Archive for the 'the pseudo-left' Category

Calling Planet Peace Movement 2014

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Once more the people of Earth are calling planet peace movement!

by Patrick Muldowney

The first batch of chemical weapons (CW) recently left port in Syria and given there is a large scale civil war in progress (with all the life and death logistical problems that implies) the compelled program for their destruction is virtually right on schedule! If this continues and there is no reason to think it won’t – the Syrian CW disarmament will be completed in the next 6 months and so a question arises; what manner of progressive would not agree that disarmament is a very good thing?

This good result, is unambiguously not thanks to the efforts of any western ‘peace movement’ or ‘anti-imperialist left’. Indeed not one organized grouping identifying as radically left has made any positive contribution to this part of the process of disarming the Assad regime. All of the ‘3 letter’ groups opposed (even if they verbally or theoretically denounce the Baathist / Alawite regime of the Assad dynasty, and naturally they mostly do so) the very real military threats – when they were made by the reluctant Obama and were imminent – that brought about this capitulation of the Assad regime.

But the reality – and everyone knows this – is that no cruise missile threat no good outcome!

The chemical weapons disarmament now in progress, is the direct result of the aggressive placement of military forces and the clear understanding by the Assad tyranny that these forces would be used in a very substantial way to destroy his air power, command and control and seriously and quite unpredictably disrupt his regime’s war effort against the democratically minded Syrian peoples’ and others that oppose him.

The exact military force that ‘cruise missile Marxists’ like me have advocated the use of, since the earliest stages of this struggle for democratic rights, has been put before the regime and this threat of force has brought about this good result.

If I, as a revolutionary democrat complain now it’s because this military force could just as well have been used much earlier, after for example the more minor use of these chemical weapons. Or when we ‘cruise missile Marxists’ first called for NATO intervention in the NFZ style manner of war that liberated the Libyan people!

In retrospect, it’s plain to see that such an intervention would have spared the lives of a great many Syrians, so it would qualify as a humanitarian intervention; as well as an intervention for the furtherance of the obvious revolutionary goals of transforming this tyranny into another garden variety (by ME standards) bourgeois democracy.

We might all note in passing that sparing Syrian lives is clearly of no real concern to the current POTUS and ditherer in chief Barack Obama. This ‘historical blockage’ of a political leader, is hardly much more than a shameless, self-promoting waste of eight years, as has been demonstrated often enough by comparison to the Syrian policy proposals put forward in contrast by his rival, and the once alternate candidate for POTUS – John McCain. As is now being revealed by the once insider people like Defence Sec., Robert Gates. Gates had to cope with this Administration’s lack of commitment to any war of liberation!

Anyway, it is a reasonable estimate that 120,000 plus casualties have been inflicted on Syrians as a direct result of the resistance to their peaceful democratic demands. The war and its casualties are the result of the intransigence of the regime. That tyrannical regime is well known to be a less murderous tyranny than the Saddam Hussein variety was. Everyone knows Saddam got away with the Halabja mass-murder with nary a threat to his CW back in 1988! How the world has changed.

Right across the western world confused left’s, and the pseudoleftists are currently peculiarly silent while they understand, or ought to, that this disarmament, AFTER the attack that killed perhaps 100th of the total 120,000 is NOT IN THEIR NAME.

The chemical weapons are being destroyed as a result of a threatened and more than credibly imminent ‘cruise missile’ response, which Obama belatedly was shamed into ordering. There was a way to prevent that attack and that was to comply with the U.S. demands for the orderly and verifiable CW disarmament now underway. Having overreached with the attack, Assad had no better choice available than to preserve his Air Force etc..

This ‘cruise missile’ Marxist really does believe that all political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.

I accept that not only is the struggle to rid the world of tyrannies necessarily protracted (and political unit by political unit variable in the how and when) I think it reasonable to remind people that by the time this CW disarmament task is completed, it is likely that a further 20-30,000 Syrians will be dead from the continuation of the conventional methods used. At that point absolute casualty numbers may well be running neck and neck with those sustained over eleven years in the warfare required to liberate and launch the bourgeois democratic revolution for the peoples’ of Iraq.

That number in Syria will have been achieved in ⅓ the time required for the more difficult task in the larger country of Iraq! Events in Iraq may unfold altering that trajectory, but what are the political demands that could bring the fighting to a stop in either country? What politics ought to be sought by radical democrats to win the war and stop the killing in both of these countries?

