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48 responses to “May Day, Paul Lucas, Australian Labor and class politics”

  1. Spana

    I was at the march today and I felt it was the most interesting (and best) march in years because there were a lot of people who were prepared to criticise the ALP very vocally. Anti privatisation unions were the most vocal but there was anger too from the nurses and teachers. At one point a group including railworkers, teachers and nurses were all involved in some very loud heckling and drowning out of Lucas’ speech.

    Rudd got some minor heckling as did Burrows. Burrows was nothing but an apologist for the ALP and wanted to deflect every criticism of the ALP by bringing up workchoices. Won’t work forever guys. The panel on stage looked like they did not want to be there and the power felt like it was being taken from the politicians. The anger was unleashed for the entire duration of Lucas’ speech which no-one heard. If Bligh had been there I think it would have been ten times worse. I for one have long believed that no policians should speak at Labour day. As for the idea of the pollies welcoming the unions at the get. What a joke.

    I hope to see more Labour days like this where sell out politicians are held to account for their treachery to the union movement and self serving career decisions. I really hope this is the beginning of the unions breaking with the ALP and seeing them for what they are. Careerists who go from young labor to staffer to MP to sell out MP.

  2. Spana

    I was at the march today and I felt it was the most interesting (and best) march in years because there were a lot of people who were prepared to criticise the ALP very vocally. Anti privatisation unions were the most vocal but there was anger too from the nurses and teachers. At one point a group including railworkers, teachers and nurses were all involved in some very loud heckling and drowning out of Lucas’ speech.

    Rudd got some minor heckling as did Burrows. Burrows was nothing but an apologist for the ALP and wanted to deflect every criticism of the ALP by bringing up workchoices. Won’t work forever guys. The panel on stage looked like they did not want to be there and the power felt like it was being taken from the politicians. The anger was unleashed for the entire duration of Lucas’ speech which no-one heard. If Bligh had been there I think it would have been ten times worse. I for one have long believed that no policians should speak at Labour day. As for the idea of the pollies welcoming the unions at the get. What a joke.

    I hope to see more Labour days like this where sell out politicians are held to account for their treachery to the union movement and self serving career decisions. I really hope this is the beginning of the unions breaking with the ALP and seeing them for what they are. Careerists who go from young labor to staffer to MP to sell out MP.

  3. John Passant

    The fracturing of the working class? We still all sell our labour power. And in fact viewed globally the class that sells it labour power to survive is now the majority class. That looks not like a fracturing but a strengthening.

  4. John Passant

    The fracturing of the working class? We still all sell our labour power. And in fact viewed globally the class that sells it labour power to survive is now the majority class. That looks not like a fracturing but a strengthening.

  5. Mark

    @2 – Sure, John, but note the difference between a ‘class in itself’ and ‘class for itself’ in Marxist analysis. It’s consciousness and organisation which is key, and ideologically, there’s less awareness that those of us who sell our labour have something profoundly in common, and less solidaristic relations within the working class. It’s not anything new in class analysis to point to the way that the working class is fractured by capital and culture, and if anything, it’s something that globalisation has accentuated – at least in the advanced economies.

    It was really the revisionists in the German SDP who believed that a majority of the population being working class (in the sense of being on one side of relations of production) would necessarily translate into anything in the political and social realms. Marx, himself, was under no such illusion.

  6. Mark

    @2 – Sure, John, but note the difference between a ‘class in itself’ and ‘class for itself’ in Marxist analysis. It’s consciousness and organisation which is key, and ideologically, there’s less awareness that those of us who sell our labour have something profoundly in common, and less solidaristic relations within the working class. It’s not anything new in class analysis to point to the way that the working class is fractured by capital and culture, and if anything, it’s something that globalisation has accentuated – at least in the advanced economies.

    It was really the revisionists in the German SDP who believed that a majority of the population being working class (in the sense of being on one side of relations of production) would necessarily translate into anything in the political and social realms. Marx, himself, was under no such illusion.

