INDUSTRIAL WORKERS OF THE WORLD
Introduction: The Chicago Centenary
The last weekend of June, 2005, the IWW commemorates the 186 labor visionaries who met in Chicago at Brand’s Hall on Tuesday, June 27, 1905, at ten o’clock AM, to hear William D. "Big Bill" Haywood speak the following words:
"Fellow workers... this is the Continental Congress of the working class. We are here to confederate the workers of this country into a working class movement that shall have for its purpose the emancipation of the working class from the slave bondage of capitalism. There is no organization, or there seems to be no labor organization, that has for its purpose the same object as that for which you are called together to-day. The aims and objects of this organization should be to put the working class in possession of the economic power, the means of life, in control of the machinery of production and distribution, without regard to capitalist masters."
Sab Cat - A symbol for "sabotage" (i.e. inefficiency at the point of production by disgruntled workers), usually represented by a black cat with bared teeth. Also called "sab kitty", "sabo-tabby", or "the cat".
Photo by Mannie De Saxe, Sydney July 2005 of Mosaic in Footpath outside Newtown Neighbourhood Centre
This letter appeared in The Age newspaper on 15 October 2005 headed "Civil Liberties":
Geoff Muirden of the Australian Civil Liberties Union joins other so-called civil libertarians (Letters, 14/10) in trying to convince us that the new anti-terror laws will result in a massive loss of civil liberties. Well, I woke up yesterday morning and didn't feel in any way as though I had fewer civil liberties. Freely writing to the newspaper and knowing the next elections haven't been cancelled pretty much confirmed it for me.
On the other hand, I now believe I, and the greater population, can continue to enjoy our far more important civil liberty of not being blown up or killed.
Daniel Lewis, Rushcutters Bay, NSW
In response to the above letter I wrote a reply to The Age and - surprise! surprise!! - they did not print it! Straight away a contradiction of what Daniel had to say about a free and unbiased press. Another form of censorship!
Mannie De Saxe, Lesbian and Gay Solidarity, Melbourne
2/12 Murphy Grove Preston Vic 3072 Phone:(03) 9471 4878
email: josken_at_zipworld_com_au web: http://home.zipworld.com.au/~josken
Isn't Daniel Lewis the lucky one? (The Age 15 October 2005) He woke up and didn't feel in any way as though he had any fewer civil liberties. That's how Germans thought in 1933 as did South Africans in 1948, and we all know what happened to their civil liberties in a very few years!
Daniel is freely writing to this newspaper, which prints only what it thinks its readers should read. Try writing something a little "subversive", Daniel, and see how far you will get. Define "subversive" in the new legal dispensation being proposed by the federal government and so blithely accepted by Federal Labor and the Labor states and territories and a few mornings after the bills have become law you will notice subtle changes taking place.
As Pastor Niemoller said, "First they came for the communists - - - - !" Oh, and by the way, censorship of media will follow swiftly as well! You have been warned! Big Brother is watching you! Remember Orwell's 1984.
Mannie De Saxe
To Nicola Roxon MP Federal Labor Member of Parliament
Mannie De Saxe PO Box 1675 Preston South Vic 3072
Phone:(03)9471 4878 email: josken_at_zipworld_com_au
No attacks on Labor are gratuitous. It was the Victorian ALP which gave the remaining Senate seat to Family First, ensuring that Howard would have control of both houses of Parliament.
The Labor Party continues to not represent those who were its staunchest members and is now ingratiating itself with big business and forgetting about its original power base.
The ALP has so aligned itself with the government's anti-terrorism legislation - and you as shadow attorney general should know better - that you will be just as responsible as Howard and Ruddock for turning Australia into a police state.
And I know a police state when I see one, having come from South Africa in the middle phases of the police state in operation. It is not fun to live in - censorship of the media, labelling someone who differs from your point of view as a subversive and ensuring indefinite detention - this is what you are supporting - and all the rest!
And to crown it all, we now have the ALP leader wanting to ensure that god and christianity are the state religions of Australia, and seeking guidance from god to run his elections!! He is showing that he has to equal the Coalition's show of adherence to christianity while breaking all the ethical codes in the book, supported by its willing partner, the ALP.
