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Monday Message Board

February 1st, 2010

It’s time, once again for the Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language.

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  1. Tristan Ewins
    February 1st, 2010 at 14:56 | #1

    Again reminding readers: if any of you haven’t read John Quiggin’s article on the ‘democratic mixed economy’ – feel welcome to visit the URL below – and to comment there also. :) )

    http://democraticmixedeconomy.blogspot.com/

    And also again – if you share our outlook – you’re also very welcome to join the Facebook group of the ‘Movement for a Democratic Mixed Economy.’

    see: http://www.facebook.com/#/group.php?gid=152326549326

    sincerely,

    Tristan

  2. Chris Warren
    February 1st, 2010 at 15:49 | #2

    Tristan

    I tried to comment but your site did not accept it.

    I am not sure whether this blog is suitable for such discussion (only because of a few posters).

    Just putting words like ‘democracy”, “co-operativist”, “mutualist”, “participatory”, “mixed” or whatever, in front of economy, does not assist it only produces a placebo effect.

    In any case I can only conceive of a mixed economy (mixture of capitalism and socialism) as a transitory measure, but you seem to seek it as a “traditional social democratic” model (ie a goal).

  3. Tristan Ewins
    February 1st, 2010 at 16:07 | #3

    Re: the ‘democratic mixed economy’ and socialism – I think there are many interpretations of socialism and social democracy.

    I know that the pure Marxist interpretation of socialism is that of a society where the means if production are brought under central state control – and developed as quickly as possible – theoretically creating the preconditions of communist society. And the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ can be interpreted in the sense Marx intended when he suggested that workers “Win the battle of democracy” – as part of this process.

    But for my part – while I think there is much in the Marxist tradition that is valuable and relevant – I have a broader view of socialist tradition. The aim of the ‘democratic mixed economy’ website is to provide a platform for a range of beliefs on that theme – like a ‘popular front’ or ‘bloc’ to challenge the ‘common sense’ of neo-liberalism.

    My view is also that history does not necessarily entail the teleology supposed by Marx. We all face different challenges given the circumstances we face in different contexts all over the world. Liberal democracy, here, is not just a ‘front’ to falsely legitimise capitalism… Although there is an element of this… But regardless – I think we have ‘room to move’ and should make the most of this…

    Thinking of what’s possible – say over the next ten years: I think some of the ideas covered on the ‘democratic mixed economy’ site – could partly come to fruition… Not necessarilly “Overthrowing capitalism” – but maybe an expanded social wage. progressive tax, support for co-operative enterprise, moving back towards a mixed economy with a more robust social wage…

    This does not in itself resolve all contradiction in capitalism… But is does suggest progress in the context of a long-term s truggle… Like Billy Bragg says “don’t expect it all to happen, in a prophecised political fashion”. We’re not going to re-create the circumstances of October 1917 – and really we shouldn’t want to – as the desperation of the struggle there led to great brutality. But a long term cultural and economic struggle – that’s what we face… And by building alliances – we can respond to the real ‘historic moment’ in building a bloc of social and economic forces… Yes – I think progress is possible.

    Finally – again – please email me the response you want to make at the ‘democratic mixed economy’ site – and I’ll try my best to see it’s posted…

    sincerely,

    Tristan

  4. Tristan Ewins
    February 1st, 2010 at 16:15 | #4

    nb: Chris – another thing – re: the ‘democratic mixed economy’ being a goal… Yes – In the long term I see a role for competitive markets – because through this we have market signals and pressures – which in turn lead to innovation… I think this is a positive side of economies based – at least partly – on markets… On the other hand – I would want that economy to be democratic… So I’d want to see co-operative enterprises competing in the context – in a context which empowered workers…

    Also I’d want this in the context of a ‘campaign against alienation’ – shorter working week, participatory democracy and public sphere; opportunities for community education – and extensive participation in community life….

    So yes – I would not want to see transition to a society based fully on the pure Marxist interpretation of socialism…

    Finally – there are various reasons why I don’t think communism is possible – including the extended division of labour in modern economies – that because of this and other reasons we could not implement a ‘withering away of the state’… I also don’t believe that humanity is so perfectible that we could all live in pure harmony in a global community – with no need for a state apparatus to keep order…

  5. Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer
    February 1st, 2010 at 16:32 | #5

    Dear blog world, I wish to know why Jack Strocchi does not have his own blog. He is smart, prolific, opinionated and a bit mad, the perfect ingredients for bloggery.

    Regards, Dolls.

  6. Fran Barlow
    February 1st, 2010 at 16:47 | #6

    @Tristan Ewins

    Finally – there are various reasons why I don’t think communism is possible – including the extended division of labour in modern economies – that because of this and other reasons we could not implement a ‘withering away of the state’… I also don’t believe that humanity is so perfectible that we could all live in pure harmony in a global community – with no need for a state apparatus to keep order…

    Fortunately, you can be agnostic on these things since, while it may well be possible, there’s no reason for thinking we will be around to witness it. Chasing perfection and failing is not a dishonourable thing if one’s means respect the legitimate rights of others.

    I’m not sure what you can even mean by “a society based fullu on a pure Marxist interpretation of socialism”. As someone who has spent the larger part of her life involved in considering the contribution Marxism can lend to insight into human possibility I see Marxism as a set of tools rather than a set of formulae for the design of the polity. “Pure Marxism” sounds like it must be some sort of pristine dogma rather than an account of the struggle of the working people of the world to empower themselves and free themselves from the constraints of nature.

    Marxism is not confined to what anyone, Marx included, claimed about history or their times. Marxism, if it is anything at all, is a starting point for examining the constraints bearing upon the realisation by the working people of the world of their full human possibility. We should learn from the past so as to make best sense of the present and thus, in concert with others, author the best of all possible futures.

  7. Tristan Ewins
    February 1st, 2010 at 16:57 | #7

    Fran – I think you’re right that ‘Pure Marxism’ might not be the best way of expressing what I was getting at… I look at the Marxist tradition – and there’s an awful lot there that I find useful and even inspirational. But I think there are some for whom Marxism is considered a dogma – who don’t adjust to changing circumstances…

  8. Alicia
    February 1st, 2010 at 17:42 | #8

    Fran, if I may, which writers today from a Marxist tradition do you think are doing interesting/useful work?

  9. Freelander
    February 2nd, 2010 at 00:17 | #9

    A couple of weeks ago the perennial topic of a minimum wage was discussed:

    http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2010/01/16/my-bet-with-bryan-caplan/

    As could be expected, the neoliberal brigade who post on this blog. but stubbornly refuse to learn anything, advanced the Friedmanesque idea that any minimum wage that managed to raise anyone wage would create unemployment, and reduce economic ‘efficiency’.

    Countering this claim, it was pointed out that if the supply of labour to a firm is not perfectly elastic then a firm has some monopsony power and then a minimum wage can both increase the quantity of labour demanded by the firm and increase economic efficiency.

