Home > Regular Features > Weekend reflections (early edition)

Weekend reflections (early edition)

August 25th, 2005

I’m going to be off air for a few days. So I’m throwing it open, a little early to Weekend Reflections. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please).

Categories: Regular Features Tags:
  1. August 25th, 2005 at 22:22 | #1

    As many of you know, I’m currently writing a book on Israel/Palestine for Melbourne University Publishing, due in May 2006.

    The following letter appears in this week’s Australian Jewish News. It’s written by Federal Labor MP, Michael Danby. Its agenda is clear. Why is a member of parliament trying to stop the publication of my book? What is he afraid of? History doesn’t look kindly on such attitudes. And we all know what other historical individuals favoured this behaviour. By the way Michael, try and spell my name properly next time. It’s Antony, not Anthony:

    “The graduating class of Mount Scopus of 1972 had some interesting people, many of whom made a mark on wider Australian society. One of my fellow graduates of that year is Louise Adler, the current publisher of Melbourne University Press (MUP).

    “Louise was and is an intellectually engaging person, if a little predictable with her inevitable criticism that Labor is a “sell-out” and that supporting Israel, moderate democratic Israel, as I do, makes me a “Zionist right-winger”. It’s a badge of honour, Louise.

    “However, faint praise for Adler is a sidebar to the substance of the issue. I want the entire Jewish community to know that I absolutely dissociate myself from her decision to publish a book edited by Anthony Loewenstein about the Australian Jewish community.

    “In preparation for writing his book, Loewenstein sent me a number of questions, based on assumptions, which made his views so blatantly obvious that I refused to answer them or participate in his book.

    “I will have no part in his and Adler’s propaganda tract scheduled for publication in 2006, which will be an attack on the mainstream Australian Jewish community.

    “MUP should drop this whole disgusting project. If they proceed, I urge the Australian Jewish community, and particularly the Australian Jewish News, to treat it with dignified silence. That is our best response. If, God forbid, it is published, don’t give them a dollar. Don’t buy the book.”

    MICHAEL DANBY MHR
    Federal member for Melbourne Ports

  2. August 26th, 2005 at 10:21 | #2

    I wouldn’t worry about it Anthony. This is Labor we’re talking about: they’ll backflip in a couple of days.

  3. Paul Norton
    August 26th, 2005 at 10:35 | #3

    I have discovered that Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was composed in order to set Schiller’s poem Ode To Joy to music.

    As good fortune would have it, Schiller wrote his poem to a metre which seems to have been quite popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, meaning that there are a number of excellent poems which can be sung to the tune of Beethoven’s Ninth. One of the best and most moving is “All For The Cause” by the British utopian socialist William Morris, which can be found at:

    http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/morris/poems/32.html

    or

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/morris/works/1891/bytheway/poems/poem32.htm

  4. observa
    August 26th, 2005 at 10:59 | #4

    “In preparation for writing his book, Loewenstein sent me a number of questions, based on assumptions, which made his views so blatantly obvious that I refused to answer them or participate in his book.”

    “Its agenda is clear. Why is a member of parliament trying to stop the publication of my book? What is he afraid of? History doesn’t look kindly on such attitudes. And we all know what other historical individuals favoured this behaviour.”

    Danby is basically accusing you of push polling here. Would you care to post the ‘number of questions’ you sent to he and others in the Jewish community so we can make up our own minds about where you’re both coming from Antony?

  5. August 26th, 2005 at 11:12 | #5

    i asked danby, late 2004, about how the ALP dealt with dissent re israel/palestine, how he personally dealt with jewish dissent, view of howard on israel,
    attitiudes towards israel and jews in oz. very bland questions.

    i should add that his media flak told me danby would answer the questions then he turned around and refused. that’s his right. but for a federal labor MP to try and stop the publication of a book is disturbing and should condemned. and i’d say likewise for other people, not just because it’s my book.

  6. observa
    August 26th, 2005 at 11:56 | #6

    “i should add that his media flak told me danby would answer the questions then he turned around and refused. that’s his right. but for a federal labor MP to try and stop the publication of a book is disturbing and should condemned. and i’d say likewise for other people, not just because it’s my book.”

    The question is not such a black and white one of censorship vs free speech, but more one of who should capture the public purse to beat their own drum. More a greyer issue of subsidised speech. There are a number of spheres where this has been an issue of late. VSU and the issue of an elite capturing the mandatory fees of the silent majority to push a political barrow. This applies more generally to union elites stepping outside their area of responsibility. Same applies to govt advertising on IR reforms. Are the Labor states stifling ‘free’ speech with their High Court challenge to this Federal spending? It often comes down to one of public perception ie freedom of artistic expression vs an outrageous bloody waste of our hard-earned paying some wanker $100,000 to paint trees blue at the MCG. Similarly with govt subsidy of the pecadillos of intellectual elites on the public payroll. Everyone’s in favour of ‘free’ speech when their snout’s in the subsidy trough, but not always so keen when they have to stump up for it themselves. I assume that’s not the case with your proposed tome here Antony?

  7. ab
    August 26th, 2005 at 12:06 | #7

    Antony, why are you trying to stop Danby freely expressing his view in a public forum?

    Also, I assume the ‘other historical individuals’ to which you refer are the Bolsheviks?

  8. Paul Norton
    August 26th, 2005 at 12:25 | #8

    My initial post has disappeared into the dark voids of cyberspace, so I’ll kind of repeat it.

    I have recently learned that Beethoven composed his Ninth Symphony in order to, amongst other things, put Schiller’s subversive poem Ode To Joy to music.

    Fortunately, Schiller wrote the poem in a metre which seems to have been very popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. Therefore there are a number of very good poems which can be sung to the tune of Beethoven’s Ninth.

    One of the best of them is “All For The Cause” by William Morris, which can be read at:

    http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/morris/poems/32.html

  9. August 26th, 2005 at 13:16 | #9

    Antony,

    I’m interested in what you’ve written, but you’ve not really told us much about your side of the story. Why don’t you replicate the correspondence that Danby attacked? Then you will be able to demonstrate your point more forcefully than by assuring us it was all bland.