Thank god I am an atheist, and, as we know, religion is the opium of the masses. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!!! When do we see opposition in the Australian parliament? Not in our lifetime!
Mannie De Saxe
How very convenient!! The Australian Prime Minister, frustrated by the delays to his anti-terrorism bills by a few politicians with doubts about the police state aspects of the new bills, announces to the Federal Parliament at the same time as the introduction of the Industrial Relations bills, that Australia has received definite information that there are acts of terror about to be launched in this country and we need the protection of the bills for the sake of the security of the citizens of Australia!!
Cynicism?? I don't think so! Lie after lie after lie, and still people believe the latest lies spewing forth from Canberra and act accordingly. Two things to remember:
South Africa the Police state and
The Hilton Hotel bombing of 1978 a mystery still unsolved and evidence still suppressed!
The truth of all these stories is that Howard now has control of both houses of parliament and intends to assume dictatorial powers, for him a long time in the coming - Tampa, children overboard, no gst, the list is endless-------
Let's face it - the Industrial Relations and anti-terrorism bills are designed to cow the population into abject terror and complete submissiveness, and any opposition and/or protests will be put down with force and detention, either home or prison.
BE AFRAID! BE VERY AFRAID!!!!!
A dictionary definition of "to cow" is TO TERRORIZE INTO SUBMISSIVENESS!
You have been warned!
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
I wrote to Margo Kingston's webdiary in reponse to the ongoing debates about the Howard government's attacks on the industrial relations legislation and the proposed alterations to anti-terrorism legislation. The attacks against me in response were rude, unwarranted, racist and personal.
I am aware that many blogs have personal attacks taking place in them much of the time, but find that if those who write to blogs would address the issues rather than the people, the results might be more productive and edifying.
After the attacks in the items below, I have decided not to contribute to Margo's webdiary any further, as I believe the insults are just not worth the effort. Of course what I said is open to correction, as would anybody who makes assertions, but assertions are not necessarily incorrect and vituperative attacks are simply not warranted!
MARGO KINGSTON'S WEBDIARY ON THE HOWARD GOVERNMENT'S ANTI-TERRORISM AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS LEGISLATIONS - COMMENTS ON 3 AND 4 NOVEMBER 2005
There are a few important points in the ongoing debate on IR and AT. There is no opposition in Australia, the me dia are practically all Howard's yes men and women, and the population at large simply aren't aware of how all the new laws will affect them until it will be too late.
No new legislation is required as far as national security is concerned - the government has had for many years - since the Hilton bombing of 13 February 1978 in fact - all the legislation it has needed. And, as yet, 28 years after the Hilton bombing and several prison terms served by those innocent of any involvement in the bombing, no one has been apprehended and charged - and jailed - for that act!
The South African apartheid police state learned a great deal from Goebbels and the Nazi propaganda machine and the Nuremberg race laws, and the Howard government has learned these as well.
They are playing the race card for all it is worth - the Hanson legacy - and it all ties in with the Howard plan to turn Australia into a dictatorship where opponents are locked up.
And if you still think there will be elections in a few years time and the gove rnment can be got rid of, remember that if a state of emergency is declared, then a ban on further elections can be instituted because it would be against the national interest and security and we can all be locked up as subversives. Remember what Hitler did after February 1933! I came from the South African police state and I know how these things can happen.
And yes, it is very depressing! I left South Africa in 1978 believing I would never again live in a police state - how wrong can one be!! And at 79 I don't think I can have another such upheaval in my life! However, to be positive about it, most of the regimes have collapsed in the end and the leaders have - mostly - been called to account.
Posted by: Mannie De Saxe
THIS IS A RESPONSE TO MY CONTRIBUTION ABOVE TO THE MARGO KINGSTON WEBDIARY
Sometimes I wonder why I bother. Is no-one listening? How many links to the Constitution have to be posted here before some of you actually go and read the frig ging thing. Why do so many Australians think our Constitution is the same as the US Constitution? It isn't.
