Sandpit

A new sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on. Unless directly responding to the OP, all discussions of nuclear power, MMT and conspiracy theories should be directed to sandpits (or, if none is open, message boards).

271 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. The justification of metadata retention laws is premised on rank populism. It is to keep you safe – from whatever you’re afraid of in the digital age. Failure to pass metadata laws will, according to the PM, lead to an “explosion in unsolved crime”. If you’ve done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide then you’ve got nothing to fear. If you’re against metadata laws you’re obviously a pedophile. Or some smarty pants elite concerned with some abstract notion of “rights” that you probably became attached to while studying arts at a sandstone university. Or you’re a terrorist trying to take our freedom away. If this is not populism I’m not sure what is.

  2. According to newsdotcomdotau “A recent Essential poll has shown that around 40 per cent of Australians support the introduction of the new metadata laws, while 44 per cent do not.” I assume this means another 16% are undecided. With only 40% in favour of metadata retention this is not a popular policy. So it is doubtful that it is a policy of populism overall. It may be Right Wing populism in that it appeals to the perceived self-interests of the RW and their foolish minority of supporters.

    Rather than RW populism, I think this is RW elitism. “We know better than the people. We will decide everything. We will order your lives for you. Or rather (snicker, snicker) we will order your lives for us.”

    Effective democracy is collapsing and we are entering the Age of Corporate Fascism. How we react will determine how far this goes and whether we can recover from this dire situation.

    The first legal and peaceful step is to destroy the capitalist-corporate oligarchic parties (LNP and ALP in Australia) at the ballot box. The Greeks have taken this first step by destroying the old major parties, what were their names? I have forgotten them already. However, this destruction has to be permanent. LNP and ALP must be destroyed electorally and never allowed electorally to rise again. This is just the first minimal step. Much more needs to be done before, during and after this process.

  3. Is it amazing or is it more evidence of the fundamental irrationality of Libertarian ideology and the particular personality dynamics that lead to this way of being, that libertarians apparently see no hypocrisy in advertising the choices they make about who and what to be disgusted about?

    And I also wonder why they feel the need to let people know how they ‘feel’. What possible interest is it that someone feels disgust? What is the reasoning behind this disgust? That’s what I’d like to know, but Libertarians don’t seem to be able to do reasoning about their own personal preferences and try and understand how their overblown self-regard has developed despite the lack of any real personal achievements in the way of character and moral development.

    The evolutionary basis of disgust and how this adaptive response might develop into dysfunctional self-serving beliefs, attitudes and behaviours by the cultural practices of certain societies and families is interesting and not raising people who think like this is probably the only long term solution for the human species.

  4. The metadata laws are being implemented by the Liberal Party. That means a lot on the left will oppose them for purely tribal reasons not sound policy reasons. And likewise a lot on the right will support them for similar base tribal reasons. So I suspect that even though most people oppose these laws they are probably a bit less popular on the left. If the parties in government and opposition were reversed then I suspect it would skew things the other way.

    These laws are not being driven by popular demand. They are being driven by our security authorities (eg police) and a political culture that readily discounts freedom and privacy in pursuate of safety. Although in this instance I think the safety on offer is almost entirely an illusion.

  5. As usual I agree with the libertarian senators position on this issue. As articulated in this interview:-

  6. I’ve said it before. Libertarianism is a broad church. I can see my own personal/political tendencies are to slip towards Autonomism or Autonomist Marxism. It might be arguable whether libertarian elements or communitarian elements dominate in such a position. I would argue that both elements exist in an uneasy and ultimately never fully resolvable tension. In me the communitarian aspects exist ideally and politically. That is, I hold intellectually that our unavoidably shared political and community life in a complex, densely populated, interconnected civilization needs to be communitarian. However, emotionally I am not a communitarian. Emotionally, I am a kind of autonomous libertarian. I want as much personal autonomy as possible free from hierarchical and even communitarian rules.

    I simply recognise that realistically, whilst hierarchies must be diminished as much as possible, some hierarchy (that of ability and capability) must exist. I also recognise realistically that communitarian values must exist or our society will fall apart altogether. However, and this a key point, I think an eclectic society ought to tolerate both communitarian and (say) anarchic libertarian tendencies. The key test for individual freedoms is that they may be exercised as much as one likes but not in a way to infringe other persons’ freedoms. Also, we need to recognise that individual freedoms may be a matter of position and perception. There is not a single unchallengable norm of individual freedom.

    If I could preach here I would say Terje and Julie and Julie and Terje need to avoid personal animosity while feeling free to criticise the position(s) of the other. There is a difference.

    The irony here is (I am pretty sure) that Terje and Julie would both oppose metadata storage. I do too. Let’s at least combine on the things we agree on. That is both a communitarian and a libertarian value, strangely enough.

  7. Libertarian is not the opposite of communitarian. Libertarians just generally don’t want collective efforts to be mandated. But we should be free to join groups and act collectively. Given we are social creatures I’m sure that we would frequently act collectively in a libertarian world. It’s in our nature and in our interest. Usually.

  8. @TerjeP

    We agree on that. You and I will likely always have specific disagreements about certain policies but there are many we can and do agree on. The need to powerfully limit the security state is certainly one policy we do agree on. I am completely against the retention of metadata. I am completely against the para-militarisation of police services. I am completely against the type of wars against countries we have engaged in in the last 20 or 30 years or so, indeed right back to Vietnam.

    We would be enormously better off if we had not wasted all those resources on attacking peoples and wrecking their countries and our economies. Instead we should trade peaceably with them and leave them to sort out their own means of governance. There are countries where things have been very bad but every time we interfere we just make things ten times worse.

  9. Terje, just makin’ stuff up, again:

    Libertarian is not the opposite of communitarian.

    I think Charles Taylor and Michael Sandel would disagree:

    Whereas the classical liberalism of the Enlightenment can be viewed as a reaction to centuries of authoritarianism, oppressive government, overbearing communities, and rigid dogma, modern communitarianism can be considered a reaction to excessive individualism, understood as an undue emphasis on individual rights, leading people to become selfish or egocentric.

    The close relation between the individual and the community was discussed on a theoretical level by Michael Sandel and Charles Taylor, among other academic communitarians, in their criticisms of philosophical liberalism, especially the work of the American liberal theorist John Rawls and that of the German Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant. They argued that contemporary liberalism and libertarianism presuppose an incoherent notion of the individual as existing outside and apart from society, rather than embedded within it. To the contrary, they argued, there are no generic individuals but rather only Germans or Russians, Berliners or Muscovites—or members of some other particularistic community. Because individual identity is partly constructed by culture and social relations, there is no coherent way of formulating individual rights or interests in abstraction from social contexts. Thus, according to these communitarians, there is no point in attempting to found a theory of justice on principles decided behind Rawls’ veil of ignorance, because individuals cannot exist in such an abstracted state, even in principle.

    According to Terje, and presumably other similar libertarians, libertarianism is what they day it is. It has no history to which to be accountable, no old debates to engage, no partisans to placate. Apparently post modern libertarians wander the countryside spilling their intellectual seed willy nilly but most often on barren ground.

  10. @TerjeP

    Terje you are free to join a community if they want you. I wouldn’t want a libertarian to move into my little town. Communities like this run on trust. Conservatives may not be very bright and they worry too much about doing things differently – OMG you can’t do that! – but once they trust a person even a greenie, they are very trustworthy in return and able to put the needs of the community before their own.

    But why would a community trust an individual who puts their own selfish first whatever happens?

    I am not the only one amazed by the weirdness of libertarianism, your particular flavour or any of the many manifestations of this pathological attitude to fellow humans.

    For sure it isn’t just me who is interested in the libertarian persona, or interested in understanding what personality factors this dysfunctional cognitive style seems to attract, and working out how to prevent children developing into anti-social people like you who are fascinating as an object of study but not much fun for other people to have as part of their society and what use would these individualists be as part of a society that aims to provide equal support to every child, which is one way to address the idea that all people should be equal.

  11. @Julie Thomas
    Now I see! For Terje the essence of libertarianism is freedom of individual choice. He is unconstrained by all previous history and philosophy and therefore able to make historically uninformed and downright ignorant statements about the pov he espouses because to give precedent its proper place would be a constraint on his individual rights.

  12. They argued that contemporary liberalism and libertarianism presuppose an incoherent notion of the individual as existing outside and apart from society, rather than embedded within it.

    What rubbish. Individuals who live apart from society are extremely rare creatures. And I don’t know of any notable libertarians that choose to or want to live apart from society. Or any that advocate that others try living apart from society.

  13. No, its not rubbish and you are wrong. The whole point of Rorty’s ‘veil of ignorance’, drawing heavily on Kant, was to devise a standard individual against whom all propositions could be universally tested. In doing so he mirrored the foundation myth of Hobbes who proposed we should consider an average individual man not born of woman but sprung from the earth, fully formed.

    It is tosh. Both liberalism and its ‘mini-me’, libertarianism, have form on this. Take away the possibility of talking about a universal individual and liberalism looks just plain silly. One of the great benefits of second wave feminism was its insistence (Judith Butler comes to mind) on the necessity of constructing a meaningful individual narrative in which the person knew who they were, what people had formed and shaped them, which social institutions had aided or hindered them, which historical forces had they been subject to, how they had been gendered and sexed, how they bore the injuries of class, what advantage or disadvantage was attached to their ethnicity.

    I’m not saying that libertarian hyper-individualists live like monks in caves. The world would be better if they did, perhaps, rather than living off the labours of others, as they currently do, without paying sufficient tax or extending sufficient recognition to others.

    In NZ some of the universities teach courses whereby students learn to construct the story of their place first in relation to time and geographical features and then to family. I can’t recall what this is called.

    Anyway. I don’t think your up to philosophy so I’ll try this:

  14. These are murky waters but ah what the heck, I will put my oar in again.

    While modern libertarianism is talking about self-autonomy I have no problem with it. When it talks about self-ownership I think it is at the beginning of its philosophical problems. Self-management, self-autonomy, self-actuation, self-realisation are all related and defendable notions but self-ownership becomes absurd in a very real sense. It is a bifurcation of the self. It becomes a case of treating oneself as an object as well as subject.

    Modern libertarianism goes wrong philsophically most in its notions of ownership. I do not belong wholly to myself. I belong to others too. Yet none of this belonging is what should be called ownership. When it comes to other things like the land or the biosphere, we do not own it. If anything, it owns us. It generates us and we are wholly dependent on it. We use it or rather use some of its facets and properties for a short while. At best ownership of something like land is a right (only recognised by other humans in the same governed system) to use aspects of it for a while. Ownership of a factory and extensive personal wealth (while another person has no home and no job) is an artefact of a particular historical, and not very just, political economy. It is not any pure right written in stone forever. Other relations of “ownership” have existed or can be posited and can be shown to have equal of greater moral justifications from various angles.

    More than anything modern libertarianism seems rooted in the deification of property as the ultimate value. One can see where it comes from though. Try being homeless (say living in a car which is a kind of up-market homelessness) and see how you go at getting a good night’s sleep, finding a place to shower, go to the toilet and clean your teeth. See how you go at turning up for a job interview and looking and acting like a presentable person who is worth a job. These practical problems do show that self-management, self-autonomy, self-actuation and self-realisation do depend on reliable access to real property items (not just real estate) which we depend on in modern society. These real property items could be personal property, communal property (not the toothbrush!) or public property but we each need reliable daily access.

    Life indeed would be nasty, brutal and short without access to real property items. Personal property, communal property and public property (in various mixes) can all deliver these items. Private property relations taken to the capitalist or libertarian extreme lead to the hoarding up of wealth and property for the few and a lack of access for the many. This leads to a net diminishment of rights and liberty.

  15. In a country like Australia we have pretty good property rights. They could be better but they are pretty good. I’m more ticked off at the tariff imposed by the government on my trade in labour. They certainly seem to think they own me. Their violation of my other property rights seem minor by comparison.

    Ownership is merely a code word for control. If I own my tooth brush then by rights I decide what it can and can’t be used for. Thus I will feel violated if you use my tooth brush to clean your boots. But I feel at liberty to use it to clean mine. Likewise with my body. I will feel violated if you use it without my permission.

    Most people in their personal dealings are very libertarian. But many people expect the state to be otherwise and claim it can command others do their bidding. This is the bit libertarians generally object to.

  16. @TerjeP

    I find it interesting that libertarians are so hung up on the state (even a democratic one) yet they seem to offer no criticisms of corporatism or the tyranny of business hierarchies. Apparently it’s OK for transnationals to mine in PNG and pollute the rivers people fish in. Apparently it’s OK for platinum mine owners to makes fortunes in South Africa and pay the miners something like $2 a day. Apparently it’s OK for Apple to cruelly exploit Chinese workers in their factories.

    I have NEVER heard a libertarian criticise excess business, capitalist or corporate power. What explains this strange selective blindness I wonder? Maybe such criticism has occurred on the odd occasion. I just haven’t heard it. On the other hand, I hear libertarians criticise government all the time. Every statement they make contains a criticism of government somewhere in it.

    I can understand libertarian disillusion with the US government now. It is the handmaiden of corporate capital. It is the police force of and legal guarantor of corporate capital, rich people and of not much else. It is totally in the pocket of corporate and oligarchic capital. However, as I say, I never hear libertarian criticism of the corporate, capitalist or oligarchic part of this very bad equation.

  17. @TerjeP
    I watched that clip ’till 1.11 when I decided to go check the fuel air mix on my diesel Landy by sucking on the idling exhaust. It was a better use of my time than watching that nincompoop ventilate. It was like watchimg Placido Domingo talk about First Peoples whale hunting methods. Or a Monty Python sketch.

    Eff me mate. Were you raised by Ch9 or youtube? There is a serious intellectual deficit in operation here.

    One of the reasons I’m prepared to take you on is that I’ve read Mill (younger and elder), Hobbes, Locke, Rand, Malthus, Friedman, Hayek, Nozick, Blair, Giddens, Kant and a gazillion doctrinaire funtionaries thereafter.

    By the same token I’ll wager that you’ve never heard of Bahro, EP Thompson, Morris, Cohen (the structuralist), Gramsci, Kollontai and a cast of thousands who have shaped the world in ways that you cannot imagine.

    What you cannot imagine is that post Marxists know better thn you about the historical failures of communism and socialism than you do. Equally unimaginable to you is that such people might know just as much about the failures and depredations of liberalism than you do.

    And weirdly, you expect to be treated with respect when you wander the dank forests of theory. Watch out for the gun nuts, mate, they’ll shoot Bambi every time.

  18. @Ikonoclast
    Mate:

    Try being homeless (say living in a car which is a kind of up-market homelessness) and see how you go at getting a good night’s sleep, finding a place to shower, go to the toilet and clean your teeth. See how you go at turning up for a job interview and looking and acting like a presentable person who is worth a job. These practical problems do show that self-management, self-autonomy, self-actuation and self-realisation do depend on reliable access to real property items (not just real estate) which we depend on in modern society.

    Done it and more. The welfare sector in Australia and elsewhere runs on people of good will and experience. People who know what its like to be in the hole and can guide you of that mess. Very few people from that sort of background turn into the sort of self fortifying individuals you imagine. The worst of us do and then plead their early suffering for sentencing leniency.

    Hardship doesn’t produce winners. Privilege does.

  19. Chomsky is my go-to man on most issues but only after I have attempted to nut something out myself. If I arrive at a position where I doubt myself (it does happen sometimes) I check out what Chomsky thinks. Now I don’t doubt myself re my thinking about American libertarianism but Chomsky has some interesting things to say including comments about the inversion of the meaning of words in the USA.

  20. Excellent talk! Libertarians are viewing the world ‘as through a kamera obscura’, upside down, such is the potency of their false consciousness.

  21. @jungney

    Yes, using the correct definition of the term, US Libertarians are not libertarians at all. They are advocates of the most extreme t y r a n n y of capital possible. Since I have something stuck in moderation, I will try to post that text again. I will try to avoid banned words.

    I find it interesting that libertarians are critical of even the democratic state yet they seem to offer no criticisms of corporatism or the t y r a n n y of business hierarchies. Apparently it’s OK for transnationals to mine in PNG and pollute the rivers people fish in. Apparently it’s OK for platinum mine owners to makes fortunes in South Africa and pay the miners something like $2 a day. Apparently it’s OK for Apple to cruelly exploit Chinese workers in their factories.

    I have NEVER heard a libertarian criticise excess business, capitalist or corporate power. What explains this strange selective blindness I wonder? Maybe such criticism has occurred on the odd occasion. I just haven’t heard it. On the other hand, I hear libertarians criticise government all the time. Every statement they make contains a criticism of government somewhere in it.

    I can understand disillusion with the US government now. It is the handmaiden of corporate capital. It is the police force of and legal guarantor of corporate capital, rich people and of not much else at all. It is totally in the pocket of corporate and oligarchic capital. However, as I say, I never hear libertarian criticism of the corporate, capitalist or oligarchic part of this very bad equation.

    Edward Cain, in 1963, said or wrote:

    ” … Since [Libertarians’] use of the word “liberty” refers almost exclusively to property, it would be helpful if we had some other word, such as “propertarian,” to describe them. [….] Ayn Rand …. is the closest to what I mean by a propertarian.”

    US style Libertarians are really Randian Propertarians. Their motto should be.

    “My property! More important than your person!”

  22. “Most people in their personal dealings are very libertarian. But many people expect the state to be otherwise and claim it can command others do their bidding. This is the bit libertarians generally object to.”

    Most people? What most people? The most people in *your* environment maybe Terje, but that is because you don’t get out among the real people who populate this country. You don’t like the real people. They might want to take your stuff.

    You stick to your own kind so that you feel comfortable. You seem to have only ventured out among the real people – like helping with charity to the homeless – to confirm your assumptions that there are people who are not as good as you and that is why they end up like they do.

    I put myself among the homeless because I have been in that situation briefly.

    This claim you make about “most people” is just so ludicrous and nothing like the way people who are very much not like you, really do think and act. You do not live in the real world.

    Ikon, yes yes this is so true; “but self-ownership becomes absurd in a very real sense”.

    The fundamental problem of regarding individuals as sprung from the earth fully formed and responsible for themselves is that individuals do not happen this way.

    Children are born from a woman’s labour but they are not the property of the woman; they are a responsibility not a right; they cannot live without others taking responsibility for them.

    And then at some stage through some mysterious process that no libertarian ever was able to elucidate, children with all their individual personalities and potentials are reduced to some abstract entity that is able to exercise freedom rationally and take responsibility for themselves. WTF?

    This is just such a weird way of thinking about the reality of birth, death and the whole damn thing that it beggars belief.

  23. @Julie Thomas

    As always, “abstraction” is the problem. I mean abstracting from reality to get an idea or a model which is always, of course, simpler than reality. Often, the process of simplification is so severe that the idea or model bears no relation to reality at all. The myth of self-ownership springs from the same well as the myth of the self-made man. But let us get concrete (as you have done) and talk about how men and women are made. It is a worthwhile investigation.

    Historically, men have spent about 3 minutes of effort to make another human. This changed relatively recently when some men (still excluded biologically from the gestation effort of course) started to actually help after birth. It’s a real education and one I underwent to some considerable extent. My wife and I had twins. I took 6 weeks off work to help out. The twins started life in different sleep cycles. We were going day and night with about 4 hours sleep in each 24, none of it in a snatch longer than an hour. The sleep deprivation was brutal.

    My wife stayed at home for about 5 months while I went back to work part-time. Then I stayed home for 6 month (6 months to 12 months age for the babies) while my wife went back to work full-time. At the end of this time, I said to anyone who would listen, “Looking after babies is the hardest thing that anyone can do in peacetime.” About this time a female CEO of an Australian bank said being a CEO was not as hard as being a mother with babies or young children. She had done both so she knew.

    To wrap up this homily, one day when the babies were about 8 or 9 months and I had a spare moment I was washing up at the kitchen sink after doing a load of nappies in the laundry. In those days, we lived in a suburban house where my 2nd floor kitchen window looked down on a neighbouring backyard with a washing line just over the fence under my window. A mother was there hanging out washing and called out to her 16 year old son to come and help. He came with a bad grace, started an argument with his mother and then told her “You are full of s h i t.”

    I fought back the impulse to yell out the window and tell him off. I thought “Fella, you have no idea what she has done for you.”

  24. Footnote: In case the point of my above little domestic homily is not clear to Propertarians, the point is this. If the women of the world were to get full reimbursement for all their unpaid work they would own 4/5 ths of the property in the world.

  25. Ikon

    “I fought back the impulse to yell out the window and tell him off. I thought “Fella, you have no idea what she has done for you.””

    It seems to me that it is the role of all the men in a society or community or neighbourhood – not just the father – to ensure that young men are socialised appropriately and do respect what women do. It would seem to me to be an essential role for all men to understand that making a new life and raising a good citizen requires “altruism’ – of some sort – and not selfishness.

    I like living in this village because people are still interfering busy bodies.

    One of my neighbours earned a great deal of respect from me and others in town by confronting another man who was beating his child up in the front yard. This bloke went onto the property and told the man beating his child up to stop. He did.

    My neighbour behind, a woman in her ’50’s heard the single dad living next door to her saying some really awful things to one of his daughters and she told him off. That has caused her a lot of problems as the father has targeted her for the same sort of abuse he visits on his children.

    There are some really awful child raising practices in our wonderful western civilization and thankfully there are still some people who still remember how we used to raise our children.

