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Re: New Journal

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  • emabcmail
    It s funny that a group comprised mainly of uni-students from relatively well-off backgrounds criticizes the Greens for their middle-class composition .
    Message 1 of 21 , Sep 1, 2010
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      It's funny that a group comprised mainly of uni-students from relatively well-off backgrounds criticizes the Greens for their "middle-class composition".

      --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "alanb1000" <alanb1000@...> wrote:
      >
      > "Tom O'Lincoln" wrote:
      > > http://www.marxistleftreview.org/
      > ...
      > > A Marxist Analysis of the Australian Greens
      > > Ben Hillier
      >
      > Interesting article, especially the conclusion:
      > "Conclusion
      >
      > The Greens emerged as a conservationist movement with an ambiguous social vision. While the environment is obviously central to the Greens' politics, it has been social issues, the crisis of the New Left and the decline of social democracy that have allowed them the space to develop into a third force in Australian politics. They shifted to the left under both the pressure of political events and due to their attracting increasing layers of left-wingers to their ranks. For a period they staked out a position to the left of the ALP. However, their political positions contained contradictions related both to the tension between their ecocentric and progressive wings, and to their middle-class social composition. Their politics took the form of populist left nationalism.
      >
      > With the defeat of the conservative Howard government and the decline of campaigns around the war and refugees, the Greens have repositioned themselves as moderates. Their growth into a more professional and respectable outfit has accompanied their electoral success. They have, as the political situation has stabilised, oriented less and less on campaigning, and more and more on adapting to the prevailing climate. The Greens' orientation to parliament, lack of an activist core, middle-class composition and pro-business outlook mean they do not in any sense represent an alternative to the ALP."
      >
      > I'm not quite sure about the implications of "they do not in any sense represent an alternative to the ALP". It has at least vague overtones of "back to the ALP!", or presumably, the historical auto-Laborism of the far left.
      >
      > Alan B
      >
    • nick.fredman@iinet.net.au
      ... well-off backgrounds criticizes the Greens for their middle-class composition . Ben Hillier in this article and others from SAlt (including acas such as
      Message 2 of 21 , Sep 2, 2010
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        On Wed Sep 1 15:00 , 'emabcmail' <emabcmail@...> sent:

        >
        >
        > It's funny that a group comprised mainly of uni-students from relatively
        well-off backgrounds criticizes the Greens for their "middle-class composition".

        Ben Hillier in this article and others from SAlt (including acas such as Rick
        Kuhn and Di Fields) are in fact quite confused about class, particularly what
        constitutes the working class and middle class today. E.g. Hillier seems to write
        that anyone with a white collar who earns more than $50K is middle class, which
        is rubbish. I'll try to write more about this later.

        I also thought it was a bit inexplicable that the heading for the issue of the
        journal was "rebuilding the left". The only think seemingly connected to that
        theme (apart from tryoing to show apprently ythe Greens don't have much or
        anything to do with rebuilding the left), is an article about the faction fight
        and split in the ISO 15 years ago. Just a wee bit narrow, I think.
      • alanb1000
        ... Not really. After all, now that the Castroites have imploded, Socialist Alternative is the last left organisation standing. ;) As a result, the left will
        Message 3 of 21 , Sep 2, 2010
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          <nick.fredman@...> wrote:
          > I also thought it was a bit inexplicable that the heading for the
          > issue of the journal was "rebuilding the left". The only think
          > seemingly connected to that theme (apart from tryoing to show
          > apprently ythe Greens don't have much or anything to do with
          > rebuilding the left), is an article about the faction fight
          > and split in the ISO 15 years ago. Just a wee bit narrow, I think.

          Not really. After all, now that the Castroites have imploded, Socialist Alternative is the last left organisation standing. ;)

          As a result, the left will obviously be rebuilt around SAlt.

          Or something like that. Anyway, there's a sort of logic there, as long as you ignore the blindingly obvious.

          Alan B
        • alanb1000
          Just a thought on the Castroite business. While it s obvious where it comes from, and it s an improvement on Stalinist :) it s a characterisation that
          Message 4 of 21 , Sep 2, 2010
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            Just a thought on the "Castroite" business.

            While it's obvious where it comes from, and it's an improvement on "Stalinist" :) it's a characterisation that omits key elements of the former DSP's politics.

            In particular, over the last ten years, the former DSP (all fragments) have probably been more influenced by various strands of European Trotskyism than by anything else. Yes, the Venezuela hobby has been very prominent, and we still identify to various degrees with the US Trotskyist tradition ("Cannonism"), but it has been the Euro-Trots that we've tended to try to emulate.

            We haven't been picky about which strands - heck, we've even carefully studied the British SWP, and not even purely as a negative example.

            So we're actually probably politically closer to Socialist Alternative than they realise, or are necessarily comfortable with. Certainly, we mainly fit in the broad parameters of "Trotskyism", even if few of us identify with the term.

            I'll refrain from making a "Pabloite Revisionism" joke.