  10. August 26th, 2005 at 13:31 | #10

    There is updated information here:

    http://antonyloewenstein.blogspot.com/2005/08/free-speech.html

    And Crikey has a story this afternoon, too. Will post later.

    It’s seems pretty clear that a Federal MP shouldn’t be trying to dictate what a publisher is able to publish, before it’s finished, before he’s read etc etc. His reasons are clear…

    Not answering my questions is his right, but attempting to stifle free speech – and really, there is no other way to read his letter – is a different story altogether.

  11. August 26th, 2005 at 13:32 | #11

    Just published in today’s Crikey:

    4. Loewenstein v Danby — Australia’s debate over Israel

    By Crikey reporter Sophie Vorrath

    There’s an ugly fight brewing in Australia’s Jewish community over a controversial new book by Sydney-based journalist Antony Loewenstein. Due for publication by Melbourne University Press next May, Loewenstein’s as yet unfinished, untitled book is already attracting feverish criticism for its take on the Israel/Palestine conflict.

    Leading the attack on the book is the federal member for Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby. In a scathing letter published in Australian Jewish News this week, Danby says he wants no part in Loewenstein and MUP’s Louise Adler’s “propaganda tract,â€? which he said was an attack on the mainstream Australian Jewish community.

    Danby said he had taken this stance after questions he got from Loewenstein made his views on the issue “blatantly obvious.�

    “MUP should drop this whole disgusting project. If they proceed, I urge the Australian Jewish community, and particularly the Australian Jewish News, to treat it with dignified silence. That is our best response. If, God forbid, it is published, don’t give them a dollar. Don’t buy the book.â€?

    So why has a book by a relatively little-known journalist that’s not even finished got Danby so fired up? And is calling for it to be boycotted appropriate behaviour for a parliamentarian?

    Loewenstein told Crikey this morning it was “incredibly disappointing” that Danby would try to “dictate policy” to a publisher. It’s a matter of free speech, he said: “It should be acceptable for a Jew or anyone else to criticise Israel or any other country.”

    “The attitude is ‘there’s one line and one perspective (on the Israel/Palestine conflict) and if you dare to question it then look out’,” said Loewenstein, “it’s like ‘this is a war and there’s no room for dissent’.”

    MUP’s Louise Adler, who graduated from Melbourne school Mount Scopus the same year as Danby and was given “faint praise” in his letter, told Crikey the political views Michael Danby ascribed to her in the letter were “palpable nonsense and pure invention.”

    Adler said she was proud of MUP’s 80-year history of independent publishing and its mandate to publish books of public interest, and “dismayed” that a publisher like AJN “gives space to proposals to boycott ideas.” Danby’s proposal, she said, was “inimical to the central Jewish values of tolerance and open debate.”

    Crikey called Michael Danby for a response, but we’re still waiting for him to get back to us.

  12. Stephen L
    August 26th, 2005 at 14:24 | #12

    I don’t have a problem with an MP calling for a boycott of something – particularly if it is just the product he dislikes (I’d be more worried if he called for people to boycott everything by MUP).

    However, I am a bit dismayed at him calling for a boycott on a book he obviously hasn’t read. Perhaps he is going on what he knows about Antony (which is obviously more than I do) but I can’t see how the questions as listed could be taken as signifying anything, beyond perhaps a position that alternative points of view within the Jewish community are legitimate. And if that’s his grounds for calling for a boycott then there is reason to worry.

  13. August 26th, 2005 at 15:07 | #13

    I hold no brief for Danby and have an open mind on the issue. Indeed, a pretty empty mind on it if the truth be told. I hope you get your book published and it encourages worthwhile debate.

    As for the questions being ‘bland’, well its pretty obvious reading them that they wouldn’t be ‘bland’ to Danby.

  14. observa
    August 26th, 2005 at 15:45 | #14
  15. Chinese Basket
    August 26th, 2005 at 16:29 | #15

    The Australian economy is doing well at the moment, partly on the back of demand for natural resources from China. Apart from the slow-down in the property market, a lot of investment seems to be driven by this fact. Resource companies are doing well for obvious reasons, and retail is up on the back of cheap imported goods. There are a lot of flow on effects.

    I wonder though whether China’s growth rate is sustainable over the long-term. It’s hovered over 8 per cent for the last decade, and current projects from the World Bank are only marginally lower than this.

    Given how exposed we are (and most of the rest of the world) if Chinese growth stalls I reckon there will be a lot of panic. Imagine the Asian crisis on steroids.

  16. a friend
    August 26th, 2005 at 16:29 | #16

    Dear Observa, please never link to that revolting child again. It’s ruined my afternoon.

  17. August 26th, 2005 at 16:48 | #17

    Completely changing the subject, it has suddenly become clear to me that “blog” is simply an abbreviation of Blaenau-Ffestiniog. So maybe all this is just some cunning Welsh plot.

  18. August 26th, 2005 at 17:14 | #18

    Blaenau-Ffestiniog – isn’t that Welsh for bolshevik? Don’t they beat dissidents with leeks?

  19. ab
    August 26th, 2005 at 17:34 | #19

    Err, no. They bury them up to the waist and have a crowd throw Iced VoVos at them.

  20. joe2
    August 26th, 2005 at 18:26 | #20

    Our great leader has just received the ‘Woody’ award from Pres Bush.

    Is this more important than deputy-sheriff? Should we all stand further to attention at this honour? Larger flagpoles at government schools?
    Gosh, and those single mothers need less money while the “best and brightest”, need more. Clearly, once these women understand family trust arrangements, with the extra 64 dollars they get, the level playing field will be established.

  21. Katz
    August 26th, 2005 at 18:59 | #21

    Determined never to be outdone by his colleague Michael Gawenda for making fanciful comment about the unfolding tragi-comedy that is Iraq, today Tony Parkinson enters the lists, yet again.