In six months time, there still won’t be an end in sight to the protracted war in either country, but in Iraq the democratic forces have been fighting off the front foot for years, while in Syria the regime still has all its ‘toys’ – except the chemical one’s responsible for only 100th of the casualties anyway. This is progress. Unfortunately, Assad got a pretty good deal as he continues to ethnically cleanse and cut out and try to build a holdable enclave.

When this issue came to a head last August, The North Star (TNS) a site deliberately set up to foster real debate among leftists after the events of Libya demonstrated to the site’s founder Pham Binh, (PB) that such a site was required, the site imploded.

TNS essentially collapsed under the strain and was ‘re-launched’ after some not so behind the scenes numbers crunch. The relaunched project was essentially a fraud. There is no longer debate to be had at TNS, more on that later.

Specifically, TNS 2, after a dishonest play against PB and quite blatant repudiation of its original raison d’etre for a broadly inclusive site for discussion and debate has imploded in the dishonest repudiation of that required debate and many people have been censored and banned etc., by the new owners.

To be frank, TNS fell into a madness of juvenile pseudoleftism and the bog standard censorship, found across the spectrum at Neverland ‘socialist’ sites, again unfolded with the boringly predictable results that saw the site abandoned by anyone worth a cracker. The new owners can now talk to themselves and the usual no-hopers in the usual echo chamber manner. The behaviour and consequent numbers are now on record to tell the tale. But as I said I will return to that topic later.

Back in the Middle East next ‘door’ to Syria, the Iraqi army is currently surrounding Fallujah, and the Sunni ‘tribe’ irregular troops are assisting the elected government to retake the city and capture or kill as many Al Qaeda forces they can get hold of.

Back over the border up in Aleppo, the FSA type elements are also taking on Al Qaeda types. Further north, the Turkish government;

‘…has removed 350 police officers from their posts in the capital Ankara, following a corruption probe targeting people close to the government.’

and Turkish politicians are fist fighting in the parliament.

John Kerry is doing his best to put pressure on Netanyahu, eight years after Sharon actually left the scene, and less than a decade after the Zionist state led by him pulled all it’s settlers and troops out of the Gaza strip.

So all troops and settlers are finally out of Sinai, Gaza and Lebanon (invaded under ‘defence’ minister Sharon back in 1982).  The war for greater Israel goes on with the Syrian Golan Heights still occupied; Palestinian East Jerusalem; and the West Bank still occupied – BUT these days the U.S. President – since GWB – no longer calls these areas ‘disputed territory’ but occupied territories!

Clearly U.S. interests are not served in continuing the failed war for Greater Israel. Clearly the U.S. even under Obama, is putting pressure on the Israeli government, and the embarrassing ‘settlement’ project. The blatant racism of Zionism has slowly united world opinion against the project for greater Israel launched in 1967.

For my money, a complicated circle of revolutionary transformation has now closed and western political and military power led by the U.S. has played a leading role in the process. U.S., and other NATO forces are busy in Jordan, both training and equipping ‘FSA’, or equivalent fighters and the bloody war launched by Assad grinds on.

The casualties mount right across the region but provided the U.S. and NATO don’t threaten to destroy Assad’s airpower, the western ‘peace’ movement will stay quiet about the arms and training provided to the FSA.  In other words – provided this war is conducted in the most incompetent and costly (in terms of casualties to the Syrian democratic peoples’) manner – as a slow burn against a well supplied tyranny – the pseudoleft will stay in Neverland.

Obama may yet get the Netanyahu government to finalize the defeat and his supporters will delude themselves with his great achievements, but whatever unfolds US interests spelt out under GWB when he declared the territories occupied and not disputed are now clear enough. The general direction is not going to change, and the general pressure will continue to grow!

9/11, ten years on: how the arab spring is rebirthing a genuine left

Old Yobbo said:

‘Come to think of it, yes, the situation isn’t that different from Saddam’s Iraq, just on a more compressed time-frame. Which, if anything, makes me a bit more disposed towards the US invasion of Iraq (Christ, I never thought I would ever think that) …..’
http://larvatusprodeo.net/2011/03/12/libya-the-left-and-the-no-fly-zone-debate/#comment-267941

September 11th 2011 ought to focus left-wing minds on what has become of the internationalist left, that ten years ago stood gob-smacked with everyone else, as humanity watched the unimaginable horror of those attacks.