            Alan B
          • glparramatta
            Dave Holmes DSP in the 1980s fills some gaps in our memories, it s at http://links.org.au/node/1859
            Message 5 of 21 , Sep 2, 2010
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              Dave Holmes "DSP in the 1980s" fills some gaps in our memories, it's at http://links.org.au/node/1859

              --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "alanb1000" <alanb1000@...> wrote:
              >
              > Just a thought on the "Castroite" business.
              >
              > While it's obvious where it comes from, and it's an improvement on "Stalinist" :) it's a characterisation that omits key elements of the former DSP's politics.
              >
              > In particular, over the last ten years, the former DSP (all fragments) have probably been more influenced by various strands of European Trotskyism than by anything else. Yes, the Venezuela hobby has been very prominent, and we still identify to various degrees with the US Trotskyist tradition ("Cannonism"), but it has been the Euro-Trots that we've tended to try to emulate.
              >
              > We haven't been picky about which strands - heck, we've even carefully studied the British SWP, and not even purely as a negative example.
              >
              > So we're actually probably politically closer to Socialist Alternative than they realise, or are necessarily comfortable with. Certainly, we mainly fit in the broad parameters of "Trotskyism", even if few of us identify with the term.
              >
              > I'll refrain from making a "Pabloite Revisionism" joke.
              >
              > Alan B
              >
            • alanb1000
              ... Of course, the former DSP has a history. I was commenting on the last ten years, when we have to a large extent followed paths first explored in places
              Message 6 of 21 , Sep 2, 2010
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                "glparramatta" wrote:
                > Dave Holmes "DSP in the 1980s" fills some gaps in our memories,
                > it's at http://links.org.au/node/1859

                Of course, the former DSP has a history.

                I was commenting on the last ten years, when we have to a large extent followed paths first explored in places like the UK and France.

                This is the difference between the long term willingness to explore such opportunities, and the specific projects themselves.

                Of course, after ten years or so of the Socialist Alliance project, we're not who we were back then. Even the RSP is something completely different from the DSP in the 80s.

                Alan B
              • Stefan Skibicki
                Comrades Apologies if i m being simplistic here but many have used the term middle class in this discussion here. I thought that middle class was a purely
                Message 7 of 21 , Sep 3, 2010
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                  Comrades
                  Apologies if i'm being simplistic here but many have used the term "middle
                  class" in this discussion here.
                  I thought that "middle class" was a purely liberal term to describe the layer
                  between upper class and lower class from a purely economic point of view.
                  I thought Marxists use the terms Working class (proletariat) and Ruling class
                  (bourgeoisie) with various layers inside these groups and some few layers in
                  transition (such as students) who are in neither.

                  Which begs the question: "Why did the chicken cross the social boundary? Because
                  she was a layer in transition.".(sorry for that "joke")
                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                  Long Live Scientific Socialism!
                  Forward with Socialist Alliance!
                  Workers (and Oppressed) of the World Unite!
                  In Solidarity
                  Stefan Skibicki
                  _______________








                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Kunal Chattopadhyay
                  How about the petty bourgeoisie And the new middle class? No longer new of course, not in the West. But the petty bourgeoisie does exist -- independent small
                  Message 8 of 21 , Sep 3, 2010
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                    How about the petty bourgeoisie
                    And the "new" middle class? No longer new of course, not in the West. But
                    the petty bourgeoisie does exist -- independent small farmer, shop keeper,
                    self employed person of various types. Not a pure;y liberal term under
                    certain circumstances.
                    Kunal

                    On Fri, Sep 3, 2010 at 3:25 PM, Stefan Skibicki <stefanskibicki@...
                    > wrote:

                    >
                    >
                    > Comrades
                    > Apologies if i'm being simplistic here but many have used the term "middle
                    > class" in this discussion here.
                    > I thought that "middle class" was a purely liberal term to describe the
                    > layer
                    > between upper class and lower class from a purely economic point of view.
                    > I thought Marxists use the terms Working class (proletariat) and Ruling
                    > class
                    > (bourgeoisie) with various layers inside these groups and some few layers
                    > in
                    > transition (such as students) who are in neither.
                    >
                    > Which begs the question: "Why did the chicken cross the social boundary?
                    > Because
                    > she was a layer in transition.".(sorry for that "joke")
                    > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                    > Long Live Scientific Socialism!
                    > Forward with Socialist Alliance!
                    > Workers (and Oppressed) of the World Unite!
                    > In Solidarity
                    > Stefan Skibicki
                    > _______________
                    >
                    >
                    > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    >
                    >
                    >



