The Guardian • Issue #2046


The ALP’s dying legacy

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2046

For the past 25 years self-styled liberal democratic governments in the developed Western nations have been entangled in growing turmoil. Back room deals and back-stabbing; rapid changes of prime minister; the denial and rejection of election results; and in the nation of manifest destiny – the USA – an attempted fascist coup.

This political turmoil is a reflection of the upheavals in the wider world as the capitalist economic crisis deepens and the resultant chaos spreads in growing hardship for the people.

In Australia, the internal machinations within both the major parties have played themselves out in such a way that a newly elected Labor government entered parliament already fully briefed by its US masters in what is to be its overriding task: to put Australia in lockstep with the US in the march to war.

It has all the shades of a coup – the rehearsed narrative, the mass media beat-up, the hidden agenda, the arrogance, the $368 billion price tag.

And it may be the dying legacy of the Australian Labor Party.

Social democratic parties such as the Australian Labor Party and the British Labour Party have always been parties of compromise between the interests of the working people and the interests of the capitalist class. When the chips are down it is the interests of the employers that predominate.

The objectives of the Labor Party have always been limited to the attainment of reforms within the capitalist system. Even the long-held aim of “public ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange” which, in early times, did lead to Labor governments setting up Qantas, the Commonwealth Bank, Australian National Line, etc, have been overturned by both Labor and Liberal governments in the race to privatise everything, to outsource everything, to hand over to private for-profit everywhere.

Labor Party leaders have for a long time preached the idea that workers and employers have common interests. It was pushed hard by former Labour Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. This was the basic idea underpinning the Accord between the ACTU and ALP adopted in 1983.

But it is a false theory. Life proves it to be false every day.

The braying media chorus aimed at comments by former Labor prime minister Paul Keating, in his scathing assessment of the AUKUS deal, was the warmongers closing ranks. It also reveals the extent to which the right wing of the Labor party now dominates, as does Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ dismissal of Keating’s time as prime minister as a “peace time government.”

As Hannah Middleton stated in last week’s Guardian on page one, “Prime Minister Albanese and Defence Minister Marles, like their predecessors Morrison and Dutton, are now exposed as traitors and agents of a foreign power.

“They are willing to sacrifice Australia’s economy, to risk massive military and civilian casualties for the United States to retain dominance, economically and militarily, in the Indo-Pacific.

“They are prepared to risk WW3 and the possibility of it going nuclear with devastating worldwide consequences.”

The neoliberal agenda is anti-human and unsustainable. The Communist Party works for the strongest resistance possible to the coming attacks on workers’ rights and living standards built up by working people through decades of struggle and hard work.

Labor has taken union and working class support for granted for too long. If trade unions are to win back lost members and improve the working conditions and living standards of their members, they must be independent in addition to opposing privatisation, defending Medicare, and defending public education.

The trade unions are critical to building mass resistance. The labour movement has the ability to fund, organise and sustain a struggle over the long term. But more importantly, labour is unique in that it is organised at the point of production; organised labour has an inherent capacity to bring protest to the economic and political level.

The ALP National Conference will take place in August, a stage where the class contradictions in the Labor Party will be played out. Workers will be watching and learning.

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