36 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Okay, I’ll go first. The LNP is waging an all out assault upon people who are in desperate circumstances and, as a direct result, do not have the resources *without government support* to resolve the issues that are either all, or in part, responsible for the circumstances. Whether it is unemployment, spousal violence, crime, serious and/or chronic illness, or injury, or disability, accident, death of the main income provider, etc, the LNP is determined to split the Australian population into two mutually exclusive groups: those who have the independent means to afford *private* assistance for their predicament, e.g. best legal team money can buy, best surgical team, best income protection insurance, best accountants, etc; and, those who do not have the means to resolve their predicament. Having split them so, the very people who cannot afford private assistance *are also losing government assistance* through the cuts to legal services, mental health services, asylum seekers, women’s centres, homelessness services and charities, NDIS, Centrelink (that could need a book-length comment) and all the rest of it. Abbott put $240 million into chaplains in schools, but cut $250 million from front-line support services that a diverse range of charities and not-for-profits (real ones, not the fake ones certain wealthy people set up for their own benefit), and so on. And every day that dawns, there is a new cut or amputation on the horizon.

    When it is toted, it is a full scale frontal assault upon people who have no-one else to turn to for help. The government is filling the moat and pulling up the drawbridge on those people. Why? Because *it doesn’t personally affect them!* The people in power are as a rule people with plenty of wealth behind them, so the likelihood of them hitting a rough patch that is so significant they can’t do without some government aid is pretty much zero, or so damn close to it as to make no difference. What matters to them is how much profit they get from their investments and their businesses, so they want tax cuts and cheaper labour—always! Ask them what they want and it is tax cuts and cheaper labour—always!

  2. @Donald Oats

    That’s an accurate summary. I sometimes ask myself the question. “Are these people, meaning the LNP and neoliberals in general, stupid or cruel or selfish?” The answer is all three. They are stupid. They are cruel. They are selfish. As we all are at times. The honest person admits his or her faults, admits a propensity at times to be stupid or cruel or selfish. Sometimes with training and practice we can correct ourselves. Sometimes we need correction from others. Self-regulation alone never works; not in business and not in personal behaviour. Too much wealth and power insulates people not only from many of life’s accidents, setbacks and injustices. It also insulates people from community correction: from being brought back to realising that all others in a community must be considered, must be given their dues, their rights and their hopes too.

    The main problem is the large wealth and power disparities generated, maintained and ever augmented in this system. This system functions axiomatically (I use the term advisedly) to increase wealth disparities. Marx proved it theoretically. Piketty proved it empirically. The most important equation since e=mc2 (sorry can’t do superscript) is r GT g (sorry can’t use GT sign in this text).

    Of course, e=mc2 is a Physics Law.

    Expressed in conditional form, the formula “if r GT g then inequality increases” is simply an axiom of a formal system. The formal system is the wealth accounting of capitalism carried out based on the legitimizing pretexts of the rules of capitalism; the latter being the legal rules of ownership and reward in the extant system.

    We could change the legal rules of ownership and reward and the formal system of wealth accounting and allocation in our economy very quickly if we could first change minds. This is the great difficulty of course. Mind systems are very difficult to change. Inculcated prejudices, inculcated mental models which are inaccurate compared to the real world but mutually self-reinforcing as prejudiced or purblind minds reinforce each others’ false views, are very diffcult to change.

    The difficulty of changing minds, over the span of history, explains the great predilection, at certain junctures, for puttings spears, spiles and bullets into minds. Revolutionaries, of any type, lose patience with reason, or are forced to abandon it by the complete unreasonableness of their opponents. Let us hope it does not come to that. However, if neoliberalism as a trend continues indefinitely then there are natural end-points to the process of neoliberalisation.

    As Donald Oats points out all the neoliberals want are tax cuts and cheaper labour… always. What is the logical end-point of this process? The logical end-point is zero taxes and zero wages. The corollary is that capital must take a 100% income share. This is the logical end-point. This is indisputable. Equally indisputable is that the logical end-point is impossible. Something must give, some trends must halt or even reverse at some point. But how and when? What halts these trends? It is clear that neoliberals will not halt these trends of their own volition. They want to continue these trends even though plain logic indicates these trends must lead eventually to a collapse of the entire system even neoliberal billionaires depend on. The great majority of humans cannot live on no wages and no welfare, which of course must equate to no food.

