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Issue #1748      September 14, 2016

Editorial

On social democratic governments

Social democratic parties such as the Australian Labor Party and the British Labour Party have always been parties of compromise between the interests of the working people and the interests of the capitalist class. When the chips are down it is the interests of the employers that predominate.

In Australia, Labor Party leaders have for a long time now preached the idea that workers and employers have common interests. It was pushed hard by former Labour Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. This was the basic idea underpinning the Accord between the ACTU and ALP adopted in 1983.

But it is a false theory and life proves it to be false every day. Employers always want to reduce wages and working conditions while workers want to achieve improvements. Employers incessantly push to increase the exploitation of labour. This increased exploitation is behind the royal commission into trade unions. Employers want to corner for themselves the benefits from increased productivity arising out of technological change while the working people expect to share in the benefits.

It is a one-sided compromise in which capital holds the dominant position in the relationship. It is by these false claims of “partnership” and “common interests” – at the moment also pushed by the current Coalition government – that working people are expected to accept their subjugation and exploitation by capital.

It is not surprising that the right-wing leaders of the Labor Party distance themselves from the working people and their trade unions.

It is their failure to take a decisive stand against attacks on workers’ living standards, wages and conditions of work that is behind the steady erosion of support for the Labor Party.

But then this is where the ideas of Social Democrats inevitably lead. This has been confirmed time and again both in Australia and in other countries that have had influential social democratic parties. None of these governments have led the working people and the trade unions to fundamental change in the interests of the worker. They all have - particularly in times of economic crisis - subjected the working class to the interests of capital. That is the real role of social democracy.

The Olympic spirit

The original Olympics were held in Greece from 776 BC to 394 AD, a period of more than 1,100 years and were a contest among the young men and women of Greece in sport, poetry and music and are credited with bringing conflicts to an end during the period of the Games. For 1,500 years, no Olympic Games were held. They were revived only in 1896 but far from stopping wars, the Games were suspended during WW1 and WW2.

Irrespective of the good intentions of the overwhelming majority of the world’s people and the athletes who come to contest their skills, the modern Olympics have become largely captured by big corporations and by governments that use the Games to promote nationalistic ideas. The Australian government at the time of the Sydney Games opportunistically used the occasion to bring in powers to bring troops onto the streets of Australian cities.

The first fully privatised Games were those held in the US city of Atlanta which set up a private Olympic Committee.

The modern Olympics have been captured by the Western imperialist powers that historically have used their economic power to ensure that the Games are held in countries acceptable to them.

Sooner or later the Games will be rescued from the corporations and the nationalism that has been so assiduously promoted. When that is achieved it will be possible to hold the Olympic Games in the spirit of the Greek Olympiads of ancient times.

The Olympic Oath reads: “I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honour of our teams.”

Next article – Westconnex – Quagmire of scandals and bitter public opposition

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