Raewyn Connell and Terry Irving, Class Structure in Australian History

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 16/10/2019 - 7:00am in



Class Structure in Australian History has been ignored for most of its life as an academic publication. Historians argued the text was not empirically rigorous; left-wing commentators that it lacked a sufficient account of race, class, gender, the mode of production, the world-system etc. So why should we still read Class Structure? The text has lacked a public readership and understanding that it deserved. No text has gone further to locate the ways in which class structure has shaped Australian capitalism and while the text is about the historic construction of class, it offers a jumping off point for social theory across anti-capitalism for activists and scholars alike. We see that many of our contemporary collisions are longer term problems that relate to the ownership of private property, the structure of Australian cities and the architecture of the state. It suggests that Australian history offers a range of important moments that sufficiently account for many of our ongoing crises.

The theoretical usage of class in the book is among its most exciting contributions. The authors respond to debates within the New Left that asked: who are the working class and are they agents of their own history? For Connell and Irving, class is a social process mediated by conflict between owners and workers played out through institutions of the state. As capital accumulation is an unstable and largely improvised arrangement, this means that the terrain of struggle can be defined into historic stages. For them, these stages have been: pastoral economies (1788-1840), mercantilism (1840-1890), working class contestation (1890-1930), industrialisation (1930-1975) and, what we might now call, financialisation (1975-1990). Each ‘stage’ had generated distinct class relations and institutions serving to mediate social instability.

Class Structure in Australian History offers us a critical way of seeing the world, reminiscent of John Berger’s famous TV show ‘Ways of Seeing’. It identifies the distorting perspectives presented by the mainstream media, which neglect to highlight our society’s grossest inequities and failings. It suggests that, if we are serious about making real change, we must first understand the historically-specific ways by which Australian society has been built. Civil society is haunted by the ghosts of colonisation and its ongoing revisions and reconstructions. Overall, two major themes stand out: the institutional lock-out of the working class from nation-shaping institutions since 1930 and the urban revolution of the metropolitan city over the suburbs and regions of Australia.

First, some discussion of the former: Australian capitalism possessed an ambiguous destiny as an outpost of the British Empire. For this reason, there were concerted efforts by the British state to re-engineer a British class system, most prominently, through the recruitment of political economist E.G. Wakefield. He argued that by controlling the price of land around the planned city of Adelaide that stable geographies of class could be organised. Nonetheless, chronic labour shortages and long-run boom and bust cycles created the conditions through which the labour movement came to influence the national parliamentary system by the beginning of the twentieth century. Thus began the period of the ‘working-class challenge’ (1890-1930) documented in the book. It thus depicts the rise of the Federal Australian state as a disciplinary organ, capable of containing organised labour through its corporatist institutions, favouring the private interests of business. It can be argued that the longer term collapse in support for Australia’s two major parties is associated with the effect. The authors suggest that those marginalised by Australia’s public institutions must build new institutions.

On the second point, Australian society is marked by some of the largest urban and regional inequalities in the developed world. As the book establishes, this trend is a long-run outcome of the building of Australian capitalism. The earliest colonial-settlement was predicated on the relationship between regional commodity production and their transportation to colonial cities for the world-market. Through the success of mercantilists, industrialists and finance capital we have witnessed two centuries of ascendant metropolitanism, especially in the inner-city regions of our largest cities: Sydney and Melbourne. Meanwhile, today, regional Australia has entered its longest period of drought. The work suggests that these trends are deeply connected through the ongoing structure of Australian capitalism.

One conjecture that could be raised towards the book is its insufficient attention to Aboriginal political economy. While frontier violence and dispossession are acknowledged as foundational features of Australian capitalism, the authors do not adequately explore the continued survival and adaptation of Aboriginal people to the changing conditions of the class structure. In this regard, Henry Reynolds’ The Other Side of the Frontier, Heather Goodall’s Invasion to Embassy and Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu all come to mind as useful companions, although not exhaustive, of this discussion.

So, what is to be done? The book’s second edition ends in 1990, anticipating the rise of neoliberal governance and the fallout following the Great Recession. In this crucial and trying time, the book suggests that working class institutions are a critical way forward. They might put upon themselves some of our greatest social challenges: the precarious nature of work, the crisis of housing affordability, climate change, the structure and effectiveness of the state, and rampant and rising inequality. But first, it must be understood that these problems are intimately connected to the architecture of Australian capitalism. In offering a way of seeing, no text has gone further in showing us the nature of social conflict and the possibility of a political alternative. For this reason we must continue to engage with the text and its most difficult and challenging questions.

