51 thoughts on “Best wishes for 2015

  1. And season’s well wishes to you JQ. I’m admire your fortitude, and am grateful for it, in running what appears to me to be the last leftie blog in Australia that accepts a wide divergence of views.

    As to prognostications for the future: the world is turning. What joy to (still) be alive to witness and participate in the last great battle; to watch the obscene death throes of capitalism; to witness the snakes and reptiles wriggle out from their bolt holes and bastions as they expose themselves as not really human after all for they are fascists, to a woman, and deserve to be culled from the human race; they are unworthy of the air they breathe.

    So, to stop beating round the bush, I reckon that the next five years is critical. I suggest that theory be foregone for feeling as a guiding star.

    JQ: what about letting us know when you are arrested at anti-CSG action. McKibben was arrested, numerous other public figures have been arrested all over the world as they put their bodies on the line in defence of The Earth, the original source of economics. Whatta ’bout it?

  2. Amazingly, Tony Abbott has proven to be as impulsive and unintelligent as many of us were saying somewhat hyperbolically a year ago, and his Govt even more inept – sadly, I can’t predict that he’ll be a one-term PM.

    My best wishes to you, JQ, and all the opinionated and well-informed people who comment so interestingly here.

  3. I get bitter at Xmas/New Year. I attempt to hide it from those I judge not robust enough to handle the facts emotionally/intellectually or those who have heard it too much. I might break the latter rule by writing this here.

    What is happy about the New Year? What is there to celebrate in our society? Each year, the idiotic, wasteful and polluting fireworks displays get larger and the consumerist trash expands and overfills our ever-larger bins. What are we celebrating exactly with all this “panem et circenses”?

    Our murdering of refugees?
    Our murdering of Middle Eastern peoples?
    Our rising unemployment?
    Our waste of intelligent young people and graduates?
    Our destruction of the climate?
    Our killing of the oceans? and/or
    The fastest mass extinction ever to occur on this planet?

    I can see nothing to celebrate that counterbalances such grave and likely terminal ills. What was that line I heard on the ABC tonight before the News?

    “We will do nothing ten years too late.”

    Actually we have done nothing 42 years too late. 2014 minus 1972 equals 42 years. “Limits to Growth” was published in 1972. At that stage we had all the necessary knowledge (including insights from as early as Rachel Carlson’s “Silent Spring” and general ecological studies) to determine that we must change course. Of course, we did not. There are many reasons we did not but a key reason lies in the internal systemic dynamics of Capitalism (including the state capitalism of the Soviet Union) and the related dynamics of the now totally unrealistic (hubristic and insane) US/NATO geostrategy as opposed say to a more realistic form of Realpolitik / “Offensive Realism” as per John Mearsheimer.

    The biosphere cannot be saved (as a support for human life and general holocence ecology) without the collapse of capitalism. Of course, the ructions of the collapse of capitalism may destroy the biosphere in the above sense in any case. Human civilization is in the position of a heart patient where no new heart (a renewables eco-socialist economy) means death and matters are so bad the patient may die during the transplant / changeover anyway.

    I expect “reaction” to triumph over “revolution” for some time to come and maybe almost indefinitely barring the issue that we might well go extinct before 2100 in any case. A descent into a 1984-ish world of corporate fascism and about 3 large competing blocs seems a very likely outcome. We are just about there now in fact. The USA is a corporate-oligarchic dictatorship with secret security state characteristics. Russia is a secret security state with corporate-oligarchic dictatorship characteristics. China is both with Chinese characteristics.

    Welcome to the Machine. I mean welcome to the town of Machine. I mean welcome to Panem (et circenses). I mean welcome to 1984. I mean welcome to 2014. I mean… is there any difference anymore?

  4. Thanks for your thoughtful blogging prof JQ and to all the commenters. Or most of them anyway 🙂

    @ikonoclast – you may feel that you have nothing to celebrate at this time of year – but I always look forward to your comments in particular.

    I honestly think that this is the best comments section on the Internet.

  5. @Mark L

    Thanks. I am a bitter old curmudgeon and while some things I say might be true I am not sure that anything I say is useful.

    (A wise person once said to me I needed to consider not only whether what I said was true but whether it was useful.)

  6. I agree with Mark L, this blog provides a lot of useful discussion. My background is IT & stats so I get lost in some of the economic arguments but I still find it rewarding so thankyou Prof Q & commentors.

