Theory & History

In their own words

Quiet diplomacy

“The new American ambassador in Damascus, Robert Ford, has been quietly reaching out to Mr. [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad to urge him to stop firing on his people.” New York Times, March 26.

Simpson and his donkey: the radical truth

Anzac Day has long been less about remembrance of the people slaughtered in wars for Australia’s capitalist class and their foreign friends and more about creating a culture of blind nationalism and militarism. Particularly since the beginning of the “war on terror” in 2001, the deification of the digger, militarism and nationalism have been ramped up by the Howard, Rudd and Gillard governments.

What is a human life 'worth'?

If someone approached you and offered you $1 million to let him kill you, would you accept? What if the price was $2 million? $5 million?

Most people would probably say that there is no price at which they would sell their life. But that doesn’t prevent businesses and governments from setting a dollar value on our lives.

Heresy at the Herald: capitalism may not be perfect

It was almost unheard of. Last month, a Fairfax business writer hinted that capitalism - at least, the Australian capitalism that we all know and love - might be not quite perfect. Something, Stuart Washington wrote on February 7, is “broken” in Australia’s “pricing system”, and “I believe failures in pricing are posing grave dangers to what we know as capitalism”.

A Bolshevik in Brisbane

The People’s Train
By Tom Keneally
Vintage 2009

Life in Russia at the start of the 20th century under Tsar Nicholas II was intolerable for the mass of workers and peasants. An intense period of capitalist expansion and development, especially over the 1890s, had transformed Russia socially and economically. The predominantly peasant population, living a semi-feudal and impoverished existence, was the primary source of labour for the new industrial districts.

The 1917 Russian Revolution and 21st century socialism

[The following is an abridged version of a talk presented to a Sydney Direct Action forum on November 6. Doug Lorimer is a member of the national executive of the Revolutionary Socialist Party.]

'Managers' find US economy refuses to behave

Official interest rates in the United States have been held almost to zero for nearly two years. In mainstream economic theory, low interest is a “stimulus” measure. The idea is that businesses are more willing to borrow and expand their operations when interest rates are low.

Seminars celebrate Vietnam's liberation

“A Victory for all humanity” was how the cover of Direct Action welcomed the liberation of Saigon and final unification of Vietnam on April 30, 1975, and that was the theme of a series of seminars in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane organised in September by Direct Action and the Revolutionary Socialist Party. (The final seminar will be in Perth on October 2.) The seminars also celebrated Vietnam’s independence in 1945, and discussed the long struggle for freedom and independence, the antiwar and anti-conscription struggle in Australia, and the situation in Vietnam today.

Government 'transparency': what's at stake?

In the negotiations between the two major parties and the Greens and independents over who would form the new federal government, “transparency” was a frequently mentioned issue. Tony Abbott and the Coalition were criticised, legitimately, for their effort to hide the real cost of their election promises. The agreement between the ALP and Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott pledged them, among other things, to “pursue” “transparent and accountable government”. After Windsor and Oakeshott announced their support for Labor, Julia Gillard gushed, “... let’s draw back the curtains and let the sun shine in, let our parliament be more open than it was before”, adding, “We will be held to higher standards of transparency and reform ...”

NSW Labor: suicide rather than annoy the wealthy

NSW Labor is on the nose with voters, like never before. In October, according to Newspoll, it became the most unpopular ALP government there has ever been in Australia, with only 23% support. When Labor lost government in Victoria last year, it suffered a uniform swing of about 6%. In NSW, election analysts are predicting double that, or more.