Where are the Greens going?

I haven’t had time to do a proper economic analysis of Labor’s proposals on dividend imputation credits. But you don’t need an economic analysis to see that making an overt appeal to conservative voters on the issue, as Richard di Natale has just done, is a very bad move if the Greens party wants to present itself as a left alternative to Labor.

Perhaps this is poor judgement in the heat of a by-election campaign, the significance of which seems to me to be greatly over-rated by all.

Alternatively, perhaps it indicates that di Natale is taking the Greens in a different direction. The obvious choices are

(i) A soft liberal centrist party in the mould of the Australian Democrats under Don Chipp
(ii) A serious push to displace Labor as the main alternative to the LNP

I don’t think there’s a real constituency for (i) and, to the extent that there is, it’s very different from the existing Greens support base.

I also don’t think (ii) has any chance of success. But, if it does, it will involve a lot of the kind of grubby compromises that are inevitably entailed in an attempt to put together an electoral majority. Labor’s shuffles on Adani and refugees are obvious examples, which have driven a lot of people to support the Greens. But now it looks as if the boot may be on the other foot.

A lower profile, but similar, example came up with the Senate inquiry into SA Tafe, which was a stunt by education minister Simon Birmingham intended to embarrass Labor ahead of today’s state election. It backfired both procedurally (because the Labor majority on the committee refused to take its ostensible purpose seriously) and in policy terms, since the submissions (including mine) focused on the disastrous state of vocational education in Australia generally. Despite this, the Greens joined the LNP in a minority report which tried to defend the whole sorry process.

84 thoughts on “Where are the Greens going?

  1. @Ikonoclast

    It’s a reasonable idea but I doubt in this case it would have made a difference. The disaffected minority were not going to accept any result that didn’t suit them.

    In the case of the 2018 ballot for the preselection there was no other candidate and the 19 who said ‘seek other candidate’ clearly had no ody specific in mind. Sortition coulldn’t fix that.

    In almost every seat in the country, there is one obvious candidate but occasionally either nobody wants to do it, or none of those who might are qualified (see s44 on this — many of us are public servants) but otherwise it’s all very amicable, in part because you’re certain you won’t win and you are doing the party branch a favour by waving the flag.

    Batman was an exception because there was a good chance the candidate would win — especially if it was Alex because everyone knew her or at least of her — she’d campaigned there for nearly two decades — most of the time when there really was no prospect of winning.

    That earns you respect within the branch and beyond. Most people you meet in The Greens are decent folk, largely because there is no reason to be a Green except to stand up for principle, but sadly, as this episode shows, we are not entirely free of folk who are self-seeking and vindictive. Thst is one of the problems of success I suppose. If you become relevant, you are going to attract more of the wrong kind of people. We are going to have to think harder on how we manage to protect our integrity as we grow.

  2. @derrida derider Couple or more of points;

    it was generally understood that if the retiree put enough away they could live off their ‘nest egg’ and not be a burden on the govt (that was the BIG argument for super)

    it was also understood that when the people retire their pension was not regarded as income and was therefore tax free,

    company tax is tax prepaid on behalf of its shareholders. The principle behind imputation was to adjust any tax owed by the taxpayer to the correct amount.

    If the shareholder is a superfund in accumulation mode there is a tax on contributions but not on earnings so there is no need to prepay tax.

    If the shareholder is a superfund in pension mode there is not tax on earnings so there is no need to prepay tax.

    Similarly if the member of a superfund is retired and on a pension their is no tax obligation.

    The system became distorted when, for a time, there was no limit on the size of non concessional contribution to SMSFs. Massive transfers were made from trust to SMSFs.

  3. @Fran Barlow

    I take your points. The pragmatic reality is that Greens and Socialists will never gain much traction until capitalism commences the process of extensive collapse which ineluctably follows from its unsustainable nature. A wave cannot be caught until it has nearly crested.