Why is it that so many of you reffos come here without any course in civics and just assume that it works here the way it did in the old gulag? My f avourite story is the Headmaster of Vaucluse High having to explain to Russian emigres after the collapse of the Soviet Union that it was not actually necessary to bribe him to get their children into the school.
Now, Mannie De Saxe, gotcha. Read s28 of the Constitution for pity's sakes. It provides for a maximum term of three years for the House of Reps. We HAVE to have an election at least every three years.
State of Emergency my fat aunt (only got one left). This is Australia not South Africa. Now can I get on with something useful?
Posted by: Malcolm B Duncan
Getting on with something useful (with apologies to Malcolm B Duncan) - Section 28 of the Australian Constitution states: DURATION OF HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Every House of Representatives shall continue for three years from the first meeting of the House, and no longer, but may be sooner dissolved by the Governor-General.
Section 5 of the Constitution states: SESSIONS OF PARLIAMENT. PROROGATION AND DISSOLUTION: The Governor-General may appoint such times for holding the sessions of Parliament as he thinks fit, and may also from time to time, by Proclamation or otherwise, prorogue the Parliament, and may in like manner dissolve the House of Representatives.
Now why would one think about 11 November 1975??
"The powers accorded to the Governor-General in the Constitution are considerable. The Governor-General may (amongst other things)command the armed forces (section 68) appoint and, on address from both Houses of Parliament, remove High Court Justices and other Justices of a court created by the Parliament (section 72).
And people think it can't happen here because they don't have any fat aunts left and find the topic boring!
Remember Pastor Niemoller and remember other democratically elected governments, and NEVER forget that anything can happen in a country where the government has complete control of both houses of the parliament ably assisted by the assistant prime minister and his Alternative Liberal Party!
BE AFRAID! BE VERY AFRAID!!
Posted by: Mannie De Saxe 08/11/2005 12:00:03 AM
Parse s5 carefully, Mannie de Saxe.
"The Governor-General may appoint such times for holding the sessions of Parliament as he thinks fit, and may also from time to time, by Proclamation or otherwise, prorogue the Parliament, and may in like manner dissolve the House of Representatives."
Also look as ss7, 12, 13, 28, 32 and 57.
First, the difference between prorogation and dissolution is important. The G-G prorogues either house by suspending its sitting, that does not end its existence. Dissolution does. He only has the power to dissolve the Senate under s57, the double-dissolution clause.
My beef about 1975 arises from this: at the time Fraser sought a double-dissolution election on the basis of Labour Bills (they could spell in those days) which had been twice rejected by the Senate, he had lost the confidence of the House and was by convention bound to resign his commission. He did not. In my view, Kerr would have had power to dissolve the House of Representatives if it were the case that only Whitlam could command a majority in the lower House but could not guarantee supply (which was not the case because in between Fraser being commissioned and him losing the confidence of the Lower House, the Senate had passed supply) but Kerr never had the power to dissolve the Senate.
The system, as designed, was to give three year terms to the House of Representatives unless the G-G of his own motion (in the case of a deadlock) or on the advice of his Ministers disolved it earlier by issuing writs for an election. The Senate was supposed to be elected in two halves, each going to the people at a fixed three year interval unless a double dissolution intervened and was necessary to resolve a deadlock between the Houses. Note that it is the Governors of the States - not the G-G - who issue writs for Senate elections.
There is no power whatsoever to declare a state of emergency although there are Aid to the Civil Power provisions in Part IIIAAA of the Defence Act.
Why do we let people into this country without requiring them to pass a test in Civics?
Posted by: Malcolm B Duncan 08/11/2005 9:32:49 AM
"Why do we let people into this country without requiring them to pass a test in Civics?"
Now let's see, those who came to Australia from 1788 were well versed in the civics of the indigenous people of Australia when they stole the land???Malcolm, it is irrelevant how long people have been here and what civics or other they may have studied. A course in demographics and sociology and anthropology might help your own education. Some of us have been "allowed" into Australia because we escaped from Nazi-like regimes and hoped for something better here, only to be disappointed some 30 years later.
