You work in a shirt with your name tag on it… Policies of the Communist Alliance Party

Immediate withdrawal of all Australian military units from Iraq, including the naval units in the Persian Gulf. Only small bodyguards will remain to protect Australian diplomats.Meet Communist Alliance.  My gut reaction is that these guys are kooks.  There’s something adolescent about the word ‘Communist’; I was a big fan of Trotsky during my high school days but it wore off when I hit university.  They’re standing for a Senate seat in NSW, so let’s begin the policy interrogation!

Democratic Rights

Democratic rights are important. They are rights we need and they give us the best conditions in which to fight for real people power.  — Source.

It’s not that weird for a communist party to advocate strong democratic rights.  In The Future as History, Robert Heilbroner noted that ‘Marx did not call for an opposition to the forces of history. On the contrary he accepted all of them, the drive of technology, the revolutionizing effects of democratic striving, even the vagaries of capitalism, as being indeed the carriers of a brighter future.’  What I find odd here is the Communist Alliance’s understanding of the democratic rights:

All publicly owned media must be strengthened to help overcome the anti-democratic private ownership of newspapers, radio and TV by just a few profit-driven individuals and groups.  — Ibid.

‘Anti-democratic private ownership’?

Despite this quirk, I agree strongly with them.  I don’t think journalism should be driven by the profit motive and we have an exceptionally poor political discourse due to this perversion of the media.

Increased Australian content must be a requirement when allocating or renewing commercial broadcast licenses. — Ibid.

Another emphatic agreement from me.  We have poor cultural dialogues in Australia because most of the ‘pop-culture’ is American (or derived from American sources).  We have an infantile intercultural dialogue because we never refined the language of our own culture.

What’s weird is that most ‘lefties’ disagree with me quite strongly on that point, seeing ‘culture’ as an elitist term.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the emphasis on Australian content from the extreme left party.

The electoral system is constructed in a manner which aims to keep government within the limits of the two-party system.

Electoral laws must be changed to introduce proportional representation and to lower the requirements to register a political party.  — Ibid.

I agree with the first (Gramsci, yo) but disagree strongly with the second.  Ideally, we’d disestablish the political party framework of our electoral system.  We shouldn’t be electing parties; we should be electing individuals.

The anti-terrorism laws must be repealed and long held rights must be restored. These include:

  • the right to remain silent
  • the presumption of innocence
  • the onus of accusers to prove guilt
  • the right to a legal representative of one’s own choosing
  • the right of the person detained and his/her legal representative to see evidence being used and to be present in court
  • freedom of speech after and during detention These rights must be restored to the people!  — Ibid.

I’m not sure about these being ‘long held rights’, but I can’t imagine too many people were entirely comfortable with the treatment of certain people who weren’t permitted to know what evidence was being used against them.  I think there is a balance to be struck but, given that I’m not knowledgeable of the situations, that balance might have been struck, even though the external appearances were otherwise.

I’m also slightly uncomfortable about freedom of speech after detention.  There are some people you don’t want having columns in the metropolitan newspapers while they’re sitting in a prison…

Workers’ Rights

The Communist Alliance believes in a better society where wealth is distributed to those who perform the work, not those who have the money.

We fight for industrial relations laws that give workers a decent chance of challenging the employers in their drive for greater profit which they refuse to share and have no obligation to share under this capitalist system of production.  — Source.

Reading these policies, it’s difficult not to be moved to action.  There’s an exuberance and vitality in these policies which was lacking in the Greens’ policies from the last few posts.  At the same time, it’s complete nonsense.  What sort of industrial relations framework would allow workers to take back profits from their employers?

It’s motivational, but not particularly practical.

We are for a new type of politics, one where workers and the people are put first and are not regarded as just commodities to be used up in the pursuit of profit for the few.  — Ibid.

After the current poll-driven, cynical politics, I imagine this would be very refreshing.  It’s unfortunately vague and whimsical in its promises, though.

Public Sector

Public ownership has provided necessary services such as education, health and transport. Some services cannot be profitable at the same time as meeting universal provision and equity goals. Public transport facilities, such as railways, have been subsidised but are an essential public service. How would health, transport and education be run, if profit was the only consideration?  — Source.

Damn straight.  It’s a shame this isn’t a fleshed out policy.

The call for a strong public sector and increased public control and ownership of society’s key economic and social assets is a call for a different sort of society – one where people not profits drive economic activity, where co-operation, not exploitation is the norm, and where people can expect to play a broader, more active role in managing their world.  — Ibid.

Thus, your public sector policies are…?  It’s like being with an annoying lover.  You do all this foreplay and you’re almost there, then they fall asleep.  I agreed with everything in this section, but there was a lack of meaty policy to smack it home.

Health

Here, they do much better but you have to pick the policies out of the prose.