  26. We shouldn’t ever take the ruling classes opinions of themselves at all seriously. It’s just propaganda. We should study them in order to see how ruling class consciousness produces and reproduces itself. M Donaldson and S Poynting’s ‘Snakes and Leaders Hegemonic Masculinity in Ruling-Class Boys’ Boarding Schools’ really nails it:

    Recent events in a ruling-class boys’ boarding school college in Sydney prompted public discussion about “bullying.” Debate ranged between those seeing an endemic problem to be cured and those who saw minor, unfortunate, and atypical incidents in a system where bullying is under control. It is argued here that such practice is inherent in ruling-class boys’ education. It is an important part of making ruling-class men. Using life-history methods with available biographical material, the article shows that ruling-class schooling of boys in boarding schools involves “sending away” and initial loneliness, bonding in groups demanding allegiance, attachment to tradition, subjection to hierarchy and progress upward through it, group ridiculing and punishment of sensitiveness and close
    relationships, severe sanctions against difference, brutal bodily discipline, and inculcating
    competitive individualism. Brutalization and “hardening” are essential to all these
    processes and are characteristic of ruling-class masculinity.

    It is available as a free pdf if you google the title.

    On the anecdotal side I had up close experience of the very wealthy while working as a personal nurse to a woman who, had her family not been able to pay for private 24 hour care, would have been in a Sched Five institution on a community welfare order. One of the reasons she was on an order was that her alienated husband was upset when she purchased a series six BMW with cash.

    The drive way into their property had a dog leg and the garage was too small to turn the car around; the dog leg made reversing an unattractive option so they installed a turntable in the garage on which sat a Range Rover Vogue. They had a large part of the Barrier Reef in a fish tank which necessitated daily attendance, a hidden ‘panic room’; a kitchen in which no-one ever cooked, a massive lap pool in which no-one ever swam and rooms for the three boys who didn’t stay there because they boarded at a school within five kilometres of their home.

    I met the entire family at various points and concluded that they were were the most utterly bizarre humans, totally devoid of any warmth towards each other, of my experience.

    Yes, they did think of themselves as fit to lead and rule. It was fascinating and I happily pocketed every cash bonus they offered to keep me there.

  27. This is good with lots of insights into how the rich are different from us.

    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/born-rich/

    “First-time filmmaker Jamie Johnson, a 23-year-old heir to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune, captures the rituals, worries and social customs of the young Trumps, Vanderbilts, Newhouses and Bloombergs in the documentary special, Born Rich.

    Offering candid insights into the privileges and burdens of inheriting more money than most people will earn in a lifetime. Narrated by Johnson, a history student at New York University, and filmed over a three-year period, Born Rich spotlights ten young adults who came into the world knowing they would never have to work a day in their lives.

    These society-column names speak frankly about the one subject they all know is taboo: money. With his unfettered access to this rarefied subculture, Johnson explores topics such as the anxieties of being cut off, and the misconception that money can solve all problems.

    Most wealthy people are told from a very young age not to talk about money, notes Johnson. Consequently, they are extremely reluctant to speak to people about their backgrounds. Also, many of the subjects in my film already have more public recognition than they may want, and have very little to gain by receiving more.

    Among the peers Johnson interviews are: Josiah Hornblower, heir to the Vanderbilt and Whitney fortunes; S.I. Newhouse IV, of the Conde Nast Newhouses; Ivanka Trump, daughter of Donald Trump; and Georgianna Bloomberg, daughter of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

    The story begins with the advent of the filmmaker’s 21st birthday, and his mingled anticipation and fear of receiving his portion of the family inheritance.

    Unsure about the future direction of his own life, Johnson decides to document the experiences of his privileged peers in dealing with their family’s legacies. He explores their candid perspectives on subjects ranging from life philosophies and trust funds to prenuptial agreements and career choices, ultimately revealing their common struggle to discover their own identity.”

    One almost feels sorry for these sad people and their ultimately futile search for an identity when all they have is money and their love for it which is, as all ‘enlightened’ cultures know the root of all evil.

  28. @Julie Thomas

    I get your point, but I had to keep in mind the issue of proportionate response and the likelihood of a “clannish” reaction where they would immediately re-bond and re-ally against me as a busybody or interloper. If the lad had started belting his mother with a stick or unleashing an endless tirade of foul-mouthed abuse which could be heard all over the neighbourhood, I would have intervened.

  29. @jungney

    The quoted passage reminds me of a sort of documentary I saw about the French Foreign Legion. I call it a “sort of” documentary because it was a Bear Grylls reality TV style concoction which showed Bear and a bunch of civilian Brit volunteers undergoing a facsimile of new intake training in the FFL. Facsimile or not it was really tough and only Grylls was really coping though a few others came close.

    The interesting thing was the way the FFL broke down individuals and individualism and built them back up as a cohesive group with esprit de corps. The cost was high. Weak individuals, different individuals and natural loners or non-joiners were targeted, bullied and persecuted severely until they toed the line (unusual outcome for a maverick or outlier) or were finally humiliated by being washed out of the course.

    It’s a form of institutionalisation and bastardisation which inculcates callousness, disregard and viciousness to a high degree. It makes sense that our rulers go through this process. Something has to explain their extreme callousness and nastiness. They really do hate the people. That is clear.

  30. The myth of self-ownership springs from the same well as the myth of the self-made man.

    Ownership and authorship are not the same thing. And self ownership is a construct that is asserted not some law of nature like the mass of an electron. But I do say it should be asserted and that it is an idea that can be shown to have value. Of course we are all the product of other people’s inputs. I have three young children and at the moment I am their primary carer (the wife is the bread winner) so it’s not as if you are relating something that is foreign and not obvious. I do not assert ownership over my children although I do set rules and boundaries based on the fact that I am their benefactor. Negating the “myth of the self made man” is fine and dandy but it’s a straw man argument if the intent is to criticise libertarianism. Libertarianism is not predicated on the idea of the “self made man”.

  31. @Ikonoclast
    All military training is like that, to some extent, although the Australian army is less brutal than, for example, the US Marine Corps. (At least for recruit training – I expect an Infantry battallion would be harsher.)

  32. My parents die destitute when I am young. I have no other family. I am severely disabled. I have no wealth, no property, no family to call on. In a Libertarian world, what happens to me? Do I die on the street for lack of food and shelter and the means by which to procure them? Presumably not, but why not?

    I’m not taking the piss, I am genuinely interested in understanding how libertarians think a libertarian world deals with people in such plights as the above scenario.

  33. @Ikonoclast
    I watched some of the same programme wondering all the while why anyone would subject themselves to such rigours when there was not even the reward of military employment at the end of it. I spent a good two decades flogging myself uphill and down dale in the wild before I came across the beat poet Gary Snyder’s exhortation to study the ‘real wilderness which lies between your ears’ (or words to that effect). This entirely changed my experience of being in the wild, for sure. Now I carry it around in my head, as advised, without the need for a four day backpack 🙂

  34. @Ikonoclast

    I hadn’t even thought of you intervening in the situation you described. I think I meant to point out that people feel free to behave more ‘illegally’ in small communities and violate property conventions and that people out here really do still maintain some of the old social standards that we used to expect from people.

    And would a libertarian have intervened in that sort of incident or would they not feel free to violate another man’s property in any situation?

  35. @TerjeP
    Couldn’t agree more Terje.

    Given these disgusting policies from Brandis and the Liberals and the cowardly capitulation from Labor, can we expect the Greens to get your first preference in the Senate everywhere the LDP isn’t running?

  36. I have a question for the pro-GMO crowd here, who also usually sneer at organic food. Given the central role of agricultural use of antibiotics in the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria, especially in the USA and UK, and the impossibility of doing anything about it legislatively (there is a good recent box article on the topic) do you advocate the consumption of only organic meat until the legislative process changes? How does this issue affect your view of organic food more broadly?

    Full disclosure: I think organic food is complete tosh, and have always seen organic meat as a sop to middle class luvvies who want to pretend they care for animals but can’t give up their diets. But the antibiotic resistance thing has no other solution while governments refuse to legislate against the meat industry.

  37. can we expect the Greens to get your first preference in the Senate everywhere the LDP isn’t running

    I only get to vote in one state. And in terms of the senate the Liberal Democrats should be running in every state anyway. But if the Liberal Democrats were not running then I suspect I’d just stop voting. In the senate I certainly would not vote for the Greens, Labor or the Liberals.

  38. My parents die destitute when I am young. I have no other family. I am severely disabled. I have no wealth, no property, no family to call on.

    Adoption and charity.

  39. A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.

    Jack London.

  40. Dickens described the way charity works and the hypocrisy of the rich who take pleasure and think well of themselves as they dispense their charity and their patronising pity with strings attached only to those poor who deserve it as determined by their narrow minded and shallow worldview.

    And realistically, charity doesn’t work too well in the libertarian paradise that is the USA; they jail people who provide food to the poor and they put spikes in the ground so people can’t sleep in the shelter of doorways.

    It would seem that libertarians believe that the poor need to be punished for being born without the support that would provide them with the ability to competing with the awesome people who become libertarians.

    And personalising it here Terje but what sort of charity would you advise for your relative who is or was once homeless? Do you believe there is any obligation on you to provide some charity to this person or is that up to someone else?

    We should all vote for DL and any other gormless chinless libertarian that you believe is some sort of guru. You thought that about Andrew Bolt and Tony Abbott didn’t you? I think your ability to assess the character of other people is quite limited and flawed by the narrowness of your life.

    And these non-polices that you – adoption and charity – have would like totally fix the problem that the nanny state has created?

    Since you are at home with the kids you could try a mummy blog rather than wasting your time trying to persuade people here that the LDP is a viable alternative to the Greens.

  41. @TerjeP

    I have a key question for you. It will be a little long-winded as I have to set out the paramaters.

    Modern US-style Libertarians are highly concerned about excessive government; excessive government power, excessive government intrusion and excessive government taxes.The question I wonder about is this. Are such Libertarians concerned about corporations and oligopolistic capitalism? Are such Libertarians concerned about excessive corporate and capitalist power? Modern studies by Piketty and by Foster and McChesney have demonstrated that wealth is concentrating. Inequality is increasing. Transnational corporations are increasing in size not only absolutely but also relative to smaller businesses. Oligopilisation is increasing (meaning that fewer and fewer businesses are owning more and more and that market power worldwide is being concentrated in a relative few powerful transnationals and conglomerates at the top).

    Some people use the term “Really Existing Capitalism & Democracy” or RECD for short for our current system. This term is meant to indicate that our system is not an ideal capitalist or market system nor is it an ideal democracy. It is just what we have at the present, warts and all. Under “Really Existing Capitalism & Democracy” or RECD, free markets do not behave like a benign and even-handed guiding hand. Rather, rich persons and corporations use their power to gain favour and advantage from government and to distort and rig markets.

    If government is removed or attenuated then it will not exist to give favours to corporations but then neither will it exist to restrain corporations. Under RECD, at least in Australia, we see both forces at work. Business lobbies the government but the influence of a democratic vote on a still sizeable and effective government does limit business power including oligopolistic power from getting everything its own way.

    To reiterate my questions and add a few more; Are US-Style Libertarians concerned;

    (1) About corporations and oligopolistic capitalism?
    (2) That excessive corporate capitalist power and oligopolistic power could increase with the removal of government controls?
    (3) That wealth inequalities and extreme poverty could increase without government intervention?
    (4) That the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) and like initiatives are intended to further increase corporate business power (not small business and new entrepreneur power) and to weaken national governments?

    What I am driving at is that someone or something will fill the power vacuum if you minimise really existing democratic government. I put it to you that this someone or something will be the vast transnational corporations and conglomerates and they will come to constitute a government by corporate cartel or even by cabal-style corporate dictatorship.

  42. I do like this Chomskyism;

    Well what’s called libertarian in the United States, which is a special U. S. phenomenon, it doesn’t really exist anywhere else — a little bit in England — permits a very high level of authority and domination but in the hands of private power: so private power should be unleashed to do whatever it likes.

  43. @rog

    I think ‘charity’ is an anti-egalitarian anti-communitarian idea that comes from the rich who really need – for their own self-respect – to believe that they are decent people and have actually earned their wealth in a meritocracy.

    The notion of charity does not recognise that every person has a right to all the resources it takes to give them the opportunity to be an admired and respected part of their society. It is a crap sort of society when people are forced by an economy that makes no provision for their abilities, to be sorry for being born, to be suppliants and beggars and try and suck at the teat of the rich which is a cold cold teat with very little generosity.

  44. @Julie Thomas
    There is an extensive history of administration to the needs of the poor most well documented in the UK (before it was the UK). The history is generally divided into periods of the ‘old’ (commencing in 1601) and ‘new’ (1834) poor laws:

    At a more profound level, however, the New Poor Law saw a fundamental change in the way that the poor were viewed by many of their “betters”. The traditional attitude had been one of poverty being inevitable (exemplified by the oft-quoted biblical text “For the poor always ye have with you”), the poor essentially victims of their situation, and their relief a Christian duty. The 1834 Act was guided by a growing view that the poor were largely responsible for their own situation and which they could change if they chose to do so.

    A further Royal Commission on the Poor Laws and Relief of Distress 1905–09 was held in which a majority and minority reports were presented. The minority report, prepared by Fabian socialists Beatrice and Sydney Webb, argued for an understanding of the causes of policy and the provision of:

    a national minimum of civilised life … open to all alike, of both sexes and all classes, by which we meant sufficient nourishment and training when young, a living wage when able-bodied, treatment when sick, and modest but secure livelihood when disabled or aged.

    The majority report held that the poor could be divided into the deserving and undeserving; the latter should be taught the meaning and benefits of individual responsibility; it also held that charitably led provision would be undermined by the state. In other words, those of a charitable disposition would be robbed of the opportunity to proselytize and otherwise admonish the poor.

    The minority report informed the Beveridge Plan (1942) which provided the foundations for the the UK’s welfare state. This was part of the great post war compromise between labour and capital which saw the establishment of National Insurance and the NHS.

    This old argument echoes through time to the present. Scott Morrison, who believes that he can manifest God by speaking in tongues, as the current minister for social services, would, I hazard, were he sufficiently capable or interested, be able to trace his own intellectual antecedents back to about the sixteenth century.

    But Terje, apparently sprung fully formed and dewy eyed from the earth, would be unaware of this history and therefore content to inflict his own version of charity on those in need all the while, no doubt, holding himself up as a fine exemplar of those virtues to which they should and could only ever aspire.

  45. @Julie Thomas I had an aunt who did data entry for a charity who remarked that a large number of wealthy people were making donations anonymously.

    In the US Arthur Brooks observed that it was the religious that gave to charity (“they give like crazy”) and as there were far more religious conservatives than religious liberals it is conservatives that appear to be more charitable. As he puts it, “religious conservatives make conservatives look really good”.

    http://www.acton.org/pub/religion-liberty/volume-17-number-2/culture-charity

  46. Rather, rich persons and corporations use their power to gain favour and advantage from government and to distort and rig markets.

    Indeed they do. This is of great concern. It is one of the reasons I prefer a small limited government. Rent seeking behaviour by corporations is one of the engines driving us towards an ever larger state. It suits the rich and well connected to dictate what we must buy and who may produce what, rather than have a free market.

    The wind industry is a current case in point. It is an industry that would almost entirely disappear if not for legislation that mandates that we buy it’s product.

    Cartels may exist without the agency of the state but they are rarely of much consequence. The taxi cartel in NSW and most Australian states relies on government made market restrictions. In libertarian circles the likes of Uber who brashly challenge this closed shop are celebrated. Uber is a transnational corporation but their efforts towards a more open market (whilst clearly motivated by self interest) are to be celebrated.

    Sydney has for years had a single casino with monopoly status not because of the free market but because of state intervention in the sector.

    Western Australia has a Potato Corporation which artificially restricts the supply of potatoes in WA because of legislative intervention not because of a rampant free market in potatoes.

    Federally our taxes still fund an Egg Corporation. And of course the ABC has a massive grip on the media sector because of favourable treatment by the government. Essentially I manages to rack up a loss of $1 billion dollars every year without any commercial consequence. Talk about socialising loses.

    The TPP deal does seem unsavoury in several regards but I’m not across the detail (much of which is secret).

    The close relationship between banks and governments is a major topic of discussion and concern in libertarian ranks. Bailing out banks directly or by buying junk debt, such as by the U.S. government and the German government in recent times, is a classic example of governments that are operating beyond what their limits should rightfully be.

    If you think such problems are fixed by having a larger more interventionist state then I think you are sadly mistaken. The bigger the pot of money the government has at it’s disposal the more corrupt commerce and society will be.

  47. And realistically, charity doesn’t work too well in the libertarian paradise that is the USA; they jail people who provide food to the poor and they put spikes in the ground so people can’t sleep in the shelter of doorways.

    I don’t regard the USA to be a libertarian paradise. Jailing people who feed the poor is not a libertarian idea. If you think libertarians want to jail people who feed the poor then you are seriously confused about who is who in the political zoo.

  48. @TerjeP

    Yes I am seriously confused by what you mean by libertarianism. I am sure that you are even more seriously confused about what libertarianism is and I think that libertarians of whatever flavour spend their lives seriously confused and I predict that you will become even more confused and irrelevant over the years.

    So is Sarah Palin is not your libertarian pin-up girl then?

  49. @Julie Thomas
    Anecdote is always edifying but data is more reliable. The US publication The Chronicle of Philanthropy notes that:

    Between 2006 and 2012, a new Chronicle analysis of IRS tax return data reveals, Americans who make over $200,000 a year decreased the share of their income they devote to charity by 4.6 percent.

    It goes on:

    The wealthiest Americans—those who earned $200,000 or more—reduced the share of income they gave to charity by 4.6 percent from 2006 to 2012. Meanwhile, Americans who earned less than $100,000 chipped in 4.5 percent more of their income during the same time period. Middle- and lower-income Americans increased the share of income they donated to charity, even as they earned less, on average, than they did six years earlier.

    It is complicated:

    What the rich do give to charity often does people truly in need no good at all. Wealthy people do the bulk of their giving to colleges and cultural institutions. Food banks and other social service charities “depend more on lower income Americans.”

    Apparently this is because of the increasing wealth segregation of US urban life whereby the poor appear as little more than vermin on the streets where once they were known as neighbours and workers.

  50. Rog well yes the religious may give generously but from the research I have read the donations go only to the causes that ‘their’ church approves of. There is no requirement to be fair and unbiased.

    And I do believe that the ‘old money’ do give to charity as that is an obligation or a responsibility that is part of their culture.

    But really all charity does is give people a fish every so often rather than giving them a chance to earn the money to buy a fishing rod and feed themselves. People need work not charity.

    And as Jungney says those in the church who dispense the charity just love the chance to proselytize and otherwise admonish the poor which is so counter-productive because it destroys any pride that people may have left in themselves after whatever it was that happened to take away their ability to make it on their own.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all the rich and the libertarians were just like Jesus Christ?

  51. @jungney

    Yes the whole idea of charity sucks big time and is not good for anyone; the giver or the receiver.

    It is much better when the state provides support in a non-discriminatory way.

    Anecdote here; the most useful help for me when I was a single mother with 4 children was a home loan from the Qld Housing Commission enabled me to buy a house and only pay 1/4 of my income toward the loan.

    That provided the security that I and my kids badly needed. Having to cope with private rental market is the most expensive and difficult thing about being poor with children and wow you meet some nasty selfish landlords.

  52. @TerjeP

    I take your points and tend to agree with some of them to a degree. However, in my view you ever only look at half of the picture. You only seem to see abuses of power coming from government. You never see abuses of power coming from capitalist or corporate power (mostly when it is oligopolisitic).

    Why, in your view, is government uniquely prone to misusing power and causing or inducing corruption? Apparently, you dismiss the notion that business (as corporate oligopoly mainly but not exclusuvely) might abuse its power. In times not so long past, people used to talk of the “unholy trinity”. This “unholy trinity” was Big Government, Big Business and Big Unions. Depending on one’s ideology, one would focus on one or two of these as the source of many economic problems. Few would focus on all three though anarchists and libertarian socialists might.

    In the USA, which is the vanguard in these matters, Big Unions are largely defeated. Unions are not a significant power in national economic and politics in the USA. There might be some regional and sectoral exceptions but by and large this statement is true. Big Unionism is beaten for the time being. So the argument today comes down to Big Government and Big Business. In the USA, by far the largest obsession, and not just by Libertarians, is with Big Government. Big Government is seen as the main problem (except of course when Big Government is making big orders and procurements especially from/for the Big Military/Industrial complex).

    Big Business seems to have managed a kind vanishing act as a target for political concern. Big business is like the elephant in the room that has its skin painted with the wallpaper pattern. It is right there in the room taking the most space but manages to be part of the background scenery or decor rather than part of the obvious furniture of the room.

    I just wonder how you think large transnational corporations and conglomerates will behave when government is minimised? Certainly they will lose subsidies and special treatment which you heavily focus on to the exclusion of the other side of the coin. At the same time they will be exempt from even more taxes (they often pay little enough now anyway) and spared much regulation. The tendency to wealth inequality will increase as will the tendency to oligopolistic power.

    The tendency to negative externality damage and exploitation of nature (an unmanaged commons) will increase unless all of nature is privatised. The dangers of total corporate privatisation of nature will then have to be faced. Among the issues then will be the one where a new born human will have no “hereditary natural rights” like a right to freely breath air. Some corporation or corporations will own the atmosphere. Infant breathing would be imputed as a debt owed by the parents to the corporation.

    The above are some of the directions that full privatisation and corporatisation of the world could take. It is not too fanciful to suggest they will want to own the air we breath eventually. Corporations already want to own all of the (mostly natural) genetic code and all of potable, deliverable fresh water in the world. These are clearly already among their goals.

  53. I once talked to Giblets about how government welfare was required because private charity wouldn’t necessarily help those who need need it most, and he said that government welfare should be funded entirely through a tax on private charity.

  54. @Julie Thomas
    I think that the experience of receiving charity is summed up by the phrase ‘as cold as charity’. Given a choice between receiving charity or state provided aid – who would choose the former? How anyone can fail to understand the deep human experienced embedded in this simple phrase is beyond me.

    As to landlords – after decades of renting I finally got to the point where my only response to the greasy classes of landlords was to stand over them until we reached a compromise. Telling them you’ll drag them backwards for years through whatever tribunal it takes usually had a sobering effect on their attitude; loud voice required.

