Sunday, April 30, 2023

Celebrate May Day with commitment to the struggle


Written by: Nick G. on 1 May 2023

May Day is revered as the day that workers around the world hold in common as the day of their class.

It is the day on which they renew their conviction that capitalism must be replaced with a system that will abolish the exploitation of people and the environment by the owners of capital.

It is the day on which they put on display their internationalist support for each other’s struggles.

It must be the day on which we, in Australia, renew our commitment to the development of a genuinely revolutionary mass movement with the objective of achieving anti-imperialist national independence and socialism.

That commitment must proceed from the reality that these objectives will not be fought for by the Australian Labor Party. Despite its current status as the more popular of the two major parliamentary parties, it will not implement policies for working people that are fundamentally opposed to the big corporations, both local and from overseas. Its agenda is framed within limits that accept the permanence of capitalism, and are channeled through the institution designed to serve capitalism – parliament.

This outlook extends to the majority of unions, many of which are affiliated to the ALP and are under pressure from the parliamentary wing not to upset the applecart or in any way, to embarrass the Labor governments, state and Federal.

Some class conscious workers want the unions to win back the right to strike. They can’t understand why the unions are not fighting harder for this, and whether they would even use it if it were restored.

The unions are important collective organisations of workers. They have legal status as defensive organisations of the workers, with limited rights to defend and (a recognised right to) advocate improvements in wages and conditions. Even these few rights have been eroded. Unions operate within a capitalist legal industrial system designed to protect bosses’ exploitation of workers and profits. Experience shows that workers’ victories are won through our own collective action on the ground, not by relying on the bosses’ courts and the ALP.

Unions are also registered organisations with assets and investments whose officials enjoy high salaries.

Their leaders generally fear the consequences of crossing the lines of legality. 

There is very little evidence of a daring to struggle, very few who are prepared to accept, as did John Cummins of the BLF and CFMEU, that “…it is an occupational hazard for union officials to be arrested and go to gaol.”

Cummo, a leader of our Party, walked that walk.

But workers and their militant unions have a long and proud history of fighting and breaking the bosses’ laws to defend and advance the interests of the working class.

When we talk about a renewal of commitment on the occasion of May Day, it is a commitment to objectives that are independent of the restraints that the ALP and union officialdom seek to impose. 

It is a commitment to resist the ALP shifting capitalist economic crises and imperialist war on the shoulders of the working class.

It is a commitment to an independent working class agenda, driven by rank and file workers and controlled by them. 

It is a commitment to restore rank and file militant unionism to the union movement.

Editorial - May Day Message

 Written by: Central Committee, CPA (M-L) on 1 May 2023

On May Day we express our solidarity with the international working class in their struggles for a better life.

We think of the oppressed and exploited working people suffering from wars, poverty, disease and political, religious or ethnic repression.

We think of our comrades in other countries carrying out their revolutionary tasks in difficult, complex and often dangerous circumstances. We salute their victories and their martyrs.

When asked how people in other countries could assist the struggle of the Vietnamese people in the 1966-75 war against US imperialism, Ho Chi Minh replied, “Make revolution in your own country.”

Australian socialist revolution

Since our formation in 1964, our Party has taken up that responsibility and, based on intense on-going class analysis of Australian conditions, has developed a political program that sets out a path to socialism.

It targets the ruling class of corporate monopolies, big banks, insurers and finance companies, big miners and landholders, almost all owned or dependent on foreign capital, particularly US capital. They control all key sections of the economy and exert their political influence through subservient politicians and a tame mass media. They are the main pillar of capitalism in Australia. This is how imperialist domination of Australia operates, supported by the more direct intervention of US government political agendas and bribes. It threatens to drag Australia into another disastrous US-led war, this time with China.

Overcoming the hold this ruling class has over the Australian people requires a powerful mass movement led by the politically conscious working class and embracing the needs of all working people. In the process, the path to genuine anti-imperialist independence and socialism through revolutionary change becomes clearer, as control of key sections of the economy passes to the working class.

If you agree, join us

Our Party is small, but has some influence. And of course, we need more comrades and welcome any enquiries about joining.

