Home > Regular Features > Monday Message Board

Monday Message Board

July 17th, 2012

Monday Message Board a day late. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language. Lengthy side discussions to the sandpits, please.

Categories: Regular Features Tags:
  1. Ikonoclast
    July 17th, 2012 at 13:53 | #1

    A Coffee Conundrum.

    I am sure our host won’t mind a post about coffee as a change of pace. To background matters first, I have had for some time symptoms which seemed to be “heart burn” or GORD. The medical diagnosis is now made (by biopsy) and it’s not GORD. It appears to be related to food and/or chemical allergies although acid reflux might play a subsidiary role. It’s no big deal and can be treated by diet modifications and a few other measures. What I am interested in are some phenomena related to my coffee consumption. I have found that consuming instant coffee has become totally off limits as it “burns” my oesophagus. Yet consumption of brewed coffee, even very strong brewed coffee, causes little or no discomfit at all.

    This leads me to think it is either a pH issue or it is related to the presence of chemical allergens in instant coffee which do not exist in any quantity in brewed coffee. The two most likely culprits re instant coffee would seem to be acrylamide (a by-product of the process of manufacturing instant coffee and also of the baking and frying of foods) and/or free-flow, anti-caking agents possibly added to instant coffee powders and granules. I’ve known for a long time (20 years or more) that I was allergic to one particular brand of cheap and nasty instant coffee. I would break out in a bad skin rash after even one cup. I have long suspected some free-flow, anti-caking chemical agent to be the culprit, though since the discovery of acrylamide in fried and baked foods and coffee, I guess that a high level of acrylamide might have been the issue. Furans might also be a problem thought I think brewed coffee has as many furans as instant. Google or Duck-Duck-Go these chemical categories if you need to.

    My first question is this. Does anyone on this blog know much about the issue of chemical by-products and additives in instant coffee? This is a different question from that about contaminants like heavy metals and pesticides. Can anyone point to any authoritative analyses? For the second related question, is brewed coffee thus healthier than instant coffee, despite the likely higher caffeine levels, but precisely because of lower acrylamide and/or other chemical levels including additives and furans?

  2. July 17th, 2012 at 15:16 | #2

    At $200 to $600 per hour, the services of a lawyer are not cheap. Legal Aid is a good idea if there is to be access to justice and legal system.

    There are times when good legal advice is essential. It seems to me that, for example, builders whose business is based on setting quotes, would be well advised to have a sound understanding of contract law.

    I am guessing that not all law graduates work as lawyers, but the price asked for their services and advice seems to me to be over the top.

  3. Daniel
    July 17th, 2012 at 16:33 | #4

    One solution could be the introduction of a Legalcare system, in the same vein as Medicare. However, I don’t think people would want to pay for other people’s legal costs, let alone pay for another tax.
    It could be that legal costs in general need to be reduced or that the legal system needs to be made fairer. One of the problems I have heard with facing big companies/corporations (as unlikely as one is in putting up a claim against them) is that they are able to afford the ‘best’ lawyers (well at least the most expensive ones) and can drag out court cases until the prosecutor runs out of money and therefore win by default. This could potential happen at a smaller level between renters and landowners.
    Even when divorce occurs or wills become disputed, the financial costs of getting lawyers involved can nearly outweigh what you might be entitled to. So really, it could just be that the hourly rates of hiring a lawyer and court costs might need to be reassessed (a.k.a. reduced).

  4. Freelander
    July 17th, 2012 at 16:58 | #5

    A problem with the current Medicare system is that it inflates doctors incomes. A legal aid system would inflate lawyers incomes. Neither need their incomes inflated.

  5. Tom
    July 17th, 2012 at 17:01 | #6

    With regards to legal services, there is legal aid provided by the government:

    http://australia.gov.au/services/service-task/apply-for/apply-legal-aid

    From a little bit of skim reading it looks like the application requires you to pass means test to be eligible for legal aid. However for those who earn above the income level eligible, legal service is actually quite costly in the market.

  6. Daniel
    July 17th, 2012 at 19:56 | #7

    @Freelander, a good point. The other problem is the amount of frivolous lawsuits would rise, it is one of those in theory it could work

  7. Salient Green
    July 18th, 2012 at 08:44 | #8

    Ikonoclast, sulphur dioxide is added to instant coffee which is definitely acidifying. Maltodextrin is another additive which some people have allergies to.

    I gave up coffee 20 years ago as it gave me headaches while giving up smoking. I have to say that there is something pathetic about the sight of people sucking on a take away coffee while going about their business. Having a beverage is part of taking a rest. Most of the take away coffee phenomenon is about feeding an addiction and performance enhancement. About as perfomance enhancing as rhino horn and tiger penis I reckon.

  8. Ikonoclast
    July 18th, 2012 at 10:38 | #9

    @Salient Green

    Good points or perhaps I should say salient points! I’m down to one Turkish coffee a day or maybe two if I am being daring or indulgent.

    I am still trying to perfect the method of making Turkish coffee. The first point I notice when researching on the net is the wide range of opinions and recommendations on how to do it properly. It is hard to derive the definitive method from all this “noise”. The second thing I notice is the set of definitional problems and people’s general lack of precision in describing methods. In passing, this confirms once again for me how imprecise and downright sloppy most people are when communicating something that needs objectivity and accuracy. I am sure I am guilty of this too.

    Let’s deal with the definitional problems first. So far as I can tell, the following is correct.
    Turkish style coffee is brewed in a Turkish coffee pot (britki (Greek) or cezve (Turkish). This is a smallish, waisted pot. Check the shape online. There appears to be a recommended shape, material of construction and method of use. Respectively these appear to be waisted in shape, made of copper, bronze or some other metals and heated on bottom and sides by a gas ring or a charcoal fire. Anyone have knowledgeable comments on this?

    A “cup” is a demimonde cup which is about 2 fl. oz. to 3 fl. oz (60 cc to 90 cc). Probably made of china and nearly vertically straight sided.

    A “spoon” is a teaspoon (5cc flat capacity) but the pulverized coffee used is heaped right up on the teaspoon. I have seen one YouTube video where a person of Turkish ethnicity domiciled in the US called a teaspoon a “tablespoon”. It might just have been a slip of the tongue.

    Pulverized Turkish coffee is usually medium roasted Arabica beans, ground super fine by hand. It should look like brown talcum powder. Rapid electric fine grinding is not a good idea as the frictional heat generated will further over-roast and burn the coffee.

    The methods recommended vary so much I cannot determine a definitive brewing method. For example some add the coffee to cold water and some add it to hot water. Some say to “boil” it gently. Some say to never boil it. A considerable part of the technique appears to be based on letting the brew foam without ever boiling too strongly. Sustained boiling is usually said to be a no-no.

    Some claim it foams, forming tiny bubbles if the coffee is of good quality, at approximately 70 degrees Centigrade. Why it would foam at this temperature is an interesting question since it is not the water boiling except perhaps at the metal boundary. I guess certain flavoursome or aromatic light oils react or evaporate at this temperature and get trapped in the foam? Good Turkish and Greek style coffee has foam on the surface and much of the taste and aroma is apparently trapped in that foam. Others say roasting forms trapped CO2 in the bean. If the coffee is pulverized and used fresh then this CO2 aids the foaming. I suspect hard water does not help the foam formation at all so perhaps one should use soft or distilled water?

    I need to buy a proper Turkish coffee pot obviously. The waisted shape of these pots has a purpose in the process of concentrating the foam. It is handy that one can buy, in jars or from specialist stores, the pulverized (very finely ground) coffee necessary for Turkish and Greek coffee. One can also buy a fine hand grinder which uses fine “burrs” to grind the coffee beans. Making Turkish coffee would possess, I think, an almost instant-coffee-like convenience once one masters the method. The brewing takes no longer than boiling a kettle and the attention to the process promotes anticipation of the brew. There is no need to bother with machines or filters and all that nonsense of other brew methods. Turkish coffee is simply a form of brewed coffee with the grounds are left un-drunk as sludge in the cup. It’s often taken black, sweetened to taste with a glass of water to sip between sips of coffee. It can also be poured on cream or milk for a white coffee.

    I have found what appear to me to be reasonable instructions. I will need better quality pulverized coffee Experiments with an ordinary small saucepan, electric hot plate and a cheap pulverized coffee in the jar yield drinkable coffee IMO but virtually none of the foam prized by the aficionado.. No self-respecting Turkish person would drink my brew yet.

    Does anyone have knowledgeable comments on the instructions here for example?
    http://www.turkishcoffeeworld.com/How_to_make_Turkish_Coffee_s/54.htm

    Alternatively what is THE definitive method for making Turkish coffee? I suspect there are a few methods that are “good enough” but there must be one method that in terms of precise physical-chemical processes is the absolute best in theory and in practice.

    To sum up, I look forward to answers which help me as I leave the evil world of instant coffee behind forever.

  9. may
    July 18th, 2012 at 13:38 | #10

    somewhere in the memorybank is the info that instant coffee gets it’s nice frothiness from detergent.
    false memory?