    Naturally the reaction of those who will not learn was “This is not usually the case.”

    Recently some research on the elasticity of labour supply faced by Australian firms was conducted at the Centre for Economic Policy Research. The results can be found at:

    http://www.apo.org.au/research/estimating-wage-elasticity-labour-supply-firm-there-monopsony-down-under

    http://cepr.anu.edu.au/pdf/DP626.pdf

    The following is a summary of the results:

    ” This paper estimates the elasticity of the labour supply to a firm, using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. Estimation of this elasticity is of particular interest because of its relevance to the debate about the competitiveness of labour markets.
    The essence of monopsonistically competitive labour markets is that labour supply to a firm is imperfectly elastic with respect to the wage rate. The intuition is that, where workers have heterogeneous preferences or face mobility costs, firms can offer lower wages without immediately losing their workforce. This is in contrast to the perfectly competitive extreme, in which the elasticity is infinite.
    Therefore a simple test of whether labour markets are perfectly or imperfectly competitive involves estimating the elasticity of the labour supply to a firm. The authors do this, following the modelling strategy of Manning (2003), and find that the Australian wage elasticity of labour supply to a firm is around 0.71, only slightly smaller than the figure of 0.75 reported for the UK. These estimates are so far from the perfectly competitive assumption of an infinite elasticity that it would be difficult to make a case that labour markets are perfectly competitive. ”

    Of course, this sort of research never managed to peculate into the dense grey matter of any of those who sat on the ironically labelled “Fair Pay Commission”.

  10. Freelander
    February 2nd, 2010 at 00:19 | #10

    Sorry mistyping percolate…

  11. February 2nd, 2010 at 00:36 | #11

    “These estimates are so far from the perfectly competitive assumption of an infinite elasticity that it would be difficult to make a case that labour markets are perfectly competitive.”

    Who ever suggested they were? This is a demolition of a strawman. Yes, labour markets are not perfectly competitive, they are only somewhat so. Therefore minimum wages won’t have the effect predicted by PC models, but does this mean that minimum wages have zero effect on unemployment levels? I put it to you that the empirical research does not support that claim.

    On a related note, do you disagree with Terje’s previous suggestion that any minimum wage should at least be region-specific to account for differing circumstances?

  12. Freelander
    February 2nd, 2010 at 02:22 | #12

    @Jarrah

    How about learning some first year economics before you embarrass yourself further with a post like this?

  13. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 2nd, 2010 at 07:44 | #13

    Freelander – why not answer the question?

  14. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 2nd, 2010 at 08:03 | #14

    In terms of wage regulation creating unemployment I’d be looking at the demand impact of minimum wage laws more so than the supply impact. Assuming a low elasticity for supply the implication is that wages can drop with a low impact on willingness to work. So the question then is what is the impact on the willingness to employ. And I’d be looking less at existing firms and more at potential firms.

    Sweden sets the minimum wage on a per firm basis. It seems much more sane than having a single minimum wage across the entire economy.

  15. Fran Barlow
    February 2nd, 2010 at 08:11 | #15

    @Alicia

    Sadly, there’s something of a dearth of good contemporary Marxist writing in what one might call “macro social theory”.

    While I don’t endorse her views on the class character of the USSR, Dunayevskaya more than any other single figure of late has contributed to a grasp of the role of human agency in Marxism. One might also, in this context, look at the work of Fredric Jameson, Terry Lovell, Terry Eagleton and others on broader issues of culture.

  16. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 2nd, 2010 at 08:12 | #16

    p.s. A reasonable way to cut the minimum wage would be to compensate those workers effected by providing tax relief. Preferably by increasing the tax free threshold but also possibly via the low income tax rebate.

  17. Chris Warren
    February 2nd, 2010 at 08:18 | #17

    @Tristan Ewins

    This sort of vague innuendo is no better than spiritualists or astrologers claiming that there are some for whom science is considered a dogma and don’t adjust to changing circumstances.

    The same technique is used by climate deniers, claiming that climate change is a dogma etc.

    Meanwhile it is capitalist theorists who can easily be implicated in dogma, particularly that a capitalist market produces the most efficient outcome, that capital has it own productivity, that low offshore wages represent low productivity, that households provide factors of production for equal revenues (including profit), that wages cause wage-inflation spiral, etc etc.

    These are all dogmas.

    They also ignore changing circumstances, ratcheting unemployment, mounting per capita debt and expanding macroeconomic imbalances, reaching limits to growth/population.

    Words such as “pure Marxism” reflect western dogma. Marx himself distanced himself from such dogma saying if this was Marxism – he was not a Marxist. But still western ideologues keep peddling this canard.

    Anyone who equates Marxism necessarily with

    … a society where the means if production are brought under central state control

    is engaging in arrant dogma.

    Marx specifically said the opposite, stating that changes in each country depending on the level of political institutions within that country. In general he disclaimed blueprints for the future, stating clearly

    These measures will, of course, be different in different countries

    .

    Most importantly, in terms of these measures, and in the context of eventual abolishing of private ownership in property (not personal property) he called for:

    - the centralisation of credit in the hands of the state and
    - extension of production by the state
    - and similar.

    But most of all, he called for better understanding of what was then the “new science”, ie critical analysis of political economy based on social creation of surplus value.

    Our capitalists and middle class maverick intellectuals are the dogmatists, who are ignoring the changing circumstances even as they sink within them.

  18. Ernestine Gross
    February 2nd, 2010 at 08:36 | #18

    1. Perfectly price elastic supply of anything is impossible with a finite supply of the anything. While the alternative characterisation of ‘competitive market’, namely price taking behaviour, is also not water-tight, it points to differences in market power. For example, without requiring much empirical research, simple statistics and reported cases make it pretty clear that CEOs of publicly listed companies have market power when it comes to setting their remunerations while cleaners, shop assistants, school teachers, university employees, other than a few Professors in some areas and the CEO, have negligible market power unless they are heavily unionised. In this context, market power refers not only to the monetary income but also the conditions of work.

    2. As for Terje’s suggestion that the minimum wage should at least be region-specific to account for differing circumstances, I’d say the answer is pretty obvious. It depends on what you mean by ‘region’. I recall some commenters on this blog-site and elsewhere trying to promote the idea of ‘global absolut proverty’ measures. These people would disagree with Terje and I would agree with Terje. When it comes to a country then it becomes much more difficult to form an opinion. Considering a geographically small country, say Denmark or The Netherlands, with ‘small’ populations, relative to other countries, and a well developed social security systems then I’d be prepared to say the answer is No. Australia is geographically very large, in comparison to EU countries, with a ‘small’ population and a social securty system. If one thinks in terms of housing costs, then there are huge differences betwen the metropolitan areas of Sydney and Melbourne versus other locations, suggesting that allowing differences in the minimum wage would make sense. But there are other factors, for example expenditure on education, travel expenses, food costs, access to medical facilities and the disincentive for people to work in the country if the minimum wage (say for farm workers) is lower. Hence, one may say that having different minimum wage rates is not obviously consistent with the desirability of labour market flexibility. Furthermore, I suggest the question cannot be treated without considering simultaneously the social security payments and the administrative costs associated with refining a policy.

