The Neoliberal Australian Labor Party Once Tried to Nationalize the Banks

In 1947, Ben Chifley’s Labor government proposed nationalizing the country’s banks. It was the biggest challenge to capital by a reforming government in Australia’s history, igniting what historian A. L. May called “the Battle for the Banks.”

In response to Chifley’s move, competing factions of capital united, pooling their resources, connections, and institutions to face down the threat. The Australian capitalist class recognized that an attack on one section of capital by a Labor government threatened their collective interests.

To reinforce the campaign, the Right revived right-wing mass organizations dating back to the Great Depression and set up

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