John Passant

Site menu:

November 2012
M T W T F S S
« Oct   Dec »
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Tags

Archives

RSS Oz House

Authors

Subscribe to us

Get new blog posts delivered to your inbox.


RSS Blog RSS

Site search

Miniposts

Lex Wotton
(0)

Do not criticise the rich and powerful
(0)

Me quoted in Fairfax papers on tax haven use
Me quoted by Georgia Wilkins in The Age (and other Fairfax publications) today. John Passant, from the school of political science and international relations, at the Australian National University, said the trend noted by Computershare was further evidence multinationals did not take global regulators seriously. ”US companies are doing this on the hard-nosed basis that any [regulatory] changes that will be made won’t have an impact on their ability to avoid tax,” he said. ”They think it is going to take a long time for the G20 to take action, or that they are just all talk.” (1)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (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. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (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
(0)

Real debate?
(0)

Advertisement

Links:

Israel’s war on Gaza

BBC journalist Jihad Misharawi with his 11 month son Omar, killed by Israel. His sister in law was also killed and his brother wounded.

Up to twenty people in Gaza are dead after Israel unleashed a new wave of bombings reminiscent of the 2009 war writes Omar Hassan in Socialist Alternative.

Once again, pictures of mutilated bodies are spreading across the internet, while Israeli officials do their usual schtick about “self-defence” and “Palestinian rocket fire”, calling their assault “Operation Pillar of Defence”.

Lies. The 4 year old baby girl killed last night was no threat. The victims aren’t illegal Israeli settlers in Sderot who live on stolen land; they’re the Palestinians who’ve had their land stolen, their lives destroyed, and their loved ones killed. Israel is not defending itself from terror; it is the main perpetrator of terror.

But the reality is that Israel doesn’t need to be threatened to commit atrocities. Murder is written into the country’s DNA. Every so often it gets bored with simply strangling Gaza to death, and decides to lash out and kill a few hundred people.

Among the dead are Hamas military chief Ahmad Jaabari, leader of the Al-Qassam Brigades, as well as the brother of the co-founder of Hamas, Mahmoud al-Zahar. Israel also tried to take out Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Hamas’s political wing, and current Prime Minister of Palestine. This time, they failed. But they have declared their ongoing desire to “eliminate” him – diplomacy, Israeli style.

According to tweets from inside the Territory, ships have been shelling the ground, F16s and drones have been flying above them all day. Hamas has announced a state of emergency. The Israeli Security Cabinet has given the IDF permission to draft reservists and expand the Gaza operation. Israeli National Security Minister Avi Dichter has said: “We have no intention to end this round of fighting and suffer more hits in the next.”

It is clear that the Palestinians must respond. What is needed is a national intifada, an uprising of the poor and dispossessed Palestinians who have little to lose after years of occupation. This could trigger a renewal and deepening of the revolutionary processes in Egypt, forcing a confrontation with Israel. Time will tell whether Hamas has the orientation to organise such a movement, one which would necessarily challenge the corrupt Palestinian Authority that they have become increasingly friendly with in recent times.

Those celebrating the victory of Obama last week should know that the US government came out stridently last night: “We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel.” Yes, you read that right. They strongly condemn the handful of crappy rockets fired from Gaza. There’s more: “We regret the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence.” Not one Israeli has died yet. Not even one confirmed injury. This is disgusting, barbaric, and standard practice for Obama.

The Israeli decision to launch the offensive comes at a peculiar juncture in domestic politics. Just like the war in 2009, it comes a month or two before an Israeli election, scheduled for January next year. While many voters are unhappy with Netanyahu’s neoliberal economic policies, support for bombing Gaza high among Israeli Jews.

This isn’t just any election. Three weeks ago Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that his right wing Likud party was merging with the party of the ultra-nationalist Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman is a man who has threatened to murder Palestinian members of the Israeli parliament, comparing them to collaborators with the Nazis. He has also repeatedly called for the deportation of Palestinians living inside Israel. His overall views are best summed up as fascist.

This new war on Gaza, if it indeed does become a full-scale invasion, will be just the beginning. The Palestinians have reportedly retaliated with several rockets, but as always they are heavily outgunned. They have support, however, across the Middle East and throughout the world.

Of particular importance is the news that the African National Congress (ANC) – which led the struggle against apartheid in South Africa – recently voted overwhelmingly to endorse the Global Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment campaign. Current ANC National Chairperson and former South African deputy president Baleka Mbete said Israel was actually “far worse than Apartheid South Africa”. This stance should provide further strength to those fighting for justice – both within Palestine and globally.

In Australia activists will be organising events in Solidarity with Gaza in coming days and weeks:

Sydney:              

Stop the war on Gaza –Thursday 15 November, 6pm Parramatta Town Hall.

Melbourne:          

Snap action in solidarity with Gaza – this Saturday 12:30pm, Old GPO, Bourke Street Mall.

Emergency organising meeting, Tuesday 20 November, 6pm venue TBC.                           

Rally against bombing of Gaza – Friday 23 November, 5:30pm, State Library.

