Thursday, 27 July 2017

Is Inequality Entering Australian Politics?

These, Scott Morrison, are the facts (source)

"Nothing was given from above by the elites and the powerful. It was only ever gained from below." Jeremy Corbyn.

According to Leigh Sales, ABC News TV 7.30 presenter, inequality is finally bound to enter Australian political discourse. Next year is federal election time and the Australian Labor Party,  following in the footsteps of Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, could be positioning itself to focus their campaign on inequality.

As an Australian Marxist worker, I should be elated. Wages are set in stone, profits are over the roof, inequality rising: we hear that even from the most unlikely experts.

However, I'm skeptic. I'll tell you why.

Pay close attention to what Sales said last night: "Over the next year or so you're going to hear a lot about inequality."

The positions of half of the elites and powerful in Corbyn's quote are predictable. Scott Morrison, federal treasurer, cares about facts. He's got to deny them:
"This idea that people and inequality and incomes has been going in the wrong direction. That's not borne out by the facts. It hasn't got worse, inequality. It's actually got better."
Andrew Laming, Liberal MP, chooses differently. He doesn't care about facts at all. His deal is moralising. To tackle poverty (weren't we all, according to Morrison, equally rich?) he invokes charity, the rest is pure envy:
"Governments should be focused on alleviating poverty. Inequality staring over the fence and noticing another guy has got a jet ski and you don't have one. Inequality doesn't cause suffering or falling out of the education system or poor health."
Jennifer Westacott, paid by the Business Council of Australia to look after business' profits, is suddenly mortified about the well-being of the whole Australian people. You can trust her:
"Anybody who tells Australians that the way to deal with inequality is to weaken the business sector is actually being very dishonest with people."
There's nothing new there. You've seen that farce repeated over and over and over: climate change, for example. In an emergency, the beneficiaries of capitalism scurry around for an argument. Any argument will do. What matters is to muddy the waters long enough to avoid action be taken.

Then, comes Bill Shorten, ALP federal leader and presumably the standard bearer in the fight for greater equality (representing the other half of Corbyn's elite and powerful):
"Inequality kills hope. It feeds that sense, that resentment that the deck is stacked against ordinary people, that the fix is in, the deal is done."
What we need is hope, says Shorten. What about facts? Facts be damned. Morrison's out of the hook.

It's not a matter of us demanding what's rightfully ours but has been denied to us, but of senses, resentment: perceptions. In one word, envy. Laming's point.

But that's not just that. Then comes this bit from the former ALP federal treasurer Wayne Swan:
Andrew Probyn, ABC News journalist: "Are you saying capitalism has to change?"
Wayne Swan: "Unquestionably. Capitalism needs to be saved from itself. That's what people like the Governor of the Bank of England are saying. It's what the financial institutions around the world are saying. Capitalism is thoroughly discredited at the moment because it's produced rampant income and wealth inequality."

Don't get me wrong, it would be a good thing if finally inequality entered the debate. We should applaud the ALP if they really manage to do that. They might be onto something.

Sure, it would have been better if people with more credibility had taken up that fight, but the ALP's better than nothing. After all, the closest we get to the already moderate Corbyn or Sanders is the Greens senator Lee Rhiannon, and she is persona non grata with the Greens, the party supposedly to the left of the ALP. Believe it or not.

But if Corbyn's example inspired the ALP, couldn't they actually follow his example? Or is this just a matter of reciting, without any real conviction, some empty words for a year or so, in Sales' words, and then forget all about that?

Maybe we should start thinking not on saving capitalism, as the elite and powerful including Swan want, but on gaining by ourselves our own future from below, as Corbyn said.

29/07/2017. Andrew Probyn explains why Scott Morrison is bullshiting us: he was "cherry-picking years for comparison". Deliberate dishonesty. Same old, same old.

1 comment:

  1. Facts, morality and concern can best be fought with... facts, morality and concern. Without a decisive victory, little gets done.

    The AWP sounds better to me than the ALP. With MMT, they've gone a step beyond Corbyn's new labour party.