  10. Graeme Bird
    July 18th, 2012 at 20:44 | #11

    If we are not willing to get rid of fractional reserve, have a lot of interim regulations, including severe interest rate restrictions on consumer credit and real estate buying (as opposed to property development and renovation….) and if we are not ready to regulate the flow of foreign bank to domestic bank loans, through setting low maximum interest rates on the process, so as to guarantee a surplus balance of trade every year …… and if we are not ready to find all sorts of ways to bring debt levels down, so that we can move to permanent “growth-deflation” in monetary affairs without the sort of pain we had under “sado-monetarism.”……

    If we aren’t ready to do all of the above we better nationalise the banks as soon as possibile. Because without the above program the banks will continue to scuttle our future, even as their Northern Hemisphere counterparts are destroying the economies of the EU and the US right before our eyes.

  11. Graeme Bird
    July 18th, 2012 at 20:51 | #12

    I’m a big anti-Keynesian but I’m both impressed and mortified that the two economists who have stood up to the international bankers in this country are both Keynesians. Professor Kean and Professor Quiggin. In my conspirational way of thinking I would estimate that Professor Quiggin probably lost his financial review gig for this apostasy.

    The Anglo/US/EU banking network has to be considered the most significant enemy of our times. They’ve got to be brought low, humiliated, expropriated down to the last ten million, and all their dirty laundry dragged out in front of the public. At the same time as getting behind more solidly the sole trader, and the small and medium-sized prosperous non-financial sector, businessman and woman.

  12. July 18th, 2012 at 23:49 | #13

    Journalism in Australia is absolutely rubbish!

    Spot the “journalist” running an ideological talking point around the idea of “deterring” refugees as opposed to engaging with her interviewee:

    ALEXANDRA KIRK: Now you argue that Nauru and Malaysia are not deterrents; can nothing in your view act as a deterrent?

    MALCOLM FRASER: No it can’t because what, especially the Liberal Party have forgotten, is the circumstances from which people are fleeing. The only way you could – a democratic government such as Australia’s and even the Opposition, as Australia’s is, could not be nasty enough to match the terror, the persecution that is meted out by the Taliban or meted out by possibly both sides in Sri Lanka and a lot of other places; you can’t match that.

    And therefore nothing we can do will be a deterrent. We can’t cut off the heads of young Afghani girls and send them back to Afghanistan and say you better not come to Australia we’re as bad as the Taliban and therefore nothing we can do will be a deterrent.

    ALEXANDRA KIRK: So how will increasing the refugee intake to at least 25,000 work when the Government says on its own it is no solution?

    MALCOLM FRASER: We’ve got to forget the policy of deterrents. We’ve got to start behaving decently and humanely and we’ve got to start regarding these people as genuine refugees.

    ALEXANDRA KIRK: So how would taking at least 25,000 refugees from Indonesia deter people from getting on a boat?

    (from tonight’s ‘PM’)

  13. July 19th, 2012 at 02:49 | #14

    Yet more confirmation that Malcolm Fraser has a few roos loose in the top paddock.

  14. Fran Barlow
    July 19th, 2012 at 06:58 | #15

    @Megan

    It’s truly shocking that Fraser is one of only a handful of members of “the political class” now advocating the welfare of humanity.

  15. Katz
    July 19th, 2012 at 07:32 | #16

    Fraser’s commitment to humane treatment of refugees goes back to 1977. I can imagine Howard grinding his then snaggled teeth in Cabinet when this decision was made.

    Of course, later on, Ratty changed his policy on snaggled teeth, submitting himself to cosmetic dentistry in expectation that alleviation of physical ugliness would disguise his moral ugliness.

    History would prove that he was partially correct.

  16. Ikonoclast
    July 19th, 2012 at 10:03 | #17

    It ought to be possible for Australia to take all bona fide refugees, at current numbers, and simply reduce standard immigration intakes by the same number. Thus, the net effect on Australia’s population trend would be zero. It further ought to be possible to limit immigration such that;

    Immigration + Refugee Intake + Natural Increase – Emmigration = 0.

    (In some circumstances natural increase could be a decrease i.e. a negative number.)

    This would enable us to stabilise our population. It is necessary to stabilise our population. If you subtract arid zones and semi-arid zones from Australia’s area you are left with an area about equal to that of France but with much poorer soils and more erratic rainfall. A reasonable estimate for Australia’s sustainable population, IMO, might be in the range of 25 million to 35 million.

    The Global Footprint Network make a higher estimate than I do. Theirs is about double our current population which puts the sustainable population estimate for Australia at about 45 million in round numbers. I am not so sanguine as I have some doubts whether they have factored in future reductions of carrying capacity from global overshoot, unsustainable practices, environment degradation already in train and armed conflicts over resources.

    For example, it is clear that world fishing is in overshoot and the oceans’ fish stocks are in catastrophic decline. This is one example where, although Australia may not have overshot individually, the globe has and this affects Australia’s fishing catch going forward.

    At the top of my comment I said this. “It ought to be possible for Australia to take all bona fide refugees, at current numbers”. The phrase “at current numbers” is the key. If region-wide armed conflict came to South East Asia, then there is no way Australia could take all the bona fide refugees in such a situation. Australia, whether involved in the regional confict or not, would close its borders to the best of its ability and with possible assistance from major allies with common interests. That would the real politics of that situation.

  17. rog
    July 19th, 2012 at 10:06 | #18

    For those chatterers chatting about the bias in the ABC, now is the time to be counted;

    http://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/abc-australia-stop-the-bias-towards-the-institute-of-public-affairs-ipa

  18. Ikonoclast
    July 19th, 2012 at 10:30 | #19

    I just happened to come across this article about China in The National Interest by John Quiggin. It’s from Sept 13, 2011. I think it’s very good and worth reading. I particularly like the fact the JQ points to the lack of empirical evidence (in China’s case at least) that increasing free market operations lead to increasing democratisation.

  19. Ikonoclast
    July 19th, 2012 at 10:31 | #20
  20. Troy Prideaux
    July 19th, 2012 at 11:33 | #21

    @rog
    Rog – THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! At last! At last!

  21. Mel
    July 19th, 2012 at 12:14 | #22

    “This would enable us to stabilise our population. It is necessary to stabilise our population. ”

    It certainly is. We need to make a choice between asylum seekers and the environment and I choose the latter. Europe went through well over one thousand years of crippling wars before becoming reasonably peaceful and the folk who lived there had to suck it up. There was never any suggestion that our peasant ancestors could simply mince off to some foreign land and claim asylum in a more peaceful and prosperous land. The present day asylum seekers should be told to suck it up as well. Let’s get real here, 99% of asylum seekers who can afford to pay thousands of dollars to people smugglers are on a far better wicket than a malnourished family in India or sub Saharan Africa that eeks out an existence on less than a dollar a day.

  22. Ikonoclast
    July 19th, 2012 at 15:05 | #23

    @Mel

    Let me address your issues Mel, point by point.

    “We need to make a choice between asylum seekers and the environment.”

    I pointed out that we don’t need to do this in general peacetime. While conflict is scattered and far away, the number of bona fide refugees can be compensated for by reducing standard immigration numbers. In the case of widesread war in an over-populated world, we would of course have to close our borders.

    “Europe went through well over one thousand years of crippling wars before becoming reasonably peaceful and the folk who lived there had to suck it up. There was never any suggestion that our peasant ancestors could simply mince off to some foreign land and claim asylum in a more peaceful and prosperous land.”

    Many of our ancestors left Europe (English, Irish, Dutch, Spanish, Potuguese, German, Italian and Greeks to name a few) essentially as economic and religious refugees and settled (and stole or partially stole from the indigenees) the lands of Australia, Sth Africa, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Mexico and virtually all the countries of Sth America and the Carribbean. Russia and Russians also pushed east into Asia and south in the Caucasus etc. This is not say that other areas nd cultures did not push partly into Europe at one time or another; eg. the Mongols, the Ottoman Empire and the Moorish empire.

    “99% of asylum seekers who can afford to pay thousands of dollars to people smugglers are on a far better wicket than a malnourished family in India or sub Saharan Africa that eeks out an existence on less than a dollar a day”.

    Economically they may be. But when instant premature death threatens, economic advantage, which you can only enjoy if you keep living, becomes rather moot.

  23. Mel
    July 19th, 2012 at 16:16 | #24

    Ikonoclast:

    “But when instant premature death threatens … ”

    I hope you don’t seriously believe that instant premature death is really the issue in most asylum seeker claims.

    ” I pointed out that we don’t need to do this in general peacetime.”

    Yes we do. In my little patch in the central goldfields region in rural Victoria, bush is being bulldozed every day to make way for new housing developments. The population of the nearest town, Castlemaine has shot up by 20% of the 5 years years I’ve lived here while house prices have gone up 30%. Why? People are escaping an increasingly overcrowded and expensive Melbourne, a city that must absorb many tens of thousands of new migrants including asylum seekers each year.

    A little further afield, in Bendigo, they are even bulldozing endangered species habitat (Eltham Copper Butterfly) to make room for Melbourne escapees.

