Even in death some are more ‘important’
It’s been a big week or two for celebrity deaths. There’s been AFL player John McCarthy in Las Vegas, John Gillard, the Prime Minister’s father, in Adelaide, Christopher Stevens, the American Ambassador to Libya in Benghazi and 5 Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.
All have been media events. This is because, even for poor John McCarthy, these dead form an important part of the ruling class’s ideology and systemic control.
So they are mourned and even revered publicly. We found out for example that Julia Gillard got her values from her father. What values? Like shipping asylum seekers to mental health factories in Nauru?
Like denying same-sex couples the right to marry?
Like supporting the murder of two Afghan nationals in what looks like it could be a revenge attack by Australian troops after 3 colleagues were killed by an Afghan National Army member? Or worse, that these were opponents of Matiullah Khan, the corrupt police chief of the Province installed by US and Australian troops, and we did his dirty work in eliminating them after he tipped Australian troops off.
Only some good investigative work is revealing the truth behind the spin about the deaths of the 70 year old Imam and his son.
Let’s leave aside the spin about inherited values. Let’s leave aside the spin about John McCarthy. Let’s leave aside the bullshit about the need to continue the fight against terrorism after US Libyan Ambassador Christopher Stephen’s assassination. As Noam Chomsky says if the West wants to end terrorism it should stop doing it.
Let’s leave aside the spin too about the 5 brave Aussie solders fighting for freedom and democracy and women’s rights in Afghanistan.
The common thread in all of these celebrations of death is the profit system and the fact that these deaths reflect and reinforce the power of capital over us.
Twenty three years ago in Liverpool 96 football supporters were crushed to death. Only now is the truth about the police incompetence and cover up coming to light. 23 years for justice. But of course any real inquiry at the time into the deaths would have called into question the role of the police, the enforcers of private property, and the political class around Margaret Thatcher.
The invasion of Iraq on some estimates has killed over 1 million civilians. They are the silent dead, having died as victims of US capitalism, not vital cogs in its propagation.
In Afghanistan the number of dead civilians is in the tens of thousands. Again the silence of their deaths echoes down the corridors of capitalism and profit.
In Pakistan the death of 300 workers in a fire will get a days’ headline. They are part of the forgotten who die in their workplace but the enormity of their deaths forces them onto the front pages of the Western media fleetingly, if only to allow patronising tutting about the poor country and its inhabitants.
Now that sweeping away of deaths at work couldn’t happen in Australia, could it? No?
Where then are the memorials, the reverent ceremonies for the fallen on the building sites around Australia? There are and will be none, despite the fact that about one building worker dies a week in Australia and according to Leighton Holdings the figure could rise to 100 by 2014. The death rate on building sites in Australia, according to Leighton, is about twice that of the UK.
Where are the photos of the grieving families, the stories about those families and their tears? About their impoverishment? There are none. They died because of profit.
The media are by and large silent about deaths at work. There are many many more deaths than ‘just’ the 50 building workers who die at work each year in Australia. There are thousands more who die from work related stress and depression, from all sorts of accidents at work or on the roads transporting goods across the country in unsafe conditions.
Indigenous deaths in custody continue unabated. Silence. Our indigenous brothers and sisters die up to 20 years earlier than non-Aboriginal peoples. Silence.
Gay young men kill themselves because of the oppression, bigotry, abuse and discrimination the system and important institutions mete out. All of this is met with silence, or worse, railing against homosexuals and their high death rates and enforcing the very alienating oppression that drives some of them to kill themselves.
Around the world, about 21,000 kids die each day from preventable diseases, poverty or hunger. We have enough wealth to save them. It is not profitable to do so.
These are all capitalism’s dead. It is capitalism in some form or other which has killed or is killing them.
That is why we don’t hear about them. Even in death the bourgeoisie honours its own and those who serve them directly or indirectly. They die for capitalism. The system dishonours those who die because of capitalism. It consigns them to the coffin of history. Lest we forget.