Update on the class struggle in Australia

g.maclennan at qut.edu.au g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
Sun Nov 19 22:14:14 MST 1995

On Mon, 20 Nov 1995, David McInerney wrote:

> One has to wonder about Jenny George's public announcement of her husband
> being a former member of the Communists when she brings in that *flunkey*
> (to use a well-worn Maoist term, or perhaps "toady" - one of Paul Keating's
> - is maore appropriate) Bob Hawke to fight for the workers!!!  Together
> with her "appeal to women", isn't this all just an attempt by the ACTU to
> keep all bases covered in a time of waning legitimacy of the rightist ALP
> (and its ACTU cronies)??  That said, recent developments do indicate a
> rising class anatgonism in Australia and, at last, a weakening of the
> nationalist ideology of the 'national interest' amongst the labour
> movement.
I will reply to David's other points about political organisation later.
But I would like to take up the point of Jenny George bringing in
Hawke.  This was a signal that they were not too radical and the union
bureaucrats seem to need to do that ever since the Cold War started.  The
idea of Kelty being thought radical is laughable, but still he feels the
need to reassure everyone he is not. But
it also said soemthing about nostaligia for the days of the Hawke who
came thorugh the Trade Union bureaucracy by contrast with Keating who
came through the party machine. Truly fucked in political terms I agree
but also I suspect very popular with the blue collar workers.

What interests me about this whole dispute has been the readiness of the
class to answer the call from the bureacurcy.  We were that close to a
general strike!  A very smart commentator Brian Toohey said on the radio
this morning that the resposne of  the workers had scared everyone
including the union leadership.  I would say *especially* the union leaders.

There is enormous discontent among the workers and it seems that they
have not lost their combativity.  The vital ingredient of political
leadership is of course missing. Sigh!!

I was interested Marcus' reports of Hawke's speech and the
latter's reference to
the Deakenite class settlement.  That of course was the age of certainty
for Australian workers.  In a recent issue of the Guardian, Will Hutton,
has lamented the passing of certainty for workers and has pointed out
the downside for capitalism of making the works insecure and nervous about
the future.
Investment in infra strcutrue gets neglected and demand is hard to predict.

However I disagree with his prediction that the "pendulum will swing back"
to workers' rights.  There is of course no pendulum, only unremitting



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