Brisbane:

Emergency protest for Gaza, this Saturday 17 November, 12:30pm Brisbane Square.

Adelaide:

Emergency rally for Gaza, Friday 16 November, 5pm outside Myer Centre, Rundle Mall. 

Perth: Emergency Solidarity Action for Gaza this Fri: 5.30pm, Murray Street Mall, Perth City (outside Perth Underground Station)

Advertisement

Comments

Comment from ross
Time November 15, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Israel is really pissed off because of the election of Obama.They( through AIPAC) put a lot of money into the Romney campaign for no result.

Obama has ended their plan for an attack on Iran,so Israel like a spoilt child stirs trouble with the Palistinians .

They are testing the allegiance of the USA and put Obama under the blow torch.

Israel has become a major liability to the USA and with Israel being an aggressive nuclear power,the USA don’t know how to contain or control them.

Comment from Kay
Time November 16, 2012 at 6:22 am

Will this craziness ever end? It seems to me (I admit that my knowledge on this topic as not as great as that of many others) that the creation of Israel after WW2 was a bit of a knee-jerk guilt-ridden decision to somehow appear to atone for the Holocaust. From what little I have read, I thought Jews and Muslims were living in relative harmony in the area that was to become Israel, and had been for centuries. Many Jews had already moved to the area to escape centuries of persecution throughout Europe. And the population was greatly expanded during WW2 as persecuted Jews fled there to escape the Nazi Holocaust. But the creation of a separate state of Israel forced Muslim Palestinians off their centuries-held land and out into refugee camps, and subsequently to towns in the area. But an entire population was dispossessed. And since then Israel has greatly expanded its territory. No wonder there are problems!

The solution? After such a long history of conflict, it is hard to imagine peace. On the one hand, Israel (the well-funded, powerful neighbour) appears prepared to do whatever it wants to keep the Palestinian militants ‘under control’ and to retain territory taken by force since 1948. As for the Palestinians, a dispossessed people, desperate in a world of uneven power, they are striking back when they can. And, in that regard, Israel has a long history of suicide bombings and assassinations – and ongoing rockets into Israel from Gaza. I understand that given Gaza’s dependence on supplies from Israel, most of its population do not support the rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas. And with such a dense population in Gaza, a ‘surgical strike’ by Israel directed at Hamas militants is not possible – it inevitably involves civilian significant casualties. One can only hope for some compromise, and from what I understand some sort of compromise was thought to be close.

No doubt the looming Israeli elections have prompted this ‘show of strength’ by Netanyahu, a politician who has never shown any real interest in peace.

Supporters of Israel would point to the fact that they provide food and other supplies to Gaza, and that Hamas has declared its wish to destroy Israel, and is actively working on terrorist activities. On the other hand, an entire population dispossessed of its land (for the past almost 70 years), without any hope, is a recipe for disaster, no matter which way you look at it.

And everywhere in the nearby Arab countries there is upheaval and revolutions.

Can there be a compromise that requires Israel to hand back a lot of its territory to allow the formation of a new country – Palestine? I hope so, but when?

And interesting to note – the kibbutzes in Israel (established by socialists) are probably the only example in the world of a functioning socialist society.

Pingback from Israel – Gaza — Its Complicated « Sheila's Take
Time November 16, 2012 at 11:55 am

[...] think Israel is a big bully - Israel’s war on Gaza This is a SCATHING post if you are on the side of [...]

Comment from Gary
Time November 17, 2012 at 10:38 am

John – my niece is in Israel on a Christian delegation and sent me this very different perspective. I guess it hightlights the dangers of listening to just one-side and assuming conflicts are black and white.

I send this not to elicit abuse about rights and wrongs, rather to point out how Omar Hassan’s view is not how others see this war.

Timeline of Gaza-Israel Cross-Border Violence

January-November 2012
Between Jan. 1, 2012 and Nov. 5, 2012, 674 rockets are fired from Gaza into Israel.

Sunday, Nov. 4:
A Palestinian man approaches the Israeli border with Gaza. After he ignores orders to stop and warning shots by Israeli soldiers guarding the border, he is shot and killed. Palestinian media claim he is mentally disturbed, but a photo is posted to an online Hamas forum showing the man holding an assault rifle and wearing an armored vest. He is buried wrapped in a Hamas flag, suggesting an affiliation with the terror group.

Tuesday, Nov. 6:
Morning: Palestinians detonate an explosive device near IDF soldiers patroling on the Israeli side of the border with Gaza, seriously injuring two Israelis.

Thursday, Nov. 8:
Evening: Israel enters Gaza to disable additional explosive devices.
A boy in Gaza is killed in during a shootout between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces. AP reports that “It was not clear who shot the boy.”
Hamas detonates a massive explosives-filled tunnel on the Israel-Gaza border, injuring an Israeli soldier.

