Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ruddock: 'No One Told Me'

Former Attorney General takes a leaf out of Howard's book by claiming 'no one told me' when faced with embarrassing facts.

When referring to “the circumstances of [Habib's] rendition [and almost certain torture]”, Ruddock told The Australian, “We were never informed about where he was or what had happened to him”.

Toohey points out:

[Then ASIO chief Dennis] Richardson is a meticulous public servant. He would not tell the senate that ASIO had definitely established where Habib was merely on the basis of supposition. Nor would he tell the senate about something as important as Habib’s “rendition” by the CIA to Egypt, where he was almost certainly tortured, without first ensuring that his minister was informed.

Howard's 'no one told me' approach to awkward issues that he knew he didn't want to know about seems to have been transformed into a general method of administration.

Aggressive war, official propaganda, "state-sponsored lies pursued with a determination reminiscent of the worst regimes of the 20th Century", racism, concentration camps, extra-judicial killings, torture: Howard's government in obsequiously following the Bush regime in a lunge to nazism is more than embarrassing, it is damning and something that they will never be able to live down.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Mad Max in Afghanistan

Nato with their brilliant strategy in Georgia have just successfully cut their own emergency alternative supply route into Afghanistan via Russia. Meanwhile Iran has refused a request for its territory to be used as a supply route. Can't imagine why they would have done that. An airlift of fuel into Afghanistan is impossible due to the huge volumes required.

Moon of Alabama does the math and calculates the resistance can strangle the occupation by targeting the road fuel convoy from the Pakistani port of Karachi to Kandahar and to Kabul via the Khyber pass.

“In the summer months, I would expect to be attacked once or twice a week,” said one manager, unwilling to speak on the record.

“Last week, we were caught up in an attack on a convoy of fuel trucks on a road we are working on. It looked like a war zone, with five diesel tanks burst open by [rocket propelled grenades] and burning diesel flooding out over the road.”

The security companies are circumspect about how many tankers they lose, but he said “multiple dozens” have been lost in the south each month during the summer. In June, fighters set upon a convoy of more than 50 tankers, setting fire to them about 65km south of Kabul....

Forty fuel trucks were destroyed in March near the crossing between the two countries.

However, a western security executive told the FT that for a period last summer some military bases in the south were almost running on empty, “stopping all non-essential movement and offensive operations because of fuel shortages”....

An al-Qaeda member told Asia Times Online on condition of anonymity, "The single strategy of severing NATO's supply lines from Pakistan is the key to success. If the blockage is successfully implemented in 2008, the Western coalition will be forced to leave Afghanistan in 2009, and if implemented next year, the exit is certain by 2010."

Several al-Qaeda cells have apparently been activated in Karachi to monitor the movement of NATO supply convoys....

"Without Russia's support in Afghanistan, NATO would face a new Vietnam, and this is clear to everyone. Militarily, NATO and Russia have a very good and trusting relationship," [Russian Ambassador to Nato] Rogozin said from his Brussels office....

A commenter says:

I would doubt the Russians would seriously imperil Nato supplies lines to Afghanistan. Actually, I would think the more precarious the situation, the more lucrative the operation and thus the Russian oligarchs would be only too happy to deal.

b replies:

Even Russian oligarchs are nationalists ... still you may be right ... why not let NATO slowly bleed to death in Afganistan ...

Mr Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia: Troops. Afghanistan. OUT. NOW!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Beijing Olympics: Protest Song

The Truth is Still There (free mp3 download)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Bin Laden Driver Convicted


What next? His barber? Actually they should probably get that bloke too - he's done a shocking job on Bin Laden's facial hair. Get his tailor and his cobbler while you are at it. A man of Mr. Bin Laden's reputed wealth really should be better served.

The 'trial' however was a complete farce. The 'jury' of military officers brought down a guilty verdict and a sentence of five and a half years, but "as soon as the sentence was issued, however, the Pentagon made it clear that it had no intention of releasing Hamdan. It says that it retains the right to keep him in prison for an indefinite period."

A travesty of justice, no more than a show trial. An incompetent show trial at that. This can only do harm to the reputation of the United States, and for no gain. If you are going to have a show trial, you need to get the tortured dupes to admit to some substantial crime, like murder, bombing or sabotage. If the guy is no more than a driver, then all the publicity can only backfire if you bring down a verdict of guilty and an award of a life sentence.

