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John Passant

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November 2012



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Close down Australia’s concentration camp on Nauru

As I write up to 300 asylum seekers blackbirded to Nauru by Australia’s Labor Government are on hunger strike and have been for ten days. 

One Iranian asylum seeker has been on hunger strike for 33 days. A doctor has advised him that his organs could begin to shut down soon and he should appoint someone to authorise treatment if he lapses into unconsciousness.

The conditions on Nauru are inhuman, and that’s exactly the point for Labor. Asylum seekers in their eyes have no rights.

Asylum seekers are people who have committed no crime. They are fleeing war, rape, genocide, Western sanctions and economic devastation. Most of the wars they are fleeing are Western invasions or Western supported conflicts.

Under the ‘no advantage’ test that Labor has adopted, asylum seekers are first being denied timely processing of their claims and second being left to rot for an indefinite period which could be more than five years.

Gillian Triggs, the Human Rights Commissioner , has described the indefinite detention of asylum seekers on Nauru as ‘an egregious breach of international human rights law’.

According to Daniel Flitton in The Age:

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay … said she had heard numerous concerns that asylum seekers could languish indefinitely on Nauru and Manus Island under Labor’s revived Pacific Solution and was especially worried over the plight of children.

”I am highly concerned that detention in regional offshore processing centres such as in Nauru could result in indefinite detention and other human rights violations,” she said.

”All people, including migrants, have the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and this form of detention has been shown at times to violate this right.

”It could well end up as indefinite detention, and people in indefinite detention suffer significant mental health issues – and Australia should be well aware of this.”

Professor Patrick McGorry, Australian of the year in 2010 described detention centres in Australia as ‘factories for producing mental illness and mental disorder’.

There have been many asylum seeker suicide attempts both here and in the offshore camps.

Offshore processing and excising the Australian mainland from the migration zone are about tearing up our responsibilities under the Refugee Convention.

Labor and the Opposition agree on the basics. Refugees are bad. They disagree on the detail of how to stop them but agree that whatever ‘solution’ must be cruel and inhumane.

Racism is a tool of the ruling class to divide workers and divert our attention from the problems of capitalism like low wages, gendered wages, cuts to social services, attacks on nurses and teachers and other public servants, and job cuts.

It is not just the racism of ‘stopping’ the boats. It’s also the racism of imprisoning asylum seekers, people who have committed no crime and sometimes, on ASIO’s say, locking them and their children up indefinitely. Some asylum seekers kill themselves, or try to, to escape our hell holes.

In some 50 cases to date ASIO has determined genuine refugees to be security threats which means they are being held indefinitely on the say so of a group of spooks and reactionaries who liaise closely for example with the mass murderers in the Sri Lankan government to determine if Tamil refugees are a ‘threat’.

Is there a solution to all of this inhumanity? It think so. It is onshore processing – quick, efficient and humane processing, in the community, not in detention centre concentration camps. I understand for example that Canada takes less than ten days to process refugee applications from asylum seekers on average.

But quick processing here in Australia doesn’t go far enough because it still means refugees will risk their lives for freedom by crossing dangerous seas in dangerous boats.

There are about 4000 refugees in Indonesia. With the Indonesian Government’s permission we could send in the Navy and Air Force and bring those people to Australia safely for processing in the community.

There are about 100,000 refugees in Malaysia. Once we have bought the refugees from Indonesia we could then, again with Malaysian Government agreement, send the navy and air force, and hire QANTAS planes too, to bring the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to be free, to our shores.

The ruling elite also join wars that create the refugee problem, or support governments like Sri Lanka and Israel that are responsible for many refugees around the world.

The Iraq war displaced 2.25 million. In Afghanistan there are 3 million displaced. Australia helped ruin these countries and now denies the victims asylum.

It should be the other way around. Deny war and welcome refugees. 

We could also set up quick processing centres in countries with large number of refugees or near hotspots we have helped create, like Afghanistan, Iraq and Sri Lanka and once approved fly the refugees to Australia for their new lives.

The camps on Nauru and Manus Island, and the detention centres in Australia are concentration camps.

In 1992 Paul Keating introduced mandatory detention, effectively imprisoning people who have committed no crime for long periods as punishment for exercising a legitimate right.

These detention centres are concentration camps in the tradition of the US-Spanish war in the Philippines, the British in the Boer War and the Nazis when they first came to power and locked up communists, socialists, union leaders and others.

All involve locking up people who have committed no crime in confined areas away from the rest of society.  