                    --
                    Kunal Chattopadhyay


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Stefan Skibicki
                    Comrade I would but the petit bourgeoisie as a group within the bourgeoisie as a whole, as owners of their own means of production. This puts into question my
                    Message 9 of 21 , Sep 3, 2010
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                      Comrade
                      I would but the petit bourgeoisie as a group within the bourgeoisie as a whole,
                      as owners of their own means of production.
                      This puts into question my use of the term Ruling class but I couldn't think of
                      a better term (I was after an alternative to "bourgeoisie") and the nature of
                      "independent small farmer, shop keeper, self employed person of various types."
                      is certainly of great consideration especially for comrades in regions with a
                      peasant layer (coming from an advanced capitalist country like Australia I doubt
                      I'm in the the best position to comment on peasants .)
                      The middle class (new or old) are generally upwardly mobile (economically and
                      socially) workers or even upwardly mobile petit bourgeoisie and hence are either
                      proletariat or bourgeois I would have thought.
                      My point being that there are arguably many layers/groups/classes
                      within proletariat and bourgeoisie none of whom are "middle class".
                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                      Long Live Scientific Socialism!
                      Forward with Socialist Alliance!
                      Workers (and Oppressed) of the World Unite!
                      In Solidarity
                      Stefan Skibicki
                      _______________




                      ________________________________
                      From: Kunal Chattopadhyay <kunal.chattopadhyay@...>
                      To: GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com
                      Sent: Fri, 3 September, 2010 8:06:24 PM
                      Subject: Re: [GreenLeft_discussion] Re: New Journal

                      How about the petty bourgeoisie
                      And the "new" middle class? No longer new of course, not in the West. But
                      the petty bourgeoisie does exist -- independent small farmer, shop keeper,
                      self employed person of various types. Not a pure;y liberal term under
                      certain circumstances.
                      Kunal


                      Kunal Chattopadhyay


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



                      ------------------------------------

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                    • slee_c
                      ... If I understand Socialist Alternative s view correctly, they would not see much difference between Stalinism and Castroism. According to SAlt, both the
                      Message 10 of 21 , Sep 3, 2010
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                        --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "alanb1000" <alanb1000@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > Just a thought on the "Castroite" business.
                        >
                        > While it's obvious where it comes from, and it's an improvement on "Stalinist" :) it's a characterisation that omits key elements of the former DSP's politics.
                        >

                        If I understand Socialist Alternative's view correctly, they would not see much difference between Stalinism and Castroism. According to SAlt, both the former Soviet Union and Cuba today were/are "state-capitalist". They see Stalinism and Castroism as ideologies reflecting the interests of the "state-capitalist" rulers of these countries. Because the DSP supported the Cuban government, we were "Castroist" or "Stalinist".

                        SAlt deny that a socialist revolution occurred in Cuba, and accuse the DSP of portraying a capitalist regime as socialist. They ignore the role of the working class in making the revolution - including general strikes, mass demonstrations and workplace takeovers (see my pamphlet "Cuba: How the Workers and Peasants Made the Revolution": http://links.org.au/node/1451 ).

                        It was impossible for Cuba to be an ideal socialist society in a world dominated by capitalism. The DSP's view was that Cuba is a workers state with bureaucratic distortions ( a concept developed by Lenin to refer to the Soviet Union in the early 1920s). Socialist Alliance does not have an official view on the nature of Cuba, but I expect that many SA members would hold something similar to the former DSP's view of Cuba.

                        The fact that different socialist groups have a different opinion on the nature of Cuba is not in itself a problem. However the fact that SAlt considers these differences an obstacle to left unity is a problem.

                        Chris Slee
                      • emabcmail
                        SAlt uses the term middle class in the same way that right wing critics of the Greens use it. Not to describe any actual relationship to the means of
                        Message 11 of 21 , Sep 4, 2010
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                          SAlt uses the term middle class in the same way that right wing critics of the Greens use it. Not to describe any actual relationship to the means of production, not even to describe the income-level of average Greens members. But rather to dismiss Greens members as inner-city yuppies as opposed to salt-of-earth battlers.

                          --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, Stefan Skibicki <stefanskibicki@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > Comrade
                          > I would but the petit bourgeoisie as a group within the bourgeoisie as a whole,
                          > as owners of their own means of production.
                          > This puts into question my use of the term Ruling class but I couldn't think of
                          > a better term (I was after an alternative to "bourgeoisie") and the nature of
                          > "independent small farmer, shop keeper, self employed person of various types."
                          > is certainly of great consideration especially for comrades in regions with a
                          > peasant layer (coming from an advanced capitalist country like Australia I doubt
                          > I'm in the the best position to comment on peasants .)
                          > The middle class (new or old) are generally upwardly mobile (economically and
                          > socially) workers or even upwardly mobile petit bourgeoisie and hence are either
                          > proletariat or bourgeois I would have thought.
                          > My point being that there are arguably many layers/groups/classes
                          > within proletariat and bourgeoisie none of whom are "middle class".
                          > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                          > Long Live Scientific Socialism!
                          > Forward with Socialist Alliance!
                          > Workers (and Oppressed) of the World Unite!
                          > In Solidarity
                          > Stefan Skibicki
                          > _______________
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          > ________________________________
                          > From: Kunal Chattopadhyay <kunal.chattopadhyay@...>
                          > To: GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com
                          > Sent: Fri, 3 September, 2010 8:06:24 PM
                          > Subject: Re: [GreenLeft_discussion] Re: New Journal
                          >
                          > How about the petty bourgeoisie
                          > And the "new" middle class? No longer new of course, not in the West. But
                          > the petty bourgeoisie does exist -- independent small farmer, shop keeper,
                          > self employed person of various types. Not a pure;y liberal term under
                          > certain circumstances.
                          > Kunal
                          >
                          >
                          > Kunal Chattopadhyay
                          >
                          >
                          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          > ------------------------------------
                          >
                          > Green Left Weekly depends on your support!
                          >
                          > Subscribe to Green Left Weekly!
                          > http://www.greenleft.org.au/subscribe.htm
                          >
                          > Make a donation to help Green Left Weekly continue!
                          > http://www.greenleft.org.au/fogl.htm
                          >
                          > Yahoo! Groups Links
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          >
                        • Kunal Chattopadhyay
                          That is always there. Like calling the women s movement petty bourgois, back in the 1970s and till now, by student and ex-student dominated Maoist sects here
                          Message 12 of 21 , Sep 4, 2010
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                            That is always there. Like calling the women's movement petty bourgois, back
                            in the 1970s and till now, by student and ex-student dominated Maoist sects
                            here who are hardly certified proletarians.