Meanwhile President Bush, a major war criminal, has the chutzpah to "denounce the detention of political dissidents and religious activists" in China ahead of his visit to the Beijing Olympic games.

The Guantanamo Bay concentration camp should be condemned by the Australian Government as well as by all decent observers as a grave injustice which should be immediately closed.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Coalition Adopts Policy on Climate Change that it had before

Coalition adopts policy on climate change that it had before: Isn't this great? After a couple of steps backward and a bit of round and round, the Nelson Turnbull Liberal party has advanced decisively to the position that it held when the dinosaur Howard was rendered extinct at the last election by the biggest issue of the 21st Century: Climate Change.

This is an important lesson too. Now as ever, governments, parties and parliaments don't lead, they follow. Action on climate change will have to be imposed on them from without.

The heads of Woodside Petroleum, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and the Business Council were among those to directly lobby senior West Australian Liberals, including Ms Bishop and Chris Ellison. The corporate giants supported the original Coalition policy. They wanted the Opposition to stay engaged in the debate so Labor's policy, with which they have some concerns, could be fine-tuned and not subject to negotiations with the Greens.

This is ominous, and another clear signal of what is going on. Instead of a carbon tax, a watered down 'trading' system is favoured by the fossil fuel lobby, because it is easier to rort, evade and degrade.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Roubini: severe recession and financial and banking crisis is now unavoidable


Back in February 2008 Roubini claimed that:

there is now a rising probability of a “catastrophic” financial and economic outcome, i.e. a vicious circle where a deep recession makes the financial losses more severe and where, in turn, large and growing financial losses and a financial meltdown make the recession even more severe. The Fed is seriously worried about this vicious circle and about the risks of a systemic financial meltdown....

... “nightmare” or “catastrophic” scenario that the Fed and financial officials around the world are now worried about. Such a scenario – however extreme – has a rising and significant
probability of occurring. Thus, it does not describe a very low probability event but rather an outcome that is quite possible.

Well now Roubini is saying that

A severe recession and financial and banking crisis is unavoidable.... a financial meltdown - that I described in my February paper - is now underway and cannot be stopped.

NB. Henry George was correct. It's all about (kapitalized) land value and lending money using (high) land values as collateral. When land values go down after the inevitable and predictable boom, the financial system is bust.

This one is a real doozy because of the triumph of neo-liberalism: the socialism and new-deal hating 'free market' capitalist ideology which has seen the lethal trifecta of privatization, deregulation, and (property) tax cuts combined with the thoroughly ruthless and determined manner in which Wall St has created as much land-value based debt as rapidly as possible, securitized it, and flogged it all over the world as 'toxic paper', regardless of consequences.

According to some commentators the entire US banking system is insolvent.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A couple of nice quotes by and about Chomsky

Nice quote from Chomsky on the Epic Tragedy of Zionist Israel:
In 1947, when the Truman administration was considering its stance towards the Palestine mandate that Britain was abandoning, the State Departments senior intelligence official, William Eddy, warned that partition 'would only intensify support for Zionist expansion and would represent an endorsement of a theocratic sovereign state characteristic of the Dark Ages.'

For those familiar with the Jewish community in Palestine and its ideological roots, the first prediction might have seemed reasonable enough, but the second an outlandish prospect for the secular socialist idealistic society that had taken root. Both evocative memoir and sober analysis, Ofra Yeshua-Lyths [whose book Chomsky is here reviewing] penetrating study reveals that Eddys grim prediction is not the fantasy it might once have seemed. She reviews the painful course by which the chains of religious orthodoxy from which the early Zionists sought to escape have become hanging cords, as Israeli Jews accept life in a homemade trap constructed from the dedication to expansionism and religious-nationalist domination that shatters aspirations for democracy and enlightenment. These might yet become more than mocking words, she suggests, but not without a willingness to face honestly the internal contradiction in the concept of a democratic Jewish state. [July 2007.]

That's about as good a one or two paragraph summary of the tragic trajectory of Zionism/Israel as could be found anywhere. One of the things I admire about Chomsky is not just his incredible depth of knowledge or his sound moral/philosophic foundation, it's the quality of his judgement and his insight. The best bar none.

