Monthly Archive for November, 2008

#nocleanfeed: Rally against Internet Censorship in Australia, Saturday December 13th 2008

On December 13th 2008, there will be rallies in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide and Perth to protest against the Government’s plans to censor the Internet in Australia. This video has all the details and also some advice about what to say when you’re talking to people who are worried about what kids might see online. Please spread this video and news about the rally far and wide.

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Using vouchers to achieve a family driven education system

We need an education system with an inbuilt tendency for better teaching to emerge and  thrive while inferior teaching fades away. We also need a system which is far more effective at catering to the specific needs and “learning styles” of individual children.

This is best achieved by a deregulated system where families are the customers and schools are free to compete for students by making their own decisions about the services they provide.

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Iraq rocks on!

The Iraqi parliament has approved by a vote of a substantial majority of members the accord providing a legal basis for the continuing US military presence and a timetable for a US withdrawal. This is great news and puts another nail in the coffin of those who opposed the war. After the first federal election was held in Iraq, the numbers attending the anti-war demonstrations dropped dramatically. It went to show that the great majority were angry at having been lied to about the reasons for the war – WMDs rather than to overthrow a tyrant and create the foundations for democracy – but also had the best interests of the Iraqis at heart. They weren’t willing to march against a democratically elected government after the overthrow of a fascist regime. Only the die-hard pseudo-left leaders hung around to try and keep the movement going.

Where can they go from here? I think they have two options, both bizarre: first, some will try to turn it into their victory and, secondly, others will continue to beat their hollow chests from the sidelines calling the accord a sell-out and continuing the demand for an immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops.

And how wrong they were? Can anyone be more wrong? Just recall a few key items from what they said and let’s pat ourselves on the back for our left-wing pro-war position adopted back in 2002.

THEY said:

1. The national liberation movement – “embryonic” of course! – would grow and force the US out.

2. Democracy could not be established in Iraq because of tribal and ethnic differences.

3. The US would overthrow Saddam but install a new dictator.

4. The US would permanently occupy Iraq.

5. The Iraqi parliament and government are essentially puppets of US imperialism.

6. The war is about oil and the US will not leave until it secures control of Iraq’s oil resource through the draft national oil law that it (the US) framed.

7. Iraq had been plunged into civil war.

Perhaps not since the infamous Oxford University Union debate on appeasement in 1933 has a pseudo-left position been so delightfully exposed.

The ‘national liberation movement’ remains a joke, about as non-existent as something can be.

The main ethno-religious groups resolve their differences politically rather than by force, in the main, and the sectarian violence has diminished greatly as more and more Sunnis enter the political process. Armed attacks on the occupying forces have also declined greatly (as we said they would). The accord allowing for the US military presence to continue until the end of 2011 was supported across the ethnic divisions and expresses their united view that the time is not yet right for a complete and immediate withdrawal of foreign troops. In keeping with the spirit of the new democracy, the parliament voted for a national referendum to be held before 30th July to allow the people to express their view directly on the accord.

The accord has been applauded by President George W Bush and the Iraqi government and represents the long-stated policy of the US leaving only when the Iraqis ask them to, when the internal security situation and external threats are able to be dealt with by the new Iraqi forces.

That the Iraqi parliament and government are sovereign and not puppets to anyone has been demonstrated by the stridency with which the government negotiated with the US over this accord, over many months.

Remember all the talk by Fisk et al about how Iraq had plunged into civil war? I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that phrase on Australia’s public broadcaster. Hey, what happened?! Maybe the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will let us know when the civil war ended and why its end went unannounced. Of course, it never ended because it never happened.

The US has agreed to a timetable for withdrawal under conditions of democratic progress. The oil issue remains unresolved for Iraqis, as the draft national oil law is still held up by factional wrangling. If it was a puppet government, it would have done what the ‘blood for oil’ brigade asserted throughout 2006 and 2007 and jumped to its supposed master’s alleged orders to pass the law.

It will be fun to see how the diehards try to make sense of this new development. No doubt it will be seen as some sort of victory for them: a victory for the (largely non-existent) anti-war movement around the world and for the (largely non-existent) Iraqi armed resistance. It has been, in reality, a victory thus far for the Iraqi people and their allies.

The accord will further isolate the enemies of Iraqi democracy. They too will be increasingly drawn into the political process as the prospect of the national referendum scheduled to take place prior to 30 July draws nearer.