Naturally all the old categories of leftists are still around and plenty of the recognized leaders too, but via the twists and turns of the intervening years those that started as self declared leftists and internationalists have reached a destination that is, as is usual for all political journeys, places that none of us really set out for. The numbers have dramatically changed after all that experience and it’s worth looking at the how, the why and the what of it.

Early in 2011 a small number of leftists joined in the call for the U.S. and the rest to impose a No Fly Zone (NFZ) on the Libyan tyranny, with the clear understanding that this meant starting with bombing. Most of these leftists then went quiet when it was blindingly obvious that NATO was not imposing a NFZ on the basis of any doctrine of the responsibility to protect, (R2P) but rather acting as the artillery (that conquers) for the Libyan revolutionaries who would occupy. This is a huge leap forward from a decade ago. These leftists in their silence were advocating war. They were only hiding behind R2P, and the pseudo-left didn’t hesitate to point this out. Those that went silent as the war was fought and won wanted more than just the democratic revolutionaries protected against their heavily armed tyrannical opponent. They wanted results. They wanted victory for the rebels across the entire country.

The previous decade ending at 9/11 was one of obvious collapse for the left and that requires no discussion here. But IMV a significant genuine left is now capable of arising from the fresh shoots now emerging from this last decade.

Going back to late 2002 we said that the US had altered their policy by 180 degrees from supporting dictatorship in the Mjddle East to supporting democracy in the Middle East.

The following six sub-periods provide some structure as to how peoples thinking has changed over those past 10years:

2001-2003: 9/11 atrocity; US invades Afghanistan; Iraq invasion / liberation.
This represented a disaster for the realists who wanted to maintain stability in the Middle East. This was the end of business as usual. The invasion and liberation of Iraq from the fascist minority Sunni based Baathists was an indirect but strategically vital response to the 9/11 attack. This response surprised Al Quaeda.

2003- 2005: US policy has good and bad features but three elections demonstrate their policy of supporting democracy

2005- 2007: The going gets tough.

2007- 2009: Bush initiates The Surge. Iraq proceeds to a normal election cycle

2009- 2010: Elections result in a delayed formation of an Iraqi Proportional Representation government

2011: The glorious Arab Spring breaks out

Incidentally, I also think that nothing potent remains of the former completely dominant political thinking of the U.S. ruling establishment from 2001. Realist policies of maintaining the status quo of autocracies are effectively dead in 2011, and for those that carry on as the zombies of that defeated school of thinking there is essentially nowhere in the ME to deploy their policy prescriptions. Anyway only governments do things and oppositions of all descriptions are free to talk and offer opinions that like assholes are common to all but no future U.S. government can revert to the old policies.

Support for the ending of the Libyan tyranny was widespread across the spectrum of what is known as the left but opposition to any ‘imperialist’ intervention was also almost exclusively to be found in this milieu as well, so a great debate was had this year and the pseudo-left was one issue that received great ventilation. Those who are stuck in the old ‘hard left’ paradigm that imperialism is the main enemy actually stand for all things conservative when it comes to ridding the ME of tyranny. They have been wonderfully exposed as useless dogmatists throughout this year of the Arab Spring and once more on the wrong side of a fire fight with the tyrants. Who is the main enemy then? All those who oppose the democratic revolution in the autocratic regimes.

The forces that had been involved in the anti-war movement in relation to the looming war in Iraq back in 2002 essentially divided in the lead-up to the war that is now concluding in Libya. My view is that at least 2 out of 3 and possibly 3 out of 4 supported action over Libya or went silent and took no stand or are now on reflection glad it happened. This group wanted western governments to do something to save the imperiled democratic revolution rather than allow Gaddafi to crush it with his superior firepower. I guess the figure for Iraq was more like 5%

But the action in the lead-up period was framed in a manner that sounded very different to just taking sides in a civil war. The reality was taking sides in a civil war. The reality was unity with western bourgeois governments who could supply the effective ‘artillery’.

Concerning the western imposition of a NFZ and other measures under the rubric of an international responsibility to protect civilians (R2P), before the actual war was launched, Guy Rundle said:

“All that matters is whether the request comes from legitimate leadership, is strategically viable, and can be limited in scope. Those conditions appear to have been met.”

