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The socialist objective

July 31st, 2015

There’s a push within the ALP to remove the party’s long-standing socialist objective, which states

The Australian Labor Party is a democratic socialist party and has the objective of the democratic socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange, to the extent necessary to eliminate exploitation and other anti-social features in these fields.

Then follows a long list of commitments, notably including
(i) the restoration and maintenance of full employment;
(j) the abolition of poverty, and the achievement of greater equality in the distribution of income, wealth and opportunity; and
(k) social justice and equality for individuals, the family and all social units, and the elimination of exploitation in the home

I’m ambivalent about this, both as as regards substance and timing. When I started this blog, I made the decision to describe myself as a social democrat rather than a democratic socialist. In 2006, I gave the following explanation, in a comment

I prefer “social democratic” because it clearly refers to the set of policies implemented and advocated by social democrats in the second half of the 20th century, including a mixed economy, an active welfare state, government responsibility for full employment and so on.

By contrast, socialism is less well defined. It can mean comprehensive public ownership, which I don’t support, or it can be just a general statement of values and aspirations, consistent with social democracy.

So, if the change was simply to replace “democratic socialist” with “social democratic”, and to give a description of goals consistent with that, I’d have no problem. But let’s look at the text proposed by NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley[1]

The Australian Labor Party has as its objective the achievement of a just and equitable society where every person has the opportunity to realise their potential.

“We believe in an active role for government, and the operation of competitive markets, in order to create opportunities for all Australians, so that every person will have the freedom to pursue their wellbeing, in co-operation with their fellow citizens, free from exploitation and discrimination”.

Foley’s further comments make no reference to full employment, equality, poverty or any other social democratic concerns. He goes on to say

We understand that competitive markets are best placed to deliver the economic growth that the people we represent rely on.

We also know that regulation and redistribution are necessary to correct market failures, to ensure dignity and opportunity for all Australians.

Is there anything here that Tony Abbott, or even Joe Hockey, could disagree with?

So, it’s pretty clear that removing the socialist objective is not a matter of moving away from a dogmatic commitment to public ownership. Rather, it means abandoning any notion that Labor aspires to change society for the better, or that it has any fundamental disagreement with market liberals. The implied view is that the necessary changes for the better in Australia were those delivered by the reforming Hawke, Keating and Howard governments, and that what we need in the future is more of the same.

The other striking feature of this push is the timing. In the 1990s, when Tony Blair pushed for the removal of the corresponding Clause IV in the Constitution of the British Labour Party, financial capitalism appeared to both unstoppable and beneficent, producing endless prosperity for all. In the post-GFC era, financial capitalism has so far proved unstoppable, but it has ceased to produce widespread prosperity. Australia has been an exception to the general malaise of developed-country capitalism, but this is due as much to good luck as to good management.

What this push shows is the extent to which Australia’s political class, including the Labor “Left” is saturated with the assumptions of market liberalism, to the point that even a cataclysm like the GFC and the subsequent recession/depression in most of the developed world has had no impact at all.

fn1. From the “Left” faction, I believe, though this label has little more than tribal/historical significance nowadays.

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  1. Newtownian
    July 31st, 2015 at 11:14 | #1

    The Australian Labor Party has as its objective the achievement of a just and equitable society where every person has the opportunity to realise their potential.

    I trust your post has large dollops of irony in it.

    Surely this is just a collection of euphemisms for

    “let us take the road to Crypto-fascism because self evidently the world is divided into tigers and goats because this is the natural order of things and therefore we should promote it rather than use our brains to rise above the law of the jungle, that old socialist delusion”.

    You might have added that the Tea Party would have loved it all – while having an affair with that great promulgator of unfetted Freedom, ‘The Donald’.

    Still perhaps the latter like Luke Foley’s ideas arent so bad.

    Bolshie actor Alec Baldwin much loved by the South Park boys recently commented to Howard Stern, in explaining why he in fact supported the election of President Trump, to the effect that it would be exactly what modern America deserves.

    So in conclusion I have to say I also support Foley’s proposal because it will give us armchair progressives exactly the Labor Party we deserve in light of our inaction and revisionism of the past thirty years and will ensure its hollow shell will be consigned to the dust bin of history in a timely fashion so we can start again afresh.