Our task is great. Our struggle is important. To end the criminal refugee policies of our one percent we must build bigger and bigger demonstrations to force Labor to treat asylum seekers humanely and end the death trip it forces them into.

There have been snap demonstrations in support of the hunger strikers around Australia. While there are the various magnificent refugee groups working brilliantly for asylum seekers there is no significant revolutionary left in Australia that could defend refugees as part of its more general defence of workers and the oppressed.

Now more than ever we need a socialist alternative to give hope to refugees and those who support them and lead a real fight with a long term goal of having tens of thousands of people shutting down the centres of the major cities to close down Australia’s concentration camps.



Comment from Gary
Time November 12, 2012 at 8:42 am

Well said John, a very good article on what is a disgraceful policy.

But I don’t agree that “Racism is a tool of the ruling class to divide workers and divert our attention from the problems of capitalism like low wages, gendered wages, cuts to social services, attacks on nurses and teachers and other public servants, and job cuts.”

Racism exists under all systems of governance and all stratas of society. Socialists are racists too, as we have seen is some nation-states who have adopted this type of rule.

Cuba tortured homosexuals – not a race I admit – but an example of prejudice and singling out of one group.

National Socialism was about racism and anti-semitism. It vwas Jews who were sent first to concentration camps – see the Austrian pogroms of 1938 when Jews were taken first.

I doubt racism will end when capitalism ends. The US is far more tolerant (and has just re-elected an African-American president!) than many European countries, where anti-Muslim, anti-refugee, anti-black demonstrations are rife.

The rise of neo-Nazi parties in Greece, Spain, France and even Germany show that racism increases during economic hardship.

It’s arguable John that capitalism, with its growth and wealth, offers a counter to racism. In America, their post-war economic growth mirrors a rise in black consciousness, a black middle-class and the breakdown of Jim Crow.

Comment from John
Time November 12, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Gary, the first people locked up, almost immediately, were the Communists, in February 1933, from memory. From memory the KPD was illegal within a week, and the SPD five months. After the KPD he turned on trade unionists and social democrats. That way, with the working class beheaded of its leadership – both KPD and SPD and in the the unions – Hitler could attack German workers’ wages and drive down living standards to restore profit rates. I stand by my comment that the first prisoners in the concentration camps were the Left.

Cuba isn’t socialist. Stalinism has nothing to do with socialism – it is its defeat. State capitalism is not socialism.

Racism didn’t exist before capitalism. It is a product of the trade in slaves on which a growing capitalism depended.

Nazism rises in times of social and economic crises and offers convenient scapegoats. However Hitler rose to power to smash working class resistance to the push by big business to drive down living standards as a way they thought of getting out of the Depression.

Fascism’s rise also depends in part on the weakness both numerically and theoretically of the Left.

Comment from Peter
Time November 12, 2012 at 9:03 pm

I totally agree with your suggestions regarding the transporting and rapid processing of refugees and asylum seekers on mainland Australia. It is the only responsible option both humanely and fiscally. I am also heartened by your reminder that most of the refugees are the result of Australia’s puerile subservience to our war-mongering allies.
However, I have two problems with increasing our intake. The most obvious is that Australia’s population is already stretching the sustainable limits of the land, and the second is that most refugees will become voters who will vote against equality for gays and women, and will vehemently oppose any secularisation of the state. That is the reason for the anti immigrant feelings in Europe – their way of life is being overturned and made less free, safe and pleasant by the religious bigotry of the immigrants they helped.

Comment from Gary
Time November 13, 2012 at 10:16 am

John, yes I do agree about slavery and capitalism. You opened my mind to this and I spent last night reading up on the links between the slave trade and the growth of markets and capital.

Thank you.

Comment from John
Time November 13, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Gary, the issue is very contested. For a recent article on racism have a read of Tess Lee Ack in Marxist Left Review.

Comment from Kay
Time November 14, 2012 at 8:29 am

I agree with Peter’s comments about the problems caused by excessive Muslim immigration to places like Europe and the UK. And I also believe that most Australians’ opposition to Muslim refugees has little (if anything) to do with racism – rather it is the fear that Australia could be turned into a Muslim country (after all, we frequently hear the aspirations of many Muslims in this regard).

We certainly don’t want “voters who will vote against equality for gays and women, and will vehemently oppose any secularisation of the state.” Nor do we want our “way of life (is) being overturned and made less free, safe and pleasant by the religious bigotry of the immigrants (they) helped.”