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/bombs-or-ballot-the-sunni-choice/2005/08/25/1124562979396.html

    In his latest exercise in futility, Our Tone lectures the Sunni for refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of the constitution-drafting process, as if it were the most natural thing in the world for a super power to crash into a country without any UN mandate and without any rationale that has survived the most cursory scrutiny.

    Now, Tony. Pay attention. The Sunni folk of Iraq are as likely to reader the Melbourne “Age” as they are to read the “Desert Denouncer”, late of “Tumbleweeds” fame. In short, Tony, you’ve wasted an hour’s intellectual labour of questionable value and barrels of printers ink.

    If you really wanted to achieve something, why didn’t you address your attention regarding the future of Iraq to John Howard?

    Because, Tony, John Howard has been extremely niggardly in his commitment of troops to win the Great Cause in Iraq. The Sunni aren’t going to pay a blind bit of notice of you. But they may pay a bit of attention to a bit of cold steel wielded by the requisite number of Our Boys.

    Here is the headline for a piece you might write: “Little Johnny: Howard or Coward?”

    So make yourself useful Tone. And show Michael Gawenda a thing or two about hawkishness.

  22. August 26th, 2005 at 19:15 | #22

    Changing the subject again, I’d be grateful if anyone could comment on the mysteries posted here http://troppoarmadillo.ubersportingpundit.com/archives/009429.html

    In short, why are house prices so high in Australia. If as one commentator says, its all down to artificial scarcity of land then why is a sprawling city like Brissie getting so expensive. Read the post and tell me the answer.

  23. August 26th, 2005 at 19:29 | #23

    Under the headline of “Shadowy campaign funding for Greens” the SMH reported that the Greens had been caught out (see: http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/shadowy-campaign-funding-for-greens/2005/08/25/1124562981262.html)

    I haven’t yet seen a denial from the Greens that this isn’t so!

  24. Ian Gould
    August 26th, 2005 at 22:45 | #24

    “A denial that this isn’t so” – maybe they’re still trying to parse that statement.

  25. August 27th, 2005 at 00:57 | #25

    Changing the subject again…
    Whens the last time you got stoned? I mean out of your tiny mind?
    I just had some hooch that has knocked my socks off!
    Now I’m just floatin….
    Aint life grand.

  26. brian
    August 27th, 2005 at 01:48 | #26

    If Richard Lowenstein is interested there is much discussion in Britain of a book by a UK jewish academic, Jacquilene Rose, and her book “The Question of Zion : in which she looks at the disasters that have beset the jewish state,and the curious attitudes to the Palestines which now poisons so much Israeli thought.m She was interview on Wed/Aug 24th,on Tony Jones’ “Lateline” program,and the transcript is on the ABC site. There is also a recent book by a US-Israeli academic which looks at the roots of the arrogance which has characterised so much Israeli policy, the book is called “Chutzpah “. Is is also causing a huge controversy in the USA. These two book may help Lowenstein. As for Michael Danby, don’t worry about him Richard, he’s not worth it !!

  27. August 27th, 2005 at 01:51 | #27

    Richard?

  28. brian
    August 27th, 2005 at 01:57 | #28

    Sorry Antony ! I called you Richard… that puts me in Danby’s class…God what a thought!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. August 27th, 2005 at 10:43 | #29

    I think Antony or ‘Richard’ is simply trying to generate some free publicity for his book. Suggesting that a second rater like Danby is managing some sort of conspiracy to shut down free speech, is a convenient marketing prop. It will look good on the back cover! But in the scheme of things will not mean a great deal, as it will probably be another book that will be unread, and remaindered in Angus & Robertson this time next year.

  30. gordon
    August 27th, 2005 at 11:29 | #30

    The recent UN report “The Inequality Predicament” is available at
    http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/rwss/media 05/cd-docs/media.htm
    (click on the picture of the report cover for the full report)

  31. August 27th, 2005 at 15:48 | #31

    Beating people with leeks is in Shakespeare. I think Falstaff says something like “I’ll beat your leek about your pate upon St. David’s day” – but he was talking to a Welshman, not describing a Welsh custom.

  32. observa
    August 27th, 2005 at 16:23 | #32

    Frank, get out of Bali now!

  33. Mike Pepperday
    August 27th, 2005 at 20:03 | #33

    According to today’s Australian, Labor treasury spokesman Wayne Swan said yesterday that marginal tax rates are far too high.
    “What incentive is there for employees to upgrade their education and skills or adopt more efficient work practices if the rewards of higher wages and bonuses never reach their pockets?” he said.
    Note he “said�. It’s rhetorical. This must mean that Mr Swan has never heard of professional pride. Or the satisfaction of meaningful work. Or of altruism. Either that or he thinks they are irrelevant.
    He presumes the only reason JQ (and the rest of us) works is for money. And he presumes, as our elected representative, that we all think as he does. And he speaks for the Labor Party.

  34. joe2
    August 27th, 2005 at 20:08 | #34

    Do not know, Antony Lowenstein, but love his work.

    Recommend a website that deserves a book and a look.
    Hope P. Adams gives him a go. We need divergent views and this bloke has gutse.

    More power to him.

  35. August 27th, 2005 at 21:25 | #35

    I can’t claim to be part of the Australian Jewish community but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the intensity of the Danby debate has to do with the fact that it is carried out in a comparatively small world. In which this discussion is very intense.

    I suppose Elizabeth might be right, and the book is heading for the remainder table. That is a sad reflection on the fact that most print writing has now become ephemeral – even books on architecture.

    I wish we valued our public debate more, so that all these books are snapped up and pored over, no matter what the line. After all, that would help them to be better edited and better read (speaking generally, of course. Antony is a paragon of verbality. )

  36. Terje
    August 27th, 2005 at 22:22 | #36

    Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are like normal hybrid electric cars except that they have a bigger battery and can charge from the electrical mains.