  2. Peter Chapman
    July 31st, 2015 at 11:26 | #2

    Jeremy Corbyn. Bernie Sanders. Mhairi Black. Yanis Varoufakis. Politicians who (whatever else you think of them, their parties, their specific actions) catch the popular imagination because they articulate principles that centre-left parties everywhere seem to be walking away from. Although populism is NOT “class warfare” (though it is often used as a weapon in all sorts of struggles), centre-left politicians should take note of these exemplars, and ignore the lessons at their peril (intellectually, if not electorally). Following the UK Labour Party leadership race is instructive: the denigration of principles as “old-fashioned” and “irrelevant” seems to be echoed in these moves within the ALP. A good time for JQ and the rest of us to ask, what do we really believe is possible in politics today? What sort of policies and programs are we in favour of, on the basis of our analysis and the evidence available to us? What sort of social and economic system do we want to promote, even realise?

  3. bjb
    July 31st, 2015 at 11:53 | #3

    “We understand that competitive markets are best placed to deliver the economic growth that the people we represent rely on.”

    Would that be US style competitive markets, which for about the last 30 years have only been of benefit to the top few percent, or Chinese style competitive markets which seem to have advantaged the average punter rather better.

  4. Megan
    July 31st, 2015 at 12:53 | #4

    The ALP has been neo-liberal for years. So it seems to be just a poke in the eye for the die-hard true-believers to now push for committing it to writing as an “objective”.

  5. Ken_L
    July 31st, 2015 at 13:04 | #5

    Politics is all about leveraging power into influence. Ordinary people only get power by organising collectively, a lesson that ought to be obvious to anyone with even a smattering of historical understanding. Ordinary Australians used to have it, and over the last 30 years, they’ve gradually thrown it away. It’s interesting to discuss why this happened, but it won’t change the reality. Nothing will change it until ordinary Australians decide once again they’d like to develop the power of the collective.

  6. July 31st, 2015 at 13:07 | #6

    Foley’s proposal was dropped and any revision was punted to committee at National Conference.

    A revised proposal from the committee is likely to be less banal than what was proposed. Even right-wingers I’ve spoken to felt that there was nothing social democratic in what he proposed.

    I imagine any new objective will have the following things: 1) the primacy of society over the market 2) good society and 3) democratic socialist gets replaced with social democratic.

  7. Ikonoclast
    July 31st, 2015 at 13:30 | #7

    What can I say? The Australian Betrayal Party (aka ALP) shows its true colours. Of course, those of us who are far-sighted have known this for years.

  8. totaram
    July 31st, 2015 at 13:36 | #8

    @Newtownian
    “…..so we can start again afresh.”

    I love the sentiment, but I fear I will not live long enough to see “the fresh start”.

  9. Jim Birch
    July 31st, 2015 at 14:26 | #9

    This kind of statement loses me at the phrase “We believe in” phrase. Why are people so obsessed with believing in stuff? How about some evidence-based government. That’s what I’m waiting for. Spruiking aspirations belongs in the past.

  10. Ikonoclast
    July 31st, 2015 at 15:01 | #10

    @Jim Birch

    You are quite right. Beliefs are not worth the empirical evidence they are (not) based on. Statements like this; “I firmly believe in A,B,C etc.” are worthless.

    While most matters are not amenable to complete, objective, empirical determination there are still substantial areas where evidence applies and the balance of probability must be considered. In such cases professionals can form an opinion. There is a clear difference between professional opinions and blind beliefs, at least in some professions, like Medicine. One is not so sure about Economics.

    Motherhood and apple pie statements are also useless. Saying, “we believe in the principle of helping everyone reach their potential” is in itself useless. Unless a clear program is laid out indicating how, in practical ways, people are going to be assisted to reach their potential then spruiking the motherhood and apple pie line is like putting up window dressing for an empty shop.

  11. Uncle Milton
    July 31st, 2015 at 16:16 | #11

    Is there anything here that Tony Abbott, or even Joe Hockey, could disagree with?

    Probably not, but probably the 80% or so of people who vote for the major parties wouldn’t disagree with it either.

  12. Uncle Milton
    July 31st, 2015 at 16:16 | #12

    @Uncle Milton

    Formatting oops.