  7. Kim

    Careerists who go from young labor to staffer to MP to sell out MP.

    … to Minister to merchant banker, lobbyist, director of development company, “trade commissioner”, etc, etc.

  8. Kim

    Careerists who go from young labor to staffer to MP to sell out MP.

    … to Minister to merchant banker, lobbyist, director of development company, “trade commissioner”, etc, etc.

  9. Nabakov

    Re Spana@1 and Kim@4, has this never not always been the way of the world?

    If you’re an effective pollie, you obviously have some mad skills at broking conflicting interest groups and very good networking chops.

    I’d much rather more people in the private sector had experience of the public sector than vice-versa.

    Obviously some hedges should be erected, starting with a pollie’s public register of interests extended into at least three years after office – otherwise they lose their Parli Super.

  10. Nabakov

    Re Spana@1 and Kim@4, has this never not always been the way of the world?

    If you’re an effective pollie, you obviously have some mad skills at broking conflicting interest groups and very good networking chops.

    I’d much rather more people in the private sector had experience of the public sector than vice-versa.

    Obviously some hedges should be erected, starting with a pollie’s public register of interests extended into at least three years after office – otherwise they lose their Parli Super.

  11. Nabakov

    Also

    “trade commissioner”,

    The Victorian ALP Government’s head business representative on the US West Coast is an ex Liberal pollie. And Victor got the job because he’s a smart bundle of energy and a brilliant schmoozer/networker – political talents cheerfully harnessed by all concerned – and he’s doing a bloody good job of it.

    Mind you we are talking about Victoria, where left or right, we’re all in it together and united by one overriding goal – to fuck over NSW and QLD. We seem to be doing alright so far.

  12. Nabakov

    Also

    “trade commissioner”,

    The Victorian ALP Government’s head business representative on the US West Coast is an ex Liberal pollie. And Victor got the job because he’s a smart bundle of energy and a brilliant schmoozer/networker – political talents cheerfully harnessed by all concerned – and he’s doing a bloody good job of it.

    Mind you we are talking about Victoria, where left or right, we’re all in it together and united by one overriding goal – to fuck over NSW and QLD. We seem to be doing alright so far.

  13. Brian

    About 10 days ago on local ABC they assumed Bligh would do a runner and ran a talkback session giving away a prize for the wittiest excuse she could use.

  14. Brian

    About 10 days ago on local ABC they assumed Bligh would do a runner and ran a talkback session giving away a prize for the wittiest excuse she could use.

  15. Kim

    Yeah, Nabs, but that’s the point. Queensland has oodles of these trade commissioners squirreled away all over the world, and to what real purpose other than a zero sum interstate game? It’s a bipartisan racket – they appoint former Liberal MPs here too.

    Don’t know what it’s like in Victoria, but the revolving door between Ministerial Office and private sector pay off is really getting to be far too big a joke here in the Sunshine State. With the current round of privatisation madness, you can almost see the Ministers polishing up their cvs, should cvs actually be required (Cf. Mike Kaiser). It’s a scandal in the truest sense of the word.

  16. Kim

    Yeah, Nabs, but that’s the point. Queensland has oodles of these trade commissioners squirreled away all over the world, and to what real purpose other than a zero sum interstate game? It’s a bipartisan racket – they appoint former Liberal MPs here too.

    Don’t know what it’s like in Victoria, but the revolving door between Ministerial Office and private sector pay off is really getting to be far too big a joke here in the Sunshine State. With the current round of privatisation madness, you can almost see the Ministers polishing up their cvs, should cvs actually be required (Cf. Mike Kaiser). It’s a scandal in the truest sense of the word.

  17. Kim

    @Brian, I bet no one thought of bionics!

    I’m just picturing the development – via Queensland’s mad science skills – of a Labor Bot complete with hard hat which could deliver all the unconvincing Bligh lines with true robotic insincerity.

  18. Kim

    @Brian, I bet no one thought of bionics!