    I thought 2014 was surprising with how radically conservative the Abbott government became after its small target campaign but also how politically incompetent they proved to be. The wheels had well and truly fallen off by November, so it will interesting to see if Abbott’s end of year reset will change the substance or just the marketing; and from there whether the public will buy it.

    Globally, I think the developed world and China are going to struggle to overcome a shrinking workforce and total population. It may not be fully realised 2015, but by 2020 the demographics of a shrinking Japan, Italy, China, Russia, etc will be strong influences on the global economy and that is in the business planning time horizon of major companies. How do we have economic growth in a shrinking population?

  7. I agree with your comments davewa about the Abbott government.
    I wish you well in the new year ikonoclast. I do appreciate your comments on this blog. You represent well the views of the ‘limits to growth’ mob. Your pessimism arises I think more from your world view than from the evidence itself. I think the data show a lot more reason for hope for the future than you have. But then my view may arise from my deontological views rather than the evidence. We will just have to wait and see who is proven more correct.

  8. Thanks to JQ for running this blog – I don’t always agree with you, but I really appreciate what you do, and the conversations here. Best wishes for 2015 to all commenters and readers here.

    My reflections – I am a resident of southern Australia. I was born in South Australia, and I’ve lived most of my life in Victoria. Currently I am lying on a beautiful beach in South Australia. Life could be bliss, except that I know a terrible fire is raging in the hills. In southern Australia, we’ve always had heat and bushfires, but it is getting worse and will get worse for some time, even if we stopped all carbon emissions tomorrow. I can’t even hate the Abbott government and those who elected them, it’s too late. All I can do is implore them, please come to your senses. If we want southern Australia and so many others parts of the world, to have a viable future, we must stop the bull shit and start acting together urgently to reduce emissions.

  9. Recall the Ruddslide of November 2007 was a time of heightened climate concern. Perhaps we’ll get a rerun even if briefly. I suggest conservatives blame foreign devils. As in …how dare they burn so much coal so it’s no longer safe for decent Aussies to live on the beach or the bush. You’d have to think there’s no going back to serious carbon pricing for Australia. The punters want something done provided it doesn’t feel expensive. If 2015 continues with unhelpful weather and the economy is flat Abbott is a lame duck. I still doubt Direct Action will get off the ground, The ALP needs to elevate a young gun who is harder edged than Shorten, more in the Keating mould.

  10. Hermit @ 10
    Maybe “the punters” will wake up and learn a bit of bloody common sense. I don’t see a carbon price as the whole answer, but the scheme we had was quite a good one – using the proceeds to compensate low income earners and invest in renewables. Of course many people had trouble giving it credit, because it was introduced by two women leaders, and women can never get things right in many people’s eyes. Fuckwits. Anyway people may wake up eventually, I hope.

  11. @Ikonoclast

    I say this in relation to myself alone but a wise old owl told me recently ” you have to connect before you correct.” Interesting talk on much-traduced ABC recently about “radical listening” (Life Matters on RN). I must get the book by Roman someone (“Mind”?)

  12. For my macro worldview see jungney and Ikonoclast, especially the comment that the next 5 years are critical.
    On a personal level, things are looking good for our orchard with the extensive apricot plantings of 2010 coming into production in a big way. At nearly 59 the old body protests muchly but there would not be many as fit as I am at this age.
    We supply a small local processor which has found that purely Australian grown and produced dried tree fruit products to be in much demand. We will not become rich even if sales continue to go well but at least we will be debt free by retirement and be able to sell the property as a going concern.
    I never went to uni due to non existent study habits. Big family, father needing help on the farm when mother wanted me to study, lots of other distractions. I certainly had the ability but lacked the application. However, I feel that I am among peers here and grateful for the opportunity to contribute occasionally.
    As a member of the Greens and Getup I am keenly following every development in the entire field of renewable energy, as well as domestic politics. 2015 will be even more interesting than 2014. Cheers to all.

  13. 2015 may be a year of reckoning.

    So far, capitalists have protected their banks by destroying their own societies and as a result there is a shift to the left in Japan and Greece.

    Quiggin’s test for a 5% decline in world industrial output per capita, is obviously a faux test as the crisis is primarily in Western economies. With all the growth in Africa, India and China there is no way (even as capitalism implodes) that:

    world industrial output per capita will decline by 5%.

    Third world and developing world are experiencing growth, not through the golden goose of capitalism, but by using cheap labour to sell products in Western markets.

    But the real trick is that when output declines, people emigrate. Output can decline but in the population falls the per capita measurement can stay the same.