  55. @jungney

    My dad told me we would starve to death before we took any bloody charity. It never happened :). It’s cultural; he had Highland Scots blood. He used to play the bagpipes in full regalia – I just loved the sporran – in a Queensland summer whenever there was a parade like they used to have to keep the public amused.

    That Housing Commission loan was all I needed to never have to rent again.

    Reading Hayek one can see where the mixed up psychologising that libertarians base their economic theories on comes from. The quote below shows that he really has nfi how people feel; perhaps he was an aspie?

    Reading about him, it seems to me his life was very ordinary and he seems never to have had any adventures or fun and apparently his father was a ‘public servant’ and yet Hayek rails against these people.

    So he writes, in The Road to Serfdom:

    “Inequality is undoubtedly more readily borne, and affects the dignity of the person much less, if it is determined by impersonal forces, than when it is due to design. In a competitive society it is no slight to a person, no offence to his dignity, to be told by any particular firm that it has no need for his services, or that it cannot offer him a better job. ”

    What nonsense. And then hayek shows another aspie behaviour by the programmatic way he returns to the verry thin straw man of Socialism that he sets up every time he admits to one of the very real problems that would result from his economic system, only to knock this straw man down with impeccable hearsay and wild speculation based on his very own superior intelligence – or not?

    Hayek tells us in the introduction that he knows he could be biased about his ideas but he’s pretty sure he’s not because he’s thought about it and he’s just not biased

    Even back then there should have been enough evidence around to show that ‘man’ is not rational and not capable of objectivity when one is very enthusiastic and certain about things. But you come across this sort of silliness all the time in the reasoning of the people on the right about human nature and how people ought to be.

    Charles Murray was very silly when he imagined that prehistoric men used to sit around the fire discussing who is the most intelligent man in the tribe. That was in the introduction to his masterpiece of dishonest writing “The Bell Curve”. I can’t even read the stuff because it is so full of irrational thinking.

  56. @jungney

    I have lost some of my sources now but I wrote a paper in 2000-2001 about Howard’s welfare “reforms”. This 50 page paper (single-spaced) was written essentially just to get my own thoughts straight and to find at least a private intellectual outlet for my near-apoplectic outrage and frustration. At the time I working in DSS which then became Centrelink. It was an enormously infuriating experience to go through the utter destructive and unecessary (at all levels) nonsense of Howard’s welfare “reforms”. Here is a quote from my own paper about the charity issue.

    “If one studies even a little Australian social welfare history, one soon recognises the potential correlation of these new charity entrepreneurs (like Mission Australia) with the private charity proprieters of the late 19th C. Some of these state subsidised insitutions became so blatantly corrupt and tainted by nepotism and abuses (some unmentionable in reporting due to Victorian era sensibilities) that public outcrys and newspaper exposes lead to Royal Commissions in the states of Victoria and New South Wales. These Royal Commission in turn lead to reforms (in the correct sense of the term) which involved the return of the funding to state administration to implement the proper provision and supervision of these services. This was so they could be carried out in a relatively un-authoritarian, non-sectarian and non-paternalistic manner compared to the former gross abuses.”

    Unfortunately, I have lost my references to the actual Royal Commissions involved. Anyone of the right research skills and access to the right databases could find these Royal Commission transcripts from the late 19th C for the colonies of Victoria and New South Wales.

    My mention of abuses is timely. We now have financial abuse scandals and other abuse scandals (failure to train, failure to pay and so) coming up right now in relation to these private providers of various employment and training services. At the time of Howard’s “reforms” I and all the coal-face and system support colleagues I knew from DSS/Centrelink and CES predicted exactly this currently shambles. It was indeed so predictable – private enterprise and private charity corruption, so regular and predictable you could set your watch by it!

  57. so, what came first, the chicken or the egg? or the legislation? or the organic foodies? or howard johnson’s?

  58. So is Sarah Palin is not your libertarian pin-up girl then?

    Do you really think female politicians should be characterised as pin up girls?

    Sarah Palin has some interesting attributes. But her fiscal record as governor wasn’t so great. I believe she increased taxes and increased government spending. Although I’m no expert on her track record.

  59. Why, in your view, is government uniquely prone to misusing power and causing or inducing corruption? Apparently, you dismiss the notion that business (as corporate oligopoly mainly but not exclusuvely) might abuse its power. In times not so long past, people used to talk of the “unholy trinity”. This “unholy trinity” was Big Government, Big Business and Big Unions. Depending on one’s ideology, one would focus on one or two of these as the source of many economic problems. Few would focus on all three though anarchists and libertarian socialists might.

    The government is unique because it has unique powers. Neither unions nor businesses can lawfully lock you in a cage if you refuse to comply with their edicts. You are not forced to use their services. Except where government has granted them special powers through legislation. Unfortunately there is quite a lot of that going on.

  60. @Ikonoclast
    The irony is that the system is that DSS/Centrelink is staffed by people, white collar proletarians, who take every opportunity to make decisions in the client’s favour, I am told. I guess that it is the managers who have drunk the kool aid? That was my experience in NSW child protection – that staff could be talked around to a reasonable response but that managers would stake their all as a person on achieving the outcome on which their next promotion depended, regardless of moral or ethical considerations. You position as a left libertarian is more readily grapsed now I know that you also were bit by the viper of state bureaucracy. I watched a long doco on ABC, last Sunday, about Nugget Coombs and his relationship with Judith Wright. Australia was so much more an open society then than it is now.

  61. @Julie Thomas
    I think there is substance in the suggestion, re Hayek, that he and those who devise such crude schemes for all of humanity as they do are more than likely suffering from some sort of empathy and compassion deficit. Not to mention a privileged and unworldly family background.

    One of my mum’s bitter stories about charity derives from her experience, during the depression, of being denied the bowl of soup that the Women’s Auxiliary of the Miner’s Federation doled out daily to her local primary school. On the grounds that, because she wore shoes to school rather than bare feet, there was clearly enough money in the home to feed her. It wasn’t the shoes. It was being socially isolated as different that cut her.

  62. The tendency to negative externality damage and exploitation of nature (an unmanaged commons) will increase unless all of nature is privatised.

    I think large sections of nature should be privatised. IMHO the prohibition on trade in certain species is counter productive in terms of conservation. I understand the logic behind banning the ivory trade but I think it is misquided and makes the situation worse. Saddly it may even be what ultimately drives the rhino to extinction. I prefer the model adopted for the wollemi pine. And the model Australia John Wamsley championed which ultimately floundered because he could not get the law reformed to make conservation areas viable tradable assets with a market value attached to the species contained within.

    If you pollute your neighbours property, or the commons, you should face legal consequences. Assuming of course that the damage is identifiable and significant. Where you and I disagree on pollution is probably limited to a few specific cases such as CO2. And even there I’d be open to a pigovian tax if we could agree on the size of the externality. But we probably won’t agree on the size so I’d rather not digress in that direction.

    Transnational companies that damage the environment usually do so in places where property rights are weak or exploited territories are government owned. For instance a lot of the destructive logging practices in Brazil are based around government incentives to create farmland.

    That said I don’t think nature should be locked away forever untouched. We should harvest the bounty that nature offers in a sustained and managed way. Where property rights can’t be easily established, such as with the ocean, then solutions such as fishing quotas make sense.

  63. @jungney

    There is nothing wrong with aspies that a good upbringing and a supportive society can’t ‘cure’. If we are properly socialised we can learn to understand how others feel but perhaps we may not be able to understand how ‘neuro-typical’ people think.

    Some people are not blessed with lots of social intelligence genes at birth and in socially isolated families the children don’t develop these abilities and rich families have increasingly isolated themselves from the rest of us so their aspie children do not develop any understand of working class and welfare class people and can’t see them as in any way equally deserving of respect for their achievements or appreciate why they might not have achieved what they could have.

    Australia used to have integrated neighbourhoods so that the children of the relatively poor could if they had good manners be invited into a middle class home and see how things worked there. It wasn’t much but it was better than now.

    Even children with psychopath genes are not destined to be problems for society if they are socialised properly. Have you seen that article about the neuroscientist who looked into his own genetic inheritance because his mother told him there were bad men among their ancestors?

    http://www.salon.com/2014/03/09/this_is_your_brain_on_murder_what_the_mind_of_a_psychopath_looks_like/

  64. @TerjeP

    What about the East India Company? Does it not show what can happen when corporations (joint stock companies) rule parts of the world?

    “The East India Company (EIC), more properly called the Honourable East India Company (HEIC), was an English joint-stock company, formed to pursue trade with the East Indies, but which ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and Qing China.

    Originally chartered as the “Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies”, the company rose to account for half of the world’s trade, particularly trade in basic commodities that included cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, saltpetre, tea and opium. The company also ruled the beginnings of the British Empire in India.

    The company received a Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth on 31 December 1600, making it the oldest among several similarly formed European East India Companies. Wealthy merchants and aristocrats owned the Company’s shares. The government owned no shares and had only indirect control.

    The company eventually came to rule large areas of India with its own private armies, exercising military power and assuming administrative functions. Company rule in India effectively began in 1757 after the Battle of Plassey and lasted until 1858 when, following the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Government of India Act 1858 led to the British Crown assuming direct control of India in the form of the new British Raj.”

    Note the last paragraph. Especially the sentence; “The company eventually came to rule large areas of India with its own private armies, exercising military power and assuming administrative functions.” We know they jailed people too. The Black Hole of Calcutta was an infamous example. There is clearly historical precedent for joint stock companies (corporations) ruling countries and even empires, running armies and policing and jailing people. It is a feasible danger once again if national governments are so weakened that corporations once again begin controlling and ruling regions in various ways.

    You seem to have the belief that only formal governments use power and violence on people. The historical record shows many events very different to this picture and corporations are clearly capable and even likely to be involved in using violence, private armies, policing and incarceration if thay attain adequate power and licence to do so.

    Whereas more or less democratic governments under a constitution and with courts have checks and balances on their power (the people, the law and the courts), businesses and corporations will have no such checks on their power other than checks of other comepting businesses. What is to stop literal corporate war (meaning with guns) breaking out between rival corporations if little significant state power is left?

  65. Correction: The Nawab of Bengal, Siraj ud-Daulah, held British prisoners of war in the BHOC after the capture of Fort William on 20 June 1756. The East India Company was not responsible.

    However, my point about a joint stock company (corporation), The East India Co., imprisoning Indians is correct.

    “.. the British (meaning the East India Co.) continued to oppress Indians. In 1818 they had passed regulation III, under it, an Indian could be jailed without trail in a court.” – Wikipedia.

    This is a flagrant example of a corporation acting improperly, when uncontrolled by negligent, weak or minimalist government, and jailing people without trial. This is an example of what we can expect again with minimalist government and businesses and corporations possessing almost untrammelled power. Effective democratic government is a check on excess violence and greed. To the extent that the US government and even the Australian government are failing in this regard, the main cause is the buying and suborning of government by corporate money and the consequent circumvention of the democratic will.

  66. @TerjeP

    I think large sections of nature should be privatised.

    One day, maybe, you’ll appreciate the irony of your commenting here on a blog by a man who coined the term ‘zombie economics’.

    Zombie idea:

    IMHO the prohibition on trade in certain species is counter productive in terms of conservation.

    This idea died in the mid 1990’s but keeps on coming back like vomit over the edge of a sink. If only the market could assign a proper money value to an entire species’s survival then all would be good. Well, it hasn’t and it wont, which is why some English Royal is currently trying to beg the Chinese to execute anyone who imports Rhino horn or Elephant ivory.

    Market fail, with big consequences for the children of the future who will only get to see such animals via wildlife photography and footage.

    I prefer the model adopted for the wollemi pine.

    I’ve actually been in the deep gorges of the Wollemi Wilderness where the Wollemi Pine grows. Its good that the NPWS and others can make a quid out of them but this is not a model that will work in any society that lacks a state to enforce the rules, geddit?

    And the model Australia John Wamsley championed which ultimately floundered because he could not get the law reformed to make conservation areas viable tradable assets with a market value attached to the species contained within.

    John Wamsley is reputed to have the political and social skills of a bush pig. All over Australia there are private conservation foundations which are successful and privately funded. None of them bitch and whinge like Wamsley does about how the gummint let him down.

    If you pollute your neighbours property, or the commons, you should face legal consequences.

    Should face legal consequences? Those who pollute the commons do face legal consequences … of laughable severity. The entire history of industrial production is predicated on the externalisation of costs onto the common. It’s a disaster of historical proportions and your pallid response is to suggest ‘legal consequences’ for those who poison the means of subsistence for humanity and all life?

    Transnational companies that damage the environment usually do so in places where property rights are weak or exploited territories are government owned.

    No they don’t. The CSG industry in the US, which has provided the US with the oil to initiate an economic attack on Russia, has so far degraded the soil, air and waters of the US as to make it the end game of US hegemony. They’re effed, by their own ideology. When you are under siege it is not a good idea to sh*te in your only water source and this is exactly what they have done.

    In Australia, noted for having a strong state in the past, the government of Qld has acquiesced to CSG in exactly the same way as any other other banana republic has done to all sorts of corporate ecological predation. In NSW and Vic, alert to the dangers of CSG carpetbaggers promising jobs for the ethically inert, the fight for water and soil is in a better position.

    That said I don’t think nature should be locked away forever untouched.

    Nature has never been ‘untouched’ by human activity except prior to our existence. All over the planet there are landscapes which people believe are ‘natural’ which are in fact the product of human activity: the rocky and treeless Mediterranean Basin is exactly that because of the Roman Empires demand for timber; the rolling hills of Scotland and Ireland are heath covered where once they were covered by dense forest which was cut down to feed smelters prior to the development of the coking coal that produced sufficient heat; Greenland is treeless because the Vikings cut the forests down; the very model of ‘untouched’ nature, the rainforests of South America, were in fact constructed by indigenous forest dwellers to suit their needs.

    No-one is suggesting that ‘nature’ should be ‘locked away’. How could it be when we are, as humans, nothing more than an expression of nature?

    We should harvest the bounty that nature offers in a sustained and managed way.

    Bounty? Defined as ‘good things that are given or provided freely and in large amounts’. There is no more natural bounty for evidence of which study current conditions in Africa. The wealth of the natural world has been plundered and is almost exhausted. Bounty? Phsaw! If you were in any way informed about ecological history you could not at all be such a captive to Lockean delusions about the unending cornucopia of nature.

    Again, you have wandered into an area in which you have neither knowledge of history nor expertise, apparently utterly convinced that your ideology will provide universal solutions. I am minded of a dismissive comment by (I think) Therborne about young Marxists to the extent that ‘to a child with a toy hammer, everything looks like a nail’.

  67. @jungney

    Yes, Terje’s ideas about privatising nature are anathema to me to the extent that I could not face the strain of replying. Glad you did.

  68. @TerjeP

    Spluttering over the concept that

    But “irregardless” (as Micallef would say) of that:

    I understand the logic behind banning the ivory trade but I think it is misquided and makes the situation worse. Saddly it may even be what ultimately drives the rhino to extinction.

    Ivory comes from elephants, mostly (and is teeth). Rhino ‘horn’ is a lump of hair more or less (it’s keratin), but it isn’t ivory.

  69. Sorry, too much spluttering!

    I am spluttering over the concept that: “large sections of nature should be privatized”.

    Enormously large sections have already, and it hasn’t worked out well for “nature” or for humans (being distinct from “nature”).

  70. @Ikonoclast

    Never mind some possible future scenario:

    There is clearly historical precedent for joint stock companies (corporations) ruling countries and even empires, running armies and policing and jailing people. It is a feasible danger once again if national governments are so weakened that corporations once again begin controlling and ruling regions in various ways.

    Fascism (broadly, the corporatised state/meld of state and corporations) is here, now. And it’s growing. Fast.

    In Scranton, Pennsylvania, two judges pleaded guilty to operating a kickback scheme involving juvenile offenders. The judges, Mark Ciavarella Jr. and Michael Conahan, took more than $2.6 million in kickbacks from a private prison company to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers. Since 2003, Ciaverella had sentenced an estimated 5,000 juveniles. Conahan was accused of setting up the contracts. Many of the youngsters shipped off to the detention centers were first-time offenders.

  71. @jungney

    In NZ some of the universities teach courses whereby students learn to construct the story of their place first in relation to time and geographical features and then to family. I can’t recall what this is called.

    I think you refer to an idea propounded by Alasdair MacIntyre in his 1981 book “After Virtue.” As summarized by communitarian philosopher Michael Sandel, MacIntyre “gives an account of the way we, as moral agents, arrive at out purposes and ends.” Opposed to the idea that we humans are individual, self-directed persons (in the Kant/Rawls mode), MacIntyre “advances a narrative concept. Humans are story telling beings. We live our lives as narrative quests. ‘I can only answer the question “what am I to do?” if I can answer the prior question “of what story or stories do I find myself a part”?'”

    It is easy to see how this appeals to the communitarian, but not to the Rawlsian who says we humans have the intellectual capacity put aside any such constraint.

  72. @JKUU
    MacIntyre’s magisterial summation of Western philosophy is frequently a turning point for those who apply themselves to reading it. It does emphasise the necessity, if you want a meaningful life, of narrative coherence. Most scientists I’ve ever known were able to locate themselves meaningfully within a tradition of the Enlightenment; most doctors used to be able to do the same before the profession turned into technocrats. The same applies to many other professions but not all. The ability of people to position themselves within a long form narrative is diminishing, it seems to me, with a subsequent increase in incoherence and confusion – see the current Liberal and Labor parties.

    But I neglected to add that the NZ practice of life narrative in geographical space over time is a Maori practice now taught by some institutions.

    I don’t see narrative coherence as a constraint on my actions or sense of self. I find it enabling. It gives me, for example, both the capacity and interest in playing ‘whack-a-mole’ with libertarian demi-philosophers who know not whence they came nor whither they go.

  73. It is a feasible danger once again if national governments are so weakened that corporations once again begin controlling and ruling regions in various ways.

    I advocate small and limited government. That is not the same as weak government.

    The example you give of the East India Company is fair enough and in the case where a company acquires the powers of a state then obviously it should for many purposes be treated like a state. But I note you had to reach back a few hundred years to find an example. No corporation is going to have that level of power anywhere foreseeable today. But if you see a corporation assembling a security force on the scale of an army then let me know and I’ll give it consideration. But I suspect you will only ever see it in places where property rights are weak.

  74. All over Australia there are private conservation foundations which are successful and privately funded.

    Good of you to acknowledge that fact.

    None of them bitch and whinge like Wamsley does about how the gummint let him down.

    That does not make him wrong. People pay millions for a Picaso because they know it will hold value over time and can be sold later. They can donate to private conservation to be charitable but so long as you can’t own and trade an estate valued because of it’s species content then charity is the only finance that will be forthcoming. Running conservation on the basis of charity is a poor option.

  75. The judges, Mark Ciavarella Jr. and Michael Conahan, took more than $2.6 million in kickbacks from a private prison company to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers.

    I don’t know anybody that thinks this behaviour should be considered anything other than criminal. Nor anybody that would seek to repeal the laws that make it so.

  76. “But I suspect you will only ever see it in places where property rights are weak.”

    “Weak” property rights?

    To consider property rights as being either weak or strong is another example of the dysfunctional either or way that libertarians set up the problems that human beings face when organising themselves to achieve ‘good’ government.

    Property rights in real societies – as opposed to the abstract and unreal societies that libertarians imagine – are more complex and dependent on the narrative that the society has constructed to explain the way people can own property or share it.

    These ways of managing property rights are not ‘weak’ until a corporation run by dysfunctional libertarian thinkers comes along and trashes the society for their own profit which is the ultimate good in libertarian ideology and the only measure of a person’s worth.

  77. ” People pay millions for a Picaso because they know it will hold value over time and can be sold later.”

    Really? That is the way the ‘entrepreneurs’ that you admire as the every model of good human being, think of a Picaso or even a Picasso, but collectors do not collect Art – with a capital A – in the expectation of a profit.

    Again Terje, you show how inadequate your understanding of how real people operate on their environment is and how impoverished and limited for practical applications, any analysis you make about societies will be for the rest of us not-libertarian people.

    You really should go sea-steading and convince those libertarians to live like you think people should live.

  78. Terje why don’t you check your implicit biases and your actual ability to be objective?

    Implicit biases are unconscious negative (or positive) attitudes towards a person or group. Most people who claim (and believe) they are not biased because they don’t show explicit bias will nevertheless have implicit bias that affects their actions.

    https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

    You do have to fill in a survey before you get to the test but you will be surprised at how uncontrollable your biases are.

  79. @TerjeP

    Again, I take your points. I did indeed have to reach back several hundred years to get an egregious example of the kind I needed for my demonstration. I would argue that my need to reach back that far was due to progress (and revolutions) and in particular to the progress in democratic governance. I will come back to the issue of democratic governance.

    I am sympathetic, to a measured extent, to your emphasis on property. I am a realist and I know that if one doesn’t own or at least have access to property (as real physical things) one can’t do things, make things, have a livelihood or enjoy personal space, peace and security. I am very sympathetic to the notion that a man’s or woman’s home is his/her castle. To me, the corollary of that last statement is that every man, woman and child should have a home. Clearly, there will be arguments about which political-economic system (pure or hybrid) will best deliver a home for every man, woman and child. I am greatly in favour of a personal property system. This is quite different from and does not extend as far as the full private property relations (with capitalists workers) under current RECD (Really Existent Capitalism and Democracy.)

    Returning to the issue of democratic governance. I believe myself to be a realist also about the issue of power. Power can be defined as the ability to force, coerce or “remove” people. “Remove” in this context can mean imprison, expel, exile or kill people. The realpolitik of power so far as I can see is that power does always concentrate to some extent. This has been the real outcome in the great majority of cases in all historical epochs which we know about. It seems to become an ever more reliable law as society develops politically and technologically. The methods of centralising power become ever more effective and the power process seems to flow naturally in the direction of centralisation and concentration into fewer and fewer hands.

