[Marxism] Re: Phil Ferguson and free trade - PS

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at alphalink.com.au
Wed Feb 4 16:01:41 MST 2004

I missed an important part of Bob's post, because I thought the second part
of the post was devoted to another topic (ALP conferences in general), to
which I didn't plan to reply. 

Bob writes:

>>The critical issue is that [Michelle O'Neil] did not call for any
increase in tariffs: just a freeze on existing tariffs, which is defensible
from a socialist point of view.<<

Is it? Context is decisive in this sort of thing. Twenty years ago both the
employers and the unions would have demanded increased protection. But
nowadays free market ideology is so dominant that they don't have the
confidence to do this. The industry (all sides) confines itself to trying
to stop or slow the further run-down of tariffs and maximise the degree of
transitional assistance. So (on Bob's account) Michelle's motion is a
watered-down version of the old protectionism. I oppose this because the
unions should be looking for issues that point towards fighting the bosses,
and this line of argument tends to push us towards lining up with them,
whatever Michelle's conscious intent. If implemented by a Labor Government,
it would mean some kind of industry plan with a tri-partite structure
involving bosses, government and unions. At least, that's what it meant
under Labor last time.

I repeat, though, that I don't have any details. Bob refers me to the
bourgeois press (!) and then more sensibly proposes I ring Michelle and get
a copy of the motion. This suggest Bob hasn't got any more details. I will
indeed ring the union and get the motion.

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