  19. Freelander
    February 2nd, 2010 at 08:41 | #19

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    If you ask this question my last post applies to you as well. You make a great pair of zombies!

  20. gerard
    February 2nd, 2010 at 09:05 | #20

    Low Tax Libertarian Paradise Colorado Springs
    COLORADO SPRINGS — This tax-averse city is about to learn what it looks and feels like when budget cuts slash services most Americans consider part of the urban fabric.

    More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled.

    The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users to pack out their own litter.

    Neighbors are encouraged to bring their own lawn mowers to local green spaces, because parks workers will mow them only once every two weeks. If that.

    Water cutbacks mean most parks will be dead, brown turf by July; the flower and fertilizer budget is zero.

    City recreation centers, indoor and outdoor pools, and a handful of museums will close for good March 31 unless they find private funding to stay open. Buses no longer run on evenings and weekends. The city won’t pay for any street paving, relying instead on a regional authority that can meet only about 10 percent of the need.

    “I guess we’re going to find out what the tolerance level is for people,” said businessman Chuck Fowler, who is helping lead a private task force brainstorming for city budget fixes. “It’s a new day.”

    Some residents are less sanguine, arguing that cuts to bus services, drug enforcement and treatment and job development are attacks on basic needs for the working class.

    “How are people supposed to live? We’re not a ‘Mayberry R.F.D.’ anymore,” said Addy Hansen, a criminal justice student who has spoken out about safety cuts. “We’re the second-largest city, and growing, in Colorado. We’re in trouble. We’re in big trouble.”

  21. Tristan Ewins
    February 2nd, 2010 at 09:51 | #21

    Chris: It seems that there are different translations of the Communist Manifesto – but the following – which I took from a website – is common, and I have seen it before:

    :The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the state, i.e., of the proletariat organized as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible. ”
    http://www.age-of-the-sage.org/philosophy/communist_manifesto.html

    Re: Marx’s disdain for “the mentality of the blueprinter” – I’ve come across this many times in the past – I think it arose in Marx’s criticism of ‘utopian socialism’. Although Marx did envisage a transitional program… And perhaps we need a comrpromise here – By this I mean that we need concrete proposals as well as flexibility…. Some have called these “provisional utopias” – But while I sympathise with the sentiment, I think it could be expressed better…

  22. BilB
    February 2nd, 2010 at 10:06 | #22

    Thanks for that very interesting article there, Gerard19. I just sent off the link to an old friend in NZ. He is an ex political scientist who has lived in NZ for 20 something years now, but preciously resided in Colorado Springs where he had a hot dog cart business (now manager at Hertz NZ for many years).

  23. Ernestine Gross
    February 2nd, 2010 at 10:10 | #23

    Re First year economics, minimum wages in Sweden and elsewhere.

    The following article contains information on labour market conditions in the EU. Things are a little more complicated than represented in talking points or in first year economics texts.

    http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/eiro/2005/07/study/tn0507101s.htm

  24. Chris Warren
    February 2nd, 2010 at 11:31 | #24

    @20 Tristan Ewins

    Provided you include the necessary qualification that the “state” is the proletariat organised as the ruling class, (as per Manifesto) then there is no real issue.

    However to maintain:

    I know that the pure Marxist interpretation of socialism is that of a society where the means if production are brought under central state control –

    without this qualification, changes the intent.

    A kibbutz or Yugoslav “Basic Organisation of Associated Workers (BOAL)” are mini- examples of means of production being under central state control where the ‘state’ is embedded with the proletariat.

    Capitalists see the state in entirely different terms, as a form of Leviathan over-lord dictating laws and waging wars – with or without universal suffrage or secret ballots. It is used to restrict wages but allow capitalists to freely set prices through politics (as facilitated by degrees of monopoly).

    If you read the paragraphs directly following your quote from the Manifesto, the real relevance will become clear.

    Marx was writing long before adult suffrage existed and the vision of the state as the organised propletariat, was a revolutionary advance on the State as monarch, House of Lords, and Gladstone/Pitt/Palmerston puppet show in the House of Commons (based on Rotton Boroughs).

    These issues need to be understood in the whole – not in part.

  25. February 2nd, 2010 at 12:49 | #25

    Just saw a news story on Abbot’s emission reduction policy. It seems that he does not know the difference between price and cost.

  26. February 2nd, 2010 at 12:57 | #26

    Is there still that bug whereby once a second page starts you get link rot if you linked to earlier comments? I want to link to Freelander‘s minimum wage remarks without it rotting.

  27. February 2nd, 2010 at 12:58 | #27

    This is just forcing a new page to see if the link rots.

  28. February 2nd, 2010 at 12:59 | #28

    Drat – I misremembered that the new pages triggered at every 25th comment.

  29. frankis
    February 2nd, 2010 at 14:01 | #29

    “see if the link rots” …… “drat” ……..

    OK, thanks PML :)
    Signed: Easily Amused

  30. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 2nd, 2010 at 14:08 | #30

    Freelander :@TerjeP (say tay-a)
    If you ask this question my last post applies to you as well. You make a great pair of zombies!

    I love you too.

  31. pablo
    February 2nd, 2010 at 14:34 | #31

    A lively set of Letters to the Editor in the SMH this morning (tuesday) on the issue of banning the niqab or burqka (face covering) as France and Denmark are currently contemplating variously for public institutions.
    The letters are are all opposed to the wearing of such regalia in response to its anti-feminist characterisation. If ever there was a sleeper issue in metropolitan Australia of whatever importance or otherwise, my guess is this is it. Okay so it is divisive in our you beaut multicultural Oz but it is obviously troubling many of us.

  32. February 2nd, 2010 at 14:36 | #32

    Terje, I guess Freelander can’t answer the question, and is trying to save face with bluster. :-)

  33. Freelander
    February 2nd, 2010 at 15:06 | #33

    @Jarrah

    Asked and answered. Given that I have already given TerjeP an answer to that question last time the topic was discussed why should I repeat the answer again. I suppose I should not be too surprised to find the undead have some cognitive deficiencies.

  34. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 2nd, 2010 at 15:08 | #34

    Pablo – since when did we become a nation that tells women what they can and can not wear? Such attitudes are troubling.

  35. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 2nd, 2010 at 15:10 | #35

    Jarrah :Terje, I guess Freelander can’t answer the question, and is trying to save face with bluster.

    I think Freelander can answer the question but prefers to play silly name calling games. It’s a maturity issue.

  36. gerard
    February 2nd, 2010 at 15:12 | #36

    the issue of banning the niqab or burqka…

    I guess the great feminist Tony Abbott now has a back-up plan in case “Great Big Tax” ever gets old.

  37. Freelander
    February 2nd, 2010 at 16:26 | #37

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    Asked somewhat earlier and already answered. Why do you want me to answer the same question twice?

