Tag Archives: Labor

When will we live as if the truth is true?

It is not about the Greens, nor even about the teals, it is about the science and the planet. Despite the recent electoral shift, another parliament will desperately evade the truth, that we are destroying our bountiful, beautiful and only life support system.

In a music album by the Canadian group The Weather Station, songwriter Tamara Lindeman sings “At some point you’d have to live as if the truth was true.” The line is in the song Loss and, like the entire album, the reference is both to the loss of a relationship with another person and to our civilisation’s loss of its relationship with the natural world.

As parliament reconvenes with Labor in charge, our society’s relationship with the natural world is front and centre.

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What if we had a government that got serious?

There is so much more we can do, and must do, if we are to survive, let alone thrive.

Instead of drifting for another thirty years, or two hundred, we could go and ask the First People how we can help. Perhaps we could talk to them about negotiating joint sovereignty over this amazing, ancient land.

We could do what the IPCC says we must, based on the science: no new carbon extraction projects, abolish carbon subsidies ($10 billion or more per year) and phase out carbon burning as fast as possible, with net zero by 2035 if not sooner.

We could stop getting tangled up in other people’s disastrous and highly counter-productive wars. China would be far less of a threat to us if we just deal squarely with it instead of pulling the tiger’s tail on behalf of someone else.

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Australia’s Political Culture Is Failing Us, So Elect Independents

[Published at Independent Australia, 3 Nov.]

Helen Haines and Voices for Indi

Our entire mainstream political culture – the old parties, tribes and labels, the media, the commentariat, the adversarial process, the petty squabbling – fails comprehensively to serve our needs and insults our capabilities. Independents offer a glimmer of hope, and we need to get more of them into parliament.

The Coalition Government is with little doubt the most vacuous, incompetent, deluded, irresponsible and malicious of our short Federated history. This is the rabble Labor failed to defeat in the 2019 election. Labor still seems to have little idea what to do, and anyway they have been complicit in a great deal of the damage done to our society since 2001, and in the neglect of urgent issues.

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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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