Now onto another quote. John Brady Kiesling attracted deserved praise for being one of the very, very few people in the vast Anglo-American (including Australian) defence and government establishments who had the courage to resign in protest against the criminal Iraq war. The fact is, of course, that the 'Nuremberg Defence' ('I was only following orders') is the same defence everyone would use and very, very few people will ever give up their jobs or careers for 'principle'.

Kiesling writes:

Most Greek bookstores carry Greek translations of all the latest books by Noam Chomsky, an American intellectual gifted at connecting all the dots of U.S. behavior into a tidy picture. In 2001 I assured Mr. Tegopoulos, the publisher of Athens’ most popular leftist newspaper, that his favorite American philosopher was clinically insane.” Chomsky, I said, had deduced a vast, invisible mechanism of systematic U.S. oppression and exploitation, one that was not true to human nature and could not have operated over decades without becoming visible to its employees. I reassured Tegopoulos that the U.S. foreign policy apparatus could not conspire its way effectively out of a paper bag.

I feel more charitably disposed toward Chomsky now. The Iraq War proved that the United States does have a small group of extremely intelligent, disciplined, highly competitive individuals competent enough to mobilize the U.S. bureaucracy around a single mission such as regime change in Iraq. Chomsky’s favorite conspirators, the former Troskyites turned neoconservatives, might even have read Chomsky in their youth. Certainly they made the same mistake he did. They confused mastery over the U.S. bureaucratic system with U.S. power to triumph over the real world.

Kiesling might feel more charitably disposed, and we can charitably assume these are honest opinions, but they are a most absurd characterization of Chomsky's outlook. If these are the considered views of someone who resigned the Empire in protest, what would be really frightening would be the views of people inside the Empire - the deluded and the committed, capable of any folly. One recalls the dismal words of the Swedish diplomat as quoted by Barbara Tuchman in The March of Folly: "Know, my son, with what little wisdom the world is governed."

PS. Some other insightful review comments:

The foremost strength of the book is how it critiques not simply the religious establishment but how that establishment and its values have crept into the consciousness of the political-Zionist so-called "Liberal Left". These days, in an era where radicalized criticism of Islamic "religious fundamentalism" has become a mainstream intellectual trend, it is enlightening to meet an author and a work that exposes the political reality to the effect religious fundamentalism was introduced to the Middle East by political Zionism and that the State of Israel is a primary fundamentalist religious actor in the Middle East equations. - Uri Davis

This is a daring book, written in a country where the consensus is oppressive because the political correctness here requires not only proper language but also a proper defense of an improper, oppressive religion by a population which is the most non-religious one on earth. This is shameless hypocrisy. Behind it stands a secular religion, and secular religion is politically a most dangerous 20th-century disease. - Joseph Agassi

Israel Shahak was among the first, I assume, to critique the role of Orthodox Judaism in the disaster, but it now looks like a torrent of commentary is breaking around the subject.

Middle-East indicators and warnings point to war against Iran

The Vineyard of the Saker: Middle-East indicators and warnings point to war: The Saker joins more commentators than I could mention in predicting war against Iran. The preparations for war are so broad and deep it almost has an air of inevitability to it. As in a number of his articles, the Saker provides an interesting and original-looking analysis of the situation.

The future cannot be predicted so no one can say for certain. However war is certainly possible, and not unlikely. War, if it does come, would likely be disastrous (and criminal), perhaps catastrophically so. Moreover, the whole world is aware of this situation and of this danger.

In these circumstances what I find most appalling is the near-complete silence of the world's leaders, especially its Western leaders, including virtually the entire government, diplomatic, educational and media establishments.

Say it loud and say it now, as John Pilger virtually on his own has done: The US is the Third Reich of our time, bent on aggression against one country after another. It must not be appeased; it must be contained and deterred. War against Iran must not happen.

God Damn America and all its 'friends' and 'allies' if it and they, in near complete passivity and silence, let this war happen.

If the US attacked Iran, it would be a watershed moment for the 21st Century, even more so than the aggression against Iraq. And we're taking names: of those who protest, and those who don't.

Kevin Carson attacks 'vulgar libertarians' again

Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism: Review: The Mind of the Market, by Michael Shermer The elements Kevin Carson describes as "vulgar" in "right-libertarianism" seem to me the essense of that doctrine.

Its a noble effort to "reform it from within" and I wish Carson all success in that endeavour but I would simply abandon "right-libertarianism" in favour of geo-libertarianism, left-libertarianism, libertarian socialism and elements of classical liberalism.