See my comments along these lines in the later thread on the Nauru asylum seekers.

And Peter is correct – Australia may look like a big country, but he is correct in that “Australia’s population is already stretching the sustainable limits of the land”.

Comment from John
Time November 14, 2012 at 10:36 am

Excessive Muslim immigration? What bullshit. Australia turned into a Muslim country? Gee whiz. This just echoes the anti-Chinese racism of a century or more ago and is the fantasy stuff of the fascists in Europe. And this Malthusian nonsense about having reached sustainable limits is a cover for keeping dark skinned people out. Racist crap.

Comment from Kay
Time November 14, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Well, John, one thing is clear – you know little about ecology, and the fragility of much of the Australian environment.

You just don’t want to hear what the majority of Australians think about this topic. And these views would be very likely held by most of the ‘workers’ on whom you rely for your ‘revolution’. You are definitely out of sync with their views. And I might say it is not me who is talking about Australia becoming a Muslim country – it is the aspiration of many Muslims who would like to see Islam ruling the world – have you not heard their comments or read their writings? Rather than “the fantasy stuff of the fascists in Europe”, this is the fantasy of many Muslims.

And I think you would find that many Europeans think they have more than enough Muslim refugees. Especially given the amount of money they have to spend guarding against terrorist activities by their ‘guests’. And no other group engenders such fear as do Muslims – because of their terrorist activities around the world. And don’t forget we used to fear the PLO and other Muslim terrorist organisations – especially after their activities with hijacking and bombing planes. The only non-Muslim equivalents I can think of off hand are the IRA or ETA.

BTW how can it be “racist crap”? I am not talking about a race, but a religion practiced by people of many races.

Comment from John
Time November 14, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Tell me then which ‘race’ Jews belong to? This is the excuse all anti-Muslim racists use – they are not a race. But they are the other; whether that be in the context of Australian capitalism Aborigines, Chinese, Irish Catholics, Catholics, or Muslims, the song remains the same – they are the other, to be feared beyond all reason because they aren’t white and/or they aren’t Anglo-Saxon or British or Protestant or whatever the ruling class is at the time. A convenient scapegoat which has no basis in reality.

Take over Australia? What bizarre racist world do you live in? Oh, I know, one where facts don’t exist but prejudice abounds. It’s the same argument used against every vilified minority.

Re ecology, I know something about capitalism and its creation of false shortages, or in Marxist terms overproduction. For example there is more than enough food produced to feed everyone. The problem is poor people don’t have enough money to buy it.

The real environmental problem is capitalism. Of course the environment is fragile. Capitalism is destroying it in its insatiable drive for profit at the expense of humanity and the world we live in.

I note too you don’t address my point about Malthusian scaremongers. the world couldn’t support the present population – about 1 billion people – cried Malthus. You repeat the lie when we have 7 billion on the planet.

Given Jack’s comments (and I have included them on sufferance to show the depths of depravity this anti0-Muslim racism sinks to) this conversation is at an end. The racists have had their filthy say. No more.

Comment from Kay
Time November 15, 2012 at 8:21 am

You say this conversation is at an end. So you are now a censor of comments that you don’t agree with? Sounds a bit like the USSR to me!

You are correct – people instinctively fear ‘the other’. But Muslim terrorists do exist, and we see them every day on TV – even on the Arab-funded Al Jazeera TV broadcasts.

“Take over Australia? What bizarre racist world do you live in?” I can only assume you haven’t seen/heard Australian Muslims making these claims? NOT ME! No doubt these Muslims are in the minority – but they exist, and are very vocal! I might ask what fairy land you live in that you have never heard this.

You just refuse to accept what endless opinion polls tell you – Australians are FEARFUL of Muslim asylum seekers.

Re the Jews – once again a religion – those that were persecuted in Europe happened to belong to the Caucasian race. You know – white people! The main problem with the Jews was that they were so damned successful in business, science, the arts, you name it! Jealousy is also a very powerful emotion!

Comment from John
Time November 15, 2012 at 10:03 am

My blog. My rules. You can post your nonsense on Andrew Bolt’s page or Alan Jones’s site or wherever this sort of racist filth gets a hearing.

Comment from Kay
Time November 15, 2012 at 4:42 pm

I doubt your readers see my comments as “nonsense”. And it certainly is not “racist filth”.

Your comments are quite out of order, completely without justification and insulting.

FYI I don’t listen to either Andrew Bolt or Alan Jones, nor follow them.

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