The author would like to thank the Past & Present Reading Group for their dialogues and Rhys Cohen for his help in providing feedback on this piece.

The set image depicts the Australian Sugar Company’s works, Chippendale, Sydney (1868) by Samuel Elyard from the collections of the State Library of New South Wales [a1528154 / DG V*/Sp Coll/Elyard/2].

The post Raewyn Connell and Terry Irving, Class Structure in Australian History appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

A Coalition of Support: Parliamentarians for Julian Assange

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 15/10/2019 - 1:00am in

Binoy Kampmark Australian politicians, and the consular staff of the country, are rarely that engaged on the subject of protecting their citizens.  In a couple of notorious cases, Australian authorities demonstrated, not only an indifference, but a consciously venal approach to its citizens in overseas theatres. Mamdouh Ahmed Habib, a dual Australian-Egyptian national, was detained …

Workers’ Mail: Morrison’s Kill the Unions Bill (Updated).

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 14/10/2019 - 5:52pm in

The working class has been reduced to this. Email from Michele O’Neil, ACTU President:

Two years ago Federal Police raided union offices in full view of the national media, who had been tipped off about the raids.

On Friday, the Federal Court ruled that the Registered Organisations Commission did not have reasonable grounds to organise the AFP raid of the AWU offices.

These raids should never have happened. The raids were not justified and were used as a political weapon against unions.

If the Ensuring Integrity Bill becomes law, the same Registered Organisations Commission who organised these discredited raids, will be given the power over a union’s very existence.

If it becomes law it will allow unprecedented harassment of unions and the people workers elect to lead them. It will give employers more power at a time when wage theft is rampant, pay rises are nowhere to be seen and too many people are forced into insecure work.

The so-called Ensuring Integrity Bill must be opposed.

The people who can stop this Bill are crossbench Senators.

We need you to contact Senators from the Jacqui Lambie Network, Centre Alliance and One Nation via Facebook.

Polite messages only please.  Our message is stronger if we all keep our contact with Senators polite and respectful.

Remember, these laws do not apply to banks or business. These laws single out unions and make it harder for workers to stand up to employers who do the wrong thing. This is about silencing working people and making it harder for workers to win pay rises.

That’s what Senators need to hear. Can you contact them?

In unity,
Michele O’Neil
ACTU President


Those are the fruits of Scott Morrison’s efforts.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:15-20, KJV)

America’s Health Care Ripoff: An Example of Cancer Treatment in Australia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 14/10/2019 - 4:04pm in

An Australian example of cancer treatment puts US health care to shame.

Leave.UK and Boris Now Using Racism to Push Brexit and Get Votes

I suppose it was inevitable. I realise not everyone, who voted for the Leave campaign is racist by any means. A lot of working class and left-wing peeps voted to leave the EU no doubt because of the very real problems with it. Private Eye has been describing for years its corruption, its lack of democracy and accountability of its senior officials, and the high-handed way it deals with member states that don’t toe the line. Years ago it described how the-then president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, was aghast at the terms it presented him and his country for membership. He complained that his country hadn’t been treated like that for over thirty years. Which meant that he was comparing it to the way it had been pushed around when it had been a Soviet satellite. This drew an outraged reaction from two of the MEPs in the EU delegation, both of whom, I think, were left-wing. One of them was Daniel Cohn-Bendit, French politician, who had been a radical leader during the ’68 revolution. They screamed at Klaus that the EU was definitely democratic, and the architect and keep of peace after the Second World War.  Robin Ramsay, the editor of the conspiracy website Lobster, is an old-fashioned left-wing Eurosceptic. He objects to the EU because economic Conservatism and neoliberalism is built into it. He regards a strong nation state with nationalised industries as the best political and economic system and protector of the rights of working people. Tony Benn was the same, noting in one of his books the real harm membership of the EU actually did to our economy and industry.

But Benn was also realistic, and recognised that we were now also economically dependent on the EU, and that leaving it would also cause severe disruption and damage. 

All of which is not considered by the right-wing supporters of Brexit. They’re not interested in protected our nationalised industries, like what remains of the NHS, because they want to sell it off to the highest bidder. And that means, at the moment, Donald Trump. Thus for all their posturing, they were quite happy to see our railways owned by the Bundesbahn, the German state railway network, and our water by the French, and then the Indonesians. And our nuclear power stations built and owned by the French and Chinese. They’ve got no objections with other states and nations owning our infrastructure, as long the British state doesn’t.