The majority of our members are not publicly known, however membership is not passive; it means taking responsibility, taking initiative, collective study, and loyalty. We rely on mass work among the people and supporting their struggles. We work with and respect all genuine people in the united front and mass movements. 

US intelligence leaks as extradition still hangs over Assange

(Jack Teixeira, alleged orchestrator of the 2023 Pentagon document leaks.  Photo:  Public Doman Wikimedia)


 Written by: (Contributed) on 28 April 2023

Governments loathe spy scandals; they, invariably, involve sensitive information being divulged which they would rather was kept away from the public gaze and questions.

The recent scandal of leaked classified documents in the US has, therefore, seen representatives of the Biden administration scramble into damage limitation mode.

Problems, however, have arisen: they have difficulty covering up the sources of the already leaked information together with the pressing issue of renewing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act looming on the not-too-distant horizon, which has already made them feel very uncomfortable due to the likely consequences at the hands of professional journalists and researchers.

In mid-April, the arrest of a 21-year old Air National Guardsman, Jack Teixeira, on charges of leaking classified intelligence material and posting it on social media in an on-line chatroom, was given extensive media coverage. The real world of spies, however, does not tend to be particularly glamorous. They tend to lurk in the mundane world of trivia.

Teixeira, it would appear, was little other than a clerical or administrative figure inside the secret world of spooks. He had, nevertheless, been given a high-level security clearance at just 19 years of age, which had provided him with access to documents usually provided for senior decision-makers in Washington and the Pentagon. His access to the elite Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System together with, 'sensitive compartmented access' to other classified US government programs caused a few raised eyebrows inside the corridors of power, when it was finally revealed. (1)  

The timing of the problem can also be regarded as particularly embarrassing for the Biden administration. The whole issue of the extradition of Julien Assange from Britain to the US with charges pending over the Wikileaks scandal, is still before the courts. The Biden administration are also faced with a tough struggle in Washington later this year over their plan to re-new Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  

While the recently leaked documents have long disappeared from social media, the legacy has included serious questions about the US and their intelligence-gathering facilities. Ethical considerations, however, appear to not be an agenda item. In fact, the US would appear to be literally hoovering up vast quantities of intelligence, including that of their so-called allies, without the appropriate safeguards.

The leaked documents were known to have included: sensitive information from the Korean peninsula, the Ukraine, MOSSAD, Nicaragua and the Ivory Coast, together with 'foreign governments' military movements, diplomatic efforts and weapons sales, as well as debates in friendly capitals'. (2) The latter reveals how the eyes and the ears of agents and correspondents, in well-placed positions, remain expected to faithfully report all manner of trivia in order to enable intelligence analysts to profile individuals, groups and those with access to decision-makers. They are referred to inside the intelligence services as 'ground human'.

One document noted Jordan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and their diplomatic efforts to mollify China after they were excluded from the country's 5G mobile telephone system. (3) Jordan had followed US directives to not engage with China's 5G system, although it was still spied on by the US intelligence facilities.

The response and damage limitation to the leakage was accompanied with reference to the Justice Department, 'which did not immediately respond to a request for comment'. (4) Silence was chosen over the problem of divulging further incriminating information. Later, however, an official statement was issued from Pentagon press secretary, Brigadier General Ryder, who noted the US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin had ordered a review of access to classified intelligence material … to help prevent future leaks'. (5)

Then further silence ensued.

The fact the US intelligence services only came to know about the leak after media coverage in the press has revealed an appalling lack of professionalism on the part of those responsible. (6) But then, a preoccupation with trivia inside a cocoon-like existence, is hardly the most productive of working environments; getting the correct surname onto the right intelligence file, for example, has been known to be problematic on occasions.  