    This is how confusion is spread. population growth has stalled or declined in all ‘PIIGS’ economies.

    Industrial output has fallen in one year by over 6% in italy Spain and Cyprus.

    Over 3% in Belgium, Sweden, and Malta.

    It has fallen in France and ireland, and is not looking good in Germany or UK.

    Data is at:


  14. @DaveWA

    “Globally, I think the developed world and China are going to struggle to overcome a shrinking workforce and total population. It may not be fully realised 2015, but by 2020 the demographics of a shrinking Japan, Italy, China, Russia, etc will be strong influences on the global economy and that is in the business planning time horizon of major companies. How do we have economic growth in a shrinking population?”- DaveWA.

    From a book I read recently, the Endless Crisis: How Monopoly-Finance Capital Produces Stagnation and Upheaval from the USA to China – John Bellamy Foster and Robert Waterman McChesney….

    There are still about 1.5 to 2.0 billion peasants in the world to be brought into the capitalist system. There will be no shortage of worker fodder to be exploited at or even below the reproductive cost of labor.

    So labour limits will not be a problem. Indeed, as current global corporate capital is functioning, there is a labour glut. Hence the high employment around the globe and even in the developed world. There is a crisis of capital over-accumulation. Capitalists have more money than can be productively invested hence all the speculation, finacialisation and churning. There is also a surplus of productive plant. World automobile factories are producing at about 2/3 rds capacity. Historically high amounts of industrial plant capacity are idle in the developed world (outside a full depression). The wages share of world income is too low, meaning of course a problem that aggregate demand is too low.

    Under the current system, this problem will only worsen. Increasing monopolisation in the economy means these problems will only increase.

    It’s strange times. The limits on the economy are first the capitalist crisis of over-accumulation which strangely might slightly delay the second real crisis, limits to growth. Given these twin whammies, capitalism is going nowhere except sideways a bit longer and then down.

    Neoliberal Austerity though at first sight the seeming cause of the weak economy is really just a respone symptom to the underlying cause: the capitalist crisis of over-accumulation.

  15. @Ikonoclast

    So labour limits will not be a problem. Indeed, as current global corporate capital is functioning, there is a labour glut. Hence the high employment around the globe and even in the developed world.

    And “smarty-pants” who think they are too special here in the west to be affected should wake up and pay attention. They probably won’t, but they better not come anywhere near me complaining that they weren’t warned!

    In the USA there are doctors working for US$12 an hour.

  16. @Megan

    Yes, correct. A new phase of capitalism has been reached in that… but let me give a very potted history.

    1. Early industrial capitalism (in England first, then spreading) arose in the towns and cities with the first factories. Labour was drawn in from the rural poor in the agricultural areas.

    2. The above process was more or less completed in England leaving a rural rump populace (agriculture being modernised too) and an urban working class. The working class was poor and expolited leading to class conflict with the capitalists

    3. England now sought raw materials from overseas especially its empire (imperialism). The rural working poor in places like India now provided much of the raw materials.

    4. Eventually workers in the developed world were able to get a better accomodation (better wages, conditions) from the capitalists because of political action but also because imperialist exploitation of the third world workers gave the capitalist a profit margin sufficient to make it expedient to “buy off” first world worker demands.

    5. So we workers in the first world who got a decent deal most of our lives actually got it from the exploitation of third world workers. We too were and are exploitative oppressors.

    6. Now, the first world is fully developed and indeed stagnating. Capitalists now find better profits in off-shoring manufacture and assembly to places like S.E. Asia, China and India. They are using global labour arbitrage (wage differentials) to heavily exploit 3rd world workers and heavily pollute the 3rd world environment and draw huge profits from the process.

    7. The workers of the developed world, mainly the triad of US, EU and Japan, are now in the early stages of wage competition with 3rd world workers (assembly line workers in China, call centre workers and computer programmers in India etc. etc.) This is driving wages (and conditions) in the triad countries down in real terms.

    8. Due to both the effects outlined in point seven and the ever greater oligopilisation of capital and consequent oligarchic power, inequity is increasing in the US, EU, Canada and Australia to name the main ones. I don’t anything about the direction of inequality changes in Japan.

    So yes, workers in the developed world face a long and difficult decline into poverty without some radical and global changes extensively modifying or over-throwing modern capitalism. There are plenty of studies to suggest the middle class is already beginning to collapse in the USA. The collapse of the middle class in the developed world will greatly exacerbate the problems of overaccumulation of capital. Lower salaries and lower wages equal lower demand. Lower demand equals more idle capacity equals stagnation then recession then depression.