  38. Freelander
    February 2nd, 2010 at 16:36 | #38

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    We have always been a nation that tells women (and men) what they can and cannot wear. This issue is whether or not wearing the niqab or burqka should be restricted not whether you ought to be allowed to wear or not wear whatever you wish in whatever circumstances you wish. People are dissuaded from wearing motorcycle helmets in Banks. I don’t know whether they are prohibited by law, but whether they are, I can’t see any obvious reason why there shouldn’t be such a law. If motorcycle helmets are not ok in Banks, why should the niqab or burqka be ok?

  39. Freelander
    February 2nd, 2010 at 16:47 | #39

    @gerard

    I imagine Tony Abbott, told all his girlfriends, including the one whose baby he thought he had fathered, that he thought they ought to “keep it” for the marriage bed. So very quaint.

    Of course, he would have added that he didn’t believe that his views on the subject should necessarily influence their (or his own) behaviour!

    Great that at about that time he decided he had what it takes (or was it a calling) for (moral) leadership as a priest or politician.

    As long as Tony doesn’t lose his voice, he should keep us all amused until the election (also assuming his replacement stays in the wings).

  40. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 2nd, 2010 at 16:51 | #40

    Freelander – I agree with your qualification about context. However people are free to wear motor bike helmets on mainstreet and there is no good reason they shouldn’t also be allowed to wear the burqka on mainstreet.

  41. February 2nd, 2010 at 17:37 | #41

    @Freelander
    “Asked and answered. Given that I have already given TerjeP an answer to that question last time the topic was discussed”

    I was unaware, or had forgotten. But instead of telling me that to begin with, you went to insults straightaway. I think Terje’s right, it’s a maturity issue.

  42. iain
    February 2nd, 2010 at 18:52 | #42

    Can anyone confirm to me if the coalition’s Emissions Reduction Fund will penalise companies based on; total emissions above baseline, or on emissions intensity above baseline?

    Also, does anyone understand what the (financial) penalty actually is?

  43. nanks
    February 2nd, 2010 at 19:00 | #43

    @iain
    I saw no detail on the penalty (and would like to know what it is) but I’m guessing the penalty will be that you don’t qualify for the bonus for going under

  44. Alice
    February 2nd, 2010 at 19:15 | #44

    @gerard
    Gerard – well look where privatisation gets us all…signs in parks saying put out your rubbish? Welcome to governments so enamoured with the private sector that was going to rush in and take all those bothersome public services off their hands…so that they can spend the money on worthwhile things like perks, travel and super.

    Welcome to a state of utter disarray and loss of civilised order. (welcome to NSW – a sister city to Colorado Springs USA – hopelessly broke but still privatising their most profitable income earning assets!! Are they stupid or what? Its really hard to deal with such stupidity and to think they actually make it be to politicians. We need a political IQ screening badly).

  45. Chris Warren
    February 2nd, 2010 at 19:26 | #45

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    But religions telling people what they should (or must) wear is even more oppressive and therefore more troubling.

    Australia is full of dress codes.

    I am happy banning Nazi uniforms, KKK outfits and presumably it is reasonable to ban people wearing Orange regalia in Catholic areas of Belfast.

    A supermarket in the UK (Tesco) has banned shoppers turning up in pyjamas due to complaints.

    PNG airlines have refused to carry passengers in traditional dress.

    So there is no basis to general arguments that so forms of dress in public cannot be subject to public mores.

    The nature of this public function can change according to any number of subjective circumstances.

    Moslem people I know state emphatically that the full burqua is not a requirement in the Koran – it is a political expression of an extreme version of religion that places women under a social stricture not applicable to men. The aspiration of those advocating this restricted clothing is that it becomes compulsory on all women (even if the women disagree).

    You only have to look at the situation of burqua entombed women under the Taliban in Afghanistan.

  46. February 2nd, 2010 at 19:59 | #46

    “I am happy banning Nazi uniforms, KKK outfits and presumably it is reasonable to ban people wearing Orange regalia in Catholic areas of Belfast.

    A supermarket in the UK (Tesco) has banned shoppers turning up in pyjamas due to complaints. PNG airlines have refused to carry passengers in traditional dress.”

    There’s a difference – the first examples are in public space, the latter two are on private property. You can’t discuss them as if they’re identical issues.

  47. nanks
    February 2nd, 2010 at 20:02 | #47

    @Chris Warren
    I heard a French politician / philosopher (not sure) speaking of the ban and i agreed – the point being that the covering of women is both sign and implementation of oppression. Why should we stand for that?

  48. February 2nd, 2010 at 20:28 | #48

    Forcing women to veil themselves when they don’t want to is wrong. Forcing women to unveil themselves when they don’t want to is wrong. The difficulty is telling which is which – indoctrination and social pressures will confuse the issue.

    Personally I think we should err on the side of individual choice (I know, big shock), and allow veils to be worn. However, that shouldn’t be considered abandoning women to oppression by domineering men and religion. By surrounding veiled women with examples of a strong, honourable womanhood that doesn’t require a veil, as will be the case in any Western country, we will show them that the chance exists to opt out.

    And who knows – maybe having a proportion of the population being keen on modest garb will do something to counteract the shift to an overly-sexualised ideal of comportment.

  49. Fran Barlow
    February 2nd, 2010 at 22:09 | #49

    I don’t see how anyone who supports freedom of choice or separation of church and state can logically oppose the right of anyone to dress as they please in public. Nobody has a right to avoid being offended by the non-criminal behaviour of others.

    So whatever one makes of the garb and its cultural meaning, one must endure it.

    Of course, that is an entirely separate issue from those occasions where a person enters private premises or even public premises in which there are good public policy reasons for insisting upon ready and definitive means of identification.

  50. Chris Warren
    February 2nd, 2010 at 22:25 | #50

    Fran

    In some societies women do NOT HAVE the freedom of choice about the burqua.

    The ideology of those using it now, is such that they want to make it compulsory for all women even if the women DO NOT agree.

    In several countries, the burqua is a pure symbol of radical and violent denial of freedom of choice.

  51. February 3rd, 2010 at 01:14 | #51

    Chris,
    That is a fairly typical statement by a Statist – you know better than the people who actually make the choice so you get to force them to bow to your wishes. You apply it in clothing, social interaction, economic interaction…
    For may niqab wearers (get it right BTW – the burqa is barely seen in France, but there are about 1500 women that wear the niqab) it is a symbol of religious devotion. Some others may see it as simply a way to avoid being ogled and others may just feel comfortable in it. Some may wear it through cultural oppression, but how can you use that as a reason to oppress those that choose to wear it?

  52. Chris Warren
    February 3rd, 2010 at 07:42 | #52

    @Andrew Reynolds

    Yes – in some countries, the forced wearing of the burqua is a statist act by a rancid theocratic state that I do not regard as legitimate or based on freedom.