    If the neoliberals cannot correct themselves then they must be corrected. If they are corrected relatively kindly it would be preferable. It will also be more than they have deserved. Their minds can be changed by having all their excess wealth confiscated by the people. Then they will learn to live like everyone else.

  3. @Ikonoclast
    I think most of the LNP are smart people, and same goes for the ALP and the Greens, and a few of the cross-benchers, too. What is fairly clear to me is that the reaction of the LNP upon taking power seems to be more savage now than it used to be. Perhaps they drank the made-in-USA kool aid offered by the Rethuglicans.

    In more general terms though, I think that there are many moral calculi, rather than one single moral calculus. A neoliberal who sees the world as lifters and leaners has a moral calculus that bases itself on the deserving rich and the undeserving poor, meaning they believe success is achieved by your own hand: ergo, failure is your fault too. A world view like that isn’t really amenable to giving charity to those you don’t necessarily like.

    Beyond that, I am quite at a loss why these particular two LNP governments have been such vindictive bastards.

  4. Is E10 fuel, with the ethanol produced from Queensland sugar cane, economically and environmentally sustainable? Have you any insights Prof Q?
    We are currently being urged to support it at the pump, and there is the question of mandates and elimination of ULP.

  5. i really like this site i’ve only been banned once (i think)

    but sometimes in no doubt sublime ignorance,there seems to me to be a whiff of the

    “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin”ism.


    it has taken me to the point of coming across and reading such as

    “The Invisible Hand”

    “How market economies have emerged and declined since AD 500”

    Bas Van Bavel

    Oxford University Press 2016

    it seems it ain’t the ideology, it’s the process.

  6. @Donald Oats
    Excellent post, Donald.
    FWIW, I consider Libertarian dogma to be the basis of LNP bastardry. (If the current LNP are not convinced Libertarians, they are certainly fellow-travellers.)
    Judging by comments offered by disciples on other sites, the Libertarian view of ordinary citizens is brutally simple; their very ordinariness i.e failure to reach the higher levels of business, law, politics etc. automatically precludes them from consideration.
    A few online exchanges with Libertarians and feel like I need a shower.
    Am hard put to identify any ideology this side of outright Fascism which so openly delights in identifying those lower on the food chain for the express purpose of rubbing their noses in it. Much of the cruelty is undoubtedly considered ‘justice’, Libertarian-style. After all, Libertarians argue, “my taxes support unemployed druggies”. This ludicrous myth makes no sense in our Sovereign Currency economy. Taxes long ago ceased to be revenue, since the Fiat Money system means (Federal) govt expenditure is not revenue-dependent.
    In an ideal world, the MSM would be querying Coalition politician’s ideological affiliations and equally importantly, the ramifications of those beliefs for the citizenry.
    Until then, we will continue to vote into govt a bunch of Fifth Columnists whose covert aim is dismantling the very apparatus they have been elected to help run.

  7. Coincidentally, Andrew P. Street has written in the Sydney Morning Herald, observing pretty much the same thing as other of us have here. Enter Steve Ciobo, socking it to us with the message that if you want a house, just get a high earning job, and viola, plenty of money for a spare property or two. There are days when I feel like giving up…and these clowns don’t help.

  8. @Donald Oats
    “If you want a house, JUST get a high-earning job”
    Got cancer? Get cured.
    Drowning ? Learn to swim.
    Ciobo is of course a Libertarian.
    Once asked a Libertarian on another site to clarify a comment.
    Did he really mean that everybody not running their own business was a “loser”?
    Back came an affirmative response, faster than slag off a shiny shovel.
    Libertarians lap up Hockey’s divisive “lifters and leaners” crap.

  9. A development in the culture wars caught my attention this week- the Yassmin Abdel Magied/ Jacqui Lambie imbroglio. As an old fashioned leftie who thinks all the Abrahamic religions are patriarchal, authoritarian, anti-gay, dangerously irrational and prone to violence because of the God sanctioned slavery, genocide, stonings, amputations and so on in the instruction manuals (Torah, Bible, Koran, Hadiths) I’m wondering why it is that so few comrades have taken on Abdel Magied’s nonsense about her faith being feminist and her claim that anything bad about her faith is because of culture not religion (as if the two are discrete categories, which they obviously aren’t). How has the left been seduced by this nonsense? It sickens me.