What a joke. The rebels were being defeated by the tyranny until they united with various western governments and war was declared on the tyranny! There was never only a NFZ and R2P civilians ‘limited scope’ and the appearance of one was created as a deliberate lie to conceal the war fighting scope of the intervention.  Guy Rundle was happy to be lied to.

The Libyan tyranny has now been all but ended with the two last towns hopefully surrendering to the rebels this very weekend. The Rebel leadership is clearly going to hold the elections that it has sought and promised

Well, those same factors have been met in the case of ending the Iraq tyranny! The Coalition Of the Willing (COW) is going home and leaving behind a democratically elected government. Eight years is all it took to smash the reactionary heart of the ME and set the region wide revolution running.

I just love this sentence

“The discussion at the Sydney Writers Festival is an extraordinary example of group-think, with opponents demonised, prejudices reinforced, counter arguments totally ignored and platitudes treated as profundities.”  Andrew Bolt – Monday, July 18

the further shrinkage of anti imperialist purists

Both of the authors below opposed the US led war in Iraq. Both of them support imperialist intervention in Libya.

An Open Letter to the Left on Libya by Juan Cole

The United Nations Security Council authorization for UN member states to intervene to forestall this massacre thus pitched the question. If the Left opposed intervention, it de facto acquiesced in Qaddafi’s destruction of a movement embodying the aspirations of most of Libya’s workers and poor, along with large numbers of white collar middle class people. Qaddafi would have reestablished himself, with the liberation movement squashed like a bug and the country put back under secret police rule. The implications of a resurgent, angry and wounded Mad Dog, his coffers filled with oil billions, for the democracy movements on either side of Libya, in Egypt and Tunisia, could well have been pernicious.

Libya: a legitimate and necessary debate from an anti-imperialist perspective by Gilbert Achcar

The left should certainly not proclaim such absolute “principles” as “We are against Western powers’ military intervention whatever the circumstances.” This is not a political position, but a religious taboo.

Many of the comments to these articles express dismay at Cole and Achcar for questioning the one true way of anti imperialist consistency. We are witnessing a repeat of the process whereby anti-imperialist purists condemn and cast out those who refuse to remain true believers. See this supportive comment on the Juan Cole thread:

AMEN, JUAN! AMEN! Thank you so much for this. I’ve been an active demonstrator and vocal, obnoxiously-sanctimonious railer against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with railing against Obama’s weak health-care “reform,” his subservience to Wall St., his perpetuation and expansion of W.’s oppressive national security state and military budget… I’ve made lots of “comrades” in that time, and I’m split from nearly all of them in supporting this intervention in Libya …

This website kills fascists!

Right-wing conservative columnist, Andrew Bolt, has perplexed some of his followers by putting on his site a youtube clip of Woody Guthrie singing “This Land is your Land”. Another right-wing site, Just Grounds Community , has commented on those conservatives who do not have the knowledge of history or the “empathy” to understand why and how Guthrie supported socialism and sympathized with communism during the 1930s. I’m not precisely sure where JGC is coming from but they certainly make sense in their understanding that Woody Guthrie would not have been impressed with the pseudo-left of today – “the two bit hustlers… the present day chancers and fuzzy thinkers who would claim his endorsement”.

I sometimes wonder how many people identify with the right – the libertarian right in particular – because what passes for ‘the left’ is so appallingly unworthy of support.

Continue reading ‘This website kills fascists!’

The English Civil War Is A Crucial Part of Australian History

There’s an appalling article in Crikey today by Associate Professor Tony Taylor of Monash University, co-editor of an upcoming book History Wars and the Classroom: Global Perspectives.

The article responds to an article in The Age, “Coalition would scrap Curriculum” saying Federal Opposition Education spokesman Christopher Pyne is prepared to scrap the new national history curriculum. The article says Pyne thinks there is to much emphasis on Asia, indigenous culture and sustainability in the history curriculum, and not enough on Christianity, Greece and Rome, and the English Bill of Rights and English Civil War.

There’s plenty to criticise there. Australian students need a good grasp of indigenous culture and the deadly and destructive effects that white settlement had on it, and of the history of Asia. Sustainability – we can do without that, thanks very much! We could replace sustainability with a discussion of how humans have moved away from being at the whim of nature every moment of the day.

