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Issue No. 124 15 February 2002  

Chickens Come Home
For anyone who believes in karma, the events of the summer show how bad Australia's is right now.


Unions: Winning the Heartland
John Robertson unveils new research on attitudes to refugees and argues it's time for unions to mount their own propaganda war.

Interview: Swan's Song
Federal ALP front-bencher Wayne Swan expands on his ideas for rebuilding the Party in the wake of the Tampa election.

Corporate: Lessons from Enron
Jim Marr looks at the shock-waves the collapse of a US corporate heavy-weight are having around the globe.

Politics: What We Did Last Summer
We look back over a summer when it all went pear-shaped. Some events, at home and abroad, look set to have ongoing ramifications.

History: Solidarity in Song
Mark Gregory looks back on the annals of labour songs and offers some hints for those planning a tilt at the Labor Council's worker anthem comp.

International: A Tale of Two Cities
New York and Port Alegre are poles apart � but they both played host to important conferences on the future of globalisation over the summer.

Poetry: Nobody Told Me
Labour academic David Peetz commits the Prime Minister's current woes to verse.

Review: Labor and the Rings
Tolkien�s epic tale provides a timely reminder that that there are forces of good and evil in the world � and that they are not necessarily where we expect to find them, writes Michael Gadiel.

Satire: Rafter Named Bermudan Of The Year For Tax Purposes
Australian of the Year Pat Rafter was last night also named Bermudan of the Year, in a simple ceremony held in Bermuda's Parliament.


 Unions' Commit to Battle for Hearts

 Carr on Notice - Expectations Up

 Mad Monk Sides With Angels � Briefly

 Maritime Union Acts on Spy Scandal

 May Day Play-Off for Workers' Anthem

 Burmese Links Shroud Winter Olympics

 New Phone Venture One.Tel In Drag

 Two Million Face Rights Downgrade

 Enron Collapse Hits Share-Owner Agenda

 Corrrigan Snaps Up Rail Bargain

 Kinko Clowns With Workers' Rights

 MPs Face Security Checks

 Telstra's Tragic Delays Of Its Own Making

 Burrow Puts Case to World Economic Forum

 Shangri La Protests Hit Melbourne

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Chinks in the Armour
The ACTU's Michael Crosby argues that Mark Latham's attack on the Labor for Refugees movement is the betrayal of Party values.

The Locker Room
Off-side in Korea?
With the World Cup set to kick off in a matter of months, South Korea's treatment of unions is under the microscope.

Week in Review
Cloak and Dagger
In the first of what will be a regular column, we place the week's labour news into a nutshell.

 In Whose Interests?
 'International Labour's Year in Review' - A Re-View
 Belly's Broad-Side
 Collins Gets Cryptic
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Labor and the Rings

Tolkien�s epic tale provides a timely reminder that that there are forces of good and evil in the world � and that they are not necessarily where we expect to find them, writes Michael Gadiel.


The movie is set in a mythical world of Hobbits, Dwarfs, Elves and Men. Sauron is the Dark Lord of great magical power. His evil servants include Goblins and Orcs. A thousand years before, Sauron was defeated in a great confrontation between good and evil, however the key to his power, his ring, survived and with it so did his spirit.

The ring has come into the possession of a small creature called Frodo, a Hobbit. When its significance is discovered Frodo is conscripted into a quest to destroy the ring, and end the power of Sauron forever.

Frodo must confront his own darker side as he grapples to make sense of the cataclysmic events of which he has become the focus. Why was he chosen to be the ring bearer? What is it about the ring that those that possess it start to fall under its influence? Why does the ring inevitably become so very "precious" to them?

In the central scene of the first book Frodo offers the ring to the Elf Queen Galadriel, played by Cate Blanchett. Her response - "In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night!" Galadriel recognises that nobody can withstand the corrupting effect of the power of the ring - especially not a great one such as herself.

Frodo has been chosen as the ring-bearer because of his humble nature and purity of spirit. Upon him the corrupting effect of the ring is diminished. - But, as we discover later in the story, even he is not immune. As the confrontation between good and evil plays out on a larger scale Frodo must fight to win this battle within himself if their quest is to succeed.

The underling theme of Tolkien's story is the corrupting nature of power. The lesson provided by Galadriel and Frodo is that nobody is immune from its effect. The point that Tolkien was making is that such a great concentration of power, such as that contained within the ring, cannot be good. Inevitably power will corrupt its possessor - but some may resist its corrupting effect for longer than others.

The analogy for Labor is that having possessed power for thirteen years the Party is yet to acknowledge, and deal with, the corrupting effect that this long period of power has had upon the Party and its leadership.

The Labor Party is an organisation that pursues power - for a purpose. It should be made up of people that seek to lift the standards and to improve the lives of ordinary working people. But there is a further role: to raise peoples' consciousness so that they can take power and responsibility for themselves. This means handing power over - analogous to the eventual need to withstand temptation and voluntarily destroy the ring.

The ultimate result of this was a third successive election loss for Labor. The moral paucity of the Party was laid bare when Howard brought on the refugee issue. The Labor Party demonstrated that it was prepared to abandon its principles to regain power - thus proving itself unworthy of office.

Has the Party become so familiar with the wielding of power that we pursue it for its own sake? Will we sacrifice anything to get it back? Are we so confident that we perceive ourselves as the "natural party of Government"?

It is perhaps time for the movement to critically review its attitude towards power and the reasons why it should be entrusted with it. It is also perhaps time for those that have personally wielded power for so long, to seek to re-make themselves outside the public sphere.

I suspect that as for Frodo, the real battle will be within ourselves - if we are to achieve victory in our quest for electoral success.


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