    I’m just picturing the development – via Queensland’s mad science skills – of a Labor Bot complete with hard hat which could deliver all the unconvincing Bligh lines with true robotic insincerity.

  19. Brian

    Kim, they certainly didn’t. There were some good entries but maybe you could have won a magnificent gift of something or other from the ABC Shop!

  20. Brian

    Kim, they certainly didn’t. There were some good entries but maybe you could have won a magnificent gift of something or other from the ABC Shop!

  21. Nabakov

    “…and to what real purpose other than a zero sum interstate game?”

    Joking aside, the right ex-pollie in the right place is very useful. And Victor Perton has really put together some interesting and productive links between California and Victoria.

    And look, I hate to harp on about this but I speak from some knowledge here in that the pollie/big end of town/citizen pressure group nexus in Victoria is really not quite like all the other states.

    Exhibit A: Regardless of what you think of Jeff Kennett, can you really imagine any other gung-ho right pollie from any other state pulling a total Jimmy Carter out of office.

    Exhibit B: Bracks politely resigning because he genuinely missed time with his family.

    Exhibit C: Seeing John Cain and Jeff Kennett together carefully and gently helping an aging Dick Hamer out of his car for a pro-diversity rally.

    Exhibit D: Brumby and Ballieu together respectfully listening to Sir Gustav Nossal’s footy tips until Kevin Sheedy broke it up by saying “You’re full of crap as usual Gus.”

    No really, Victoria does have a certain political culture which is not quite like all the other states. There is still a genuine sense of civic common good held here by many of our playas. The first few decisions made by the first Victorian Parliament were to approve the secret ballot for all elections (first parli in the world to make it so), build a great library and create an university.

    Mind you, it would have been a lot more interesting if one of the original names proposed for Melbourne had stuck. Batville!

  22. Nabakov

    “…and to what real purpose other than a zero sum interstate game?”

    Joking aside, the right ex-pollie in the right place is very useful. And Victor Perton has really put together some interesting and productive links between California and Victoria.

    And look, I hate to harp on about this but I speak from some knowledge here in that the pollie/big end of town/citizen pressure group nexus in Victoria is really not quite like all the other states.

    Exhibit A: Regardless of what you think of Jeff Kennett, can you really imagine any other gung-ho right pollie from any other state pulling a total Jimmy Carter out of office.

    Exhibit B: Bracks politely resigning because he genuinely missed time with his family.

    Exhibit C: Seeing John Cain and Jeff Kennett together carefully and gently helping an aging Dick Hamer out of his car for a pro-diversity rally.

    Exhibit D: Brumby and Ballieu together respectfully listening to Sir Gustav Nossal’s footy tips until Kevin Sheedy broke it up by saying “You’re full of crap as usual Gus.”

    No really, Victoria does have a certain political culture which is not quite like all the other states. There is still a genuine sense of civic common good held here by many of our playas. The first few decisions made by the first Victorian Parliament were to approve the secret ballot for all elections (first parli in the world to make it so), build a great library and create an university.

    Mind you, it would have been a lot more interesting if one of the original names proposed for Melbourne had stuck. Batville!

  23. Nabakov

    And also I remember when LP used to be fun. Now it’s all serious young insects earnestly and humorlessly discussing issues over which they have no influence, control or even interesting insights. Like reading a junior Whip’s daily brief.

    It used to be about the chicks with guns, nude haiku blogging on whisky, is the Pope Catholic?, the coven in full flight, poetasting playoffs and other steamy socio-cultural-sexual shit.

    The kinda place where even Birdy occasionally got through the bouncer and onto the dancefloor.

  24. Nabakov

    And also I remember when LP used to be fun. Now it’s all serious young insects earnestly and humorlessly discussing issues over which they have no influence, control or even interesting insights. Like reading a junior Whip’s daily brief.

    It used to be about the chicks with guns, nude haiku blogging on whisky, is the Pope Catholic?, the coven in full flight, poetasting playoffs and other steamy socio-cultural-sexual shit.