Studies of the documents have revealed the findings were based on signals intelligence (SIGINT), which usually involves the interception of electronic telecommunications, from 'phone calls to emails and radar pulses'. (7) So much for secure communications facilities. In fact, it was noted by one former National Security Agency (NSA) official, that it was, 'a vivid explanation of the technological capabilities of the US government in this area'. (8)

Elsewhere, information in the public domain has revealed the NSA had been experimenting with various means of accessing 'the global reach of Google, Microsoft, Venizon and other US technical powers', for many years. (9) They also appear to have successfully upgraded Echelon systems for specific use with the internet. It has already been noted the US intelligence services also use 'techniques such as gaining access into foreign telecommunications networks, and has specialised planes, drones and satellites that collect signals as well'. (10)

A particularly insidious intelligence tool used by the US is the seemingly educational website of Grammarly, based at Stanford University. It is packaged as a writing and editing website; it is, however, an intelligence-gathering program for use with profiling. Once targeted, an individual has extreme difficulty deleting the on-line website. Any attempt to reduce it to spam, also fails. It returns with regularity several times over a 24-hour cycle. Attempts to contact the main provider with a request to stop the continual spamming, is, inevitably, ignored. But then, that is what is expected of intelligence organisations. Bad habits and poor judgement would appear to take priority over common-sense and good manners.  

Echelon grew from standard telecommunications advancement and included a vast global network of intelligence facilities converging on the NSA at Fort Meade in Maryland. (11) The interception of vast troves of intelligence material is then subject to select trigger words to compartmentalise what is regarded as important and worthy of analysis. Further advances in technological expertise has involved the system being regularly upgraded; it is now capable of providing 'an awesome spying capacity for the USA, allowing it to monitor continuously most of the world's communications targeting civilian as well as military traffic'. (12)

The computer analytical programs were pre-dated by psycho and socio-linguistic analysis; it was used by the intelligence services to study patterns of communication and the ability of the sender to use certain structural patterns with their language. The positioning of adverbs in sentence structures, for example, was often used to highlight various psycho and socio frameworks of reference.

The internet has indeed revolutionised intelligence-gathering for those in control of class and state power. It has enhanced their ability to place whole societies under surveillance: psychological warfare techniques and widespread social manipulation have become commonplace. It can only increase with further technological advancement; as civil liberties
are further reduced.

The Australian government also uses similar techniques: the Real-time Analytics Platform for Interactive Data-mining (RAPID) has facilities for 'fast -moving data streams and delivery of analysis in real-time … for access to … cluster networks of tweets, users, keywords and topics, and deep dives into discussions or between persons of interest, quickly zeroing in on significant data. Purpose-designed techniques, paradigms and algorithms are used to analyse a large amount of data in real time'. (13)

The RAPID system is fully operational inside the Five Eyes, linking Canberra directly with Fort Meade and the Pentagon.

Toward the end of this year, however, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act comes up for renewal: it has already been uniformly criticised by civil liberties groups and others for its 'lack of transparency'. (14) It has been noted 'the battle over renewing Section 702 is expected to be hard fought'. (15) The spies will be hell-bent on ensuring as little information about their world enters the public domain. It will, therefore, also be interesting to follow the coverage of the discourse and what further information about the US intelligence services, and their Five Eyes counterparts, is revealed with open source access. In intelligence jargon it has the designated status of overt intelligence (OSINT). (16)

1.     Intelligence leak a blow for allies, Editorial,  Australian, 17 April 2023.
2.     Pentagon leaks expose how the US snoops on its allies, Australian, 17 April 2023.
3.     Ibid.
4.     Congress applies blowtorch to Pentagon, spooks over leaks, Australian, 18 April 2023.
5.     Ibid.
6.     Editorial, op.cit., 17 April 2023.
7.     Australian, op.cit., 17 April 2023.
8.     Ibid.
9.     See: The intelligence coup of the century, The Washington Post, 11 February 2020.
10.   Australian, op.cit., 17 April 2023.
11.   Espionage, Spies and Secrets, Richard M. Bennett, (London, 2003), pp. 89-93.
12.   Ibid.
13.   Fast, on-the-ground military intelligence gleaned from social media, thanks to AI.,Defence Research Supplement, Australian, 5 April 2023; and, Eye in sky enhances view on the ground, Defence Research Supplement, Australian, 5 April 2023.
14.   Australian, op.cit., 17 April 2023.
15.   Ibid.
16.   Espionage, Spies and Secrets, op.cit., page 208.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

One month after the NSW Election: what’s new?