  13. Donald Oats
    July 31st, 2015 at 16:32 | #13

    I think the ALP hacks are feeling exposed on the big government and nanny state attack phrases, whether they are or not. The LNP loves sticking the nose of government into people’s private lives, but the ALP can’t point that out as an example of hypocrisy, because they have supported the new policies in security and in secret squirrel activities.

    If the ALP think competitive markets are the be all and end all, then there isn’t much difference between them and the Liberals.

    I’m in furious agreement that if any change is made, it shouldn’t go further than transposition of the two words to give social democrat(ic). Oh well.

  14. John Quiggin
    July 31st, 2015 at 17:07 | #14

    @Uncle Milton

    Probably not, but probably the 80% or so of people who vote for the major parties wouldn’t disagree with it either.

    Agreed. So why not make the objective “Labor stands for things you approve of”

  15. Uncle Milton
    July 31st, 2015 at 18:35 | #15

    @John Quiggin

    Why not indeed?

    The problem with this discussion is that it so ahistorical. The Labor Party has never been a left wing party. It has never taken its socialist objective seriously. Individuals like Jim Cairns did, sort of, but they were always idiosyncratic within the party. From its very beginnings, the Labor Party’s actual objective has been to take the rough edge off capitalism, if that. Bede Nairn’s classic Civilising Capitalism made this clear. It should be required reading for those who look back to a completely fictional age when (they think) the Labor Party was a socialist, anti-capitalist party.

    All Luke Foley is doing is removing a fiction. Perhaps it is a disappointment to people on the left that the Labor Party is giving up even on the pretense of being a party of the left, but it’s like finding out there is no Santa Claus when you’re a kid – initially disappointing, to be sure, but you had to face reality sooner or later.

  16. moz of Yarramulla
    July 31st, 2015 at 18:55 | #16

    @Ikonoclast

    You malign Another Liberal Party most unfairly.

  17. John Quiggin
    July 31st, 2015 at 19:12 | #17

    @Uncle Milton

    You’ve misread me fairly completely, as I think will be clear if you reread the post.

  18. Ivor
    July 31st, 2015 at 19:20 | #18

    Democratic socialist and social democrat are completely different concepts.

    Democratic socialism is a different mode of production.

    Social democracy is capitalism with some social welfare and some public provision.

    It is not possible to consider the Socialist Objective in the context of social democracy.

    The issue is less about socialism than the need to find an alternative to capitalism.

    There is nothing socialists would necessarily disagree with:

    We understand that competitive markets are best placed to deliver the economic growth that the people we represent rely on.

    We also know that regulation and redistribution are necessary to correct market failures, to ensure dignity and opportunity for all Australians.

    And when Liberals sprout this – this is not their real agenda.

    Yugoslav self-management was based on markets and commercial principles and contained regulation and redistribution to correct market failures etc.

    The issue is capitalism vs socialism no matter what other concepts or fig-leafs intrude.

  19. Salient Green
    July 31st, 2015 at 19:22 | #19

    The Liberal party has more ‘I believes’ than the Nicene creed and none of them mean a damn either.
    Changing to ‘Social Democrat’ will only remove some of the hypocrisy in the Labor party. Perhaps it could be seen as a slightly more realistic aspiration than ‘Democratic Socialism’ for some of the ‘not so right wing’ members.

  20. J-D
    July 31st, 2015 at 20:21 | #20

    @bjb

    I don’t know what makes you think that the average Chinese has benefitted from competitive markets in the last thirty years. I’m inclined to doubt it myself.

  21. J-D
    July 31st, 2015 at 20:23 | #21

    Does it matter what words are in the ALP platform? How?

  22. Ernestine Gross
    July 31st, 2015 at 20:33 | #22

    “Labor stands for things you approve of.”

    Perfect. The words ‘democratic’, ‘social’, ‘socialist’, ‘market’,………. become superfluous and the forgotten words ‘environment’ and ‘financial stability’ may emerge in the process.

    Generalise to “Party… stands for things you approve of” and have IP on it. There might be a ‘competitive market’ for this sentence with the right to identify the party.

  23. July 31st, 2015 at 21:08 | #23

    A wish-list doodle:
    The Australian Labor Party is a democratic socialist party and has the objective of securing genuinely equal rights and opportunity for all Australians in a fair, sustainable and enriching society through vigorous governmental and social action. It aims in particular to eliminate exploitation and discrimination at work and in social life, as well as the destruction for private gain of common goods such as the environment, and to curb the inequalities of condition that threaten these goals.