    My guess is that by 2015 these things will out sell the traditional all-petrol car.

    http://www.iags.org/pih.htm

    EXTRACT:-

    quote:
    ——————————————————————————–

    Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) are hybrid cars with an added battery. As the term suggests, plug-in hybrids – which look and perform much like “regular” cars – can be plugged in to a 120-volt outlet (for instance each night at home, or during the workday at a parking garage) and charged. Plug-ins run on the stored energy for much of a typical day’s driving – depending on the size of the battery up to 60 miles per charge, far beyond the commute of an average American – and when the charge is used up, automatically keep running on the fuel in the fuel tank. A person who drives every day a distance shorter than the car’s electric range would never have to dip into the fuel tank.

    ——————————————————————————–

  37. abb1
    August 27th, 2005 at 22:48 | #37

    I’ve read a couple of Mr. Lowenstein’s posts in his blog and they sound fine.

    What I disagree with is the Palestinian issue being spun here as something that only concerns some ‘Jewish community’ or even only ‘Australian Jewish community’. This is simply wrong and counter-productive way to frame it, this is not about kosher standards or better brit milah technics.

    Now, let’s be clear here: decades ago it was indeed the struggle between two enthic groups. No more, those times are long gone.

    The Palestine issue today is the struggle between those – across the ethnic and sectarian lines – who acknowledge the right of Israel to exist within its internationally recognized borders, provided it fulfiled its obligations to fully compensate and resettle the Palestinian refugees – and those who reject this concept. There are many Jews, Arabs and others in each camp.

    For example, most of Israeli Likud and some of the more extreme fractions of Hamas are in the same camp. PLO and Israeli Peace Block are together on the opposite side.

    This is not ethnic or religious, this is sensible vs. irrational.

  38. Ian Gould
    August 28th, 2005 at 08:09 | #38

    Abb1 you are correct – but you must understand that “mainstream Jewish community” is code for “Greater Israel supporting, pro-settler Likud supporters who monopolise formal Jewish institutions in Australia”.

    If you see your first and over-riding loyalty is to your fellow Jews and to Israel you are much more likely to take an active part in such institutions than those of us who see or first loyalty as being to our homeland.

  39. Neil
    August 28th, 2005 at 10:49 | #39

    David is dead wrong. There is no debate within the Jewish community about Israel. In fact, there is a community ‘line’, which is toed almost without exception. It is this: whatever your thoughts on Israel, keep them to yourself. Only Jews living in Israel have a right to criticise; all other Jews have the obligation to support Israel, in all their comments on the topic. There are two justifications given: 1. if you do not take up the burdens of living in Israel, you forfeit the right to criticise, and 2. criticism of Israel outside the country only gives fuel to anti-semitism. Of course, cognitive dissonance being what it is, people to embrace this line – and it is faithfully followed by the entire mainstream – tend to come to believe that Israel is actually above criticism.

  40. August 28th, 2005 at 15:07 | #40

    So what was the take on that little Muslim confab last week? I like the letter in SMH Saturday, “Australian values in Islamic schools? Crikey, cobber, what next?…”

  41. Ian Gould
    August 28th, 2005 at 15:18 | #41

    guambat,

    Considering that there have been muslims in Australia for virtually the entirity of our written history (and there were probably muslims amongst the people from what is now Indonesia who fished and traded in the northern Territory before the European discovery of Australia), what makes you assume that “Australian values” and Islam are incompatible?

  42. Elizabeth
    August 28th, 2005 at 17:44 | #42

    Perhaps Ian might want to read the following link for a clue!

    http://www.islamweb.net/ver2/Fatwa/ShowFatwa.php?lang=E&Id=7171&Option=FatwaId

    The responsibilities of Muslim communities and Muslim minorties in non-Muslim countries are numerous. But the most important of which are the following:

    1. To emigrate from non-Muslim countries to Muslim one’s for whoever is not able to establish the rites of his religion or fears to be afflicted. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said: “whoever keeps company with a non-Muslim and resides with him, is like him.” Reported by Abu Dawud.

    The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) also said: “I am exempt from any Muslim who resides among non-Muslims.” reported by Abu Dawud, Al-Thirmidhi and others.

    2. Whoever is not able to emigrate because of a sound reason, then it is incumbent on him to preserve and protect his religion and establish it as Allah, The Most High, likes, and avoid being carried away towards the belief or traditions of the non-Muslims, or imitatating them in things that are peculiar to them.

    The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said: “whoever imitates people, he is one of them.” Reported by Ahmed and others. He further said: “He is not one of us the one whoever imitates other than us (non-Muslims); Do not imitate the Jews or the Christians,” reported by Al-Thirmidhi and Al-Albani classified it as an authentic Hadith.

    3. To call to the religion of Allah, as Allah says: “Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Ma’rûf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islâm has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful.” (Aali Imran 3:104)

    One of the best ways of Dawah (calling people to Allah) in those countries is the strict practice of Islam by the Muslims and to be steadfast on the obedience of Allah refraining from all acts of disobedience. Many people embraced Islam just because of the good relationship they established with some Muslims and their being steadfast on the religion of Islam. Every Muslim should know that he/she is one of the soldiers of Islam. Non-Muslims consider the mistake of a Muslim as a mistake of Islam, and consider his/her good conduct and good behavior as part of Islam.

    4. One of the most important responsibilities as well is to be keen on bringing up and educating one’s children upon a good education that Allah is pleased with, and to preserve their Muslim identity, by establishing Muslim schools and institutes.

    5. To abide by the rules that do not contradict the Islamic Shariah.

    6. Not to resort to Kafir (non-Muslim) and polytheist and opt for being judged according to Islamic Shariah in settling disputes and arguments by asking the people of knowledge in the country where one lives, or asking the people of knowledge in Muslim counties, and Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; and may His blessings and peace be upon His prophet, this matter has become now very easy.

    Allah says: “But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you (O Muhammad SAW) judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission. (An-Nisa 4:65)

    Allah also says: “The only saying of the faithful believers, when they are called to Allâh (His Words, the Qur’ân) and His Messenger (SAW), to judge between them, is that they say: “We hear and we obey.” And such are the prosperous ones (who will live forever in Paradise)”. (An-Nur 24:51)

    Allah knows best.