(Above: Minns and Albanese savour the glory, but will rental crisis remain the story?  Photo: ABC News by Harriet Tatham)

 Written by: Ali K. on 26 April 2023

On the 5th of April 2023, Labor's full ministry was sworn in to the state government following their election victory. Chris Minns was announced as the Premier of New South Wales, ending 12 continuous years of Liberal governance in the most populous state in Australia. For many, this was a clear win in the struggle against privatisation, higher costs of living and scant public housing: housing advocacy organisation Shelter NSW came out to suggest that the new state government represented “a fresh start” as well as “the opportunity for fresh eyes”.

The Tenants Union cautiously welcomed the incoming Minns government, suggesting that the Labor government would be willing to address the crisis of rental affordability with a rental commissioner leading the ban on rental bidding. This practice involves real estate agents asking renters to bid higher than how much properties are listed for on the market.  

There is a kernel of truth to all of these claims: NSW Labor ran on a platform against the privatisation of Sydney Water, scrapping the public sector wages cap and investing in key sectors including transport, healthcare and education. But really how much does the Labor platform on housing offer renters, youth, pensioners and other groupings affected by the current housing crisis? 

Labor on Housing  

The NSW Labor website suggests that the Rental Commissioner (a proposed advisory body) would be an “advocate and a voice” for renters by working closely with the government to lead consultation on reasons for eviction, oversee a ban on secret rent bidding and identify barriers to increasing housing supply among other things. Upon closer inspection it appears that only two of the nine proposals are concrete action to help renters: a ban on secret rent bidding and a portable bonds scheme, which allows renters to transfer their existing bond over to a new property. All seven other proposals require the Commissioner to “identify” issues and “gather” data. But a rental commissioner isn’t a particularly novel idea: The former premier Dominic Perrottet also outlawed rental auctions prior to his resignation.  

Their policies weighed up 

Another policy that Labor had listed in their Housing Plan was to introduce a 30% requirement for all homes built on surplus government land to be set aside for social housing as part of their Build-To-Rent program. Again however, this target was proposed long before by the Coalition, for urban renewal projects in Redfern, Central Station and Rozelle Bay. The only difference in this respect would be that Labor are making the target mandatory.   

What looks somewhat promising is the elimination of stamp duty for first-home buyers purchasing properties up to $800 000 and a concession rate for properties between $800 000 and $1m for their first property. Not withstanding the fact that the Liberal Government had also called to scrap the stamp duty, a quick look at average house prices in NSW shows a hefty price tag of $1.13m, well above the proposed stamp duty exemption threshold. While this may have been an issue that many young people looking to get into the property market would have voted on, it offers little solace with the prospect of rising inflation and subsequently increased house prices.  

What's missing?

Despite some conciliatory measures, there has been no action from Labor to cap rent hikes which is the real issue hitting struggling working-class families. Tenants Union chief Leo Ross noted that one rental increase in the North Shore involved a hike from $1000 to $1700 a week. This isn’t just a problem in NSW – a recent Guardian report suggested that Australian tenants were paying $2700 extra on rent on average over the past year with the national median rent averaging to around $570. Why is it that the federal government can spend $368 billion on nuclear submarines while renters are struggling to make ends meet? Why is it that rather than long-term solutions to these issues all we get is more bureaucracy and more integration of our issues with the state? The answer lies squarely in the structural crises that capitalism induces.  

Some Historical Context

The struggle over rent is something that Marx noted in his seminal text on political economy, Capital. In his investigation into the source of profit, Marx touches on the existence of landed property and rent. We can conceive of rent in this sense as a social relation between people over land: for the landowner as a means of accumulation and for the tenant as a source of shelter and social reproduction. Marx writes in his 1844 Manuscripts: 

The rent of land is established as a result of the struggle between tenant and landlord. We find that the hostile antagonism of interests, the struggle, the war is recognized throughout political economy as the basis of social organization. 

Landed property on the other hand, or the existence of private property over land, is therefore a consequence of the existence of property rights and the ability for private owners to have stakes in what should be commonly owned – things like land, natural resources and infrastructure. Just as the worker confronts the capitalist in the sphere of production, so does the tenant confront the landlord in the struggle over housing and land.  