    Capitalists are few in number though great in wealth and spend differently. A rich oligarch can eat the best food, own a yatch, a jet, a limo, hundred collector’s cars and 10 mansions and apartments. However, he still cannot consume what a million people consume. He cannot eat the food that million eat. He cannot own and drive a million cars every day. Demand most drop. The art trade, asset inflation, financialisation and speculation (combine with idle factory plant) cannot create the real demand that a million working class or middle class create if they are on reasonable wages.

    Yep, the populations of the West are in for a huge and ugly shock. Things will get much worse before they get better, if they ever get better.

  17. As a movie character played by Jack Nicholson once asked ‘what if this is as good as it gets?’. That was referring to psychiatric help but we could apply the question to halcyon days for the middle class.

  18. @Megan
    Megan, when you say there are doctors in the US working for $12 US an hour, do you mean doctors from Cuba etc. who can only find work as medical assistants and such rather than as actual doctors?

  19. Best wishes to John and everyone here!

    It’s a pleasure to participate, and I always learn something new from all of you.

  20. @Ronald Brak

    That’s them. Fully qualified doctors, some are also highly trained and experienced specialists.

    And I think it might be as low as $US10 per hour.

  21. For more on $12 doctors in the USA, see the most recent essay by Linh Dinh at Information Clearing House. His postcards from the US are essential readings.

  22. Another example is airline pilots in the US.

    Regional airlines average starting wage is $US23.73 per hour (according to a 2013 article at “skift.com”).

  23. The article points out that most of this pilots start with massive debt from their training and also that the hourly rate only counts for the actual time the plane is moving:

    For a pilot with 10 years’ experience at SkyWest, the weekly gross paycheck might be around $1,312.

    But, then you have to consider that these wages don’t nearly reflect the hours that regional airline co-pilots and pilots have to put into the job.

    Although they may only be on the clock 21.5 hours per week or 85 hours per month,” pilots typically are away from base, and from their families, about 240 to 300 hours per month (or about 60 to 75 hours a week),” according to the Airline Pilots Association.

    For the lowest paid co-pilot on Mesa Airlines earning about $22 per hour, this imbalance works out to $6.80 an hour for a 60-hour work week.

  24. @Ikonoclast
    Grief is a reasonable response to our objective ecological reality. I protect my nearest and dearest from much expression of it in the knowledge that they also understand what we are all in the process of losing. I don’t know how the young can cope when one of the measures of a meaningful life, the future, is existentially threatened.

    In the face of that, dignity comes from active engagement with the issues including through direct action; at the moment, direct action is still in rehearsal as a form of mass mobilisation. Non-cooperation and economic sabotage using the means of communication will be our most powerful weapons.

    The state will control the use of violence and we need to not play into the hands of parliamentary fascists who are right now drooling at the prospect of tightening the screws in the name of protecting society from eco-terrorists. so, it is nvda right down the line up until the fascists initiate the violence, as they always do, upon which violence as self defense is entirely legitimate.

    Internationally, some people speak the truth:

    Meeting in Havana December 14, the 13th summit of ALBA leaders endorsed a Bolivian proposal to host an international assembly of social movements in 2015 to discuss and adopt a united strategy for fighting climate change.

    (at this googleable title ‘After Lima fiasco, Bolivia plans global assembly to fight climate change’).

    Its very much a war of position. There are educated forces who we can call on but no-one has yet made a successful appeal to the working classes of the old industrialized nations who are wedded to industrial capital. The very worst of them in Australia, in partciular the mining section of the CFMEU, have totally abandoned any of the humanist egalitarianism that was carried forward by the Miners’ Fed for the shortest display of the folly of pure self interest in human history.

    Already in NSW and Qld most CSG exploration or extraction is attended by a massive police and private security presence; all of the operations at Whitehevan coal, Narribri, are covered by heavy twenty four hour security. In Qld, Police vehicles are sponsored by Santos. We need to step up the necessary militarization of coal and csg production in particular as it undoubtedly pushes up production costs as well as illustrating the total absence of a social licence.

    Citizens need to train up to challenge the state’s authority whenever it sells out the public’s ecological interests. This appears to be almost all of the time. Participation in nvda will be a necessary qualification for anyone who attains to leadership. The far right, which includes all types of right wing anarchists, neoliberals, and right libertarians along with their paymasters, the oligarchs, have created a perfect storm of democracy. In the very near future the fight for ecological sanity and the fight for democracy will merge into what Arne Næss called ‘the long front’ on which the fight for an habitable planet and the fight for participatory democracy, where sovereign power resides with the people, will become indistinguishable.

