It has been twenty years since the Wharf Dispute between Patrick Stevedores and the Coalition Government on one side and the Maritime Union of Australia, the Trade Unions and supporters on the other. This was the last set piece national confrontation between Capital and Labour over a specific industrial dispute to happen in Australia. In this episode Dave (@withsobersenses) chats with Nick Southall about the Maritime Defence Committee. The latter was formed by comrades outside of the industry to provide meaningful support for the struggle. What happened during the dispute and are there implications for class struggle today?
In this episode Dave (@withsobersenses) grabs a recorder and heads to the Labour Day rally. He interviews friends and comrades about the rally, what they think the impact of #ChangeTheRules has been, and if there is any opportunity to broaden and open up struggle? Due to a moments hestitation he didn’t try to interview Sally McManus as she walked past.
Bill Shorten, the leader of the ALP opposition, strode the stages of the National Press Club and delivered a speech that The Australian described as ‘Corybn-like’ and a ‘populist pitch to low-income earners, unionists and left-wing voters’ (Brown, Chambers, and Additional reporting: Sarah Jane-Tasker 2018). But before we break out the red flags and rally around Comrade Bill we should pause and stop: for the content of Shorten’s speech was actually terrible, a continuation of the ALP tradition of class appeasement and compromise and wrapped in mystifications about the nature of capitalism, wages and class. It was the exact opposite of the approach that we need.
Those of us who want to overcome capitalism aren’t in competition with the ALP. The ALP is just another faction for capital in the political apparatus: it is one of our enemies. Our project and theirs are radically different. However, the ALP has a long history of sowing mystifications – that is reinforcing the ideology that strengthens capitalism. This is part of its historic role of acting to integrate the working class within capitalism.[i] These mystifications have two key claims:
That the ALP and elections can address the major sources of misery for the majority of people
That the causes of our misery are from errors or problems that can be solved within the boundaries of the capitalist mode of production.
Rather than being swept up in the appearance of some kind of radicalism or broadly pro-worker rhetoric it is necessary to be razor-sharp and expose all that is wrong with the approach of the ALP. As Humphrey McQueen has written the ALP is ‘fog-bound within capitalism’ (1977, 345). The point of critiquing the ideas of the ALP is not to change their minds but rather to help dispel the fog of illusions that threaten to cloud ours.
Welcome to 2018! In this episode Jon (@JonPiccini) and Dave (@withsobersenses) look into the swirling mists of the crystal ball of class struggle and try to work out what’s going on in 2018 and what happened in 2017. It’s a wide ranging chat about race, class, Invasion Day, strikes that didn’t happen and plebiscites. Will the experiments in radical social democracy continue to gain traction? What’s #changetherules all about? What plans do thinkers for capital have if any at all? Is capital accumulation chugging along nicely or is a debt fuelled financial crisis about to explode? What about bananacoin? All this and more!
Workers of the world unite, right? Okay, but how? This is a special episode where Shane Reside, an organiser with the International Transport Workers Federation, interviews Jamie K McCallum (@jamiekmccallum) author of Global Unions, Local Power: The New Spirit of Transnational Labor Organizing about a new kind of labour internationalism: the global union federation. What are they? Where did they come from? Are they any good? Do they challenge the inequalities between workers in the North and South or recreate them? How useful are the Global Framework Agreements that they use? Focusing on the history and experience of UNI Global Union Shane and Jamie talk about all this and more. There are no easy answers here. Whether you think the union makes us strong (you know who you are) or that unions are forces of recuperation (as do you) this is a must-listen-to conversation about the real experience of global labour institutions.
In this episode of Living the Dream Dave (@withsobersenses) chats with Godfrey Moase (@gemoase) the General Branch Assistant Secretary of the National Union of Workers. Godfrey had a number of criticisms of our last show . We talk about these and Godfrey also addresses the broader strategic and tactical possibilities for anticapitalist struggle and how they relate to trade unions.
In this episode Jon (@jonpiccini) and Dave (@withsobersenses) talk about the recent cuts to penalty rates by the Fair Work Commission . We dismiss the idea that this attack is actual just a product of ‘the Right’; rather it is a continuation of the 100+ year tradition of arbitration supported by the ALP and the mainstream of the ACTU in the context of the real contradictions of capital accumulation. We discuss the movement against penalty rate cut as well as the Big Steps walk off of early childcare educators and the challenges the class faces to recomposing our power and secure emancipation.