    This obviously reflects my green preferences. Genuine equality of opportunity is not a weak goal, as it requires substantial equality of condition.

  24. bjb
    July 31st, 2015 at 21:45 | #24

    J-D :
    @bjb
    I don’t know what makes you think that the average Chinese has benefitted from competitive markets in the last thirty years. I’m inclined to doubt it myself.

    I think the tens, if not hundreds, of millions of newly middle class Chinese would disagree. Certainly anyone born in the last 30 years in China has had a vastly better standard of living, and life opportunities, than their parents of the Great Leap Forward era.

    This is in stark contrast to the USA, where books like Linda Tirado’s “Hand to Mouth”, chart the inexorable slide of millions of Americans from middle/working class to an underclass trying to keep their heads just above water.

  25. Megan
    July 31st, 2015 at 21:48 | #25

    “Counter-Punch” has a column touching on this type of theme.

    In that case it is about the open secret that is Bernie Sanders’ role as a stalking horse to get the “left” to support H. Clinton, but some choice quotes:

    The left-wing of the Democratic Party has been abused since at least the Jackson campaign, but the decades of abuse by the party establishment only draw them tighter into the grip of the abusers. They are constantly on the hunt for the Good Father and they see him in the strangest incarnations: Dennis Kucinich, Mario Cuomo, Paul Wellstone, Barack Obama. They are so desperate to be accepted, to be loved, to be coddled, that they remain completely blind to the fact that they are about to be tasered back into submission.

    The Democratic Party bought into neoliberalism with the election of Carter (they’ve always been imperialistic) and the sale was completed during Clinton time. Since then there’s been no revolution or even minor rebellion inside the party. Even Bernie, the putative socialist, speaks fondly of the booming Clinton economy. How can this party be saved? Why should it?

    Yet, none of these insurgencies, dating back to McCarthy’s 1968 campaign, have ever moved the party even one micron to the left. Instead the DNC has lurched ever rightward, one election after the next. If nothing else, the Obama experience has demonstrated that the potency of the change agent dissolves almost instantly when dropped into the swells of the System.

    The sole purpose of these insurgencies is to keep the Left locked inside of a party that no longer actively represents any of their interests. It’s a sad and hopeless confinement, a kind of political life without parole. Sure, many of the Left’s most cherished issues, from abortion rights to climate change, minimum wage to single-payer, get put “on the table” as a way to keep the backers of the losing campaign animated enough to vote in the general election. Some of these planks will even get inscribed into the Holy Writ of the Platform, where they will be promptly embalmed and entombed until the next convention. …

    Emphasis added – to bring it directly back on topic.

  26. Megan
    July 31st, 2015 at 21:53 | #26

    “Counter-Punch” has a column touching on this topic (i.e. the ‘platform’ or ‘objectives’ as opposed to reality).

    Yet, none of these insurgencies, dating back to McCarthy’s 1968 campaign, have ever moved the party even one micron to the left. Instead the DNC has lurched ever rightward, one election after the next. If nothing else, the Obama experience has demonstrated that the potency of the change agent dissolves almost instantly when dropped into the swells of the System.

    The sole purpose of these insurgencies is to keep the Left locked inside of a party that no longer actively represents any of their interests. It’s a sad and hopeless confinement, a kind of political life without parole. Sure, many of the Left’s most cherished issues, from abortion rights to climate change, minimum wage to single-payer, get put “on the table” as a way to keep the backers of the losing campaign animated enough to vote in the general election. Some of these planks will even get inscribed into the Holy Writ of the Platform, where they will be promptly embalmed and entombed until the next convention. …

  27. Megan
    July 31st, 2015 at 21:54 | #27

    Mod-test: insurgencies

  28. Megan
  29. Megan
    July 31st, 2015 at 23:34 | #29

    Mod-test:

    The sole purpose of these insurgencies is to keep the Left locked inside of a party that no longer actively represents any of their interests.

  30. jrkrideau
    August 1st, 2015 at 02:40 | #30

    @Newtownian
    Of course that statement might have worked well for the US Republicans when advocating the abolition of slavery. Heck it might have worked for Wilberforce and associates.

    Might have applied when campaigning for votes for women.

    I fail to see the crypto-facist content.