    I also want to ban nazi displays and KKK displays, and people like you who claim that this is making “people bow to wishes” are deliberately missing the point.

    If I say – rapists should be restricted – I am NOT acting as some vague statist arbitarily requiring people to bow to my wishes. Although the rapist may try to argue this confusion.

    The Jewish community has similar idiotic dress to parade religious infatuation, but, as far as I know, they are unlikely to start arresting or assaulting other people who do not.

    If Jews start requiring all women to wear nuns habits, even if the women dissented, then I would ban nuns habits. This retains previous levels of freedom against a Jewish attempt to restrict it. But like you, the Jewish priests would argue, that I seek to have them bow to my wishes. This is opportunistic and disingenuous.

    I am not going to entertain silly hair splitting about burqua or niqab.

    If the choosing to wear a burqua leads to injustice to others then a fundamental moral law is broken. One can only exercise a freedom if this does not restrict the freedom of others. Social justice must cover all – not just some. If Israel starts forcing all Israelis to wear black robes, and flogging or gaoling those who do not, then France could reasonably ban the wearing of Jewish black robes in their jurisdiction.

    The dress is not the relevant issue – it is the oppressive ideology of extreme religion that is the threat (or racist extremism depending on the case).

    Some states demand that their women wear iron rings from birth, and extra rings are added each year (in Africa). This damages womens necks. So this can be banned in France as well.

    Other states compulsorily force women to undergo circumcision even if they do not consent. France could reasonably ban this practice as well.

    But then people like you would say that the State cannot force people to bow to wishes (ie act according to statute law).

    Unfortunately this is exactly what the democratic state can and must do. A decent society should object to the wearing of Nazi dress, KKK dress, and by precisely the same token, fascist-Moslem dress. It could reasonably restrict where protestants can display their Orange regalia, and your ill considered argument, that Orange men should not bow to State wishes would only be an self-interested argument of last resort.

    If voo-doo priests demand that all women wear lip plates, even if they did not consent, then France could reasonably ban the wearing of lip plates by voo-doo propagandists in France.

    Society just needs to ensure that the process for banning anti-freedom displays (in dress, posters, films, video games, t-shirt slogans, etc), is a consultative democratic one.

  53. February 3rd, 2010 at 09:12 | #53

    Chris,
    We are not talking about those states where the majority, after democratic consultation, choose to force women to wear the niqab. To me, that is just as objectionable as what France is discussing doing.
    I take it, from the above, that provided that the laws to force the wearing of the full veil was done in a “democratic and consultative” way, you would have no objection whatsoever to women being locked up for not wearing it?

    As for the apparent confusion in your mind between the choosing to wear of an item of clothing and rape – this indicates exactly how silly your argument is. How is someone choosing for themselves to wear a piece of clothing in any way at all similar to one person using force to physically sexually assault another?
    Sad.

  54. Chris Warren
    February 3rd, 2010 at 09:26 | #54

    After democratic consultations, it is very unlikely that women would be forced to wear, nuns habits, burqua or naqabs.

    However, after democratic consultations, societies can force people to wear specific items – school uniforms and other dress codes are examples.

    The democratic consultation is the key.

    Would you lock someone up if they don’t wear a school uniform? Is this what you are pretending is the implication? Under fascist, Sharia, states, women are locked up or flogged if they do not wear the burqua.

    If you were honest you would know that I am arguing the exact opposite. The very attempted suggestion that I would “have no objection” to gaoling indicates the level of your comprehension.

    Live with it.

    There is no confusion between rape and clothing. You can replace the example “rapist” with any anti-social example. And the anti-social element will always plead the Andrew Reynolds excuse.

    I do not say that wearing clothing is similar to sexual assault. This is your fakery.

  55. February 3rd, 2010 at 09:47 | #55

    “If Israel starts forcing all Israelis to wear black robes, and flogging or gaoling those who do not, then France could reasonably ban the wearing of Jewish black robes in their jurisdiction.”

    So the banning of hijabs is a symbolic protest against another country’s policy? Or an attempt to stop an oppressive culture taking root? These strike me as weak arguments.

    “If the choosing to wear a burqua leads to injustice to others then a fundamental moral law is broken. ”

    I don’t see how. Your own choice of clothing cannot lead to injustice for others, it’s only if you try to make the choice for others that you are being unjust – kind of like what you are advocating.

  56. February 3rd, 2010 at 09:55 | #56

    @Chris Warren
    Wow! I’m with you on all counts.
    my addition may be: “If you can’t see into their eyes you cannot judge the good or evil in their souls.”

  57. Chris Warren
    February 3rd, 2010 at 09:58 | #57

    Jarrah

    There is no test whether moral arguments are strong or weak, other than a democratic process.

    If one democracy decides burquas are fine, and another democracy decides burquas are bad, then both are legitimate decisions.

    Of course you don’t see how moral laws are broken. You also claim to not see how a choice of clothing can lead to injustice, even though you have had clear examples pushed into your face…

    1 Nazi dress
    2 KKK
    3 Orange regalia deliberately paraded in catholic Belfast.

    You are just being silly.

  58. gerard
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:11 | #58

    If 51% of the population voted to ban miniskirts, then you’d be all for the clothes police going round perving at women’s thighs to see if an illegal amount is exposed?

    The niqab and burka really are horrible symbols of slavery as far as I can see, so wanting to ban them is an understandable gut reaction.

    but in practice…

    say a law was passed, and you saw a woman in a burka waiting for a bus (I’ve only ever seen someone in public wearing a burka once in Brisbane, it was at a bus stop)

    Now this is obviously not quite the same as somebody (Orangeman etc) making a deliberate public nuisance.

    do you get out your phone and dial 000?

    “Officer, I want to report a crime. There’s a woman wearing a burka in public!!!

    Five minutes later, the cop car pulls out and two pig-faced officers are standing over the woman demanding that she takes it off. What if she doesn’t? Handcuff her? Force her into the car, take her into custody?

    It’s not comfortable to see somebody wearing a burka, but I don’t think that type of scene would be any better. In fact, it would be quite a lot like a scene in a repressive Islamic country, only with clothing reversed.

  59. February 3rd, 2010 at 11:17 | #59

    @Chris Warren
    “You also claim to not see how a choice of clothing can lead to injustice, even though you have had clear examples pushed into your face…

    1 Nazi dress
    2 KKK
    3 Orange regalia deliberately paraded in catholic Belfast.”

    You haven’t shown what the mechanism by which injustice is caused. Clothing cannot cause an injustice on others by its mere existence. You seem to be missing quite a few steps in your logic.

    “There is no test whether moral arguments are strong or weak, other than a democratic process.”

    Wow. Just… wow.

  60. Fran Barlow
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:26 | #60

    @Chris Warren

    In some societies women do NOT HAVE the freedom of choice about the burqua.

    Doubtless that is so, de facto where not de jure.