However, the response in Crikey is arrogant, dismissive and, frankly a joke. Taylor’s lowest moment is when he says the English Civil War is “arguably just a series of confused and confusing localised squabbles that may have a special significance for UK history, but not for anybody else (unless they like dressing up in period costume).” Anyone with even a basic knowledge of how bourgeois Parliamentary democracy works knows that this is ridiculous. Most of the assumptions behind it come directly or indirectly from that Civil War. The most important tenet of parliamentarism – the idea that only the parliament, not the executive on its own, may tax – is a direct result of the war and the main issue it was fought over. You can’t understand the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, which lead to the sacking of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, without understanding that crucial point.

But the bad thing about Taylor’s article is not just that he is wrong, but that he is in a position to affect the curriculum of Australian schools but clearly has contempt for democracy. He implies that Pyne’s threat to scrap the curriculum and start again is an example of the “arbitrary rule of one”. Of course, Pyne will never be in a position to change the curriculum unless he is part of a government elected in the closest thing we have to a democratic election. Does Taylor really contend that elected Governments have no right to change public policy?

Taylor’s contempt for outsiders interfering in work only he and his priesthood should be allowed to carry out is revealed in another passage, where he discusses criticism of the new curriculum: “I read it and dismissed it as someone who doesn’t know much about how education or history works.” Not because it was wrong, or misguided, or suggested a poor use of scarce classroom time, but it came from  an outsider.

What’s worst of all about this article is it carries on the smarmy pseudo-left habit of congratulating themselves that they must be right, because the slightly more right-wing ruling class party is against them. This is part of the nature of the bureaucratic pseudo-left; they push the line that their work must be done behind closed doors because evil right-wingers and the stupid populace they fool are too dumb to know what’s best for them. There is no sense at all of actually trusting ordinary people, of welcoming outside debate or being ready to submit their decisions to the judgment of the great unwashed.

We need to keep attacking the pseudo-left with this – with the idea that, while they parade their moral virtue, they are utterly unwilling to actually try to win public debates.

A cached version of the Crikey article is here, and my first comment replying to that article on the original site is here.

Naomi Klein, Pseudo-Leftist Rejecting Progress and Growth

 

Over at The American Situation, Sean Collins has passed on a video of supposed radical Naomi Klein being as reactionary as she can. Collins says she’s "proving that what passes as "left" today is often the most reactionary in explicitly rejecting progress and growth." If you can’t see the video above, click here.

That dreadful woman!

The hate speech from Sarah Palin is truly shocking.  Her liberal opponents would never dream of saying anything hateful about her.  She is so outrageous! She just encourages violence!

Likewise for all those Tea Party types.  Why can’t they be nice and invite their liberal neighbors around for a friendly debate?  I am sure they would be delighted to accept.

Addition by keza:

What you need to understand David, is that liberals are smart and sophisticated, they understand metaphor.  Obama can say things like “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” (his words at a Philadelphia fundraiser, 2008) and of course his clever followers understand that he’s not really talking about shooting people.

But Palin’s followers are crude and uneducated – you  know – literal types,  good with their hands, not so much with their brains – so when Sarah says:

“Never retreat, instead RELOAD!” , they just  go get a gun.   She shouldn’t be allowed to say such things.
Liberals know that a bumper sticker like the one below is just a joke.  It couldn’t be serious  – it’s just a very clever play on words.  But probably a bit of a challenge for the type of people who go to Palin rallies.
Abort Sarah Palin
Likewise, an image  such as this one which is part of a series called MILP  (Mothers I’d like to punch) involves a humorous juxtoposition of the words “mother’ and ‘punch” and is just an entertaining way of expressing a deep understanding of the stupidity of  those who can’t see the sinister nature of Palin’s views. Mothers I'd like to punch
And how clever is this?!
Kill Bush

And here’s a YouTube mashup of a bit of liberal word play – far too advanced for Palin types to get their heads around, of course.  It just wouldn’t be possible to engage in anything as sophisticated as real debate with them because their grasp of the language, and their conceptual of the world in general is just far too limited.