  25. Maybe some of the CFMEU have descended to the Lumpenboganariat. I wouldn’t give up on all of them though. I have noted that industrial workers do know how to strike. Doing the Patrick’s wharf strikes 1998 Australian waterfront dispute, the wharfies made barricades of steel (rails, reo-bar, beams all laid and piled at crazy angles and then welded together in situ. The barriers looked like they would stop a light tank.

    On the other hand, modern clerical workers seem like they don’t know how to strike. Clerical and computer workers certainly have a lot of power if they want to use it. Shut down all clerical work and computer systems and you stop the country, the government and the corporations. There’s no need even to congregate. Just stay home in a mass stay-at-home strike. That’s asymmetric struggle. Remaining dispersed presents no mass targets. Of course, key essential services that serve the people could be kept running, water, power, hospitals etc. I could on.

    However, the old strike ethos is broken and modern workers are cowed and do not or cannot fight back. Of course, our anti-strike laws now are draconian too. The willingness to strike and rebel will only arise again when large masses of the middle class and working class fall into the underclass. This process has commenced in the West and will accelerate so interesting times are ahead. Eventually, a critical level of desperation will be reached.

    Of course, many regional, proxy and even civil wars will be fomented as diversions, to destroy rivals for diminishing resources, to destroy fixed capital (renewing the investment cycle) and to bleed off excess population and excess labour. A bomb is the perfect capitalist product. It destroys itself and other capital thus stimulating new demand.

  26. @Ikonoclast

    Things are starting to happen.

    About 90% of the Italian police “failed to show up for duty” on new years eve. It wasn’t a “strike”, the powers are scrambling to write it off as industrial action but it was political (anti-austerity more so than refusing to be the jackboot of the 1%).

    Now THAT is what I call a sign that the fascists are in trouble.

    PS: The CFMEU are fascists – most likely infiltrated at the top and run by CIA stooges – remember they delivered Howard the 2004 election victory AND control of both houses of parliament.

  27. Why do you say the CFMEU are fascists? I am not saying I disbelieve you, I am just wondering what your evidence is. Certainly my view of parts of the CFME, like the mining and forestry sector workers has been for some time that they are reactionary, inward-looking, short-sighted, thuggish and in lockstep with the ethos of “burn all the coal and chop all the trees down”.

    On the other hand, I have seen our crypto-fascist governments launch Royal Commissions into unions on the presumption that all unions are criminal enterprises. At the same time, there has never been a Royal Commission I am aware of into bosses and capitalists. I wonder why that is? There is certainly plenty of evidence that a large proportion of bosses and capitalists are criminals, being involved in;

    (1) denying workers legal pay and conditions;
    (2) using illegal migrants for labour and mistreating them;
    (3) systemic tax avoidance;
    (4) systemic practices to move profits off shore;
    (5) use of tax havens;
    (6) cartels and price fixing;
    (7) profiteering;
    (8) propaganda campaigns to spread lies about tobacco right through to global warming;
    (9) conspiracy to undermine the health of the nation (junk food, tobacco, alcohol pushing);
    (10) exploiting third world workers;
    (11) environmental destruction.

    The list could go on.

    Sure there are individual small cases against bosses but where is the wide-ranging Commission inquiry into boss and capitalist abuse of workers, citizens and environment? It’s peculiar how the whole discourse and all the premises governing commission of investigations are so totally biased. The Commissions we need are;

    Citizens’ Commission into Worker Exploitation
    Citizens’ Commission into Corporate Power
    Citizens’ Commission into Climate Criminality
    Citizens’ Commission into Refugee Deaths
    Citizens’ Commission into Black Deaths
    Citizens’ Commission into Inequality
    Citizens’ Commission into Excess Profits
    Citizens’ Commission into Sustainability

    These are the commissions we actually need. They only sound absurd because the Overton Window has moved so far to the right that it’s okay to kill poor, weak and disadvantaged people and to also kill the oceans, the forests, thousands of species each year and the climate itself.

  28. @Ikonoclast
    I call them fascist because, without any evidence to the contrary apart from a few web site motherhood statements (construction section), the construction, forestry, mining and energy sections of the union have solidly allied themselves to capital especially in relation to coal and forests but you can throw in inaction on the GBR for good measure as well. What was once a ‘future danger’ of an alliance between privileged fractions of the working class and capitalists in the hyper-exploitation of the earth has become entrenched political reality. Thus the working classes, understood traditionally as overwhelmingly male in blue collar jobs, have no leadership to offer where once they were the backbone of a critical intellectual understanding of labor/capital relations.