Just for your historical, genealogical records, my father, his mother and her mother were all born in Australia, although I believe that to be irrelevant to an interpretation of the Australian constitution. This is a case of teaching your grandmother to go and suck eggs, although in my case it is your grandfather - heaven forbid!
None of your pedantry removes the aspects of the bills before the present parliament and our future lives in this country. A country in which there is no parliamentary opposition and in which every state and territory leader is in agreement with the proposals of the federal government to restrict our freedoms. And you attack my knowledge of the Australian Constitution!
To quote Alan Paton yet again, "Cry, the beloved country!"
Posted by: Mannie De Saxe 08/11/2005 4:46:11 PM
Mannie De Saxe you are upset that I point out that you do not know what you are talking about yet claim some "ancestral" connection with Australia. Doesn't seem to have communicated knowledge through the gene structure.
I'm not here to be nice to people or court popularity, I'm here to contribute to proper understanding. What was the problem? What you said was wrong. How do we fix it? We point out you were wrong, how you were wrong and give you the information you need not to be wrong in the future. Do we have the will to fix the problem? In spades sweetie.A lesson in civics as you were escaping from a repressive regime would have taken about a day. Small price to pay for freedom I say.
If you now want to preserve that freedom, it is better that you attempt to do so from an informed point of view.
Posted by: Malcolm B. Duncan 08/11/2005 8:09:01 PM
Singapore has a government, the head of which calls himself “Prime Minister” in a country which has no free and fair elections, has a theoretical opposition which is not allowed to say anything, trumps up spurious charges against the opposition leader and allows him to starve by selling his books in a park!!, has the strictest of censorship regulations and a media which is controlled by the state and treats its citizens as third class people, thus maintaining its dictatorship.
Singapore has been involved in the shadiest of drug dealings with the shadiest of countries – Burma – and by virtue of hanging a young man who was not even involved with bringing drugs into Singapore – has shown its utter contempt for the rule of law. Whose law? Human Rights laws?
Singapore claims – as it would – that the death penalty acts as a deterrent. If this were true, and it has been proved over and over again that the death penalty deters no crimes whatever, there would be no crimes in Singapore (nor the other countries such as the USA, China, Iran, Democratic [sic]Republic of Congo, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Yemen ) and no need to exercise the option of capital punishment.
Singapore’s “Prime Minister” Lee Hsing Loong and “High Commissioner” in Australia Joseph K.H.Koh have both tried to justify their government’s murder of a young Australian man Nguyen Tuong Van with claims about their country’s strong stance on drugs. So drugs are not a problem in Singapore? Drugs are not a problem globally? Why are there drug problems in the first place? Does that mean that society is deficient in its behaviour towards people who use drugs?
Society is deficient in its handling of the drug situations around the world in many ways. The social conditions which start people using drugs in the first place have been analysed over and over again, and some solutions consist in changing the circumstances of people’s lives. But capitalists can’t allow this, they need people to remain in a subdued submissive state in order to tolerate their conditions, so they and the governments of the countries in which they operate encourage the use of drugs – many of them illegal – supplied by drug handlers globally, and the main dealers and the governments which permit this trade encourage and get rich on the process.
There is an abhorrence in the thought of state-sanctified murder, and the states which exercise this system of “justice” are themselves guilty of crimes against humanity, and they should be tried before international courts and brought to justice.
David Marr’s article in The Age, Saturday 3 December 2005 gives details of capital punishment countries around the world in tables supplied by Amnesty International. In a table for 1999-2003, these are some of the figures quoted in the article:
*Known Executions (China)
In a further article on the death penalty in the same newspaper, Meaghan Shaw writes that executions are on the rise despite a new wave of abolition. She writes:
“One of the paradoxes highlighted by the hanging of Nguyen Tuong Van is that while fewer and fewer countries are practicing the death penalty, the number of people being executed worldwide in recent years has increased.”
Iran, which continues to be one of the world’s worst state sanctioned murder centres, has just perpetrated yet another horrendous homophobic murder by executing two gay men, just months after executing two young teenage boys on homosexual charges, which many believe may have been trumped up events.