    Of course, I am also sickened by the hypocrisy of the News Corp conservatives who doll up as feminists when they criticise useful idiōtēs like Abdel Magied but go back to defending reactionary Christendom five minutes later.

    Why has so much of the left gone down the obsequious path of cultural relativism rather than the path created by left wing New Atheists like Sam Harris? If Marx and Engels were here, they would quite appropriately barf all over the relativists and shake Harris’ hand.

  10. @HED PE

    “If Marx and Engels were here, they would quite appropriately barf all over the relativists and shake Harris’ hand.”

    You think so? I’m not so sure I am able to work out what these two would do in the context in which this aspect of the ‘culture wars’ has emerged.

    I agree that all the Abrahamic religions are bs and we would be far better off without any of these beliefs that have caused so much distress for people and that form the basis for so many negative cultural practices but I am no longer interested in any sort of war mongering.

    I’m not seduced by her nonsense or sickened; I think Yassmin’s response can be put in a category of ‘errors of that need to be addressed’ but not right now because the negative effects of ‘the left’ disputing her reasoning would be worse than any benefits that would accrue to ‘the cause’. The actual argument is too complex and would be hi-jacked by those with right wing beliefs and the sort of confused thinking that is common among the Jacqui Lambie type of ‘thinking’ person.

    And, I have come to the conclusion that the only way of combating the claims of these religions to be superior to each other in any way is to do it is from the bottom up not top down; at the level of face to face human interaction. So I actively talk to Christians in my community and dispute their foolish beliefs as much as I can without trolling and making fun and enemies of them and I do the same thing on relevant facebook forums.

    It seems to me that the very few Muslims I know are well aware of the ‘faults’ of their religion and have enough to deal with without being challenged at this time.

  11. Thanks for a thoughtful and well articulated response, Julie. I have a great deal of respect for the position you have just set out.

  12. @HED PE
    Totally agree Hed. Prior to the emergence of the New Atheists and well before the coining of the term ‘Islamophobe’, most on the Left would have endorsed Sam Harris’ quote that Islam was amongst religions, on a sliding scale, the ‘mother-lode of bad ideas’ without much controversy. They had credibility because of long-standing criticism of conservative reactionary Christianity.
    Recently, Harris has despaired over the actions of the ..er…U.S. Left and has identified their behaviour as aiding the Right. Now the term ‘The Regressive Left’ is used to distinguish those who follow the path you’ve described. This is an easy target for the Right, so now anyone on the Left has to endure being included, or ironically, having opinions grouped with those of Jacqui and Pauline. We also have to endure the lionizing of critics like Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopoulos who easily skewer the relativistic Left.
    The Southern Poverty Law Center in the U.S. has listed Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali on their list of ‘Anti-Muslim Extremists, thus undermining their credibility.
    As comedian Bill Maher has said: ‘ we need to identify illiberalism wherever we find it in the world, and not forgive it because it comes from [a group that] people perceive as a minority.”
    We only have minor skirmishes compared with the battles of the U.S. Culture Wars, but we shouldn’t hesitate to call out the likes of Abdel Magied, especially from the perspective of the Left.

  13. Wirram, we must be channeling each other! The Southern Poverty Law Center- whom I had previously thought an unimpeachable source- listing Maajid Nawaz as an anti-Muslim extremist was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.

    As Maajid Nawaz notes, people named and listed as anti-Islam are routinely killed. Ten atheists on a list of 83 Bangladeshi atheists have been assassinated by Islamists to date. He also mentions a European case but I don’t recall the details.

    I’m not sure what you are saying about Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopoulos. I do not know the former and the only thing I have read by Milo was a nasty attempt to delegitimise transgender folk. After that I decided to switch off at the sight and sound of his name.

