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Issue #1546      9 May 2012

Editorial

Capitalism is on the nose

The media campaign against the federal government is hitting fever pitch. An unrelenting barrage of US-style hate politics is being directed towards Julia Gillard and most pundits are predicting a wipeout for Labor at the next federal election. That’s precisely what media corporations hiring the commentators want – an Abbott government with untrammelled power to chart an even more reactionary course than the ALP.

Workers are right to be angry with Labor. In 2007 they voted for change – an end to WorkChoices, action on climate change, no more women and children behind razor wire in immigration detention centres. A lack of meaningful action on these and other priorities left voters frustrated. The coup against Rudd, clearly carried out to placate the big mining corporations unwilling to pay even a token super profits tax, showed just how unprincipled the ALP’s parliamentary leadership really is.

Labor was returned – but not in its own right – at the 2010 federal election. A precarious minority government was cobbled together. The slender margin was always going to be a temptation for the Coalition parties and the big business forces that play “both” sides of parliament to their advantage. Abbott would squeeze the most out of every blunder on the part of the Gillard government.

And, unfortunately, the Opposition leader has been given lots to work with. The ongoing Craig Thompson affair is a disaster for Labor even while he sits on the cross-benches. The image of the trade union movement has taken a massive hit, also. The fall from grace of tactically appointed Speaker of the House, Peter Slipper has cemented a “scandal-ridden” reputation for the Gillard government.

Unfortunately, the most likely result of these developments and the hysteria being whipped up around the woefully inadequate revised mining super profits tax and the do-nothing carbon tax is that the Coalition will romp home at the next federal election. The “revolving door” of the two-party parliamentary system will be given one more turn as a result of workers’ determination to “punish” Labor.

The whiff of scandal and corruption surrounding the current government won’t be “solved” by giving an Abbott Coalition licence to restore widespread individual workplace contracts, do less than nothing about the unfolding climate emergency and to hasten the privatisation of the last remaining areas of government responsibility in areas like health and education. The Liberal and National parties are not without their own long record of corruption.

Too many lessons from history have been left unlearned. The problem is not just the leadership of the Tweedledum-Tweedledee major parties at any given stage. It is deeper than that. It is the cynical control of the political process by the capitalist ruling class. The same cynicism and manipulation can be seen in virtually every aspect of society. Profits surge but the cost of vital services continues to go up. Interest rate cuts are not passed on to families struggling to keep a roof over their head. Transnational car manufacturers get huge taxpayer handouts – ostensibly to keep jobs in Australia – but sack their workers, anyway.

People are incensed but do not know what to do about it. A viable alternative does not appear to be available so an attitude of voting for the “lesser of two evils” at election time sets in. Apathy is not a neutral force; it actively assists the capitalist ruling class to keep control of Australia’s very limited democratic institutions.

A new political force uniting left and progressive parties and other organisations with a clear pro-people agenda is needed urgently. The Communist Party is convinced of the centrality of this task and is working hard towards that end. But the message is not getting out far enough and the process is way too slow. The membership and resources of the Party need to be built substantially to ensure the success of a coherent, genuine alternative to the disastrous political course the country is currently headed down.

The best thing angry workers can do about the present very parlous state of the economy and the political scene is not to hurl cheap insults about the Prime Minister or the ALP. The most constructive thing a worker could do to build the political alternative and, ultimately, a more just society is to join the Communist Party.

Next article – General Secretary on the road to recovery

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