If anyone is interested in planning the Brisbane rally against the Government’s plan to censor the Internet, there is a meeting on Sunday November 30 at 3.30pm at Post Office Square in town.

The rally itself is on Saturday December 13 at Brisbane Square, George St, at 11am. Brisbane Square is right opposite the end of the Queen Street Mall, just across George St.

For more info on rally planning go to the forums at

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Radio National Talk on Socialism

I have just presented a short talk on Australian ABC Radio National entitled “Should the financial crisis prompt another look at social ownership?”. Here is the podcast and transcript.

The ownership I am referring to relates to the means of production, the physical assets of  businesses. A system where such a form of ownership dominates ought I think be called socialism, although this does require wresting the word back from the right and pseudo left for whom it means government meddling with capitalism. There are two main take home messages from the talk.

The first is that the conditions of advanced capitalism in places like Australia, USA and western Europe are vastly more conducive to the success of socialism than the backward conditions that prevailed in places where it had previously been attempted and failed. Transforming Czarist Russia, Manchu China and agrarian fascist eastern Europe into socialist societies was a big ask.

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Winning the war against Internet censorship

Below is an article by David Jackmanson (youngmarxist) which was published at OnLine Opinion last week.  If you go to the original article you can read the discussion which followed.

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It was Clive Hamilton who launched the current attempt to censor the internet

Guess who really kick started the current push for mandatory ISP level filtering?  No, it wasn’t those wretched Christian fundamentalists, it was Clive Hamilton and the Australia Institute (of which Hamilton was executive director, until recently).

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History that looks forward

The Australian National Curriculum Board was set up by the Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and the Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, in January this year. A ‘Proposal for Discussion’ on ‘The shape of the National Curriculum’ has been developed by the board for public discussion. There are separate discussion proposals (called ‘Initial Advice’) relating to English, Science, and History. The Advice can be checked out at the NCB’s site: I have only considered the Advice relating to History, as that is my field.

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Since when has it been left wing to be green?

Here’s an article  by Barry and published at On Line Opinion .  The comments thread at On Line Opinion is worth reading too.

In the political discourse around green issues, the world outlook associated with various green groups is portrayed as left wing. This is largely because the green world outlook generally opposes capitalism, its leaders frequently use the rhetoric of the Left, are promoted as being left wing by the mainstream media, and usually identify themselves as being of the Left.

Moreover, many green leaders and activists were radicalised in the 1960s and 1970s and have genuinely left wing backgrounds. They see the green movement as a continuation of their previous left wing radicalism.

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Against Australian Internet Censorship? We Must Change Our Arrogant, Flawed Strategy. #nocleanfeed

Mark Newton, a network engineer with Australian ISP Internode, is becoming very well-known as a result of his opposition to the Australian Government’s plans to censor the Internet. He’s published an article called “Filter Advocates Need To Check Their Facts” today at the ABCs website. I am sure that Newton knows far more than I ever will about computer networks, but if he knew much about politics, he would know that the facts are neither here nor there. His article has a superior, sneering tone all the way through it, and anyone who opposes Internet censorship in Australia needs to drop that attitude and work out how to actually win this argument.

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Allying with the Right

You cannot avoid being allied with right wingers. It is just a matter of who and when. The people we describe as pseudo-left are in alliance with Pat Buchanan, The Cato Institute and The Independent Institute in opposing the US liberation of Iraq. On that matter we side with Bush and the neo-cons. We have written a lot on the question both here and at our parent site. We see it as a switch in US foreign policy from supporting “stability” in the region to supporting democracy and “draining the swamp” in which all sorts of creepy things fester.

Many pseudos in the US would side with Pat Buchanan and Ann Coulter on trade protection. We would ally with Cato and support free trade. Both we and the pseudos would side with The Cato and The Independent Institutes on a range of civil liberties issues and on ending the embargo on Cuba.

But we must ‘fess up. We are doing more than our share of fraternizing and endorsing.

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Change I can believe in?

Yes and no.  The election of the first black American president is certainly an historic moment.  It reflects a change that I already believed in however. The battle against racism in the USA had already been largely victorious. Nevertheless a black president will consolidate that victory, and go a long way toward breaking the cycle of negativity, bitterness and lack of confidence which contributes to keeping a large section of the black population marginalised and self-destructive.   Dare I say that it will undermine resistance to “acting white“??

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