In my view "right-libertarianism" is a purely reactionary doctrine - classical liberalism sans single tax. You have to fight it tooth and nail and send it back to where it came from. It's particularly insidious because it induces well-intentioned people who might otherwise be radicals to veer from the left and ally with the right. Try and convince me that's not the whole point of it.

I agree the dogma of the 'free market' and the 'invisible hand' is vastly overstated as well. Yes, the 'invisible hand' is a correct and valuable insight, but in general people should be banned from (ab)using this phrase. The popular understanding is now such that to critique the system you do indeed have to dissociate yourself from the 'free market'.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Thousand Year Reich

US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen: "He went on to say that the US has 'has been at Israel's side for all of 60 years, it will be for the next 60 years, 100 years and 1,000 years."

At the rate the loathsome ideology of Zionism is collapsing amongst both Jews and non-Jews alike, I wouldnt be surprised if it lasted no more than 12 years, forget about 1,000.

Given the US strategic interest in Gulf oil, it couldnt stay by Israel's side for a day beyond depletion, estimated to be no more than 40 or 50 years hence. That would give Israel around 100 years of existence, after which it would vanish from the map like the little crusader state it is.

NB. If Ehud Barak had accepted Arafat's generous offer at Camp David in 2000 - an Israeli state behind the 1967 Green Line and recognition of a Palestinian state in the remainder - Israel could last indefinitely. But the expansionism and militarism inherent in Zionist ideology prevented and prevents this offer from being accepted, leaving a most uncertain future for the Jewish state.

Monday, May 05, 2008

No Sitefeed

Welcome to the official website of Ilan Pappe. Dr Pappe doesnt have a sitefeed. Neither does Dr. Finkelstein, Dr Hudson or Dr Gaffney. Or even John Pilger.

This suggest the good doctors dont have or use a feed reader either. Once you start subscribing to sitefeeds with a feedreader like Google Reader there's no going back. Talk about killer app. And you wouldn't start or have a blog or website which didnt offer a feed, that's for sure.

NB. The great Dr Richard Stallman does have a sitefeed, but doesnt have comments. Also, as I'm a loyal subscriber, I have found that Dr. Stallman tends to blog what are commonplaces in the radical blogosphere. It might be better if he had a focussed blog on the basic concepts of freedom and free software, but then again, what would I know?

Dr Chomsky doesn't even have his own website. But he's an old-fashioned guy. What's the big deal with the "Internet" when you've got a university library and know how to use it? I hear Dr Chomsky say. And Dr Chomsky has got a secret weapon at his disposal that not even today's Internet can match: the online Lexis-Nexis database. Have to traipse down to the University library in person to load up on that particular WMD.

Instead Dr Chomsky allows his Internet presence to be subsumed under ZNet, who recently had their abortion of a website completely redesigned to make it even more of a mess than it already is. And no, it doesnt seem to include a sitefeed. Well I couldnt find one after a bit of looking. Couldnt find the Chomsky blog either. Instead his content seems to be spread over at least half a dozen different areas.

Its so bad I've noticed that I've effectively stopped reading the Znet space. Which means I've probably been missing a lot of good stuff, not only Chomsky but other good writers they have carried over there.

No, I've found Chomsky's blog on Znet! Shows what you can do if you try hard enough. But still cant find the sitefeed. Hard to believe they dont have one.... Even worse, you have to register (or even pay) to read some if not all of the blog posts. That makes the site literally unreadable such as you do not visit again. A model that died sometime ago.

The other Chomsky site, chomsky.info, has the right idea, and have obviously been trying to make up for the longstanding deficiencies of Znet. Simple, clean homepage - except that the "what's new" or blogsite section is cleverly disguised under "News and Reports". Why do that? Reverse chronological order (of posting). A sitefeed. But it has weaknesses - not everything he writes or says is included (I guess that would be a massive task). No comments. No presence from Chomsky himself. Not everything is fed through the blogsite.

Antiwar.com is perhaps the best example of good webdesign among the antiwar and radical websites. But no comments, as well of course as the harmful impact of right-libertarian philosophy everywhere on the site. And too much reliance on the corporate press.