    I’m sorry, mate, but if you are trying to deny that “rip rip wood chip” is not happening up and down the south east seaboard in order to make room for new arrivals (and resultant urban escapees) then you’re obviously less observant than Mr Magoo.

  24. Fran Barlow
    July 19th, 2012 at 16:49 | #25

    Mel:

    We need to make a choice between asylum seekers and the environment and I choose the latter.

    No we don’t. Asylum seekers are human beings. Human beings demand ecosystem services wherever they are. Admittedly, if they die, they stop casting a foot print. If this is what you are rather delicately saying, I withdraw my objection, though in this case I have a different objection — why should they die and we live?

    If your objection is that they will cast a bigger footprint here than in Afghanistan or some other place my objection is again — in what ethical paradigm is it apt for them to demand less than we regard as consistent with human dignity? Are you demanding that we reduce our footprint to the size of theirs? Good luck with that.

    It’s possible for us to look after them better here than over there and reduce harm to the ecosystem and humans over there. I say we should.

    Europe went through well over one thousand years of crippling wars before becoming reasonably peaceful and the folk who lived there had to suck it up.

    Ah … the middle ages. How err … regressive. FTR, in those days there were no boundaries. You could just wander in if you fancied the area. Nobody had thought of visas.

    99% of asylum seekers who can afford to pay thousands of dollars to people smugglers are on a far better wicket than a malnourished family in India or sub Saharan Africa that eeks out an existence on less than a dollar a day

    Why only 99%? Why not 100%? Don’t be coy. The system doesn’t qualify people as refugees based on their inability to pay/promise ad hoc travel agents money. If only ther most wretched qualifed as refugees there would only ever be a handful of refugees — largely people who were near death and probably beyond useful assistance. There would be no need for refugee conventions. Certainly the Jews who fled Europe in 1939 aboard the St Louis were not the most wretched of the Earth. Sadly, when the St Louis was rejected many of those who went to countries occupied by the Nazis did die. That’s one of the reasons we have the Convention. It requires not that people be destitute, but that they be in serious danger from a government or its allies.

    Australia should take its fair share of refugees. Australia is responsible for $1.4trillion/$70trillion of world GDP so one could argue for 2% of the 15million or so refugees i.e about 300,000. Australia has about 0.3% of world population so if one were being stingy and ignored how wealthy we were, one might argue for 0.3% of 15 million. (about 45,000) Something in that range is an arguable figure.

    It seems reasonable that since we were/are party to trashing Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and basically sat on our hands over Sri Lanka and Burma and are in the Asia Pacific region we might focus our efforts on this region’s refugees. We could fill our quota from this region.

    I favour a policy that would speed up processing at major aggregation points and qualify refugees for supported resettlement in any suitable country willing to take them, including of course, Australia. If it turns out that some who are claimants would quailify under some other immigration program of some contracting state, then let us qualify them for these programs and move them on. If we can identify host communities in develioping countries willing to take refugees with development support from us and other contracting states who are not willing to host asylum seekers, then let us do that too. We have MDG obligations that we are not meeting too.

    In the end, it is the task of all humanity, IMO, to look after those of us who need our help. If that means we must all live a little less well personally, or even a lot less well, then I have no ethical problem with that. We cannot decline that obligation without sacrifcing our humanity. Citing the environment as a reason for pulling up the drawbridge and holding onto our ill-deserved privileges is simple dissembling.

  25. Fran Barlow
    July 19th, 2012 at 16:53 | #26

    @rog

    On consecutive days this site has returned an error (petition against QLD LNP removing Climate Change from curriculum, now this) after an attempt to submit.

    Not sure why …

  26. Mel
    July 19th, 2012 at 18:54 | #27

    Fran:

    “Citing the environment as a reason for pulling up the drawbridge and holding onto our ill-deserved privileges is simple dissembling.”

    I’m not dissembling as I’ve clearly and unequivocally stated my priorities. You’ve made far too many errors of fact, reasoning and logic for me to take you seriously or to address them all in a blog post, so I’ll deal with just two:

    (a)

    “Ah … the middle ages. How err … regressive. FTR, in those days there were no boundaries. You could just wander in if you fancied the area. Nobody had thought of visas.”

    You have a rather childish view of the status and rights of a peasant in the Middle Ages. It simply wasn’t possible for your average daddy and mummy peasant to pop the kids in the family sedan and toddle off to Shropshire in search of the Good Life if one had a spot of bother with one’s Master.

    (b)

    “If your objection is that they will cast a bigger footprint here than in Afghanistan or some other place my objection is again — in what ethical paradigm is it apt for them to demand less than we regard as consistent with human dignity? Are you demanding that we reduce our footprint to the size of theirs? Good luck with that.”

    We in the West are consuming at a rate that is simply is not possible to sustain and that will eventually trash so much natural capital that the human population will collapse in ghastly circumstances. As you correctly acknowledge, there is no possibility that we’ll voluntarily make drastic cuts in consumption, hence the best we can do is cut population growth (including immigration) in order to buy some time. Your rather childish “plan” will sink the boat very quickly indeed, whereas mine will sink it more slowly or maybe not at all if extra time results in some currently unforeseeable solution.

  27. rog
    July 19th, 2012 at 19:24 | #28

    @Mel

    “We need to make a choice between asylum seekers and the environment..”

    Now that is really silly, there is no evidence to suggest that any number of asylum seekers are directly responsible to a decline in the environment.

  28. Fran Barlow
    July 19th, 2012 at 19:46 | #29

    @Mel

    We in the West are consuming at a rate that is simply is not possible to sustain and that will eventually trash so much natural capital that the human population will collapse in ghastly circumstances. … Your rather childish “plan” will sink the boat very quickly indeed, whereas mine will sink it more slowly or maybe not at all if extra time results in some currently unforeseeable solution.

    The difference between your plan and mine is piffling and indeed, mine might be somewhat better. Either way, if you’re right, it scarcely matters. We might as well treat each other nicely on the way to catastrophe. At least then those clinging to life will have a model of conduct to note as they work out what to do that is better than every privileged b@stard for himself.

    For the record, there were no errors of “fact, reasoning or logic” (sic) in my post. If you can’t find any, it’s always nice to see if you can say they were there in force of course.

    As to the middle ages, there were no firm boundaries between most of the little tyrannies in place and so in theory at least you could go pretty much anywhere. Maybe you’d lack the resources to do so, but merchants for example travelled without serious restriction.

  29. Ernestine Gross
    July 19th, 2012 at 20:52 | #30

    “As to the middle ages, there were no firm boundaries between most of the little tyrannies in place…”

    Good one, Fran. How would you colourfully describe contemprary corporations?

  30. Mel
    July 19th, 2012 at 21:05 | #31

    Fran, most peasants were bound to their masters as per my link. They couldn’t simply pop off whenever the urge grabbed them.

  31. Fran Barlow
    July 19th, 2012 at 21:47 | #32

    @Ernestine Gross

    A web of gross tyrannies, obviously.

  32. Fran Barlow
    July 19th, 2012 at 21:47 | #33

    Mod test: t*rann|es

  33. Fran Barlow
    July 19th, 2012 at 21:48 | #34

    Ah … so that’s why I was modded. The spam bucket doesn’t like t%rann%. Good to know …

  34. July 19th, 2012 at 21:49 | #35

    @Fran Barlow

    “History Learning Site” is pretty basic and obviously aimed at children.

    It probably wouldn’t form the basis of an ‘appeal to authority’ argument I would mount, but since we’re there:

    http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/peasants_revolt.htm

    On the inability of ‘peasants’ to do anything their Lords didn’t allow, I found this page interesting – especially this extract:

    “Medieval England experienced few revolts but the most serious was the Peasants’ Revolt which took place in June 1381. A violent system of punishments for offenders was usually enough to put off peasants from causing trouble.

    An army of peasants from Kent and Essex marched on London. They did something no-one had done before or since – they captured the Tower of London. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the King’s Treasurer were killed. The king, Richard II, was only 14 at the time but despite his youth, he agreed to meet the peasants at a place called Mile End.

    One man had emerged as the leader of the peasants – Wat Tyler from Kent. As the peasants from Kent had marched to London, they had destroyed tax records and tax registers. The buildings which housed government records were burned down. They got into the city of London because the people there had opened the gates to them.”

    Anyway, it all ended rather poorly based on lies, false undertakings and treachery by the ruling class, ho hum…!

    The point is that even according to this exemplar of historical reference, people did indeed ‘move’ about if they were desperate enough.

  35. Freelander
    July 19th, 2012 at 23:04 | #36

    @Megan
    A very good example of a problem with the current crop of journalist /reporters. They aren’t interested in interviewing people whose views the public is interested in hearing. Rather, they use every opportunity to spout their own ignorant views. They are at their worst when they contrive to interview each other.
    Your extract showed that the interviewer wasn’t listening to a word being said.