  43. joe2
    August 28th, 2005 at 18:00 | #43

    Australian values are now hijacked by our great leader. The Akubra hat and the slut, single mother. She should get off her arse and work for a pittance while tax breaks are necessary for the brightest and clever.

    It’s the “wealth creators” that we should adore and thus spoke the the dumbest P.M ,we have ever had.

  44. Peter
    August 28th, 2005 at 20:50 | #44

    I’ve long been amused by the standard right-wing ecology of incentives —
    poor people require beating with sticks in order not to sit around doing nothing all day, while rich people require to be provided with carrots in order not to do the same. Clearly, there is a turning-point part-way between the two extremes, where a person could be tempted to sit doing nothing unless provided with a tiny, perhaps not very fresh, carrot, or tempted to sit doing nothing unless hit, ever so mildly, with a tiny stick. What pressure this guy sitting at the turning-point must be under in deciding what to do!

  45. August 28th, 2005 at 20:57 | #45

    Elizabeth,
    That post is so far outside off stump that I know I shouldn’t take a swing, but I think I might. I’d like to post something from the same website that you cited (although, this isn’t from the ‘Fatwa’ section), regarding interaction between muslims and non-muslims:

    “The Qur’an says: “God forbids you not, with regards to those who fight you not for [your] faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them; for God loveth those who are just.” (Qur’an, 60:8) ”
    http://www.islamweb.net/ver2/archive/article.php?lang=E&id=54601

    Might seem a little harsh? Mind you, I’d probably fight those who interfered with my faith or tried to drive me out of my house. I’d imagine most people would. Same website on violence:

    “The Prophet’s most important task was to bring peace to the world. To this end, he urged people to accept the fact that, regardless of skin colour, language, lifestyle or dwelling place, they were all blood brothers and sisters. Only if they saw each other in this light could there be mutual love and respect.”
    http://www.islamweb.net/ver2/archive/article.php?lang=E&id=32538

    I could go on and on, but really I wouldn’t be fooling anyone because of two very good reasons:

    1) Like you, I’m only looking for bits that support my argument and I’m not considering the full picture. Anything’s cute and cuddly if you take the warm and fuzzy bits. By the same token, anything’s rabid and vicious if you just look at the extremism.
    2) Attempting to describe a centuries old religion/philosophy by quoting from a single website, without analysing any texts in detail, nor attempting to put passages in context is at best naive, and at worse an effort to stifle truth.

  46. Albatross
    August 28th, 2005 at 21:17 | #46

    I don’t know if you were up early enough to catch Okham’s Razor but the transcript is at http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ockham/stories/s1445960.htm

    I have never heard of Gideon Polya and don’t have any comment to make about his credibility or otherwise. His number crunching makes interesting reading however. The point about Jihadist suicide bombers being responsible for around 5000 deaths in 20 years vs. 1.1 million under 5 year old infant deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq post-invasion is at least pause for thought.

  47. Ros
    August 28th, 2005 at 22:15 | #47

    From Instapundit

    http://lashawnbarber.com/archives/2005/08/27/blogger/

    Blogger Aaron Wall of SEOBook is being sued by company called Traffic Power for defamation and disclosing trade secrets. From The Blog Herald:
    If successful the case has the potential to cause major upheaval in the blogosphere as comments would need to be filtered in cases where there was even the slightest chance someone might sue or find the comment offensive or disagree with it.
    Might be time to update the disclosure and editorial statement.

    http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/blogspotting/archives/2005/08/is_it_riskier_t.html?campaign_id=rss_blog_blogspotting

    Taylor writes: “[If]you moderate, edit, or prune comments on your online forum — or blog — in any way at all then you stop being able to defend yourself as a common carrier and become a publisher who is, indeed, liable for the content that they publish.”

    Bit worrying

    This is a online report from Richard Potter, a partner with Phillips Fox in Sydney,2004 that discusses the Australian situation as he understood it then.
    http://www.nswscl.org.au/journal/57/Potter.html

  48. Ian Gould
    August 28th, 2005 at 23:29 | #48

    “Attempting to describe a centuries old religion/philosophy by quoting from a single website, without analysing any texts in detail, nor attempting to put passages in context is at best naive, and at worse an effort to stifle truth.”

    You mean like judging Christianity and “western values” by these sites?

    http://www.godhatesfags.com/

    http://www.creativityohio.com/

  49. wilful
    August 29th, 2005 at 09:34 | #49

    Also, alpaca, how’s your reading comprehension? That first quote was anti violence.

    “The Qur’an says: “God forbids you not, with regards to those who fight you not for [your] faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them; for God loveth those who are just.� (Qur’an, 60:8) �
    http://www.islamweb.net/ver2/archive/article.php?lang=E&id=54601

    Might seem a little harsh? Mind you, I’d probably fight those who interfered with my faith or tried to drive me out of my house. I’d imagine most people would.

    God forbids you NOT to deal kindly with people of other faiths. What is the problem?

  50. gordon
    August 29th, 2005 at 12:06 | #50

    And for the nuclear power advocates, a dose of reality at
    http://www.greenpeace.org/international/news/sellafield-springfield

  51. Katz
    August 29th, 2005 at 12:15 | #51

    Now that Bronwyn Bishop has declared Islamic headscarves should be banned as an affront to Australian values, is it legitimate to opine that Bronwyn’s own hairstyle might be declared both a crime against nature and a danger to the ozone layer?

  52. observa
    August 29th, 2005 at 12:20 | #52

    “poor people require beating with sticks in order not to sit around doing nothing all day, while rich people require to be provided with carrots in order not to do the same.”
    No Peter, some people require more incentive (carrots) than others to do the things most of us understand intuitively, can keep us from becoming poor and sometimes make us rich. The people we speak of are usually poor of course. Naturally, there is the ultimate stick of prison for those recalcitrant few, who believe in taking shortcuts.