And there is and has always been a nasty undercurrent of racism in the Right’s attitude to the EU. Now with the latest poster from Leave.UK it’s all out in the open. As Mike’s shown in his article, they’ve now put up a poster showing Chancellor Angela Merkel, with her arm raised in a quasi-Nazi salute, or what could be interpreted as one. And there’s a slogan ‘We didn’t Win Two World Wars to be Pushed Around by a Kraut’.

This is just pure racism, expressed in racist language. And the imagery is offensive and wrong. As Tony Greenstein showed in his article, the CDU had its share of former Nazis amongst its members. And incidentally, so was the Freie Demokraten, the German equivalent of the Liberal party. Back in the 1980s there was a massive scandal when it was revealed that neo-Nazis had all been infiltrating them. Even the odd member of the SPD has been outed as a former member of the Nazi party. But that doesn’t mean that the CDU, or any of the other German democratic parties are really Nazi, simply because they’re German. I think Merkel herself is genuinely anti-racist, and tried to demonstrate how far her country had moved from the stereotype left over from the Third Reich when she invited the million or so Syrian and North African refugees to settle in the Bundesrepublik. It backfired badly on her, as people, not just in Germany, were afraid their countries were going to be swamped by further Islamic migrants and the wave of 200 or so rapes by a minority of them provoked an vile islamophobic reaction. But Merkel herself, and her people, aren’t Nazis and aren’t engaged in some diabolical plot to dominate Europe by stealth. As I’ve blogged about endlessly, ad nauseam.

Mike’s article cites the comments from three continental papers, who I believe have rightly assessed the situation and BoJob’s shenanigans with the EU. They differ in that some of them think the Blonde Beast is aiming for a no-deal Brexit, or that, denied that, he wants a Brexit extension. But whatever the outcome, he wants most of all to blame it on the EU. Those nasty foreigners are responsible! He and the Tory press are trying to present it as though Boris and the Tories have done everything they can to secure a deal, and it’s all due to those horrible, intransigent foreigners, and particularly the Germans, that they haven’t. Thus they’re seeking to work up nationalist sentiments so that they’re voted back in with a massive majority, having seen their lead in the polls.

I can well believe it. It’s what they’ve always done.

I remember how the Tories became the Patriotic Party under Thatcher in the 1980s. Thatcher stood for Britain, and anyone, who opposed her and the Tories more widely was definitely not One Of Us. They were some kind of traitor. The Labour party was full of Commies and IRA sympathisers, as well as evil gays determined to corrupt our youth in schools. Thatcher represented Britain’s warrior heritage and island independence. She constantly and consciously harked back to Winston Churchill. Their wretched 1987 general election video showed Spitfires zooming about the skies in what Alan Coren drily called ‘the Royal Conservative Airforce’. Over the top of this an excited male voice declaimed ‘We were born free. It’s our fundamental right’. Actually, the quote comes from Rousseau’s Social Contract, and is ‘Man was born free, but everywhere he is in chains’. Which is a far better description of the free trade, low tax world Thatcher wanted to introduce and her destruction of workers’ rights and the welfare state. Thatcher was our bulwark against domestic terrorism and the IRA at home – even though she was secretly negotiating with them – and the Communists and Eurofederalists of the EU abroad.

The Tories continually used the imagery and memories of the Second World War and the Empire to drum up support.

It’s a crude, nationalistic view of British imperial history. The idea that somehow we stood alone against Hitler during the Second World War is a myth, but one that all too many of us buy into. We survived and were victorious because we had the support of our empire. We were fed, and our armies staffed, by the colonies, including those in the Caribbean, Africa and India. If it hadn’t been for them and the Americans, we would have fallen as well.

And the history of the British empire and its legacy is mixed. Very mixed. I don’t deny that many of the soldiers and administrators that founded and extended it were idealists, who genuinely believed they were creating a better order and were improving the lives of their imperial subjects. But there was also much evil. Like the history of the Caribbean and the slave colonies in North America, or the treatment of the Amerindians and other indigenous peoples, like the Maoris or Aboriginal Australians. They weren’t noble savages, as portrayed in the stereotypes that have grown up around them. But they didn’t deserve the massacre, displacement and dispossession they suffered. The Irish patriot, Roger Casement, was a British imperial official, and was radicalised by the enslavement of South American Amerindians by the British rubber industry in the Putomayo scandal. This turned him against British imperialism, and made him an ardent fighter for his own people’s independence. To get a different view of the empire, all you have to do is read histories of it from the perspective of the colonised peoples, like the Indians or the slaves in the Caribbean. Or, for that matter, the horrific treatment of Afrikaner civilians in the concentration camps during the Anglo-South African ‘Boer’ War. In too many cases it was a history of persecution, dispossession and oppression, fueled by greed and nationalism.