  36. Freelander
    July 19th, 2012 at 23:16 | #37

    @Ikonoclast

    Milton Friedman loved to use Hong Kong as a free market exemplar. But for the long period of British administration there was no movement toward democracy. Except, that is, at the very end where the movement toward democracy was not due to the natives but was a gift by the British (Patton) when they finally realised they would have to give HK back. More an act of trouble making than a good will gift. At the risk of Godwin, Pinochet, the Shah, Adolf, and many other bedfellows have presided over free markets with those markets not being a threat to their regimes.

  37. July 20th, 2012 at 00:20 | #38

    John Quiggin : Renationalise Telstra
    Professor John Quiggin, an outspoken critic of privatisation and Public Private Partnerships, has called for the renationalisation of Telstra in an article on his popular blog site …
    11 Jun 06 11:30AM

  38. July 20th, 2012 at 01:13 | #39

    Selling and Tolling Existing Roads Just Stupid

    On July 17, Kelvin Thomson wrote:

    The idea of selling and tolling existing roads is one of the stupidest ideas I have ever heard, and could only come from people completely out of touch with the lives of ordinary Australians and Victorians.

    Ordinary Victorians are feeling serious cost of living pressures. How does being required to pay each time we drive on roads we can presently travel on for free make us better off? It makes us worse off. Selling off existing roads to private companies and putting tolls on them will make those private companies wealthy, but it will be at the expense of ordinary motorists.

    The reason Melbourne and other capital cities have traffic congestion is because our population growth is too fast, and we should tackle that by cutting migration back to the levels we used to have in the 1980s and 1990s.

  39. July 20th, 2012 at 01:15 | #40

    Presumably the inclusion of a link has kept this post in ‘moderation’, so I’ll repeat it without the link:

    @Fran Barlow

    “History Learning Site” is pretty basic and obviously aimed at children.

    It probably wouldn’t form the basis of an ‘appeal to authority’ argument I would mount, but since we’re there:

    [link was here]

    On the inability of ‘peasants’ to do anything their Lords didn’t allow, I found this page interesting – especially this extract:

    “Medieval England experienced few revolts but the most serious was the Peasants’ Revolt which took place in June 1381. A violent system of punishments for offenders was usually enough to put off peasants from causing trouble.

    An army of peasants from Kent and Essex marched on London. They did something no-one had done before or since – they captured the Tower of London. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the King’s Treasurer were killed. The king, Richard II, was only 14 at the time but despite his youth, he agreed to meet the peasants at a place called Mile End.

    One man had emerged as the leader of the peasants – Wat Tyler from Kent. As the peasants from Kent had marched to London, they had destroyed tax records and tax registers. The buildings which housed government records were burned down. They got into the city of London because the people there had opened the gates to them.”

    Anyway, it all ended rather poorly based on lies, false undertakings and treachery by the ruling class, ho hum…!

    The point is that even according to this exemplar of historical reference, people did indeed ‘move’ about if they were desperate enough.

  40. rog
    July 20th, 2012 at 07:52 | #41

    @rog To tweak it further, migrants (new and established multi generational) are OK but asylum seekers are bad for the environment?

  41. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    July 20th, 2012 at 10:20 | #42

    Bill McKibbin tells us what we need to know in the latest Rolling Stone:
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719

    When the Pacific Island states and Bangladesh go under I would not be surprised, nor would I blame them, if the erstwhile inhabitants of those places decide that a rather large country to the south of PNG which has contributed disproportionately to their predicament ought to make some room for them by way of restitution.

  42. Ikonoclast
    July 20th, 2012 at 13:16 | #43

    The whole “imminent global catastrophe” conundrum we face raises uncomfortable questions about the conditionality of our morality and ethics.

    Those among us who have humane values, from genuine compassion and/or moral vanity, will soon find that application of our moral values has instinctual, emotional, self-interested and practical conditional limits. By the way, I accuse myself of being perhaps more motivated by moral vanity than compassion though some compassion does exist in me too. Being partially motivated by moral vanity is not a bad thing if one is aware of it. If moral vanity motivates some moral behaviour that is better IMO than being totally immoral or amoral. That is provided that self-assessment prevents the moral vanity from being selective, partial and hypocritical in nature.

    It is relatively easy (requiring no real self-sacrifice) to take a stance that current levels of refugee applications should be met by Australia with concomittant reductions in voluntary immigration whilst also working towards a steady state population for Australia. The moral equation becomes more difficult if the trickle of refugees (14,000 p.a. is a trickle) becomes a flood. Go up by one factor of 10 to 140,000 p.a. and we could probably cope for some time (a decade or two) by adjusting other factors including other aspects of immigration.

    Going up by another factor of 10 (1,400,000) would see us facing serious problems. Various practicalities and direct self-survival pressure would suggest we would have to close our borders as best we could. A climate emergency, of the kind that is clearly and obviously coming, could easily push people from Asia, S.E. Asia and the islands of Oceania into the Australian continent at the rate of 1.4 million per annum. Another factor of 10 (14 million per annum) as displaced persons in Asia due to severe climate change is easily possible. Whether 14 million could both transit to staging points like Indonesia and then get over the marine barrier, functioning as a bottle neck, to get to Australia is another question.

    In summary, yes it relatively easy to be morally and humanely correct when the pressure is within bounds that we can handle. And I support letting refugess in at that rate. However, when climate change precipitates the catastrophic global emergency that is coming then individual and national survival pressures will trump all other concerns. A pure survival struggle renders virtually all moral nicities inoperative.

  43. Mel
    July 20th, 2012 at 13:31 | #44

    Good stuff, Ikonoclast. There is a world of difference between conspicuous keyboard ethics (as demonstrated Fran Barlow) and real world survival ethics. On top of that I admit selfishness is part of the equation. Currently I can look out my window and see wallabies, echnidas and superb fairy wrens and hundreds of trees that I’ve planted on my acreage. Nothing will convince me that I have a moral obligation to give this up and instead look out my window and see Mahmood and his 40 dutiful burqa clad wives.

    I’m a green green not a watermelon green.

  44. may
    July 20th, 2012 at 13:42 | #45

    if the people detained from the boats go to Nauru how much does the corporation that has replaced the public service get paid?
    if the people go to Malaysia does that corporation get paid?
    if they go through immigration checks in Australia how much does the corporation get paid?
    if the process is put back to public governance how much would it cost in all three cases?
    is the Australian government ability to handle this not up to scratch,given that Australias’publicservices’record for settling and checking refugees and immigrants has been going on on a largish scale since the end of the second world war?

    or is the whole coalition position about making sure the corporate body that has the contract receives the income implicit in that contract?

    hehhe.
    also chuckled on burgerman with no news experience going to the fin board when respected lady elder recently cried that government interference in no-news broadcasters is ridiculous because impartial oversight had no news experience.

    a partiality gap ?

  45. Katz
    July 20th, 2012 at 14:48 | #46

    It is quite true that the Refugee Conventions were not written with a systemic ecological collapse in mind. However, it is probable that the consequences such collapses will be mediated through the political systems of affected nations. To state this case in concrete terms, when nations flood or run out of the capacity to feed their populations, religious, ethnic, racial and caste out-groups will be persecuted and will seek salvation elsewhere.

    Unstated in the Conventions as they were written after WWII is the expectation that crises will be temporary in nature and that refugee populations will be small minorities, perhaps returning to their ancestral fatherland, as many displaced Germans did at the end of WWII.

    These days, even the most restrictive application of the Conventions tests the tolerance of a large section of the population of nations signatory to the Conventions.

    I wonder if, upon becoming PM, Abbott will have the bottle to denounce formally the Conventions.

  46. Ikonoclast
    July 20th, 2012 at 14:52 | #47

    @Mel

    I didn’t intend in any way to single out Fran Barlow for criticism. I suspect she is far more humane and compassionate than I am and possibly more ethical too. I was just saying we all have to be aware that various pressures, if they get strong enough, will challenge and eventually overwhelm all our humane and compassionate capabilities no matter where we sit on the scale.

    But it’s funny how our fears tend to be projections of the bad things we are doing to other people. Australia is not in any imminent danger of being swamped by Moslems, yet several Moslem countries have been swamped by Western airforces and ground armies. We are in fact dropping bombs and missiles on their wedding gatherings (monogamous or polygamous), sending ground armies through their city blocks and trashing their countryside.

  47. July 20th, 2012 at 15:37 | #48

    Abandonment of border control would be disastrous for the US, most of all for the poor, and would do nothing to the hundreds of millions of others in the Third World who could never hope to immigrate to the US.

    A very simple solution would be to process all applications for asylum in the country from which the would-be immigrant wished to migrate. In place of detention centers within the US, accommodation for intending immigrants could be set up outside the US embassy or outside some other office administered by the embassy.

    With the agreement of the host country, protection could be provided by the US embassy staff to any intending asylum seeker until such time as either he/she is found to have grounds to fear for his/her safety in that country and is granted asylum or is found not to have grounds for fear and refused asylum.

    Refugee rights advocates could ensure that every intending asylum seeker is given a fair hearing.

    (It is instructive that César Chávez (1927 – 1993), the renowned Mexican American trade-union organiser, opposed open borders, because he knew that uncontrolled immigration would be used by the corporate elite to undermine his efforts to organise rural farm workers.)

