Can Australia escape the spiral into a moral abyss?

Rudd has broken his promise and "lurched to the right" on refugees.

It is now depressingly clear for all to see that whether Liberal or Labor win the coming Australian federal election, we are going to end up with a government that is more right-wing than the last.

How did it come to this? And how can we escape the political spiral to a moral abyss?

The politicians in the ALP and in the Liberal-Nationals who have shaped this latest reactionary turn in the spiral — most notably around attacks on refugee rights and climate change — cannot be let off the hook.

Their personal culpability must not be forgotten and they should be brought to account for their crimes. But much bigger forces are at play.

To paraphrase Karl Marx: Individuals make their own history, but they do not make it as they please. They do not make it under circumstances they choose, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.

The circumstances that are pushing most governments around the world to exact ever more sacrifice from their citizens and make ever greater attacks on democratic and civil rights is the unprecedented concentration of wealth in the hands of a few.

On a global scale, the latest calculations show that just 8% of the world's population owns 82% of the world's wealth. The richest 2% own more than half, while the poorest 70% have to divide just 3% of the world's wealth between them. It is not just unconscionable but unsustainable.

It is unsustainable because this incredible concentration of wealth in the hands of a few has, in a sense, a mind of its own. It is a mass of capital that demands an insatiable return in the form of profits.

Military and class wars have been waged in the service of this demand, entire nations of people have been deprived of even the most basic livelihoods, displaced from their homes by the millions, and the human habitability of the planet has been put in jeopardy.

This system cannot continue. But the last thing Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition leader Tony Abbott want us to do is recognise this fact. Both are trying to sell us the idea that this profit-driven madness can and must go on.

More than that, they want us to believe that ordinary folk like us can win in this system. Just turn back the boats, send those refugees to Papua New Guinea or Nauru, work harder, longer and for less, and everything will be OK.

But this is a lie. There is no happy solution for everybody on the course Abbott and Rudd have charted. Not even for most of the white-skinned “boat people” who came to this country a little earlier than the latest boat arrivals.

The problem can only be fixed when the real problem is resolved. The unconscionable and unsustainable super-concentration of wealth in the hands of the few has to end.

Green Left Weekly is committed to building a movement to take the wealth and power out of the hands of the billionaires and their corporations and use them collectively and democratically in the common interest.

Please make a donation this week to the Green Left Weekly Fighting Fund. Direct deposits can also be made to Greenleft, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account No. 00901992.

Otherwise, you can send a cheque or money order to PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007 or donate on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia).

If you like our work, become a supporter

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.