    These societies are seriously repressive, in exactly the way it would be arbitrarily repressive to harass those who chose to where such garb freely. Admittedly, there is a grey area, where women within specific communities are pressured/acculturated into adopting the garb specified by their parents, husbands and community leaders. Yet this is also so in a looser way of secular society. In this context, one might recall that at the time of the Cronulla riots, there were those who wrapped themselves in Australian flags as a clothing style, and one or two of our muslim students responded by appearing more observantly, including some girls who had hitherto been rather ostentatiously indifferent. It’s the circled wagons effect.

    I’m ready to agree that personally, I find the burqa and what it alludes to — the condition of purdah, offensive in its misogyny, and am most uncomfortable with the reality that even here in secular Australia, children are compelled to engage in religious and patriarchal humbug.

    Yet it is also the case that each of the attempted remedies is very probably worse than the offence to public culture created by enduring it. The reality is that we persistently revisit and negotiate the ways in which each of us communicates identity and values. This process needs to be a bona fide and non-coercive dialog if human freedom is to be served.

    At the place where I teach, there are some who adopt the hejab (but none with full face covering). We also have one or two brethren who adopt a navy blue scarf. The interesting thing is that each of these children, because they attend our school, gets to understand that their culture is not the only possible and one, and that every other person must be treated with respect, regardless of their apparent cultural identity.

    In the long run, this, rather than coercion, is the way to strip the garb of the badge of cultural virtue.

  61. nanks
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:33 | #61

    One of the problems re the burqa question is that many cling to the belief in ‘free choice’. In this case the ‘free choice’ of the women to wear the burqa. Of course free choice is a myth and all choices are contextual. In the case of the burqa my understanding is that the decision is contextualised within an oppressive sexism. I am surprised so many want to support that as being okay for some, when I am assuming they would not support repressive dress codes (and associated encoding of male and female sexuality) for themselves or their group.

  62. nanks
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:40 | #62

    Nice to see the debate move to something more substantive – eg how to transform repressive cultural practices. I probably agree more with you Fran re processes of normalisation – but there will always be a line which we don’t allow to be crossed eg female genital mutilation

  63. gerard
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:42 | #63

    it’s not a matter of free choice. but a woman who is “forced” by cultural attitudes to wear the burka in public is not going to made any more free by having Australian POLICE officers prosecute her as a criminal. if anything, she won’t be allowed to leave the house at all in that case.

    the burka doesn’t cause repression – repression causes the burka. it is a symptom, not a cause. and the cause is habits of thought that are formed in childhood and extremely difficult to let go of. it is a matter of moral and social education. eradicating these habits of thought is a lot harder than having the cops going on burka-patrol. it’s as if the cops are a hammer that make the deepseated cultural attitudes look like a nail.

  64. Chris Warren
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:47 | #64

    Jarrah

    I think intelligent people, acting in good faith, with knowledge of history, will know how Nazi, KKK, and aggressive religious regalia, all represent social injustice.

    I would expect society to ban t-shirts if they displayed just three letters – WGH.

    Naturally all the rednecks would cry about how could a T-shirt represent oppression?

    Rednecks would also argue, you’ve missed out logical steps.

    Clothing cannot cause an injustice on others by its mere existance.

    But then a democracy might decide to gaol everyone who refuses to cover-up T-shirts with WGH emblazoned.

    You do not need any other logical steps, if it then becomes clear that “W G H” stands for a political campaign based on

    “Wogs Go Home”

    So clearly – clothing linked to oppressive religion – can be banned by a democracy like France.

    Australia could ban badges that say “SAN”. But rednecks would produce the Jarrah argument.

    But what is being rejected is not the badge in itself, but the social injustice behind a movement for:

    “Sterilize All Niggers”.

    If this was the case – democracy would have to ban Jarrah-type rednecks parading around in T-shirts with SAN emblazoned. we would laugh at their demanding supposed rights to wear what ever they like “because it was not compulsory” or some such twaddle.

    These people have no idea.

  65. Donald Oats
    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:59 | #65

    What about those people with “KEVIN 07″ T-shirts? Aside from questionable taste, are they safe from the clothing cops?

  66. February 3rd, 2010 at 12:12 | #66

    @Freelander

    I recently tried to post a rebuttal at a Mises blog thread that was pushing the general line that “there’s no such thing as involuntary unemployment”. Oddly enough it never appeared, so I arranged to have it posted here instead, with a few updates including a link to Freelander‘s comment above.

  67. Chris Warren
    February 3rd, 2010 at 12:15 | #67

    @gerard

    You make no sense.

    If 51% ban mini skirts then this does not cause police perving.

    You are confused.

    However in the past, school dress codes and council bylaws have covered school uniforms and bathing costumes.

    In general if a democracy makes a law, and a person flouts the law, then a penalty reasonably applies, as provided for. But not necessarily along the lines of your foul imagination.

  68. February 3rd, 2010 at 12:25 | #68

    Jarrah :
    …Your own choice of clothing cannot lead to injustice for others, it’s only if you try to make the choice for others that you are being unjust – kind of like what you are advocating.

    Actually, it can. For instance, the Ottomans had a system for controlling their subjects that involved wearing turbans with features that identified the wearers’ religious and other status, a partial uniform. The very fact that most people willingly did that marked the rest – which was the point.

  69. gerard
    February 3rd, 2010 at 12:31 | #69

    Schools are not public spaces.

    If 51% ban miniskirts in public, then the police would have to enforce this ban, by monitoring the length of women’s skirts. I personally think the idea of police officers inspecting the length of women’s skirts to be somewhat perverse. It’s not an abstract question either, google “miniskirt ban”.

    Now the same principle applies to the burka. Instead of saying “I want society to ban this type of clothing in public”, you should say, “I want the police to seek out and prosecute any woman wearing this type of clothing in public”, because that makes it a bit clearer. And as a great feminist, you will be no doubt dialling 000 when you saw a woman wearing a burka at a bus stop, and when the police handcuff her and take into custody for refusing to remove it, you will feel proud for having made her more equal.

  70. February 3rd, 2010 at 12:36 | #70

    gerard :
    …Five minutes later, the cop car pulls out and two pig-faced officers are standing over the woman demanding that she takes it off. What if she doesn’t? Handcuff her? Force her into the car, take her into custody?

    Actually, when this kind of thing is done that’s not how it’s usually enforced. First off, it starts with broader sanctions; persons in breach are denied all sorts of services and access to the outside world. The long stop is when someone repeatedly breaches the law about it, and then a court order gets them (a telephone call would usually just build a case for that). If the police turn up, it’s after some prior escalation like kicking up a fuss in public or not complying with a court order, and they never demand a change of dress anyway, they just arrest the person. There is never a need to make demands that can’t be enforced.

  71. Alex
    February 3rd, 2010 at 12:38 | #71

    If I were to force my wife under threat of violence, isolation or neglect to wear certain items of clothing, then I’d be guilty of a crime: it’s called domestic violence. If it’s done on a mass scale in the case of religion, then apparently it’s ok. Insane.