Postone’s analysis of the malaise of the “left”

History and Helplessness: Mass Mobilization and Contemporary Forms of Anticapitalism by Moishe Postone (pdf 18pp)

This article is an analysis of the reasons behind the malaise of the Left which has in common some of the themes discussed at this site as well as raising some new angles

For example, the following quote outlines the superficiality of the reflexive anti-Americanism of many on the “left” in response to the 9/11 attacks:

“Let me elaborate by first turning briefly to the ways in which many liberals and progressives responded to the attack of September 11. The most general argument made was that the action, as horrible as it may have been, had to be understood as a reaction to American policies, especially in the Middle East. While it is the case that terrorist violence should be understood as political (and not simply as an irrational act), the understanding of the politics of violence expressed by such arguments is, nevertheless, utterly inadequate. Such violence is understood as a reaction of the insulted, injured, and downtrodden, not as an action. While the violence itself is not necessarily affirmed, the politics of the specific form of violence committed are rarely interrogated. Instead, the violence is explained (and at times implicitly justified) as a response. Within this schema, there is only one actor in the world: the United States.

This sort of argument focuses on the grievances of those who carry out such actions without engaging the framework of meaning within which those grievances are expressed. The actions that flow from those meanings are taken simply as expressions of anger, however unfortunate. Such arguments neither interrogate the understanding of the world that motivated this violence nor critically analyze the sort of politics implied by violence directed intentionally against civilians. Consequently, such arguments can become implicitly apologetic rather than political; they make little attempt to understand the strategic calculations involved — not so much of the bombers as of their handlers — and ignore issues of ideology. It is a serious error, for example, to interpret the felt grievances underlying a movement like al-Qaeda in narrow terms, as an immediate reaction to American policies and Israeli policies. This ignores too many other dimensions of the new jihadism. For example, when Osama bin Laden speaks of the blow inflicted on the Muslims eighty years ago, he is not referring to the founding of the state of Israel but to the abolition of the caliphate (and, hence, of the purported unity of the Muslim world) by Ataturk in 1924 — long before the United States was involved in the Middle East and before Israel was established. It is noteworthy that the vision he
expresses is more global than local, which is one of the salient features of the new jihadism, in terms of both the struggles it supports (transforming them into manifestations of a single struggle) and its driving ideology. And an important aspect of the global character of that ideology has been anti-Semitism.

Addressing anti-Semitism is crucially important when considering issues of globalization and antiglobalization, even if it can be subject to misunderstandings because of the degree to which the charge of anti-Semitism has been used as an ideology of legitimation by Israeli regimes in order to discredit all serious criticisms of Israeli policies. It is certainly possible to formulate a fundamental critique of those policies that is not anti-Semitic, and, indeed, many such critiques have been formulated. On the other hand, criticism of Israel should not blind one to the existence today of widespread and virulent anti-Semitism in the Arab/Muslim world. As I will try to elaborate, anti-Semitism poses a very determinate problem for the Left.”

Continue reading ‘Postone’s analysis of the malaise of the “left”’

small minds for a backward social system – time to think BIG!

Australians face a federal election in which the consensus among, and bi-partisan approach of, the principal parties is to aim to be small. We’re being told that inadequate infrastructure and public transport, along with a ‘water shortage’ (in the south east of our continent) and crowded shopping centres, are the product of too many people. As our population growth is predominantly fuelled by immigration, this means ‘too many immigrants’. It’s a familiar cry, usually originating on the overt far Right but for the past couple of decades reinforced by a pseudo-left concern about the carrying capacity of Australia.

It doesn’t seem to dawn on the opponents of immigration and population growth that trains might be over-crowded because there aren’t enough trains or that infrastructure is under pressure because governments are too incompetent and lacking vision to provide them. As for water, our north is drenching and a body of water the size of western Europe is gradually making its way south. In Victoria, the Mitchell River floods every seven years or so, causing millions of dollars in damage to towns and crops, yet it must not be dammed under any conditions. It is in a national park, after all. Who cares that such a dam would greatly alleviate Melbourne’s water crisis.

Not surprisingly, the State and Federal government leaders prefer to blame ‘too many people’ rather than themselves.

Of course, they are not racist. ALL immigrants are too blame.

The Greens are usually referred to in the mainstream media as a left-wing party that is more compassionate. Yet they too argue for less immigration and, in case readers are not aware, they support the deportation of all asylum seekers who are found not to be genuine refugees, just like the two principal parties.

(I have been wrong on this in the past, arguing for mandatory detention. In reassessing my position, largely through people at this site, I realize now that if you don’t think outside the box, you’re likely to be imprisoned within it). (An original quote by me – not bad, eh?)

The glorious objective to which Australians are meant to unite behind and aspire to is….. be small. Yep. Small. A vast continent, with vast natural resources, a mere 22 million people. Think small. Be small. The idea of 38 million by 2050 has scared the bejeezus out of the reactionaries.