  31. tony lynch
    August 1st, 2015 at 16:11 | #31

    Yeah. It is the mug punters fault. Any other deep thoughts?@Ken_L

  32. August 2nd, 2015 at 13:54 | #32

    Pr Q said:

    So, it’s pretty clear that removing the socialist objective is not a matter of moving away from a dogmatic commitment to public ownership. Rather, it means abandoning any notion that Labor aspires to change society for the better, or that it has any fundamental disagreement with market liberals.

    I broadly agree with Pr Q, in fact to the extent I disagree with him it is from an Old Left perspective, which is undergoing a well-deserved renaissance. Most important is the last term (“exchange”) which broadly covers the area of income distribution which will have to be socialised given that the advance of AI implies that factor payments to both capital and labour will dwindle as robots more or less take over the traditional economy.

    Im writing a book on the economics of AI (“The End of Economics” TM) and one broad policy implication is that the technology-induced collapse of the payments system will require a Henry George-style massive increase in public ownership and resource rent taxation, specifically in the material resource area (real estate, minerals). Material resources will be the last domain of scarcity, it is inherently subject to monopolistic tendencies by oligarchs and robber barons (from Rockefeller to the Russians).

    The state will have to take ownership of land and resources in order to give citizens an equitable flow of dividends which will maintain (macro-economic) circular flow of purchasing power. Otherwise DIY robot factories will cause the mother of all credit crunches.

    The ALP’s socialist objective pre-positions it to take advantage of the ideological sea-change and pursue the resource oligarchs and their finance market hand-maidens. So this is the worst possible time to ditch the socialist objective. No doubt thats why the pressure is on to do so, and of course the pressure is coming from Sydney, home of oligarchs and financiers.

    More generally, my research into the economics of technology suggests that, in social theory, we should go forward to the past. Never mind current theory, our guides should be thinkers born or practising in the 19 thC. Henry George of course, and in economics Marx, Keynes, Malthus. In ethnic theory Darwin of course, plus Durkheim and Weber.

    These were giants of social analysis and their models are of much more validity and utility than the current version of Conventional Wisdom espoused by Very Serious People.

    Bring back the Dead White Males, all is forgiven.

  33. August 2nd, 2015 at 20:43 | #33

    I’m in the ALP. I’m for social ownership and democratic control of the collective product of labour. That’s not the ‘socialist objective’, but it is socialism as it was pursued by Marx, Engels, DeLeon and a few others. Organising the class of labour both politically and industrially is still the way to power.

    You’re right about one thing though. Getting rid of the old ‘socialist objective’ will show the strength of the TINA Blairites in the Party. I’m confident that they’ll be proven wrong through the ineffectiveness of their solutions to contemporary problems of political-economy. Neither history, nor those who make it, will look kindly on these outdated free-marketeers, as the years pass.

  34. Megan
    August 2nd, 2015 at 21:46 | #34

    @Mike Ballard

    Can you imagine any point at which the ALP (perhaps via those TINA Blairites or similar neo-cons etc…) becomes something that you could leave and refuse to support?

    Or is it the case that no matter how heinous their policies and actions, you would always support them?

  35. Ivor
    August 2nd, 2015 at 21:59 | #35

    @Megan

    Ignore this looney.

    The Blairites are ancient history in the UK and, hopefully, their attempted mobilisation leading up to July conference here was their last gasp.

    If Jeremy Corbyn succeeds, then Galloway and many others will return to the UK ship.

  36. paul walter
    August 3rd, 2015 at 12:07 | #36

    Why does the ALP leadership continue to seek to so offend Labor people?

    What would happen if people like Foley ever left the building and saw the light of day. Would they realise the stuff they dream up is so illogical as to create deep offence amongst ALP people.

  37. Ivor
    August 3rd, 2015 at 14:35 | #37

    @paul walter

    There are two aspects – one encompassed in a seemingly trite maxim – “scum always rises to the top”.

    The second is the fact that by paying union memberships for the SDA capitalists have in fact purchased the ALP. The deal the SDA has brokered with major retailers gives them a major controlling bloc in the ALP particularly when united with the peodophilic church.

    They gain a false preponderance when various looney sects interrupt the normal flow of alternative voices, and alternative bases for different leaderships, in the ALP.