    It seems to take a concerted and continuous effort to find methods and techniques to re-diffuse or devolve power and autonomy back out to the bulk of the people. The history of democracy is the history of just such processes where a great many expedients and institutions are created to act as checks and balances on the centralisation of power and to re-diffuse power and autonomy back out to the bulk of the ordinary people.

    I would label genuine democracy, or at least the rough approximation(s) of it we have achieved so far, as the key principle and process for fighting the excessive centralisation of power. Where we have a democratic or mostly democratic government it would seem to me that minimising government ipso facto minimises democracy and increases dangers of power centralisation and authoritarianism.

    Business on the proprieter or owner model (as opposed to the family or worker cooperative model) is a non-democratic, hiearchical system. It is an autocratic system. Owners and bosses rule the enterprise and employed workers do what they are told. Owners and bosses also make the decisions on what to make, what to advertise and promote and how to treat the environment and general populace with the only immediate limits being law and regulation by the (democratic) state. Minimise the state without other attendent changes and you will minimise democracy and increase autocracy.

    A somewhat minimised state would be reasonable and sensible if the owner or proprieter model of business (capitalism) were substantially replaced by a worker cooperative and worker democracy model for enterprises. Clearly, this makes me a “libertarian socialist” in the old-fashioned sense of these terms.

    Whether my views need to encompass “market socialism” I do not completely know. I strongly suspect that at least “market socialism” would have to exist for a long time if not indefinitely. It is actually extremely difficult or impossible to envisage how a modern society could run without a market. I think that an edict completely banning and abolishing markets would not be in any way democratic or free or just or even economically viable.

    Note: I regard all markets as in practice regulated markets (that is, free within bounds). No market is absolutely free nor would any conceivable society tolerate an absolutely free market. An absolutely free market would allow people to trade for example in slaves, in all weapons up to personal M1A1 Abram tanks or fighter jets for the assertive billionarie and in all drugs safe and unsafe, medicinal or not, known to man.

  80. @TerjeP

    That does not make him wrong.

    Yes, it does, according to the logic of the market which I assume is the only logic that counts in your purview.

    People pay millions for a Picaso because they know it will hold value over time and can be sold later.

    You clearly know nothing of the social and political history of Picasso’s em>Guernica.

    They can donate to private conservation to be charitable but so long as you can’t own and trade an estate valued because of it’s species content then charity is the only finance that will be forthcoming.

    Many of the privately owned Australian nature conservation projects raise funds by offering tourism and accommodation services at premium rates. People who go there don’t do so in order to buy a bettong but in order to be in the place where bettongs reside, even if they don’t see one. This behaviour is apparently beyond your imagination.

    In fact it appears to me that any human behaviour outside the parameters of the sort of self interest that can be measured in dollar terms is alien to you. It’s like dealing with someone who, having successfully managed a McDonalds franchise, is utterly convinced that if the world were just run along such rational corporate lines then we would all be better off. All that remains for you to do is to convince the rest of the world that a diet consisting solely of McDonalds constitutes ‘the best of all possible worlds’, as Dr Pangloss argued:

    Pangloss gave instruction in metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology. He proved admirably that there cannot possibly be an effect without a cause and that in this best of all possible worlds the baron’s castle was the most beautiful of all castles and his wife the best of all possible baronesses. —It is clear, said he, that things cannot be otherwise than they are, for since everything is made to serve an end, everything necessarily serves the best end. Observe: noses were made to support spectacles, hence we have spectacles. Legs, as anyone can plainly see, were made to be breeched, and so we have breeches. . . . Consequently, those who say everything is well are uttering mere stupidities; they should say everything is for the best.

  81. Ikonoclast – firstly let me thank you for your continued civility. You’re current avoidance of cheap shots and petty criticism seems, from my perspective, quite uncharacteristic for this community. I thought it worthy of acknowledgement. To everybody else in this conversation I’d like to say thank you for the ongoing free character assessments. My skin grows thicker by the day. 🙂

    Business on the proprieter or owner model (as opposed to the family or worker cooperative model) is a non-democratic, hiearchical system.

    I see a lot of trends in companies away from excessive hierarchy. Modern management practice is more about open plan, flat structures and accountability. But to be sure some change faster than others and plenty of places are less than pleasant.

    In terms of workers cooperatives I think these are better in theory than in practice. But in so far as they have good governance and satisfy real consumer needs then there is no reason they can’t prosper and proliferate in a small government, free market environment. Where they seem to lose out is in scenerios where industries are best served by a small number of suppliers and consolidation is in the winds. Traditional corporations seem to be more adept at take overs and mergers. Although plenty of these are disfunctional exercises that destroy value so maybe it’s not such a disadvantage.

    I do think there is a lack of innovation in the corporate governance space. But it may be because existing approaches work about as well as can be expected. If somebody comes up with something better than that’s fantastic. But I don’t think such innovation is likely to be achieved in a top down dictated fashion that some socialists seem to dream of. I prefer systems of production and social organisation to emerge by trial and error through voluntary communities engaged in commerce and cooperation. Not imposed using legislative means.

    My personal experience in owning a small business was that employees often just want to be workers and any attempt to offer them ownership in the enterprise and share in the associated risks and rewards doesn’t match their appetite. They prefer regular hours and a set income. They want to be led but will readily vote with their feet if they don’t think the leadership is organised and reasonable or if they think the rewards or conditions are better elsewhere.

  82. Meanwhile, back here on Planet Earth this 2014 Salon article provides a roundup of work practices within Amazon with the header Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers:

    Perhaps the biggest scandal in Amazon’s recent history took place at its Allentown, Pennsylvania, center during the summer of 2011. The scandal was the subject of a prizewinning series in the Allentown newspaper, the Morning Call, by its reporter Spencer Soper. The series revealed the lengths Amazon was prepared to go to keep costs down and output high and yielded a singular image of Amazon’s ruthlessness—ambulances stationed on hot days at the Amazon center to take employees suffering from heat stroke to the hospital. Despite the summer weather, there was no air-conditioning in the depot, and Amazon refused to let fresh air circulate by opening loading doors at either end of the depot—for fear of theft. Inside the plant there was no slackening of the pace, even as temperatures rose to more than 100 degrees.

    On June 2, 2011, a warehouse employee contacted the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration to report that the heat index had reached 102 degrees in the warehouse and that fifteen workers had collapsed. On June 10 OSHA received a message on its complaints hotline from an emergency room doctor at the Lehigh Valley Hospital: “I’d like to report an unsafe environment with an Amazon facility in Fogelsville. . . . Several patients have come in the last couple of days with heat related injuries.”

    On July 25, with temperatures in the depot reaching 110 degrees, a security guard reported to OSHA that Amazon was refusing to open garage doors to help air circulate and that he had seen two pregnant women taken to a nursing station. Calls to the local ambulance service became so frequent that for five hot days in June and July, ambulances and paramedics were stationed all day at the depot. Commenting on these developments, Vickie Mortimer, general manager of the warehouse, insisted that “the safety and welfare of our employees is our number-one priority at Amazon, and as general manager I take that responsibility seriously.” To this end, “Amazon brought 2,000 cooling bandannas which were given to every employee, and those in the dock/trailer yard received cooling vests.”

    http://tinyurl.com/n5g3xdg

  83. Terje, do you perhaps have a definition of “cheap shot” and a “petty criticism” or is this more of that secret libertarian knowledge that is not accessible to other people?

    Your cheap shots are not even reality based. You just make stuff up, like you say “some socialists seem to dream of”. But who are these socialists and do tell us how their dreams are a problem for you or anyone? That is such a cheap and useless shot meant to deflect from the real issue.

    Are you irrationally focusing on these socialists because it is easy and doesn’t require you to re-assess your belief system? It does take work and it’s not well remunerated to look into your self and see where your belief system came from and that it might not be very useful or applicable to all people?

    This is the sort of work that co-operative individuals do for no pay if they want to be part of a society. People ‘here’ have spent a lot of time and effort over the years explaining to you how and why libertarian ideology is flawed in so many ways and yet you have ignored or dismissed all of these discussions.

    Your “personal experience in owning a small business was that employees often just want to be workers”.

    So what? My personal experience of being part of a family business that became ‘libertarianised’ at some stage during the ’80’s – that was when I left – is very different from your experience. Why do you regard your experience as enough information about the way things are.

    Why do you imagine that this limited experience that you had – an n of 1 – is all the knowledge that is needed to understand ‘workers’ and how to organise workplaces?

  84. According to a Guardian “Exclusive” the Australian government has secretly contracted for the delivery of at least ten boats that look just like the stereotypical vessels used by refugees:

    Australia is to replace the controversial orange lifeboats currently used to send asylum seekers back to their source countries, signing a “multi-million dollar deal” to have 10 custom-made “alternative transportation vessels”, resembling Asian fishing boats, built in Vietnam.

    Australia initially purchased five of the 12-metre wooden-hulled vessels, then ordered another five. The first arrived in Australia in October.

    The infamous orange boats made in China which they have been using cost $46,000 apparently. So, let’s say “multi-million” is at least more than $1,000,000 – that still works out at more than $100,000 each for the “new” ones designed to look like “illegal” refugee boats.

    Now, adjusting the metallic kitchen wrap headwear, is it not at least plausible that a government of pathological liars given to secrecy and dirty tricks might want to keep a stash of “illegal boats” handy for “interception” as proof of their ability to “keep us safe”, should the need arise to fabricate some “newsworthy” story for a pre-election shot in the arm?

    The propagandists at News Ltd and their ABC would gleefully regurgitate unquestioningly the heroics of our brave protectors.

    If it doesn’t seem at least plausible, why? How low WON’T they stoop?

  85. http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/dec/05/new-csiro-boss-larry-marshall-says-scientists-must-think-like-entrepreneurs

    “Speaking at the sidelines of the 2014 Edges of Astronomy conference in Canberra this week, Marshall said staff at the agency needed to hear that “we’re done with cuts”, but said he could not rule out further job losses.”

    WTF? But it gets better.

    “But the entrepreneur, who has started six companies in the US, added: “You don’t hire a guy like me to cut. You just don’t. And I think that was the best message that the board and the government could’ve given the organisation, to hire a guy like me, who’s a company builder.””

    or worse?

    ““We need more scientists to start companies. We need to teach scientists that its OK to start a company. It’s your duty,” he said.”

  86. @jungney

    Who was paying for the ambulances and medical costs? Correctly speaking, Amazon should have been paying. They were the cupable party morally and even legally one would think. Of course it all depends on US Labor and OHS laws but one would think somebody should be sueing Amazon for the entire ambulance and medical costs of this fiasco. The costs would not be inconsiderable.

  87. @Ikonoclast
    Remember, this is the country where people in full time employment can be eligible for food stamps. Yet no-one accuses Walmart, Maccas etc of rorting the welfare system.

  88. Terje, do you perhaps have a definition of “cheap shot” and a “petty criticism” or is this more of that secret libertarian knowledge that is not accessible to other people?

    Oh the irony. Very clever.

  89. Remember, this is the country where people in full time employment can be eligible for food stamps.

    Income supplements, funded by taxpayers in general, are a better market intervention than higher mandated minimum wages that create unemployment. However cash would seem more sensible than food stamps. Both because cash is fungible but also because it carries less needless social stigma.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income

  90. @TerjeP

    There is no general empirical evidence that higher mandated minimum wages reliably create more unemployment. Most fair minded economists who study the empirical outcomes widely say the evidence is mixed. Given that that is the reality, then it makes most sense for the minimum wage to be a liveable wage. Of course defining and determining a liveable wage is a complex process in itself with outcomes best decided by a tribunal which reviews all the data and takes submissions from interested parties.

    The belief that very low minimum wage limits or no minimum wage limits increase employment is not reliably backed up by the data. Very low minimum wages often lead to a lack of effective demand and this can actually depress economic activity and cause more unemployment in some cases.

  91. 3rd post in a row on minimum wages. Even the rather rightist Forbes has an article that says;

    “The results of economic studies of the effect of minimum wage laws on employment are actually very mixed. Some show that employment rises, some that it is unaffected, and some that it falls. Furthermore, they are often statistically insignificant (see for example Minimum Wages and Employment: A Review of Evidence from the New Minimum Wage Research). This is consistent with the above argument. Changes in wages are secondary factors in the national labor market; demand is, by far, the primary one. The falling unemployment of the 1920s was a result of the booming economy (driven in particular by the automobile industry), not a fall in wages; the Great Depression occurred not because wages suddenly jumped, but due to the fact that investment spending collapsed; World War II reversed this not with lower wages, but with rising demand created by the wartime economy; et cetera, et cetera.

    So why all the fuss about the minimum wage? System Dynamics Modeling (The Field of System Dynamics) argues that our brains tend to focus on straight-line causation in thinking about social problems and that we have a difficult time seeing the feedback effects that are actually dominant. Because of this, we concentrate on symptoms and not causes and we thereby create policies that are ineffective, at best. For example, in the 1960s, the housing shortage in the inner city led analysts to the “obvious” conclusion that the government needed to build more houses.” – Raising Minimum Wage Is Not The Answer.

    You can see the title of the article does not tell the full story. The title and final prescription of the article follow standard right wing dogma even though they admit the evidence does not support low minimum wages as reliably achieving anything good. Low mimimum wages do not reliably create more employment yet they reliably create more working poor. The net effect is obviously negative if you care about equity.

  92. Megan:

    Now, adjusting the metallic kitchen wrap headwear, is it not at least plausible that a government of pathological liars given to secrecy and dirty tricks might want to keep a stash of “illegal boats” handy for “interception” as proof of their ability to “keep us safe”, should the need arise to fabricate some “newsworthy” story for a pre-election shot in the arm?

    You definitely need to get a referral to a good psychiatrist. I’m not kidding.

  93. High minimum wages drive efficient use of labour: high costs of labour drive usage of substitutes for labour, same as anything else. Increase in cost of X Makes X-substitutes relatively cheaper.

    … but labour is special, it’s the only factor of production that’s also a factor of consumption. So we care more about efficient use of labour than we do about efficient use of wheat factories and car-growing land. We are labour, and we run the economy for us. We want labour — our lives — to be used as efficiently as possible, to produce as much as possible for as low a cost in our lifespans as possible, and strategies that encourage a minimal use of human labour are what we want to get there.

    [alternatively, an increase in nominal wages is an exactly matching increase in willingness to pay nominal prices… a wage subsidy, then, is a subsidy for businesses that produce product that — literally — noone is willing to pay for. Businesses that produce desireable product will be able to charge matching increases, and the only businesses that won’t will be the ones that can’t attract increased willingness to pay are the ones that, you know, don’t produce a product that people are willing to pay for under the new economic circumstance of “a reduction in inequality in the ability to control what goods are produced”. Subsidising people to produce at huge human and opportunity cost product that noone’s actually willing to pay for is pretty clearly a terrible idea. Hence the general opposition to subsidies; shitty low-paying jobs aren’t economically neutral/indifferent, they actually consume resources without producing anything worth the money. There is basically no circumstance where that’s a good macroeconomic idea: Terje — and this shouldn’t be news to anyone — is, or is pretending to be, a terrible economist.]

  94. Ikonoclast – I’m told by people I trust that the best estimates for the link between the minimum wage and employment for Australia comes from work by Andrew Leigh (Economist and now an MP) who found an elasticity of -0.29 with a sensitivity range from -0.25 to -0.4. So a 1% increase in the minimum wage creates a 0.29% decline in the demand for labour. With a workforce of 11 million a 3% decrease in the minimum wage would create 100,000 jobs. Roughly.

    http://andrewleigh.org//pdf/Minimum%20Wages%20Erratum%20(AER).pdf

    Whos estimate are you relying on?

  95. @TerjeP
    All of my ‘shots’ are expensive. The rounds were paid for by the public purse, both undergrad and postgrad, and I feel a civic responsibility to spend them well.

  96. @Candy Pants

    I’ll take that as: “Yes, it’s plausible. In fact, it is so plausible that it is best to simply insult anyone suggesting that it is rather than making an argument why it isn’t.”

  97. Senator Leyonhjelm “described as “conjecture” that the Aboriginal people were the first to occupy the Australian continent and said describing their traditional link with land and water was “stereotyping”.”

    He said “Archaeologists might prove that another people lived in Australia before the Aborigines.”

    Poor David could also have said that archaeologists might prove that aliens from another planet might have lived here before the Aborigines.

    David “also argued that some Aboriginals do not have a relationship with traditional lands and water.”

    But he forgot to tell us how that is relevant to the need for constitutional recognition that they did indeed have a very significant relationship to the land when it was stolen from them.

    Seriously Terje your man DL is so ignorant he makes Jacqui Lambie look like an intellectual.

  98. I don’t swear at you, I don’t abuse you. I bring my cultural and intellectual capital to bear in order to show you what a good, public education and free tertiary education can do for those who persevere regardless of their backgrounds. If you find my comments acerbic, tough, because I won’t take a position on anything if I cannot back it up with evidence and rational argument. You get treated by me as an equal but only in so far as you show qualities or ideas worthy of respect; less than that and you get the scorn you deserve. If you want a refined discussion amongst bourgeois gentlemen and women who tolerate mere opinion because they have to, then try the Lions Club.

  99. @TerjeP
    Income supplements, funded by taxpayers in general, are a better market intervention than higher mandated minimum wages that create unemployment. However cash would seem more sensible than food stamps. Both because cash is fungible but also because it carries less needless social stigma.

    So governments are ok as long as their interference in the market is to subsidise corporations?
    Pray tell, why should I, the humble taxpayer, subsidise the likes of the Walton family, who certainly appear to have more than enough resources to pay their peons a living wage?
    Or are you one of those dopes who think it’s not welfare if you give it to rich people?

  100. Megan

    Nope, if you seriously believe the executive, the APS, the military and the police would collude in such a conspiracy you are a complete nut case.

    Quiggin attracts a wierd following.

  101. Brain overboard.

    No such conspiracy occurred although there is a reasonable suspicion that the executive lied. You really do need help.

  102. @Candy Pants

    You aren’t doing very well, are you.

    Let’s try again: “Why isn’t it at least plausible?”

    The government secretly spends millions of dollars to commission “refugee boat” look-alikes, in an 18 week timeframe, when it already has a cheaper vessel (which is a real life boat) to send refugees away from Australia and also regularly does ‘tow-backs’ anyway.

    There are all sorts of plausible explanations. Maybe you can suggest the one you find most plausible.

  103. While we’re waiting, the Senate “Scrafton” report is good reading.

    Particularly Chapter 2, ‘The “Children Overboard” Incident’.

    You’ll find lots of evidence of collusion in a politically motivated lie (on the eve of a “refugee” election) involving the ADF, the APS and the executive.

  104. @Julie Thomas

    I posted a link to the senators full speech. However it is stuck in moderation. If you’re interested in going to the source you will find it on YouTube by searching “leyonhjelm”. You may still disagree but at least you will have it in context. For the record I agree pretty much entirely with what the senator said and I think it is long overdue that somebody said it.

  105. The effect of an increase in price for a factor is to push people to look for substitutes for that factor: high minimum wages drive capital investment and productivity growth. As a first-order effect, “employment” falls becacause as wages increase people don’t need to work as long. Which is kind of the point of economic management, I would have thought, getting us the same stuff for less personal effort.

    Pretty basic, same effect as the carbon tax.

    [“High labour costs drove my business under” is actually, “noone wanted my product enough to pay the cost in human lives”. If the demand were there, the wage bill would be covered.]

  106. Going back to charity; perhaps conservatives need to privately give to charity to atone for the unshared entitlements of their group.

    When people join with a mob they surrender a portion of their individuality – a human paradox.

  107. @TerjeP

    Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm has come out against the Federal Government’s push to recognise Indigenous people in the constitution.

    Late last year, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was prepared to “sweat blood” to ensure Indigenous people received constitutional recognition.

    But Senator Leyonhjelm has told the Upper House the proposed legislation singles out Aboriginal people on the basis of race.

    “Giving legal recognition to characteristics held by certain persons — particularly when those characteristics are inherent, like ancestry — represents a perverse sort of racism,” he said.

    “Although it appears positive, it still singles some people out on the basis of race.”

    He also described the bill as divisive, quoting part of the legislation, which reads: “The Parliament, on behalf of the people of Australia, acknowledges and respects the continuing cultures, languages and heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

    “This is divisive,” Senator Leyonhjelm said.

    “It is likely that some Australians do not respect the cultures, languages or heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

    “What is the Parliament doing to these people when it asserts that the people of Australia respect Aboriginal cultures? It is casting them as ‘un-Australian’.”

    Senator Leyonhjelm also quoted part of the legislation which read: “The Parliament, on behalf of the people of Australia, acknowledges the continuing relationship of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with their traditional lands and waters.”

    He warned that it stereotyped Indigenous people.

    “It is likely that some Aboriginal people do not have a relationship with traditional lands and waters,” he said.

    “What is the Parliament doing to these people when it asserts that Aboriginal peoples have such a relationship? It is denying their Aboriginality.”

    The ABC report of Leyonhjelm’s speech.

    Apparently Leyonhjelm also is a foot dragger on climate change….”evidence not in yet…market solutions…opposed to direct action…costs too much…nature not worth it”.

    Do you agree with him on that as well?

  108. @TerjeP

    Yes I knew you agreed with your latest hero but I’d like to know what evidence you have for your belief. I don’t care to know about your beliefs. What you need to do is provide some knowledge, some evidence that supports your position.

    Which archaeologists support the idea that there is any possibility that there was a ‘race’ of people here before the Aborigines. Name them and cite some published research. That is all you have to do. Is this is another of those anti-science things that you right wing people do?