                            On Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 11:30 AM, emabcmail <emabcmail@...> wrote:

                            >
                            >
                            > SAlt uses the term middle class in the same way that right wing critics of
                            > the Greens use it. Not to describe any actual relationship to the means of
                            > production, not even to describe the income-level of average Greens members.
                            > But rather to dismiss Greens members as inner-city yuppies as opposed to
                            > salt-of-earth battlers.
                            >
                            >
                            > --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com<GreenLeft_discussion%40yahoogroups.com>,
                            > Stefan Skibicki <stefanskibicki@...> wrote:
                            > >
                            > > Comrade
                            > > I would but the petit bourgeoisie as a group within the bourgeoisie as a
                            > whole,
                            > > as owners of their own means of production.
                            > > This puts into question my use of the term Ruling class but I couldn't
                            > think of
                            > > a better term (I was after an alternative to "bourgeoisie") and the
                            > nature of
                            > > "independent small farmer, shop keeper, self employed person of various
                            > types."
                            > > is certainly of great consideration especially for comrades in regions
                            > with a
                            > > peasant layer (coming from an advanced capitalist country like Australia
                            > I doubt
                            > > I'm in the the best position to comment on peasants .)
                            > > The middle class (new or old) are generally upwardly mobile (economically
                            > and
                            > > socially) workers or even upwardly mobile petit bourgeoisie and hence are
                            > either
                            > > proletariat or bourgeois I would have thought.
                            > > My point being that there are arguably many layers/groups/classes
                            > > within proletariat and bourgeoisie none of whom are "middle class".
                            > > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                            > > Long Live Scientific Socialism!
                            > > Forward with Socialist Alliance!
                            > > Workers (and Oppressed) of the World Unite!
                            > > In Solidarity
                            > > Stefan Skibicki
                            > > _______________
                            > >
                            > >
                            > >
                            > >
                            > > ________________________________
                            > > From: Kunal Chattopadhyay <kunal.chattopadhyay@...>
                            >
                            > > To: GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com<GreenLeft_discussion%40yahoogroups.com>
                            > > Sent: Fri, 3 September, 2010 8:06:24 PM
                            > > Subject: Re: [GreenLeft_discussion] Re: New Journal
                            > >
                            > > How about the petty bourgeoisie
                            > > And the "new" middle class? No longer new of course, not in the West. But
                            > > the petty bourgeoisie does exist -- independent small farmer, shop
                            > keeper,
                            > > self employed person of various types. Not a pure;y liberal term under
                            > > certain circumstances.
                            > > Kunal
                            > >
                            > >
                            > > Kunal Chattopadhyay
                            > >
                            > >
                            > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            > >
                            > >
                            > >
                            > > ------------------------------------
                            > >
                            > > Green Left Weekly depends on your support!
                            > >
                            > > Subscribe to Green Left Weekly!
                            > > http://www.greenleft.org.au/subscribe.htm
                            > >
                            > > Make a donation to help Green Left Weekly continue!
                            > > http://www.greenleft.org.au/fogl.htm
                            > >
                            > > Yahoo! Groups Links
                            > >
                            > >
                            > >
                            > >
                            > >
                            > >
                            > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            > >
                            >
                            >
                            >



                            --
                            Kunal Chattopadhyay


                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • emabcmail
                            This article claims of middle-class people (hence the Greens): To the extent that their influence is not felt in the political institutions of the moment,
                            Message 13 of 21 , Sep 5, 2010
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                              This article claims of middle-class people (hence the Greens):

                              "To the extent that their influence is not felt in the political institutions of the moment, they want democratic reform; but where education has failed to lift the masses out of their primitive aspirations, then the spectre of dictatorship raises its ugly head. Clive Hamilton, noted middle-class intellectual and unsuccessful Greens candidate for the federal seat of Higgins, has openly broached the possibility of suspending democratic processes. For Hamilton, "the people remain part of the problem rather than the solution."[17]"

                              What Clive Hamilton actually said is:

                              "We are starting to hear talk of the need to suspend democratic processes in order to implement emergency measures. But how would this come about? Can we imagine some outbreak of "people power"? If enough people felt strongly enough to seize government then enough people would feel strongly enough to elect a government with the necessary resolve. At present, the people remain part of the problem rather than the solution.

