Judging by readers’ comments, the revitalised Australian Marxist Review has been most welcome and helpful. Thank you to those who expressed such encouraging opinions.
Also encouraging is the Australian public’s increasing ability to see through the lies of the ruling class and their governments.
Before John Howard became prime minister, he declared he had no intention of introducing a goods and services tax. On gaining government, he said his party would govern for “all Australians”. Before the second war on Iraq began attempts were made to frighten the Australian public with the “weapons of mass destruction” tale. Who can forget the racially-motivated “children overboard” story? Many thought it couldn’t get much worse, but then the details of the Australian Wheat Board bribery scandal began to emerge.
Just recently John Howard denied he plans any more industrial relations “reforms”, responding to a speech by Nick Minchin, one of the senior ministers in the Federal Government.
Senator Minchin is the Federal Finance Minister and in a recent remarkably frank speech to the arch-conservative H R Nicholls Society, which I presume was not meant to go public, he expressed his wish for the Government to go to the next election with another wave of industrial relations changes.
Of course, we can believe Howard can’t we, when he says this “isn’t the Government’s position” and that Minchin was only expressing a “personal view”. Both know, as Senator Minchin admitted in his speech, that the reforms already underway have been “deeply unpopular with the public”.
But how far can industrial relations changes go?
In December 2005, the Sydney Business Review was headlined “Age of entrepreneurs: no more workers”. Australia, said the lead story, is “rushing headlong into an Age of Entrepreneurship, especially in the high technology area ... ”.
Figures presented, show there are now 2,480,000 operating businesses in Australia, compared with only 700,000 in 1974. This number is set to rise to over 10 million by 2025, “under the constantly changing structure of Australia’s workplace.”
It’s predicted that employees (workers) will “virtually disappear” during “Australia’s astonishing surge into the entrepreneurial era ... ” In two decades says the Business Review, “all workers will be classed as businesses.”
Thus the ruling class openly expresses its class interests. If workers are the main barrier to profit-making, get rid of them, transform them! Destroy the trade union movement so workers have “no rights at work”.
We should not rule out this plan as a “ruling-class fantasy”. Class interests, after all, reflect “the objective attitude of a given class towards the contemporary mode of production and towards the social and state system independent of class consciousness.” (p. 107 Classes and Class Struggle, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1986)
In other words, what needs to be done will be, or at least will be tried. The struggle for its interests, especially in this age of globalisation, compels the ruling class to act, but in doing so it will surely come up against the class interests of the working class and all sections of society who are oppressed and challenged by imperialism.
Over 150 years ago, Marx and Engels proclaimed in The Manifesto of the Communist Party, that “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of the class struggles.” For Marxists, who seek to reconstruct society in the interests of the vast majority, this proclamation is the bedrock on which we base our activity.
For the working class to successfully lead the struggle for social reconstruction, it must be clear about its class interests. Our task is to ensure the working class knows the objective position it occupies in society and what it needs to do to play its leading role in building a better world for all. Let us be compelled by those imperatives.