Anti-Shorten: The ALP is still selling bullshit

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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.

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Living The Dream in 2018

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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!

Stuff we talk about includes:

Novara Media – Faultlines: Liz Fekete on Racism, Europe and the New Right

Ben Pennings – Buying Time To Beat Adani

Tony Birch – On Sovereignty

Endnotes – The Holding Pattern

IMF – World Economic Outlook Update, January 2018

IMF – Credit Booms – Is China Different

Humphrey McQueen – 150 years young Marx’s Capital

Uluru Statement from the heart

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Living The Dream in Global Union Federations

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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.

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Living The Dream in the Trade Union Movement

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May Day in Wollongong circa 2000 photo by Sharon Pusell

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.

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You can find some of Godfrey’s writings here:

Other things we mention include:

Music by The Sweatshop Union

(This podcast was recorded as ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie drenched Queensland)

Living The Dream after your #penaltyrates got cut

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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.

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Stuff we mention includes:

Mazel Tov Cocktail podcast

Fair Work Commission 4 yearly review of modern awards – Penalty Rates

Elizabeth Humphrys, ‘Australia Under The Accord (1983-1996)’

A Fiery Defence Of Sally McManus: Thank Civil Disobedience For The Gains Of Today

The problem with ‘Join your union’

In Defense Of The “Apex Gang”

Insights into Low Wage Growth in Australia

Top industrial judge resigns in disgust over ‘biased’ system
Music by Barrett Strong

#WTF2016 ? Living The Dream takes the down bound Trump Train out of here

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In this episode of Living the Dream Jon (@jonpiccini) and Dave (@withsobersenses) talk about the weird as hell political environment of the Age of Trump. Was 2016 the worst year ever? Are we caught in the midst of a rising reactionary wave? And why do the failures of the liberal establishment feel to so many people to be failures of the Left? (And what is the Left? Are we the Left?) What’s with the amateur sociology about voting demographics that is everywhere now? Do we really have to choose between identity politics and Left economic populism? Where can we draw hope from and what about the historical experience of working class anti-racism? All this and more!

Articles/organisations we refer to include:

Behind the News with Doug Henwood

Hard Crackers  From A Small New England Town As Told To Noel Ignatiev

The Weimar Analogy

KING: There’s a huge education level drop-off with the Trump cabinet picks

Tsiolkas – The Second Coming The Politics Of Rage Won’t Let Us Listen To One Another

Many in Milwaukee Neighborhood Didn’t Vote — and Don’t Regret It

It Was My Primal Scream

Revolutionary Hillbilly: An Interview With Hy Thurman of the Young Patriots Organization

Ghassan Hage – Recalling anti-racism

Knives out for Hanson staffer Ashby, accused of profiting off candidates

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The great student swindle: how young people are being ripped off

Music by Sharon Jones and Dap-kings and Joe Pug

And watch this footage of this amazing  meeting between the Black Panthers and the Young Patriots.

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#CUB55 My part in their victory

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180 (or 179 depending who you ask) days after losing their jobs 55 Carlton & United Brewery workers won them back. This struggle – #CUB55 – has been probably the most prominent industrial dispute in Australia of 2016. This struggle has been taken up by elements of the union leadership as a key fight over wages and conditions and the role that labour-hire and contracting plays in holding down both down. It has taken on a national dimension. It drew in a fraction of the class that is involved in a few of the blue-collar unions and the Left (maybe in the 10,000s?).  More generally the shafting of the CUB55 became a symbol in public debate of worsening working conditions – especially  those of skilled blue collar workers.

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Four female members of ILGWU Local 221 drinking coffee as they picket
Kheel Center Four female members of ILGWU Local 221 drinking coffee as they picket https://www.flickr.com/photos/kheelcenter/5279669440 CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

In this episode of Living The Dream, Dave (@withsobersenses ) chats with Carmen about the Workplace Organising 101 training she recently provided in Brisbane. Carmen talks about the purpose and structure of this training, its relationship to anarcho-syndicalism and reflects critically on the contribution it can play to developing our collective power and overcoming capitalism.

Organisations mentioned include:

Brisbane IWW

Freie Arbeiterinnen- und Arbeiter-Union (FAU)

Music by Dolly Parton and Marianne Faithful

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Living The Dream has an #altright time in Melbourne

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#altright type displays famous political irony

In this episode of Living the Dream Dave (@withsobersenses) chats with Kieran (@Kieran Bennett) about a recent Melbourne counter-rally to a Trump celebration rally  ostensibly organised by #altright types and attended by local fascists and neo-Nazis. From here Kieran lets us know who is who in the fascist zoo in Australia, the social phenomena behind the far-right and we discuss what a relevant anti-capitalist practice might be that can defeat the fascists and offer a genuine emancipatory alternative to the issues that we all face.

Kieran blogs at Kieran’s Review and is a member (of the perhaps soon to be rebranded) Anarchist Affinity

Articles and things  we refer to include:

Angry Workers of the World

Ghassan Hage – Recalling Anti-racism

Ben Hillier –  ‘All that is holy was profaned’: the year that was, and the politics we need (Ben recommends you also read ‘Post-truth politics’ isn’t peak populism, it’s peak liberal capitalism and suggests that my read of his argument is wrong.)

Campaign Against Racism and Fascism

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