We can see these concerns manifest in the struggle over housing in Australia today. A census last year revealed that over 2 million people rent just in NSW, with around 30% of the 9.8 million households were being rented. Even though rent bidding was banned, it has done little to stabilise soaring costs.  

The Solution

The struggle to be housed is decisively a class struggle. As always, its solution lies in the very conditions capitalism creates: the independent organisation of renters (who include in their ranks workers, students and the unemployed) against attacks on their common existences into unions and advocacy groups. Now more than ever after Labor’s election victory, existing organisations must push Labor to meet their demands and seek independence from the narrow opportunism of parliamentarist politics.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Australia gave a welcome to the Paris Communards

(Above: Original illustration for the Tribune article by H. McClintock)

Written by: George Farwell on 20 April 2023

(We are reprinting in its entirety an article from Tribunears ago, on March 19, 1873, in Melbourne, the steamship "L’Orne" was calle, newspaper of the Communist Party of Australia, published on 22 March 1945. One hundred and fifty yed into port for fresh provisions and medicine. It's purpose was to transport revolutionaries from the Paris Commune to New Caledonia. The incident was recalled by Czech Communist and anti-fascist Egon Kisch in his book Australian Landfall, describing his fight to enter Australia on a speaking tour, despite the Australian government’s attempts to keep him out. George Farwell was a progressively minded writer who published more than 20 books, mostly about the Australian Ourback. We thank the Australian Communist History Twitter account for drawing our attention to this interesting article – eds)

During a reception in Perth to Egon Kisch back in 1935, an old, grey-headed man took him aside, asked if he were interested in the Paris Commune. Kisch was surprised at the question, sixty-four years after the first workers' state had been suppressed in one of the most violent reigns of terror the world has known.

But he was not the man to assume, as some have assumed, that the Commune did not concern us intimately here. He said he was extremely interested.
The old man carefully produced a box, took off the lid. Inside was a red flag inscribed in French: "Commune of Paris 1871. Liberty, Fraternity, Equality or Death."

The story of this flag reveals only one of many links with the heroic struggle of the French people which began on March 18, seventy-four years ago.

For close on three months the Commune administered the popular republic, creating new standards of democratic achievement so that after 1917, Lenin was able to declare "the Commune was the first stage of the proletarian revolution, as the Russian Revolution was the second."

The working class movement had learnt vital strategic lessons from the Commune, even though this republic was put down in less than three months with the final coldblooded shooting of a hundred and forty-seven fighters on the Hill of Martyrs. One hundred thousand Parisians were killed, imprisoned, exiled or transported. Many of these were sent to the devilish penal colony of New Caledonia. They were chained inside iron cages on the convict ships and forced to endure shocking and barbarous conditions in the islands.

Roger Grenier, the old man who had treasured the red flag all those years, was the son of a man who had fought on the barricades, Paul Grenier. Only ten when his father was shipped away in chains, he loyally observed his promise to keep the flag in safety.

Like hundreds of other families, the Greniers were persecuted and humiliated for the "crimes" of their parents, husbands, brothers. But not even the promised reward of a 1,000 francs and a free pardon could persuade the possessors of many of these flags to surrender them to the terrorist General Gallifet.

TWO years later, after considerable agitation, the French Government agreed to send the exiles' families out to New Caledonia. Roger Grenier was one of 600 women and children whose ship anchored in Sydney Harbor in 1873. They were given a mass welcome, given flowers, presents, invitations. A banquet was held for them in the Town Hall. Hundreds of progressive Sydney-siders set out to entertain at least one family in their homes. It was a moving tribute to the Communards and to the cause of international liberty.

Roger Grenier was so impressed with the spirit of freedom he discovered in Australia that he determined to return one day.

When sixteen years later the exiles were reprieved, they passed through Sydney again. Pierre Grenier sailed on to France. Roger remained in Australia.

"Even today," Egon Kisch wrote in his book, Australian Landfall, "Roger Grenier feels himself a son of the Paris Commune, and his daughter and her daughter, who came with him to the reception, must show how well they can speak French."

