[Marxism] Latham follows Blairites rightwards on multiculturalism
sra at scu.edu.au
Wed Apr 21 18:18:10 MDT 2004
There's been a bit of blather in the news today about Australian
Labor leader Latham ripping off bits about children and education in
a speech on Tuesday from a Clinton State of the Union address a while
back. Who cares really, everyone knew, or should know, Latham's
trying to carve out a Clinton-Blair Thirrd Way image, and that he
wasn't too original, and what he said on these issues he'd said
What was a bit more surprising in this speech was his attacks on
multiculturalism, and moves towards a Howard-type "one Australia".
But this was also completely unoriginal, and follows recent sharp
shifts rightwards from the increasingly revolting Blair government on
issues of race, immigration, multiculturalism and "national
identity". From the SMH reports of his speech Latham said
"A 'new and realistic way of thinking about multiculturalism' was
necessary, he said, emphasising that 'social cohesion is as important
as respect for difference'.
"'In the early stages of multiculturalism we spent a lot of time to
prove our diversity and then celebrate it,' he said. 'This is still
reflected in government policies and programs: multiculturalism as a
celebration of diversity for diversity's sake'" ...
"The speech is a dramatic departure from the thinking of the previous
Hawke and Keating Labor governments, and has more in common with the
views of John Howard on multiculturalism when he first became prime
The British mainstream press has recently full of debate about such
issues, and the current issue of the UK Weekly Worker has a couple of
interesting articles on this. One summarises recent pronouncements of
Trevor Phillips, a black immigrant ex-radical, now well-paid
Blair-appointed head of the Commission for Racial Equality, who has
also somewhat surprisingly attacked official multiculturalism in
terms that Latham obviously ripped off:
"He [Phillips] told The Times that multiculturalism was out of date
because it encouraged 'separateness' between communities - it was now
urgent to 'assert a core of Britishness' because we find ourselves in
'a different world from the 1960s and 1970s'. He added that
multiculturalism stood for the wrong things: 'What we should be
talking about now is how we reach an integrated society, one in which
people are equal under the law, where there are some shared values.'
This article argues that official multiculturalism is a bourgeois
ideology that should be opposed. I'd agree with that, but not with
the assertion that this paper seems to makes that capitalism can be
really anti-racist. Anyway another another article focuses on why the
Blairites have been attacking asylum seekers and now multiculturalism"
"It's not that most Labour Party members are actually racists, when
it comes down to it. The problem is, the whole Third Way crew - not
just Goodhart, Phillips, Phillips, Toynbee and Blunkett, but the
likes of Peter Mandelson and Anthony Giddens as well - have been
mesmerised by the rise of neo-fascism on mainland Europe.
"They theorise that much of the far right's electoral support comes
from former core social democratic voters. Probably that is correct.
Yet instead of trying to promote a left agenda that disarms
discrimination by connecting with real working class concerns, they
argue that Labour needs to head off neo-fascism at the pass by
getting 'tough on immigration'."
Substitute Howard's ultra social conservatism for Euro neo-facism and
this passage explains exactly where Latham is coming from.
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