    The kinda place where even Birdy occasionally got through the bouncer and onto the dancefloor.

  25. tssk

    Be interesting to see what happens to May Day once the Libs get back in. I’m not looking forward to it. At the tail end of Howard myself like many others of my peers were working longer and longer hours.

    Worked well until my body gave out. Looks like I’ve rested up long enough to get ready for the next round.

  26. tssk

    Be interesting to see what happens to May Day once the Libs get back in. I’m not looking forward to it. At the tail end of Howard myself like many others of my peers were working longer and longer hours.

    Worked well until my body gave out. Looks like I’ve rested up long enough to get ready for the next round.

  27. Roger Jones

    Damn it Nabs, and I was going to make a serious comment, too …

    Cleans feelers, raises middle and rear left leg, scuttles under discarded photo of Emma Peel

  28. Roger Jones

    Damn it Nabs, and I was going to make a serious comment, too …

    Cleans feelers, raises middle and rear left leg, scuttles under discarded photo of Emma Peel

  29. Andyc

    Nabakov @ 11: “Mind you, it would have been a lot more interesting if one of the original names proposed for Melbourne had stuck. Batville!”

    Being founded by Batman is why I always refer to Melbourne as “Gotham” (quite apart from the excellent gargoyles and belfries). And I suspect that I’m not the only one…

  30. Andyc

    Nabakov @ 11: “Mind you, it would have been a lot more interesting if one of the original names proposed for Melbourne had stuck. Batville!”

    Being founded by Batman is why I always refer to Melbourne as “Gotham” (quite apart from the excellent gargoyles and belfries). And I suspect that I’m not the only one…

  31. dave

    Mark, on a serious note, you make the point about “the weakening of the links between workers” without the corollary. The cult of the individual is promoted to undermine our social and communal tendencies, it is a game played with distinction in the workplace by managers looking to get ahead. It is promoted in the world because it is a vehicle that drives consumerism…”I need this” or “This is mine”.

    Isn’t Queensland home to largest population of fruit bats?

  32. dave

    Mark, on a serious note, you make the point about “the weakening of the links between workers” without the corollary. The cult of the individual is promoted to undermine our social and communal tendencies, it is a game played with distinction in the workplace by managers looking to get ahead. It is promoted in the world because it is a vehicle that drives consumerism…”I need this” or “This is mine”.

    Isn’t Queensland home to largest population of fruit bats?

  33. Kim

    @16 – dave, on my reading, the corollary is there in the post.

  34. Kim

    @16 – dave, on my reading, the corollary is there in the post.

  35. anthony nolan

    Mark’s analysis is sound. The core of blue collar male unionism was shattered by the export of Australian manufacturing sector jobs that commenced in the late 70′s and continued unabated for the next decade and a half or more. The absence of a physical community of workers, literally self identifying as the working class in factories where we used to gather, undermines the possibility of positive class consciousness. Moreover, even class residential communities are themselves not as bounded and solidaristic as they once were – shattered by freeways and dotted with monolithic supermarkets. There is no way back from this and it is difficult to imagine how to construct an effective class politics in these conditions. The class no longer generates much of a class culture to give expression to common experience. Maybe we are all anarchists now.

  36. anthony nolan

    Mark’s analysis is sound. The core of blue collar male unionism was shattered by the export of Australian manufacturing sector jobs that commenced in the late 70′s and continued unabated for the next decade and a half or more. The absence of a physical community of workers, literally self identifying as the working class in factories where we used to gather, undermines the possibility of positive class consciousness. Moreover, even class residential communities are themselves not as bounded and solidaristic as they once were – shattered by freeways and dotted with monolithic supermarkets. There is no way back from this and it is difficult to imagine how to construct an effective class politics in these conditions. The class no longer generates much of a class culture to give expression to common experience. Maybe we are all anarchists now.

