Australian Labor Party

Ben Courtice benj at connexus.net.au
Thu Sep 19 18:36:35 MDT 2002


I'm not trying to imply anything about the ALP or NZLP "class nature". I
think they are liberal bourgeois parties that exist, or at least did in the
past, to systematically dupe the workers. I agree with your comments re the
pro-Labor left groups ("loyal opposition"), and I don't think Lenin's gallows-
pole-support is appropriate any more.

However, when you have called the Labor Party a party of the yuppies, middle
class etc I think you have to recognise that this incorporates a section of
well-off workers. In the old days they were organised through the unions, in
fact controlling the shocking politics of most unions, and hence the unions-
Labor Party connection. Now I think the equivalent section of workers is no
longer unionised/needing unions (professionals, NGO workers, etc). So labor
has turned from unions as a social prop to "yuppies" and the middle class -
workers and petit bourgeois both.

Of course Labor has had links with big business too, for example Australian
PM Bob Hawke was notoriously friendly with various capitalists like Abeles,
Packer etc. and the party gets a lot of donations from them. The political
interest that the ALP represents is in fact big business.

I don't see this as any massive change in Labor. But the change from
unionised "labour aristocrats" to middle class professionals is somewhat
significant. It certainly means that revolutionaries should abandon the
gallows-pole-support and reach for the Kalashnikov, metaphorically speaking.
But I wouldn't at this stage rule out a turn back to the left by the ALP
depending on the course of the struggle (and the need for the bourgeoisie to
buy off sections of unionised workers again). I don't know as much about the
NZLP. (I tried to download revolution#14 but the link was broken - is your
website all up?).

The stimulus for this is the leaner, meaner post-Cold War neoliberalism that
has eaten into (if not destroyed) the privileges of the traditional labour
aristocracy. That's the basis for the working class voters abandoning Labor,
the growth of right-wing scapegoating politics (around refugees, and the
unfortunately substantial white working class support for Hanson's One
Nation). It's also the basis for the growth of the left, if we get our
strategy right.

Exactly how much of the working class, strictly defined, is still part of
a "labour aristocracy" and part of the Labor/New Labour constituency I'm not
sure. It's not a crucial point. But there still are workers in Labor - they
just act like they are middle class yuppies, for the most part. They have
wholly gone over to capitalism. Where's my Kalashnikov?

Ben Courtice

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