Tag Archives: Labor

The Old Tribalism Has Failed Us

Helen Haines and Voices for Indi

[Published 31 May at Independent Australia]

I already wrote about the failures of Labor and the Greens and the flagrant partisanship of the media in bringing about Labor’s shock election loss. The trouble is these problems have been evident for a long time (Labor, Greens) and there is little sign anyone in those parties really understands what is necessary.

Nor is there any new party in the offing that might seize the day. The US has Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The UK had Jeremy Corbyn to revive their Labour Party, though he may be sinking into the ancient and corrupt mire of British politics. We have no messiah.

Yet this election has shown us the way forward, if we are open to noticing.

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New eBook: The Rise and Failure of the Radical Right

The Origins of Australia’s Political Disarray

The right-wing ideology of the past 40 years has failed. It was always going to fail, because it is based on nonsense ideas, and because it harms people and the natural world. Australian politics has been dragged far to the right since 1980 because both major parties embraced an agenda promoted by right-wing radicals. Now the radical right’s grip on power is finally slipping. We are poised for a major political re-alignment.

A BetterNature Short Book (14,500 words).

Released 4 May 2017. May the Fourth be with you.

Now available on Amazon.

See more about my books, existing and forthcoming, here.

ALP: Blocking Democracy and a Tolerable Future

Arthur Calwell

Arthur Calwell

[Published at Independent Australia, 2 Dec]

Progressive reformers are attempting to take control of the major parties of the nominal left in the United States and the United Kingdom, in the wake of losses in national elections and the rise of reactionary forces. Even if the rebels do not take full control there is some prospect that the parties will at least be substantially changed.

No such fate threatens the Australian Labor Party. There is no flicker of unorthodoxy from within. There is little prospect of the plebian hordes storming it from without. The ALP stands, inert and impregnable, occupying the political space where a progressive party ought to be, the greatest obstacle in Australia to the constructive reform we  desperately need if we are to have a tolerable future.

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Demise of Lib-Lab: an electoral fancy

bleaching-lizard-islandFrom the perspective of 2020 it’s a bit hard to recall just how disconnected from its constituents the political mainstream had become before the 2016 election campaign. No wonder they churned through so many prime ministers.

The readjustment began just as the campaign began, though few saw what was coming. Even the bleaching of a large part of the Great Barrier Reef did not at first get much reaction. True to form, the major parties gave it minimal lip service. It was only as large swaths of the Reef turned brown and ugly over following weeks that widespread concern began to surface. The Government might still have squeaked in, but it had set itself a 10-week-plus campaign.

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Labor’s Twin Crises – Malcolm and Jeremy

[Just published on Independent Australia]

150830sm_CorbynNo doubt the apparatchiks of the Australian Labor Party are currently very exercised with how to counter the Turnbull Coalition Government. It is now possible to conceive that Malcolm Turnbull could comfortably win the next Federal election. Or perhaps the Coalition will tear itself apart and Labor will coast in. In these early days no-one knows.

But the ALP would do well to focus also on a more profound challenge, one that may turn out to be existential. The personification of this challenge is Jeremy Corbyn, who recently won a landslide victory in a ballot of members and supporters for the leadership of the UK Labour Party.

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Australia needs a new progressive party

[This article is posted at Independent Australia today.]

The Australian Labor Party needs major reform, even leader Bill Shorten thinks so.  But what constitutes “major” reform depends on who’s talking.  To Shorten it reportedly means you don’t have to be a union member to join Labor, and perhaps unions and factions will have a little less say in preselections.

A few weeks ago I suggested Labor ought to disavow the market-fundamentalist neoliberalism that has dominated Labor and most of the world for the past three decades, because neoliberalism has been the major cause of rising economic and political inequality, and it directly caused the Great Recession that still grips much of the world.  Not only does neoliberalism undermine Labor’s founding purpose, to stand up for ordinary people, but it is a baseless and discredited ideology, as I have explained in my book Sack the Economists, and it has brought the return of plutocracy and the new gilded age, as exhaustively documented by French economist Thomas Piketty.

Although I advocated reform of the ALP, I hold little hope it will happen.  Even where they are not overtly corrupt, Labor and too many unions are dominated by careerists whose only goal seems to be to acquire power for power’s sake.  Shorten’s incremental changes will not break the power of these people.  Indeed there seem to be few left in Labor who have not accommodated to the betrayal of Labor’s purpose.  (I hasten to add I am a supporter of unions in principle, but too many of them have also become ossified.)

Left to its own devices, the ALP is unlikely to fundamentally reform itself.  It would take someone at least of the stature of Gough Whitlam, and no such reformer is in evidence.  Therefore a different strategy is required.

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Countering neoliberalism: A new life for Labor?

[A variation of The Lost Left, published today at Independent Australia.]

The way forward for progressives is to argue against the self-serving neoliberal ideology of the fatcat and for prudent and sensible management of the markets, writes Dr Geoff Davies.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten saysLabor needs new policies.

He’s not wrong there.

For three decades, while Labor has focussed on being merely a slightly paler imitation of the Coalition, its membership has plummeted, inequality has risen, it has repeatedly capitulated to wealthy bullies and, it seems, there is no policy too degrading for it to adopt as it races the Coalition into the depths of fear and negativity.

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Labor’s Four-Decade Descent into Calumny

Pauline Hanson

Pauline Hanson (Photo credit: Velovotee)

There are strong echoes from 1983 in the present political situation, and not just of Bob Hawke’s displacement of Bill Hayden as Labor leader on the brink of the 1983 election.  There are deeper and darker currents flowing from that coup to Australia’s present state of delusional hysteria, especially regarding refugees.

Australian society was very different in 1983.  Australia was a relatively fair, tolerant and egalitarian place, even though not without blind spots.  We were said, disparagingly by some, to be very easy going.  We were much richer in material things, and in the time to enjoy life, than we had been at the end of World War II, and for most the memory of steady improvement was recent and clear.

When Bob Hawke and Paul Keating took over Labor, and then the government, in 1983, they also took over the free-market fundamentalist agenda of the right wing of the Liberal Party.

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