    The making fun of you is the only thing I can do when you continue to ignore the rules about making a rational argument to support your beliefs.

    Next request for a rational argument that supports not acknowledging that the blackfellas were here when we came and their property and culture was stolen and destroyed so that we were able to prosper? All you need to do is provide a proper argument and this does not take the form of posting a vid of man with no qualifications.

    I cannot listen to your man because he is irrational, his arguments are flawed and that is so irritating and also I really can ‘hear’ his personality in his voice and it is not pleasant.

    I am happy to admit to being strange or weird as Candy Pants notices – lol hilarious to imagine a Candy Pants pronouncing that people here are weird but whatev … But you know weird is still human and quite clearly I am not stupid.

    I have a very high IQ as measured by the real IQ tests administered by a psychologist. I graduated with distinction in my undergrad psych degree, was awarded the APS psychology prize two years and achieved 1st class pass in my honours degree and was asked by a professor with a very good track record in research to be his PhD student. I earned an Australian Research Council post-grad grant to do that. My honours project and my Phd research were the basis of published articles in Brain and Behaviour and other highly ranked psych journals. And apparently, my honours thesis publication is still referenced by an awful lot of people who are doing work in dynamical systems theory as applied to human behaviour.

    So please please don’t think I will listen to any vids you post; I’d read a transcript but I have read lots of David’s words and I think he is not very bright. So please don’t do it any more. It is counter productive…….. honestly. And I am not the only one who finds him unattractive in manner and attitude. it is similar to the way women don’t like Tony Abbott, and from what I hear a lot of the men out here in the regional area think he is a dick.

    So Terje respond in the way that the rules of intellectual exchange require. Provide your reasoning and explain why is it the case that you “pretty much (agree) entirely with what the senator said and I think it is long overdue that somebody said it..”

    What is your reasoning? We know your prejudices.

  109. @rog

    I’d agree with that – for sure private charity giving is a very good thing for the giver but I also think there could be better ways for organising society so that these people do not need to atone for anything.

    I think we do need to give up some of our individuality to be part of a society – but why is it seen as giving up something rather than gaining something? I think that giving up something is the essential message of becoming human – women give up freedom to nurture a new life.

  110. Which archaeologists support the idea that there is any possibility that there was a ‘race’ of people here before the Aborigines. Name them and cite some published research. That is all you have to do. Is this is another of those anti-science things that you right wing people do?

    I don’t know of any. How is it relevant? The senator was not saying somebody else was first. He was simply pointing out that facts should not be decreed. We don’t need a law that says Aboriginies were here first any more than we need a law telling us what the number pi is or what the colour of grass is.

  111. @jungney

    I agree with the senators broad perspective on climate change. But the quote you offer is not a literal quote. It’s you projecting.

  112. @TerjeP

    It is a fact that there were Aborigines here first and when white people came and took their land and their way of life. This certainly does need this to be acknowledged and there are many reasons why this is the case. Do you want references to some good arguments complete with premises with facts and evidence that lead to the conclusion that a great deal of good things would happen if this acknowledgement took place?

    Why are you introducing ‘laws’ to the discussion, which is about recognition of the history of our country; that *they* were here first, they were the original carers and owners of this land.

    So Aborigines are flora and fauna then – like grass? And pi? Perhaps you could read that book “The life of Pi”. Do you read literature Terje? It is good for people to read stories.

    Your bourgeoise ‘commonsense’ sayings are so revealing of your commonplace prejudices. Like; “We don’t need a law….”

    Who is the *we” you speak for? Not the aborigines and not me.

  113. Terje I just posted a vid for you of Leadbelly singing Bourgeois Blues but it went into moderation.

    Here is one simple question. See if you can answer rationally.

    Why is it “long overdue” that somebody said what your good Senator said?

    perhaps you really don’t understand my question. I want to know what cognitive processes you go through when you come to that conclusion. What assumptions are you making? What problems have been caused for you because apparently nobody has been telling it like it is?

  114. @TerjeP

    I am no expert on the topic of minimum wages. If I trawl the interent I can find economists writing polemical pieces with cherry-picked data which “prove” that having lower or no minimum wages increases employment. If can also find other economists writing polemical pieces with cherry-picked data which “show” that having a minimum wage or raising it when it is very low does not increase unemployment. I can find a third set of economists who say the data are mixed and that unemployment depends on so many factors (including quite a few factors idiosyncratic to each country, state or region studied) that it is hard to separate out the minimum wage effect. I can find a fourth set of economists who can advance theoretical models demonstrating that lowering the minimum wage increases employment. I can find a fifth set of economists who can advance theoretical models demonstrating that increasing the minimum wage does not increase unemployment and might even increase employment in some cases due to the increase in effective demand from the raised wages.

    This article “The evidence is clear: increasing the minimum wage doesn’t cost jobs” by Dave Oliver, has links to studies which apparently demonstrate exactly that.

    As I say, the data are ambiguous. Also, the question is so ideologically charged that it is difficult to impossible to find a truly academic and unbiased study which in addition is broad enough and robust enough in method to correct for all other factors.

    In a sense, I feel it is pointless for me to be arguing about unemployment when I consider the whole system (capitalism) to be mal-designed. It is like arguing about which type of car is the best to carry commuters in a big city with no buses and trains.

  115. @TerjeP

    I have answered you above on unemployment and minimum wages. This answer below is about aboriginal ownership of Australia and related issues.

    As Libertarians consider property ownership so important, why will they not concede that the aboriginalswere the rightful owners of Australia? The aboriginals were in complete occupation of Australia for about 20,000 to 40,000 years before white people came here and they did improve and manage the land with fire-stick farming, extensive fish trap earth-works etc.

    Why do Libertarians, who consider the use of force unacceptable, want to, after the fact, accept that forced dispossession of aboriginals from their land? Why do Libertarians advocate that no apologies, no recognition, no concessions and no restitution are due?

    This situation is actually a perfect test of whether Libetarians are sincere in their morals, beliefs and political philosophy. This is because it relates to land ownership on the basis of original occupation and improvement and also relates to a use of force to overturn that position. The reaction of Libertarians in this matter proves that they are completely insincere and do not stand by the principles they advocate. As soon as they face a tough test which means giving recognition, recompense and even some returned property rights to unjustly dispossesed people turned into outcasts, they (the Libertarians) fail this real world test completely and utterly.

  116. @Julie Thomas

    Julie – in case it is in any doubt let me say that when Europeans arrived in Australia the Aborigines were already here. And that as Europeans colonised Australia Aborigines through violent conflict, introduced diseases, various attrocities and institutionalised acts of racism and indifference, were in nearly all instances dispossessed of their land. Their culture and traditions were disrupted and a massive amount of individual suffering occured. The ramifications of these events remain with us today.

    However if you proposed to create a law that decreed these to be the facts of history then I would oppose you. History is written by scholars not by the legislature. We should write laws informed by our inquiry into evidence and our best understanding of the facts. Not legislate to dictate what the facts are.

    You asked for scholarly evidence that the Aborigines were not the first people in Australia. If I could point to a law that said they were not the first people in Australia then would you concede the point or would you be indignant and reject the meaningfulness of my evidence? Hopefully the latter. And you would do so for the simple reason that laws do not establish facts. And in fact we bring the law into disrepute when we attempt to use it in such a way.

    But if we reject this principle then we allow ourselves the lattitude to write laws that say pi is 3, that water is wine, that the earth is flat and that everybody in our nation is rich and happy.

  117. @TerjeP
    I have to say that I agree with Terje on the Aboriginal issue. For far too long they have received too much special treatment

  118. Why do Libertarians advocate that no apologies, no recognition, no concessions and no restitution are due?

    I agreed with the Mabo decision. And whilst I’m not across every detail of the subsequent native title act I agree with the general thrust of it. I think native title is however a weak form of property right and where it is practical and does not create undue further injustices then people should have a mechanism for upgrading it if they so choose.

  119. @TerjeP

    Sorry mate, that is pure sophistry on your part. Law does not decree empirical facts but it does recognize (or not recognize) empirical facts all the time. Consider the legal history of the concept of “terra nullius” in Australia.

    “European settlement of Australia commenced in 1788. Prior to this, indigenous Australians inhabited the continent and had unwritten laws, as documented[by whom?] in the case of the Yirrkala community.

    However, the indigenous Australians did not have any form of political organization that Europeans could understand as being analogous to their own institutions, and the British could not find recognised leaders with the authority to sign treaties, so treaties were not signed (in contrast to British colonial practices in many areas of North America, Africa, New Zealand, etc.).

    The first test of terra nullius in Australia occurred with the decision of R v Tommy (Monitor, 29 November 1827), which indicated that the native inhabitants were only subject to English law where the incident concerned both natives and settlers. The rationale was that Aboriginal tribal groups already operated under their own legal systems. This position was further reinforced by the decisions of R v Boatman or Jackass and Bulleyes (Sydney Gazette, 25 February 1832) and R v Ballard (Sydney Gazette, 23 April 1829).

    Prompted by Batman’s Treaty (June 1835) with Wurundjeri elders of the area around the future Melbourne, in August 1835 Governor Bourke of New South Wales implemented the doctrine of terra nullius by proclaiming that indigenous Australians could not sell or assign land, nor could an individual person or group acquire it, other than through distribution by the Crown.[3]

    The first decision of the New South Wales Supreme Court to make explicit use of the term terra nullius was R v Murrell and Bummaree (unreported, New South Wales Supreme Court, 11 April 1836, Burton J). Terra nullius was not endorsed by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council until the decision of Cooper v Stuart in 1889, some fifty-three years later.[4]

    In 1982, Eddie Mabo and four other Torres Strait Islanders from Mer (Murray Island) started legal proceedings to establish their traditional land ownership. This led to Mabo v Queensland (No 1). In 1992, after ten years of hearings before the Queensland Supreme Court and the High Court of Australia, the latter court found that the Mer people had owned their land prior to annexation by Queensland.[5] This ruling overturned the long-established legal doctrine of terra nullius. The ruling thus had far-reaching significance for the land claims of both Torres Strait Islanders and other Indigenous Australians. The controversy over Australian land ownership has erupted in the so-called “History wars.” Historian Michael Connor, in his critique of the legal fiction, has claimed that the concept of terra nullius was a straw man developed in the late twentieth century:

    By the time of Mabo in 1992, terra nullius was the only explanation for the British settlement of Australia. Historians, more interested in politics than archives, misled the legal profession into believing that a phrase no one had heard of a few years before was the very basis of our statehood, and Reynolds’ version of our history, especially The Law of the Land, underpinned the Mabo judges’ decision-making.[6]

    There is some controversy as to the meaning of the term. For example, it is asserted that, rather than implying mere emptiness, terra nullius can be interpreted as an absence of civilized society. The English common law of the time[when?] allowed for the legal settlement of “uninhabited or barbarous country”.[7]

    In 1971, in the controversial Gove land rights case, Justice Richard Blackburn ruled that Australia had been considered “desert and uncultivated” (a term which included territory in which resided “uncivilized inhabitants in a primitive state of society”) before European settlement, and therefore, by the law that applied at the time, open to be claimed by right of occupancy, and that there was no such thing as native title in Australian law. The concept of terra nullius was not considered in this case, however.[8] Court cases in 1977, 1979, and 1982 – brought by or on behalf of Aboriginal activists – challenged Australian sovereignty on the grounds that terra nullius had been improperly applied, therefore Aboriginal sovereignty should still be regarded as being intact. The courts rejected these cases, but the Australian High Court left the door open for a reassessment of whether the continent should be considered “settled” or “conquered”. Later, on 1 February 2014, the traditional owners of land on Badu Island received freehold title to 10,000 hectare in an act of the Queensland Government.[9]” – Wikipedia.

    I admit Wikepedia is not likely to be the best source for this complex legal topic. But note the sentence “the Australian High Court left the door open for a reassessment of whether the continent should be considered “settled” or “conquered”.

    It is within the ambit of the legislature to attempt to clarify in law what the High Court has left open for consideration. Such new law could be tested in its turn in the High Court if need be.

  120. @Ikonoclast

    Sorry I’m confused. You are saying we disagree but your subsequent discussion of “terra nullius” doesn’t make clear the point on which we apparently disagree. Can you try being specific with a succinct statement and if I disagree with it I’ll try and say why and likewise if I agree with it I’ll try and say why. Or maybe just try a direct question.

  121. @TerjeP

    “History is written by scholars not by the legislature.”

    The scholars have already written the history and the social scientists are writing that the harm that resulted from the factual things that were done to them. still affects the outcomes and these negative and expensive outcomes can be addressed more efficiently if the ‘facts’ about settlement/invasion are formally acknowledged.

    And dude, green is not green for anyone who works with colours; there are many many different grasses and some are yellow and some like the winter frosted grasses up here on the Downs are a sort of taupe colour that is very hard to create and photo’s do not do this colour justice and the ones that are green are never just green.

    Green is only a useful category for those ignorant of the diversity of colours and people and how necessary this diversity is for some of us.

  122. terra nullius

    Terra Nullius was never a law that was legislated. It was an assertion about the state of pre-European Australia on which legal rulings were based. During the Mabo case it was decided that this assertion was flawed so a different ruling was made. The earlier rulings did not bind the latter.

  123. @TerjeP

    Why? It’s been this way for centuries and no law has been needed. Why do you want to reduce life to tax and law? Is that all there is for you?

  124. @TerjeP

    I will try. You wrote;

    “However if you proposed to create a law that decreed these to be the facts of history then I would oppose you. History is written by scholars not by the legislature. We should write laws informed by our inquiry into evidence and our best understanding of the facts. Not legislate to dictate what the facts are.”

    I wrote;

    “Law does not decree empirical facts but it does recognize (or not recognize) empirical facts all the time.”

    Thus, a legislated law could formally recognise the aboriginals as “occupiers, managers and modifiers of the land before the arrival of white settlers.” This is a fact not contested in history, anthropology or law. My guess is the high court would not have any difficulties with a formulation like that. Various consequences could be legislated from it. And a formal treaty could follow in due course.

    To reiterate, I wrote:

    “Law does not decree empirical facts but it does recognize (or not recognize) empirical facts all the time.”

    It’s a key point. The point turns on the difference between “decree” and “recognise”. You argue that the law would be decreeing the facts. It would be doing no such thing. It would be recognising the facts based on the best known evidence to date. If new evidence came up (however unlikely in this case) the new law could be tested or re-tested in the High Court.

  125. the aboriginals as “occupiers, managers and modifiers of the land before the arrival of white settlers.”

    We can continue discussing the proper function of the law. However just to be clear about the assertion quoted above. It is not something the senator contested. His reference to “conjecture” did not relate to aborigines being here before european settlement. It is well established that aborigines were here before europeans and I’ve never heard anybody claim otherwise.

    Did you actually listen to his senate speech?

  126. @TerjeP

    Well colours were free for ever but now it seems that corporations are trying to say that particular colours are property and deny their use to other people using the law.

    Tell us what DL meant by ‘conjecture’. What is the actual real life problem that you fear will occur when recognition of blackfellas as the original owners of this country?

  127. Ikonoclast :
    @TerjeP
    I can’t find his senate speech in full.

    Go to YouTube. Search using the using the words “leyonhjelm aboriginal”. It should be the first hit. If you can share the result here that would be helpful because I can’t for some reason.

  128. @TerjeP

    Doesn’t make any sense to me. I have no idea what you are facepalming about.
    It really would be better for you and lots of other people who might want to have sensible discussions here even if it is a Sandpit, if you completely ignored me. You are not quick on the uptake are you?

  129. Now my instructions on how to find the video are also stuck in moderation. Maybe the last name of the senator is blacklisted. 😦

  130. @TerjeP

    One of mine got stuck in mod also. Don’t take it personally. It’s *not* all about you.

    But please no more David videos. Don’t you people write anything? Can’t you refer to a text that can be read?

  131. I have no idea what you are facepalming about.

    I made a remark that was clearly sarcastic and you took it as literal. Hence the facepalm. Just to spell it out I do not want to pass a law defining the colour green. I thought that should have been obvious from the context.

  132. But please no more David videos. Don’t you people write anything? Can’t you refer to a text that can be read?

    It was not me that brought up his speech for discussion. It was you.

  133. @Ikonoclast

    go to aph.gov.au and at the top of the page you will see the house of reps on the left and the senate on the right. Click “Hansard” (in this case for the senate) and you can search for anything. If you type in his name it will bring up the results. In this case, the second result is what you are after – his speech in full as held on the public record.

    He said, in part:

    The Parliament, on behalf of the people of Australia, recognises that the continent and the islands now known as Australia were first occupied by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

    This is conjecture. Archaeologists make extraordinary discoveries all the time, and one of those discoveries could be that someone made it to Australia before the Aborigines. Statements like this belong in scholarly research not legislation. Ever since the Enlightenment we have accepted that questions of fact are resolved by evidence not by decree. You cannot legislate a fact.

    I’ll get eternal mod if I put a direct link, but if you do the search you’ll find the whole thing.

  134. @TerjeP

    Did you miss the point that corporation’s do want to own colours and deny us the freedom to enjoy these things.

    And you still have not explained why it is a bad thing for this recognition to be made legal? That is the most important problem for me to try and understand. The move for recognistion in the constitution is quite obviously, from my learning and actual experience working with and knowing blackfellas a good thing for everyone.

    What harm will it do to you?

  135. Ok, I have found Leyonhjelm’s speech but first a note about moderation. Two links will get your comment stuck in moderation. If you use the reply button this creates a link and this link counts towards the grand total of two links! I have fallen foul of this trap myself in the past. Maybe we could call it “One weird trap that gets your comment stuck in moderation.” 😉

    Now, on to Leyonhjelm’s speech. At one level, all I can say is I disagree profoundly with him. His rationales seem plausible on the surface but I sense an undercurrent which denies disadvantage and previous injustice. Injustice (especially that of dispossesion) does pass down the generations. The lives of subsequent generations are made poorer and more difficult (or even impossible in many cases given increased mortality levels). Endemic and systemic injustice of this form requires comprehensive recompense and remediation.

    I wonder at the “spirit” of Leyonhjelm’s approach. Where one is dealing with a person or persons severely wronged, the adoption of a legalistic “letter of the law” approach can be rightly characterised as mean-spirited and ungenerous. One would wonder why a person in a relatively privileged positon in society, as Mr. Leyonhjelm is, feels impelled to be mean-spirited and ungenerous.

    In such cases, of persons severely wronged, it is better ethically and for social harmony to if anything, err on the side of generosity. Generosity goes some way to ameliorating past severe wrongs.

    To cavil about wording such as “first occupiers” versus say “previous very long occupiers” (up to 40,000 years or even 60,000 years is an extremely long time compared to civilized human history) is to exhibit a “legalistically expressed mean spirit”. That is how I would legally/ethically characterise it.

    To be accepted as “first occupiers” or “original occupiers” means a lot to aboriginal people. An alternative wording could well be found if legalistic objections are raised. I would suggest “Ancient, venerable and extensive occupiers, improvers and managers of all of Australia before the arrival of white settlers. The aboriginal nations’ historic lives and traditions in Australia extend far earlier than all written records of all human civilization. This is attested to by aboriginal tradition itself and also by extensive western scientific archeological and anthropoligical studies.”

    In other words, when mean-spirited legalists like Senator Leyonhjelm want to make difficulties I would answer their legalistic quibbles and strengthen the generous and respectful recognition of a people all in one swoop. The aboriginal people have been generous, long suffering and peacable to date. What possible reason can anyone have to keep treating them meanly? Actually, I know the reasons but I won’t express them here as it will come across as a personal attack on TerjeP when I don’t mean it to be. It would be an attack on Leyonhjelm’s politics though.

  136. @Megan
    Leyonhjelm says:

    You cannot legislate a fact.

    Which, quite bizarrely entirely misconstrues the role of the legislature which is to legislate on the basis of known and agreed facts. He conflates legislating on facts with the idea of a Royal decree as to what the facts are.

    God alone knows what the law school at Macquarie University taught him for his Bachelor of Law degree but if this is his understanding of the law in relation to the legislature then I am not surprised, and I am a little relived, that there are so many law grads driving taxis. Talk about intellectual rubbish.

    He, and his cultish devotee Terje, see themselves as defenders of freedom but what they are defending is their right to hold on to the shared delusions characteristic of a folie à deux.

    The syndrome has been well explored in the cinema:

    William Friedkin’s 2006 film Bug is about a woman who enters into a relationship with a man and begins to share his delusion that the government has infected them with microscopic bugs.

    Seems apposite.

  137. His rationales seem plausible on the surface but I sense an undercurrent which denies disadvantage and previous injustice.

    I don’t sense that undercurrent. Do you have ESP?

  138. Two links will get your comment stuck in moderation. If you use the reply button this creates a link and this link counts towards the grand total of two links! I have fallen foul of this trap myself in the past. Maybe we could call it “One weird trap that gets your comment stuck in moderation.”

    I’m aware of that issue. But it doesn’t explain some of the comments that end up moderated. :-/

  139. @jungney

    It doesn’t even pass the logic test.

    That “they” were here “first” is an accepted fact. “Who was here “first”, “them” or “us”?

    Correct answer: “They were”.

    Leyonhjelm’s “conjecture” is that maybe someone was here before them, maybe. In which case, ‘so what?’ These other putative people can, if they still exist, take that up with the Aborigines.

    To cut to the chase, perhaps the real reason there is a lobby pushing for native title to be convertible is so that it can be mortgaged and sold – which will have the practical effect of extinguishing it.

  140. Terje,

    should Aboriginal people be compensated on just terms for the theft of their land? What is the LDP policy on this.

  141. @TerjeP

    did not you have a sense that Yanis Varoufakis was a good man or something like that. I do remember wondering and asking – as is my wont – how rational was that feeling. Do you have short term memory loss or are you just a common garden variety hypocrite?