  53. ab
    August 29th, 2005 at 13:00 | #53

    Well Brogden finally hit the self-destruct button: http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,16419481-2,00.html.

    He also talked down his own apology, describing it as ‘fulsome’. He’s got some nerve!

  54. August 29th, 2005 at 15:06 | #54

    How about Bronwyn’s scarf – now thats an act of defiance!

  55. August 29th, 2005 at 15:34 | #55

    “Fulsome” is such a stupid word to use when you can just say “full”. Then again Brogden wasn’t real bright in the first place or he wouldn’t have got himself into such trouble.

  56. August 29th, 2005 at 15:49 | #56

    Wilful,
    My reading comprehension’s fine, thanks very much, but my communication skills were a bit lacking. I was aware that the quote was anti-violence. That was the whole point: to rebut the idea that Islamic and Australian values stand at odds to each other. I was expecting a violent tirade because of the line “fight you not for your faith” being interpreted as “anything non-Islamic must be fought” (which it clearly is not).

  57. David
    August 29th, 2005 at 16:35 | #57

    The NSW opposition leader disses the wife of the former premier. He resigns. ‘Dishonourable’ behaviour.
    The Prime Minister conspires to illegally invade Iraq based upon lies. No resignation. ‘Honourable’ behaviour.

    I’m confused.

  58. GoTF
    August 29th, 2005 at 16:40 | #58

    Well, at least Broggers has set an example to his Liberal brethren. Many are the times over recent years that a member of the federal Liberal Party should have resigned for his or her comments but didn’t. For example, a member of the Libs slandered Justice Kirby without consequence. Another likened Bob Brown to a certain infamous Nazi leader. Neither comment was acceptable, but Howard failed to act. Broggers did the right thing…

    The issue is a real pity for the Libs in NSW. Labor hasn’t been looking very good there for a while and then this idiot takes all the attention away from the ALPs bad policies and incompetent administration. If he’d just kept his head in Broggers would have led the Liberals to a decent showing at the next election. Instead he’s consigned to the dustbin of history.

  59. Andrew Reynolds
    August 29th, 2005 at 19:32 | #59

    David,
    The legality of the invasion of Iraq is a matter of interpretation of the Vienna Conventions. The conspiracy bit is also questionable, based on whether it was illegal. Claiming it was based on lies is questionable – did Howard know they were lies? We can look back and say they were wrong, but the matter of lies is another thing.
    Doing what Brogden has now admitted to doing is simply wrong – and is not a matter of interpretation. The only pity was it took him so long to resign.

  60. Elizabeth
    August 29th, 2005 at 19:42 | #60

    A very good post on another blog, about the headscarf issue: Please via via the link that follows.

    http://www.carlocarli.net/archives/133-Celebrate,-rather-then-ban-the-hijab.html#comments

  61. Ian Gould
    August 29th, 2005 at 20:09 | #61

    The Economist published a recent article on the famine in Niger which, unfortunately isn’t available on-line.

    I’ll summarise some of the key points since they have relevance not only to recent discussions on this topic here but more broadly to the role of markets.

    The majority of the population of Niger are pastoral nomads. They raise livestock and sell it to buy commodities including staple foods such as grains.

    The proximate cuase of the famine in Niger was a rise in grain prices – a rise which was not primarily caused by the short-fall in the Niger grain harvest.

    Niger normally imports grain from Nigeria. So far we have here a near-perfect illustration of how markets are supposed to work. The inhabitants of semi-arid Niger exploit their comparitive advantage in livestock production based on the cheap inputs of large areas of pasture land. The Nigerians take advantage of their comparitive advantage in grain production arising from their wetter climate. The end-result is higher total output of both grain and meat than would occur in Niger and Nigeria each tried to be self-sufficient in both grain and meat.

    Then comes oil price rises and economic reform in Nigeria. Nigerians are richer (temporarily at least) and as a result want to consume more meat. The civilian government of Nigeria removes restrictions on commercial meat and poultry production which were imposed by past military governments.

    Meat and poultry production in Nigeria rises – and prices for grain rise along with them. (It’s possible too that rising Nigerian meat production contributed to a decline in meat prices there but that isn’t explicitly stated in the article.)

    So the relative exchange rate between grain and cattle faced by the Nigeran pastoralists shifts against them – it now takes more cattle to purchase the same amount of grain.

    Classic economic theory would state that Nigerans should now exit the cattle market, reducing the supply of cattle and restoring equilibrium.

    Unfortunately, for subsistence pastoralists there are no alternative sources of income – you sell your cattle to get grain to eat or you starve.

    So pastoralists start selling more cattle – which pushes the price down further and so on in a vicious downward spiral.

    This famine is a market phenomenon, nothing more, nothing less. Recognising this doesn’t require any moral judgment as to whether markets are good or bad. Markets are tools – they are no more good or bad than a hammer or a screw-driver.

    Once we recognise that simple fact we can move beyond, on the one hand, believing markets are innately evil and exploitative and on the other beleiving that markets are innately benign and that the untrammeled operation of market forces will somehow automatically maximise human well-being.

    Like any tool, market economics is useful for some purposes and bloody useless for others.

    (Final note to Terje – if you think even a tiny fraction of these transactions attracted GST or income tax, you really need to get out more.)

  62. abb1
    August 29th, 2005 at 20:53 | #62

    I don’t think anyone ever called ‘markets’ as such evil and/or exploitative, this characterization is usually reserved for market capitalism with high concentration of the means of production and race-to-the-bottom prone labor market.

  63. David
    August 30th, 2005 at 09:41 | #63

    Andrew,

    Thanks for your response.
    I’m sure a good lawyer can excuse any behaviour by our Prime Minister and he’ll be able to quote all sorts of vague weasel language in treaties and UN resolutions. The UN did not authorise this war and in fact declared it illegal. I’m sure UN lawyers read the same treaties, etc.
    The PM met with Bush and promised Australia’s involvement very early on. Does anyone think this didn’t happen? That’s conspiracy. I don’t think this point is worth debating.
    As to the lies. Consider that our Prime Minister must be a man of some intelligence (No, really). He has the backing of a vast bureaucracy and various intelligence agencies all working fulltime to get him the right answers. What comes out of this to justify a war. Human shredding machines! (I really loved this one) Niger uranium! Aluminium tubes! Non-compliance! All of these issues were debunked. How could our well informed Prime Minister believe any of this bull. When I heard this stuff I laughed. It just was not credible. No evidence at all.