What this confirms to me is that capitalism, for all the talk about its affirmation of free enterprise and its supposed commitment to development and material progress, is one social system that has way outlived any usefulness.

In a nation with vast resources, we still have homelessness and poverty, including Indigenous people who in remote areas live in appalling conditions. We have pensioners who die in summer from heat exhaustion and in winter from the cold. (I’m all for the Australian Medical Association which, to the horror of the Nature Worshippers, proposed that governments subsidize air-conditioners for pensioners during the summer months).

We brag of one of the highest rates of home ownership in the world, yet one third of the ‘home owners’ virtually work for the banks to pay off unfair mortages and interest rates – 90,000 are under threat of losing their homes – while another third simply can’t even put a depopsit on a house.

Oh for a left-wing party, or candidate, to point out that this only makes sense under capitalism, that the vast natural resources of this continent can feed and clothe many more people than a meagre 38 million. Let’s aim for a BIG Australia, one that sees itself firmly as part of inter-connected humanity, building bridges rather than closing borders. Stimulus package anyone? How about a bridge from Indonesia to Australia – a good way to defeat the evil people smugglers. How about some government investment at Broome and then let the people’s creativity loose. This just won’t happen under capitalism any time soon.

A left-wing party/candidate would at least raise the perspective that says the problem is that private ownership of means of production, and the ways in which production is organised under that system, is the main obstacle to thinking bigger than we ever have before.

You want free enterprise? Support social ownership of social wealth and support the reorganisation of production along democratic lines so that alienation is reduced.

The culture of a society reflects its social system in general terms. Recognition of this fact is an important step toward changing things. It takes conscious effort to see it, and to work at an alternative. Leftists generally are not submersed into the dominant outlook and that is why, for one thing, they are optimistic as individuals. This strikes those who are unable to think outside the box, to escape the weight of the reactionary hegemony, as weird.

Time to think BIG. To move beyond pre-History. To reach for those stars.

We really ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

“All I know is that I am not a Marxist.” (Karl Marx)

A few days ago Arthur, David Mc. and I went along to a Socialist Alternative event at Trades Hall.  It had been advertised as a panel discussion on “Australian militarism

The general position  was that WW1, WW11, the Vietnam War, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan were/are all pretty much the same war.  Not much to think about really. It’s all just imperialism and racism, capitalists grabbing resources , expanding markets, seizing territory, seeking strategic superiority.  I was initially surprised about the attitude to WW2, but realised after a while that it was necessary for consistency.  They have a simple theory about how the world works, and everything must fit it. No need to analyse any particular world event, the position is just given.
(For the record though, I should mention that Harry Van Moorst  (who was on the panel) actually gave an interesting talk about his experience in the anti-Vietnam war movement, and although he didn’t mention WW2, I’d say that he’d be unlikely to agree that it was just another imperialist war. His talk was lively and lacked the contrived tone of the other talks. )
I don’t usually pay much attention to the various revolutionary sects which continue to exist on the fringes of the pseudo-left because they are largely politically irrelevant. However it’s worth popping in to one of their “events” once in a while, just to remind oneself of what can happen when “Marxism” is embraced as a religion.  (I hesitated to use the word “Marxism” in that last sentence, but I couldn’t quickly think of a better way to put it. Clearly, calling oneself a Marxist  and peppering everything one says with references to  “class struggle”, “imperialism” , “capitalist crisis” and so on, has very little to do with  Marxism.  It brings to mind what Marx apparently said (to Lafargue) in frustration  about the French “Marxists”:   “All I know is that I am not a Marxist“.

Greens really think they’re Left – we’ve a long way to go

Ben Raue, a fairly senior New South Wales Greens member, has a post on his blog discussing the Higgins and Bradfield by-elections and the Greens results there. It’s a fairly standard sort of post, spinning the results as good for the Greens and not so good for the Liberals, but the interesting thing is that Raue labels the Greens as the “left-wing” party in those seats.

The Greens achieved a strong result in a right-wing heartland seat while running an explicitly left-wing campaign.

Raue is of course not being merely dishonest, even though calling Clive Hamilton, (the Greens’ candidate in Higgins), a left-winger is utterly laughable. Rather, left-wing politics has degenerated to such a degree that people who are suspicious of modern industrial civilisation and want to slow it down are considered Left, merely because they dislike capitalism.

