The Australian Labor Party’s Left Faction Is Just Propping up the Right
You might expect the Right and Left factions of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) to be at loggerheads. After all, we’ve recently seen intense factional disputes in countries like Britain and the United States, as supporters of Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders challenged right-wing hegemony in the Labour and Democratic parties. But the ALP is a different story: its historically antagonistic factions have forged a cozy relationship and undermined party democracy in the process. To understand how it works, we need only look at the New South Wales (NSW) Labor Party. In New South Wales, the Right faction has a stranglehold over the party machinery. In theory, it could use this influence to crush the Left, but it chooses not to, recognizing that a compliant “official opposition” will help contain pressure from ALP activists who want a real change of direction for the party. For its part, the would-be left-wing leadership, known as the Head Office Left, has bitterly opposed reforms that would democratize party structures. Its leading figure, George Simon, relies on the same gerrymandered delegate system that maintains the Right faction’s dominance to control his own tendency. The details of what happens inside the ALP aren’t just a matter of concern for party members. Unless Australia’s long-standing two-party system comes to an end, the Labor Party is the only alternative party of government to the conservative, corporate-backed Liberal-National Coalition. The sweetheart deals between Right and Left factions that block any transformation of Labor are a problem for us all.
China Isn’t the Problem, Neoliberalism Is
The ascendance of Wall Street, and of a managerial bureaucracy (PMC) more generally, largely explains the political realignments that have been playing out in the U.S. Beginning in the 1970s, the American political class made decisions at the behest of business interests and oligarchs to restructure the U.S. economy in ways intended to shift the balance of political and economic power towards capital. Finance was, and still is, the method of affecting this transfer of power. However, the current epoch of finance capitalism has run its course. Its logic has been lost. The threats to the neoliberal order are now internal to it. Bi-partisan claims that China is a growing economic and military threat to the U.S. places economic competition within the national frame that American capitalists have spent the last five decades arguing is no longer relevant because of globalization. This posture of a unified national interest follows several decades of American industrialists cum financiers doing everything they can to concentrate wealth and power for themselves. Now, having done so, the frame of ‘nation’ is being opportunistically reasserted to claim a unified national interest to oppose ‘foreign’ competition. However, China didn’t pass NAFTA and China didn’t bail out Wall Street.
Starmer isn't 'too cautious' - he is ruthlessly tearing Labour apart
The completion of Keir Starmer’s first year as Labour leader might have passed without note, had it not been the occasion for senior party figures to express mounting concern at Labour’s dismal performance in opposition to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government. At a time when Labour ought to be landing regular punches on the ruling party over its gross incompetence in handling the Covid-19 pandemic, and cronyism in its awarding of multimillion-pound coronavirus-related contracts, Starmer has preferred to avoid confrontation. Critics have accused him of being “too cautious” and showing a “lack of direction”. Dissatisfaction with Starmer among Labour voters has quadrupled over the past 10 months, from 10 percent last May to 39 percent in March. His approach does not even appear to be winning over the wider public; a recent poll on who would make a better prime minister gave incumbent Johnson a 12-percentage-point lead. Increasingly anxious senior Labour MPs called late last month for a “big figure” to help Starmer set aside his supposed political diffidence and offer voters a clearer idea of “what Keir is for”. That followed a move in February by Starmer’s team to reach out to Peter Mandelson, who helped Tony Blair rebrand the party as “New Labour” in the 1990s and move it sharply away from any association with socialism.