    The Regressive Left also appears to be winning the culture wars in academia if the sociologist Kevin Dunn is correct:

    “It is widely accepted that discriminating and vilifying people on the basis of their religion is a form racism. This is now the broadly accepted definition by social scientists. “


    Taken literally, this means I can’t say anything mean about the clots who run Scientology or the Reverend Jim Jones of Kool-Aid fame without being labelled a racist. Scientology already uses the court system to silence critics. If our social science buddies have their way, they will also soon have recourse to legislation like the RDA!

  14. @HED PE
    Hed, I think I heard Shapiro and Yiannopoulos on a Dave Rubin podcast…mp3’s I listen to while walking. I also listened to those with former EDL activist Tommy Robinson, and Spectator columnist Douglas Murray. Rubin and Gad Saad, ostensibly Liberal in the US sense, have taken to crusading against the excesses of the ‘regressive’ Left by giving guest spots to right wing and libertarian critics, with whom they disagree on most unspecified topics. It’s a laudable enough aim, flying the banner for free speech, but I do wish they would highlight the fact that the Left isn’t inherently relativist or monolithic…but perhaps that’s a personal and Australian perspective(?).
    The podcasts confirmed my profound revulsion for the first two, and the likes of conservative rags like the Spectator, but curiously enough, not so much the podcasts of Robinson and Murray, about whom I previously knew little.
    I think I know where you’re coming from, but I’m not sure of the ‘old-fashioned leftie’ tag….philosophically I’d identify with Tom Paine over Edmund Burke.
    I like the Sam Harris podcasts, which have allowed me to form opinions of some controversial figures like Canadian Jordan Peterson. I’m not too keen on Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s political trajectory, but have some understanding of why it may have happened. Her books are fine and her courage beyond doubt IMHO, yet she is the bete noir of certain on the Left.

  15. I listened to a Sam Harris podcast with David Frum last night. Frum is an anti-Trump Republican who was kicked out of the American Enterprise Institute for upsetting the tribe and now writes for the Atlantic. I was impressed by his high calibre intellect, politeness, insight into Trump and and principled stance. I’ve only just started getting into podcasts. I have a lot top catch up on!

  16. @GrueBleen
    Not only them…possibly any belief system encompassing the idea of the supernatural. The Abrahamic religions have collectively the most adherents, and there is the notion that monotheism leads to greater intolerance of others.
    Not sure about Buddhism…some have pointed out that in some variants, it passes muster, but in others approaches the ‘mumbo jumbo’ factor of supernatural religions. Perhaps someone can…er…enllghten us. Confucianism?…”sociopolitical doctrine having religious qualities.” Wikipedia.

  17. Tim, I try to be polite. I take it you are the type of troll who enjoys making comment threads toxic places where folk claw at each other. How about we come to an arrangement, I ignore you and you ignore me. Does that sound sensible to you?

    As to GrueBleen’s question, of course other religions are troublesome. Religion is never far removed from the power relations in a society and the dominant religion usually serves vested interests, for instance the Hindu caste system.

    Some argue that spiritual belief systems in pre-state societies are generally more egalitarian and less toxic. My own reading suggests there is some truth to that at the margins but those types of spiritual belief systems also have terrible problems and should not be romanticised, for example illness is often considered the product of sorcery and leads to payback; certain groups get singled out for persecution (eg albinos harvested for “magical” organs in parts of Africa), ill people and women who miscarry can be considered bringers of bad luck and excluded from the group (eg in parts of PNG women who miscarry are taken outside the village and left to die because they bring bad luck to the village) and so on.

    Wirram says “Not sure about Buddhism”. Buddhism is interesting as it can be a secular philosophy as well as a religion. Those who argue Buddhism is necessarily peaceful might want to consider the role of Buddhist monks in the oppression of the Rohingya in Burma, the civil war in Sri Lanka, and the role of lamas in feudal Tibet. But to be fair, we must also consider Bhutan, the land of Gross National Happiness. In balance, I think Buddhism has been a kinder,gentler religion(s) than the Abrahamic ones, which are virulently and inherently patriarchal, homophobic and misogynistic. Of course the praxis of Buddhism has those features as well but not to the same extent.

  18. @Wirram

    and flirting with GrueBleen

    Hmmm, well that’s definitely a new one on me.