  48. Freelander
    July 20th, 2012 at 15:49 | #49

    @Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    Suppose we’re lucky but due to most lacking mobility, rather than invading us, they will simply drown. Nature always finds a way of adjusting to catastrophes.

  49. Mel
    July 20th, 2012 at 16:01 | #50

    @Ikonoclast

    I think the situation in Muslim countries is much more complicated than that. I doubt western forces have been responsible for more than 2% of civilian conflict related deaths in the Greater ME (Sudan thru Pakistan) since 2000. Even in Iraq, the near genocidal violence between the various sects has accounted for vastly greater civilian deaths than allied actions. However, if my assumption on this is wrong I’d be happy to be corrected.

    Having said all that I would like allied forces to leave the Greater ME immediately and completely. These folk can then decide for themselves if they want to pursue peace or continue the slaughter. It ain’t my problem.

  50. Katz
    July 20th, 2012 at 16:13 | #51

    Mel :
    @Ikonoclast
    Even in Iraq, the near genocidal violence between the various sects has accounted for vastly greater civilian deaths than allied actions. However, if my assumption on this is wrong I’d be happy to be corrected.

    “Near genocidal”? It was genocidal. The Sunni population of Iraq fell by approx 50% after 2003.

    Much of this work was performed by Shiite death squads posing as the Iraqi army or police forces. These death squads were trained, armed and funded by the “Coalition of the Willing”, i.e., amongst others, Australian taxpayers, of which I am one, but at least I protested against this atrocity.

  51. Fran Barlow
    July 20th, 2012 at 17:03 | #52

    @Ikonoclast

    I didn’t intend in any way to single out Fran Barlow for criticism. I suspect she is far more humane and compassionate than I am and possibly more ethical too.

    I’m in no position to say. Of these things I am sure: all of us humans have an equal claim to do what we can to avoid death and the multifarious life-altering harms attending life; such rights and privileges as I deem apt for me to claim; I am bound to defend in others; none of us can demand others bear burdens that we regard as unfit for us without agreeing to bear a burden seen by another as equivalent in return. That’s what all humans are equal means, IMO.

    It follows then that we have no ethical basis for insisting that others live in misery so that we can live in comfort for even a minute longer than they do. We in the first world have been getting away with an awful lot for a long time. One of the things we’ve been getting away with for a long time is trashing the biosphere so as to momentarily enrich ourselves. Not only have we done it, but we’ve held ourselves out as a model for the far less well served folk of the developing world to follow. Now that we face a crisis of our own design, some say we should pull up the drawbridge and say — sorry chaps, it turns out we were wrong. I hope this won’t inconvenience you terribly but I’d sooner you remained in the mess we made and left us to gaze at the fairy wrens and nature that’s left before it all goes down the toilet. I can think of few things worse than us starting to have to live like you have, and having Mahmoud and his 40 burqa-clad wives for scenery.

    Try as I might, I can’t fit that into any ethical paradigm in which I’d feel comfortable. That’s a recipe for barbarism on a grand scale. The internet is a heterogenous place, but I refuse to believe anyone identifying as a Green who makes such claims is telling the truth. If they are, then personally, I’d prefer they stopped stinking up my party and instead joined up with the Katterites or One Nation or similar.

  52. July 20th, 2012 at 17:05 | #53

    Mel wrote:

    I doubt western forces have been responsible for more than 2% of civilian conflict related deaths in the Greater ME (Sudan thru Pakistan) since 2000

    The death toll from wars started illegally in that region by the US, the UK, Australia and their allies since 1991 is in the many hundreds of thousands.

    You should inform yourself better more about those wars started on such fraudulent pretexts as the “incubator babies”, WMDs, the Houla massacre (in Syria) committed by the NATO-proxy SNC killers and blamed on the Syrian Government. A good place to start is Global Research, for example, their articles about Syria.

  53. Mel
    July 20th, 2012 at 17:30 | #54

    Umm, Fran, you’ve admitted involvement in a variety of wacko Marxist Leninist and Maoist groups and you’ve excused the concentration camps run by the Marxists in Vietnam after the VN War had finished in which something like 200,000 people were killed according to the expat VN community. I’ve also seen you excuse the atrocities of VI Lenin. You are a stock standard life long committed Marxist and given the right historical circumstances you would be gleefully up to your neck in revolutionary blood. I take your conspicuous keyboard compassion with a grain of salt.

  54. Mel
    July 20th, 2012 at 17:47 | #55

    @Malthusista

    “You should inform yourself better …. A good place to start is Global Research, for example, their articles about Syria.”

    Strewth. Putin good, Gadaffi better and Assad the greatest of them all. On the other hand vaccines and fluoride are baaaaad! Give me break …

  55. July 20th, 2012 at 19:10 | #56

    I can see that Mel (@4) is resolved to believe whatever is fed to her by the same corporate newsmedia that fed her the “incubator babies” lie and the Iraqi WMDs lie and not let facts and evidence stand in her way.

    Mel wrote:

    Strewth. Putin good, Gadaffi better and Assad the greatest of them all. …

    I have reserved my judgement on Putin, but it seems to me that he fairly won the last elections he stood for and thus has the support of his people, unlike, for example, the Greek and Spanish, Quebecois and Canadian Governments.

    The YouTube broadcasts of seas of Green of hundreds of thousands of Libyans in support of Gaddafi at the time of NATO’s terror bombing of Libya provide incontrovertible proof of Gaddaffi’s popularity amongst Libyans, even if Mel, NATO, Obama, Harper, Carr, Rudd, Gillard and Western oil corporations disapproved of Gaddaffi.

    The fact that a majority of Syrians defied SNC death threats to vote for Syria’s new democratic electoral constitution earlier this year shows that Syrians support Assad. Further confirmation is the failure of the SNC to make headway in their war against Assad after all these months in spite of support from NATO, Israel and Arab dictatorships.

    For the truth about the Houla massacre, see this article.

  56. Freelander
    July 20th, 2012 at 19:45 | #57

    If you fail to recognize that the good guys lie, have an agenda and do evil things, you can comfort yourself by assuming if it is in the mainstream media it happens to be true. If only totalitarian governments understood the scope available in a free society.

  57. Mel
    July 20th, 2012 at 20:43 | #58

    @Malthusista

    “The YouTube broadcasts of seas of Green of hundreds of thousands of Libyans in support of Gaddafi at the time of NATO’s terror bombing of Libya provide incontrovertible proof of Gaddaffi’s popularity amongst Libyans …”

    I think you’ve just provided incontrovertible proof of having soiled yourself. Every dictator including the Shah of Iran and the Romanian Marxist dictator Ceausescu had no trouble summoning large cheering crowds in the weeks before their popular overthrow. Why? Because participation is compulsory and defiance usually means death or prison.

  58. Freelander
    July 20th, 2012 at 22:08 | #59

    That’s why they love compulsory voting. They love the guaranteed show of support for them and their type of democracy.

  59. July 20th, 2012 at 22:32 | #60

    (Second draft with eronneous leading ‘strong’ changed to a ‘blockquote’)

    Mel (@7) wrote:

    Every dictator including the Shah of Iran and the Romanian Marxist dictator Ceausescu had no trouble summoning large cheering crowds in the weeks before their popular overthrow.

    At the rally that Ceausecsu addressed on the day of his downfall, the crowd demonstrably turned on him (see youtube -dot- com -slash- watch?v=GU53qv5aA1M).

    Where had anything like this occurred at any of the mass rallies in Libya? Given that Gaddafi was a hated tyrant faced with a popular insurgency, according to NATO propagandists, why wouldn’t those crowds of hundreds of thousands of Libyans turned on Gaddafi?

    As for the Shah of Iran, I was unable to find any resources about the mass public demonstrations apparently in support of the Shah to which Mel referred. Had they occurred, I would think they would have occurred at a time when the Shah’s hold on power was still strong and not in the midst of the subsequent popular uprising against his regime.

    Feel welcome to produce any evidence you have to the contrary.

    Mel continued:

    Why? Because participation is compulsory and defiance usually means death or prison.

    As I have shown the threat of death did not prevent Romanians from defying Ceausescu at his final public appearance.

    So, how can you insist that fear of Gaddaffi alone would have driven hundreds of thousands of Libyans to attend these mass demonstrations giving apparent vocal support to the man they hated in the middle of a supposed popular uprising against him?

    For more about Libya, see these articles on Global Research.

  60. July 20th, 2012 at 22:49 | #61

    Mel (@3) wrote:

    I’ve … seen Fran excuse the atrocities of VI Lenin.

    I am still waiting for someone to show me why I am wrong in my own expressed opinion about Lenin which flies completely in the face of the accepted supposed wisdom about him. Perhaps, you would care to do so?

  61. July 20th, 2012 at 22:52 | #62

    It is interesting when, in the one thread, someone manages to turn their own head inside-out in order to try to make a point.