The Communist Alliance supports a national public health system with high quality, free and accessible medical and dental treatment for all Australians.  — Source.

100% agree.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t include mental health:

Mental health and aged care is best provided at a community level and would be best funded through local government.  — Ibid.

That’s rather a dreadful policy.  First, it means that mental health and aged care patients are more likely to be forced to wait until they have conditions which require national health frameworks.  Second, making mental health a local government issue unnecessarily politicises them within the local community.

local communities not bureaucrats should have a say on how their health facilities are managed, local hospital boards with representation from medical staff, council and the community are a better alternative  — Ibid.

I hear this option a lot.  Let’s consider a real-world analogous example: education boards in the US.  Because bureaucrats aren’t allowed to tell schools what to teach, they end up with weirdo pockets where creationism is taught instead of science, and books are banned because they upset the moral sensitivities of the illiterate.  Do we want local boards making decisions about what sort of medicines to stock?  Do we want local boards denouncing abortion clinics as witchcraft?

Education

We maintain that the role of government in education is to provide a, free, inclusive public education system available to all Australians at pre-school, school and post school levels.

What we would do is:

  • Increase funding for schools which cater for students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.
  • Fund TAFE colleges at a level that will allow them to meet the needs of all who wish to access quality vocational training.
  • Abolish HECS fees for students at university. Restore compulsory unionism. Increase youth allowance to a living wage.
  • Increase the number of places at University for training of teachers and other education professionals.
  • Have teacher union representation on all regulatory bodies.
  • Ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have accessible, culturally-appropriate and community controlled education services.

The Communist Alliance opposes school league tables – click here to learn about the effect they have on our education system.  — Source.

By ‘have teacher union representation on all regulatory bodies’, I suspect they mean education regulatory bodies.  Apart from that, there is nothing objectionable about any of this.

Environment

Cuba is the world’s most environmentally sustainable economy. Socialist Cuba’s planning has produced stunning results because it focuses on human needs, not profit. Cuba has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent compared to 1990 levels. It not only uses less energy, but has decentralised its supply grid. Cuba equals the United States in literacy and life expectancy, but Cubans’ energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are on average about one eighth of those of the US.  — Source.

Yeah, that’s just fantasy land levels of inaccurate.  The only way for it to be true is for Cuba’s emission to be calculated by considering the output of Cuba itself.  As very little food production is done in Cuba, the emissions are offset.  At the same time, because very little food production is done in Cuba, Cuba has massive debts.  Cuba is attempting to fix this problem by starting up oil production…

Iraq and Afghanistan

The invasions and ongoing occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan have been driven by the United States need to impose its control over the Middle East. They are oil wars. The US wants to construct an oil pipe to ferry oil and natural gas supplies from Central Asia through Afghanistan.  — Source.

Oil wars?  I seem to remember some planes crashing into some buildings and then the Taliban harbouring the organisation responsible…

Immediate withdrawal of all Australian military units from Iraq, including the naval units in the Persian Gulf. Only small bodyguards will remain to protect Australian diplomats.  — Ibid.

It seems callous for us — in the safety of way back here in Australia — to state that we will withdraw troops after we invaded.  I don’t think we get the luxury of the on/off switch for troops.  The plan for withdrawal needs to include provisions for supporting stability in the countries we’ve invaded.  Else, we become cowboys who leap into countries and then leave a mess when things don’t go our way.  That’s not being a good global citizen.

And there wasn’t much else in the policy section.

That was enjoyable.  I don’t think they’re credible but at least they’ve got some passion in their policies.  Then again, I suspect if they did the leg work to flesh out their policies, they’d gain the credibility they need.  It’s interesting to see how they engage in common language rather than fall back on slogans and Marxist-talk.  Kudos, Communist Alliance.

In other news, a friend of mine has a new blog.  You ought to read it: Ozylum.

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2 thoughts on “You work in a shirt with your name tag on it… Policies of the Communist Alliance Party

  1. “We shouldn’t be electing parties; we should be electing individuals.”

    Whatever we “should” be doing, the reality is that political parties and party elites have ALL the power, and we need a mechanism to hold them accountable. That is why proportional voting systems were developed by emerging democracies a century ago.

    In the real world, almost all of us, and by “almost all” I mean maybe 90-95%, cast our vote based on which political party or party leader we support. Individual MPs are increasingly irrelevant. There are those who claim to vote for the local candidate, but what happens when he switches parties? Now he’s called a “traitor” and an “opportunist”, and worse if she’s a woman.

    • You’re confusing two statements.

      1. We shouldn’t be electing parties; we should be electing individuals. Therefore, we should not institutionalise parties further.

      2. We do elect parties; we don’t elect individuals. Therefore, we should institutionalise parties further.

      (2) is not a refutation of (1): it’s a non sequitur.

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