    “…any belief system encompassing the idea of the supernatural

    And then there are those of us who know that anything which actually exists – whether or not we can discern its ‘ding an sich’ – is inescapably natural. Simple binary choice: natural or non-existent.

    Buddhism…some have pointed out that in some variants, it passes muster,…

    Whose muster of what ? Though yes, Buddhism is basically a personality cult rather than a deistic or theistic religion. I have always wondered though, where Buddhist ‘lives’ come from – has there always been a huge (multi-multi-billions) pool waiting a turn of “rebirth” or are they created ‘on the fly’ and what exactly happens to those who do escape samsara ? And so on and so forth etc etc.

    Incidentally, according to Wikipedia (entry: List_of_religious_populations), the third biggest “religion” is no religion at all at about 1.1 billion non-souls world wide.

  19. @HED PE
    Just interpolating here, HED, but Tim has been a commenter in ProfQ’s blog for quite a long time and he isn’t a troll – ProfQ simply doesn’t tolerate trolls and bans them from the blog very quickly. I think Tim was just having a little jocular thrust between ‘mates’.

    Otherwise, if we are talking about ‘Buddhism’ (or ‘Christianity’ or ‘Islam’ or whatever), can I inquire as to your understanding of the term ‘reification’. Religions have no existence whatsoever other than as the collective actions of their practioners/believers. (A text is not a religion, it is merely a text).

    So to talk about Buddhism (or Christianity or Islam etc) as “peaceful” can only be meaningly interpreted as “the behaviour of many practitioners/believers is peaceful”. On that basis what do we know about the collective behaviour of “Buddhists” ? Are they really more peacefull in aggregate that any other set of belief adherents ?

  20. @GrueBleen

    Hahaha That value judgement comes from my childhood indoctrination from a father who admired Tom Paine and hated Christianity and Catholicism in particular. I dont’ remember him having any pov on other non western religions except Jehovah Witnesses.

    He had apparently to win favour with my mother before she agreed to marry him, gone to some Jehovah Witness meetings and I remember that he thought they were fools with some good ideas like, pacificism and no nationalism.

    He did admire my mother’s mother who he said was the only non-hypocrite religious person he had ever known; she refused to paint her house back in the early ’60’s because the world was ending in 1967. Luckily she died before that didn’t happen but it didn’t seem to bother the other relations on that side of the family; they still go to Kingdom Hall.

    But about Tom Paine. I had a conversation with a Pauline Hanson fan on fb a while ago and it went from her telling me to stick it up my backside – not sure what exactly she was referring to but I assumed it was my idea that Christianity and Islam both came from the Middle East. Seriously there are people who think that Christianity comes from Europe and Jesus was blonde and blue eyed.

    This woman wasn’t a Christian and thought all the turning the other cheek nonsense was also something that should be stuck up a backside, so I found a few biblical quotes in which God urges some awful things upon women and other unbelievers which were amazingly similar to the things that Allah says to do to and she was a bit nonplussed about that and then asked me some questions about the historical roots of the one-God religions, as I was calling them.

    And then, we actually managed to bond and find some common ground over a couple of Tom Paine quotes.

    I think that Paine was okay with her because clearly he couldn’t have been a leftie being from a long time ago before there were lefties and a culture war so she was willing to read my wiki link about him and his ‘proof’ that Christianity was bs.

    And about Buddhism, we can’t ‘know’ anything according to Buddha.

  21. Thanks, GrueBleen, if you are right about Tim I apologise to Tim unreservedly and go sit on the naughty chair. I read it as a homophobic slur. I’m really touchy about that as I have gay friends who I love to bits. As to reification, you are of course correct. Reification as I understand it is the problem of talking about a concept or category as if it were an actual person with motives etc. While reification is a problem, it can be difficult to briefly make a point (as is required in a blog comment) without invoking it. You may not that I used the word praxis and wrote “Buddist(s)” above because what really matters is the behaviour of individuals within religion “x”, not the text. To me, a religion is its praxis, not its texts, which in event tend to be incredibly messy.