                              Could the army intervene? Only if a series of disasters befell us and the government still refused to act. I can't see that happening. Besides, military forces around the world have had their governments exempt them from the need to cut their own carbon emissions, which are very large. So until we see tanks that run on biodiesel and battle-ships with sails the military is part of the problem too."
                            • Peter Robson
                              Here s a response in GLW in part to this, but mostly in response to Corey Oakley s thing on Socialist Alternative s site.
                              Message 14 of 21 , Sep 8, 2010
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                                Here's a response in GLW in part to this, but mostly in response to Corey
                                Oakley's thing on Socialist Alternative's site.

                                http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/45276

                                <http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/45276>Who wants a two-party system?
                                Simon Butler

                                Socialist Alternative�s Corey Oakley thinks many on the Australian left have
                                got the federal election wrong.

                                There is nothing positive about the balance of power being held by four
                                independent MPs and one Green, he wrote in an August 27 article on the
                                Socialist Alternative website.

                                On Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 9:03 PM, emabcmail <emabcmail@...> wrote:

                                >
                                >
                                >
                                > This article claims of middle-class people (hence the Greens):
                                >
                                > "To the extent that their influence is not felt in the political
                                > institutions of the moment, they want democratic reform; but where education
                                > has failed to lift the masses out of their primitive aspirations, then the
                                > spectre of dictatorship raises its ugly head. Clive Hamilton, noted
                                > middle-class intellectual and unsuccessful Greens candidate for the federal
                                > seat of Higgins, has openly broached the possibility of suspending
                                > democratic processes. For Hamilton, "the people remain part of the problem
                                > rather than the solution."[17]"
                                >
                                > What Clive Hamilton actually said is:
                                >
                                > "We are starting to hear talk of the need to suspend democratic processes
                                > in order to implement emergency measures. But how would this come about? Can
                                > we imagine some outbreak of "people power"? If enough people felt strongly
                                > enough to seize government then enough people would feel strongly enough to
                                > elect a government with the necessary resolve. At present, the people remain
                                > part of the problem rather than the solution.
                                >
                                > Could the army intervene? Only if a series of disasters befell us and the
                                > government still refused to act. I can't see that happening. Besides,
                                > military forces around the world have had their governments exempt them from
                                > the need to cut their own carbon emissions, which are very large. So until
                                > we see tanks that run on biodiesel and battle-ships with sails the military
                                > is part of the problem too."
                                >
                                >
                                >


                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              • RatbagMedia
                                ... The main point is , I think, that Socialist Alternative is wrong on the question of the significance of the shift to the Greens. In fact they were dead
                                Message 15 of 21 , Sep 9, 2010
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                                  --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, Peter Robson <campbell.robson@...> wrote:
                                  >
                                  > Here's a response in GLW in part to this, but mostly in response to Corey
                                  > Oakley's thing on Socialist Alternative's site.
                                  >
                                  > http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/45276

                                  The main point is , I think, that Socialist Alternative is wrong on the question of the significance of the shift to the Greens. In fact they were dead wrong from Day I when they called for (rather indifferently I believe ) a vote for EITHER the ALP OR the Greens OR OTHER campaigns (like 'socialist ones') -- so long as Abbott got put last.

                                  They've more or less stuck to their schematic take on the elections and have regrettably painted themselves into a tactical corner.

                                  Instead of indicating a political opening, the poll results supposedly serve as a clarion call that we must rely on our own resources inside the Marxist bunker rather than flexibly and creatively explore reach out options and alliances.

                                  This penchant and preference for a broken record -- hold the line -- approach to politics is, I think, mistaken in this political context. It strives to distance SAlt --and who ever may agree with them -- from the more than a million people who are looking to the Greens as their preferred left alternative to the ALP.

                                  The best response of the far left in this context of challenge and opportunity would be to explore ways and means to come together in some form of ongoing activity that would counterpose the pressure on the Greens -- and their support base -- to accommodate to parliamentarianism even more and drag the movements with them as the 'only' forward option.

                                  It's both an ideological and a struggle question.

                                  The other challenge SAlt faces is to transcend its crude workerism in regard to the ALP. If you browse through SAlt rhetoric on the topic of the elections you get left with the impression that SAlt PREFERS the ALP to the Greens.

                                  ..because the ALP is 'working class ' and the Greens are 'middle class'.

                                  Scary.

                                  As though the politics don't matter one iota...

                                  dave riley
                                • Nick Fredman
                                  This is a little rough and a bit long for an elist post, but I think the points on both the Greens and class today will be of general interest. Some of the
                                  Message 16 of 21 , Sep 9, 2010
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                                    This is a little rough and a bit long for an elist post, but I think the points on both the Greens and class today will be of general interest. Some of the stuff on the Greens will hopefully appear in more detailed form in an academic article in November, and I hope to work the arguments about class today into a talk for the Socialist Alliance in Melbourne later in the year as well, at which point it'll go on the Melbourne SA blog.

