Donald Trump’s defeat has produced celebrations worldwide. His foul sexism, racism, and open encouragement of white supremacists, has finally been driven from office. But the result was far closer than it should have been.
Trump increased his vote by ten million, demonstrating that his racist populism still draws significant support.
This will encourage the right globally. But it’s also clear that the combined crises around the pandemic, unemployment, inequality, and climate change are driving polarisation and support for the left.
Despite Biden distancing himself from Bernie Sanders’ democratic socialism, James Downie wrote in the Washington Post newspaper that, “A near-majority of voters in swing districts supported the Green New Deal. Fifty-three per cent of Americans support Medicare-for-all. In exit polls, 57 per cent of voters expressed support for Black Lives Matter.”
The inevitable disappointment with Biden will create a big space for the growth of movements on the streets and in the workplaces, like the historic Black Lives Matter rebellion. It is movements such as BLM and the “Fight For $15” minimum wage campaign that can win real change.
Scott Morrison modelled himself on Trump—telling reporters, “We do share a lot of the same views.” Morrison took up wearing baseball caps, and carried coal into parliament, aping his buddy’s “Trump digs coal” placard. He stayed away from the 2019 UN climate change summit in New York to show solidarity with Trump’s decision to boycott it.
While president-elect Joe Biden says he will endorse the Paris Climate Agreement goal of net zero emissions by 2050, Morrison has also explicitly refused to endorse the 2050 goal, and Trump-like is embracing a gas-led recovery instead.
Morrison may be globally isolated but Labor’s mealy-mouthed “pro-gas” policy that it, “supports the gas sector and recognises all the important roles it plays” is playing to Labor’s right-wing and letting Morrison off the hook.
Numerous groups have drawn up plans showing that a transition to renewable energy could create hundreds of thousands of jobs. The recently launched Hunter Jobs Alliance, a coalition of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), climate activists and other unions, is an important step in one of the country’s largest coal mining areas.
AMWU National Secretary Steve Murphy has rightly argued that, “there has to be a significant government intervention, to make sure that industries for the future are going to be built into the regions that are going to lose industries of the past”.
Morrison’s gas-led recovery is part of his “profits-as-usual” COVID recovery plan for Australian capitalism.
Fight for jobs
Instead of funding the jobs and infrastructure we need, Scott Morrison has announced that JobSeeker payments will be cut by a further $100 at the end of December. Three months later, in March, Morrison plans to drop JobSeeker to the pre-COVID rate of just $40 a day.
Morrison’s cuts will drive those on JobSeeker even further into poverty. Despite his claim that “jobs are returning”, unemployment is rising. The winding back of JobKeeper wage subsidies in September saw another 150,000 people thrown into unemployment, payroll data suggests.
On top of this, Morrison has also announced plans to cut the wages of 230,000 federal public servants, capping wage rises to the private sector figure of 1.5 per cent a year, less than inflation.
In NSW, the Liberals have moved to cap NSW public sector wage rises into the future at 1.5 per cent too, after an increase of just 0.3 per cent this year.
Meanwhile 350 UWU workers in Sydney are facing a three-month long lock out after striking against planned redundancies, as Coles prepares to automate its Smeaton Grange warehouse.
It is a taste of things to come if Morrison gets his way, as he gears up to change industrial relation laws in favour of the bosses. The collapse of building company Grocon is another indication of the looming recession as the COVID crisis hits the economy.
But ETU, AMWU and UWU workers at Lactalis Bendigo have shown how to fight. A ten day strike (and 24-hour pickets) has won a pay increase of 10 per cent over 33 months, as well as increased penalty rates and an agreement to turn 30 labour-hire workers into permanent employees.
The campaign to stop job cuts in Medical Science at Sydney Uni has also saved 25 per cent of the jobs initially facing the axe.
Protests, walkouts and industrial action can stop the cuts and save jobs. Over the coming weeks and months, we need to build the resistance to Morrison and the bosses. We need stronger organisation in every workplace and social movement. And we need more organised socialists to link those struggles to the fight against the capitalist system itself. Join us.