If there’s one thing the entire Australian Left agrees on right now it’s that “Thatcherism was a very bad thing”. But beyond that, it may be appropriate to ask what exactly it is that people think was a bad thing. The answer to that question rests on one’s interpretation of what exactly was going on in the high neoliberal period of the 1980s, and what followed it. There is an uncomfortable fact that many local progressives are also trying to dance around, one that impacts on their view of the domestic political situation. That fact is that the highpoint of the ALP’s federal political success with the Hawke and Keating governments shared much of its DNA with Thatcher’s neoliberalism, here understood as a political project to shift the balance of forces in the class struggle towards capital, and thereby enact a historic redistribution of wealth and power upwards.
Golden Dawn’s MPs in the Greek parliament
by KEVIN OVENDEN
Below are the points, updated and a little amplified, I made in a contribution to the highly successful Unite Against Fascism conference in London on 2 March. The speech (and I’ve incorporated my summing up) was in a workshop with Petros Constantinou from Greece, Marwan Mohammed from France and Glyn Ford MEP from Britain, who all made extremely clear and thought-provoking contributions.
Introducing AN INTEGRAL STATE, the new blog by Elizabeth Humphrys
Recent years have seen a big increase in Marxist theorising on the state and its relationship to the capitalist system. These discussions have gone through several phases, from debates over the nature of globalisation in the late 1990s, to renewed interest in imperialism in reaction to the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, to the connections between capitalist interests and state agencies as governments dropped their “free market” pretensions to bail out the financial sector after the GFC.
Today, I’ll be reviewing George Megalogenis’ book, The Australian Moment, for you*. It is notable for two things. Firstly, it is hymn to Australia’s class war from above reform era of the 1980s and 90s — but tinged also with regret that since about 1993 the political class has lost the will to fight the good fight. Secondly, in making an argument that the reform agenda can be resurrected with popular consent today, he must engage in a lot of contortions and self-contradiction.
Megalogenis has something of a following on the mainstream Left, perhaps because of his wonkish persona and apparently moderate politics for someone working at The Australian. But a deeper reason is that he reflects a strong residual view that the ALP’s economic rationalist turn was “a good thing”. Mainstream Left politics, whether in the ALP, the unions or even the Greens, operates in the shadow of those times. You can see it in Megalogenis’ scribblings on the weekend supporting Swan’s budget cuts as “hard truths” that must be realised. So how does his pro-reform argument stack up?
Welcome to the first post of the new Left Flank. We’ve moved from Blogger to WordPress, hosted at the lovely http://brellabee.com/ As you can see we’re still working on porting all the old comments from Disqus to the new platform. Time to change your RSS feed or subscribe by email (see the sidebar on the right of the page).
While we’ve been effecting that change, we’ve also started our new fortnightly blog at the Overland Literary Journal website, which has also had a spiffy redesign! My first post went up on 29 March, a review of David Marr’s latest book on the politics of fear, which is reposted below for your pleasure.
Here’s my latest for ABC’s The Drum website, published yesterday.
Australian politics has a strange ‘centre’ at the moment, and the dial seems increasingly to fall at the feet of Malcolm Turnbull.
His presence on shows like Q&A results in both calls for him to reassume the Liberal Party leadership, and the suggestion he is an ALP member in disguise. Analogies are drawn with Don Chipp and he is urged to create a new party of the centre. While some celebrate his staring down of Abbott on climate change, others seem seduced by his status as the likable one inside elite circles.
Here is a link to my article on feminism, published yesterday at the ABC’s The Drum website.
I don’t call myself a feminist. But some of my best friends are feminists.