Despite all the capital punishments inflicted by states around the world, state murders which are therefore not considered as crimes against its citizens by the perpetrators, those “crimes for which people are executed continue and will continue, despite the mealy-mouthed statements by the Singaporean Prime Minister (sic) and his yes-person in Canberra, the High Commissioner Joseph K.H.Koh. As Singapore continues to be a Commonwealth country, the Queen of the UK, who is the titular head of the Commonwealth countries, could have intervened to stop this heinous crime, but did nothing about it. So much for Lizzie Windsor!!
Let us make no bones about it, the death penalty is merely governments trying to show they are in control of crime and that state-sanctioned executions will reduce crime, but Human Rights advocates around the world have proved over and over again that the death penalty is no deterrent and is merely murder by the state!
And let’s look at one of the most hypocritical responses yet by the Australian government! They did everything in their power to stop the execution – so they say, but those who have been involved in the story from the beginning paint a very different picture, and the Australian government had one response for Singapore and a completely different one for Indonesia over other death sentences in that country.
For four and a half years, Australian citizen David Hicks has been locked up - allegedly tortured - without trial. Now, the US Supreme Court has confirmed what the world already knew: that David Hicks never had a hope for a fair trial because the system set up to try prisoners at Guantanamo Bay was fatally flawed from the start.
Enough is enough! No more waiting for a decision to be made somewhere else. No more excuses for supporting a system found to be unlawful. With our government facing unprecedented pressure to find a real solution now, tell them it's time for David Hicks to come home and let justice run its course.www.getup.org.au/campaign/DefendAustralianRights
As leaders from around the world had their citizens removed from Guantanamo Bay, and even America's staunchest allies called for this 'symbol of injustice' to be closed down, the Australian Government continued its support.
Their excuse has been that David Hicks cannot be tried in Australia - but eminent legal authorities have refuted this claim.*
The only path to justice now, without months or even years more of unwarranted delays, is for the Australian Government to step up and finally do its job. Demand Alexander Downer and John Howard take action to bring David Hicks home immediately - and let the evidence be heard.www.getup.org.au/campaign/DefendAustralianRights"
When GetUp first began this campaign last year, media from around the world, starting with The New York Times, reported our willingness to defend the rights of a citizen our government had abandoned.
This week, one of Australia's leading prosecutors, NSW Director of Public Prosecutions Nick Cowdery, QC, called Hicks' case "an unprincipled disgrace" and said the Government now had "no excuse" for not seeking his return.
Each of us has the right to a fair trial, and David Hicks' rights must no longer be forsaken for political convenience. If you haven't already, please join us now in taking a stand.www.getup.org.au/campaign/DefendAustralianRights"
Thanks for being part of this, The GetUp team
*including Professor George Williams and Devika Hovell, directors of the public and international law units respectively at the University of NSW
If you have trouble with any links in this email, please go directly to www.getup.org.au
GetUp is an independent, not-for-profit community campaigning group. We use new technology to empower Australians to have their say on important national issues.
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WHEN a man's plea for help is rejected by both of the countries that legally owe him a duty of care, it is clear that political expediency has triumphed over justice. David Hicks, the only Westerner still incarcerated in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, was born in Adelaide of an English mother. This entitles him to dual citizenship. Since January 2002, Hicks has languished in detention while the Australian Government has denied any obligation for his welfare, preferring to support clear breaches of international law by its American allies. Now, the British Foreign Office has decided not to make representations for his release because he was an Australian citizen when captured and handed to US forces.
Asked about the British decision on ABC radio yesterday, Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, was dismissive. "It's really nothing to do with us," he said. Given this nation's shameful complicity in Hicks's continued imprisonment, his response was entirely predictable.
Mr Downer's words sum up 4½ years of denial of responsibility by the Australian Government. In putting its relationship with the US ahead of both its duty to its citizens and its international obligations, the Government has been acquiescent in eroding human rights and allowing diplomacy to obfuscate democratic values. In so doing it has set a dangerous precedent.