"'I am a Labor Party man," he told Kisch, still holding the precious flag. 'But my children stand closer to you.'"

WHEN one of the convict ships bearing the Communards to their devil's island reached Melbourne in 1871, the workers demonstrated their sympathy and admiration. News went round that shipboard conditions were so appalling that half of the prisoners were down with scurvy.

Melbourne's trade unionists at once raised £1,500, but they were forbidden by the authorities to help. Henri Rochefort, writer and one of the intellectual leaders of the Commune, was among a party of five who escaped from the solitary New Caledonian Isle of Pines, andreached Newcastle, with the aid of the sympathetic Australian skipper of a coal ship, Captain Low.

"In our beautiful country," Rochefort wrote later, "we would have been arrested, searched and thrown into the nearest prison as pirates and slaves." Instead, because there was then no extradition agreement between France and Australia, they were allowed to go free. 

Democratic Newcastle gave them a fine reception. Rochefort returned eventually to France with his four comrades, one of whom has been foreign affairs delegate to the Commune, another finance minister and a third, editor of the revolutionary Pere Duchesne (the name was revived by one of the illegal underground newspapers during the Nazi occupation of France).

Among the prisoners who passed through Australia was the immortal Louise Michel, a schoolteacher who carried a rifle with the 61st battalion of the National Guard and fought on the barricades.

"I do not wish to defend myself," she declared proudly at her trial. "I belong entirely to the social revolution and I accept full responsibility for everything I have done. If you let me live, I shall never cease to shout vengeance on you who have killed my brothers."

She returned to France, was gaoled again for six years, struggled on earning for herself a revolutionary reputation close to that of women like Vera Figner and Rosa Luxembourg.

ANOTHER Communard who contributed greatly to Australian progress was Lucien Henry, who became the first lecturer in art at the Sydney Technical College, and designed one of the stained glass windows still in the Town Hall. Politically active, he was one of the pioneers of the Socialist Movement in Australia, one of the first Socialist books here being dedicated to him. As an old man he returned to France, joining in Labor's struggle to build a second and more enduring Commune.

Early in the 1880's the Sydney poet, Francis Adams stood in the Pere la Chaise cemetery where the murdered Communards were buried, and wrote:

Is it for nothing, now and evermore,
O you whose sin in life had death in ease,
The murder of your victims beats the door
Wherein your careless carrion lies at peace?


Hard Times – Make the Rich Corporates Pay

(Above:5,000 construction workers marched through the Brisbane CBD, pushing for the abolition of the oppressive “Fair” Work. ABC News 5 Apr 2023.)

Written by: John G. on 20 April 2023 

Prices of groceries, power, petrol, rent and mortgages have gone through the roof. Home loan repayments have doubled for many. Rents are soaring.

Wages haven’t kept up with living costs. Buying-power we get to work has been going down for ages. Now it’s smacking head-on into raging inflation and pumped-up interest rates.

Workers reacted with waves of walkouts, stopworks, wildcat actions, strikes, street protests, big and little, local and statewide. People demand change. 

Its time wage workers had an economy that works for us to get what we need to live and thrive.

Bankers and governments have THEIR answer to hardships people face

They rub salt into the wound. 

The Reserve Bank says it’ll impose high interest rates for the next two and a half years. They’ll keep the screws on until there’s 5 or 6 percent unemployment while wages are kept a few percent behind inflation. 

The people who slave away making the country’s riches will suffer at least 400,000 people out of work, casuals losing shifts, wages way behind inflation, using up our savings, and mortgage and rent costs breaking households. They’ll keep going until sales drop and prices stop going up. 

The Reserve Bank, governments and business think they can shove the country through the bottom of the business cycle, scramble over broken lives of hundreds of thousands and hardships of millions, into blue skies of boom times beyond. 

Why do government, banks and business inflict this on people? 

It’s no big mystery. The big corporates want to get back to business making billions. 

Governments try to make the system work 

Governments try to make this broken system work. It doesn’t matter if its Liberal or Labor, National or Green, in and around government. Where the system works, it doesn’t work for us. The system, capitalism, works for business. 