  37. Helen
  38. Helen
  39. David G

    Anthony, we are not anarchists now. We are merely programmed producers and consumers who enable the rich to get richer!

  40. David G

    Anthony, we are not anarchists now. We are merely programmed producers and consumers who enable the rich to get richer!

  41. Nickws

    I really hope this is the beginning of the unions breaking with the ALP and seeing them for what they are. Careerists who go from young labor to staffer to MP to sell out MP.

    For all you middle class radicals who don’t know your(?) social history, Spana’s rhetoric is a variation on traditional Labor Movement discontent. I’m not passing judgment.
    Though personally I would like to keep a major progressive electoral force in this country for the 21st century that wasn’t to the Right of the US Democrats party organisation. I always thought the late John Button was woefully wrongheaded in sugesting the ALP should disaffiliate from the union movement, as he really was earnest in that belief and not just letting off steam.

    I can’t fathom why anyone who says they want the best for either party or union movement would be serious about that.

    Anyway, where is our high profile Labour Day march in Victoria? It’s just another Carlton arts and craft fair down here.

    Interesting that Labour Day in Victoria was originally held in May for purely organic, local reasons—the first eight-hour day ruling was passed during that month by the colonial government. I see your Queensland Labour Day was originally in March, then was moved to May 1st to conform with the Yurpean’s event (ironically our Labour Day was moved in the other direction, from May to March.)

    It was really the revisionists in the German SDP who believed that a majority of the population being working class (in the sense of being on one side of relations of production) would necessarily translate into anything in the political and social realms.

    Mark, these revisionists you mention are the 1860s ones, right?

  42. Nickws

    I really hope this is the beginning of the unions breaking with the ALP and seeing them for what they are. Careerists who go from young labor to staffer to MP to sell out MP.

    For all you middle class radicals who don’t know your(?) social history, Spana’s rhetoric is a variation on traditional Labor Movement discontent. I’m not passing judgment.
    Though personally I would like to keep a major progressive electoral force in this country for the 21st century that wasn’t to the Right of the US Democrats party organisation. I always thought the late John Button was woefully wrongheaded in sugesting the ALP should disaffiliate from the union movement, as he really was earnest in that belief and not just letting off steam.

    I can’t fathom why anyone who says they want the best for either party or union movement would be serious about that.

    Anyway, where is our high profile Labour Day march in Victoria? It’s just another Carlton arts and craft fair down here.

    Interesting that Labour Day in Victoria was originally held in May for purely organic, local reasons—the first eight-hour day ruling was passed during that month by the colonial government. I see your Queensland Labour Day was originally in March, then was moved to May 1st to conform with the Yurpean’s event (ironically our Labour Day was moved in the other direction, from May to March.)

    It was really the revisionists in the German SDP who believed that a majority of the population being working class (in the sense of being on one side of relations of production) would necessarily translate into anything in the political and social realms.

    Mark, these revisionists you mention are the 1860s ones, right?

  43. Spana

    Seems there may be some splits in the ALP ranks judging by the news today. A few MPs urging a rethink on privatisation. Perhaps there are a few nervous ALP MPs who fear what is looking like a real threat and that is an ALP defeat. Perhaps there will be some more rumblings about Bligh and a move on her leadership. Who knows.

  44. Spana

    Seems there may be some splits in the ALP ranks judging by the news today. A few MPs urging a rethink on privatisation. Perhaps there are a few nervous ALP MPs who fear what is looking like a real threat and that is an ALP defeat. Perhaps there will be some more rumblings about Bligh and a move on her leadership. Who knows.

  45. Mark

    @21 – Nickws, yep, those revisionists.

  46. Mark

    @21 – Nickws, yep, those revisionists.

  47. Moz

    DavidG@20: I’m a white colonial middle-class anarchist. Thanks for asking.

    (credit to Shona Laing for the concept)

  48. Moz

    DavidG@20: I’m a white colonial middle-class anarchist. Thanks for asking.

    (credit to Shona Laing for the concept)