    “…I hope you don’t seriously believe that instant premature death is really the issue in most asylum seeker claims. …”

    Of course, the victims of the evil dictators forcing their populace to pretend support should just suck it up so I don’t have to look upon their miserable ugly sad and desperate faces. I’ve had to deal with foreign destruction of my life and land by a military super-power and so should they.

    Or maybe I’ve chosen to live in a nice country and they chose to live in a crappy country, even if it wasn’t a crappy country before but it is now, it still boils down to “us” versus “them” and “they” want to come and do their evil fornication right outside my window where I’m forced to look at it all day long.

    Why don’t they just do it outside their own windows in their own countries? I’m fairly positive that only around 2% of weaponry in the world used in the last few years actually has any connection to harm unintended by the US or any of its allies. I’m better than anyone I can think of, and don’t make me go and search SpringHillVoice again so that I have to misrepresent an article clearly produced by someone else as being authored by that site.

    I’m with Fran on this one, having had first hand experience of “mel” before.

  62. Mel
    July 20th, 2012 at 22:59 | #63

    Malthusista,

    As you form incontrovertible opinions based on propaganda rallies shown on Youtube and regard a nutty anti-vaccine website as an authoritative source of information, I’m afraid I’m unable to take you even slightly seriously.

  63. Freelander
    July 20th, 2012 at 23:06 | #64

    In some ways, instant premature death is preferable to slow premature death, especially if enhanced interrogation is involved ..

  64. Mel
    July 21st, 2012 at 02:37 | #65

    Megan,

    you reproduce articles that appeal to you on your website. Some of this includes anti-fluoride propaganda including the gibberish spouted by the dill pickle himself, Robert F. Kennedy Jr (Poor Little Rich Boy Esq.). Obviously you reproduce this trash because you endorse it.

    I’ve deleted a personal attack – nothing more like this please. JQ

  65. rog
    July 21st, 2012 at 06:19 | #66

    China keen to enter UK energy market

    The potential for political conflict has been highlighted by the former Downing Street energy policy director Nick Butler. He wrote in a recent Financial Times blogpost that Chinese involvement in the UK energy business could be a concern [subscription required]: “They will be inside the system, with access to the intricate architecture of the UK’s National Grid and the processes through which electricity supply is controlled, as well as to the UK’s nuclear technology.

    “Perhaps that doesn’t matter. Perhaps a Chinese wall exists between the Guangdong Holding company and the government in Beijing. Perhaps we have reached a level of globalisation in which the nationality of ownership is irrelevant.

    “But even if all those things are true, it seems regrettable that in return for this investment the Chinese are not being required to halt the cyberattacks and the theft of intellectual property in which they are now the world leaders.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jul/20/china-uk-nuclear-power-plants

  66. Freelander
    July 21st, 2012 at 07:25 | #67

    Colorado

    President Obama said “What made it just unacceptable was that he wasn’t employed by the US government and the act was not carried out in a foreign country.”

  67. Freelander
    July 21st, 2012 at 08:04 | #68

    Looks like insurers are forming an opinion on fracking
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/2012/07/13/nationwide-insurance-fracking_n_1669775.html too risky to insure against resulting damage.

  68. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    July 21st, 2012 at 08:10 | #69

    Malthusista @11, it is unfortunate that Mel chose to attack you personally rather than engage with your argument.

    That said, if you look at a reputable history of 20th century Russia/USSR and/or the Russian Revolution (try Robert Service or Orlando Figes for starters) you’ll find that Lenin (and Trotsky) resorted to repression of their political opponents (including other socialists) before the outbreak of the Civil War. The forcible dissolution of the Constituent Assembly after a non-Bolshevik majority was elected to the assembly is a case in point.

  69. Fran Barlow
    July 21st, 2012 at 11:13 | #70

    @Mel

    Most of what you claim above about me is factually wrong. I’ve never excused concentration camps in Vietnam. I haven’t “excused” atrocities that took place in the USSR either, though I have explained their etiology. I’ve added that I believe that the Bolsheviks should have taken a sharply different course, based on what they ought to have foreseen at the time, their own analysis and the then available knowledge, but added that even tgis might not have avoided wide-scale atrocities because the facts on the ground ensured that there were only poor prospects for non-authoritarian society in Russia of 1917. That remains true in July of 2012, 95 years later.

    That’s no kind of apology for Putin. That’s simple accounting.

    What you don’t want to acknowledge is that the question we in Australia of 2012 need to ask is what sort of people ought we be? Should we see our fellow humans as our ethical equals or not? If we do, what constraints and mandates on our behaviour does that paradigm impose? If we don’t see other humans as our equals — as you seem to be saying — then on what basis does one rank humans and accord privileges?

  70. July 21st, 2012 at 11:31 | #71

    Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy (@19),

    I’ve reserved “A people’s tragedy : the Russian Revolution, 1891-1924″ by Orlando Figes at the local library.

    Upon glancing through Robert Service’s biography of Trotsky a few months ago, I found it to be seriously flawed in comparison to Isaac Deutscher’s biographical trilogy of Trotsky.

    The fact that so many ‘historians’ and supposed authorities on communism omit any mention of how in 1923, the mortally ill Lenin instructed Trotsky to remove Stalin from his post of Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union shows they are frightened that their whole edifice of lies about communism and the history of the 20th Century would collapse if this were widely known.

    As I wrote in the above-linked post (@ 11), it is instructive that those ‘authorities’ on Communism have condemned Lenin for having adopted harsh and ruthless measures to preserve the Communist Party’s grip on power after 1917 whilst they are silent about the incomparably more vast crimes committed by opponents of Lenin throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries:

    The First World War in which 10 million needlessly died, the bloody defeat of Chinese Communism in 1927, Nazi triumph in Germany in 1933, the triumph of Franco in Spain, the Second World War in which 60 million died, The Korean War in which 3 million North Koreans died, The Vietnam War in which as many as 5 million may have died, the murder of half a million communists by Suharto in 1965, the invasion of East Timor, the invasion of Yugoslavia, the invasions of Iraq in 1991 which may have killed as many as 2 million, the invasion on Libya in 2011, the current proxy terrorist war against Syria, …

  71. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    July 21st, 2012 at 12:35 | #72

    Fran @20, let me congratulate you on a composed and dignified response to Mel’s reckless comment.

  72. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    July 21st, 2012 at 12:55 | #73

    Malthusista @21

    “The fact that so many ‘historians’ and supposed authorities on communism omit any mention of how in 1923, the mortally ill Lenin instructed Trotsky to remove Stalin from his post of Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union…”

    The instruction to find a way to remove Stalin from the post of General Secretary was not directed to Trotsky (who was not in a position himself to take such a step) but to the Communist Party as a whole, which had the authority to decide whether there should be a position of General Secretary and who should fill out.

    Further reading can be found here.\:
    http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1922/dec/testamnt/index.htm

  73. Mel
    July 21st, 2012 at 15:40 | #74

    @Fran Barlow

    “What you don’t want to acknowledge is that the question we in Australia of 2012 need to ask is what sort of people ought we be? Should we see our fellow humans as our ethical equals or not?”

    Australia already has 22 million people, most of whom live on a thin strip on the SEA seaboard. 90% of the Australian landmass is arid or semiarid, unfertile and unproductive. We are full. Period.

    If a lifeboat in the sea has its full quota of people it has no ethical obligation to take on board someone who is drowning nearby. Indeed, as taking on the drowning person will sink the lifeboat, the only truly ethical thing to do is NOT take them onboard.

  74. Alan
    July 21st, 2012 at 15:44 | #75

    @Malthusista

    Only some of what you say is accurate and many of your instances of slaughter result, at least in part, from Lenin’s own conduct of affairs after seizing power. The deeper problem with your analysis is that precisely by adopting repression Lenin ensured the failure of his own programme. Repression practised both within and outside the Bolshevik party made Stalin inevitable.

  75. rog
    July 21st, 2012 at 17:22 | #76

    @Mel Logically we should be also turning away tourists and migrants, close the airports to incoming traffic. Of course that won’t happen as they have economic value. Asylum seekers are of no immediate benefit so are to be discarded, pushed back out to sea.

  76. July 21st, 2012 at 17:49 | #77

    As I’ve been misrepresented, again, it’s only fair that I spell out my view on Qld’s fluoridation of its water:

    1. The decision was made without any consultation as one of Qld’s famous “done deals” – and of course it is all commercial-in-confidence. I object to being governed in that way.

    2. The benefits of fluoride when included as a supplement in the diet of growing children is that it undoubtedly reduces tooth decay. That benefit does not apply to adults. In adults with long exposure to fluoride it seems that a side-effect is weaker teeth leading to an increase in incidence of breakage.

    3. The Qld government spends about $35million p.a. on fluoridation. You could provide free fluoride tablets to everyone who wanted them for a fraction of that amount.

    In summary: undemocratic, arrogant and dubious value for money.

    I do not subscribe to any of the conspiracy theories about fluoride.

    Those are MY views, for the record.

  77. Mel
    July 21st, 2012 at 18:21 | #78

    @Megan : “In adults with long exposure to fluoride it seems that a side-effect is weaker teeth leading to an increase in incidence of breakage.”