    And if you think that women have a ‘choice’ not to wear these hideous garments, then you’re delusional. Even in countries like ours, there’s stories of honour killings, bashings, and being disowned and shunned. Some ‘choice’. It’s nothing to do with choice, and everything to do with power and control.

    As a side note, have you noticed that it’s always female dress codes that cause the most moral panic? The reason is that in a patriarchy, men believe that they own the sexuality of women and can therefore determine what is appropriate at what isn’t.

  72. Chris Warren
    February 3rd, 2010 at 12:38 | #72

    @Donald Oats

    If “Kevin 07″ is a motif of a “Kick Liberals in the Head 7 times” campaign, then they might be banned.

    It all depends on what it represents and associated consequences for others’ social justice.

    Or haven’t you noticed.

  73. Chris Warren
    February 3rd, 2010 at 13:00 | #73

    gerard

    The principle that applies to the burqua is the principles of extreme-religous oppression of women.

    I don’t know what you are going on about mini-skirts for.

    Please explain what social oppression or repugnant dogma miniskirts represent.

    Are mini skirts proposed as compulsory attire?

    Are non-mini skirted women denied the right to drive cars, kept out of school, denied employment?

    Do mini-skirted woman and there supporters consider non-mini-skirted woman to be less devout and morally weak?

    What is your context. You have not understood anything.

    All the same arguments could arise over jackboots. If jackboots represented “kill all greenies” then jackboots could be banned – but only because of the social injustice context.

    So either

    find some relevant context for mini-skirts or else

    take your fetish somewhere else.

  74. Freelander
    February 3rd, 2010 at 13:47 | #74

    @P.M.Lawrence

    In a very trivially true way all unemployment is voluntary because I would happily employ the unemployed for for 50 cents a day as would many others. Unfortunately they, lazy bstrds, are just unwilling to work for that (suppose they are keen on living the ‘high life’ and actually eating) and the onerous government has imposed regulations that restrict my ‘freedom’ as an employer to offer such work. Of course, someone who has trained for several years in some specialist occupation followed by experience working in their area of expertise might think the job beneath them and hold out for employment in their own line of work. They are what you call ‘job snobs’.

  75. February 3rd, 2010 at 14:01 | #75

    @Freelander
    Did you follow up the link I provided to my own rebuttal article? It does go into those issues.

  76. Freelander
    February 3rd, 2010 at 14:16 | #76

    @P.M.Lawrence

    I did have a quick look but haven’t read it thoroughly yet. It is good to throw a bit of history at these people, often a topic they are fairly ignorant about. I am not nearly as knowledgeable as I would like to be about history, but isn’t it about right that there wasn’t really a need for ‘Poor laws’ before the commons were stolen by the rich. This is a good example not consistent with the view that the existence of the poor is their own doing.

  77. Fran Barlow
    February 3rd, 2010 at 14:34 | #77

    @Alex

    Even in countries like ours, there’s stories of honour killings, bashings, and being disowned and shunned. Some ‘choice’. It’s nothing to do with choice, and everything to do with power and control.

    Putting aside honour killings here (of which I know of no case) the real answer to that is to provide to women of that community exactly the same options as we provide other victims of domestic violence/AVOs. We also ought to be spending more on high quality public housing and refuges.

  78. gerard
    February 3rd, 2010 at 14:38 | #78

    As I understood your comment above, you think that whether an individual’s attire should be subject to police attention is a matter that should be decided “democratically”, hence the 51% remark.

    But apparently this applies only to clothing that represents “social oppression or repugnant dogma”.

    Now that’s a fair point. But banning these clothes in public, in Australia, would have no effect on the “social oppression” taking place in Afghanistan. It would have zero impact on their right to an education, to drive cars, or employment. It might make you feel like a fantastic feminist to call the cops on a woman wearing that thing… but the only concrete effect it would have would be to subject that woman, for whatever reason, to police prosecution – fines, arrest, jail… I’m not really sure what penalty you had in mind, but whatever it is, it wouldn’t be doing anything for gender equality in the muslim world. And for that tiny number of families living in Australia conservative enough that they actually use the burka (for whatever reason, I assume you are not included the basic hijab as a “symbol” of repression that should also be banned), the only result would be that the women won’t leave the house at all. Banning clothing attacks a symptom and leaves the underlying problem untouched.

    As for these other examples of clothes you want to control… are we to have a nationwide democratic vote on each of them, on a case by case basis? or should we establish some sort of Clothing Standards Bureau to do it for us? do we appoint Chris Warren as “Offensive Clothing Tsar”? or should we give the state police discretionary powers as to what has offensive “symbolic” connotations? Is there a sliding scale of fines for offensiveness? Is there an appeals process? It gets quite complicated in reality.

  79. Fran Barlow
    February 3rd, 2010 at 14:38 | #79

    @nanks

    I probably agree more with you Fran re processes of normalisation – but there will always be a line which we don’t allow to be crossed eg female genital mutilation

    FGM is illegal here under our child protection laws and that is of course entirely proper. A dress style is transient. Negative and life-altering physical intervention is not.

  80. Fran Barlow
    February 3rd, 2010 at 14:45 | #80

    @gerard

    While it is useful to focus on where the rubber hits the road, this paradigm Chris proposes utterly obliterates the space between the state and civil society.

    There’s some stuff that is simply not the business of the majority even if there is a majority. In any properly free society, it’s OK to be a minority of one, providing one respects the legitimate rights of others. If I do not infringe the legitimate claims of any other person, then what business of theirs is it how I think or what I do?

    That’s the real problem here. It should not matter what most people think is appropriate dress save that some kinds of dress may be functionally needed in a given context e.g. an emergency services worker in uniform, OH&S, child protection etc …

  81. February 3rd, 2010 at 15:14 | #81

    Fran,
    Absolutely. You are on your way to seeing a libertarian view of the world.
    To me the point is simple – the majority, acting as free individuals, are perfectly free to interact with, or not, those who choose to act or dress differently provided they do no violence towards them.
    The majority, if they seek to force those individuals that are behaving differently to conform, are the ones initiating violence and are therefore in the wrong – unless, of course, the practice they are seeking to ban is in and of itself violent. The practice of the Thugees springs to mind.
    I cannot see how the wearing of a niqab (or, for that matter, a burqa) constitutes an act of violence towards another person. To me, therefore, the attempt to use State power to ban it is an act of violence against the person and (IMHO) should not occur.

  82. February 3rd, 2010 at 15:36 | #82

    @Chris Warren
    What clothing represents is different to the clothing. You are continually confusing the two.

    @Alex
    It’s not OK if it is forced, but what makes this an interesting and controversial topic is that not everyone wearing a veil/hijab/burqa is doing so unwillingly.

  83. Fran Barlow
    February 3rd, 2010 at 15:52 | #83

    @Andrew Reynolds

    You are on your way to seeing a libertarian view of the world.

    I fancy I achieved that quite some time ago, but I was/am of course a left wing or socialist libertarian rather than a right wing or capitalist libertarian.

