This page contains a list of our bloggers and biographical material about some of them.
To contact us, write to: lastsuperpower (at) yahoo (dot) com (dot) au
Barry York (byork) is a historian who became active on the Left as a teenager in the 1960s. He is a former member of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist), the Australian Independence Movement, and the Australian Conservation Foundation. He is currently a member of Amnesty International.
He experienced a brief but exhilarating few years of real politics between 1968 and 1971 but then drifted off into personal semi-insanity and uncritical thinking for most of the 1970s.
In the 1980s he completed a doctorate, a process that reminded him of the importance of research and evidence-based argument. He abhors the formula-thinking that characterizes the pseudo-left.
He started to reflect critically on politics again as a result of the first Gulf War, during which he shifted position from knee-jerk anti-Americanism to support for the UN intervention against Iraq.
A life-long devotee of black American music, he reckons Karl Marx is to political philosophy what Thelonious Monk and Chuck Berry are to music.
He promises to join the Labor Party as soon as someone can convince him that we need a capitalist class to own the means of production and rule over us.
He prefers a Left that supports people’s struggle for democracy against tyranny around the world and that advocates the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism to one that whinges about the weather all the time. He hopes that the dark, silent, stagnant nightmare of a ‘Sustainable Future’ is never attained, and wants to keep noisily challenging the reactionaries who seek to impose it.
His motto is: “Rock on!”
Kerry maintains the LastSuperpower website and this blog. Although she is not quite geeky enough for the job, she has plans to “fix everything”.
Kerry was a student at Monash University (Melbourne, Australia) during the peak of the ’60s upheavals there. She played a leading role in the Monash Labour Club and the Worker-Student Alliance. She remembers thinking naively that “the revolution” might be just around the corner. Forty years on she sees that era as revolutionary in the sense that it was a period of deep rebellion which forced the system to grant us new freedoms.
In the early 1970s she joined the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist Leninist) which she describes as having been an “Emperor’s New Clothes” experience. As a consequence she is now terminally wary of communist sects.
Following her years at Monash, Kerry was busy raising four children and the Left was on its downward spiral, morphing rapidly into a pseudo-left. However she did find time to engage in various informal discussions among a small circle of left wingers who were trying to swim against this tide.
Many years were spent trying to complete a PhD . Unfortunately, she became fatally distracted by various tangential issues in cognitive science and philosophy of mind. During this period she also taught in the Philosophy Department at La Trobe University and in the Psychology Department at Monash.
The Iraq War brought her back into politics. The refusal of the “left” to support the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was the last straw for her.
She thinks that changing the world requires us to think about everything and to struggle against our inborn tendencies to become formulaic and religious about what we believe. This requires hard work mixed with a some whimsy and a good imagination. Currently she likes to imagine a world in which is fully globalised, modern and industrialised. Only on that basis is it possible to dream of how we might accomplish the next step – the abolition of wage slavery.
She also thinks it’s important to remain playful.
One of her daughters said of her: “My mother believes that we live on a starship that has run out of fuel and we are waiting for society to evolve to the point where it can manufacture spaceship fuel cheaply, then we can continue on our journey”.
We don’t believe that she really thinks this, but members of her household have been overheard muttering that there is a problem with the warp drive.
Asked if she is “still a Maoist” she replied that she doesn’t yet know enough to provide her own analysis of the Chinese revolution but that she has a favourite quote from Mao:
“Once we give in to blind faith our minds become cramped and our thought cannot burst out of its confinement. Unless you have a conquering spirit it is very dangerous to study Marxism-Leninism” (Talks at Chengtu)
David’s primary interest is making the economic case for social ownership of the means of production, and he has a web page on the subject.
He also wrote a book called Bright Future: Abundance and Progress in the 21st Century . It argues, among other things, that general affluence by the end of the century is very likely, despite what the greenies might say, and that the more we develop economically the riper we are for social ownership.
David was born in 1948 in Melbourne, Australia. In late 1968 he joined the radical student scene at Monash University. Once the mass movement of the time had won its battles and then dissipated, he drifted with many other radicals into the political swamp of the 1970s where he plumbed the depths of self delusion, ignorance, incomprehension and disconnection from regular people. In the 1980s he studied economics and became a bureaucrat, finally “retiring” in 1995.
Tom began his interest in revolutionary politics in the early 1970’s courtesy of the Vietnam war and his subsequent support for the NLF.
Accidentally anticipating the dawn of very Strange Times he found himself in what turned out to be a very strange organisation: The Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist). Here, an acquaintance with of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland would have saved him some initial befuddlement in 1976/7as he found himself on a Central Committee that was not elected, that didn’t meet (even at tea parties), contained at least one member who didn’t even know he was a member of it ( for whom Tom was the CC contact …go figure) and was made up of numerous other people who were comatose.
Not wishing to see this unsatisfactory situation persist and cause distress, the Party bosses wisely decided that those party members who actually believed that it was right to rebel against reactionaries were really riff-raff, simultaneous agents of US and Soviet imperialism and had “expelled themselves” (what! no gold watch?)
Tom has emerged from this experience unscarred. He vehemently denies that he needs psychotherapy. However when events trigger memories of this time, it is not uncommon for him to enter a dissociative state, assume a foetal position and laugh hysterically.
In a parallel and infinitely more sane world, he has worked for the past 20 years primarily as a family therapist, relationionship counsellor, and run numerous groups for men who are violent in their relationships.
He does not pretend to have answers to the deep crisis facing today’s Left. But he would far rather stay confused and stuck than fool himself into thinking that it is progressive to snuggle up to critiques of capitalism that come from aristocratic, feudal or other bygone sources.
David writes: “I’m a former South Australian who joined the great rush up to sunny Queensland. For many years my politics were ‘soft left’, basically accepting the way the system works, until a seminar by Humphrey McQueen brought out the unescapable fact of our society – we are forced to work for a living when, instead, we could be living far, far better than we do today without having to do boring jobs for ignorant bosses.
Last Superpower attracted me because of the clear, simple arguments that people here used in their support of the war that overthrew Sadaam Hussein – are you in favour of getting rid of dictators, or not?”
Bill doesn’t really like doing his own bio. However, his interests include philosophy, history, Marxism, political economy, learning, chess, programming languages, maths, science and evolution. With respect to political economy it appears that Marx may have been on the right track.
Anita is Strange Times ed as of November 2013 and also writes as informally yours. Anita doesn’t like doing her own bio either. However, her interests include reading and photography, health and medical policy, philosophy, Marxist dialectics, anthropology, archaeology, epigenetics to name a few. she also thinks Marx was on the right track and attempts to apply Marxism as a heuristic not ideology.
Patrick Muldowney (coming soon)