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Australian Politics

The “White-washing” of the working-classes.

Assassination Paintings | Fine Art America

“Candidate” is from the Latin word candidātus..; “clothed in white” (adj.), candidate for office (noun, in reference to the white togas worn by …Roman officials aspiring for election to high office).

I am going to use the term : “White-washing” in this article to denote the action of taking smart, radical, working-class people out of the common pool of the population, bringing them “into the middle-class tent” and clothing them in a “whitewash” of reward, indoctrination or propaganda with the covert aim of neutering any future action on their part of radical protest.

Geoffery Bardon, a teacher who came to Papunya ..: “ As Bardon observed on arrival at Papunya in 1971, of the four tribal groups brought together there, the Aranda had been ‘detribalised’ and “soured” at the Hermannsburg Lutheran Mission, and that “the white man had made them earn a discontent and misery, for they had learned all the whitefella-ways, and about money, and how something or someone did not have any full worth or place because of money and other concerns” (Bardon 2004 p.7). (Christine Williams on Albert Namatjira)

The use of religious conversion to subjugate indigenous peoples is an old “trick” of colonisers. It was used not necessarily to bring the natives close to “The Lord”, as to dull their inherited tribal totems and traditions..and similar to the subjugation of working-class radicals, driving their culture, skills-base and adherence underground and out of sight..if not into oblivion..and as we now know in regards to the indigenous peoples of this country, they failed.

“ Albert Namatjira, being an early product of the effects of white culture superimposed on other ways of knowing and seeing, had despite the hardship, been able to carry his knowledge across to lineally-focused painting, whereas so many Aranda people must have felt alienated at being misunderstood.” (Christine Williams on Albert Namatjira)

I recently attended a funeral service for an indigenous person..it was a vibrant and moving ceremony, held in a church without the overbearing Christian ceremony and given with random testimony from relatives and friends of the deceased…As I say, the “white” influence or overbearing organisation was obvious by its absence..the beautiful care of the deceased a tribute to inherent maturity of local indigenous knowledge and confidence to take care of its own without White-fella control. No more the Albert Namatjira oppression.. and it is only now a matter of time before what was wronged in the years since colonisation is righted fair and square. The Garma Conference on the Uluru Statement from The Heart in 2018, drew a new determination line in the sand that Labor has given policy word to grant a voice in Parliament and MUST follow through with legislation if or when they gain office.

Same with working class aspiration..not necessarily toward a middle-class consumerist lifestyle, but fair pay and conditions with social policies attached, allowing a natural growth of family and/or ethnic traditions to have opportunity to flourish without the overbearing threat of unemployment, casualisation of employment or stolen wages and conditions…an apparent raison d’etre for the existence of a middle-class.

The working-classes in these times need to reflect and perhaps adopt the more radical practices of past union confrontations.

History :

“ Norm Gallagher helped to build up a powerful, national trade union organisation – the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF). He was General (National) Secretary for 31 years (1961-92). He was head of a downtrodden group in the working class – the labourers of the building industry.
He was a tremendous organiser. The greatest working class organiser of them all. He became delegate/shop steward at 16 years of age and Victorian Branch organiser at 18 years. He became General Secretary at 30 years.
He did what was necessary. He had the will and determination where others failed. Norm gave everything. He gave his whole life. He devoted himself to builders’ labourers and the working class as a whole.” ..( Steve Black : A Tribute.)

I started my working life in the building trade at 14yrs..and can say that the BLF (Builder’s Labourers Federation) put the balls back into radical unionism..Put the balls back into the working-class conflicts and led the way with the BWIU ( Building Workers Industrial Union) to give power and voice to workers demands. I don’t buy the bullshit that the likes of the right-wing in the halls of power and the Murdoch media painted about Gallagher or the BLF….I saw them in action on the multi-storey building sites and they were bloody good!..they helped resurrect building workers from the most dangerous work-place environment to one of the safest..a position that is now being undermined by this LNP govt’ with their malicious The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

I will make the extra point here to remind all that ..: “ He (Norm Gallagher) had been gaoled for three months for contempt (of court) for daring to criticise an Arbitration Judge’s decision on disallowing 1.9% wage rise to builders labourers. Norm had stated that the judge’s decision must have been written by the Master Builders Association. TV, Radio had wanted his views; he gave it and that was Norm, always available. And where were those great bastions of free speech when Norm was gaoled for speaking these views? The media barons supported his gaoling.” (Steve Black ..A Tribute.)…and I will ask: Why were those LNP ministers never jailed for THEIR contempt..is there one law for some?…Of course there is…of course there is…while the middle-classes write the legislation and laws in this country, they will ALWAYS write laws that protect their own “people”and their own “property”.