    I’m interested in the protection of the legitimate claims of everyone, not just those of the privileged minority.

  84. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 3rd, 2010 at 16:12 | #84

    Chris – your logic doesn’t go far beyond “might makes right” where “might” is defined by numbers in the crowd.

  85. nanks
    February 3rd, 2010 at 16:23 | #85

    Fran Barlow :
    @nanks

    I probably agree more with you Fran re processes of normalisation – but there will always be a line which we don’t allow to be crossed eg female genital mutilation

    FGM is illegal here under our child protection laws and that is of course entirely proper. A dress style is transient. Negative and life-altering physical intervention is not.

    the legality argument is not valid here as legality is a matter of convention and the proposition is that wearing the burqa should also be illegal.
    on the other matter of physical alteration – psychological changes are physical changes – the changes brought about by years of psychological oppression (such as overwhelming sexist force) will most likely be permanent – neuroplasticity and human resilience notwithstanding.

  86. Alice
    February 3rd, 2010 at 16:49 | #86
  87. Chris Warren
    February 3rd, 2010 at 19:02 | #87

    terje

    In a democracy the majority does make right. In extreme religious states; priests, popes and mullahs (ie a minority) make right.

    So I prefer, and protect, democracy against extreme religious sects.

  88. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 3rd, 2010 at 19:47 | #88

    Chris – I prefer democracy to the alternatives you list but it seems deluded to assume that what is popular is what ought to be. Or that we ought to base our view on what to be merely on what is popular. Even if the crowd is king that does not mean we should slavishly agree with every opinion that is held by the crowd. You seem to be abdicating rather more than is necessary or appropriate.

  89. Chris Warren
    February 3rd, 2010 at 20:29 | #89

    All that is easily fixed with universal suffrage, secret ballots, representative legislature, executive, constitution, and the courts systems.

  90. Alex
    February 3rd, 2010 at 20:42 | #90

    @Jarrah

    There’s consent, and then there’s consent. Women have also happily ‘chosen’ to stay in brutally abusive relationships, however, they are clearly stuck in a cycle of violence with no perceived way out.

  91. February 3rd, 2010 at 20:50 | #91

    Is there anywhere the general public can access a transcript of today’s CEDA debate on Bligh’s asset sales?

    Saw the Brisbane ABC evening news briefly touch on it in their usual fair and balanced way, making you look as if you were fumbling a bit. It also gave a free kick to the Treasurer.

    The impression was given that the debate has been had and we can now just move on.

    What would you say about the debate and how it was reported?

  92. February 4th, 2010 at 00:17 | #92

    Crickets!

  93. February 4th, 2010 at 01:10 | #93

    Alex / Chris,
    Are you claiming that no woman is wearing the niqab willingly? That all of them that are currently wearing it are forced to do so?

  94. Freelander
    February 4th, 2010 at 01:37 | #94

    @Andrew Reynolds

    Interesting idea.

    If one woman is wearing a niqab, willingly, does defending her ‘freedom’ from big bad government justify any number of women having to wear the niqab unwillingly (though not through the ministrations of evil government)?

    Is this what you call libertarian logic?
    Or have you simply departed for the strange universe that libertarians seem to inhabit?

  95. February 4th, 2010 at 02:10 | #95

    Freelander :
    @P.M.Lawrence
    …isn’t it about right that there wasn’t really a need for ‘Poor laws’ before the commons were stolen by the rich…

    Well… at one level, yes, sort of, but there was more going on. That’s more of a proximate cause thing; it also took the absence of viable alternatives for people to move into (like adding value to wool), and the growth of motivation for “the rich” (actually, the well connected, who often were already rich and just got richer but sometimes only became rich as a consequence) to replace peasants with sheep for a wool cash crop – and what they did wasn’t so much stealing as expropriating without compensation, a subtle and often immaterial distinction, I know. Both of those other requirements were connected to a deeper driver, the peace dividend from the end of the Wars of the Roses. Before that, wool exports were less realistic and there was a greater need for recruiting bases (of peasants/tenants) and large (and so, strong) households.

  96. February 4th, 2010 at 06:54 | #96

    @Alex
    Yes, I acknowledged this earlier. However first I, then Fran, pointed out that we can offer a way out in Australia (and all Western countries, including France) through majority example.

    @Freelander
    One woman is clearly insufficient, but that’s completely implausible. Unfortunately we can never know what proportion are doing so very willingly, somewhat willingly, somewhat unwillingly or against their will (due to muddying factors like family and social pressures). Therefore, so as not to impinge on the rights of those who do want to wear it, we shouldn’t help those who don’t by banning, but rather through social pressure and education.

    It’s interesting to look at some Muslim countries that don’t make hijab compulsory. Jordan has a reported 60% of women wearing it, and falling (which is relevant to this discussion). Lebanon has the lowest level of any Middle Eastern country. Malaysia has a large minority of women not wearing tudung. Indonesia too (though it’s harder to tell because Hindu, Christian and animist women often wear headcoverings as well). Pakistan is interesting – the pattern varies over different parts of the country, with the cities largely free of pressure to wear hijab. Turkey provides more complex insights, with its unique history in the matter. I suggest some commenters do some research into the topic instead of automatically assuming all headscarf-wearing women are oppressed and need rescuing.

  97. Chris Warren
    February 4th, 2010 at 08:04 | #97

    Andrew Reynolds :
    Alex / Chris,
    Are you claiming that no woman is wearing the niqab willingly? That all of them that are currently wearing it are forced to do so?

    No.

    Stupid extrapolation.

  98. Donald Oats
    February 4th, 2010 at 11:39 | #98

    @Chris Warren
    I was joking, BTW.

  99. February 5th, 2010 at 02:33 | #99

    Chris, Freelander,
    Good to see you missed the point I was making – and you concede that it can be worn by choice.
    Surely if there are women who are wearing it willingly and some that are wearing it unwillingly, then the problem is not the niqab itself, it is the abuse of power by those forcing the women to wear it. Banning the niqab would not address this alleged abuse of power, all it would do is allow it to persist in other ways.
    The way to address the problem is, then, that suggested by Fran – ensure that all are aware of the law, prosecute the abusers and provide support services to the abused.
    Banning the niqab would not solve the problem of abuse, all it would do is treat one of the symptoms – and even that it would do very poorly, if at all.
    This proposal is simply a mask. If you want to treat abuse, treat abuse. If you want to restrict certain clothing as you are offended by it, consult a psychiatrist.

  100. Freelander
    February 5th, 2010 at 07:05 | #100

    @Andrew Reynolds

    OK.

    Don’t do something that would ameliorate a problem and indicate that in Australia certain things are unacceptable and instead you suggest directly address a problem that even a totalitarian regime with onerous and intrusive powers would be incapable of solving completely.

    If you can’t solve a problem completely, don’t do something that would improve things. Interesting ‘libertarian’ argument. Or have I missed your ‘point’.

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