    Your claim is untrue. See here:

    “To date, no systematic reviews have found fluoride to be effective in preventing dental caries in adults. The objective of this meta-analysis was to examine the effectiveness of self- and professionally applied fluoride and water fluoridation among adults. We used a random-effects model to estimate the effect size of fluoride (absolute difference in annual caries increment or relative risk ratio) for all adults aged 20+ years and for adults aged 40+ years. Twenty studies were included in the final body of evidence. Among studies published after/during 1980, any fluoride (self- and professionally applied or water fluoridation) annually averted 0.29 (95%CI: 0.16–0.42) carious coronal and 0.22 (95%CI: 0.08–0.37) carious root surfaces. The prevented fraction for water fluoridation was 27% (95%CI: 19%–34%). These findings suggest that fluoride prevents caries among adults of all ages.”

    http://jdr.sagepub.com/content/86/5/410.abstract

    Your claim that fluoride is enfeebling the teeth of adults is nonsense and you really ought to stop spreading such irresponsible misinformation. It is precisely because of scare campaigns being run by people like you that any sought of consultation process re water fluoridation would be a counterproductive exercise; as we are now seeing with the climate change debate, public opinion is easily swayed by the lunatics and conspiracy theorists.

    Thankfully the anti-fluoride oddballs who used to infest the Victorian Greens have left the party.

  78. Mel
    July 21st, 2012 at 18:24 | #79

    @Megan : “In adults with long exposure to fluoride it seems that a side-effect is weaker teeth leading to an increase in incidence of breakage.”

    Your claim is absurd and untrue. See here:

    “To date, no systematic reviews have found fluoride to be effective in preventing dental caries in adults. The objective of this meta-analysis was to examine the effectiveness of self- and professionally applied fluoride and water fluoridation among adults. We used a random-effects model to estimate the effect size of fluoride (absolute difference in annual caries increment or relative risk ratio) for all adults aged 20+ years and for adults aged 40+ years. Twenty studies were included in the final body of evidence. Among studies published after/during 1980, any fluoride (self- and professionally applied or water fluoridation) annually averted 0.29 (95%CI: 0.16–0.42) carious coronal and 0.22 (95%CI: 0.08–0.37) carious root surfaces. The prevented fraction for water fluoridation was 27% (95%CI: 19%–34%). These findings suggest that fluoride prevents caries among adults of all ages.”

    http://jdr.sagepub.com/content/86/5/410.abstract

  79. Mel
    July 21st, 2012 at 18:25 | #80

    Megan, your claim that fluoride is enfeebling the teeth of adults is nonsense and you really ought to stop spreading such irresponsible misinformation. It is precisely because of scare campaigns being run by people like you that any sought of consultation process re water fluoridation would be a counterproductive exercise; as we are now seeing with the climate change debate, public opinion is easily swayed by the lunatics and conspiracy theorists.

    Thankfully the anti-fluoride oddballs who used to infest the Victorian Greens have left the party.

  80. BilB
    July 21st, 2012 at 19:52 | #81

    In the wake of yet another mass shooting in Colorado, it occurs to me that one way to make people think twice before buying guns would be to have a compulsory third party personal insurance policy requirement for each gun. The benefit being that the victims of these evil devices would then have their medical and full recovery costs paid for by the gun owners.

    I was wondering how many people in the theatre were gun owners all of whom would argue that their gun was for their protection. Not a single person used a gun for their defence. The second ammendment is a crock.

  81. Freelander
    July 21st, 2012 at 20:41 | #82

    Even with a gun, which would be a pistol in this case, only a brave and foolish person, or an excellent shot, would face down an assault rifle. Also, he was wearing body armour. They could have taken him out if they had rememberef to bring along their rocket propelled grenade launcher, but that is the type of weapon one can easily forget to take with you on a night out at the movies.

  82. BilB
    July 21st, 2012 at 21:33 | #83

    And that, Freelander, would be very much the case for every aspect of normal life. No guns required, so why have them at all….is my argument.

    But what do you think of the third party personal compulsory insurance policy requirement. We all have them to protect the livelihoods of the general public for the other lethal weapons that we use regularly, why not guns?

  83. Freelander
    July 21st, 2012 at 21:53 | #84

    Third party would be better than nothing. Anything to push up the cost of owning a gun. If the cost were prohibitive it would work as a partial ban.

  84. Katz
    July 21st, 2012 at 22:16 | #85

    Nup, at this stage the only logical thing for Americans to do is to arm bears.

  85. Fran Barlow
    July 21st, 2012 at 22:35 | #86

    It is reported that one of the victims of the Denver shooting had been a survivor of a previous shooting incident.

    Gosh …

  86. Fran Barlow
    July 21st, 2012 at 22:47 | #87

    @Katz

    More seriously, they could require that all seeking to bear arms be part of “a well-regulated militia” accredited for the purpose of protecting their state or the commonwealth from tyranny, by the state and the commonwealth.

    Either that or they have a good reason, both to own any firearm, and for each extra one.

    That doesn’t seem an outlandish violation of the intent of the “founding fathers” as expressed in the Second Amendment.

  87. Fran Barlow
    July 21st, 2012 at 22:49 | #88

    oops … there’s that word again: tyr@nny

    @Katz

    [More seriously, they could require that all seeking to bear arms be part of “a well-regulated militia” accredited for the purpose of protecting their state or the commonwealth from tyr@nny, by the state and the commonwealth.

    Either that or they have a good reason, both to own any firearm, and for each extra one.

    That doesn’t seem an outlandish violation of the intent of the “founding fathers” as expressed in the Second Amendment.]

  88. Freelander
    July 22nd, 2012 at 01:13 | #89

    @Katz
    Arm bears, I like it! That would give them a fighting chance during hunting season.

    Who knows. Bears may then even campaign, successfully, to reclaim the wilderness.

  89. Freelander
  90. Katz
    July 22nd, 2012 at 06:40 | #91

    That Aurora victim had previously survived a mass shooting … IN CANADA.

    It appears that the 49th parallel affords little sanctuary from the fatal attentions of disgruntled armed men.

    The text of the Second Amendment appears to have defeated all attempts to read it for meaning. But then again, it is easy enough to subvert meaning if any text is read in bad faith.

  91. July 22nd, 2012 at 09:55 | #92

    Alan (@ 25) wrote:

    … by adopting repression Lenin ensured the failure of his own programme. Repression practised both within and outside the Bolshevik party made Stalin inevitable.

    Lenin, unlike his domestic and international opponents, had opposed the criminal international slaughter now known as the First World War from the outset. After the political movement he led became the government in Russia, the same criminals responsible for the slaughter of ten million combatants in the previous 3 and a half years resorted to means no less ruthless to oust Lenin’s government. The fate of Gadaffi’s government in Libya last year gives some indication of what fate awaited the Bolshevik government had it not employed its own ruthless measures to hold on to power.

    To again put this in context and show how the terror attributed to Lenin in the midst of a civil war in which his Government also had to fight an invasion from 15 foreign countries compares with the death tolls in other conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries committed by anti-communist forces, many claiming to be democratic:

    A total of 9 million people died in the Russian Civil war according to one of many rough estimates. Of these, The Soviet Government is variously accused of having executed between 50,000 and 100,000 opponents whilst at least “tens of thousands” were killed in acts of terror committed by the domestic White forces, other supporters of the Soviet Government were murdered by the 15 invading countries and tens of thousands of Red Army soldiers killed in combat. Millions died of famine and disease only made possible by the war inflicted upon the new Soviet Government.

    The numbers killed in the 20th and 21st centuries by anti-communist political forces, many claiming to be democratic make the deaths attributed to Lenin to hold on to power during the Civil War seem trivial by comparison. The death toll includes: 60 million killed in the Second World War in addition to the 10 million already killed in the First World War, 3 million North Koreans killed in the Korean War, possibly 5 million Vietnamese killed in the Vietnam War, the death toll in the Algerian War of Independence, the Gulf Wars and starvation and disease in Iraq due to economic sanctions imposed since 1991, the invasions of Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq,…

    Of course the horrific toll attributed to Stalin and is somewhat more comparable to the death tolls listed above. However, I have already shown that Lenin foresaw the danger and tried to remove Stalin from power before he died. The death destruction and poverty caused by the intervention against the Soviet Government by imperialist powers created the material circumstances that enabled Stalin to seize power. That historians, who hold Lenin morally culpable for Stalin’s crimes, withhold this information from their readers is deceit.

  92. Katz
    July 22nd, 2012 at 11:11 | #93

    Lenin objected to Russian workers fighting in WWI not because he was horrified by mass slaughter but because the wrong people were dying for the wrong reasons in that mass slaughter.

    On the other hand, the Social Revolutionaries, who were the electoral victors in the 1918 Russian Constituent Assembly elections maintained not one, but TWO terrorist cadres. Since 1900 the SRs claimed responsibility for more than 20,000 kills in terrorist and insurgent activities in the Russian Empire. The SRs were far more enthusiastic and violent terrorists than Lenin’s Bolsheviks.