Ah, but the British Empire stood for democracy!

It was largely founded before the emergence of democracy, which everywhere had to be fought for. And parts of the British imperial establishment remained anti-democratic after the Liberals extended the vote to the entire working class and women at the beginning of the 20th century. Martin Pugh in his history of British Fascism between the two world wars states that sections of it were not happy with the extension of the franchise in the 1920s, especially the diplomats and administrators in the Indian office, like Lord Curzon. It’s highly dubious how much of a patriot Churchill was. In the years before the outbreak of the Second World War, Orwell remarked in one of his press articles how strange the times were, with Churchill ‘running around pretending to be a democrat’. And there was a very interesting article years ago in the weekend edition of the Financial Times that argued that it was only because Britain needed allies during the Second World War, that the English Speaking Union appeared as one of the leading organisations in the spread of democracy.

But still we’ve had it drummed into us that the Empire was an unalloyed, brilliant institution, our country is uniquely democratic, and the Tories represent both and our national pride and heritage against the depredations of Johnny Foreigner.

Salman Rushdie and the rest are right. We need proper, balanced teaching about the Empire to correct some of these myths.

Supporters of the Labour Party and Remain campaign in response to the latest eruption of bilious racism and xenophobia have released their own posters. One shows Boris Johnson and has the slogan ‘We Didn’t Win Two World Wars to Be Pushed Around by a Fascist’. Another shows Nigel Farage with the slogan ‘We Didn’t Win Two World Wars to Be Pushed Around by a Fraud’. At the bottom is another legend, reading ‘Let’s Not Leave EU’.


They’re right. And the Tories and the Leave campaign are whipping up racism simply for their own benefit. If they get a no-deal Brexit, or win a general election, they will privatise the NHS, destroy what’s left of the welfare state. Our industries will be massively harmed, and whatever’s left of them will be sold to the Americans. 

It will mean nothing but poverty and exploitation for working people. That’s how the Tories use racism and xenophobia.

Don’t be taken in by their lies. Stand up for democracy and peace and harmony between peoples and nations. Get rid of Boris, Farage and Aaron Banks. And support Corbyn and Labour.


Spring Rebellion.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 07/10/2019 - 8:14pm in

Last week Peter Dutton, the federal Minister for Home Affairs (for overseas readers: a sort of Australian version of the US Department of Homeland Security), possibly on account of his experience as a Queensland Police Service officer, asked for climate change activists to be subject to mandatory criminal penalties, named and shamed, because they were a threat to the public.

Tim Hansen, commander of the Melbourne north-west metropolitan region of the Victoria Police, warned that the Extinction Rebellion movement had been infiltrated by fringe groups.

Asked his opinion on Dutton’s proposal, David Littleproud, agreed: “Everyone wants a cause these days. They become angry and impose their will on the Australian people”.

The photo above shows two NSW police officers risking their lives as they arrest an extremely dangerous grandpop, possibly even a fringe bowls club member. More on that from ABC News.

SBS News Australia and New Zealand coverage.


Extinction Rebellion

Melbourne Activist Legal Support
“Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) supports activists to defend their own civil and political rights.”

“CounterAct was launched in 2012 to support communities in taking effective, creative, strategic action on issues of environmental and social justice.”

Environmental Defenders Office New South Wales
“Each year the Environmental Defenders Office New South Wales (EDO NSW) provides free legal advice to more than 1,000 individuals and community groups across NSW. We also run free legal workshops for local communities. EDO NSW has run a number of landmark legal cases in the courts and undertakes policy and law reform work at both the State and Federal level.”

The Devil From Down Under (Updated).

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 04/10/2019 - 8:07pm in

We’ve all witnessed the Donald Trump/Scott Morrison bromance blooming. The mutual flattering (“Man of Titanium”  remark included), the hands held, the giggles; Morrison’s Trumpesque snubbing of the UN Climate Change Summit and his adopting of the equally Trumpian “fake news” and anti-globalist rhetoric.