  142. I’m still sputtering and spluttering from the Mar 5/6 comments…

    Every time some government somewhere grants title to a block of previously unowned land, nature is being privatised. Every time some government somewhere gives lien to hunt/fish/pluck on some land/lake/sea somewhere, nature is being privatised. Species: RIP. We have made quite a fist of it so far, and if 250 years of capitalism has failed to construct a viable model of trading in nature, one which doesn’t result in species extinction rates so high that this era is now considered the Sixth Extinction Event on the paleological scale, well, the empirical evidence of it being figured out in the next few decades is running about nil. Dodo nil.

  143. @Donald Oats
    Good on you for a succinct and articulate response to the Mar 5/6 comments which didn’t leave me sputtering, but overflowing with words and anger at such willful ignorance.

    There’s an interesting bit of analysis in The Graud arguing that ‘if the environment remains a left issue then we all are doomed’. Because the tribal right sees it as an identity issue rather than a survival issue. I don’t agree with all of it, but …

    http://tinyurl.com/medf73c

    …I’m unconvinced that there is way, in time, to accommodate the needs of the ‘tribal right’ as to the urgency of the problem. There’s been a long conversation in the US among political and social psychologists about the way that the right and the left have different brain structures which structures disadvantage the project of saving what life we might on this planet.

    (No link to that otherwise Das Automod).

    My own view, at this moment lacking in popular support, is that soon we will be able to subject all people to a brain scan to determine whether they have a communalist mindset or an individualist (frightened) brain after which scan those incapable of communal thinking can be consigned to the dust bin of history or to the compost bin, whichever is more ecologically sustainable.

    It’s a sad idea, losing all those entrepreneurs and start up kinda guys, but a limited society guaranteed to provide survival of life, all of it, is better than the extermination of all of existence that is guaranteed if the brain dysfunctional continue to run the joint.

  144. What’s the big deal here? Terjep supports Mabo bu thinks it is a weak form of property right; he acknowledges aboriginal dispossession but doesn’t support legislation of symbolic stuff like recognition of prior ownership. This is bog standard right wing ideology but it’s hardly harmful. Libertarians always come unstcuk on native title issues and I’m quite surprised to see terjep accepting a legal notion of shared ownership. The language of “upgrading” native title is slippery stuff often used by right wingers to extinguish title but terjep has qualified it suitably. Short of getting him to actually write legislation and explore its consequences I don’t see how you can ascribe anything harmful to his ideas.

    Terjep, what does your gun nut senator want to do with native title?

    I have previously said I think terjep’s opinion on guns, race and crime in America are racist, coming as they do straight from the pages of Reason. It’s nice to see he’s a bit more nuanced about race issues in his own backyard! But it’s all irrelevant, we won’t have a society to debate racism within if we don’t do something about global warming and on this issue terjep and his allies continue to be suicidal, and want to drag the rest of us down with them.

  145. @TerjeP

    p.s. Grass is green by the way. Can you name anybody that disputes it?

    To quote Peter Cundall, in Australia during summer the correct colour of grass is brown.

  146. @Faustusnotes

    What’s the big deal here? Terjep supports Mabo bu thinks it is a weak form of property right; he acknowledges aboriginal dispossession but doesn’t support legislation of symbolic stuff like recognition of prior ownership. This is bog standard right wing ideology but it’s hardly harmful.

    It’s deeply harmful to Aboriginal people. Not to Aboriginies, as Terje has referred to First Nation’s Peoples, which term they find deeply offensive. Look it up.

    It is deeply harmful, as I said. If you don’t understand why then your best option is to stf-up and find out why before you express more uninformed opinion.

  147. Do you have short term memory loss or are you just a common garden variety hypocrite?

    I gave this some thought. It was a case of hypocrisy. My apology to Ikonoclast. It is reasonable that he shares his intuition even though I personally think his intuition is wrong.

  148. Terjep, what does your gun nut senator want to do with native title?

    I don’t know any gun nut senators. Are you refering to John Howard?

  149. @jungney

    Oh. As a Gubba, I see I made the same error.

    I often listen to Tiger Bayles on 98.9fm Brisbane (9am and repeated at 7pm). He has a great show called “Let’s Talk”, archives can be heard online at 989fm.com.au.

    He prefers “First Nations People”, he once devoted half the show to the topic. His view was that “Aborigines”, “Aboriginal”, “Indigenous” were all bad usages. Pleasingly to my ear, everyone on the show usually uses “Blackfellas” quite regularly and casually.

    I can’t remember who, but someone here mocked or pulled me up for using “First Nations” one time.

  150. Candy Pants :
    Terje,
    should Aboriginal people be compensated on just terms for the theft of their land? What is the LDP policy on this.

    There is no LDP policy on this issue.

    My personal opinion is that compensation often needs to be handled case by case. Conflicting land title claims are messy things and I don’t think you can make a blanket ruling. Although you may be able to be more broad brush with regards to certain catagories of land such as crown land. For the most part I think this is how things have been handled in the last few decades and I don’t see any obvious way to improve on this aspect of the process.

    But as I said earlier native title is a pretty weak form of property right. It often just amounts to a caviet. I’d rather see public lands privatised by assigning full property title to relavant groups and individuals. And whilst we are at it the state should hand over the mineral rights, and the right to clear vegetation also so that the owners have full control over the land and it’s use.

  151. fn:

    “I have a question for the pro-GMO crowd here, who also usually sneer at organic food. Given the central role of agricultural use of antibiotics in the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria I have a question for the pro-GMO crowd here, who also usually sneer at organic food. Given the central role of agricultural use of antibiotics in the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria, especially in the USA and UK, and the impossibility of doing anything about it legislatively (there is a good recent box article on the topic) do you advocate the consumption of only organic meat until the legislative process changes? How does this issue affect your view of organic food more broadly?”

    So I’m supposed to eat organic meat because of something that is supposedly happening “especially in the USA and UK”?

    Hilarious.

    The ABC last year re Australia:

    Antibiotic resistance in farming animals is a looming global health issue, but a University of Adelaide national survey indicates that Australia remains in a very favourable position.

    The survey results, released at the Australian Veterinary Conference in Perth, show Australia’s strong regulations around veterinary drugs, combined with relatively low levels of antibiotic use, are producing stronger immune systems and healthier animals.

    I will continue eating intensive factory farmed animals and caged eggs as per usual until I see a strong and sustained consilience of the science telling me I shouldn’t, for whatever reason.

    I will also studiously avoid organic food (other than the home grown variety) as it is an immoral waste of resources as well as an attempt to gentrify the food supply.

  152. JQ,

    I’m wondering if “Candy Pants” was most recently banned as “Paul Keating” after a brief stint as “The White Mouse”…..etc?

  153. @Megan
    I often use the “First Nations Peoples” and “Aboriginal people”. I’m unsure how acceptable Koori is to those who are Murri so, unless I know the the specific identity of a person, I avoid these terms. Flinders has a guide for all this (pdf).

  154. @Megan

    I’ll keep watch on this. Candy Pants, please be warned that any personal criticism of anyone from you, or any other violation of policy, will result in an immediate ban, including disemvowelling or deletion of past comments.

  155. Regarding Terra Nullius, the French also had explored the opportunity of colonising Australia. Indeed, the Frenchman Baudin wrote to Govenor King

    ‘I have never been able to conceive that Europeans have either justice or equity on their side when in the name of their governments they annex lands newly found by them, but already inhabited by men who do not always deserve the name of “savage”. I have no knowledge of any pretensions the French government may have to Van Diemen’s Land but I think its title no better grounded than yours.’

    Later Bautin died; it’s said that Napoleon was unhappy missing the opportunity to have him hung for failing to claim Australia.

  156. @jungney

    I hope I am not being inappropriate to anyone when I use the term ‘blackfellas’. I have had conversations with people, friends and colleagues, who said they like that term and prefer it to Indigenous or Aboriginal person. They call me whitesheila.

  157. People do worry about how to refer to Aboriginal people and it is an important thing to sort out because talking about ‘them’ is happening even out here, with some interest and a lack of the usual resentment and irrational dislike is happening.

    But my neighbours do worry about calling them blackfellas, they are shocked if I do it and are worried that it sounds racist. The way I see it, it depends on what you are saying and how you say it – it’s the context and the meaning of what you say that is important – not whether you use Indigenous or Aboriginal or blackfella.

    It’s a good thing that my neighbours are interested in understanding the problems now whereas before the election it was all their own fault. Perhaps there is enough distance between this generation and the generation that did do the stealing and killing that it will be possible for them to rise above the resentment they feel at being ‘forced’ by the left, to feel ashamed of their people and their culture and consider the other side of the coin.

    This was interesting on RN this morning. “Professor George Williams says there still remains discriminatory racial references in the Constitution.

    He joins RN Sunday Extra to explain the symbolic and legal importance of recognising Indigenous Australians in the Constitution.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/sundayextra/845-segment/6269792

  158. Thanks for the link to George Williams. It a relief to hear someone with such global knowledge address the issue.

    Language does depend on context, always. When I worked in child protection, I was assigned to work with a Dharug man. After we had cemented a good relationship he said to me that for the first six months in the office his non-Aboriginal co-workers looked at him as if they were wondering “what’s that n*gger doing on the wrong side of the counter?”

    Depends where you are, who you’re with.

  159. First off, thank you TerjeP, for your pithy and to the point response to my hypothetical.

    On a different topic altogether, I am bemused and disappointed in the LNP for defunding many community assistance initiatives, plenty of them being essential. It they hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t be ambivalent about the elevation of Rosie Batty, for her work is exemplary by all accounts; the issue is that the LNP first set about defunding/cutting positions and grants across regional and outback Australia, then gives prominence to a campaigner for helping women who have violent partners. This taking then giving is really destabilising, and yet it is the standard practice now. What are the LNP cabinet ministers thinking—do they think if they magically put something back (after the redundancies have happened, after the lights have been switched off), the situation is reversible and can return to the status quo? I wish!

  160. Candy pants is clearly a sock for paul keating et al. Same arguing style, same writing style.

    Terjep, cute. You know I am referring to leyonjhelm. What’s the ldp position on native title? Have you considered the possibility that your case-by-case approach if handled properly in courts willing to recognize forms of native title would probably cost the country a lot more than an administrative solution?

    Also it sounds like your individualistic court-based approach, based on recognition of pre-invasion property rights, could be vulnerable to resolution by some form of treaty. I am surprised by that. Do you support the concept of a treaty? Do you think a treaty would have been an honorable approach if enacted earlier (say, early last century)?

  161. Have you considered the possibility that your case-by-case approach if handled properly in courts willing to recognize forms of native title would probably cost the country a lot more than an administrative solution?

    I indicated earlier that an administrative solution (ie broad brush) might make sense in certain categories of title conflicts. eg crown land.

    Also it sounds like your individualistic court-based approach, based on recognition of pre-invasion property rights, could be vulnerable to resolution by some form of treaty.

    If two parties with title over the same land want to resolve it through some agreement then that is always an option. But the courts are not going to generate a national treaty.

    Do you support the concept of a treaty? Do you think a treaty would have been an honorable approach if enacted earlier (say, early last century)?

    In New Zealand there was a treaty and I think it would have been a good thing in that instance if anybody bothered to honour it. I don’t support the concept of a treaty in Australia today. And in the 1900’s I can’t see the case for a treaty being any better.

    Should there have been a treaty in the 1700’s? Perhaps. But I think the cultural mismatch in terms of what “property” meant was perhaps too extreme for it to happen. It’s an interesting hypothetical.

    It’s worth noting that traditional Maori and Aboriginal cultures are very different to each other.

  162. I’ve heard some suggest (not in this discussion but elsewhere) that the Europeans deliberately brought smallpox to Australia. I think the idea that it was deliberate or malicious is somewhat ludicrous. However it does seem likely that smallpox (and other European diseases) were catastrophic for the natives. Killing 50% or more of the population. I doubt that signing a treaty with a few white settlers was high on the “to do” list of aborigines at the time. And the aborigines around Sydney cove were in no position to sign a treaty relating to the entire continent. I doubt they knew what the continent of Australia was anyway. Or who it was they would be signing on behalf of.

  163. TerjeP, smallpox was brought delibrately to Australia by Europeans in a bottle in 1788. In 1789 Australians were dying in huge numbers from smallpox. That bottle is the only reasonable explanation for the outbreak of the disease as it could not remain endemic aboard a ship for the duration of the journey.

  164. Ludicrous is too strong a word. But the idea has problems. Not least of which is the reaction of the British on discovering the outbreak. Which seems to have been one of surprise.

  165. @TerjeP

    I’ve heard some suggest (not in this discussion but elsewhere) that the Europeans deliberately brought smallpox to Australia. I think the idea that it was deliberate or malicious is somewhat ludicrous.

    Why? Why do you think the idea is ludicrous?

  166. @TerjeP
    Oh, ludicrous is out, is it? Now we read that ‘the idea has problems’ in which you claim that the British were ‘surprised’ on ‘discovering the outbreak’. A source for that ‘surprise’ claim? Some suggestion as to other ‘problems’ with the idea? If ludicrous is too strong a word, then what?

  167. Biological warfare, as practiced in the US, seems possible in light of chemical warfare (arsenic) practiced by colonials.

  168. Not to get side tracked into yet another new discussion my point was that there was minimal scope for a treaty in Australia. Maybe things would be better now if things then were done differently but that is pretty much the case with everything in history.

  169. Postscript to my above comment. It appears many right-wingers are afraid recognition and a treaty now will cost them some tax monies. It all comes back to the money for these guys. Their money is worth more than other peoples’ lives (in their view of course).

  170. @TerjeP

    “I doubt they knew what the continent of Australia was anyway. Or who it was they would be signing on behalf of.”

    This white man point of view about the traditional culture is ‘ludicrous’ to people who have spent time understanding how our Indigenous people did conceptualise their ‘Australia’.

    They didn’t develop or own this country in the way that you conceptualise ownership and development, because they chose not to, because the fundamental philosophy that did unite all the different nations or groups across the continent said that it was a dangerous thing to do.

    They did have a communication network that worked a lot slower than the internet but it linked all areas, except Tasmania when it became isolated from the mainland which was why the Tasmanian blackfellas didn’t recover the use of fire after they lost it for some reason.

    These communication systems on the mainland worked to refresh each group’s variation on the main philosophy as it was the way they shared information about how other groups were managing their social and economic problems and it worked to maintain the fundamental cultural beliefs about country and human nature and the stories about the original blackfella settlers.

    The lack of what you think of as development and ownership was not because they lacked the ability.

    Do you understand what gives you the authority or right to make bald statements about things that you clearly know very little about?

    There are scholars who are telling us these new and different stories about the lives and ability of the original inhabitants of this country and yet you will not keep up with the latest knowledge, preferring your prejudices.

    And why do you think that throwing out random ‘facts’ that the Maori’s were different from our Indigenous says anything except that your knowledge is random and driven by your need to prove to yourself that your beliefs about ‘them’ not really owning this country is correct.

    “I doubt that signing a treaty with a few white settlers was high on the “to do” list of aborigines at the time.”

    Well really why was it was up to ‘them’ to bring up the need for a treaty?

    Do you think that somebody back them could have talked to Bennelong about the situation and what his people wanted when he first voluntarily cooperated with the white settlers? Why was it not clear to the white people that he was way more intelligent and a better man than they were.

    Does it not break your heart to read how intelligent gracious and cooperative he was and the stupid cruelty he and his people received in return? Does it not strike you that the blackfellas showed how fundamentally humane and generous their culture was in that they did not initially react with hate and a desire to protect their property from the invaders?

    Try to imagine a people so comfortable and satisfied with the richness of their social and cognitive lives and the level of cooperation that their law required – have you every heard about their justice system and the assumptions that their system of law made? – that they didn’t even imagine that other people could be so greedy and immoral as white people turned out to be.

  171. Iconoclast – Thanks. One of the comments on that article sum up my outlook:-

    If you accept that smallpox broke out by the harbour rather than from other directions, of course it’s not currently possible to deny outright that it was purposely introduced. But I think anybody familiar with the attitudes of Phillip and a great may of his officers – as well as their eager desire to learn from friendly connections with local Aborigines – would find it very difficult to believe that they had anything to do with such a move. Possibly there were individuals who secretly defied the governor and contrived such a terrible move; though people who lump all British at Sydney Cove in 1789 together as one are mistaken.

    If it was deliberate then it was a horrific thing to do. Even in desperation.

  172. Julie – Bennelong was abducted. You see to miss that point.

    As for Aboriginal people of the time conceptualising a different relationship with the land this is exactly what I said. Somehow it’s enlightened when you say it and white man ignorance when I say it. You’re a strange one.

  173. As to smallpox, aside from Ikonoklast’s link to the ‘Occam’s Razor’ article we also know that:

    i) the first ever recorded use of biological war was by British Forces during the Seven Years War at the Siege of Fort Pitt by Native Americans in 1763;

    ii) Major Robert Ross, not yet a major, was present at the siege of Louisburg and the capture of Quebec during the Seven Years’ War (1756–63); promoted to captain, he saw action at Bunker Hill in June 1775 during the American War of Independence; he would have been aware the use of smallpox as a biological weapon during the Siege of Fort Pitt;

    iii) he was appointed as commander (brevet Major) to the New South Wales Marine Corps; he was universally reviled within the colony by both Philip and fellow officers including Marine Captain David Collins, who had also served also served at Bunker Hill and Boston; at Sydney Captain Collins was Governor Phillip’s secretary and trusted advisor; Collins would also have been aware of the use of smallpox as a weapon.

    As one source puts it:

    Sydney 1789 – in the grip of famine – was a desperate place. Insubordination, exacerbated by hunger and a liberal grog issue, permeated all ranks of the military. Add to the seething mix sick, starving convicts punished with increasing brutality, their isolation, fear, resentments and hopelessness, fuelled by home-brewed concoctions.

    Famine besides was approaching with gigantic strides, and gloom and dejection overspread every countenance. Men abandoned themselves to the most desponding reflections and adopted the most extravagant conjectures. (A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay and a Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson, Marine Captain Watkin Tench).

    Ross held Philip to be weak and ineffective. Ross was aware that his weapons were broken, that the Gadigal were resisting and no longer dispersed when confronted by Marines with inaccurate and slow to reload muskets. There would appear to be a case that Ross may have been the person responsible for spreading the virus among the Gadigal. He had knowledge of the impact of the virus on previously unexposed populations; he was aware of the precedent set by the Brutish command in North America; he held Philip in contempt; he was given a commission to act ‘according to the rules and disciplines of war’. Under the ‘rules and disciplines of war’ Ross owed a ’duty of care’ to his men; in 1789 his men were starving.

    I see you’ve well and truly retreated from claiming that the suggestion of British biological warfare in NSW is ‘ludicrous’. This is evidence that one of your eyes is still functioning.

  174. @TerjeP

    First time Bennelong went to the white settlement voluntarily but apparently he didn’t like it much and buggered off back to the tribe. The whites were desperate to have an interpreter so they kidnapped him. Get up to speed.

    And again you are the weird one – if it is actually a case of anyone being weird rather than it being a case of people who come from different ‘cultures’ trying to understand the cultural assumptions about truth and morality that the other is making.

    It’s good that you do understand that there are other ways of understanding the world and a country but you seem not to have not taken the next step which is the discovery that your way of seeing the continent – as property to be divided up and sold to the highest bidder or the most entrepreneural person who can turn it into a product that people will buy – is not the one we necessarily should be using for the decisions we need to make about how to integrate the facts of the Aboriginal peoples original and continuing relationship with *their* Australia into a story that works for them more than for you.

    Surely ‘they’ are the ones with real problems that need to be understood and you not so much?

  175. Ikonoclast :
    <@TerjeP
    There is great scope for proper recognition and a treaty now. That’s the point.

    Elsewhere, there has been “truth and reconciliation” not “reconciliation” by itself.

    Judging from some ludicrous statements by Terje, Australian’s do not seem agreed on what is the truth concerning the invasion and occupation of Australia.

    The history of British settlement here and in North America is well worth reading about.

    I don’t have any real sources, maybe others can make suggestions. I have recently been introduced to Davis Day’s “Claiming of a Continent” as he recently did a tour through Australia.

    He covers the smallpox issue and suggests it was deliberate.

    Wow?

  176. @Ivor
    Coming up, as googleable sources:

    The Botany Bay Medallion; the Australian Dictionary of Biography for Robert Ross and David Collins, Trove for ‘Our Original Aggression’ (Noel Butlin); wiki-p’s ‘Controversy over smallpox in Australia’; wiki-p for ‘The Siege of Fort Pitt’.

  177. I found this tv series pretty accurate and not too bad to watch. Dr Langton’s emotions are obvious when she speaks about the possibility that diseases were deliberately introduced but the commentary is lacking in rancour or partisan bias afaict.

    http://www.sbs.com.au/firstaustralians/

    There is also a book of the same name and the website itself provides short stories, photographs and time lines that illustrate some of the features of the history of contact.

    The photographs are wonderful and there is one convict or soldier drawing that I have never seen before showing red coats and blackfellas dancing together. Inga Clendinnen talks about this photo and the conclusions that one could draw from it.

  178. And if anyone is interested in the more esoteric aspects of traditional blackfella culture this series of mongraphs by WEH Stanner might be of interest.

    Peter White introduces these articles available at the link below, by Professor W.E.H. Stanner which are “accounts of Aboriginal religion…. originally published as a series of articles in the journal Oceania between 1959 and 1963 and then gathered into Oceania Monograph 11 in 1963.

    “Its continuing status as a classic led to a facsimile reproduction as Oceania Monograph 36 in 1989, with an Appreciation by Dr Francesca Merlan and an Introduction by Dr Les Hiatt, both of the University of Sydney.

    “Continuing demand, and the usefulness of having a searchable version available online, led to this retyped reprint edition by Sydney University Press. “

    http://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/handle/2123/10764/browse?type=title&submit_browse=Title

    Francesca Merlan writes in her appreciation;

    “In a number of places Stanner makes it clear that, for him, the worst failing of social structural analysis is its aridity, its proceeding by reification and abstraction of social relations that have another nature, resulting in models not of or after them, but about them.