                                    Ben Hillier’s article article, ‘A Marxist critique of the Australian Greens’ (available from http://www.marxistleftreview.org/) contains some useful information and analysis on the formation that has achieved a significant breakthrough in the recent Australian elections. He is correct, generally, in writing of their ‘populist left nationalism’ and ‘middle class ideological basis’. But he overemphasises the sociological middle class nature of the Greens’ voting base (and probably membership), as part of a general confusion on class today. In a related error, he is quite wrong, and quite sectarian, to state the Greens ‘do not in any sense represent an alternative to the ALP’.

                                    In should be borne in mind that populism and nationalism are hallmarks of social democracy, even the more militant and class struggle elements that Marxists have always been keen to work with and influence (with contradictory admixtures of internationalism, which the Greens incidently show more of on the whole than the ALP, something covered in the academic article referred to but not here). It is my contention that irrespective of their particular origins in conservation and other ‘new social movements’, the Greens today represent much of the leftist end of the social democratic oriented electorate, and in that much of the more educated and skilled sectors of the working class, as well as much of the more progressive sectors of the middle classes (understanding these terms properly, as Ben does not really seem to). I’ll illustrate this below with a number of analyses, including from my own research.

                                    Firstly a few points on some methodological limitations of Ben’s article. He cites a number of academic articles that relate to the class nature of the Greens, which have generally used as data aggregate voting figures in different areas. That’s OK as part of an argument, but such figures, aggregating people of different backgrounds, are quite limited in drawing strong conclusions from, because although geography structures class, it does so with quite a lot of variability. Better is the large-scale academic sample surveys of voters, the Australian Election Study (AES), conducted after each federal election, and the bienniel Australian Survey of Social Attitudes, which allow one to correlate demographic factors (including class), opinions on various questions asked and voting behaviour. Now there simply hasn’t been enough Green voters in the AES samples until the 2007 study to make any valid claims about. Still in this survey the number of Greens voters in the workforce (only 128 voting for the Greens in the lower house, which I use as a measure of stronger identification than votes for the senate) was of a size that makes margins of error considerable (I say in the workforce as that is what I’ve used in analyzing class relationships – for some respondents not in the workforce you could reasonably use partners who are, but that’s a bit complicated and wouldn’t make that much difference to the numbers). The error for this size ranges up to 9%. So quite a lot of caution, and understanding of statistical significance, is in order. Ben tries to make points about sub-sub groups of Green voters and other voters, such as white collar workers from non-English speaking backgrounds, which due to the very small sample size and hence very large sampling errors simply aren’t valid at all for the Greens voters.

                                    In any case Ben’s much more significant error is his understanding of the middle classes and working class today. He is quite correct (I think to fairly paraphrase him) in stating the that the concept of the ‘middle classes’ is best understood as including variegated layers of the self-employed, small business owners and some salaried layers, which have some material conditions and forms of consciousness in common.

                                    But he is quite muddled about white-collar labour and seems to exaggerate the extent to which skilled and educated sectors of this form of labour should be understood as middle class.

                                    > In places like the public service there are a series of “grades” of employment seniority, each higher level bestowing greater autonomy, responsibility and control. In such circumstances, it is impossible to clearly demarcate (except at the margins) working class from middle class.
                                    >
                                    > Two rough proxies for class however are income and union membership. A quarter to a third of Greens voters belong to a union.[44] While many of the middle classes are union members – particularly in the public service – union members are obviously more likely to be from the working class. Income is probably the best proxy. Those earning under $50,000 are unlikely to be middle class. One-quarter to one-third of Greens voters come from income brackets below $50,000. This is consistent with the finding that one-third self-identify as working class (compared with around half of ALP voters). The Greens’ lowest vote comes from blue-collar workers – in particular non-English speaking background migrants.[45] While self-identification does not determine a person’s class position, the disparity between Greens and Labor on this front is significant. It suggests that class-conscious workers are less important for the Greens than for Labor.

                                    It is true that class is understood in the Marxist sense as a field of relationships, particularly related to production, within a social formation, and not as different coloured labels that each individual gets one of. The latter is how mainstream social science views class, if at all: as a designation of occupation, collar colour, status or self-identification, things that can be neatly ticked on a questionnaire. I cringed a couple of years ago when Murray Goot, an astute political scientist, was quoted in a paper as referring to ‘working class business owners’. It is also true that in areas when there are income/skill grades there will be some blurring at the edges of class natures. Given all that I think we can still make good use of things like the AES for class analysis with care and correct interpretation.