It turns out that there was a string attached to that love affair: The Donald expects ScoMo to “investigate” Alexander Downer’s role in the beginning of the Mueller inquiry.­

As is well-known by now Alexander Downer, former Howard (Bush II’s “Man of Steel”) reign Liberal grandee and Aussie ambassador to the Court of St. James, reported a conversation he allegedly had in May 2016 with disgraced Trump supporter George Papadopoulos, during the election campaign. Papa, in Downer’s narrative, had disclosed that the Russkies had damaging information on Hillary Clinton and were ready to disclose it, in support of the Trump campaign. Papa denied that and accused Downer of being Clinton’s errand boy. In turn, Downer denied that.

The Australian Leftish punditry, almost to the last man and woman, patriotically rallied to Downer’s side and qualified Papa’s accusation as conspiracy theory. Readers are free to choose who they believe: Australia’s very own International Man of Mystery or Papa. Frankly, I couldn’t care less who’s right.

(Curiously, among current and former Liberal A-listers -- that I’m aware -- only Joe Hockey, another living fossil of the Howard era and ambassador to the US, has come out openly in Downer’s defence.)

More important, however, is what is politically expedient to ScoMo’s new Yank friends and what they believe and judging by US Senator Lindsey Graham, Trump’s close ally, they strongly disagree with Hockey.

So, this is the question: will ScoMo (A) serve “Lord” Downer’s head in a silver platter as his new powerful besties seem to expect or will he (B) don his shiny armour in defence of the honour of a Liberal hasbeen? (A) would earn him cookie points with his new buddies but may displease at least some of his old mates (beginning with Downer himself), (B) would have the opposite effect (and The Donald’s affections are notoriously volatile).

The American Dems, evidently, would prefer ScoMo choosing (B) and resent him if he chose (A). The next American presidential elections are scheduled for 2020. Would a President Biden/Warren/Sanders be as friendly to ScoMo?

So, what’s gonna happen? Your guess is as good as mine. I can’t say I’d dislike either result.

Just a parting note. Morrison’s rise to power followed the misfortune of several Liberal politicians. People may remember Malcolm Turnbull’s fall. They may have forgotten Michael Towke’s.

Just sayin’. It could be mere happenstance.

06/10/2019. I added the screen capture to the ABC News article, which I had missed.

Panicked ScoMo Accidentally Leaves Lump Of Coal In Taxi Before UN Speech

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 26/09/2019 - 8:23am in


Panicked Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has realised too late that he left his favourite prop of choice, a lump of coal in a taxi and was unable to use it whilst giving his speech to the United Nations.

“Scott is absolutely devastated not to be able to bring his favourite lump of coal to the UN,” said Political commentator John Kett. “This despite looking great in the papers has not been a good trip for Scott.”

“First he was not allowed to bring his favourite Pastor to the Whitehouse then he forgot to bring his favourite lump of coal to the UN.”

“Poor bugger, well at least he got to regale the UN with tales of the Sharks and Engadine Maccas. The lump of coal will have to wait till next time.”

The Prime Minister wraps up his American visit today with a tour of Manhatten McDonald’s restaurants before heading home to Engadine.

Mark Williamson

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter or like us on facebook.

Australian Space Agency To Send Manned Holden Kingswood To Dubbo By 2035

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 23/09/2019 - 11:21am in

Australia will be getting its very own space agency with plans to mount a mission to put astronauts on the surface of Dubbo within two decades.

“Due to the high cost of petrol and the dodgy radiator we will have to find crew members willing to undertake a one way voyage,” said astronomer Millicent Tang. “As far as we know the reality series Yummy Mummies doesn’t get broadcast in Dubbo so that should be enough incentive for us to get millions of volunteers.”

Technicians working to overcome the problem of providing enough bags of chips to keep the crew fed during the five hour voyage are looking into rerouting the craft to stop at the Hydro Majestic in Medlow Bath for a drink and that good hamburger shop in Orange for dinner.

“We learnt a lot from an earlier mission to Mittagong in the 1960s in a Datsun 180b,” said astronaut Paul Thomas. “Mainly we learnt that crew members must be supplied with more than one mix tape to listen to for the whole trip or else they’ll face severe psychological distress.”

An unmanned mission to Dubbo in the 1970s sent back several blurry images of the Western Plains Zoo and the old jail.

Peter Green

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter or like us on facebook.


White Helmets, Black Lies

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 23/09/2019 - 1:41am in

David Macilwain This is the story of my challenge to Australia’s SBS TV over their role in passing on criminal disinformation about Syria, chemical weapons and the White Helmets. On the 8th of April last year, SBS television broadcast a report claiming sixty people had died in a chemical weapons attack in Douma on their …