  38. paul walter
    August 3rd, 2015 at 17:10 | #38

    @Ivor
    Yes, Ivor.

    God help us, what a betrayal. Although, given the mechanics of neolib globalisation, it is no surprise to find parties like the ALP hollowed out shopfronts, rather than implements for change.

    It’s a very ultraist era demonstrating that more primitive aspects of human nature assert themselves aganst efforts toward logic, outward and open mindedness. If civilisation is reduced to feudalism, at least the privileged ones the top are still secure, aren’t they?

  39. Megan
    August 3rd, 2015 at 21:21 | #39

    As a citizen of this country horrified at where it is sliding (due to the ever increasing fascist shift of the political class – the ALP/LNP duopoly and the establishment media), I try to work out why it is so and how it can be stopped.

    I have often targeted the ALP half of the duopoly for particular criticism about that. The reason is simply that they were, in recent history, further away from that direction than the establishment media and the LNP half of the duopoly.

    Imagine you were against the annual clubbing to death of baby seals. According to ALP “true-believer” thinking, the only thing to do to stop that is to join in the annual baby seal clubbing.

    The “Wixxyleaks” site has a piece which starts out criticizing the ALP for adopting refugee boat turnback policy.

    Then it performs, what I consider to be Olympian, moral and logical contortions to explain whose fault this is and how to fix it:

    However what is even more infuriating to me is those who choose to criticise this policy shift whilst supporting The Greens.

    The audacity of some former members of the Labor Party who were from the left to criticise the party for being under the influence of the right is just mind-blowing. Perhaps if you’d had the courage of conviction and guts to stay around you could have made a difference. Instead you found it easier to run to a fringe party and point the finger rather than fight. If you had really given half a toss you would have stayed and fought with us, and maybe together we could have made a real difference.

    The arrogance of a party claiming to be on the side of humanity by taking a stance of non-negotiation is breathtaking.

    Like it or not if you are serious about helping asylum seekers then you need to join the Labor Party and push to change the policy position.

    With both major parties now embracing an immoral policy position, for all of their posturing and rhetoric the Greens with their refusal to negotiate have rendered themselves utterly inconsequential.

    It’s too easy to point the finger at Labor, what takes more guts is to jump in, get involved and make a real difference.

    Got that? It’s those who have left or refuse to join the baby seal clubbing who are responsible for the deaths of the baby seals.

  40. August 3rd, 2015 at 21:44 | #40

    @Megan
    I support my class interests, Megan. Many of Labor’s policies are in my class interests. Virtually non of the LNP are made with my class interests in mind. The fellow workers in my branch might not be up to your standards, but I find them a fine bunch to associate with and press for more control and ownership over the collective product of labour aka the GDP.

  41. Megan
    August 3rd, 2015 at 21:51 | #41

    @Mike Ballard

    It’s not a matter of anyone coming up to my standards or me coming up to anyone else’s standards.

    What are the ALP policies that are in your class interests?

  42. Ivor
    August 3rd, 2015 at 22:10 | #42

    @Megan

    the only thing to do to stop that is to join in the annual baby seal clubbing.

    This is brain-dead stupidity.

  43. Ikonoclast
    August 3rd, 2015 at 22:48 | #43

    While supporting class interests is understandable, the moral position is to support humanitarian interests and basic human rights. “My class or my party right or wrong” is equally as bad as ” my country right or wrong”.

    There is such a thing as the “Labor Aristocracy”. Most Australians, including me, have belonged to it all our working lives.

    “In Marxist theory, those workers (proletarians) in developed countries who benefit from the superprofits extracted from the impoverished workers of developing countries form an “aristocracy of labor.” – Wikipedia.

    If we can’t morally rise above being “Labor Aristocracy” by showing solidarity with and giving assistance to the impoverished and downtrodden people like refugees and aboriginals (to name two groups being continually oppressed still every day) then we are morally no better than the worst and most exploitative capitalist oligarch.

    The ALP has very much adopted the position and ideology of Labor Aristocracy and of being pro-capitalist in an accomodationist manner almost since its inception. The further we progressed into imperialism, the more obvious this position became among party and supporters.

    Ironically, the world of late stage capitalism is moving to a new phase; the phase of global labor arbitrage. More and more, developed world workers will be competing with developing world workers. Take a good look at the refugees and the impoverished wage-slaves of the third world for as workers of Australia that is where you are headed.