That’s always at the core of governing, managing the system for the corporates to profit – not for us to live. Liberal/National are harsh and heartless. Labor and Greens tend to look for small things which people appreciate while keeping the system working.  

“Inflation still is the primary challenge in our economy, and that's what makes it the primary focus of our economic plan, and also the upcoming Budget in May.  … we're working around the clock to try and give people a little bit of relief from these cost‑of‑living pressures … ” Treasurer Jim Chalmers, ABC PM, 4 Apr 2023.

The bits of relief, a handout here and there, compromise the focus on inflation by cutting what we live on. That is their goal. The hardships remain. 
We’ve copped it from the Reserve Bank interest rate hikes. We’ll get it from the government’s coming budget.

A taste of government backsliding. The Federal Government abolished the union-bashing ABCC (Building Industry Commission) and the ROC (Registered Organisations Commission). They transferred the Commissions’ thugs to un-‘Fair’ Work where they keep persecuting workers and unions. A show of relief, but keep workers down. 

In Covid they found billions to get over that crisis.

In the Covid emergency, Australia’s Reserve Bank was ‘… seeking to play our full role in building that bridge to the time when the recovery takes place. By doing all that we can to lower funding costs in Australia and support the supply of credit to business, we will help our economy and financial system get through this difficult period’ P. Lowe, Governor, Reserve Bank of Australia 19 March 2020. 

What a contrast. In 2019, hundreds of billions of dollars were found and spent quickly to support business and the financial system, and help business keep their workforce. It kept profits up but drove us into crisis faster and deeper. Now more spending could provide some relief. 

People’s lives will be in tatters. Bankers, governments and big business essentially abandon us to hard times. 

There is another way – for people not profits.

Everything, all goods and services we use, are made by many people working together. The big profits are made by a tiny minority, owners of a few big corporate monopolies. There’s more on this in the article ‘Profits – a system of economic crises, hardships and war’.

In good times it’s a system of socialising the work, and privatising the profits. In troubled times, the work is socialised, but the big corporates try to socialise their private losses by forcing hard times on workers.

We need a system where things are produced because we need them, not for profit.

Its only people standing up, thousands organised and acting to get rid of the profit system and the core of its profiteers, rich corporate foreign monopolies, that can bring that about. 

Sentiment for change is rising onto the agenda.  

We’ve been left to stand up for ourselves

Can we?

It’s worth remembering the wave of public sector strikes and protests in the last year or so. 

Sparks of rebellion have been firing. Bushfires are sparked by the odd ember. With hardship hitting people and hanging around for a few years, frustration and rage will flare into conflagrations of rebellion and wider organisation.   

Damn them and their system. Through Covid, it became very clear. We make it all work. Where fire for change takes hold of working people, we’ll be more than they can handle.

Now’s a time to organise and act to make it work for us.

At present demands for relief, to make the rich monopolies pay, seizes the spirit of the times.

While we fight for relief for now, we have to keep our eyes on working for a future without these periodic crises, a future socialist society free of the rule of foreign multinational corporations and the destructive system of private profits.  


A suitable cause for alarm: what about the levers of power?


(Above: Archimedes’ Lever   Creative Commons  CC-BY-4.0)

Written by: (Contributed) on 19 April 2023

A recent warning from the World Bank that global economic growth is slowing has overlooked the fact it has been the general trend for decades. Despite continuing to implement economic rationalist policies, growth has not taken place. Fears have now been raised about a likely recession.