    The point is to be ready for the wave front of the collapse. Being ready means having a strategic plan ready. The current important work is the theoretical work necessary to develop a strategic plan to survive and manage the collapse in a green and socialist manner.

    I think left intellectuals can give themselves the permission to be theoretical rather than involved in praxis at this point. It is still the time to think and develop plans. It is not yet the time to act.

    The dynamics of appeals to the masses for action will change greatly as the collapse manifests. The current situation in the West is of majority incredulity or complacency (about the criticality of the sustainability issue) plus a few who intellectually understand it but still do not viscerally feel any of its effects. The eventual situation will be one where the masses viscerally feel the pain and mortally dangerous nature of the collapse crisis every day. There’s a world of difference between these two modes of existence. Cries for change and willingness to act will be quite transformed at that point.

  4. @Ikonoclast

    You need to read some Marx. He said that capitalism would collapse because the profit rate would fall. Well, the profit rate ain’t falling. If anything the tendency is for the profit rate to go up. It certainly has been for 30 years.

    Dream on, Iko. Capitalism is not going anywhere, not in your or my lifetime, or for a long time after that. Feudalism lasted 700 years. Capitalism in comparison is in the prime of life.

  5. @Smith
    Demographics say that with a rapidly declining pool of consumers (those aged 25 to 55) and a rapidly increasing pool of dependents (the aged over 65) on a global scale, Capitalism has a problem……..

  6. @Smith

    Crisis theory is a complicated arena. Crude Marxism takes TRPF (Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall) as a universal “Law” applicable at all stages of capitalism and in all geographic locales. Marx was anything but a crude thinker. His paragraphs commonly called “The Fragment on Machines” from The Grundrisse can be read as a prediction that the labor theory of value itself would eventually be obsoleted by automation. Thus, whilst the Labour Theory of Value was substantially valid (a reasonable approximation) for the era of crude industrial capitalism, it would cease to be so in an era of complete automation. However, even at the present time, we are a long way from a global economy of complete automation so TRPF and its counter-tendencies still apply to some considerable extent. See “Internal contradictions of capital accumulation” on Wikipedia.

    What tends to be forgotten by some is that capitalism has external contradictions as well as internal contradictions. Marx and Engels did not forget these contradictions and referred to the “metabolic rift” between man and nature. These external contradictions can be summarised now by the phrase “environmental unsustainability”. Capitalism could conceivably solve its internal contradictions by further progress to completely automated production. Human labour would only be minimally necessary for production. Human intellectual labour, at the highest end of scientific and technical research, would likely remain necessary for further scientific and technical progress. Voluntary human labor would go into social, cultural, recreational, craft and artistic endeavours. This would be a vision of a kind of socialist utopia IF ownership of automatic production and its products was evenly distributed.

    However, capitalism’s external contradictions with the environment are now seriously manifesting themselves well before progress to the above hypothetical socialist utopia could be realised. We are in the situation where the internal and external contradictions and limitations of capitalism will play out via complex interactions. Smooth progress to a socialist utopia or to a capitalist utopia, if either could be possible, can now be seen to be impossible to achieve in practice from this point. It was still possible, in theory, at some point in the past before excessive damage had been done to the environment and before excessive investment in the wrong technologies had been made. Now, it is not possible except perhaps after a quasi-managed hard-landing of the crash of capitalism (the crash being inevitable now) followed by a long period of socialist reconstruction at a much lower level of global population and with much constrained resources and technological options.

  7. @Ikonoclast

    You sound just like one of those fire and brimstone eternal damnation preachers. Your theology is just like their’s, with its promise of punishment for sins, except you are promising Hell on Earth. How times change. The old comms used to preach Heaven on Earth. That, for all its illusions, was a doctrine of hope.

    You need to lighten up. She’ll be right, mate.

  8. Ikonoclast gets it. there is whole dumpster load of stuff provided from one contributor that is way too close to McCarthyism to raise anything contempt from this observer.

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