It was Australia's compliance with US demands that prompted Hicks' legal team to pursue his right to British citizenship. Had he obtained this citizenship before leaving for Afghanistan, he would almost certainly now be a free man, as are the nine other British citizens originally detained by the Americans but released without charge from Guantanamo Bay following representations by the Blair Government. Their release was consistent with Britain's repeated condemnation of the system of detention in Guantanamo as an abuse of legal process. The decision not to act on Hicks' behalf is inconsistent with this, but it does not absolve Australia of its responsibilities. Hicks was born in this country, he has not broken any Australian laws and he was detained as an "enemy combatant" in circumstances where no war had been declared.
That the outcome of this latest attempt to gain a fair trial, if not freedom, depended on nothing more substantial than the timing of his application for British citizenship is the latest example of the capriciousness that has been a hallmark of the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay from the start.
The decision was preceded this week by the news that 14 Saudi Arabian nationals had been sent home, two weeks after three suicides at the facility. There was also the announcement that the Pentagon is preparing to release or transfer a further 120 of the approximately 450 prisoners remaining there. The US Defence Department has said that their release is subject to continuing discussions between the United States and other nations. Obviously Australia is not one of these nations.
Indeed Australia is all but alone in not agitating for the release of one of its citizens. Instead Hicks is in solitary confinement in the American prison that Amnesty International has described as a gulag. His fate may now depend on a case before the US Supreme Court, brought by another Guantanamo Bay prisoner, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni national accused of being a driver for Osama bin Laden. The case questions the legality of the military commissions set up to prosecute Guantanamo inmates, including Hicks.
Australia should be ashamed that it has come to this. The charges against Hicks — conspiracy, attempted murder and aiding the enemy — would be unlikely to stand up in Australia as he was not engaged in a declared war and has killed no one. Strangely, this appears to be the Government's reason for abrogating its responsibility to Hicks. He is a victim of Australia's "special relationship" with the United States in its war on terror. It seems that this relationship is more important to the Government than protecting a citizen's human rights.
Melanie Lazarow's letter below was published in The Age on 30 August 2006 after the federal attorney-general had placed a banning order - called a control order by his government - on Jack Thomas who had just been acquitted of terrorism charges:
THE "control orders" placed on Jack Thomas remind me vividly of "banning orders" in apartheid South Africa. Banning orders were a way of threatening and controlling dissidents and anti-apartheid activists. In fact, the times we live in now remind me strongly of living in South Africa and the period before the overthrow of apartheid.
I don't believe for one minute that the "control order" imposed on Thomas is to protect the Australian community. It is in fact vengeance for the law having been fairly applied and an attempt to scare the rest of us who disagree with draconian laws of all types.
Richard Neville wrote the following article which was published in The Age newspaper on 23 September 2006. The author has kindly given permission for his article to be reproduced here in full. As the article refers to so many of the important political events confronting us at the moment, it is necessary for it to reach as wide an audience as possible.
Thank you Richard, and by extension, thanks also to Spooner for his picture of Richard.
When the Prime Minister of Hungary, Ferenc Gyurcsany, was caught telling the truth to his party about the lies he had told the electorate, and how he had "screwed up", citizens with flowers and the odd Molotov cocktail rushed to Parliament and state TV. When John Howard was caught lying about refugees who "threw their children overboard", he was voted back into office.
Gyurcsany admitted that "f---ing Hungary" had only managed to keep its economy afloat thanks to good luck, an "abundance of cash in the economy and hundreds of tricks", which pretty much coincides with what the former governor of the Reserve Bank stated about our Government's fiscal management. But the Prime Minister is still top of the pops.
It is said that a leader who thinks of the next election is a politician, but a leader who thinks of the next generation is a statesman. By that criterion, it is no mystery where history will place John Howard. The key threats facing Australia today, including environmental degradation, the rise of militarism and the decline of free speech, are rooted in a decade of toxic federal governance. Instead of storming TV, the views of voters are shaped by it and the shock-jocks.
Once we were larrikins with a taste of defiance; now we are lapdogs with a thirst for conformity. On the matter of values, John Howard and Kim Beazley are joined at the hip. In Oz 2006, to be a "civil libertarian" is to invite abuse, while to dismiss human rights as "no longer sacrosanct", or to deny inconvenient facts about global warming or indigenous history, is to attract government patronage. Once we had bush poets, mocking the pompous; now we have scribblers, licking the hands of their feeders.