    But the voters of Russia — millions of them — plumped for the Social Revolutionaries. Seems that the good folks of Russia were less delicate than 21st-century Australians about the alleged evils of revolutionary terror.

    Go figure.

  93. July 22nd, 2012 at 12:12 | #94

    Katz (@43) wrote:

    Lenin objected to Russian workers fighting in WWI not because he was horrified by mass slaughter but because the wrong people were dying for the wrong reasons in that mass slaughter.

    Whatever motives you attribute to Lenin, at least he tried to stop the slaughter.

    So, how do you know that Lenin was not horrified by the slaughter? Where is your evidence? Nothing I have read about Lenin has shown him not to have been a deeply humane person, unlike his domestic and international enemies.

    The fact about individual terror, which Lenin tireless argued against, is that it does nothing to help the oppressed against powerful vested interests. Time and time again, from Lenin’s time until the present day, acts of terror, blamed on opponents of the international oligarchs have, in fact, been carried out by the police, the military and the spy agencies of the governments serving those oligarchs and used as a pretexts for political repression and war.

  94. Katz
    July 22nd, 2012 at 12:35 | #95

    Here ya go Malthusista, all of Lenin’s published works:

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/index.htm

    Find me a single reference where he objects to the Great War because he laments the deaths of aristocrats or generals, or for that matter, commissioned officers of any rank, from Lieutenants up.

    As you are possibly aware, your challenge to me necessitated my producing proof of a negative — an impossible task. All you need to do is to find one piece of positive evidence of Lenin’s horror of the suffering of anyone above the rank of Lieutenant. If you do I’ll admit that you are correct about Lenin.

  95. Alan
    July 22nd, 2012 at 12:49 | #96

    The attempt to remove Stalin is not exculpatory. The attempt was utterly and completely ineffectual and the system Lenin had established had already made the Stalin ascendancy inevitable.

    For the rest of your argument, merely toting up various conflicts and declaring them the responsibility of anti-Communists is frankly a ridiculous enterprise. Did the Soviet Union count as Communist or anti-Communist when it was allied to Germany in the Pact of Steel?

  96. Fran Barlow
    July 22nd, 2012 at 13:01 | #97

    @Katz

    Lenin objected to Russian workers fighting in WWI not because he was horrified by mass slaughter but because the wrong people were dying for the wrong reasons in that mass slaughter.

    Of course, if there was to be mass slaughter, on the scale of WW1, it’s inevitable that “the wrong people” (i.e working people, conscripted peasants) were going to be the main victims and would end up fighting for the wrong cause.

    [On the other hand, the Social Revolutionaries, who were the electoral victors in the 1918 Russian Constituent Assembly elections maintained not one, but TWO terror|st cadres. Since 1900 the SRs claimed responsibility for more than 20,000 kills in terror|st and insurgent activities in the Russian Empire. The SRs were far more enthusiastic and violent terror|sts than Lenin’s Bolsheviks. ]

    That’s true. The SR’s roots were in the violent peasant-focused populist movements of the mid-19th century (cf: Narodniks, Narodnaya Volya). The issues are murky because while the Narodniks (a largely urban intellectual movement) asserted the idea of an agrarian socialist society, the peasants themselves saw the Tsar as a kind of friend and father figure perhaps possessed of supernatural power and feared that land reform might end in them becomins wage slaves of landowners rather than participants in village communes. The Narodnik movement saw itself as socially progressive and iniitally sought to convince the peasantry of its moral imperative to revolt. The Tsarist secret police, the Okhrana, responded with brutal repression and this was largely successful.

    This prompted sections of the movement to resort sought to provoke repression through, inter alia, terror|sm and force the mass of the peasants onto their side against the aristocracy. They also wanted to show that the Tsar could in fact be killed and was not supernatural. A faction of Narodnaya Volya (the 1st of March Movement) assassinated Tsar Alexander II and their leaders were hanged. In a second (botched) attempt at revolutionary violence on 1 March 1887, Aleksandr Ulyanov (Lenin’s elder brother) was arrested and subsequently executed by the regime of Alexander III.

    Fanya Kaplan, an SR, took responsibility for an assassination attempt on Lenin on August 30 1918 and was summarily executed 4 days later. There’s some controversy over whether she actually fired the three shots as she was sight impaired. In any event she had been a longstanding SR member and had been protesting the supporession of both the Constituent Assembly and the Left-SRs (the Bolsheviks’ bloc partners) who had come out against signing the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty with the Germans. Uritzky (head of the Cheka — the Bolshevik secret police) was assassinated on the same day and these two acts were seen as part of a terror|st campaign against the regime. This was largely credited with provoking the Red Terror, which then resulted in serious atrocities. As with Alexander III, the Bolsheviks responded much as Narodnaya Volya would have hoped. Lenin subsequently suffered a series of strokes from complications associated with the non-effective treatment of the wounds, dropped out of effective politics in 1922 and then died in January of 1924.

    The broader context of course is that murderous feuding, blood debt and payback had been very much traditional in rural Russia. The overlay of expressly political conflict over this pattern in the aftermath of a massively violent war and upheaval, terrible privation in the major cities, semi literacy, superstition, the intervention of foreign powers etc made for very poor prospects for respect for civil rights by any of the contending parties, still less inclusive government.

    Whom does one hold responsible for all of this? Mostly, in my view, the aristocracy, which had control of Russia for about 3 centuries and took Russia into war. The Bolsheviks should certainly have known better to become entrapped in this cycle. They needed to focus quite narrowly on restoring something like normalcy in Russia ASAP, and that meant signing any deal that would have permitted rapid demobilisation and resumption of agriculture. They needed to parry famine (by setting up the infrastracture to acquitre and distribute emergency food aid from abroad). They needed to give as many people as possible a perceived stake in the regime even if that meant delaying the land reform briefly (there was no unity on which model should be adopted) while that was done. They also needed to keep repression and abuse by public officials to a minimum.

    These minimal things were always going to be a big ask, even if the regime had all been on the same page, because the basic human and material infrastructre (not to mention the culture) was simply lacking. Time was too short for Russia to accomplish these things before people started devising their own solutions. In Petrograd for example, the “people’s” factories were cannibalised for components which were traded for food. By 1919 people went scavenging for food rather than working and that in turn made offering the peasantry the tools to undertake food production impossible. Instead, the food would have to be extracted forcibly. Needless to say, that neither went down well nor was very effective.

    So even if the Bolsheviks had been a lot more clear eyed about what was needed and had made every conceivable move to facilitate it, there was a very high chance that the whole country would have descended into an orgy of bloodletting. I’d argue that the chances of avoiding that would have been a lot better. The CA might have bought them some political cover. Compromise might have been an outside chance. Yet all choices were poor.

    So called “War Commun|sm” was a poor choice IMO, but even now, I’m not certain anything else would have worked out better in practice. Had the Whites won, we may well wonder how WW2 might have played out. The dreadful cost of that might have been greater still.

    We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it. The appalling cost of this learning should be acknowledged, but we dare not cast insight aside. Building soc|al|st societies is not an easy thing — especially in countries lacking a skilled and disciplined workforce, and usages around respect for our fellow human beings. War is corrosive of civilised conduct and should never be entertained while a less corrosive set of options is available. On needs infrastructure — especially in power, transport, and communication to manage effective governance. Talk of soc|al|sm that isn’t connected with building that is doomed to fail. One must do what one reasonably can with the resources one has (time, humans, ideas, materials) trying to avoid closing off the possibility of doing better in the future. Above all, one must maintain a firm ethical paradigm in which human rights hold a place of absolute priority and if that is not possible in practice one must attack the constraints as the most urgent priority.

  97. July 22nd, 2012 at 13:20 | #98

    I am not going to rise to your pointless challenge, thank you, Katz (@45).

    If you wished, you could produce evidence of Lenin celebrating the deaths of Tsarist Army officers, but it seems unlikely to me that you can. Whilst ordinary Russian footsoldiers were amongst the greatest victims of the criminal folly of the First World War, it hardly follows that Lenin would have wished the same for most officers.

    One of Lenin’s most able military commanders, Mikhael Tukhachevsky, who was murdered by Stalin 1937, began his career as a Tsarist army officer. The moral integrity of the Russian revolution so moved Tukhachevsky that he offered his services to Lenin’s Government after he arrived back in Russia in October 1917 following his fifth and finally successful attempt at escape from German captivity.

    Thank you for enlightening me me about pre-Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary Russian history, Fran (@47).

  98. Mel
    July 22nd, 2012 at 13:55 | #99

    Fran:

    “Building soc|al|st societies is not an easy thing … ”

    And we are further away from socialism now than at any time in the past 200 years, unless you are unfortunate enough to be a resident of North Korea.

  99. Fran Barlow
    July 22nd, 2012 at 13:58 | #100

    @Mel

    [And we are further away from socialism now than at any time in the past 200 years, unless you are unfortunate enough to be a resident of North Korea.]

    Laughable, but not unexpected. Socialism and dynastic quasi-religious autarky are radically different things.

Comment pages
1 2 10810
Comments are closed.