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Issue No. 222 28 May 2004  

The New Radicals
Many of us lament the fact the Labor Party has little these days to do with labour; some even whimsically remember how the Liberals were once liberal; but evolving world events are now putting a lie to that most enduring of political labels ‘the conservative’.


Interview: Machine Man
It’s regarded as the most powerful job in the Party, but new NSW ALP general secretary Mark Arbib wants to build a bridge with the union movement.

Unions: Testing Times
Unions are not opposed to drug and alcohol testing, but they do want to see real safety issues addressed, writes Phil Doyle.

Bad Boss: Freespirit Haunts Internet
FreeSpirit forked out a motza for a whiz bang internet presence then disappeared right off the radar – once it was nominated as our Bad Boss for May.

Unions: Badge of Honour
Surry Hills is home to one of the world’s finest displays of union badges thanks to Bill "The Bear" Pirie and a supporting cast headed by Joe Strummer, Mark Knopfler, George Benson, Annie Lennox and other seriously big noises.

National Focus: Noel's World
Shrill bosses bleat over minimum wage rise, union spinmeisters congregate in Melbourne and Tassie’s nurses take the baton from their mob in Victoria reports Noel Hester in this national round up.

Economics: Safe Refuge
A humanitarian approach to refugees and an economically rational one?? I’d like to see that. Frank Stilwell did, when he went to Young in NSW to look into the impact of the Afghan refugees on temporary protection visas who came to work for the local abattoir

International: Global Abuse
Amnesty International have joined the chorus against the violation of trade union rights in the former Soviet republic of Belarus.

History: The Honeypot
To the Honeypot come those individuals anxious to get their hands on instant wealth. So it was in the early days of Broken Hill, wrties Grace Hawes in this homage to the mining town.

Review: Death And The Barbarians
This new take on coming of age films focuses on the coming of death and the dignity and maturity it can inspire among those touched by it - though not always easily in the overcrowded Canadian public health system, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Resident Bard David Peetz uncovers some of the unfolding mysteries of talk back radio.


 Why Cole is a Merry Old Soul

 Fight Breaks Out of Schoolyard

 Child Care for a Song

 "Back Off" Call To Death Inquiry

 Carr No Mussolini

 Sweet Box-all for Ballot Bureaucrats

 Unions Fire Up

 Beattie Papers Over Stink

 Glue Bullies Come Unstuck

 Johnnie Tugs the Rug

 Bank Jobs Under Spotlight

 Federal Muzzle for Shareholders

 Unions Earn $19 For Low Paid

 Fashionistas Go Fair

 Activists What’s On!


The Soapbox
Rethinking Left and Right Part 1
Dr David McKnight, from the University of Technology, Sydney presents a new frame for looking at the competing ideas within Social Democracy.

The Soapbox
Rethinking Left and Right Part 2
David McKnight concludes the paper he presented to the ‘Rethinking Social Democracy’ conference, in London, April 15-17, 2004.

Out On A Limb
Phil Doyle becomes the first Australian journalist to state that the Olympics will be called off.

The Westie Wing
In the latest episode, Ian West explores what Disraeli called "Lies, damn lies and statistics".

Message from America
Searing snapshots from a landscape of uncertainty have plunged the Bush Administration into deeper crisis, writes WorkingForChange's Bill Berkowitz.

 Howard The Chucker
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The New Radicals

Many of us lament the fact the Labor Party has little these days to do with labour; some even whimsically remember how the Liberals were once liberal; but evolving world events are now putting a lie to that most enduring of political labels ‘the conservative’.

George W Bush put himself forward to the American people as a 'compassionate conservative'; John Howard is the world leader of the conservative club and they all bow down to the high priestess of conservatism, Dame Maggie Thatcher.

But the economic, global and social policies our American leader and his Antipodean consort are currently promoting are anything but conservative.

As David McKnight points out in this month's 'Soapbox', the essence of conservatism is a doctrine that values tradition, institutions and the existing rules as the basis of society's foundations.

To conservatives, the case for any change carries a heavy onus and tends to be embraced, at best, incrementally. This stance made Conservatives the natural enemies of radical Socialists in the last century and it was this stand-off that helped define our 'Left-Right' political divide

This conservatism has little to do with the zealous and radical doctrine of the neo-conservatives like Bush and Howard.

They are the champions of economic deregulation - from trade policy to the labour laws -= their mission is cut back on the rules and institutions that have governed the market since the industrial revolution.

They are the warriors who have bypassed the United Nations to construct a New World Order based on the doctrine of pre-emption to protect US interests.

And they are the political practitioners who have been prepared to wedge their societies on issues like race, refugees and the institution of marriage for their own short-term advantage.

The impact of these leaders on the world has been as radical as any plaid-shirted revolutionary; it might hurt us to admit it but they have changed the world.

Perversely, the modern day conservatives, in its truest meaning, are the green Party's that challenge most fundamentally the radical market economics in a bid to conserve our natural environment.

As for social democratic parties like the ALP? They are in the difficult positioning of defining themselves in an era when old divides between Left and Right, Conservative and Radical do not mean much any more.

As McKnight points out, the beginning of this process is to dispense with the doctrine and look for values that drive us to engage in politics for the first time: the desire for stronger more cohesive communities, a better future for our kids, a world where markets work for us not the other way around.

It is a political vision that is both Transformative and perversely, Conservative.

If we can translate it into a new politics, then the early years of the new millennium will not have been suffered in vain.

Peter Lewis



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