Monthly Archive for September, 2009

Anti-Censorship attack takes down Australian Government websites

A Denial of Service attack appeared to take down Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s website and other official sites,  for a few minutes tonight at around 7.20PM AEST.

The attack was announced on the website using the name of Anonymous, the loose disorganisation of Internet users which has previously acted against the Church of Scientology.

There has been some criticism of this tactic, notably by Michael Meloni at the “Somebody Think of the Children” website. Stephen Conroy, the Minister with the political job of selling the censorship plan, has used his favourite lie – that the censorship will only affect things that are already illegal, and Meloni takes this down very well.

Meloni’s argument against the illegal attacks is that they “will do nothing to help the fight against net censorship” and that “…such methods and demands suggest little understanding of how political policy is changed in Australia. Acts like this have the potential to unravel the hard work already done by many to try and end this policy”.

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Dancing at the station …

I think everyone will enjoy this (especially Arthur!!)

It’s  200 dancers  taking commuters by surprise at the Central Station of Antwerp with a performance of  “Do Re Mi”.  (Apparently they had only rehearsed together twice!)

Guy Rundle’s support for “righteous killing”

Taliban beating women

Taliban beating women

Browsing today’s edition of Crikey just now I came across a little piece from Guy Rundle on Afghanistan.   This paragraph stood out:

The plain fact is that any eight year war in a foreign land has become a war against the people, a little Vietnam. Guerrilla insurgency is about moving like a fish in the water of the wider populace — thus obliging the occupying power to drain the pond (or, in the words of one of Melbourne’s addled pro-war Maoists — burnouts getting their jaded jollies from righteous killing, as usual — “draining the swamps where terror breeds”).

He’s clearly referring to an article by me which was published in The Australian, back in 2006: Drain the Swamps where Terror Breeds. (It’s sort of nice to know that he still feels irritated by it….)

Interestingly Rundle is on the record with an appalling call for a bloodbath in Iraq. These are his words just before the war began  in 2003:

`…it may be best in the long run if  Baghdad . . . resists and there is a slaughter of some duration”

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“Capitalism: Utopian and Scientific”

I recently had a look around the Santa Fe Institute website in order to see whether anyone there was seriously attempting to apply complex systems research to understanding capitalism, and the current economic crisis. ( links below.)

My reason for taking a look  is that SFI is a major centre of cross disciplinary research into complexity, and I was wondering whether anyone there was taking a serious look at capitalism from that perspective. I think that sort of work would have to be valuable, regardless of the fact that it would be commissioned by capitalists wanting to find a way to keep capitalism on its feet, rather than with the intent of demonstrating that the system is mortal.

The reason that “The Austrians” do have a certain appeal, relative to the fundamentally mechanistic approach of the Keynsians, and most of the neo-classical economists is that they have some idea that disequilibrium is an intrinsic part of capitalism. What they just can’t comprehend is the idea that this very disequilibrium (and associated dynamism) can’t help but drive the system to a whole new level   in which the continued ownership of the means of production will become something which very clearly stands in the way of what excites them about capitalism.

However, although we can say this, there is still a large amount of hand waving involved (especially when I say it!).  In order to engage in serious debate with people who are in favour of progress but see capitalism as the best driver of this, we need to be able to engage in detailed argument at a much higher level.

Contrary to  the straw man view of socialism which the Austrians have no great difficult in knocking down,  I think we need to argue that socialism  would not be a  system without disequilibrium . Although I just don’t know enough to be able to produce a coherent account of how a socialist economy would actually work,  philosophically I’m of the view that any system in permanent equilibrium would have to be a stagnating one. That of course is exactly the basis of the economic attack on socialism from the Austrians …. that it wouldn’t work because it would be a clunky top-down system driven by a rigid central plan, rather than a living, dynamic one.

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