Australian Left Review

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Comment: ALR 16

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Abstract

Everybody who is anybody knows that the class struggle is outmoded, lingering on vestigially only because communists, leftwing unionists and other oldfas'hioned orthodox working class thinkers stubbornly persist in believing it exists, stirring up alleged grievances and fomenting strikes. This idealist conception of Australian social reality is shared, from quite differing viewpoints, by the conservative establishment which has a vested interest in “abolishing” the class struggle, and some of its radical opponents who consider that economic injustices have almost disappeared in the “affluent society” and are superseded by new moral issues and problems of contemporary capitalism. A whole new concept of social, industrial and political conflicts has emerged, with conservative and radical sides. The conservative theory holds that a new unionism is needed, that concerns itself with sharing in the technological revolution by lifting productivity, co-operating with the new managerial class, a unionism of bright and pushing new experts that will turn its back upon all the old traditions. The new radical theory, with several variants, seems to be saying that the working class, changing at any rate, has been assimilated into the system and is no longer capable of waging a consistent anticapitalist struggle for social change.

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