The fighting spirit of the recent CPA 10th Congress has encouraged the renewed production of the Australian Marxist Review. The five-year absence of the AMR is regrettable, but we are sure you are pleased with its reappearance. There is no shortage of challenges faced by the working class movement in Australia today.
Australian workers are being propelled into action by the biggest take-back of their working conditions and rights at work ever seen in this country. The Howard Government’s so-called “industrial relations reforms” represents a massive assault on working-class organisation and delivers almost dictatorial powers into the hands of employers.
The question rarely being asked is: “Why is it happening?” Much is said and written about the many particular rights workers will lose, but precious little about the globalisation process, the fierce competition between transnational corporations for the spoils of this global rampage and the corporate need to shift the cost burden of globalisation onto the backs of the working class. That Telstra in Australia is looking to shed some 12,000 jobs in preparation for full privatisation is but one example of the gift being delivered to the corporations by the Howard Government.
This struggle also raises the question of “the economy”. The industrial relations attack is being justified by its promised benefits for “the economy”. Numerous studies say the proliferation of jobs and wage increases won’t materialise. They’re just “carrots” used to sell the “reforms”. The real benefit will be an undermining of working class rights, leading to an increase in profits. That’s what “the economy” means for the corporations, but for the working class, “the economy” includes people.
A healthy economy means well-funded public health and education systems, a progressive tax system with the corporations and the wealthy paying proportionally more. We want affordable childcare, controlled rents and a drop in house prices. The people demand a massive cut in the over $60 million each day being spent on military adventures. The economy must include people. Let us make more of this point in our struggle against this industrial relations attack.
There are increasing restrictions on democratic rights, the demonisation of dissent. The world’s people are struggling to halt the wars of conquest being waged by the United States, with the willing participation of the reactionary British, Australian and other governments. The contradiction between war and peace, between the needs of the people and the predatory plans of the transnational corporations is growing sharper.
Many other struggles could be mentioned, but of course, the overriding project for the contemporary working class and progressive movements the world over is to find their way out of crisis-ridden capitalist society. How do we move forward? How do we begin to build something new?
Australian Marxist Review welcomes articles from readers on these and other important topics. We also look forward to contributions to AMR Dialogue: letters and brief articles raising new ideas or presenting short commentaries on issues raised in the AMR.