In fact, using statistical information readily available in the public domain, it would appear politicians and financiers have trashed economies for decades for quick profits, not longer-term planned and sustainable development. The legacy of the past, has dominated the present, and is likely to continue to do so until workers organise around a common theme to swing the levers of power in their favour.
In early April an official report from the World Bank warned of a 'lost decade' for global economic growth. (1) It noted declining rates of GDP growth in previous decades; not only have they not reached expectations and forecasting, they have actually dropped. The World Bank, for example, now expects global economic growth for 2023 to drop to a mere 1.7 per cent. (2)
Elsewhere, reliable economic statistical information can be used to reveal longer-term decline.
                                            WORLD ECONOMIC GROWTH
                                              DECADE AVERAGE
                                               1960-69                         5.33%
                                               1970-79                          4.04%
                                               1980-89                          3.07%
                                               1990-99                          2.84%
                                               2000-09                          3.26%
                                               2010-19                          3.16%
                                               2020-21                          1.37%     (3)                          
The World Bank has already forecast the global economy will shrink still further during the 2022-30 period, to an estimated 2.2 per cent. (4) The view is also shared by the OECD which has projected real GDP for Australia will be:
                                                         2022  -  4.0%
                                                         2023  -  1.9%
                                                         2024  -  1.6%     (5)                                                   
During the next decade the figures are likely to sink to zero: serious questions will then arise about viability.
The US economy is expected to reach 1.6 per cent growth this year, a reduction from 2.1 per cent last year, according to an IMF projection: the causes of the problem, they claim, has been recovery from slumps caused by the pandemic and the war in the Ukraine. (6)
The World Bank report was released a few days before a major meeting in Washington with major banking institutions, and designed to cause alarm. While they are an indictment of economic rationalist policies which were foisted upon governments through international financial institutions controlled by the US from the 1980s onwards, the report was couched in diplomatic terminology to not offend the perpetrators of the problem.
Economic rationalist policies, however, did not, and cannot, accelerate economic development; they were responsible, for example, for the flinging of finance capital to the four corners of the globe in order to specifically plunder and pillage the economies of the developing countries.
The policies have been responsible for widening disparities between countries and within them.
The other side of economic rationalist policies has also been the accumulation of wealth in fewer and fewer hands. And those who have gained from the policies are hardly likely to opt for changing the rules of the game, wherever they may reside.
Chile, in 1973, with a brutal military coup, was the test-tube for the Chicago School of Economics and those associated with the academic institution: it served Washington and the Pentagon well with economic rationalist policies designed to serve 'US interests' above those of the Chilean people. It became standard global US foreign policy during the following decade as successive presidential administrations pursued neo-colonial type moves to place the US at the centre of the global economy.
Recent studies of wealth accumulation have revealed the richest ten per cent of the world's population have accumulated 52 per cent of income, while the poorest fifty per cent earn only eight per cent. (7) In recent years the average income gap between the top ten per cent and bottom fifty per cent has almost doubled. (8)
Studies have also revealed 62 billionaires own the same wealth as 3.5 billion people. (9)
And for those advocating austerity, they might like to consider studies conducted during the recent pandemic, when the global economy was considered to be under serious strain.
Global wealth grew by 12.7 per cent in 2021, the fastest rate ever recorded, rising to $463 trillion. (10)
While the estimated average increase in wealth has been maintained at 6.6 per cent annually,
it started to increase soon after sanctions were imposed during the pandemic: in 2020 it grew by 9.8 per cent. (11)
The agendas for those attending the banking summit in Washington, from 10-16 April, however, have not been well publicised. A statement from the World Bank noted, 'it will take a herculean collective policy effort to restore growth in the next decade to the average of the previous one … three main factors are behind the reversal in economic progress: an ageing workforce, weakening investment and slowing productivity'. (12) It did not draw attention to the fact those on the receiving end of the exploitative economic policies appear hyper-active and working very productively, as the accumulation of wealth in their employers' hands has shown.    
The question whether those attending the conference correspond by 'cloud', or live in them, still awaits a suitable answer.
The levers of power, nevertheless, remain in their hands, for the time being!
1.     World Bank warns of lost decade for growth, Australian, 5 April 2023.
2.     Ibid.
3.     Marcotrends World Economic Growth, 1960-23.
4.     Australian, op.cit., 5 April 2023.
5.     OECD, Australian Economic Snapshot, November 2022.
6.     Volatility in banking sector to squeeze growth in the US: IMF., Australian, 13 April 2023.
7.     Growing Income Inequality, World Economic Forum, 10 December 2021; and, Three Charts, World Economic Forum, 20 January 2016.
8.     WEF., ibid., 10 December 2021.
9.     WEF., ibid., 20 January 2016.
10.   Global Wealth Report, 2022, Credit Suisse.
11.   Ibid.
12.   Australian, op.cit., 5 April 2023.