||Issue No. 187||18 July 2003|
Hearts, Minds and Other Body Parts
Interview: As They Say In The Bible ...
Industrial: Just Doing It
Unions: Breaking Into the Boys Club
Activists: Making the Hard Yards
Bad Boss: In the Pooh
Unions: National Focus
Economics: Pop Will Eat Itself
Technology: Dean for President
International: Rangoon Rumble
Education: Blackboard Jungle
Review: From Weakness to Strength
The Locker Room
Sid Einfield Would be Proud
Tom in the Manger
Sermon on the Mount
Letters to the Editor
Tom in the Manger
Tom Collins has been at it again. He's suffered under the lash of economic rationalism inflicted by "Labor" governments and (quite rightly) resents it bitterly, but seems to object when anyone actually tries to do something about it. This time he's turning his florid rhetoric on Tony Brown, who has written an effective, if somewhat pedestrian, critique of Andrew Refshauge's plan for NSW education.
When Tom isn't trying to change the subject through ad hominem or terminological arguments, he's often making a wordy confession of his political tendencies or saying things that are just plain wrong. For instance, he alleges that " 'Lifelong Learning' is essentially an organisational restructure, but not aimed at cutting 1000 jobs but using the 'Human Resources' more effectively." Now, is Tom saying that the 1000 jobs won't be going? He then progresses to saying that, since the PSA & the Teachers Federation haven't fought against economic rationalism to his satisfaction before, they should be left to suffer it themselves now. This "dog in the manger" attitude is no way out of the economic rationalist treadmill.
Much of the rest of his rant is a succession of libels of teachers. He's careful, of course, to steer clear of schoolteachers (i.e. the people with whom most readers would be familiar), but conjures up images of vast numbers of baddies hiding out in TAFE and Adult Education. Colourful terms like "useless as a eunuch's testicles", "parasites on the public purse", "elite middle class welfare bludgers", "allegedly educated sponger never having worked" etc , are calculated to play to the prejudices of those who respond to their own positions of hardship by deciding that all other workers should suffer as well - or more so. The dog, it seems, quite firmly ensconced in the manger.
Tom, however, takes things further than mere insults. Despite his protestations of supporting Labor, he admits that "if it takes a Howard government to stand up to the intimidation of the PSA or the Teachers Federation, then 'So Mote it be'!" When workers stand up for their jobs, it seems, they are to be regarded as "intimidating" their employer, something so intolerable that Tom would prefer the most Right-wing Tory government in most people's lifetimes in order to stand up to them.
Finally (but only after passing over the multitude of other debatable points in his letter), it is necessary to correct Tom on the point of "socialist economic rationalism". The term is an oxymoron worthy of the greatest romantic poets, since according to any reasonable definition of terms, socialism and economic rationalism are mutually incompatible. The "socialists" he names are Hawke & Keating, who actually earned their stripes waging war on the Left in the labour movement. Hawke fought the Left in the unions, while Keating did it in the NSW ALP, both as open opponents of socialism. This is not to say, however, that those opponents were socialists, because while many of them called what they believed in by the name of socialism, there was only ever a handful which were not entirely incorrect on this point.
What gave Tom the boot from his last ongoing job (& gave him so much free time to compose his Right-wing essays) and is facing the working class as a whole is not socialism, but economic rationalism - the contemporary face of Australian capitalism. Both the Liberal Party & the Amateur Liberal Party are firmly committed to it, while nobody else in Parliament, State or Federal, has a viable alternative. It is up to the workers, by organising in their workplaces, to create that alternative - but we're not going to get far if we pay any attention to Tom Collins.
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