economy

The 39th anniversary of Portugal’s 1974 “revolution of the carnations” that overthrew a 48-year-long dictatorship, was marked on April 25 by a huge march against austerity in Lisbon.

The symbols of that revolution — the carnations and the song “Grandola, Vila Morena” (broadcast in the early hours of April 25, 1974 as the signal to start the revolt )— were massively present.

They now stand for the need for another rebellion, this time against the austerity imposed on the country by the “troika” -- the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.

After being forced to admit that “clean coal” will never happen, the coal industry has fallen back on an old argument to justify itself — that Australia cannot live without the industry because it does so much for the economy by providing jobs and creating wealth.

When a political leader dies, it becomes compulsory to lie about their record.

While much of Britain openly rejoiced at the death of Margaret Thatcher, the media snapped into reverential mode, giving over hours of airtime and several thousand miles of column inches to representatives of the ruling class to solemnly recite myths about her achievements.

This wouldn’t matter so much if, like Thatcher, these myths were dead. But they are still shaping our policies.

No ‘economic miracle’

It seems that everyone in Australia can now agree that a class war has erupted. Former Labor Party leader Simon Crean, recently sacked by Prime Minister Julia Gillard said: “The Labor Party has always operated most effectively when it has been inclusive, when it’s sought consensus, not when it has sought division, not when it has gone after class warfare.”

Hall Greenland, a respected left-wing activist, writer and journalist in Sydney, is the Greens candidate for the inner-west Sydney seat of Grayndler. Greenland was a Leichhardt councillor for the Labor Party in the 1980s, and served a second term as an independent between 1999 and 2004.

He is president of the Friends of Callan Park, a community group which has waged a long struggle against the privatisation of a vital heritage area.

Greenland is also the author of Red Hot, a biography of one of Australia’s earliest Trotskyists, Nick Origlass.

To believe the capitalist media, there is a specter haunting the US — the danger that we are about to fall over a fiscal cliff come January 1.

This is presented as if it were a natural phenomenon, a physical cliff the nation is hurtling toward — something must be done before we go over and crash on the rocks below!

President Barack Obama, the Democrats and Republicans in Congress must come to a compromise to avoid the impending catastrophe, we are repeatedly told.

Did you think there is a housing bubble in Australia? Not so, according to the chairperson of Aussie Home Loans, John Symond, who said last month: “I am confident, notwithstanding a lot of hype from offshore analysts about a housing bubble, of Australia’s fundamentals.”

Symond wants us to trust him, not those offshore analysts, because it's not as if the owner of a home loans company has any interest in the maintenance of an overpriced property market.

We've been told opportunity, prosperity and more freedoms came to Australia under the banner of capitalism and the “free-market” in the 1980s and 90s after the economic slump of two recessions.

But when neoliberal ideals and rhetoric are set aside, a grim picture of the great, and ever growing, divide between the rich and poor in Australia emerges yet again.

Between 1920 and 1980, inequality in Australia was shrinking, until a perceived sense of national stagnation took hold and the Hawke-Keating Labor government made the leap into the global free market.

On October 7, the Socialist Alliance adopted as a key focus for its next federal election campaign a call to bring the mining industry and the banks under public/community ownership and control, so they can be run in a way that respects Aboriginal rights, the environment and social justice. The urgent need to address climate change alone demands that these industries be immediately taken out of the hands of the billionaires and their global corporations and operated as not-for-profit public services under the democratic control of the majority.

Their demonstrations have shaken Quebec in recent months, and on September 20, students and environmentalists won big victories.

At her first news conference as premier, Pauline Marois announced that her Parti Quebecois (PQ) government had cancelled the university tuition fees rise imposed by the previous Jean Charest Liberal government.

The PQ government, which won the September 4 elections, said it would also repeal the repressive provisions of Law 12 (formerly Bill 78). Charest had imposed the law in a bid to smash the province's huge student strike.

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