Australian update

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
Fri Sep 20 00:36:04 MDT 1996


This subject is always good for my pessimism. When ever it looks like
weakening I just have to contemplate the state of the Left in Australia.
What then is happening?  The retreat of the Union leadership in front of a
carefully orchestrated media backlash at  the union demonstration outside
Parliament has had a disastrous effect.  It has strengthened the ruling
class. The government is now  anxious to go  on the offensive.  How sharp
will the attacks be?  Within Socialist Alternative there seems to be the
view that the attacks will not be too great because the state of the economy
does not warrant it.  I think that this is a bit vulgar marxist and too
economistic for me.  I believe that the ruling class can go for broke with
this conservative government and then fall back on Labor if there is
sufficient trouble.

Meanwhile Labor is traveling very badly.  They do not pose any alternatives
and it is not long enough  since they were  in power for people to forget
that they are no different to the Liberals (tories) and to accumulate
illusions that they represent an alternative to capitalism.

Outside the ruling parties  the racist  independent Pauline Hanso made her
maiden speech. This has apparently attracted more interest than any other
speech since the days of WW2!  Why so?  well not only is it because of her
scandalous racism but also because in these days of swirling resentment hers
seems to be the voice that offers solutions.  She is a small shop keeper.
Fish and Chips actually and she  represents a working-class tractional Labor
seat.  She marks the extent to which petty bourgeois attitudes have
colonized the working-class here.  Hers is perhaps the voice of
proto-fascism.  She attacks aboriginal welfare and Asian immigration. she
also proposes tariffs to protect Australian industries.

This is a crazy mixture  but it comforts people with a vision of a return to
the glory days of the fifties when there was Imperial preferences, Whites
only immigration policy and women and gays and blacks knew where they belonged.

Hanson then has elements of a traditional conservative program.  She has
been praised by some post-traditional conservatives but the latter surely
must be doing that out of sheer opportunism.  The Right inside the Labor
Party has been using her success to role back  commitment to the rights of
gays, women, blacks etc.

So we have a vicious cycle in place here.  What can break it and constitute
in its stead a virtuous cycle?   Well the answer is a bit mantraish but it
is no less true for all that.  The workers must organize at a rank and file
level and begin the process of resistance.  Is there any sign of this
happening.  I do not think so but I could  be wrong.

regards

Gary




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