    Hey, Saddam is a murdering despot but the reason we were given all along was WMD, WMD, WMD. He was no longer a threat to his neighbours. Humanitarian reasons were given in a whisper. Many people who are NOT Saddam Hussien have died, a country has been ruined, part of our common history trashed. We have replaced tyranny with anarchy. Iraq is now an ungovernable failed state. Way to give humanitarian support, guys!

    I’m afraid I regard starting a war as a very, very serious business and I cannot forgive our PM for this crime. He should be in prison.

    Remember when one our values was that we didn’t start wars, we finished them?

  64. Katz
    August 30th, 2005 at 10:03 | #64

    “Well, at least Broggers has set an example to his Liberal brethren.”

    Further to GoTF’s comments.

    Notice that in the brewing witch-hunt over “Islamic” headscarves (would any ban extend to a girl made bald by chemotherapy? If not, how do you distinguish between an “Islamic” headscarf and all other headscarves?) Weasel-Word Howard has declared the criteria for culpability promulgated by Witch-Huntresses-in-Chiefs Bishop and Panopoulos to be “impractical”.

    In other words, Howard is hinting that if he could find some workable way of isolating “Islamic” headscarves as “iconic emblems of defiance” without the blowback on turbans, yomulkes, snoods, wimples, veils, etc., etc., then he may countenance such a project.

    In other words, Howard has no moral objection to firing the faggots.

    Or more generally, Howard has few genuine moral objections to anything.

  65. August 30th, 2005 at 11:39 | #65

    Ian,

    You neglected to mention that drought and locust plague destroyed much of the fodder used by pastoralists to feed their herds. Aside from killing off the animals tha represent their sole source of food and income, the dearth of fodder forced many pastoralists to either: a) sell the animals they couldn’t feed; and b) move their herds further south, away from the Sahel, and towards available fodder.
    The first move exacerbated the adverse shift in the terms of trade (i.e. the price of animals plummeted with increased supply, just as grain prices were rising) you noted; the second took many pastoralists further away from vulnerable women and children, left without wealth or income to purchase (more expensive) grain.

    There’s all sorts of problems with Niger (e.g. chronic poverty, which makes its economy vulnerable to any significant shock), but it’s unlikely that the food crisis would have occurred if there had not been significant drought and locust plague. It’s consequently incorrect to say that the food crisis was a market phenomenon.

  66. Andrew Reynolds
    August 30th, 2005 at 15:14 | #66

    abb1,
    I find it interesting that an inanimate process can be designated as ‘evil’. Can we also describe evolution as ‘evil’ as it condemns whole species to extinction and is therefore much more ‘evil’.
    Capitalism is no more ‘evil’ than social democracy, communism or (lets avoid Godwin’s Law) anything else. It is the people that make those up that can be ‘evil’.

  67. Matt Canavan
    August 30th, 2005 at 15:39 | #67

    Ian,

    Your summarising of The Economist’s article appears inaccurate. You say that Niger’s famine followed “oil price rises and economic reform in Nigeria.” However, oil prices are not mentioned in the article and the only ‘reform’ that is referred to is Nigeria’s imposition of import controls on rice and wheat and the assistance that it has given to wheat and poultry farmers.

    Both of these measures have increased Nigerian demand for cereals, pushing up their price and causing Niger’s TOT to fall. This, combined with export controls on grains (imposed by Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Mali in contravention of trade treaties), are the prime reasons the Economist gives for the famine. The full article is available here:

    http://www.economist.com/printedition/PrinterFriendly.cfm?Story_ID=4293198

    None of these factors support your conclusion that “this famine is a market phenomenon.” Indeed, the famine appears to have been caused by policies that have prevented the market from working.

  68. Mark Upcher
    August 30th, 2005 at 16:05 | #68

    ab and BS Fairman (about a dozen comments back)

    The misuse of the word fulsome is one of my pet hates. It should be avoided because, while it is common to hear people now use it instead of the perfectly good word “full”, its usual meaning is along the lines of: buttery: unpleasantly and excessively suave or ingratiating in manner or speech.

    Perhaps that is how Brogden meant his apology!

  69. August 30th, 2005 at 17:02 | #69

    Andrew – Slavery is evil. So is that which we won’t speak of because of the law beginning with G.

    Both systems are clearly evil, apart from the people in them.

  70. abb1
    August 30th, 2005 at 17:04 | #70

    http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=evil
    e·vil
    adj. e·vil·er, e·vil·est

    1. Morally bad or wrong; wicked: an evil tyrant.
    2. Causing ruin, injury, or pain; harmful: the evil effects of a poor diet.
    3. Characterized by or indicating future misfortune; ominous: evil omens.
    4. Bad or blameworthy by report; infamous: an evil reputation.
    5. Characterized by anger or spite; malicious: an evil temper.

    “The evil effects of a poor diet”, “the evils of capitalism”. Indeed, religious overtones make it sound ironic, but as a rhetorical figure of speech – why not?

  71. abb1
    August 30th, 2005 at 17:16 | #71

    Ah, damn it. I used a bad word in my comment and it got censored. I think the offending word is ‘d-i-è-t’…

  72. Ian Gould
    August 30th, 2005 at 19:33 | #72

    Matt,

    While oil prices are not mentioned in the article it is a fact that Nigeria is a major oil exporter and has been experiencing something of a boom.

