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  Issue No 94 Official Organ of LaborNet 04 May 2001  

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The Soapbox

Bob Ellis' May Day Toast


Writer asnd failed biography subject, Bob Ellis, was in lyrical form when he delivered the annual Mat Day Toast this week.

 
 

Ellis Rallies the Comrades

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The Beazley victory nears, and its work daily eroded as the frantic wriggling, backbiting Tories go down with all guns blazing. Wrecking and laying waste and shuffling off our shrinking billions to swine like Doug Moran, big oil companies, smashing the ABC and starving the universities and shaming the civilisation.

Every time George Bush says jump - and they jump.

Six months after the Olympic Games, when we proved we could do anything and that we are all better than anyone on earth, the cultural cringe is back - is suddenly back - and the self doubt and the excuses and the drunkenly tottering dollar shows Costello economics has reached no high point and stands with a couple of pencils hoping for the kindness of strangers. Presenting a nation that is so unkind to its own people, and so cruel to refugees, does not attract the attention of those of greater stability who, when asked to buy our dollar and prop it up, say "No thanks" - and rightly so.

What we have lost is immeasurable. Millions of happy childhoods and families forced to sell up and move. Hundreds of thousands of marriages ended by despair. Tens of thousands of university places - tens of thousands of good teachers walking out in disgust from their public, schools, and TAFEs and colleges no longer worth their passion.

Hundreds of millions in golden handshakes or government handouts to men as worthy as Chris Corrigan or Jonathan Shier.

Thousands of destroyed young lives to heroin, alcohol and adolescent suicide - in which we lead the world.

And worst of all that minimal of hope - of reasonable hope - that good times might be eventually coming, that would essentially make bearable most Australian lives. Though some things can be retrieved from the wreck, this most precious national boon I fear cannot, and things are different now.

And we are in deep trouble and the sorrows of Hanrahan are now ours. Our dream has gone sour and no sugar coating of appropriate fine phrases can sweeten it anymore.

All over the world today MAY DAY. A word that in French means "help me". The gold plated scum at the heart of our terror are being rightly and impotently accused of all the wrong and sorrow that is on us. But they will not be moved I think by a few bearded scufflers seen on television so briefly, and so soon gone.

They will not be deprived of the billions they have grown fond of, merely because it is said on Four Corners that what they do is cruel. They will fade into oblivion under retrospective curses of history, only by thousands willing to take some heat for a while, as the New Zealand government is. Till the enemy towers of the megapolis begin to totter as the seismic movement spreads its cracks and groanings to the corners of the world.

We are not helpless but we are not well armed. When the most successful globalist in mankind's history, Rupert Murdoch, is running most of our newspapers and much of the world's cable media, and even in theory he owns that greatest of Marxist propaganda tools - the Simpsons. When even our national broadcaster is in the hands of a hydrophobic dwarf, who as a young, Liberal president in Victoria, back when Alston was his vice president - we cannot truly be said to have a voice. Freedom of speech involves the freedom to be heard, and when all of our speakers are down, and all the headlines erased from history, we cannot truly be said to have a voice, a face, a being, a story to be told.

Where we can be heard, or I think we can be heard, is in the council of the Labor Party, or what is actually called the Labor Party.

When Mark Latham is not telling me that his model does not include the union movement. In this, their run up to certain victory from a standing start in Ryan - that extrapolated across Australia would give them 120 seats out of 148.

The Labor Party must be told, and eloquently told, that there is no honour in a world system that says that if we are to compete with slaves we must become slaves ourselves.

The Labor Party must be told - and I'm not entirely convinced that they will listen - that the level playing field is just another flat earth theory! And there never was, and there never could be a way that Mynor cordials could compete on an equal playing field with Coca Cola, or an Annandale animation company with Disney - or Impulse with Qantas - or The Chaser with Kerry Packer!

The Labor Party must be told that the people, the common people, are being spun a wicked fantasy that there will be joy in the morning when everything settles and the rich man's crumbs trickle down to the fakirs at his feet. And nothing that leaves this country in billions in say, Kerry Packer's fat wallet, or Kerry Packer's credit card, and is lost in a gambling den in Soho, somehow by osmosis comes back to us.

Globalism is a way of getting out of us the most possible work for the least possible wages. Globalism is built on the certitude that there will always be a country poorer than ours that will do the work for even less. Globalism is a way of ensuring internationally that no apples grow anymore in Tasmania; and no sugar cane in Queensland; and no cows are milked anymore in New South Wales; and no clothing made in Victoria - because out there in a wondrous international playing field, competitors on $20 a week or $14 or $10, are more efficiently producing food and clothing and radios, and wondering why there is no one with money anywhere to buy them.

Well, I can tell them why this is. If you don't have wages, then you don't have customers, and if you don't have customers you don't have industries; and if you don't have industries you pretty soon have this Banana Republic we had to have - this nation of peasants transformed in only three generations to a nation of wankers!

And this ghastly, constant feeling that we do not really know where we will be living in three months time, and what will be our income and who will be our dependents, and what will be the humiliating job (if any) by which we earn our scrap of toast and vegemite; and disappoint our children at Christmas and school, and through their shocked and desolated lives of change; and parents fighting and drugs and petty crime and early death my misadventure.

You have got to just wonder why people this month and last month are not out and spending. Why would they be? People are more like children I think and less like robots than economic theory would have us believe. If they are struck they bruise. If they are bashed they bleed. If they are starved or scared, they crawl away to their bedrooms to hide their heads beneath the blankets, hoping the nightmare will pass. And if it does not they weep and they despair.