The “clothing in white attitude” toward the indigenous peoples and the “white-ing” of upper middle-class ideals and opinions onto radical working-class policies thereby attempting to minimalise their effect and to attempt to “own” their radical direction won’t work anymore..Like the “Industrial Omnibus Bill” proposal..the cutting of penalty rates and the “underfunding NDIS alternative” and many other ameliorated compromises from the Right-Wing of politics…We have all become cynical of these measures to deny the majority a fair share of this nation’s wealth , health and education. The white-washing of those with radical policies and opinions by cutting them out and attempted bribing them away from their support and “tribal” base will no longer work. Both the indigenous, local born and the immigrant ethnic working-classes demand the right of equal opportunity…

With the election of more radical working-class representatives to the ACTU  and a radical approach along with the likes of Sally McManus and John Setka, we have forces in place to confront the gross inequality and wage-stealing current in our community…and to break the back of the hopeless middle-class idealists of Neo-Liberalism.

We HAVE to get these middle-class “managers” out of our faces, out of our lives and out of governance!

“ In 1985, in a great miscarriage of justice, with the jury locked up for ten days, Norm was gaoled on trumped-up charges for so-called “secret commissions”. The judge who gaoled him was Judge Waldron. He happened to be the then Victorian State Premier, John Cain’s, “Best Man” at his wedding thirty years earlier. Cain was the man overseeing the job of getting Norm and the BLF in Victoria.” ..(Steve Black ..; A Tribute).

NOW..with implementation of more radical working-class ethics, goals and ideals into this current corrupt and degenerate middle-class parliament, we have to force through those ideals that best favour the REAL producers of the rich and vibrant lifestyle of the nation..We are now obvious by the visible presence of the working poor among us..the impoverished casuals in the bullshit “gig economy”, the homeless and the impoverished aged and the under-employed or just not employed at all.


About freefall852

Tradie Carpenter. ret'.. Much work, many places, long time, much traveled, met many good and not so good people..will tell you about them some day.


4 thoughts on “The “White-washing” of the working-classes.

  1. A Gap in the Line.

    He touched the medals tenderly, the ribbon colours sublime,

    The case of burnished velvet, the soft attractive shine,

    He touched the medals tenderly, an Uncle’s Great War “shrine”.

    Posthumously given for courage, in “closing a gap in the line”.

    In closing a gap in the line he died, in mud, gore and slime.

    It was for these tokens of honour, he marched, to fill a gap in the line.

    With Union men, many of them with those medals he’d proudly stride.

    Union men, many of them and a title his Uncle wore with pride.

    Himself, a Wharfie, born and bred, right down the family line,

    His Uncle too, t’was always said, could lump a hundred-weight a time,

    Bagged sugar, sticky with sweat, soaking wet, at eighty tons an hour,

    The men would lug from those cargo holds with no break for tucker.

    In the Summer strike of ’98 they marched for conditions fair,

    When “Patrick” crawled to Howard’s Government to send the coppers there.

    Along with the Farmer mercenaries trained by the covert ; “Sandline”

    They sought to break the strikers…to break through a gap in the line.

    In the middle of the night they sent in the thugs, the scabs and the dogs,

    It was hard to tell which was which among the slavering, crawling hogs.

    And deals were made and rights were trade between the ruling class,

    That left the strikers on their own to hold the line tight to the last.

    Howard set the dogs on the men and the women and children in kind,

    Reith, the crawling bastard, banked the scabs through a mercenary company; “Sandline”,

    And the Journalist sucks and the Murdoch hacks lent their honour to that shameful crew,

    And wrote of “overpaid wharfie bludgers” when of sweat and blood they NEVER knew.

    And he saw the look in the breaker’s eyes, he saw the hate confined,

    So clasping tight, holding the next striker’s arms with all his might,

    He called and bellowed fit to wake in fright..:”Hold boys, Hold!”

    “ Hold my bastard boys!…we’ll not let them force a gap in the line!”

    There comes a time in everyone’s heart, where honour and justice combine,

    We must choose which side we’re marching on..what a sense of honour defines.

    Would his Uncle have him march for nought, but just a place in a line,

    Or should he honour best his Uncle’s pride with his class aligned.

    Today he touches those medals tenderly, with a habit long refined,

    But he’ll not march on Anzac Day…not while those Tory scabs declaim,

    No..there’ll be a space where he held his place with the others marching time,

    And owed in respect for his Uncle’s indebt’..they’ll now see clearly outlined,

    That in the place of his marching space…there’ll be a gap in the line.

    There’ll be a gap in the line my fellows…there’ll be a gap in the line.

    Owed in respect to an Uncle’s indebt’…Today there’s a gap in the line.