                                    But Ben rather makes several errors and confused points above. Income is not much of a proxy for class at all, in looking at the working class and middle classes. Many small business owners earn quite moderate incomes (and are often bankrupted), and many miners, dockers and builders with a bit of overtime can earn $60K or $80K. $50K is also quite an erroneous benchmark of anything: it’s about what 21 year old first year nurses and teachers can get, and also about the median income, i.e. the figures around which the bulk of full time incomes are clustered. Union membership as a subjective behaviour and even more so class self-identification as a subjective attitude are only related to the objective structures of class in quite mediated ways. In regard to union membership, Ben might have noted that the figure for Green voting AES respondents in the workforce, 26%, is higher than the national average, and only marginally different to that for Labor voters in the survey, 34%. In fact this difference is not statistically significant, to the level of confidence, as we say, that we usually like in the social sciences (when Ben writes of the ‘proxies’ of union membership and income perhaps he means within graduated white collar situations – but then he is wrong to make any points about Greens voters as a whole as he does). And there’s a quite a bit more related to consciousness we can get from the AES. For my research I made an index out of four AES questions, that I contend is a valid measure of pro-working class consciousness: “does big business have too much power?”; “do unions have too much power?”; “Income and wealth should be redistributed towards ordinary working people”; “Still thinking about WorkChoices, how much do you approve or disapprove of these changes?”. In mean scores I found no significant difference between Labor and Greens voters, and large and significant differences between these and Coalition voters.

                                    While I’m on consciousness, relevant here is Ben’s churlish formulation that the Greens are ‘perceived to be to the left of the ALP’. Given that they are ‘no alternative’ to the ALP, presumably he thinks they are not really to the left of the ALP. A whole lot of perceptions must be wrong then. AES respondents, in identifying parties on a left-right scale, put the Greens well to the left. Greens voters in the survey on a similar scale put themselves to the left of Labor voters. As do Greens candidates in the 2007 Australian Candidate Study (all statistically significant results). Might this have something to do with accurate assessments of and agreements with Greens policies on war, refugees, climate change, same sex marriage, the Australian Building and Construction Commission and other industrial relations matters, etc., rather than the false consciousness Ben is implying?

                                    So what do we make of the class and the Greens? Apart from the clear distinction between employed and self-employed, we can in my opinion, in regard to the very relevant area of white collar labour, make much clearer (if not entirely sharp) distinctions between workers and the middle class than Ben allows: it is between the managed and the managers, real levels of control in the productive process. While there are grades in the public service, IT, finance, schools and universities, there are, in a pleasingly dialectical way, points at which quantitative change turns into the qualitative. Many if not most workers in these areas can point to the ‘us’ and ‘them’, and understand there’s some blurring (common comments in my experience at universities: ‘he used to be a good union member, now he’s managing a department and is on the management bargaining team’; ‘she thinks she’s a manager cos she’s been promoted to a HEW 7 and supervises 2 people’).

                                    Another very relevant aspect of the AES Ben doesn’t look at is that we can divide respondents into non-managerial employed, managerial employed and self-employed. If we do this for Liberal, Labor and Greens voters we get:

                                    Liberal
                                    Non-managerial employed: 40%
                                    Managerial employed: 35%
                                    Self-employed: 25%

                                    Labor
                                    Non-managerial employed: 59%
                                    Managerial employed: 29%
                                    Self-employed: 13%

                                    Greens
                                    Non-managerial employed: 51%
                                    Managerial employed: 29%
                                    Self-employed: 20%

                                    (BTW we can do a more detailed schema, with small, medium and large business types, via the Australian Survey of Social Attitudes, which I might try to do for the later talk referred to - I think this is also available from Census data, but without the correlations with voting, opinions etc you can get from the sample surveys).

                                    The Greens voters appear to be between the mainly proletarian Labor voters and the mainly petty bourgeois Liberal voters, while the proportion of workers among the Greens in my definition is quite a bit higher than Ben’s ‘about a third’. Note however, as well as the managerial types appearing to be equally prevalent amongst Green and Labor voter bases, that while the difference between Labor and Liberal and Greens and Liberal are easily statistically significant, the difference between Greens and Labor is again not at the level of confidence we usually like (although it is most likely about what is apparent here).

                                    It is also apparent from the AES, as Ben alludes to, that Green voters on the whole have higher incomes than Labor voters, and have more degrees amongst them, and less trade qualifications. So perhaps the difference between Ben and I are terminological: you say middle class, I say better-paid, educated white-collar workers.

                                    But I think for two reasons my analysis is more valid: the findings on pro-working class and leftist consciousness I noted, and the fact that the working class has always had wide variations in skill, education and income, that has always had contradictory political effects. That is, the ‘upper strata’ of the class has often been better organized and more advanced politically in some respects, but also sometimes elitist and a brake on radicalism.

                                    Consider the sketch of the young Tom Mann in the late nineteenth century presented in Paul Mason’s interesting book Live Working or Die Fighting: How the Working Class Went Global (pp. 115-16).