Commondreams.org is very good. Includes comments, which have been of exceptional quality lately. But not radical enough. Includes a sitefeed, but there are too many articles to take for a sitefeed to be much use. One wants to be more selective (which is why every writer should have their own website where all their articles are posted in addition to being posted elsewhere.)

Counterpunch.org is good. Its biggest fault is the huge waste of screenspace at the top of the homepage. Look at antiwar.com by contrast to see how it can be better used. No comments. No sitefeed, but again one would not want to subscribe to it all, only to selected authors.

Arthur Silber finally comes out

Arthur Silber, the right-libertarian who, I believe, knew and worked personally with Ayn Rand, has finally admitted he has become an anarchist. A leftist-anarchist no less.

Well, join the crowd. Actually, it has been obvious for some time that Silber was drifting into anarchism. I even began to suspect he was secretly reading Chomsky.

In my case, it was Chomsky that stimulated the interest in anarchism, and I would guess, countless others as well. In fact one of Chomsky's many great contributions had been the popularisation of anarchism as a political philosophy. As far back as 1971 (if not earlier), with his essay Notes on Anarchism, Chomsky has been revealing his debt to anarchist philosophy, or libertarian socialism as he calls it. And it has been a strange, sometimes comical spectacle to observe the endless string of witless critics who attack Chomsky for being "totalitarian", "bolshevik", "stalinist", "maoist" etc. Don't these fools know there is a difference between anarchism and bolshevism? Obviously not, meaning they never read any Chomsky either.

It's a shame, however, that Chomsky was not able to do the same job of elevation and popularisation of another neglected, important philosophy: that of Henry George and his 'Georgist' movement. This, I humbly submit, is worthy of the honour.

By coincidence, the brain dead corporate media columnist Paul Sheahan writes a useless, misleading and uninformative article on the Obama/Wright controversy at the same time as Silber's vastly superior piece appears in my sitefeed. In such a way the internet has exposed the flank of the corporate media.

The rubbishy propaganda produced by corporate hacks like Sheahan, Gerard Henderson, Andrew Bolt etc is presumably the best that money can buy, but is easily outclassed by dozens, if not hundreds of articles in the blogosphere every day. As soon as people learn to construct their own 'newspaper' using sitefeed software like google reader, I cant see these people earning their keep.

Justice seeks Vengeance against the evil of corporate media, and is bounding like a huge, slavering hound toward the exposed flank of a previously invincible foe. Revenge, when it comes, will be swift and deadly.

Or, as they say, go read the whole thing, including the links.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

What the [US] Public Really Wants on Iraq

What the Public Really Wants on Iraq: Ruy Teixeira examines polling data to determine what the US public thinks about the war on its fifth anniversay:

The public made up its mind on Iraq quite a while ago, and the surge has had no effect whatsoever on the public’s basic verdict on the war. They believe that the war has been a huge mistake and that we should move expeditiously to remove U.S. troops from Iraq and end the conflict.... The Iraq war, in the public’s view, has been a mistake, with the costs of the war far exceeding its benefits.

Two comments:

1. The questions are phrased strictly in terms of cost/benefit to the United States. The US public is not asked, for example, if it thinks the war was 'legitimate self-defence' or a 'war of aggression.' If it thinks the war is illegal and criminal, the public is not asked if those responsible for it should be prosecuted. It is not asked whether the war benefits Iraqis, or has destroyed them (for example, killing over one million people). This perhaps reflects who is conducting the polls and for what purpose. Chomsky has remarked that the US public is extensively polled so that the rulers do know what they think. Public opinion is then a problem which needs to be managed with public relations and propaganda.

2. The public's view is not reflected in the political system. The Democrats have taken advantage of the public's views to win Congressional seats and perhaps the Whitehouse later this year, but have taken no action to end the war, ie they have not defunded the war or impeached the people responsible.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Protests and Protest Singers

Interesting article by protest singer David Rovics on the sad state of the antiwar/protest movement and the need for music and culture to be brought front and centre:


Talk to anyone who lived through the 60’s -- who remembers any but the most eloquent of the speeches by the likes of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, or Mario Savio? But millions remember the songs. Bob Dylan, Buffy Sainte-Marie, James Brown, Aretha Franklin were the soundtrack to the struggle. Open any magazine or newspaper in this country to this day and you will find somewhere in the pages an unaccredited reference to a line in a Bob Dylan song....

