticism of the ALP leadership seems to be is that it's
allright for us, the clever elite, but we should to keep it away from the
punters who are a bit dumb and might get confused over how to vote.
- Nick Fredman:
>Bob's idea of criticism of the ALP leadership seems to be is that it'sallright for us, the clever elite, but we should to keep it away from the
punters who are a bit dumb and might get confused over how to vote.
Now that's what I call hitting the nail on the head.
Yahoo!7 Mail has just got even bigger and better with unlimited storage on all webmail accounts. Find out more.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- On 27/6/07 11:20 AM, "Nick Fredman" <srcsra@...> wrote:
>Sorry, Geoff Breen is a real SA activist, Peter Breen is a real opportunist
> I.e it's much more likely that
> SA activist Peter Breen is a real person rather than a fraudulent avatar,
from Lismore who somehow got his butt into the comfy leather chairs of the
NSW upper house, but failed to get 8 more comfy years non-work there at the
March election (after the ALP didn¹t want him, BTW).
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
I had to look it up!
Takes one to know one Robert.
So, at the risk of being "vituperative", how can you justify, to yourself, let alone anybody
else, membership of a party led by Kevin Rudd. The man who talks about a "war cabinet"
aimed at finally stealing all of the lands of Indigenous Australian citizens. The man who is
in lock step with a Prime Minister who wants compulsory invasive vaginal and anal
examination of Yolngu, Pitjanjatjara and other Indigenous NT kids because in his dog
whistle politics, all of their fathers, their brothers, their uncles and their male neighbours
are sexual predators?
Where is the ALP in this military takeover of Indigenous lands? This racist, Nazi-esque
In lockstep with Howard.
Bob Gould, as a fifty-year member of the ALP you could do a lot of good in publicly
resigning from the ALP on this issue. It's a land grab. It's genocidal.
And it's the use of the military against Australian citizens.
Bob, you know, for once in a long time you could make good of your ALP membership -
by giving it up.
Rudd's position on this is completely opportunist and unconscionable.
In his failure to stand up for Indigenous Australians surely you can see that he has sold
out the last vestiges of Social-democratic liberalism the ALP purports to stand for.
Earth to Bob: stand up for your principles!
Now, when Rudd is refusing to oppose apartheid martial law in Australia.
If you do that, I promise to point my "vituperativeness" elsewhere.
--- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "bobgould987" <bobgould987@...>
> Howard's brutal wedge politics and the workers' movement
> By Bob Gould
> John Howard has wheeled out his wedges for the federal election. They
> are alleged union power in society and the Labor Party, and the sudden
> discovery of child abuse in Aboriginal communities as a justification
> for trying to roll back Aboriginal land rights.
> It remains to be seen how well these wedges will work, because the
> Tories are so on the nose with the electorate. The worst thing about
> the situation is that the new Labor leadership of Rudd and Gillard has
> retreated on both questions.
> I object strongly to Rudd's hand-wringing, pseudo-Christian moralism
> on traditional trade union rights and prerogatives. I've been a Labor
> Party member for more than 50 years, and if wearing braces and
> occasionally swearing like Joe McDonald, was the criterion, I would
> have been flung out in four seconds flat. So would very many ordinary
> trade union officials and rank-and-file Labor Party members, who go
> about their industrial and political business in a normal way.
> Dave Noonan's article in the Daily Telegraph
> http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,21946900-5007146,00.html about
> the history of bad language in the workers' movement puts all those
> things in proper perspective. I've heard much more colourful language
> year after year at Labor state conferences than that used to whip up
> the shock-horror "revelations" about trade union bad language.
> The real point here is that the constant struggle of trade unions to
> maintain safety in tough industries such as construction should be
> defended strenuously by everyone in the labour movement.
> However, in the world of politics and the labour movement, things
> often don't move in accord with one's preconceived ideal scenarios.