    Posted by freefall852 | March 25, 2021, 7:03 pm
  2. This review by Mick Armstrong ‘The NSW BLF: The battle to tame the concrete jungle’ in MLR paints a rather different picture of Gallagher’s role. I had a friend who was a Rank & File organiser in the BLF in Melbourne in the 1970s, who regularly reported on Gallagher’s Maoist takeover of the BLF, bullying of Rank & File members, including actual violence to the extent of chucking workers off high rise building sites. His experience supports the analysis in this MLR article.



    Posted by Karey | March 25, 2021, 8:26 pm
    • Thanks for the comment, Karley…it is refreshing to see..FINALLY..there is still ONE left-wing person reading and responding to an article here now…for a while there I was thinking they all had died!

      AS for the conflict between the NSW and the Vic’ arm of the BLF, I was in SA. and I did not know of the details there…but I had read and heard the gossip and of course the police actions against Gallagher..also I was a carpenter on those multi-storey sites and saw the radicalism of the BLF from an outsider point of view…and being a member of that right-wing union of boss-crawling, shiny-arsed bastards ; The ASC&JofA…(The Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners of Australia ….: affectionately known as “The Jockey Club”) I could but admire their radical lightning strikes to improve their lot…and they certainly did THAT!

      As for leadership/power fights within the union movement..I am of the opinion that what drives many members that have little konwledge or interest of such things, being more involved in the results of their strike-action and how it will improve their conditions..is that a name of a senior “player” can be the catch-cry so needed to drive and motivate those members…much like the names of ; Marx, Mao, Che/Castro…..even go back to Napoleon or Caesar….such names can be the impetus that drive many a “soldier” to greater efforts to achieve what is both needed and desired..and so much more influence than mere intellectual discourse on this or that technicallity of doctrine..the names of Jack Mundy and Norm Gallagher…were for those times a catch-cry for union radical action…regardless of the machinations of one or the other…and if we are to judge the radical union man by the actions against him from the established authorities, AND..like it or not.. THAT is how many a person is judged by their afficinados..Norm Gallagher copped more than his share of flak from those in power…sure, he had times of “behaving badly”, and I know not of the NSW Union arm..but I could imagine they also “had their moments”…as does every radical movement attract “collateral damage”within the time limit of its survival..so too did its alloted time and Norm Gallagher run his time to the line and then was done over…I suppose that is why Chairman Mao called for “continuous revolution”…to refresh the radical elements of the party..The BLF had achieved so much and there was a limit as to how much further it could go outside the building industry…a line was drawn and time was called on that most powerful period of radical union progress…

      And I say more power to them, even if in..now..memory only.

      As an after-thought, I will speculate that there just may be arising out of all these accusations and recriminations of sexual abuse a new “wing” of political power…a Women’s “Gender Party”…that would attract by sheer force of numbers to its call a most powerful bloc of voters…with the unfortunate reality that the discussions to date being facillated by well-educated, well-placed in the network women from the bourgeoisie, this political wing just may be an extra “arrow in the quiver” of right-wing politics.

      Liked by 1 person

      Posted by freefall852 | March 26, 2021, 6:39 am
  3. As I mentioned in my above comment, a new political force may be rising and it is a gender-based women’s political force…A new article by Annabel Crabb on the ABC online site ..: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-28/new-power-emerges-in-australian-politics-not-coming-quietly/100030876 …talks of this power but also is trying to direct the leadership of the new base toward people like Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins…and while both have political cred to take command of this new base, surely a more experienced, more grounded in left-politics people ought to step up and make its presence noticed…we don’t need another Centre-right power group in Aust’ politics…THEY ARE THE CURRENT PROBLEM!…and a person like Brittany Higgins hails from a most notorious far-right Young Liberals Gold Coast faction..(you remember that vid-clip disparaging indigenous people for never having the wheel?) ..So perhaps the left of the Labor Party or the Union movement could place prominant women at the head of a left-wing leadership of a new power base…people like Tanya Plibersek.. or Sally McManus to name but two for instance..people with solid working class background and with sensible social policy principles..
    THIS..may just be the moment when the educated working-class places its best people at the head of a powerful new voting bloc that can deliver the most important changes for the most people…Perhaps the time has arrived for the educated working-class to claim rightful inheritance of its power base and wrench the leadership baton from the arthritic, crippled hands of the now degenerate middle-classes!


    Posted by freefall852 | March 28, 2021, 7:55 am

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Trish Corry



I love to discuss Australian Politics. My key areas of interest are Welfare, Disadvantage, emotions in the workplace, organisational behaviour, stigma, leadership, women, unionism. I am pro-worker and anti-conservativism/Liberalism. You will find my blog posts written from a Laborist / Progressive Slant.

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