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Реферат Racism and labor movement

Racism and labor movement

Humphrey McQueen, in his influential book A New Britannia emphasises the racism endemic in the Australian labour movement at the start of its development in the 1890s. Iggy Kim, of the Green Left Weekly , in his pamphlet, The Origins of Racism , locates the early Labor Party as the prime source of racism in Australia and then draws a very long bow to argue that you should vote in current elections for his small socialist party, because the Labor Party has these racist roots, and in his view, is still hopelessly deformed by them.

At the same time, Pauline Hanson accuses Labor of flooding Australia with unassimilable migrants, so that by the year 2050 we may be governed by a half-Indian, half-Chinese lesbian cyborg.

Journalist Paul Sheehan accuses the Laborites of stacking safe Labor seats with Asian migrants, and asserts that the whole migration practice of the 1982-96 Labor government was an attempt to unacceptably change the racial character of Australia. The Geoffrey Blainey, Robert Birrell, Katharine Betts bunch put a similar spin on current Labor attitudes and practices in migration.

News Weekly , the fortnightly newspaper of the National Civic Council, founded by Bob Santamaria, also constantly denounces Laborism for encouraging multiculturalism and В«unacceptably highВ» levels of family reunion. Finally, the Liberal government of Howard and Costello tip their hat towards all this perceived opposition to migration by reducing migration quotas and increasing obstacles to family reunion and to migrants receiving social welfare, obviously with the hope that they will gain electoral advantage from this.

This vortex of accusations against the labour movement about migration has the effect of arousing my latent labour movement patriotism, which has been mostly submerged during the last few years by my anger at the seemingly inexorable shift of the ALP to the right. My old instinct to defend the ALP is stirred up by all these contradictory, but possibly currently popular, conspiracy theories about the Labor Party and migration.

The main aim of most these attacks on Labor over migration is to damage Labor's prospects by appealing to what is perceived by many conservative pundits to be a latent racism and atavism in Australia. All this tends to make me feel that the trundling old ALP monolith can't be quite as bad as it often appears in other circumstances.

A more important question, ideologically and theoretically, and a very useful one strategically, is to try to understand what realities are reflected in these strange, contradictory attacks to equip us for the future. It is a very important question to ask: how we got from the labour movement racism of the 1890s to the relatively civilised policies and practices of the labour movement today.

It is really quite extraordinary that the same political party, the ALP, which fought extremely hard to entrench the White Australia Policy in Australian life, should now be denounced by the Hansons and Sheehans for В«being the main agency flooding the country with Asian migrants and pouring them into safe Labor seats В». A serious investigation of how the labor movement's attitude to migration, and particularly Asian migration, was changed, has a very practical bearing on how we can ensure that the labour movement develops and entrenches a civilised and realistic policy and practice in migration matters.

Some people interested in Marxist theory raise the question of the В«Reserve army of labourВ» in relation to migration. They say that the capitalist class encourages migration in order to create a pool of labour for the development of capitalism and that the capitalists do this with the intention of maintaining a sufficient surplus of labour to keep the price of labour down. They thus extend Karl Marx's discussion of the unemployment/reserve army of labour issue to the question of migration.

However, Marx never argued against the right of workers to migrate to other countries because they might then form part of the reserve army of labour. It is a fact that in whatever they do, including the encouragement of migration, the capitalist class pursues its own interests. They certainly wish to take advantage of a reserve army of labour.

It's worth making the point here that the working class itself has no intrinsic interest in attempting to prevent the development of capitalism as a social system. The working class itself develops its independent consciousness and its organisation as part of the development of the capitalist system, although in conflict with the capitalist class over wages, conditions and other workers ' interests.

In Europe, the Americas and Australasia, working-class living standards in the 19th and 20th centuries could...

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