  44. Megan
    August 3rd, 2015 at 23:20 | #44

    @Ivor

    if you are serious about helping asylum seekers then you need to join the Labor Party

    This is brain-dead stupidity.

  45. Ivor
    August 4th, 2015 at 00:51 | #45

    @Megan

    There are only three options – 1) grow up and join the ALP, 2) try the Greens or 3) form your own political party.

    You cannot do any of this – so you are just a slanderous empty headed looney.

  46. Megan
    August 4th, 2015 at 00:59 | #46

    @Ivor

    Your Emperor has no clothes.

    It’s too late for you to pretend his outfit is really nice. He’s naked. Everybody but die-hard zombie rusted on true believers realise this fact.

    Don’t get cranky at people who point it out. Wake up to yourself.

  47. Megan
    August 4th, 2015 at 01:12 | #47

    Since the ALP and LNP share the same inhumane and cruel refugee policy (mandatory, indefinite detention in offshore privately run for-profit-paid-for-by-taxpayers concentration camps without decent health care or any public scrutiny), why not also advocate that people join the LNP?

    It makes as much sense as telling people that if they care about refugees they should join the ALP.

  48. paul walter
    August 4th, 2015 at 06:18 | #48

    Megan, I understand your point re what should be normative, but you are missing something.

    History is not static and each day throws up its own set of new circumstances to confound and baffle people. People movement policy is opportunist divide and conquer stuff whereby fears and insecurities of one section of the masses are played off against the needs of another by the bosses. People see what happens in places like Greece and dread neolib “reform” when it comes to a theatre near you.

    It’s allright for bystanders to call for the troops to metaphorically fly out of the trenches into certain machine gun fire, but that really defies common sense and human nature.

    Fifteen or twenty years ago working people in this county first began to realise that one way the oligarchy was going to implement neoliberalism was through so called offshoring on one hand, leading to high unemployment, whilst at the same time importing cheap labor to further undermine and play off unions and workers here. Insecurity was than ramped up by welfare crackdowns.

    The threat wasn’t imaginary, just mis-identified. The real mechanisms for the destruction of the unions and that little protection Australian civil society had left, came from IR legislation and 457 visas, reinforced by FTA conditions, although these “reforms”came in the wake of the divisive people movement debate that crippled the old custodians of working class Australia, the ALP

    Thing is, many folk thought Labor wasn’t tough enough, given that people movement policy is likely a divisive ploy. But they didnt turn to the Greens, who are no longer Quigginite, but small l sentimentalist liberal, but people like Howard who promised that the place wouldn’t be swamped by outsiders who could be then employed against the rest.

    I’d argue that what has been misidentified as “racism”is actually a sense of alert experienced by Australlians fearful of the Palestinianisation of working class Australia by globalising neoliberalism.

    Am sure Prof Quiggin, if given a moment to think about economics as a means for reducing world poverty, would suggest a number of ways the modern world could have improved the lot of the Third World far more efficiently than the recue of a few thousand refugees.

    Were people movements to be part of a sucessful policy mix, the system first had to 1 guarantee the economy and its bases human and ecological. 2 Also had the Oligarchy some how about more strategic and people-inclusive policies globally, which of coure is contrary to the way capitalism (or not when it comes to humanity).

  49. Ikonoclast
    August 4th, 2015 at 07:44 | #49

    It’s a vexed debate for sure. Ivor tells Megan she has three options, namely; “1) grow up and join the ALP, 2) try the Greens or 3) form your own political party.”

    It seems to be implied that supporting the ALP is the only “grown up” thing to do. This is wrong for a start. Supporting a party with a better refugee policy is possible and more grown up as it is less denialist about what is going on. It also seems to be implied that entering party politics is the only thing to do. Again that is incorrect. Direct action (in the proper sense of the term) is possible.

    Direct charity and assistance are also possible. None of these actions is a perfect or surefire way for one person to solve a problem of the globe but then neither is voting for or joining a party that supports having concentration camps. Let’s call them what they are. Imagine if we were sending Jewish refugees to Manus Island or Nauru. How would that go down do you think? What parallels would people around the world begin to draw?

