Blues from Australia

It is the beginning of summer here in Brisbane. The trees in my garden have all put out new shoots. The passion fruit vine which I cut back too much and thought I had killed has got four birght green buds on it - Nature's first green and very gold. There will be dark rich sweet fruit once more this summer. At the front of my house the old stag horn fern which was given to me in a very dilapidated indeed parlous condition has come into magnificence. It is now putting out new antlers and soon it will be very difficult to get into my house, so clever was I in my placement of the fern right opposite my front steps.

With all this growth and the promise of ecological continuity I suppose I should be in a good mood. Sunshine after all is considered to be an anti-depressant, but instead I am exceedingly out of sorts. The latest public opinion polls show that the Tory filth led by John Howard is going to win this weekend another term in office. Christ but how I loathe Howard and his stupid smug petty bourgeois mates.

I cannot help thinking of what humanity needs at present. We are so close to ecological disaster. For instance the ozone layer this year is bigger than ever. Moreover when I contemplate the suffering and misery that the coming recession will bring and then when I think of what Howard the son of a garage owner will visit upon us I am almost physically sick. There is such a gap between what is possible and what is necessary that I am close to the blackest of despairs.

Yet it is necessary to ask why Howard is winning. Apparently the polls suggest that Labor's tax passage which hits people with incomes over $50,000 (divide by two to get the equivalent in US Dollars and by three to get the sterling value) is extremely unpopular with the middle classes in Sydney. Howard's alternative is tax cuts for the wealthy and a Goods and Services Tax for everyone else. This it seems is attractive to the beautiful people. Added to this is the fact that Labor is apparently putting another tax of four-wheel drives and we have a determination in Sydney to go Tory.

Elsewhere in the nation Labor is doing well, but the Sydney vote will give us a Tory government. So there we have it. For tax cuts and four wheel drives we will have three more years of attacks on Social Welfare, Aboriginal Rights, Health, Education and Trade Unionism.

But there are other aspects of the NSW's vote which intrigue me at a theoretical level. I have been reading some accounts of Marx's Grundrisse. These emphasise in a very positive way the role of the new needs that capitalism produces. Applying the dialectic here we find that it is because they need the four wheel drives that the middle classes of Sydney will vote for the Tories. But is also this same attachment to luxuries that will lead them to resist the austerity that capitalism will try to impose on them in the coming recession. Leastways this is how the dialectic of capitalist modernity and new needs is supposed to work. But I am not sure if this is not yet another instance of the amazing dialectic which is supposed to provide a kindly light that will lead us on to the promised land.

Whatever the case, no matter how much we may curse the self-interest of the beautiful people in Sydney, it is self-interest that one day will save us for if anything has been shown by the current economic turmoil is that Capitalism is not in our self interest. So we should not simply condemn self-interest. It can be a motor force for positive change. Leastways this is how I interpret Brecht's last poem

'And I always thought: the very simplest words

Must be enough. When I say what things are like

Everyone's heart must be torn to shreds.

That you'll go down if you don't stand up for yourself.

surely you see that.'

There now. I have argued myself into a better mood.

Regards

Gary McClennan


Never let it be said that you lack emotion Gary. I don't know what polls you hear, but the ones I heard this morning (Morgan-Gallop I think) were reporting 52% Labour 48% Liberal two party preferred.

All indications seem to point to a close result which have a number of ramifications

1. One Nation could have the balance of power in the Lower House and/or the Senate. This would really be loony tunes times. A fish and chip shop lady, a professional Santa and a S&M sex worker running the country with their good old 2% flat tax plan. Did you see their budget? a single page sheet typed up on the spot containing items a. cut ALL aboriginal funding b. cut ALL foreign Aid c. cut politicians superannuation and pensions. They didn't even know how much money this would amount to.

Can the government dissolve itself under such circumstances (fuck! I don't even know the rules). What if Hanson continually refuses to support a motion of no confidence? Can you imagine 3 years of this?

2. Labour wins. There is a massive recession offshore about to roll over the country. Is it better to have Labour in office leading a ruling class offensive against workers or the Liberals doing it? Some comrades are saying that to have Labour doing it in such circumstances will lead to fascism more quickly

3. Liberals win. I mean really, so what? The most salient feature of this election is how irrelevant most ordinary people think it is. Politicians all in all are a bunch of irredeemable liars - and people know this. All the significant coming battles will be fought outside Parliament. We already saw in the wharfies dispute that most people were willing to step outside the law. The coming times will, like Malaysia demonstrates, depend more much heavily on physical repression. We are heading towards times of naked class war - the working class cannot dissolve itself even if it wanted to.

I'm sorry but the Left cannot afford despair and escapes into poetry. We need anger, passionate polemics, to thrust ourselves and our ideas forward into every public arena. And to rebuild physically, actually, revolutionary organisation. There is no more time for individualism, hurt feelings and disillusionment. We have to start were we are and with what we've got - we can no longer wait and wish things were better

Tony Hartin


Thank you for taking the trouble to read and reply to my post. As usual I agree with most things and I don't mind at all being rapped over the knuckles for my pessimism. Must be my masochism. But you are very wrong when you write that the Left cannot afford escapes into poetry.

For a start poetry is *not* an escape. It is an integral part of the human spirit. Revolutionaries put themselves forward as the leaders of humanity. Of course they make a quick ritualistic obeisance to "self-emancipation' but basically they see themselves (especially Leninists and Trotskyists and you are somewhere in between these categories) as leading the masses. Do not waste your breath denying it.

But if you honestly admit this then there is no space at all for Philistinism. How can you lead humanity if you are not in touch with the finest expressions of humanity?

All this reminds me of a notorious Melbourne Leftie who went to Greece with Tom O'Lincoln and had to be dragged out of his hotel room to see the Acropolis. Such was and probably is the Philistinism of the man who would be Australia's Lenin. Haven't you ever worried about him Tony?

As for the other parts of your post, I agree that we are heading over the edge. But there is a struggle to come, no doubt about that at all. I am also convinced that it will be lead by Melbourne.

As to whether it would be better if Howard won or not and whether it really matters or not, all I can say is that every so often the anarchist roots of the ISO tendency pop out. It always matters who wins. Every time someone says there is no difference between the major parties the Tories come in and then cut welfare, attack trade unions, attempt to smash Aborigines etc.

fond regards

Gary McClennan