Answering Jose was Re: Replying to Brian was Re: Referendum Down Under

Jose G. Perez jgperez at
Fri Nov 12 21:55:31 MST 1999


    I think the part of your argument that I disagree with is when you
identify the monarchy as some sort of significant feudal remnant. Although
it is true that the monarchical form arose during feudal times, and it may
be true that there are various "rights" of the Queen & Peers that I might
(depending on the circumstances, it is after all a tactical question)
support abolishing in Britain, I do not see where this has much relevance to
the situation in Australia.

Thus we are left with much more limited royal prerogatives in Australia,
which are largely symbolic. Posed in general terms, am I for abolishing the
monarchy in Australia? If I were Australian, I'd undoubtedly say yes. But I
don't think the general question was what was being asked here, but rather
are you for *this way* of abolishing the monarchy.

And what exactly is the way that the monarchy was to be abolished? By
keeping everything exactly the same, even the limited in-case-of-emergency
powers to dissolve the government (if I understand what the royal
prerogative is correctly) would be preserved for the new head of state. It's
just that this person would now be handpicked through a super-majority of
the bourgeois parliament.

Tactically, it seems to me that revolutionaries would find it a much less
convoluted explanation to say, no, this is NOT the abolition of the monarchy
that we want, where everything stays the same. We want a real change.
Otherwise we're going to be saying something like, we're voting this even
though this is not what we want, etc.

If somehow this proposal had issued from a series of workers or social
struggles, or as a response to a specific abuse by the bourgeoisie of the
monarchical institution, then it might make sense to have that stance, of
saying to the workers who had illusions in this measure, yes we agree with
you on the need to get rid of the monarchy but actually, the queen's just
been a front for the interests of our capitalists, and in addition to
abolishing the monarchy what we need to do is ... (coupled there to whatever
proposals for promoting the political independence of the working class
might make sense at that moment).

I cannot of course know for sure but I suspect what you view as the
"ignorance" of many workers about the ins and out and mechanics of the
bourgeois president proposal isn't that in reality. The bourgeoisie loves to
complicate and obfuscate these matters in endless rigmarole, and the workers
quite rightly refuse to pay much attention to this sort of gamesmanship.
They know Howard is the head honcho now, they sense instinctively the
purpose of all this is to keep things exactly the same and re-enforce the
gang in power, and so they come out saying stuff like they don't want Howard
to be president. This may be a mistake about the mechanics of the thing but
it is essentially a healthy reaction that shows a clear understanding of the
essence of the matter:  they don't want Howard to continue as head honcho.

Best regards,


-----Original Message-----
From: Gary MacLennan <g.maclennan at>
To: marxism at <marxism at>
Date: Friday, November 12, 1999 12:46 AM
Subject: Answering Jose was Re: Replying to Brian was Re: Referendum Down

>Hi Jose,
>I have just had a new computer and mouse installed and I cannot control the
>bloody mouse and it wiped out your post but from memory let me try and
>answer.  As always you go unerringly to the careless formulation.  I should
>have said that Australia was a white colonial settler nation. at the heart
>of this nation there is the white settler Anglo culture.  the monarchy is
>still an important symbol to these people.
>Now you asked what did I mean by modernization in class terms.  again a
>tricky question.  Let me try and answer it in this way.  Without
>modernization there would be no working class. Capitalist modernisation is
>the process of creating the workers. Now I have read enough Proyect to know
>that modernisation is a two edged sword.  I do not have an LM adoration of
>all things modern.  But I resolve that problem by arguing that we have
>capitalist modernisation and we desperately need a non-capitalist
>modernisation or we will all perish.
>So for me your question reads as what have the workers to gain from
>capitalist modernisation.  Well the short answer is not much unless they
>take control of it and turn it into socialist modernisation.
>Still even within the context of the distinction between capitalist and
>socialist modernisation the existence of feudal relics such as the British
>monarchy is not a small thing. The ending of the peer privileges in England
>for instance should be supported would you not agree?  Similarly cutting
>ties with the Windsors would also be a good thing.  It seems to me here,
>Jose,  that you have almost an anarchist position where you refuse to make
>distinctions between centres of authority and label everything as
>exploitation and domination.
>Now as to the workers ignorance.  You talk about class instincts
>here.  However the specifics were that Howard could not become President.
>the model specifically calls for someone to be appointed by 2/3 of
>parliament. Howard would not get that and he was not seeking the
>presidency.  the workers apparently thought he was.  they simply do not
>have a high enough level of political education.  Jose you will have to
>take my word on this.  The Australian worker is politically ignorant. Not a
>nice thing to say but revolutionaries should not be in the business of
>being nice.
>To conclude I suspect that what is at the heart of the disagreement between
>ourselves is the old reform-revolution duality.  I think reforms are
>important, even constitutional ones which get rid of monarchs.
>yours comradely


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