Knowing the essential power of music, the very industry that sells us music mass-produced in Nashville and LA has done their best to kill music. For decades, the few multi-billion-dollar corporations that control the music business and the commercial airwaves have done their best to teach us all that music is something to have in the background to comfort you as you try to get through another mind-numbing day of meaningless labor in some office building or department store. It’s something to help you seduce someone perhaps, or to help you get over a breakup. It is not something to inspire thought, action, or feelings of compassion for humanity (other than for your girlfriend or boyfriend)....

Radical culture needs to be fostered and promoted, front and center, not sidelined as people are gathering, or when the radio stations are doing station ID's. Because if the point is to inspire people to action, a song is worth a hundred speeches. If the point is to educate people, a three-minute ballad is easily equal to any book.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

MidEast Proconsul Fallon Out

Centcom Commander Admiral William Fallon has "resigned", after less than a year in the job.

Fallon was responsible for the rather remarkable comments last year that

an attack on Iran “will not happen on my watch”.

Asked how he could be sure, the source says, Fallon replied, “You know what choices I have. I’m a professional.” Fallon said that he was not alone, according to the source, adding, “There are several of us trying to put the crazies back in the box.”

One would think that such statements would greatly anger Bush and especially Cheney and it's a wonder he lasted as long as he did. After all, he doesn't really have the option of crossing the Rubicon, does he?

A recent interview with Esquire magazine seems to have sealed his fate, or, according to another version, was a pre-emptive strike by Fallon: get in another shot at the 'crazies' before he is inevitably fired.

The Esquire article also helps to make clear what a powerful position, a true Proconcul, the Centcom Commander is. Not only is he running two major wars (Afghanistan and Iraq) he is also conducting diplomacy at the highest level, with the heads of State and Government of strategically crucial countries like Pakistan and Egypt. This annoyed the Whitehouse, but if they install a sycophant or cripple the Commander's powers it can only lead to increased risk of bad policy.

Naturally this will lead to a renewed bout of speculation as to whether Bush/Cheney plan to attack Iran before the year is out, eg here, here, here and here.

As John Pilger pointed out prior to the Iraq invasion, the US is the Third Reich of our time: a superpower bent on Imperialism and military aggression against one country after another, which we to our lasting disgrace are not only appeasing but assisting. The world regards the US (quite correctly) as the greatest threat to world peace.

The only effective barriers to further aggression have been financial bankruptcy and military defeat. According to Seymour Hersh, had the war against Iraq been a success as planned, the US would already have gone 'left and right', ie Syria then Iran.

In other words, one million Iraqi people had to pay with their lives to save Syria and Iran from aggression, while the rest of the world merely looked on, or in some cases such as Australia's Howard Government, actually participated in the crime.

However there are two other sources of inhibition to US aggression which need to be mobilised: the US domestic population; and the global population. Our responsibility as world citizens is to oppose the barbarism of military aggression and its attendant warcrimes, crimes against humanity, atrocities, tortures, genocides etc - and to force our governments, specifically the new Australian Federal Labor Rudd Government, to also join in a policy of opposition and containment, instead of appeasement and participation.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Henry George Eulogizes Karl Marx March 1883


I am unable to accept the invitation of our committee to address the meeting at Cooper Institute, but I desire to express my deep respect for a man whose life was devoted to efforts for the improvement of social conditions.

I never had the good fortune to meet Karl Marx, nor have I been able to read his works, which are untranslated into English. I am consequently incompetent to speak with precision of his views. As I understand them, there are several important points on which I differ from them. But no difference of opinion can lessen the esteem which I feel for the man who so steadfastly, so patiently, and so self-sacrificingly labored for the freedom of the oppressed and the elevation of the downtrodden.

In the life and in the teachings of Karl Marx there were the recognition of two profound truths, for which his memory deserves to be held in special honor.

He was the founder of the International - the first attempt to unite in a "holy alliance of the people" the workingmen of all countries; he taught the solidarity of labor, the brotherhood of man, and wherever his influence has reached it has tended to destroy those prejudices of nation and race which have been in all ages the most efficient means by which tyranny has been established and maintained. For this I honor Karl Marx.

This seems fair enough.

And I honor Karl Marx because he saw and taught that the road to social regeneration lies not through destruction and anarchy, but through the promulgation of ideas and the education of the people. He realized that the enslavement of the masses is everywhere due to their ignorance, and realizing this, he set himself to work to master and to point out the social economic laws without the recognition of which all effort for social improvement is but a blind and fruitless struggle.