    Megan’s call for us to identify the moral norm(s) we should be meeting is the necessary start. Of course, meeting the moral norm is difficult in a complex world and when Australian workers are being attacked by neoliberalism. I made the point about late stage capitalism using labour arbitrage against Australian workers and paul walter made the same point. Underneath the humanitarian problems is the problem with global capitalism which we (and all peoples of the globe) have not yet addressed. Like paul walter I also made the point about “divide and conquer” politics by pointing out that the people we are divided against (refugees and aboriginals) show us what our real fate will be when neoliberalism in turn, turns on us.

    “Global labor arbitrage is an economic phenomenon where, as a result of the removal of or disintegration of barriers to international trade, jobs move to nations where labor and the cost of doing business (such as environmental regulations) is inexpensive and/or impoverished labor moves to nations with higher paying jobs.” – Wikipedia.

  50. Ivor
    August 4th, 2015 at 09:52 | #50

    @Megan

    No-one gets cranky at normal political debate.

    You however are a slanderous foul mouthed looney who serves up nothing but vomit.

    Australians have every right to be cranky at the sectarian antics of people like you.

    As if anyone wants to talk about baby seals or joining the LNP. What base stupidity.

    So don’t be a cry-baby.

  51. Ivor
    August 4th, 2015 at 10:08 | #51

    @Ikonoclast

    You can read my text as:

    “grow up and 1) join the ALP, 2) try the Greens or 3) form your own political party.”

    That is reasonable.

    Your implication is unreasonable.

  52. Ivor
    August 4th, 2015 at 11:51 | #52

    @Ikonoclast

    Just to make sure this thread stays on track it is worth noting that under a properly constructed socialism there would be no need to seek charity.

    However the living standard we have today was not produced by our own capitalism, but by exploiting the third world – essentially giving them development aid but charging interest and allowing companies like Coca-Cola and NIKE to run riot. Similarly Australian exports were sold into third world countries at world market prices – not at PPP prices to take into account the economic strength of each undeveloped nation. As the earnings of foreign multinationals flowed back to the West – their economies artificially prospered.

    Like greenhouse gas emissions and debt ratios, the answer to the so-called refugee problem is an impossible one under capitalism.

    It requires nothing less than protected industrial development in the Third World under a regime of tariffs. This is the only way a global standard of living can emerge. Then there will be no economic refugees, and legitimate refugees from civil wars, political oppression and natural disasters will be easy to accommodate.

  53. Ikonoclast
    August 4th, 2015 at 12:42 | #53

    @Ivor

    But you actually wrote:

    “There are only three options – 1) grow up and join the ALP, 2) try the Greens or 3) form your own political party.”

    Technically you attached being “grown up” only with joining the ALP. Equally, technically and legalistically one cannot say you explicitly excluded being grown up from the other options. However, your original construction is revealing from a Freudian slip point of view. It possibly reveals what you really think, namely that joining the ALP is the only “grown-up” thing to do.

    I don’ think your personal abuse of Megan at number 50 is fair, reasonable or even follows the guidelines for this blog.

    With regard to your post 52 we are in broad agreement. Genuine socialism would much reduce the need for charity. Whether it would reduce it to zero I doubt but it would be a vast improvement on the current situation.

    Where you say, “the living standard we have today was not produced by our own capitalism, but by exploiting the third world” I agree essentially but I would word the proposition more carefully as;

    “The living standard we (Westerners) enjoy domestically was not entirely produced by capitalism operating domestically, but by seriously exploiting the third world.”

    The way global capitalism operates now it does not need assistance to develop the third world, it does it now by moving manufacture there to take advantage of cheap wages (labor arbitrage). However, third world people do need assistance (or need to take matters into their own hands) to implement worker and environment protections. Of course, this can only really happen under conditions of democratic s*o*c*i*a*l*i*s*m. It won’t happen under capitalism.

  54. Ivor
    August 4th, 2015 at 15:07 | #54

    @Ikonoclast

    Please stop pursuing matters when they have been clarified.

    Megan is not part of “fair” and is not associated with “reasonable”.

    You own tagging of the ALP as crypto-Fascist also was not fair or reasonable.

  55. August 5th, 2015 at 03:44 | #55

    @Megan
    Continued government funding of public health, education and welfare; closing the tax loopholes which allow 34% of the multinationals making in profits in Australia to avoid paying company tax; support for unions right to organise…things like that are in my class interests.

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