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

polls and leadership « Previous | |Next »
March 12, 2013

Polls and leadership conflicts. Polls and leadership. Polls and leadership. Polls and leadership and crisis.

The narrative of bad poll new leader is the central concern of the Canberra Press Gallery and the mainstream media. It's the frame through which they understand politics. They write about the crisis ad nauseum because it increases the number of clicks on their online articles. They will drive their informed readership away in an attempt to stay relevant with their inflated junk commentary.

RoweDGillardPolls.jpg David Rowe

When it does come to policy issues--say the use of foreign workers on 457 visas the debate around the complex issues of globalization, the global movement of labour and migrant labour is reduced to xenophobia and Gillard's flawed judgment.

There is little acknowledgement that the creation of a global economy in the 1990s has produced a global workforce and that this has opened up a range of innovative responses to the squeezing of the middle class, migrant workers and the anti-neoliberal struggles against coercive and repressive work practices.

The dominant neo-liberal ideology hammers out the need for workers and their organisations to be ‘responsible’ and “encourage trade unionists to disavow as ‘subversive’, ‘irresponsible’ or ‘economically disastrous’ any but the most modest of objectives”.

Global neoliberalism has created a crisis for traditional unionism with its mode of governance based on capital mobility, free trade, flexible labour and the market-compliant economic governance of the minimal state and international financial institutions. This has been associated with de-unionisation, hostility towards unionism by conservative governments, and the casualisation of employment through flexible labour relations.

All this make it difficult to protect labor standards, especially for migrant workers. The ACTU highlights the way skilled workers on a temporary 457 Visa (a business can sponsor a skilled worker if they cannot find an appropriate Australian citizen or permanent resident to fill the skilled position) are being exploited by employers so as to undercut Australian wages and conditions.

The ACTU aim is to minimize the ability of employers to use migrant workers to undercut pay and conditions for Australian workers and to protect the interests of migrant workers. The media highlighted the popular nativist reaction of "Australia jobs for Australian workers”.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:45 AM | | Comments (13)


Conservatives have an interesting dilemma. They depend on business for institutional support but a large number of Pauline Hanson One Nation type voters are crucial for electoral support. Issues like immigration and free trade reveal how utterly irreconcilable are the attitudes of their institutional and their electoral supporters.

Since 2010 they have largely avoided having to confront this dilemma, which hurt them so badly in the WorkChoices issue, but it must keep some of their strategists awake at night. Especially when they look across the Pacific and see the hopeless mess the Republicans have got themselves into trying to resolve the same internal contradictions over matters like immigration and the welfare safety net.

'middle class' is shorthand for workers with decent, stable jobs with benefits.

This has eroded under neo-liberalism and, in its place has emerged the swelling ranks of the working poor navigating their way through widespread downward social mobility.

The current policy emphasis on “job creation”. For the unions "job creation" means decent jobs and decent conditions. For employers "job creation" means self-responsibility and employability where occupational opportunities rely on individual initiative and the dismantling of fiscal and redistributive burdens on private enterprise.

The reduction of corporate taxes, the systematic degradation of employment conditions, cutbacks in social services and safety nets have been implemented in the name of job creation.

The mainstream neo-liberal rationality in the Murdoch Press exalts low wages as a path from poverty to personal responsibility and empowerment. This conservative opinion calls for the realistic alternative between any job, at any condition, or no job at all. They have no time for decent jobs with decent conditions.

a new era of class composition is emerging.

many people are struggling to survive on part-time jobs in the retail and service sector, on low-wages only about to get lower, and on an increasingly weaker labour movement.

The mid-century (1950s-1970s) working class is not the working class of today. So the institutions, the organisational bodies that have adhered to the composition of the working class in previous eras, have been shaken up in the 21st century.

In Capital Volume I (1867) Marx analysed capital’s tendency to create a reserve army of labour that could be brought in and out at a moment's notice to not only fulfill seasonal and/or contractual obligations but discipline the existing workforce and lower the overall price of labour.

The ACTU says (ACTU: Secure Jobs. Better Future ) that overall, 40% of the Australian workforce are in temporary or insecure work arrangements from labour hire, fixed-term contracts, through to direct casual employment.

This constitutes one of the highest rates of temporary work in the OECD

migration and migrant labour is seen in Australia in terms of security, border controls, integration and the importance of decent working conditions and wages.

Workers are now mobile across national frontiers. The contested area becomes one of who controls labour mobility in the context of labour markets being deregulated so that labour becomes flexible. At present international mobility is granted to the small elite of professional workers where skills are required in the affluent countries.

For the mass of the world's workers national borders are closed. Migration is securitised and the full panoply of state surveillance and repression falls on those who take globalization at its word and go off to improve their situation.

Within the new global order the specific area of immigration control, at the national borders is where the race, ethnicity and national categories are explicitly deployed to filter out the undesirable, the unclean and the unworthy.

Today, the most clearly differentiated is the Muslim 'Other', seen as bearer of the most retrograde social customs, cultural norms and terrorist impulses.

Once again, a really superb post that is good enough to defy addition.

Apart from all the political stuff I think julia is looking quite good lately. New glasses and hair, perhaps lost a bit of weight too.Probably the best she's looked ever.