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Labor The Greens

LABOR Taken at face value, Labor is in a lot of trouble It was difficult to know how to approach Paul Howes’ Confessions Of A Faceless Man, his public “diary” of the 2010 election campaign. Was it to be a tell-all insider’s account delivering anecdotes that journalistic efforts would miss? Was it to be a re-evaluation of the problems the first-term federal government got itself into, a thoughtful introspection on how the ALP went from astronomical to disastrous poll ratings in very short order? LABOR Taken at face value, Labor is in a lot of trouble
In the last decade there has been a dramatic reconfiguration on the Left of Australian politics. The ALP’s support has dropped to levels not witnessed since the dark years of the Great Depression. Labor has also experienced an excruciating crisis of identity in full public view. In the meantime, the Australian Greens have grown from strength to strength, culminating in winning the balance of power in a hung Parliament in 2010. The party is currently enjoying its peak — so far — of popularity and influence, and this has led The Monthly to commission a lengthy feature by Sally Neighbour, focusing almost exclusively on tensions between Bob Brown and his supporters in NSW on the one hand, and the rest of the NSW Greens on the other. The Greens at the crossroads: ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ matter more than you’d think - Left FlankLeft Flank The Greens at the crossroads: ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ matter more than you’d think - Left FlankLeft Flank
Greens leader has been clashing with the government over the Tasmanian forestry deal Picture: Ray Strange Source: The Australian THE bonds between the government and the Greens are strained by complexities. Some involve the relationship between the two. Greens' big year may sour Greens' big year may sour
Left Flank . org I’ve just had a contribution to an ongoing debate on Marxism and “privilege theory” published at the US Socialist Worker website. I’m putting it up here at Left Flank if people want to comment directly. The Socialist Worker page usefully links to the key posts in the debate. I’VE FOLLOWED with interest the debate on […] Left Flank . org
Left Flank @ Overland Magazine Iraq and the Australian antiwar movement But in November 1999, a watershed moment occurred in the heart of world capitalism – on the streets of Seattle, in the United States – when Teamster unionists, environmentalists dressed as Turtles and many others joined forces to dispute that there was no alternative. Their target was the World Trade Organisation meeting, which was negotiating a new round of free trade agreements, and their blockades of the venue and mass rallies shut it down. Continue reading 'Iraq and the Australian antiwar movement' 2012: The year that politics disoriented the Left Left Flank @ Overland Magazine
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the Quiggin Debate: Marxism without revolution

Marxism without revolution: 1 Class Marxism without revolution: 1 Class I’ve mentioned Erik Olin Wright’s Envisaging Real Utopias a couple of times, and I’ve also been reading David Harvey’s Enigma of Capital and Jerry Cohen’s if You’re an Egalitarian How Come you’re so Rich. In different ways, all these books raise the question: what becomes of Marxism if you abandon belief in the likelihood or desirability of revolution[1]? To give the shorter JQ upfront, there are lots of valuable insights, but there’s a high risk of political paralysis. I plan alliteratively, to organise my points under three headings: Class, Capital and Crisis, and in this post I’ll talk about class The analysis of economics and history in terms of class struggle is the central distinguishing feature of Marxism, and remains essential to any proper understanding.
I’m writing series of posts examining the question – what is left of Marxism, as a way to understand the world, and as a way to change it, once it is accepted that capitalism is not going to be overthrown by a working class revolution. Last time I talked about class. This post is about crisis. As before, the shorter JQ is “there are lots of valuable insights, but there’s a high risk of political paralysis.” Marxism without revolution: 2 Crisis Marxism without revolution: 2 Crisis
I’ve been writing series of posts examining the question – what is left of Marxism, as a way to understand the world, and as a way to change it, once it is accepted that capitalism is not going to be overthrown by a working class revolution. The first was about class and the second about crisis. Now for the final instalment: capital. By the way, the first post got translated into Spanish, here. Marxism without revolution: 3 Capital Marxism without revolution: 3 Capital
response to Quiggin, ‘Marxism without revolution’ part 1 response to Quiggin, ‘Marxism without revolution’ part 1 Greek workers march on Finance Ministry, finding common cause against austerity Thanks to @liz_beths for her helpful comments and suggestions. The economist John Quiggin — whose valuable book Zombie Economics I reviewed last October — has just completed a three part series on “Marxism without revolution” at his blog.
John Quiggin recently ran a series on “Marxism without revolution”, with posts covering Marx’s ideas on class, crisis and capital. I began a response here. In this post I look at his claims about Marx’s theory of crisis and his approach to Left strategy. John’s attack on Marx’s crisis theory, specifically the “law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall”, is different to his criticisms of Marx’s “value theory”. Firstly, he claims that Marx says falling profit rates make working class revolution inevitable rather than just possible and necessary. Marx did argue there were strong “laws” of capitalist development which did inevitably lead to crisis and resistance, but it is quite another thing to suggest he really thought that the outcome (socialism) was assured. response to Quiggin, ‘Marxism without revolution’ part 2 response to Quiggin, ‘Marxism without revolution’ part 2
2012 end of year reflections