    I refer you, for example, here:

    http://www.nationmaster.com/country/ni/Economy

    “Oil-rich Nigeria, long hobbled by political instability, corruption, inadequate infrastructure, and poor macroeconomic management, is undertaking some reforms under the new civilian administration. Nigeria’s former military rulers failed to diversify the economy away from overdependence on the capital-intensive oil sector, which provides 20% of GDP, 95% of foreign exchange earnings, and about 65% of budgetary revenues. The largely subsistence agricultural sector has failed to keep up with rapid population growth – Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country – and the country, once a large net exporter of food, now must import food. Following the signing of an IMF stand-by agreement in August 2000, Nigeria received a debt-restructuring deal from the Paris Club and a $1 billion credit from the IMF, both contingent on economic reforms. Nigeria pulled out of its IMF program in April 2002, after failing to meet spending and exchange rate targets, making it ineligible for additional debt forgiveness from the Paris Club. In the last year the government has begun showing the political will to implement the market-oriented reforms urged by the IMF, such as to modernize the banking system, to curb inflation by blocking excessive wage demands, and to resolve regional disputes over the distribution of earnings from the oil industry. During 2003 the government began deregulating fuel prices, announced the privatization of the country’s four oil refineries, and instituted the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy, a domestically designed and run program modeled on the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility for fiscal and monetary management. GDP rose strongly in 2004.”

    - I will bear in mind in future that every statment here must be supported by references and that fail to provide such links will be the basis for veiled accusations of dishonesty.

  73. Ian Gould
    August 30th, 2005 at 19:58 | #73

    Information on Nigeria’s agricultural policy mauy be found here:

    http://www.nigeria.gov.ng/industry_generalinfo_agriculture.aspx

    Land is being provided at reasonable terms for use for large scale farming. Government has encouraged foreign agric investors with remarkable results. For instance farmers from Southern African countries have found home in Nigeria where they have started operations to produce.

    The agricultural initiative of the Obasanjo Administration has seen to the restriction of the importation of some types of food and cash crops to encourage local farmers to compete.

  74. SJ
    August 30th, 2005 at 22:08 | #74

    Andrew Reynolds Says:

    I find it interesting that an inanimate process can be designated as ‘evil’. Can we also describe evolution as ‘evil’ as it condemns whole species to extinction and is therefore much more ‘evil’.

    Evolution is an imanimate process? I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

    Capitalism is no more ‘evil’ than social democracy, communism or (lets avoid Godwin’s Law) anything else. It is the people that make those up that can be ‘evil’.

    This is just useless hand-waving, along the lines of “guns don’t kill people“.

  75. Matt Canavan
    August 31st, 2005 at 12:23 | #75

    Ian,

    I did not claim that oil prices weren’t a factor or indeed other Nigeria agricultural policies weren’t either. I know very little about Niger’s predicament. But they weren’t the main reasons given by The Economist. And I wasn’t accusing you of dishonesty but a misrepresentation.

    I note that you haven’t backed up your claim that Niger’s famine is a market phenomenon by refuting The Economist’s assertions that the famine was caused by protectionist policies restricting or distorting trade.

  76. October 5th, 2005 at 21:25 | #76

    This is a message copied from Mr A. Loewenstein’s own blog re his claim of being a victim of Michael Danby. It is self explanatory and sums it all up. Enjoy.

    Censured, not Censored
    Antony Loewenstein, take a glance at the title. Grab a dictionary and look up both words. Notice the difference? Federal MP Michael Danby was never trying to censor you, although he was censuring you. You probably know this, however it’s plain to see you love the idea that there are people trying to censor the fruit of the barren dunes between your ears. For the record, here is the quote Loewenstein believes is censorious:

    (Published in the Australian Jewish News) “Melbourne University Publishing should drop this whole disgusting project. If they proceed, I urge the Australian Jewish community, and particularly The Australian Jewish News, to treat it with dignified silence. That is our best response. If, God forbid, it is published, don’t give them a dollar. Don’t buy the book.”

    That’s a rather flexible definition of ‘censorship’ you’re utilising there, Antony. I have no doubt that you’ll keep on spruiking your victimhood to all and sundry. I also have no doubt that, in response to criticism from people like myself you’ll be smugly thinking, “great – all this flaming is just more publicity for my book.” Wrong, pinhead. Not all publicity is good publicity. Sure, you’ve got the right up in arms with your misleading claims of being the victim of censorship. There are reflexive members of the left who will no doubt respond to that and buy your book just because it’s prominently ridiculed by their ideological opponents. Ask yourself, though – are these the kind of readers you want? A bunch of unthinking ideologues? More intelligent and independent-minded leftists and neutrals will avoid buying the book due to your deceptive behaviour, which people like myself are loudly pointing out. If you’re willing to grossly mislead anyone who will listen just to publicise your book, what lies and distortions are to be found within the book itself? This logic won’t be lost on those with half a brain or more.

    So, Ant. Are you trying to fire a shot in the war of ideas or preach to the choir and make a buck? Sounds like the latter to me. Nothing wrong with that. However, it makes you a Mike Moore, not a Karl Marx.

    Regards

  77. Andrew Reynolds
    October 6th, 2005 at 12:53 | #77

    SJ,
    I missed this earlier. I shouldn’t let it go without a response
    Just for an opening, I was saying that evolution itself in inanimate. While it does act on animals (ourselves included) the process itself is not alive.
    On ‘evil’ – if you want to get into that discussion I am more than happy to. I firmly believe that what you call capitalism and I call freedom is simply the sum of the choices that people make when left alone to decide on what they want to do with their own lives. If that can possibly be ‘evil’ then I stand condemned for supporting it.
    If you contend that there is another system that is less ‘evil’ then I would say that the coercion required to force people into making choices other than the ones they would naturally make would probably be the greater ‘evil’. (If I am wrong and you have such a system then there is likely to be another Australian Nobel laureate in the near future – you.)
    Any such coercion should be strictly limited to direct (or serious indirect) adverse effects of the choices made – not trying to affect people’s lives on a day to day basis.
    Human history is littered with the detrious of systems that limited people’s freedoms. The only difference with the twentieth century (and the start of this one) is that the developments achieved by the more free people were turned by those who were governing the less free to ‘evil’ purposes.

Comments are closed.