Puffed-up politicians on both sides of the House seek from new arrivals a pledge of citizenship that endorses "Australian values" at a time when our values are tangled in a global tumble-dryer. That a government should demand such endorsement is itself a violation of a core Australian value - the freedom to think what we please. To think, for example, that numerous values exemplified by our Prime Minister are crap. Like truth avoidance, flag fetishism, excessive secrecy, anti-intellectualism, witch-hunting the whistleblowers, appeasement of George Bush, boasting about this country's generosity, whitewashing black history, bribing Saddam Hussein to buy our wheat then bombing his people, toleration of US torture and its treatment of David Hicks, to name a few.
The stature of Australia has not only been diminished in the eyes of the world, but this country now faces a future laced with nasty shocks. By branding the intelligentsia as a loudmouth latte-slurping "elite", and turning a deaf ear to the findings of scientists, Howard finds himself surprised by the arrival of climate change. Despite over a decade of warnings, this country is woefully unprepared. Leaders of developing nations are becoming enraged by our indifference to the impact of emissions on their citizens. A statesman would recognise that the fate of the earth is a shared responsibility, but we have turned our backs on potential climate refugees from waterlogged Tuvalu. Isn't it about time John Howard was asked to sign a pledge of global citizenship?
Callous obstinacy was also on display in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion, where propaganda was put above truth. The jolly hordes of peaceful protesters in Sydney and Melbourne were branded a "mob", and those who tried to alert the nation to the manipulations of intelligence and the subsequent outbreaks of torture were gagged or slandered. The result is continuing carnage, with the fingerprints of our leaders on the corpses. In the "war on terror", Australia's fair-go reputation was traded for "future security" and a White House banquet.
Unaccompanied child refugees from war zones are denied basic rights by the Department of Immigration, itself a hotbed of black values, including the silencing of the right to be heard. The horrors are documented in the study Seeking Asylum Alone, by Mary Crock, who has concluded that in comparison with other advanced nations, Australia's capacity to mistreat children stands out "like a sore thumb". Seven escapees from the Burmese dictatorship have been dumped on the isle of Nauru. Is cruelty an Australian value?
Freedom of information has been re-constituted into a new value, the freedom from information. Any document with the potential of "embarrassing" the Government is quarantined from public scrutiny. Academic Johan Lidberg compared the effectiveness of our Freedom of Information Act with the ones operating in Sweden, America, South Africa and Thailand, and found that ours was the worst, having "deteriorated into dysfunctionality". When Flinders University sociologist Riaz Hassan was awarded a grant to study the incubation of suicide bombers, he planned to enrich his research by interviewing leaders of terror groups. Hassan dropped the idea when Attorney-General Philip Ruddock threatened legal consequences. Not content with extinguishing habeas corpus and shrinking civil liberties, Ruddock plans to curb the excesses of Big Brother; that is, the TV show, not the excesses of his own office.
There was a time when Aussies scorned officialdom. The boys from the farms and the factories who swarmed to the front line in the First World War, including those who landed at Gallipoli, were renowned for their disregard of red tape and for pricking the pomp of superiors. Rebellion was in their genes. In the camps on the outskirts of Australian cities, and during their journey to the other side of the world, the diggers were irreverent as well as brave.
The huge anti-war moratoriums of the Vietnam era also displayed a sharp defiance for delusions of big-wigs, the like of which has failed to be re-ignited, despite the provocations of today's smug autocrats. Perhaps the penny will eventually drop. Sport and shopping cannot keep this country under sedation forever.
The first cause of today's global terror mess is a matter of opinion. Some are using the "Muslim riots" to ramp up support for yet another war against what George Bush this week told the UN are "the enemies of humanity". (The war against germs?)
It is true that Muslims have carried out numerous acts of terror in Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan and, most prominently, the United States. It is also true that Christian states have bombed untold thousands of Muslim civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan (even some in Pakistan), as well as condoning the ravaging of Lebanon and supplying Israel with illegal weapons.