    If you go to a planning hearing in the Hunter Valley over the extension of a coal mine or CSG extraction you’ll find bus loads of working class heroes wearing hi-viz and hard hats, in the hearing rooms, whining over their job security. When asked what their concerns might be about ground water depletion or waterway pollution or indeed, climate change, they shrug and look a bit embarrassed. That’s the only response because, as you would know, mine engineers, leccos and sundry others aren’t stupid. They are well able to work out the consequences and they basically don’t give a sh*t. They know what they are doing and just don’t care.

    That’s a fascist, right there. Wouldn’t want to rock the boat of self interest no matter what the consequences.

  29. Basically, what Jungney said.

    The “construction” part of the CFMEU seems to me to be the bit the Royal Commission was interested in. Certainly not the actions of the CFMEU in delivering Howard his 2004 victory and control of both houses. Of course the LNP are fascists, but I’m afraid the ALP are too.

  30. @jungney

    Yes, I understand. That’s why I see a 1984-ish future as possible with a tiny oligarchic elite of maybe 0.01% and at most 20% of the rest of the populace as the administrative, technocratic, military and security strata. They won’t need the other 79.99% at all except as expendable sub-people in peon servitude at recompense rates barely equal to the reproductive cost of peonage. In fact, they will probably sterilize them and clone new needed peons from the “techminlitia” strata. Oops, I think I am into Brave New World now.

    But seriously, there appears no impediment now to 80% of the world’s population being forced down to underclass level other than the underclass or falling classes actually rebelling at some point.

  31. @Ikonoclast

    Tasmanian forests.

    Last week of the campaign, from memory.

    I’m a bit busy at the moment but later I’ll dig up some more info if needed.

  32. @Ikonoclast
    In 2004 Latham put $800m on the table to protect old growth forest in Tassie and was opposed by the local branch of the forestry section. I recall seeing footage of Howard being applauded by forest workers at a local union hall meeting. This allowed Howard to play culture wars using his support for the Tasmanian forest industry and employees as a pawn. They represent a complete masculinist, blue collar workerist class rump. The Libs are still manipulating them by proposing to reintroduce logging in some currently protected areas. Meanwhile, the Tasmanian forestry industry is a zombie.

    (decent account at google this: ‘Labor’s old-growth forest gamble’).

    This was a decisive split in Australia – the unions generally abandoned ship on a whole raft of environmental issues and the ALP gets the vapours every time someone raises ecological concerns because everyone remembers how Howard blitzed them on Latham’s deviation. He made it clear that environmental concerns were at least equal to jobs if not in fact trumping them in that instance; this enraged the male proletariat across Australia.

    The ALP, of course, will currently be wondering what exactly to do with the behemoth – fossil fuels in the Oz political economy – when it next gains office. I think they’ll do nothing much.

    As to peonage – I agree. I took an interest in slavery over the last week having been previously aware that it is extant and increasing. In SE Asia and South Asia, it never really went away. The conditions of existence of the working classes in Chinese factories is only a few degrees from slavery. So, I’m punting on the re-emergence of some form of state sanctioned slavery in my lifetime and probably in that region.

    We don’t have to wonder how bad the oligarchs will let things get. We know from history, near and far. We also know how much immiseration people will tolerate before they organise relief or self defence – a lot, it turns out, in which opportunities to intervene are lost. However, if we are serious about the severity of the crisis then there are opportunities all over the place for discrete interventions leading towards a necessary mass mobilisation. The networks for that are currently being put in place.

    I’m not sure that this is shown by the seats won and lost but that is my recall.

  33. Excerpt from “Iraq war veteran warns Ferguson riots are ‘taste of things to come’”
    By Dr. Nafeez Ahmed – Special to Al Arabiya News

    “A startling independent report into “extrajudicial killings” of black Americans by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) raises deeper questions. The report, released in May 2013 – months before the outbreak of violence in Ferguson – found that an African-American male is killed every 28 hours by police or vigilantes, with little or no accountability. In 2012, 313 blacks were unlawfully killed in this way.

    The report contextualizes this systematic violence against black communities by police as part of a wider system of racist repression, in which local police departments are entwined with a network of domestic security structures encompassing “the FBI, Homeland Security, CIA, Secret Service, prisons, and private security companies, along with mass surveillance and mass incarceration.”