> The left of the labour movement is being confronted with these
> questions now, and a mobilisation should begin forthwith to defend the
> rights and interests of trade unionists and unions in the labour
> movement and the Labor Party, at the same time as campaigning for the
> necessary election of a Rudd Labor government and hopefully a
> significant increase in Green representation as well.
> Those are the immediate political necessities and considerations that
> preoccupy the overwhelming majority of the left in Australian society.
> Working class politics is a tough game.
> There are already serious moves towards such a strategy. For example,
> the Victorian branch of the CFMEU has decided to continue supporting
> the election of a Labor government, and to direct its financial
> support to those Labor candidates who commit to a minimum program in
> support of basic trade union rights.
> THE RESPONSE OF THE DSP MAJORITY TO THESE EVENTS
> The DSP majority leadership is proving to be a hardened sectarian
> outfit moving rapidly to the right, camouflaged by the usual veneer of
> left talk.
> The majority leaders seize on every scrap of evidence of shifts to the
> right by Rudd and Gillard and by and large ignore incidents of
> resistance within the official labour movement. Resistance such as
> Dave Noonan's very intelligent article in the Telegraph
> http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,21946900-5007146,00.html is an
> The DSP majority seizes on contradictory events to wheel out its wacky
> mantra that the unions should ditch the Labor Party and give financial
> support to the Socialist Alliance (which is not an alliance).
> As the struggle unfolds in the material world to defend union rights
> in the Labor Party, the DSP leaders add their little tin whistle,
> allegedly from the left, to Joe Hockey's demand that Rudd throw the
> unions out of the Labor Party. That's the only way it's possible to
> read Dick Nichols' sinister press release that now is the time for the
> unions to ditch the Labor Party and give the money to his outfit.
> This sectarianism is utterly surreal in the real world of the workers'
> Maybe Joe Hockey and Dick Nichols can get together and create another
> party, which could be called the Dick Nichols-Joe Hockey alliance.
> There has been an interminable debate on the Green Left list between
> the vituperative Peter Murray and Riley-Boyle and co, in which the
> metaphysics of the Boyle bunch's political perspectives emerge loud
> and clear.
> In defiance of the demonstrable fact that there are no other
> significant forces besides the DSP majority in the so-called alliance,
> Boyle and co project a parallel universe in which things could be
> better if everyone else on the far left rallied to the alliance under
> the Boyle leadership. This is the stuff of science fiction, not any
> realistic political perspective.
> The resident slanderous pro-Stalinist who is treated by such respect
> by Boyle chimes in with his ponderously elaborate schema: socialists
> can do little in this period except refine their arguments and
> programs in a media framework.
> There's a more sinister aspect to the slanderer Raven, of course. He
> jumps in, ostensibly from Western Australia, to attack the ETU Labor
> candidate in Tasmania, Harkins, an ally of Dean Mighell. I imagine
> Raven has never met Harkins, yet he belts out the nasty mantra that
> being from the ETU and a union official, Harkins is probably no good.
> That's also the Joe Hockey line.
> (Another feature of the DSP majority leadership's desperate efforts to
> make a mouse look like an elephant is the Boyleites' talk big about a
> bit of a conference they held in Victoria, which they claim was
> attended by 80 or 90 people, the precise number varies from reporter
> to reporter, of course. On my experience of the way the DSP counts
> heads at these things in Sydney, that means there may have been 30 or
> so people at the conference, with maybe a few more passing through
> during the day. To bolster this bootstrap-lifting, the DSP has come to
> light with a couple of new individuals on the Green Left list who
> write under pseudonyms and who claim to be independents inspired by
> these events. This stuff is obviously written by the Boyleites to
> convince their own members, as it clearly can't have any impact in the
> material world external to the DSP.)
> All of these reponses in DSP leadership majority land to the real
> political questions in the labour movement, the working class and
> electoral politics, underline the general fact that the Boyle
> leadership majority in the DSP is a rapidly rightward-moving sect. The
> World Socialist Web Site and the DSP majority should perhaps put aside
> the small matters of detail that divide them and form a new party
> together, based on their unremitting hostility to the actually
> existing workers' movement.