The sudden ousting of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in a political coup orchestrated by a handful of Labor factional chiefs and trade union bureaucrats has come as a significant shock to many ordinary people. Driven by the new requirements of the Australian ruling elite amid an historic breakdown of the global capitalist order, Julia Gillard’s installation is another expression of the increasingly convulsive political situation internationally.
National governments responded to the 2008 financial crash with a series of unprecedented bank bailouts and stimulus spending measures. These steps have only created new contradictions, with the latest stage of the crisis being driven by sovereign debt fears caused by mounting budget deficits and debt. Spurred on by the pressures of the global financial markets, governments internationally are imposing brutal austerity programs, making the working class pay for the crisis through cuts to public spending, wages, jobs and living conditions. This has already triggered general strikes and mass protests in Greece, Spain, France and Ireland. In Britain, the new Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition government is imposing the deepest spending cuts since World War II. In Japan, Yukio Hatoyama’s resignation after less than a year as prime minister has been accompanied by a rapid shift to austerity measures.
The same process is now underway in Australia. The political conspirators who brought down Rudd acted at the direct behest of the mining companies, finance capital and other sections of big business. Gillard is tasked with making major concessions to the mining giants on the Resource Super Profits Tax, then calling an election to pave the way for ruthless expenditure cuts to meet demands for a speedy return to budget surpluses.
The anti-democratic way in which Rudd was axed stands as a serious warning to the working class of the autocratic methods that will be used to impose the agenda of big business. Shadowy factional leaders installed Gillard without any discussion in the Labor caucus, let alone the Labor Party or the working class. Not a single voice of protest or opposition was registered, with every Labor MP, including Rudd himself, falling into line. There has never been a clearer demonstration of the putrefaction of the Labor Party, and the gulf between this bureaucratic apparatus and the interests of ordinary people. The crisis has graphically exposed parliament’s function as a smokescreen for the dictatorship of capital.
None of these issues will be raised in the media and by the parliamentary parties in the upcoming election campaign. The urgent task confronting the working class is to make its own political preparations for the coming period.
The global failure of capitalism threatens another catastrophe—to once again drag humanity into an economic abyss and war. As in the 1930s, political and military conflicts are already festering between the major powers over control of resources and markets. The only progressive alternative is to build an independent political movement of the working class armed with a revolutionary and socialist perspective. Such a movement must reject all forms of nationalism and chauvinism and seek to unite workers of all countries to carry through the socialist reorganisation of the world economy to meet social needs, not private profit.
Following conferences in Sydney and Melbourne, the Socialist Equality Party is holding public meetings on “The World Economic Crisis, the Failure of Capitalism and the Case for Socialism” in Perth on July 18 and Newcastle on July 25. The meetings will discuss the unfolding political crisis in Australia, the global capitalist breakdown, and the program required to build a genuine socialist movement of the Australian and international working class.
We urge readers and supporters of the World Socialist Web Site, the Socialist Equality Party and the International Students for Social Equality (ISSE) to attend.
Sunday, July 18, 3.00 p.m.
East Victoria Park
(nearest railway station is Oats Street Station)
Click here to see a Google map
Sunday, July 25, 1.00 p.m.
The Newcastle Room (Ground Floor)
Newcastle City Hall
290 King Street, Newcastle
(nearest railway station is Civic Station)
Click here to see a Google map