    (We might now see this in light of Bourdieu’s 1977 theme of the limits of objectivism). “

    “Stanner also deplores views that Aborigines have nothing worthy of the name ‘religion’, or—to re-cast this in a way that illustrates the sort of conditions he places on such an identification—that they were a primitive people who ‘could not possibly have had serious thoughts about life’

    And

    “That Aborigines have something worthy of being called ‘religion’ would now certainly be accepted by many, not only because of a general feeling (which, as we have noted, Stanner shared) that to attempt to rigorously define it is futile, but also partly because not all would associate with its definition the high criterion of moral insight (he often softens this to ‘intuition concerning men’s life and condition’, page 299) that Stanner does.

    And

    “Stanner describes the difficulty of eliciting exegesis of meanings from informants, and concludes that there is a general attitude of ‘uninquiring acceptance’ (page 150) of things that would appear to be symbolic in character, standing for something beyond themselves. The religion involves expression in diverse media, and all present difficulties in this regard. Song words are often obscure (page 156).

    “The meaning of spatial motifs of rite, as well as the denotation of many visual signs, often cannot be successfully probed by direct inquiry.

    “People will make some comments on myth, but beyond these ‘The usefulness of both direct and indirect questions falls off sharply’ (page 123). A lack of explicit teaching is also typical of those aspects of the secret-sacred Karwadi ceremony which have to do with the initiation of young men (page 92).

    “Discursive (i.e. explicit, indigenously made and recognised meanings) do not predominate, while in the brilliant use of music, song, mime and dance, presentational symbolisms—indeterminate in sense and reference, but still powerful vehicles of effect—abound (see page 168 for Stanner’s application of this distinction, developed by Susanne Langer).

    “If understanding of rite and myth is to pass the threshold of resistance to interpretation, ‘then it must be by other means’ (page 151) than the usual forms of inquiry.”

    Stanner’s final chapter is the most interesting if one wants to read actual eye witness accounts and interpretations of what could have been going on during the initiation ceremonies for the men.

    Although Stanner seems not to notice how women were part of the ceremonies in a way that is integral to their success, he does note in a couple of throwaway lines that it was probably not true that the women did not know what was going on.

  179. @TerjeP

    There’s been a suggestion from Warren Mundine that a treaty needs to be signed with each nation. He seems to suggest that LLC’s would be the appropriate bodies to sign. There are numerous ‘National Aboriginal’ bodies (google them) which already provide the framework of a national consultative organisation.

    In the meantime, instead of posing faux naïf questions, why not inform yourself about what Aboriginal Australians think and say themselves. Treaty Republicis an excellent source for contemporary coverage.

  180. Terje – there’s been a suggestion from Warren Mundine that a treaty needs to be signed with each nation. He seems to suggest that LLC’s would be the appropriate bodies to sign. There are numerous ‘National Aboriginal’ bodies (google them) which already provide the framework of a national consultative organisation.

    In the meantime, instead of posing faux naïf questions, why not inform yourself about what Aboriginal Australians think and say themselves. ‘Treaty Republic’ is an excellent source for contemporary coverage.

  181. TereP, if you decide that the idea of the smallpox outbreak of 1789 starting from the virus sample brought by the first fleet is ludicrous, then it is clear that you do not arrive at your conclusions by a process of rational thought but instead simply decide that what sounds right to you must be true.

  182. Anyone who wanted to see the 2009 film “Hope In A Slingshot” but couldn’t because it was suppressed by Kim Dalton and Mark Scott’s ABC:

    https://vimeo.com/channels/hopeinaslingshot

    Can watch it, in 3 parts, at the above link.

    Israel’s attempts to suppress our freedom at the very least should stir Australian support for the BDS movement. How dare they try to tell me what I can and can’t watch.

  183. @rog
    All qualified opinion from the First Fleet identified the disease as smallpox. There are some rare and severe forms of chickenpox that may be hard to tell apart from modified smallpox but this issue has no relevance to the 1789 outbreak.

    Correspondence by Assistant Surgeon John Mair to the Colonial Secretary (1831/1832) has been reviewed by Professor Frank Fenner, a virologist, who concluded that the correspondence unequivocally describes smallpox.

    The comments on the ABC site to which you linked provide solid refutations of the claim that the disease was chickenpox including a detailed reply by Craig Mear. Didn’t you get that far?

  184. Anecdotes and opinion do not prove that the smallpox virus can survive outside of the host for a long period of time, such as the voyage to Australia.

    Lab trials have shown that even after under exceptional circumstances 60-70 days is the maximum that a virus can survive.

    There is evidence that the viral concentrations in inanimate objects is insufficient to cause infection.

  185. rog:
    The smallpox conspiracy theory needs to be put to bed.
    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/ockhamsrazor/chicken-pox-or-smallpox-in-the-colony-at-sydney/2972652#transcript

    I don’t know why you are injecting this stuff. It is from History Warriors. Where has this chicken pox theory been published in any refereed publication?

    It is a serious issue, not to be restricted to ad hoc radio programs that do not cite refereed sources nor any sources that listeners can follow up on.

    You are just creating useless fuss.

  186. @Ronald Brak

    I retracted the word “ludicrous” shortly after I used it. I concede that the theory of a deliberate smallpox deployment against the aborigines is not ludicrous.

  187. @rog

    Jonathan Tucker confirms that British troops in North America indeed deliberately spread smallpox to control restive Indians in the 1760s. By 1775, the British defending Boston from the rebels had already inoculated all their troops. When smallpox broke out in the town, they sent recently-variolated civilians among the besieging colonists, causing an outbreak that delayed the eventual American victory.

    In 1776, the British did it again, as the Americans besieged Quebec City – the story goes that this time they variolated prostitutes and sent them among the troops. Half the 10,000 Americans fell ill, and after burying their dead in mass graves, Tucker reports, they retreated in disorder from the colony, which remained in British hands.

    So, the British had form in this.

    Moreover:

    Warren’s analysis of the viability of bottled smallpox virus is consistent with the discovery, in July 2014,[62] of at least 2 bottles containing viable smallpox in the United States.[63] The viability of the smallpox virus, over 50 years old, was confirmed by the Director of the US Center for Disease Control, Tom Frieden.[64] According to the Washington Post:

    The boxes were in a storage room kept at about 40 degrees (F). Several vials were labeled as flu virus, mumps or typhus, he said. Sixteen vials were labeled “variola,” or smallpox, or were suspected of containing smallpox virus.[65]

    So, the variola carried by the First Fleet could quite well have been biologically active. There is no certainty at all that it was inert on arrival.

  188. Thanks for making that clear, TerjeP. While, the first fleet is the only likely vector of smallpox, there is still the possibility the disease’s release was accidental, but in light of British actons in North American, that seems very unlikely. But I suppose it is remotely possible someone tried to get a few days off work by giving themselves smallpox or something.

  189. The smallpox virus decays more rapidly in higher temperatures, but we know from regular logged temperature readings that they never got especially high on the First Fleet’s voyage. At a constant temperature the breakdown of the virus basically proceeds in half lives, so while most of the virus would have been inactive by 1889 it would likely have still been infectious and something that would be extremely dangerous to expose people without immunity to.

  190. My un-referenced memory tells me that there is some evidence of deliberate biological warefare here, and that in North America it is known to have happened. The colonists here didnt bring enough supplies and servicing tools to keep their rifles going and they were starting to lose the war when disease broke out on Sydneys North shore.

    I do have some sympathy for Leyonheljms logic ,but think that it would be good to acknowledge what our forebears did .I’m not sure it matters that Aborigines may not have been the first here .The Maori hunted to extinction those that were already in N Z when they arrived. Aborigines would have arrived in several waves and fought for territory over the aeons ,the arid zones may have been the last choice of land. Modern Australia doesnt seem to want to admit that we fought them for what was theirs and took it. On the other hand I dont like the style of thought that sees everything pre Captain Cook (the land, flora ,fauna ,and Aborigines) as special or timelessly natural, and what happened after as an exceptional violation of innocence. That seems a guilty Christian style of original sin thought to me;- (white) humans arrive in the garden of Eden and stuff everything up.

    We should have learned from each other ,but white Australia refused and then didnt complete the extermination .Now we are so far down the path of forced assimilation that it is hard for the average person to imagine any other option but ‘just finish this off and be done with it’. Our politicians are getting to the task.

  191. Last night, thanks to insomnia, I saw the last part of a program called First Footprints. It showed a very recent discovery (it was new to white fella, that is 🙂 ) of elaborate artwork on the underside of these stone “bridges”, essentially a large natural formation of rock, like a flat table top, with numerous rock pillars holding it up. Turns out that these natural formations had significant help from the Aboriginal people of the time: i.e. they cut away at the base rock and hollowed out the underside, leaving just enough pillars to support the roof. The ceiling’s paintings were able to be dated, thanks to archeological excavation of the floor of the bridge: at least 40,000 years old!

    Furthermore, the Aboriginal lady accompanying the scientists knew of the site, and presumably it had been cultural knowledge for that entire period. The scientists found worked stone axe heads, very precisely made, again dating from 40,000 years ago. This puts their tool working knowledge way ahead of what was happening in the Northern hemisphere, apparently.

    Honestly, when I saw the intricacy and extent of the artwork, as well as the man-made “bridge”, evocative of Stone Henge, it brought a tear to the eye.

  192. @Donald Oats

    The First Footprints doco is very good; and as with the First Contact doco, there are some photographs that are worth seeing and open one’s eyes about the impossibility that people that healthy and fit could have routinely died in their 30’s or 40’s from ill health.

    The levels of violence that were part of traditional life seem to be a dreadful thing to us but this squeamishness about hitting people is a recent development in our culture. Given the radically different environment, coping with pain and disasters would have been essential for survival in an environment that is so harsh and unpredictable as Australia is and has always been.

    It also seems to me that the information about the latest archaeological knowledge they referred to in the First Footprints doco puts to rest the idea that there could possibly have been an earlier race here – not that it makes any difference to the idea that we really do need to acknowledge formally and legally their prior ownership.

    But the evidence about the geology of the country at that time and the lack of any evidence in the creation stories of an earlier people doesn’t make it seem likely especially when there are stories and art works that do tell about how they arrived – with the all mother and all her babies around her neck.

    The fossil footprints of the family group that they have found that included those of a one legged man was also quite amazing. But I have read recently that it was an exaggeration to claim as they did in the 2nd episode I think it was, that the two legged men were running as fast as Usain Bolt can run.

    When I heard the bit about the one legged man it seems to explain one reason why traditionally men often stood around on one leg. Maintaining this stance was another of the ways that people learned to live with the harshness of life and it was also useful if you lost a leg during a payback episode.

    And wasn’t she the most delightful old lady who talked to the scientists?

  193. @Julie Thomas
    She was indeed.

    Years ago I saw a doco on Aboriginal tribal existence, and in it there was an elderly couple who travelled together, on foot, through incredibly harsh terrain. They knew where the water holes could be found, etc. What I took away from that was that it really wasn’t unusual for Aboriginal people to live a long and physically active life, assuming they avoided serious accident or warfare. It took introduced disease, sugar, alcohol, and a completely different and exclusionary economic system to crush the longevity of Aboriginal people.

  194. I’ve checked and First Footprints is available on ABC iview, but unfortunately the first episode will be unavailable after the 17th of this month, and that is a pity. One might think that making documentaries available for file sharing might be a great idea as watching them actually makes people smarter, but unfortunately we don’t seem to be smart enough to arrange that. Potentially we could set up a system such as public libraries use where publishers get a small fee each time a book is “taken out”. It seems like a tragically missed opportunity to simply and easily use technology to better our lives.

    I haven’t seen any of the episodes yet, although I may make time tonight. I’m not a big fan of watching things on screen, but I’ll make an exception for this. Things just happen too slowly in movies and TV shows for me. (Except the Lego Movie. That was painful to watch.) Unless I’m tired, I only like to watch things in a format where I can increase the speed by 50% or 100% for American documentaries as they often have very little to say. Once I made the mistake of slowing down a David Attenborough documentary by 50% and I ended up wondering if I’d somehow accidently managed to take drugs.

  195. Interested to hear JQ’s thoughts on the $500 million car industry corporate welfare back-flip.

    Politically, I think it’s nuts. They made such a big thing of taking a stand against it (budget disaster, need to stop bad spending, free-market fundamentalism etc…) and said they didn’t care if the car manufacturers packed up, and now they’ve capitulated.

    I’m wondering whether there might be a DD election coming up and they want to clear the decks to make it a “single-issue” thing they believe they can win.

  196. @Megan Polls, if you can believe them, would make a DD suicidal.

    Joe Hockey suing Fairfax is making the upcoming NSW election difficult for Baird.

  197. @Julie Thomas
    Abbott really has become the loaded dog of Australian politics. In this instance Hockey is a flea on the loaded dog. Every day I await the next installment of what would have to be the world’s most astounding collapse of neoliberalism. Car wreck, train wreck, the oohoa-ooha bird (which has a long beak and flies in ever decreasing circles until its beak enters its own date which explains its raucous call). It is too wonderful for words. Every day. Schadenfreude has nothing on jouissance:

    Poststructuralism has developed the latter sense of jouissance in complex ways, so as to denote a transgressive, excessive kind of pleasure linked to the division and splitting of the subject involved.

    All of the patriarchal, liberal identities of the Coalition are splitting before our eyes.

  198. When Humpty Dumpty takes a tumble, it doesn’t take a genius to figure he ain’t gettin’ together again. Cutting the bloody arm off what was left of the car industry, then returning 18 months later to say, Oh, have some money (but only one ninth of the number we first thought of at brekky, or only one fifth of what we then lowered expectations to by lunch time). They pushed Humpty—just to make sure, squealed with delight at the gore, and walked away; now they want us to think they are reversing some decision they’ve already made and acted on. I’m not buying this one.

  199. @Megan

    I thought the car funding was locked in by legislation and removing it was blocked by the senate. And the announcement was just the government accepting that reality whilst trying to put a populist spin on it.

  200. There have been a lot of statements here about the historical record but I’ve yet to hear any reason why we should amend the constitution to give special recognition to aboriginal people. It seems symbolically wrong. And we get told it either changes nothing in legal terms (so what is the point) or else that it creates legal uncertainty (ie more fighting). I’m assuming all the best arguments for change have already been put so unless there is something new I suppose we just wait and see what happens.

    That said I would like some alterations to the constitution. I would like to see the race powers abolished. The law should not treat people differently on the basis of race.

  201. @TerjeP

    Funny, to me it seems symbolically right.

    It might be worth looking at the Australian Human Rights Commission website. In particular, look at Constitutional Reform. Their site is a little tricky to navigate but I dare not give a link or I will go into moderation limbo.

    If you read the section on Constitutional Reform you will either find the reasons given there convincing or not convincing. It’s your free decision of course which way you opt to assess it.

  202. @jungney

    Dorothy Parker at Loonpond takes aim at Abbott’s stupid “life-style” statement.

    He cites Rolf de Heer:

    “It’s so inappropriate that it’s laughable,” de Heer told Fairfax Media after the awards. “It shows such ignorance that he has no right to be the prime minister of Australia…
    …A fired up De Heer said that to make those comments about the residents of remote communities was “profoundly misunderstanding” of Aboriginal culture and economic reality.
    “It’s hypocritical that our Prime Minister pretends to be the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and has so little understanding of what it is to be on country and that there is no choice involved,” he said.

  203. @Ikonoclast

    I know I know. My feelings are also very strong that it would be very good thing and you know I’ve actually talked to blackfellas about it and about what it would mean to them. But that probably isn’t a useful thing to do according to Terje’s way of feeling about the world and it’s people and the narrowness of his vision about how we human beings should organise ourselves and our societies.

    Terje there are no races; there is one human race with regional variations that overlap to such an extent that we cannot be divided up in this way.

  204. @Julie Thomas

    “… it was an exaggeration to claim as they did in the 2nd episode I think it was, that the two legged men were running as fast as Usain Bolt can run.”

    I am not familiar with this documentary. The claim about running is interesting. The best male indigenous hunters might not have been far off the speed of Usain Bolt. It is certainly known that indigenous warriors of many tribes were often 6 feet tall and well-nourished (lean, muscular). Their diet was well varied and healthy and their way of life meant constant daily exercise, often over long distances, interspersed with the daily rest periods so necessary to maintaining high levels of fitness.

  205. @Ikonoclast

    I was referring to the “First Footprints” doco that Donald and Ronald 🙂 talked about above.

    As Ronald pointed out the first ep is available on iview but only for a few more days. There are 3 or 4 eps in all. Not sure when they will make the next one available on iview. I saw them all the first time ABC aired the series and I watched it again last night.

    I hope it wasn’t too slow for Ronald, lol. I always have my laptop when I watch tv and find things to read while watching David Attenborough.

    This scene which is in the second ep, is in the western desert I think where they have found a set of footprints left on a flood plain many thousands of years ago by a family group that included a one legged man and at least two men who took off running during their walk across this muddy terrain. There were children’s footprints running in circles also as children everywhere do.

    In the TV show there are biomechanists and other scientists on the site with a couple of the traditional owners discussing the significance of this record.

    They do make this claim about U Bolt and being a bit sceptical I searched for more information – couldn’t find this reference again though – and read that it is the case that the particular scientist who made the claim was exaggerating but there is no doubt that the people who left these footprints were very very fit and athletic.

    If you watch the first episode of “First Footprints” on ivew you can see film and photos of traditional people who are quite obviously very fit doing the things that were part of their usual life which was required physical ability and also creative ability in the areas of song dance story telling and representing the land and it’s people in drawings.

    The photos are compelling and one thing I noticed with respect to the idea that they were ‘warriors’ is that none of the pictured men had a shield only spears.

  206. @Julie Thomas

    Yes, I would follow the simple rule of asking Aboriginal people what they want. If they want constitutional recognition and a treaty then it’s the right thing to do. The details naturally will take a bit of negotiation. Of course, what people want is not always a good guide to what they should be given. (Neoliberals want to privatise our whole economy but I don’t think they should be given what they want.) But in the case of a wronged people who have had land and generations stolen, asking them what they want so they can feel restored to a fair and just position, is an eminently reasonable question.

    Seeing it is, amongst other things and its developed form, a question of land rights (property rights), it’s astonishing in one sense that “big L” Libertarians don’t get it. In another sense it is not astonishing at all. We always suspected that Libertarians only cared about property rights for rich white males. Here we have the proof in their opposition to anything that could lead to a (very partial) restoration of property rights for persons other than rich white males.

    Aboriginal land ownership (to use the whitefella term) was communal and custodial. The closest thing in our white culture is public ownership of crown land, state forest and so on. Working with these two categories (rather than privatisations) might be the way to go. I won’t say more as I am ignorant of the current state of affairs in this regard.

  207. @Ikonoclast

    “But in the case of a wronged people who have had land and generations stolen, asking them what they want so they can feel restored to a fair and just position, is an eminently reasonable question.”

    My assumptions about the problem are based on the way my father spoke about the blackfellas that he had known back in the late 40’s. My father took a gap year after he left Art School where he had done a fine arts degree and he and a mate went outback and did all sorts of outback work like droving and fixing shearing equipment – seems art students had lots of practical skills back then, and whatever work was going and he worked with Aboriginal stockmen on the stations.

    He was interested in the traditional culture and thought there were really good things about it that we western people should learn about. He thought that we actually had adopted some of their ideas in the way that we Australians lopped the tall poppies down to size – back then anyway, now we laud the tall poppies, like the ‘murcans do.

    He said that this is the quintessential way that blackfellas behave toward one another; they don’t let people get up themselves or become ‘narcissistic’.

    So he said that the worst thing that happened to these people was the loss of pride they had in their culture and therefore in themselves. He told a story about an old man he met who had said that the traditional culture was “rubbish”.

    My father reasoned that so much of their culture was about proper behaviour and following the law that without any respect from us for what they built meant that they thought of themselves themselves as rubbish people and that they would be unable to live like us even if they did want to.

    He thought way back then that they needed to be respected and we needed to appreciate and admire what they built and actually integrate part of it into our law.

    I wish I could remember more about his stories or really I wish he was still here to explain, knowing how my assumptions are motivated by my beliefs about the way things should be.

    My father took his own life when I was 19. But one thing I do remember clearly was that he said he was sometimes invited to dine in the big house by some of the station owners when they realised that he was an educated man and knew which fork to use and a couple of times after a few drinks, they did reveal that they knew their grandfathers and others of that generation had participated in raids on the blackfellas and killed and raped at will. It was sport.

    I’m ignorant also about the possibilities for conciliation – how can it be reconciliation when we never were ‘conciled’ (?) in the first place?

    But I think Indigenous leaders like Pearson need to take stock of what they have been advocating for their people and take the lead now in suggesting ways that we can integrate into our laws the things that will give our first people their self-respect back and create in more of them a desire to be like us – so they can actually choose to be part of our Australia – and then provide without meanness and trickiness the resources that will support that choice.

  208. @Julie Thomas
    Thanks mentioning the doco “First Footprints”. I watched the first episode yesterday on iview. As usual, the Aboriginal participants are both charming and humble. What an astonishing cultural achievement – fourty thousand and more years of continuous human occupation of a continent right up to the present.

    There are Australians who oppose recognition of the unique place of Aboriginal Australians in human history. They throw up all sorts of spurious and specious arguments. The only consistent element in their thinking appears to be a desire to misrepresent or distort the facts, the law, history and all available evidence.

    What they most want is to continue the culture of silence about Aboriginal people and what was done to them over the course of an ongoing genocide. That silence has been well and truly broken and will never be imposed again. Every desperate rear guard action to reimpose the silence now only serves to identify those people taking such actions as the enemies of the truth and decency.