                                    > As a teenager he spends three nights a week at college, one night at Bible class, one night at a temperance meeting and Sunday night at church… He became an agitator against alcohol and the eating of meat. Armed with these principles he moves to London as a skilled engineer, adding astronomy to his hobbies after being the job of dissecting a meterorite for the British museum.
                                    >
                                    > The atmosphere of the engineering factory then is like the atmosphere of a software company or design studio now – a world of relaxed innovation and the techie obsessions of meticulous men. Mann works personally alongside George Westinghouse, the inventor of the hydraulic brake, and Peter Brotherhood, the inventor of the torpedo engine…
                                    >
                                    > He becomes a minor figure in the socialist pulpits of the time and graduates to organizing marches for the unemployed. After he recites Shelley’s Rise Like Lions at a demonstration in Trafalgar Square a riot breaks out. By this time he owns a ‘fairly good collection of books, a violin and a telescope’.
                                    >
                                    > Before the dock strike, the British labour movement was dominated by men like Tom Mann – self-taught, proud of their skills, more at home with socialist painters and philosophers than with ‘labour of a humbler kind'.

                                    The 1889 dock strike, and the birth of mass industrial unionism, led Mann on a path to revolutionary syndicalism and later to Communism. Of course most of the ‘men like Tom Mann’ became mainstays of reformism, with varying degrees of militancy and better or worse politics. The point being that the working class has always been divided by income, skill, education, moral values and interest in ‘middle class’ pursuits like vegetarianism, and the political impact of the better educated and skilled sections (often better organized and politicized, but often moderate and elitist) have always had varied and generally contradictory effects.

                                    The ‘new class’ or ‘new middle class’ analyses, apart from still calling something ‘new’ that was well under way 50 years ago, often underestimate both the variation within the working class and the extent to which broad socio-economic changes have entailed a restructure of the class. Connell and Irving in the very useful Class Structure in Australian History are clear that the proletarianisation of intellectual labour has reproduced old general patterns in new forms, when discussing the growth of white-collar unionism from the 1950s, even if they put it a bit too negatively I think (p. 203):

                                    > In some ways, what was happening here was a revision to a very old pattern, the use of industrial action by privileged groups in the workforce to maintain their distance and extend their privileges over other employees. The ‘labour aristocracy’ of the nineteenth century was reincarnated on a basis, not of traditional manual skill, but of professional knowledge certified by specialized higher education.

                                    To conclude, the Greens today represent much of the leftist end of the social democratic oriented electorate, and in that much of the more educated and skilled sectors of the working class, as well as much of the more progressive sectors of the middle classes. They are a partial alternative to the Labor party, towards which Marxists should adopt a careful, nuanced, united front approach.
                                  • emabcmail
                                    Honestly I think it s missing the point to think this article is about SAlt just missing the point or sticking with the old schema. That article read like a
                                    Message 17 of 21 , Sep 10, 2010
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                                      Honestly I think it's missing the point to think this article is about SAlt just missing the point or sticking with the old schema. That article read like a sermon. Denouncing the un-believers as Class Enemies; they are arrogant, they want to rule you, they want to bring in a dictatorship, etc... That stuff about the middle class comes from nothing I have ever read in Marx or Lenin. Frankly it sounded more like ultra-right demagogy. It bothers me that none of their members would even check on a bizarre claim like that Clive Hamilton wants to usher in a dictatorship.


                                      --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "RatbagMedia" <ratbagradio@...> wrote:
                                      >
                                      > --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, Peter Robson <campbell.robson@> wrote:
                                      > >
                                      > > Here's a response in GLW in part to this, but mostly in response to Corey
                                      > > Oakley's thing on Socialist Alternative's site.
                                      > >
                                      > > http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/45276
                                      >
                                      > The main point is , I think, that Socialist Alternative is wrong on the question of the significance of the shift to the Greens. In fact they were dead wrong from Day I when they called for (rather indifferently I believe ) a vote for EITHER the ALP OR the Greens OR OTHER campaigns (like 'socialist ones') -- so long as Abbott got put last.
                                      >
                                      > They've more or less stuck to their schematic take on the elections and have regrettably painted themselves into a tactical corner.
                                      >
                                      > Instead of indicating a political opening, the poll results supposedly serve as a clarion call that we must rely on our own resources inside the Marxist bunker rather than flexibly and creatively explore reach out options and alliances.
                                      >
                                      > This penchant and preference for a broken record -- hold the line -- approach to politics is, I think, mistaken in this political context. It strives to distance SAlt --and who ever may agree with them -- from the more than a million people who are looking to the Greens as their preferred left alternative to the ALP.
                                      >
                                      > The best response of the far left in this context of challenge and opportunity would be to explore ways and means to come together in some form of ongoing activity that would counterpose the pressure on the Greens -- and their support base -- to accommodate to parliamentarianism even more and drag the movements with them as the 'only' forward option.
                                      >
                                      > It's both an ideological and a struggle question.
                                      >
                                      > The other challenge SAlt faces is to transcend its crude workerism in regard to the ALP. If you browse through SAlt rhetoric on the topic of the elections you get left with the impression that SAlt PREFERS the ALP to the Greens.
                                      >
                                      > ..because the ALP is 'working class ' and the Greens are 'middle class'.
                                      >
                                      > Scary.
                                      >
                                      > As though the politics don't matter one iota...
                                      >
                                      > dave riley
                                      >
                                    • theleft21c
                                      Excellent analysis.
                                      Message 18 of 21 , Sep 10, 2010
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                                        Excellent analysis.
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