Since the last issue of Illawarra Unity, the labour movement has been shaken to its core. The leadership coup in the Labor Party and subsequent election highlighted problems so severe within the organization that it is still descending slowly into a hell of its own making. It is tempting to wax eloquent about a once great Party being dragged into the mud by self-serving factional hacks; tempting but insufficient. Singling out a few nasty creatures here or tendencies there does nothing to explain the thorough decay. Even those within Labor who acknowledge something is wrong are themselves part of the problem. They launch blistering critiques of a Party without soul or substance. They speak about parliamentarians silenced like zombies and unable to stand up for the things that matter. Yet when the crunch comes – whether it be electricity privatisation in New South Wales, railway privatisation in Queensland, the war in Afghanistan – guess where they line up? The Labor Government had not really lost its way at all – it was doing the sorts of things that right-wing social democratic Governments do. It had, however, lost its mind and its spirit and its ideals and its vision and anything else it might once have had. This, after all, was and is a Government that saw nothing amiss with keeping the Australian Building and Construction Commission in place with draconian powers to pursue and prosecute those, like Ark Tribe, struggling for the rights of workers. Line that up with the maintenance of the school funding rort manufactured by the previous Liberal Government, continued commitment to the Afghanistan disaster (and our endorsement, along the way, of torture, drone attacks and other crimes of war), the brazen support for whatever illegal and immoral actions Israel undertakes … the list could go on but this is more than enough to signal a deep malaise.
Recommended CitationAshbolt, Anthony, Illawarra Unity: Editorial & Contents 2010, Illawarra Unity - Journal of the Illawarra Branch of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, 10(1), 2010, 3-4.