    To definitively answer the question “are Buddhists more peaceful in aggregate” would require a definitive study with a complicated statistical analysis and a great application of time and resources. I’m just a humble blog commenter, so that ain’t gonna happen. Also not I don’t believe Buddhism is peaceful other than comparatively and I have given examples of it being the very opposite of peaceful, such as the current situation in Burma. But I do believe women are generally somewhat freer in Buddhist societies than in Abrahamic societies and that this is associated with less violence, probably including less domestic violence. To put it another way, I accept the feminist argument that patriarchy is a causal factor for violence.

  22. I just saw that comment, Tim. I am terribly sorry and unapologise unreservedly. I must be tone deaf.

  23. @HED PE
    That’s fine, no dramas. It’s easy to misread textual communication in that way. It certainly wasn’t intended as a homophobic slur. I have no idea of your or wirram’s gender – both your monikers are decidedly nondescript. Sorry it came across that way.

  24. On the Buddhism thing, I’m no expert but it doesn’t seem to me that that’s much evidence to suggest that Buddhists are more or less peaceful than anyone else. Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka are all majority Buddhist societies and they’ve seen their fair share of violence in recent years, including sectarian violence perpetrated by Buddhists against religious minorities. Also, as I understand it, when Buddhism became established as the predominant religion in Tibet, the Tibetan Buddhists engaged in at least one episode of persecuting the adherents of the rival Bon religion.

  25. @Tim Macknay
    Whew…treading lightly in the textual minefield…where the light-hearted quip can be miscontrued… or not. For a moment, I wondered if I had correctly read Tim’s response.
    The idea of a non-gendered moniker or a hint at homophobia didn’t occur to me.
    For the inconsequential record, I’m a long-time fan/lurker of Prof Q’s blog, including the comments section. I’m a mid-century Boomer straight male, living in a regional SE Qld. city.
    I appreciate HED’s and others thoughtful responses.
    Any organization that carries an article of this quality can’t be half bad:

  26. @HED PE
    I think you and I are pretty much of one mind re religion in general and Buddhism in particular. And ‘praxis’ is, I think, the correct terminolgy (sheesh, I haven’t used that word in 30 or more years … not since I tried to make sense of Aron Nimzowitsch’s ‘Chess Praxis’, anyhow – in fact so long ago that we used to spell his name Niemzovich then.).

  27. @Tim Macknay
    While thinking about Buddhists being ‘peaceful’ Tim, it behoves us to remember that the Tibetans had a large empire for many years – from the 7th to the 9th century – that extended quite a way into what is now modern China.

    Which is one of those things that some people learn too late: never invade China unless you can hold it forever.

  28. @Julie Thomas
    Hello again.

    And about Buddhism, we can’t ‘know’ anything according to Buddha.

    And not according to logic and epistemology, either. And especially not according to N. David Mermin who was so careful to distinguish between ‘explanations’ and ‘descriptions’.

    But you do have some interesting ancestors, don’t you. The most I could say about my father is that he was a fairly simple ‘freethinker’ or, as we would call him today, a ‘deist’. he still made me go to Sunday School and I even won some scripture prizes. So it goes.

    Seriously there are people who think that Christianity comes from Europe and Jesus was blonde and blue eyed.

    Yes, well to take up HED’s term, a great deal of Christian praxis did indeed originate in Europe. As to the (non-existent) JC, I’ve always had a major problem with how an avatar of God would appear. One may say that, since the Jews were “God’s chosen” he would look like a Jew. But then, he is God (Part 3) and can appear any way he chooses, even appearing differently to different people at the same time.

    But then, maybe he just couldn’t fake an epicanthic fold and the lack of gluteal sulcus so he didn’t ever appear in China. But because of the Mormons, we know he did appear in north America, though obviously he was completely invisible to the Amerinds (aka indigenes).

    But glad to see you are still proselytizing with grace and rigour.

  29. @Royce Arriso LNP are on speed, libertarians are on ice.

    More simply, one is more demented than the other however both are demented – they see and speak with apparitions.

  30. @Ikonoclast
    I entered a post a few minutes ago which got diverted into the “awaiting moderation” pool. However, if you should ever get to read either it or this post, you may be entertained by an article in Bloomberg. Just Google:

    Bloomberg “time to restart that old capitalism death watch”

    Enjoy !

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