Jim Macken’s latest book is a sequel to Between a Death and a Difficult Birth. Both analyse the effects of the cultural shifts of the late 1960s on the labour movement. What is to be Done takes the debate a step further by suggesting solutions to the decline in membership and support for the trade union movement and the ALP.
The Faulkner Report of 2010 on the decline in the political fortunes of the ALP calls for root and branch reform of the party. Macken’s book looks at possible solutions to the decline in union membership as well. He suggests a return to first principles to govern recruitment and retention of members to both the party and the union movement. He is particularly scathing at the ‘top down’ government of both institutions.
His solutions will not please factional leaders of the unions or the party and, in this regard, he supports the condemnation of factionalism in the Faulkner Report. There is no doubt that this short book will promote heated debate in the ranks of the labour movement but few will be found to disagree with his historic study of developments nor the logic of his case for dramatic change in the structures of the union movement and the ALP.