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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

corporate rule anyone? « Previous | |Next »
February 28, 2012

The pollsters keep telling us that people hate the minority government, even the parliament is working effectively in passing reform legislation and the negotiations represents representative democracy in action. Business dislikes, if not hates, the Gillard minority government.

They express this in terms of the authority of the leadership being diminished and the illegitimacy of the Gillard Government. This rhetoric, especially around the Fair Work Act, can be seen as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy. Clearly, for business, less democracy is better.

RowsonMworkhouse.jpg Martin Rowson

Behind this rhetoric sits a corporate power that is antagonistic to the shift to a low carbon economy and acts to ensure that Australian life is built around the demands and interests of big business. The antagonism to the Gillard Government and desire for an early election to restore the Coalition to power is premised on corporations gaining ever greater powers and being subject to less democratic oversight and restraint, in the form of regulation and reform.

What lies behind this is the corporate assault on democracy that has been gathering pace for the past 5 years whose trajectory is a shift to corporate rule. The rhetoric large corporations are benevolent institutions that should be minimally regulated because what is good for them is good for society as a whole. Strong government for them means that government should protect business activities against the excesses of democratic regulation and that the power of the state should become subordinate to corporate interests.

If this assault on democracy to protect corporate interests requires the destruction of effective public healthcare and reliable state education, then so be it, as these are of no concern to an economic class that uses neither.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:55 AM | | Comments (13)
Comments

Comments

The corporate assault is launched from the op-ed pages of the Australian. Thus Henry Ergas in Decline and fall of social democracy talks in terms of the return of social democracy's and its most retrograde elements.

He says:

Little wonder Gillard's crowning achievement is the Fair Work Act, internationally unparalleled in the range of powers it grants unions. Little wonder too that under Labor's watch, Australia is the only advanced economy that has renationalised its telecommunications network. And little wonder the three policies Gillard boasts of -- the carbon tax, the mining tax and the clawing back of the health insurance rebate -- are tax slugs, used to fund spending cloaked in the politics of envy.

The language is market populism---that market values should extend into all areas of their lives and that market transactions should take priority over democratic processes.

For The Australian there can be no going back to social democracy--- the idea that governments should protect citizens against the excesses of free enterprise and the deregulated market.

The new neo-liberal order is that market transactions should take priority over democratic processes.

re "desire for an early election to restore the Coalition to power is premised on corporations gaining ever greater powers and being subject to less democratic oversight and restraint, in the form of regulation and reform."

Hence the collaboration between multinational corporations and conservative state legislators (eg., Victoria) to ensure the steady dismantling of the laws, regulations, programs and practices in favour of renewable energy.

I confess to being puzzled by the continuing employer objections to the Fair Work Act. They can't reflect any real worries about union militancy so presumably they are due to the Act's maintenance of real wages. One can only conclude that lots of employers are green with envy of the yanks, who've been able to keep real wages for working people stagnant for decades now while the privileged got richer and richer.

The problem with a resurgence of social democracy is that nobody seems terribly interested, in the sense of doing anything practical to achieve it. As with our great and powerful friend across the Pacific, we are good at whining about inequality but not very good at doing anything to change it. What issue might drive Australians out into the streets to protest these days, let alone to do the hard yakka of joining an organised movement at some continuing personal risk and inconvenience? I can't think of one. We are all too relaxed and comfortable. Thus the way is open for the psychos who only want to get endlessly richer to run the place, because nobody else really cares.

John Howard was not successful for 11 years because he was lucky. He understood Australians very well.

Since you put it like that, yes, Labors woes are because it is fighting Big Corporates.

Do you think the Leveson enquiry in the UK and its potential fall out in the US where News Corp is currently registered have any chance of rolling through to Australia and reducing Murdoch's stranglehold on public discourse?

While we have compulsory voting we can't completely silence the concerns of the populace. Shorten and Combet got into Parliament through their effective fight against Work Choices.

When the next election is called Victorian women will remember the Baillieu government attacks on the hard-won conditions of nurses, and community care workers as well as the poisonous conditions teachers work under. This won't help Abbott

"I confess to being puzzled by the continuing employer objections to the Fair Work Act. "

Corporate Australia's rhetoric is that the Fair Work Act reduces productivity.

Their assumption is that there is a direct, relationship between the concepts of decentralisation and deregulation (market flexibility) and superior productivity performance.

What is covered up is that decentralised, deregulated systems are consistently linked to greater inequality. They cover this up because their core aim is to drive wages down.

Congrats on a bunch of intelligent informed comments people.

"...we are good at whining about inequality but not very good at doing anything to change it. What issue might drive Australians out into the streets to protest these days..."

Maybe it's because (despite all the whining) we suspect that we've had it too good for too long. Pardon the mixed metaphor, but, maybe rocking the boat might bring down this house of cards.

Mars8, what does "...had it too good for too long" mean? The people in the wrong half of the two-speed economy don't have it all that good, and that's most of us.

As ever, Rowson gets to the sheer idiocy of these subjects. Loved Marley's Ghost, who looked ever so slightly more intelligent than Cameron.
Re Mars and Gordon, I tend to agree more with Mars. As some in their fifties, I grew up with stories of the Depression from the olds and I'd suspect that even though we are hard done by, many Australians still wouldn't take a trip to salubrious Dacca, Delhi or Khartoum in any great numbers, because we are salt of the earth and wouldn't dream of imposing our poverty on rich people.
This is why Abbott will run this country soon, not because Aussies are lazy and smug.

You don't need to tell me about the two-speed economy, Gordon.

I am a middle-aged tradesman in heavy industry... in probably the most industrialised region of eastern Australia.

But... my colleagues and friends would never dream of taking to the streets to protest inequality. There are several reasons for this.. their deeply in debt, they're disengaged from politics, the think things will turn around, they don't want to be associated with hippies and bludgers.... and they are of the opinion that things could be much worse. After all, this IS the "lucky country"... right?

Things change when they have to... so far, very few Aussies can forsee such a time.

Mars08, I'm still unsure of your "had it too good for too long" remark.

But your colleagues are right that things could be much worse. The aftermath of the GFC is leading to another round of privatisations in Europe:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/everything-must-go-the-great-european-fire-sale-7079815.html

I foresee a renewed privatisation push here, to be called (as always) "reform". That'll be worse, all right.

Knock Knock

Whos there?

Kevin