Now this of course is the very view of George himself, and perhaps of anarchist thinkers also, moreso than Marx. Marx was interested in revolution, in which a vanguard would play a more prominent role.

Karl Marx has gone, but the work he has done remains; whatever may have been in it of that error inseparable from all human endeavor will in turn be eliminated, but the good will perpetuate itself.

And how freaking long is that going to take? One of the problems with Marxian economics is that the crucial labour theory of value and theory of surplus value is formally incorrect. We need logically correct theory at this fundamental level, and my suggestion has been that the value theories of henry george can contribute to this.

And his memory will be cherished as one who saw and struggled for that reign of justice in which armies shall be disbanded and poverty shall be unknown and government shall become co-operation, that golden age of peace and plenty, the possibility of which is beginning even now to be recognized among the masses all over the civilized world.

Well, we've had a nightmare century-and-a-quarter of warfare, imperialism, colonialism, tyranny, genocide, warcrimes, crimes against humanity worse than anyone at that time cold have conceived and it just continues on and on unabated in front of our eyes, albeit at a slower pace than the peak horror of WW11. And we still directly face nuclear holocaust or environmental devastation.

But hope springs eternal....

Dave Reed observes that the influence of Henry George on the UK Labour party was rather more, and the influence of Marx rather less, than many might assume:

In the UK the influence of Marx was not paramount in the formation of the Labour Party, as CJ Bartlett attests in a typical college textbook 'A History of Postwar Britain' (1977) p15 "The party had always been a heterogenous body ,drawing inspiration from Morris, Dickens, Ruskin, and Carlyle as well as Marx, and later from the Webbs, Lloyd George, Keynes and Beveridge, not to mention the general influence of non conformity, the Bible, American contributions from Henry George and Jack London" . Oxford's Prof Iain McLean is more specific in his "Land tax : options for reform" 2004 [which is available direct from the Net and via the Labour Land Campaign website]. He states p10 "Henry George had far more influence on the British and American left than Karl Marx." For this reason the Labour Land Campaign often sees itself, not so much as trying to point the Labour Party in new directions, as trying to get it back to its origins.

How much the Labour Party was committed to land tax can be seen from Labour Land Campaign's "Labour and Land" a summary of old Labour Party manifestos (for internal use by the Labour Land Campaign but now on the Net).It is surprising how long land tax appeared as Labour policy alongside a reluctance to use redistributive income tax. For those wishing to check the originals they are available on the Net as Archive of UK Labour Party Election Manifestos.)

It is a similar story of course with the Australian Labor Party.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Insanity of the 'War on Drugs'

Prohibition seems to be very much an American thing, perhaps it might be included as part of the 'Washington Consensus', and will also collapse with the American Empire. James Bovard has an article on one of the latest and worst extremes of this nonsense:

Thailand’s war on drugs — vigorously approved by the Bush administration — has received far less attention in the United States than it deserves.

When [former Thai Prime Minister] Thaksin launched his anti-drug campaign in 2003, he declared that “in this war, drug dealers must die.” Interior Minister Wan Muhamad Nor Matha promised that drug dealers “will be put behind bars or even vanish without a trace. Who cares? They are destroying our country.”

Throughout Thailand, local officials set up black boxes or mailboxes and encouraged people to accuse anyone suspected of involvement with narcotics — no evidence required. Many people used the anonymous system to accuse business competitors or personal enemies... “Most of [the victims] got killed on the way back from the police office. People found their name on a blacklist, went to the police, then ended up dead.”

Drugs were planted on the bodies of many victims after they were murdered. Amnesty International complained, “Authorities are not permitting pathologists to perform autopsies and bullets are reportedly being removed from the corpses.” ...

Governors were permitted to keep 35 percent of all the drug assets they confiscated, and police detectives were entitled to skim 15 percent of the loot.... Many Thai drug gangs operate under the protection of politicians and the military and appeared to easily survive the Thaksin purge....

According to the U.S. State Department, 307 people were killed worldwide in international terrorist attacks in 2003. The Bush administration endorsed and helped finance an anti-drug crackdown that killed more than seven times as many people in a single country as were killed by all the international terrorists in the world that year.

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