How would you feel if "over a million cluster bombs" had been fired into your city? Since the end of June, more than 37 children in Gaza have been killed in operations mounted by Israel. In short, the wild reaction to the Pope's theological musings was not just about the Pope.
Meanwhile, the neo-cons backtrack though history to prove that "Islamic terror" long pre-dated September 11, 2001, so you're not allowed to blame the pre-emptive strike on Iraq for destabilising the world. Muslim mayhem actually "began in Iran 1979 with the revolution of Ayatollah Khomeini", according to an editorial in The Australian, slyly stoking the fire for a future invasion, and implying that the populist cleric had leapt out of Aladdin's lamp.
In fact, the "revolution" was pre-ordained in 1953, after the CIA ousted the elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, for his un-American aspiration to nationalise oil. Washington installed a puppet dictator, the Shah of Iran, who founded the feared secret police, SAVAK, while his wife hosted lavish international film festivals, flying in Hollywood celebrities to speak well of tyranny. By imposing the shah on the Persians for all those years, the West must surely accept some responsibility for the rebirth of radical Islam and all that's followed.
"Both the right and the left cultivate a politics of fear," writes, Kevin Clements, a Brisbane-based professor of peace and conflict studies, "where citizens are infantilised and we have become both politically and socially paralysed."
Today's TV politics is unable to provide perspective, history, meaning or foresight. For that, you need a statesman.
The world is heating up, both climactically and militarily, and yet those leaders who are most responsible for underplaying global warming and overplaying the response to 9/11 are the least likely to look in the mirror and tell the truth - either to the voters or themselves.
While some pro-war enthusiasts have admitted their blunder, those politicians who led the charge seem incapable of facing the truth. To do so, would be to accept that their actions have multiplied the instances of worldwide terror and so contributed to many thousands of civilian deaths and maimings.
Perhaps this country's mad, authoritarian lurch to the right is an unconscious attempt by those at the top to suppress their inner shame. To distract themselves with propaganda, brass bands, tall stories of war-zone reconstruction, terror laws, show trials, fear-mongering and boasting. Having lit the match, they are surrounded by fire, and are desperately seeking scapegoats. Is it beyond their capacity to accept that they might be the arsonists?
Richard Neville is a social commentator and futurist. Richard's web site is at http://www.richardneville.com.au
David Hicks's plight has long been a source of disgust with the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia - the real Axis of Evil in the 21st century. The concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, as evil as the gulagsof the USSR and the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, has no justification for its continued existence, except in the eyes of Bush and Howard. Even Tony Blair, at last on the way out of British politics, seems to have many members of his cabinet and New Labour Party believing it was past time for this blot on human rights to be closed.
In Australia, we have those two arch democrats, Howard and Ruddock, (Ruddock still proudly wearing his Amnesty International badge!!!)supported in their endeavours by that other national disgrace, Kim Beazley, justifying the continued incarceration of David Hicks despite - or because of - the fact that Hicks has no case to answer in Australia for any so-called terrorism-related wrongdoing charges.
Terry Hicks continues to fight to have his son freed from the concentration camp where he is subjected to some of the tortures which Philip Ruddock thinks may be justified "under certain circumstances", and brought back to Australia, to start life all over again.
Reports on David Hicks's situation in Guantanamo are very grim and show that the torture being applied by the US guards in the concentration camp are having the desired effect of reducing the inmates to zombies, and helping them to die or commit suicide by the very nature of their incarceration.
SEE ALSO:FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS
Political Polemics - Part 2
Political Polemics - Part 3
Political Polemics - Part 4
Political Polemics - Part 5
Mannie and Kendall Present: LESBIAN AND GAY SOLIDARITY ACTIVISMS
Mannie's blogs may be accessed by clicking on to the following links:
MannieBlog (from 1 August 2003 to 31 December 2005)
Activist Kicks Backs - Blognow archive re-housed - 2005-2009
RED JOS BLOGSPOT (from January 2009 onwards)
This page updated 21 FEBRUARY 2015 and again on 27 OCTOBER 2016