    Together, this domestic national security apparatus “wages a grand strategy of ‘domestic pacification’,” through endless “containment campaigns” against groups designated as problematic or dangerous to the system.

    The MXGM analysis coheres disturbingly well with mounting evidence of Pentagon contingency planning for “domestic insurgencies” triggered by social, economic or food shocks, or natural disasters.

    U.S. federal government planning documents suggest that the Pentagon’s role in militarizing local police forces is linked to growing concerns about domestic civil unrest due to the state coming under increasing strain from elevated climate, energy and economic risks.

    My in-depth investigation last month into the Pentagon’s controversial Minerva research initiative has exposed how the U.S. Defense Department is funding universities to develop complex new data-mining tools capable of automatically ranking the threat level from groups and individuals defined as politically “radical.”

    Such tools – which according to National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake could feed directly into the algorithms used to fine-tune the CIA’s drone kill lists abroad – are increasingly being used to assess threats from activist and civil society groups in the United States.”

    End quote.

    The deeper truth not analysed is that this is not just racist oppression. It is capitalist oppression. Unfettered capitalism is the reason these black people (and many whites too) are extremely poor while living in the richest country in the world. In fact, I think TPTB are happy for racism and exclusively racist explanations of the real problems to exist, It’s a convenient cover for ills that go much deeper even than racism.

  34. Yep, young black men are surplus to requirements in the USA. Best to ‘neutralise’ them before they get a clue. The military think tanks are all across climate change and are planning policies based on “a politics based on exclusion, segregation, and repression”; Australia’s “stop the boats” panic is in fact the precursor to establishing this country as an “armed lifeboat” in a sea of chaos and death. Internally, the broad movement will be sufficient to ameliorate conditions here but probably not adequate to taking too many refugees on board. My own preference would be to throw the fat bastards up at the captains end of the lifeboat overboard.

  35. The ABC yesterday described the US protesters as “Anti-Police”.

    Words matter, and the fascists have always known that.

  36. “The military think tanks are all across climate change and are planning policies based on “a politics based on exclusion, segregation, and repression”; ”

    I think this is not settled yet – there is debate among military sorts over whether human security as a concept should replace national security, so I think it is better encouraging this change in the idea of what militaries have a duty to protect, since with the weapons of the military these days there is not a lot of chance of a revolt working anyhow . And it is likely that military people who are not sociopaths would prefer this turn to human security , as it would make you feel better as a military person, since a lot of the soldiers that are returning from the middle east are very scarred and traumatised by what they have seen and done.

  37. @ZM
    Well, it’s a happy thought that ‘human security’ is being considered as an alternative to ‘national security’. Any chance of a pre-emptive coup in the name of ‘human security’?

    Alternately, the following draws from a 2004 Pentagon commissioned study by Peter Schwartz, a CIA consultant and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network:

    Nations without the resources to do so may build virtual fortresses around their countries, preserving resources for themselves … As famine, disease, and weather-related disasters strike due to the abrupt climate change, many countries’ needs will exceed their carrying capacity. This will create a sense of desperation, which is likely to lead to offensive aggression in order to reclaim balance … Europe will be struggling internally, large numbers of refugees washing up on its shores and Asia in serious crisis over food and water. Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life. Once again, warfare would define human life.

    There is much more of similar ilk floating around the netz.

    As to returned servicemen and women: one of my best students was a guy who been paid off by some sort of specialist military unit to do a humanities degree. He was amazed and delighted to learn that the Australian peace movement didn’t object to the military per se but to the inappropriate political uses to which our military had been put. He’d never heard that observation before.

    I’ve little doubt that the degree of trauma is inversely proportional to the political uselessness of the tasks set for the armed services. Saying so is not a slur on the military. I’ve just finished reading Eckersley’s ‘Narrow Road to the Deep North’ which is a welcome and long overdue fictionalisation of the POW camps in SE Asia. For all the hardships, the diggers at least had the satisfaction of knowing that their suffering defeated fascism. But Australian forces who served in Iraq and Afghanistan don’t even have that as cold comfort.

  38. @jungney

    I recently read a Nicky Hager book about NZ’s dodgy involvement in those wars.

    He reports, from first hand information, that the Special Forces (or whatever they are called in NZ) soldiers used to proudly go to work in their uniforms because they felt they were being used as a force for good (e.g. disaster relief, genuine peace-keeping etc…) but lately have taken to wearing civilian clothes and getting changed into uniform at work.