    Such people lie and dissemble because they think that, for example, altering the Constitution to recognise and reflect the truth of history will diminish them or the nation. On the other side of this bitter divide in Australia are those who hold that telling the truth, righting wrongs and setting in place the means to prevent that terrible silence from ever again dominating our culture would allow us to stand a little taller and straighter, with genuine dignity, not the sort of clownish flag waving that currently stands in for national pride.

  209. Amy McQuire has been covering the referendum question quite well for a long time. She now writes for New Matilda – if you click on her “bio” you will get a list of all her pieces – she recently wrote:

    I have seen some supporters of constitutional reform try and argue that blackfellas who oppose Recognise do not fully understand what or why they are opposing it. I have heard others claim that the voices of opposition are in the minority.

    Both arguments are unjustified – anecdotally, I have met very few Aboriginal people who are supportive of the campaign and who aren’t connected in some way to the Recognise movement. The overwhelming response has been one of cynicism.

    And the people who oppose it often have very good reasons for doing so. You may think that’s an unscientific way to judge public opinion, but I would counter it is just as scientific as Recognise’s own polls and regional forums, stacked with supporters.

    You only have to look at the history of the movement, from the failure to respond to the expert panel, from the expert panel’s own refusal to acknowledge sovereignty in its recommendations because it was unlikely to pass at referendum, to the farcical Act of Recognition which binds Parliaments to nothing…
    There are still calls for treaty and sovereignty. They are not white noise.

    First Nations people do not have time to waste on “Acts of Recognition” which tick a box for big politicians. We do not have time to spend on inquiries that ignore our justifiable concerns at a process that has largely excluded us. As the sun sets on any substantive change to the constitution, there is an urgency that says time is running out for pushing land rights, sovereignty and treaty.

    She concludes the article – “Recognise: The Debate That is Failing and Dividing Black Australia”:

    And if the campaign does not have the overwhelming support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, what point is there to it at all?

  210. @Ikonoclast

    Is this the page you are refering to:-

    https://www.humanrights.gov.au/publications/about-constitutional-recognition

    I’m all in favour of abolishing the race powers in the constitution. But the agenda being run by the loudest proponents of reform is to simply replace the existing race powers with new race powers. An absurdity in this day and age.

    Section 51 (xxvi) should simply be deleted and nothing new added. Such a minimalist reform ought to find widespread support. But an activist agenda that seeks to use the occassion to install new clauses into the constitution will in all likelyhood face fearce opposition and simply divide people.

  211. @Ikonoclast

    Is this the page you are refering to:-

    https://www.humanrights.gov.au/publications/about-constitutional-recognition

    I’m all in favour of abolishing the race powers in the constitution. But the agenda being run by the loudest proponents of reform is to simply replace the existing race powers with new race powers. An absurdity in this day and age.

    Section 51 (xxvi) should simply be deleted and nothing new added. Such a minimalist reform ought to find widespread support. But an activist agenda that seeks to use the occassion to install new clauses into the constitution will in all likelyhood face fearce opposition and simply divide people.

  212. @TerjeP

    Contention is potentially interminable. At some stage we will stop debating and simply hold a vote. Thank goodness for democracy.

  213. I have some informal connections with central Australian Aborigines ,by chance I got to know people as friends thru someone I met in Melb 25 years ago .He is still one of my best friends and moved to Melb to live 2 years ago. He is an unusual guy as he is white and grew up in, and continued to live in, an Aboriginal community (Yuendumu) and surrounding communities. He speaks Walpiri and some Luritja ,got initiated ,married and had kids etc. Police hate him even more than blackfellas as he is seen as a traitor. The people I’ve met there know even less about the Constitution than I do ,but they do care how people look at them if they go into town (Alice Springs). If Constitutional recognition would be a small step toward changing that, then they would be in favor. Bush people dont have the strident sense of entitlement that most Aussies have .I am worried that the current controversy about ‘lifestyle choices” is just about terminology. When politicians talk about choice and opportunity via education, home ownership, and jobs they are only talking about opportunity to be white. They say there is no choice because we are broke. If we are broke ,they are more broke. I think people would be amazed how many special laws and rules there are in those areas that seem to be aimed simultaneously at civilizing but also at keeping people out. They are trying to force people into town but then they are not welcome there. People feel they are being forced to change but are not welcome. I think mainstream society needs a complete redesign- not realistic I know.

    Aborigines were active but — ” interspersed with the daily rest periods so necessary to maintaining high levels of fitness.” (Iko) — I think there is a lot in that , I’ve often thought it strange that all the animals physiologically like us seem to have regular rests and naps whereas we just go constantly for 16 hours and then crash.

  214. After the PM Tony Abbott’s most recent comments stating we shouldn’t be paying for remote communities to survive, as living there is a lifestyle choice, I think he needs to be strapped into a chair, eyelids held open and head locked to look at a big screen session of First Footprints. If, after seeing the cultural and spiritual significance of the incredible artwork which has survived 40,000 years intact, if after seeing that he still thinks tribal Aboriginal people are making a lifestyle choice by living in connection with physical artefacts of their heritage, then there is no hope for him.

    Honestly, after hearing these comments of his, a re-baking of previously aired sentiments, I personally find PM Tony Abbott to be the most ignorant and offensive PM we’ve ever had the disgrace to have. I’m in total agreement with Rolf de Heer’s response. If I could renounce the (very) few times I voted Liberal, I would. It won’t ever happen again.

  215. Just saw this story from ABC Queensland:

    The Townsville District Court heard 65-year-old Neville Douglas Welsh was frustrated with cleaning up after homeless people who slept in the city’s Dean Park.

    Welsh’s trial heard he left iced coffee bottles in the park containing methylated spirits and weed killer.

    Witnesses told the court they heard Welsh say he would brew up medicine for the itinerants, that he wanted to “make them sick” and that the “Abos at the park should be shot”.

    Welsh’s lawyer said his client was not on trial for saying such things.

    “We don’t live in perfect world – who hasn’t heard these sorts of racist comments?” he told the court.

    Welsh had pleaded not guilty to two counts of attempting to injure by noxious substance.

    The jury found him guilty on both counts.

    He was sentenced to 12 months in jail, suspended after six months.

    In handing down the sentence, Judge Anthony Rafter said Welsh has shown a distinct lack of remorse.

    This country needs to come to terms with the reality of its racism and ongoing attitude to the First Nations people.

    Fiddling with words on a document will do nothing unless this is addressed at a very deep level.

  216. Malcolm Turnbull is distancing himself from some things Abbottian, and flat out slapping down the ridiculous thought flatulence of the treasurer. I guess this means he feels the time is right for getting some clear air between himself and the other ministers. I wonder how long before he gets sent an official cease-and-desist letter from the PMO?

  217. @Megan
    Back in the seventies it was a bit of local sport for Townsville’s finest to throw Molotov cocktails at the people who slept under a bridge; I forget which bridge.

    City people just don’t understand how close to the surface racism is in the bush. And racially motivated violence. It is still a form of social currency; it is a way for the lowest dregs of non-Aboriginal society to identify with their betters by claiming racial solidarity with them.

    Anyway, your man there, Neville Douglas Welsh will get a comeuppance. Anyone who would poison people wouldn’t think twice about poisoning dogs and no-one like a dog poisoner.

  218. I heard Geoffrey Blainey on Phillip Adams’ Late Night Live spruiking his new book.

    Professor Blainey talks about how he “has re-examined his previous works on Indigenous Australians and explains how he’s changed some long held views about Australia’s past.
    His new book is called The Story of Australia’s People.” Phillip was very nice and respectful to him.

    Blainey was the historian who is said to have started the history wars with his use of the term ‘black arm band view’.

    “In 1985 he delivered a public lecture in which he spoke of the ‘vocal, richly subsidised multicultural lobby’ and of the need for Australia to be ‘one nation’ rather than ‘a nation of many nations’. Blainey alleged that the Labor Party was the captive of the ‘multi-cultural industry’ which had ‘little respect for the history of Australia’. Together with the ‘socialist’ elements in the Hawke government, the ABC, and schools and universities, elite groups were spreading the view that Australia’s history was ‘largely the story of violence exploitation, repression, racism, sexism, capitalism, colonialism and a few other isms’.”

    It seems that Blainey has been changing his views for a while. He gave an interview in 2009 on PM with David Mark that included this exchange, in which he praised PM Rudd’s comments.

    DAVID MARK: It’s very easy to say the history wars should end, how does it actually happen?

    GEOFFREY BLAINEY: I think the phrase history wars is exaggerated but there’s widespread disagreement about the interpretation of Australian…Australia’s past and we’re more likely to reach agreement if we have some of the balance that I think I can see in Mr Rudd’s speech.”

    Then he says:

    “If people who belong to one side are willing to look at the other point of view and even if they disagree with it, listen carefully and likewise the same goes for the other side. It’s a matter of listening as much as talking. ”

    It is good and to be applauded that he has realised that he was wrong but so typical that he can’t see that the lack of balance was and still is, all on his, the conservative side.

  219. @Julie Thomas
    One of the biggest mistakes of the broad left in Australia has been and still is a tendency to take on the fascists, the retards and illiterates of the right, the openly fascist, with a sort of avuncular generosity. Blainey is a t*rd, and he knows it, like Henderson and Bolt and Jones and Albrechtonson and Devine and the whole shower of sh*te of them, the genteel right in this ars*hole of a nation.

    Don’t give them an inch.

  220. This conversation has taken a hilarious turn, in which we see the credulity and subtextual racism of the left in Australia.

    First, we have Julie Thomas reproducing the worst kind of racist trash about Tasmanian Aborigines: apparently they lost the ability to produce fire because they just didn’t need it. This is such a joke, that has been roundly dismissed by scholars, that it is no surprise to find it being regurgitated at a website like this. You know your theory is on solid ground when it is being used as a defense of creationism! Then we have someone up above telling us that the Maori exterminated the previous residents of New Zealand, which would make them a more powerful force in ethnic adjustment than even our friends the N-zis. Unfortunately, this is also a completely unfounded myth. Next we’ll be hearing that Aborigines killed off the megafauna as if it were settled fact, not under scientific dispute …

    How is it that leftists are so capable of sophisticated critiques of so many systems of injustice, but will believe any old trash printed about the indigenous people of their land? I wonder …

    Then we get this silly idea that Aboriginal people chose not to live a capitalist life of exploiting the environment, as if they met a fork in the road and at one end was a coal-fired powerplant and at the other end a goanna, and those simplistic and lovable magical n=groes chose the goanna. I don’t know why my comrades here at JQ haven’t figured out that this kind of theorizing is the worst kind of new age reductionism, but apparently it’s all the rage hereabouts. If only there were a body of scholarship about how negative this kind of magical n=gro ideal is for the people it is applied to, and if only one of our 4wd-riding experts on all things native were familiar with that body of thought …

    Next we have the use of the term “blackfella.” Anyone who has seen American comedy in the last 30 years knows that one doesn’t gain street cred by calling black people by the “n” word, one just ends up looking like a racist idiot. Yet somehow this simple lesson has slid by those white Australians who think they can make themselves cooler by referring to Aborigines as “Blackfellas.” Those of us who have actually met Aboriginal people are unsurprised to discover that 50% of them are actually women, and the term “blackfella” strangely excludes that 50%. How can it be that the white leftist “friends” of Aboriginal people have decided to use such a deeply sexist term over a word – such as “Aborigine” or “Aboriginal people” – that actually represents their relation to the people they are describing (i.e. not part of them)? Pro tip, jungney: they are not your brothers either, because none of them are your relatives, and 50% of them are women.

    The words we choose to use to describe people, and the things we choose to believe about them, tell others a lot about our attitudes towards those people. I think what I’ve seen here tells me all I need to know about the attitudes of many white leftists towards Aboriginal people.

    Terjep strikes me as the most honest commentator on Aboriginal issues on this thread, and the mistakes he has made in describing Aboriginal issues are a crapton less embarrassing than if he had decided to refer to people he has nothing in common with as “blackfellas,” or recycle out of date racist trash as fact. And yet here you are, misrepresenting things he said and telling him he needs to learn more about Aboriginal people…

  221. @faustusnotes

    I call “concern troll” on your post. You implicitly claim to be concerned about aboriginals and aboriginal women as well as claiming to be concerned about racism in general. You are not concerned about these things. Your feigned concern is simply a smokescreen to assist your right-wing agenda of attacks on left-wing people sympathetic to the aboriginal cause. I can only assume that you, like the right-wing Libertarians you clearly completely identify with, are concerned that granting even a few aboriginal rights inteferes with the “rights” of rich white guys to own everything.

    Your timing is interesting too. In the week that Abbott calls remote indigenous communities a “lifestyle choice” you have nothing to say about that. “Tony Abbott’s key Indigenous advisers have slammed his description of living in remote communities as a “lifestyle choice”, saying the statement is “hopeless”, “disrespectful” and simplistic.” – ABC News.

    Instead, you attack people who on this site express solidarity with the aboriginal cause and want to advance it. The same cannot be said for Tony Abbott who thinks that the way people live after over 200 years of oppression is a “lifestyle choice”.

  222. @faustusnotes

    “First, we have Julie Thomas reproducing the worst kind of racist trash about Tasmanian Aborigines: apparently they lost the ability to produce fire because they just didn’t need it. ”

    Read this far and thought “What a dickhead Faustnotes is”. Poor man can’t even read what is on the page. Just making stuff up so he can be a smart arse and show us how superior he is.

    So FN show me where I said that or anything like it. Pity da fool as Mr T used to say. 🙂

    Do point to the part where I said that they lost the ability to produce fire?

  223. And FN just in case you are interested in understanding where you have gone wrong, your analysis is so fundamentally flawed by your own neediness to appear more intelligent than everyone else.

    The idea in contemporary anthropology, is that it was a choice the Tasmanian Aborigines made to abandon the use of fire and many other technologies they once had. This would seem to be a bad choice but societies do make bad choices.

    There are a number of times according to the archaeological record when an Aboriginal group abandoned a technology that had been in use for many decades (and when I refer to technology dude I am not talking about computers and things; I mean the way they made spears and woomeras. You do understand that huh?) and went back to an earlier way of doing things.

    Have you read the psych studies on how deluded people can be about what they ‘see’ and read when they want to believe something else? The human mind is so very susceptible to the sort of bias that you show here.

  224. @jungney

    Somebody said they wanted to be there when karma catches up with these right wing warriors and I think this is happening.

    It was Blainey’s karma that he had to go on Phillip’s program at this stage of his life, to sell a book that tries to restore his reputation as a scholar rather than a partisan warrior. So old and doddery and with a quavery voice and sounding like a real loser a leaner in fact!

    And to try to find some shreds of respectability with which to wrap the asshattery that is his contribution to the debate.

    Phillip who usually sounds so old seemed positively youthful and absolutely magnanimous in his attitude toward Blainey who supported the liars in the Liberal party and who should take some responsibly for the creation of so much division and distrust in our country.

  225. Read this far and thought “What a dickhead Faustnotes is”. Poor man can’t even read what is on the page. Just making stuff up so he can be a smart arse and show us how superior he is.

    Julie – Well you would know. On a regular basis you make stuff up regarding what other people think or what they have said. You see what you want to see and hear what you want to hear.

  226. I can only assume that you, like the right-wing Libertarians you clearly completely identify with, are concerned that granting even a few aboriginal rights inteferes with the “rights” of rich white guys to own everything.

    You should broaden your horizons if that is the only thing you can assume about libertarians.

  227. @TerjeP

    I have broadened my horizons and what I stated about modern US-style Libertarian political economy is correct. When put into practice, as in the USA, it results in vast and ever-increasing disparities of wealth between a few super-rich people and the masses of the poor and indeed now a declining middle-class. Don’t try the argument “USA isn’t Libertarian.” No, it isn’t purely Libertarian yet but as it becomes more so every year the situation re inequality is rapidly worsening. The USA is a perfect example of where right-wing Libertarianism leads in practice.

    Now, you know I try to be personally non-insulting. However, I remain radically opposed to what I call right-wing US style Libertarianism. I think you don’t understand political economy at all. No doubt you think the same of me. Our views will never meet on fundamentals. We probably shouldn’t tangle on them. We would both be wasting our time.

  228. Terje the point is that I make these judgements or assessments about behaviour based on the knowledge that I have from the many years I was studying and working as a psychologist.

    Do you not accept that psychology and related fields like neuroscience have anything to offer in the way of understanding why people do things? Or is it just that I misunderstand this knowledge?

    The calling people names bit is for sure me making stuff up but really! what is one to do when FN actually makes stuff up about what I wrote.

    Well, he made it up, or was deceived as many studies show people are, by his desire to see what he wanted to see. If one is aware of how significant our motivation is – and the research shows this clearly – in determining what we see, one is more careful about relying on ones’ feelings and beliefs.

    The difference between us could be that you really believe without understanding the research and the evidence, that you are capable of objectivity. I don’t believe this about myself. I know I need to check what others from all perspectives are saying about the problem.

    Look at yourself; look at what Blainey has become because of his refusal to see the other side for so long. He’s a failure and had to go on Phil Adams show and recant and try to save some of his dignity and reputation.

    I can see your side. I have explained that I come from a family of libertarians of all kinds. I do understand how well off right wing business owning or aspiring to own one libertarians think and feel and how it is just plain wrong for other people who don’t want to be this type of person.

    So I’m comfortable with the conclusion that my personal experience of your type of person and many years of studying all that we western people know about how the human brain works and how personalities develop does give me some authority to question your assumptions and gives me the right to be dismissive of them.

    If I am making up stuff about what you say, why do you not answer my questions to you?

    Have you noticed that whenever I reply to you, I ask you questions so that you can clarify your meaning because I do want you to reveal the thought processes that you go through when you come to your conclusions. And it is disappointing that you prefer to respond to the gratuitous insults that I do like to add, and that I fail to censor appropriately rather than answer the questions I ask.

    Do you understand why you choose to do – what motivates you to do that – that rather than to defend your statements with a rational argument?

    I am very aware of how inappropriate I am but as I said to you previously I am not stupid and can understand some things – not economics – far better than you it seems, and it seems from the way that so many people are waking up to the lack of any realism in the Libertarian story that you are on the wrong side.

  229. @Julie Thomas
    Really? The auld shyster had to eat some humble pie in front of Adams? I’m so glad that I’ll look for the podcast and let it soothe me to sleep.

    FN:

    Then we get this silly idea that Aboriginal people chose not to live a capitalist life of exploiting the environment, as if they met a fork in the road and at one end was a coal-fired powerplant and at the other end a goanna, and those simplistic and lovable magical n=groes chose the goanna. I don’t know why my comrades here at JQ haven’t figured out that this kind of theorizing is the worst kind of new age reductionism, but apparently it’s all the rage hereabouts. If only there were a body of scholarship about how negative this kind of magical n=gro ideal is for the people it is applied to, and if only one of our 4wd-riding experts on all things native were familiar with that body of thought …

    Get a grip and stop babbling man. If you’re going to tar people with he broad brush of dabbling in ‘new age reductionism’ then some evidence to substantiate the allegation is needed. What you are arguing against are the echoes of the notion of the ‘noble savage’:

    The term noble savage is a literary stock character that expresses the concept of an idealized indigene, outsider, or “other” who has not been “corrupted” by civilization, and therefore symbolizes humanity’s innate goodness. In English, the phrase first appeared in the 17th century in John Dryden’s heroic play The Conquest of Granada (1672), wherein it was used by a the son of a Christian prince, believing himself a Spanish Muslim, in reference to himself. However, the phrase later became identified with the idealized picture of “nature’s gentleman”, which was an aspect of 18th-century sentimentalism. The noble savage achieved prominence as an oxymoronic rhetorical device after 1851, when used sarcastically as the title for a satirical essay by English novelist Charles Dickens, whom some believe may have wished to disassociate himself from what he viewed as the “feminine” sentimentality of 18th and early 19th-century romantic primitivism.

    But I’ve never seen a view on this blog that comes anywhere near advancing that notion about Aboriginal Australians or anyone else for that matter.

    As to matters of properly addressing people: I’ve heard numerous Aboriginal people describe themselves, men and women, as ‘blackfellas’ so I suggest that the term is gender neutral to their ears. If anyone is letting loose red herrings, it is you. You really ought to come up to speed on Aboriginal women’s criticisms of non-Aboriginal feminism. Kelly Briggs, a Gamilaroi woman from Northern NSW had this to say recently at the Graud:

    My passion is feminism – specifically, black feminism. Sexism, racism and classism are very tightly interwoven in our social fabric. To believe that all women everywhere experience oppression evenly is an entire mountain of bullshit. Feminism that doesn’t take race, financial status and a myriad of other factors into consideration is detrimental to reaching true equality. The feminist conversation in Australia is stagnant and operates from a framework that is actively exclusive to women of colour (and I would go so far as to say people of colour). The feminist topic of “women on company boards” is particularly repugnant, as it assumes that all women are now in positions wherein the main obstacle they’re facing is to advance their careers. It completely ignores the fact that systemic and institutional racism in this country still plays such an enormous role in people’s lives, and that even obtaining a job is a battle within itself, let alone being on a board.

    She may be right but it is not as if this is new analysis:

    Postcolonial feminism is a subset of feminism that developed as a response to the fact that feminism seemed to focus solely on the experiences of women in Western cultures. Postcolonial feminism seeks to account for the way that racism and the long-lasting political, economic, and cultural effects of colonialism affect non-white, non-Western women in the postcolonial world.[1] Postcolonial feminism originated as a critique of feminist theorists in developed countries. The critique points out the universalizing tendencies of mainstream feminist ideas and argues that women living in non-Western countries are misrepresented.

    See that, references, quotes, no babbling?

  230. I’m calling a halt to this thread immediately. Any further comment will lead to a ban, as will attempts to restart this debate on another thread. Could everyone please read the comments policy and abide by it.

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