For the last post of 2012 we were asked to reflect on politics over the last year. In thinking on this for the last week I’ve drafted about ten first paragraphs. The writer’s block arises not from nothing to say, but from a place that wonders how many ways there are to describe how awful the Gillard government is. How many ways there are to verbalise that the political crisis of the Australian elites is playing out in increasingly cruel ways: from the demonising of asylum seekers and placing them in harms way to the smearing of Indigenous communities and the implementation of policies that stigmatise. From cutting single parents benefits to forcing people living with disabilities onto Newstart, to the rollout of the Basics Card, to the poor who are supposedly incapable of managing their government benefits in Bankstown. All these are policies roundly condemned by non-government bodies and many international welfare agencies. 2012: A lesson in how to blame the victim
2012: The year that politics disoriented the Left The political prediction business is not one you should engage in unless you’re either willing to repeatedly admit erroneous forecasts (one of Ben Eltham’s most endearing qualities) or to march on obliviously ignoring them (most of the rest of the commentariat). It’s even worse for us Marxists, as we’re notorious for having accurately foretold five out of the last two recessions. The problem is that history unfolds dialectically in the real world, and not simply through a logical derivation from some initial starting point. Anyway, I had a go at forecasting in mid-2011, and when recently prompted to return to this by Colin Barker I was surprised at how well my scribblings had stood the test of time.
Prank calls, the media and the politics of class humiliation A family picture of Jacintha Saldanha Of course, as Austereo CEO Rhys Holleran told reporters, nobody could have ‘reasonably foreseen’ that a prank telephone call made by two Australian radio presenters would set off a chain of events that included the apparent suicide of a nurse – Jacintha Saldanha, a mother of two teenaged children – on the other side of the world. If there is one thing you learn early in psychiatric training, it’s that we have few (if any) good predictors of an individual’s risk of killing themselves.
AUSTERITY Series

1 Explaining the age of austerity: Beyond the conjunctural, the organic crisis re-emerges - Left FlankLeft Flank How did it come to this? Just two years ago everything seemed so different: The GFC was crashing across the planet, provoking the largest internationally coordinated program of state intervention in human history. Prime Ministers were writing quasi-erudite essays damning “market fundamentalism” while disinterring Keynesianism and social democracy. Progressive thinkers spoke hopefully of Green New Deals and the return of the welfare state after a long “retreat”.
Austerity (noun):1. Enforced or extreme economy. From the Greek, austēros, meaning “harsh” or “severe”. 2 The age of austerity: Social polarisation, fake partisanship & the Left's strategy - Left FlankLeft Flank
3 Beyond the age of austerity, a new pattern of resistance and revolution emerges - Left FlankLeft Flank
Arab spring Egypt Greece

RIOTS + Revolutions: in the UK
Intended or not, the consequences of riots are not always negative - Left FlankLeft Flank
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Chris Berg’s libertarian dreaming. Or, when ‘liberty’ for the few means tyranny for the many – - Left FlankLeft Flank
Dissecting economic mythologies - Unleashed (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
The US : Stars & swipes