This article in The Spectator attacks that idea, pointing out that many Green ideas come from the right-wing position of Thomas Malthus, whose arguments Marx and Engels rejected.

However the Greens are the only even semi-major political force talking about things like the rights of unions, freedom from internet censorship (even despite Hamilton’s appalling position) and the right to gay marriage, it’s easy for them to be seen as left-wing, and to attract support from many who could be won over to a real left-wing position. Such a left-wing position would include confidence in modernism and humanity, a belief that humans are more important than the Earth for it’s own sake, and a belief that people shouldn’t just demand a “fair day’s pay” but should take over society and run it themselves. Clearly there’s a lot of agitation to be done to spread these ideas.

Cheaper books? But what about Snugglepot and Cuddlepie??

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Watch out …. the invisible hand might get our precious Snugglepies…. or so they say….(creeping globalization and all that) snugglepot2

Ever wondered why it’s not possible to use a Kindle in Australia or why there is no branch of Amazon here?   It’s because the Australian publishing industry is protected (it’s 70% foreign owned, anyhow … I’ll leave that to one side).  It’s also why the books (especially non fiction and text books) cost so much here, relative to the rest of the world.

Fortuntely a recent Productivity Commission Report has recommended that restrictions on the parallel importing of books  be reduced. books

The restriction  on   “parallel book importing”  is the mechanism which gives Australia  based publishers an effective monopoly on the book market.  In a nutshell, any book which is physically published here cannot be imported by local bookshops.  This includes all  books, not only those  by Australian authors.  So effectively, bookshops are not permitted to purchase books at the cheapest price possible, and of course this means that there is  a severe lack of competition.   (And in any  case  books published here will be more expensive to produce, simply because of smaller print runs).

Naturally the publishing industry is up in arms about it and has managed to recruit a slew of  Australian authors to the cause. The line they’ve swallowed is that this will be the death of  the Australian writer, our kids will never come across Snugglepot and Cuddlepie again, we’ll be swallowed up foreign culture, this is an attack by neo-liberal free-marketism on everything we hold dear.

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Obama in Cairo (therapy for liberals)

it's all about our new beginning...

In this time of great decision, I have come to Cairo not to talk about the past, but to look to the future — to a future that Egyptians can lead and can define.

Ladies and Gentlemen: In our world today, a growing number of men and women are securing their liberty. And as these people gain the power to choose, they are creating democratic governments in order to protect their natural rights. We should all look to a future when every government respects the will of its citizens — because the ideal of democracy is universal.

For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East — and we achieved neither.  Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people.

….. We know these advances will not come easily, or all at once. We know that different societies will find forms of democracy that work for them. When we talk about democracy, though, we are referring to governments that protect
certain basic rights for all their citizens — among these, the right to speak freely. The right to associate.
The right to worship as you wish. The freedom to educate your children — boys and girls. And freedom from the midnight knock of the secret police.

Securing these rights is the hope of every citizen, and the duty of every government. In my own country, the progress of democracy has been long and difficult. And given our history, the United States has no cause for false pride and we have every reason for humility.

After all, America was founded by individuals who knew that all human beings — and the governments they create — are inherently imperfect. And the United States was  born half free and half slave. And it was only in my lifetime that my government guaranteed the right to vote for all of its people.

Whoops, wrong speech!!  That was Condi Rice speaking in Cairo,  back in 2005.   condi2

Obama’s speech was so much more..well,  nuanced.  Whereas Condi chose to focus on the struggle for democracy in the Middle East, Obama preferred to talk about “relationships”and  in particular what he called “the tension between the USA and Muslims around the world”. What is central, according to Obama, is to understand difference, find what we share, discover our common humanity (etc etc..).

As I said in a previous post,  I think that Obama will have to continue what the Bush regime started, no other policy would make any sense..The biggest sign of this was that he spoke quite firmly about the need for a Palestinian State, and was prepared to arouse the wrath of the most militant Zionists.

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“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by pseudo-leftism..”

“Whine” was inspired by Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’, a 1950s Beat poem that, for all its faults, at least had some gutsiness behind it. While howling represents a kind of rage and anger, whining captures what the pseudo-left does best: whining from the sidelines. Endless complaining because ‘things just keep going from bad to worse’ – as all the reactionary conservative old-timers have said since time immemorial. The footage accompanying the video was filmed during a visit to New York, and mostly shows W42nd Street and Upper New York Bay.