    Political bastardry turns citizens against soldiers, and vice versa, to deflect criticism of reprehensible foreign policy decisions.

  39. @Megan
    Yes, and political bastardry tends to represent political opposition to the uses of the military as essential opposition to the existence of the military. For mine, Howard got it right with Interfet in East Timor and it was a job well done.

    I’ve seen some alarming footage of Australian Navy personnel making racist comments to people being ‘rescued’ at sea and wonder what sort of racist objectification it must involve to ‘rescue’ and then return refugees.

  40. I have a nephew who has joined the Australian Army (in a support role which could go very near the front line but not in an ostensible front line combat role).

    I have already heard reports from relatives that if he walks about in public in uniform or army fatigues he routinely gets abused by a few members of the public.

    I am very critical of the many of the ways our military and police are now being used by the elites. However, I would never dream of abusing an individual in uniform in public. Apart from enlightened self-interest, what would stop me is the personal respect and consideration due to individual persons no matter what their station or occupation in society. I only withdraw the presumption for respect after individual actions which are clearly very bad by my ethical standards.

    For example, the entire current government ministry have, as individuals, lost my presumption for respect, usually fairly rapidly after they first came to my notice as public figures. In relation to people like that I could not answer for my mouth if I ever found myself within a 100m of them. That’s why I studiously avoid all public and corporate figures I might recognise.

    I once avoided meeting the CEO of my pseudo-corporatised government agency. I regarded this person as a Howard and neoliberal lackey of the worst kind. I knew I could not trust myself to be in the same building, let alone on the same floor, as this person was imminently due to walk around to meet all staff. I concocted a requirement to walk to another building to provide computer system support to staff there. They were surprised and pleased to get instant updating support on-site days ahead of their place in the schedule. IIRC I sacrificed most of my lunch hour to complete the work while those workers were on lunch. I figured that was a better deal than getting sacked for seriously abusing the CEO which I most assuredly would have done. Believe me, I know me.

  41. @Ikonoclast
    I like the footage and an old bloke in a supermarket who simply said, quite audibly “dickhead” as Abbott walked past.

    You wrote an interesting post yesterday about inner peregrinations but now I cnt seem to locat it to reply. Any idea which thread.

    My old man was a chiacker who once yelled out to “Leaping” Leo McLaey – “there he goes, the great wheelman – Spokes McLaey.” This was a reference to the significant settlement he received after suing Federal authorities for personal injury occasioned while he was riding a loaner from the parliamentary gym.

    Having a crack is pretty old school these days but it needs to be sustained; it is an equalizer that citizens need to exercise. I lament the passing of WW11 diggers because they had it down to a fine art. It is something to do with the loss of democratic spaces; as kids my mates and I would get the train from Newcastle to Sydney and go up to the Domain to hear the speakers. I know of nowhere in Australia where that happens although it is undergoing a rejuvenation in Greece and Spain.

  42. @jungney

    It’s post number 46 on page 2 of “The Oz Melts down in the contest of ideas”.

    Easy mnemonic, it’s about personal melt downs.

    The whole thing is about reality checking in a sense. How does the individual detect what is real and valuable? Which of an individual’s perceptions are real and which deluded? Which accepted systems of thought are accurate or deluded? How does empiricism stack up against gnosis and so on.

    As a side issue, claims to knowledge seem to be;

    (1) revelatory (a superior being revealed something to me);
    (2) revelation (received revelatory messages codified, written and advanced dogmatically);
    (3) gnostic (profound knowledge or “real reality” is directly experienced);
    (4) philosophic or metaphysical (discovered by pure speculation, thinking and reasoning);
    (5) empirical (discovered by systematically studying data from experience of the sensed world).

    In order they suffer from these drawbacks in my view;

    (1) revelatory – unverifiable and history is littered with proven hoaxers, the self-deluded and mad persons.
    (2) revelation – relies on a circular proof – revelation is true because it says so in revelation.
    (3) gnostic – unverifiable, ideosyncratically unrepeatable, indistinguishable from delusions.
    (4) philosophic or metaphysical – speculative, syncretist and again unverifiable but at least open to 3rd party analysis and challenge.
    (5) empiricism – repeatable and verifiable where apparently correct but prone to reductionism and unable to examine the full gamut of human experience especially conscious and subjective experience. needs help from philosophic and metaphysical enquiry to extend its range and deal with both emergent phenomena and fundamental “mystery” questions.

    At least , that’s how I see it. 🙂

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