Australia is back in despairing stage now - six months after the Olympic Games, because a hydrophobic government in its penultimate frenzy, biting off its own limbs and bleeding all over the house, does not understand where it is going, and cannot comprehend the chaos and the suffering it has wrought. And it has no future. John Howard will lose his seat. And Peter Reith will lose his seat. And Alexander Downer will lose his seat to a Democrat! And John Anderson will lose his seat to an independent! And Peter Costello may lose his seat - it's possible.

If the election ride here is on July 8th and it may well be that on July 9th a Liberal Party as small as the Queensland Liberal Party made up of Petro, Georgio and Brendan Nelson and Chris Gallup, and no one else, will begin a titanic shuffle for the leadership of the Party.

And it will all seem fine for a while until the Beazley government and its multitudinous backbenchers will have to bite the bullet and do the obvious and protect or not that which must be protected. And re-acquire or not that which must be re-acquired - like 10 more percent of Telstra; and 20% of Qantas, and 50% of the Commonwealth Bank. And having these very basic things with Labor - raise taxes and raise tariffs and whatever trade bans on countries that enslave their people are necessary - and finance the inevitable expense of the civilised nation that we remember and want back.

For this end will come. Our democracy in all its parts is demanding it. And if it is a deal with a passion and an aim that does it, or a deal with a newly emerging Save the ABC Party, holding in the Senate the balance of power, it will come, however much the rationalist fantasists of Beazley's office try and put such thoughts from their mind, however much that fervent Young Liberal, Mark Latham, writing in the Telegraph, of an all wide market that is merciful to all, the end will come, and if the end begins in New Zealand or Russia, or Malaysia, or an independent Scotland or an independent state it will come.

The great thing about globalism is that if two countries are not in it, it isn't globalism anymore. And like the Holy Roman Empire it becomes a ghost, a sham, a memory, a misty nothing. A religion proclaimed but unserved. And the end may be soon. I said this in 1992, and I cannot in this be trusted, but hope has a way of rising and rainbows briefly appearing then soon are gone.

We have at any rate no choice but to do what we must in the time that we have and fight the good fight under the ever-fluttering Red Flag against the powers who flinch and the traitors who sneer, and the Lathams who turn from angels into gremlins and poisonous beasts.

To fight the good fight with the weapons we have and to use the songs and shoe leather and spoken word as it passes from soul to soul and stirs a moment of hope or rage and bears fruit and fire and eventual change.

It is hard to put a date on the coming of the good, and it is always unwise to hope too much, but it will come, it is destined - or if it is not, it is in our power to speed its moment, to glow in the coal of the heart of people, to ignite the eternal flame of the rage for change that is finally revolution.

Something is happening here and you don't know what it is do you Alan Jones?

Pray God that we can see the day at last. The May Day that we love and here exalt and make it our own. And sing this to any stupid theme. See they are the True Believers, seize the hour and seize the day, seize the moment that man's hope is high and that moment filled. May that moment live forever more, whatever price you pay. Keep it bright and keep it burning on - the light on the hill!


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*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 94 contents

In this issue
Features
*  Interview: Global Action
The CFMEU has been a world leader in fighting the war on global corporations. John Maitland has been one of the generals.
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*  Unions: Sisters United
In her May Day address, Bus Union state president Pat Ryan looks at the role women have played in the labour movement.
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*  Politics: M1 and the Trade Unions
Phil Davey was one of the forces behind S11 but chose to sit out M1. He looks at this week's action.
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*  History: Il Duce Roberto?
His modern-day fan club might not like it, but Rowan Cahill argues wartime PM Robert Menzies sailed close to the winds of Fascism.
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*  International: Cuban Call for Global Labour Rights
An international meeting of union representatives in Cuba has vowed to start a campaign to defend workers rights from the effects of globalisation.
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*  Economics: The G-Word
ACTU President Sharan Burrow asks if there's a better way forward for global trade.
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*  Media: Birth Of A Nation
East Timor's young journalists are struggling with language barriers and technical difficulties most Australian media professionals wouldn't be able to comprehend. But they're keen and eager to learn.
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*  Review: The Tremulous Hopes of the Fifties
Behind the the good times mythology of the 1950s was a desperate quest for the ordinary.
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*  Satire: Teen Angst Poems a “Danger”
The Teen Angst Gun Massacre Affair has broadened, with staff at the NSW Department of Education revealing that “gangs of conspirators” have been found operating out of high school poetry competitions.
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News
»  Workers Seek Security on Back of Living Wage
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»  Temple Workers Return to India Victorious
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»  Unions Get Down to Workers Comp Talks
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»  Firefighters Hand Hoses To Politicians
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»  Unions Back Corruption Fight
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»  'Workers Bank' Protest Rally Backs Cleaners
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»  Smoking Decision Sparks Call for Pub Bans
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»  Boycott Trade, Travel with Burma
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»  Qantas Takeover No Impulse Buy
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»  Sick Chicks Win Privacy Rights
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»  Arnotts Workers Seek More than Crumbs
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»  Jageth Backs Jakarta Hotel Workers
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»  Equity Members Send a Dear John Letter
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»  New Theatre Under Threat
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»  A Toast to May Day
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»  Activist Notebook
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Columns
»  The Soapbox
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»  The Locker Room
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»  Trades Hall
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»  Tool Shed
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Letters to the editor
»  And Macca Replies to Lee ...
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»  What About the Workers?
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