[Marxism] Latham follows Blairites rightwards on multiculturalism

Nick Fredman 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"He [Phillips] told The Times that multiculturalism was out of date 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.


Nick Fredman
Student Rights Advocate
Southern Cross University (Lismore)
Student Representative Council

Shop 9 Plaza, SCU Lismore

Ph: 6620 3044
Email: sra at src.scu.edu.au
web: http://www.lismoresrc.org.au/


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