Saturday, Nov. 10:
7:30 PM: Palestinian fire an anti-tank missile from Gaza across the border at an IDF jeep performing a routine patrol on the Israeli side of the borderwithin Israeli territory, 500 feet from the border. The jeep is blown up and four soldiers are injured, two seriously, and airlifted to Beersheva for medical care. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), claims responsibility for the attack.
Israeli returns tank fire toward the direction of the Palestinian missile, and at weapons facilities in Gaza. A militant in the area from which the anti-tank missile was launched is killed. In addition, Palestinians report four civilians killed and 25 wounded at a mourning tent that was hit by Israeli fire. Israel denies targeting civilians.
The Hamas leadership issues a call to arms.
9:00 – 11:30 PM: Palestinians fire rockets into southern Israel, some are intercepted by the Iron Dome. The IDF reports 25 rockets fired.
11:30 PM: The IDF fires at a rocket launching team firing rockets into southern Israel. A local Islamic Jihad commander is killed.

Sunday, Nov. 11:
Overnight: Additional rockets are launched into southern Israel and the Israeli Air Force responds by striking a weapons manufacturing facility, weapons storage facilities, and rocket-launching sites in the Gaza Strip. Residents are told to be within 15 seconds running distance from a bomb shelter.
Day and evening: Rocket fire from Gaza continues throughout the day and evening bringing the total number of rockets fired at southern Israel to 100. In Sderot and Sha’ar Henegev, two homes and a factory building are damaged and three civilians are wounded by rocket debris and hospitalized. Another person is treated for shock.

Monday, Nov. 12:
Overnight: Israeli Air Forces strike a tunnel, weapons storage facility and rocket launching site in the Gaza Strip.
Day and evening: Rockets are fired into southern Israel. More than 20 rockets are launched into southern Israel. A home in Netivot and a factory in the industrial area of the city are damaged. Half the schools in southern Israel are closed after a rocket lands near a school. Four civilians are injured and 43 civilians are treated for shock. Residents of southern Israel call upon the government to bring an end to the attacks from Gaza.
Egypt tells Hamas to stop launching rockets into Israel.

Tuesday, Nov. 13:
Overnight:: Israeli air forces strike rocket launching sites a weapons storage facility in the Gaza Strip.
Day: A Grad rocket is fired into the Israeli city of Ashdod and a Qassam rocket explodes near the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council.

Wednesday, Nov. 14:
Israel begins what it calls its “Pillar of Defense” operation with the stated goal of protecting Israeli civilians and crippling the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.
4:30 PM: An Israeli Air Force strike hits the car in which Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas’ military wing, in the Gaza Strip is travelling and kills the terrorist leader. Jabari commanded the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, was involved in the planning of multiple, deadly terror attacks against Israel and ordered the firing of rockets into Israel.
Hamas proclaims that “The occupation has opened the gates of hell.”
Afternoon and Evening: Israeli forces target long and medium range missile storage facilities and launching sites. For details, photos and videos of the operation, see IDF blog. Reuters reports 10 Palestinians killed, including three children, and 40 wounded. IDF blames Hamas for storing weapons near kindergartens and mosques.
Rockets are launched into Israeli ciites, some of which are intercepted by the Iron Dome. Others hit homes, shopping center, city streets. Sixteen people are treated for injuries or shock.
9:49 PM: The United States State Department “strongly condemns” the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel, and regrets “the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence.” Israeli Prime MinisterNetanyahu speaks by telephone to US President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and EU Foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and thanks them for supporting Israel’s right to self-defense.
Night: The Cabinet authorizes the army to call up reserve units.

Thursday, Nov. 15
Overnight and Morning: More than 200 rockets are launched into southern Israel from Gaza, of which more than 80 are intercepted by the Irone Dome. Rockets explode in Ashdod, Ofakim, Beersheba, Eshkol Regional Council area, Gan Yavne and Ashkelon. A house in Ashdod and a school in Ofakim are damaged.
A four story building in Kiryat Malachi is hit by a rocket, killing three people and wounding seven others, including two infants and a four-year-old child.

Israeli communities bordering Gaza are in lockdown.
Various Palestinian terrorist factions are launching rockets into Israel from Gaza. It is reported that Hamas is trying to take the lead.
Since the beginning of the operation, IDF has struck nearly 250 terrorist targets in Gaza, including rocket launching squads preparing to fire rockets at Israel, as well as long-range and medium-range rocket launchers in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian sources report 13 killed, including 4 children, and more than 100 wounded.

Note: The IDF has a webpage illustrating its various efforts to minimise civilian casualties in Gaza, including leaflet and phone warnings, and various steps undertaken during military strikes to minimise collateral damage

Comment from John
Time November 17, 2012 at 11:54 am

The apartheid state and its people have a different view? And a visitor picks up their propaganda. That isn’t a surprise. http://www.democracynow.org/2012/11/16/israeli_negotiator_hamas_commander_was_assassinated

In fact since the root cause is the genocide that the Israeli state is carrying out against Palestinians, I believe it is right to resist. A better way for the Palestinians would be the furtherance and deepening of the Egyptian revolution and the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood and a new socialist society set up there which challenges not just Israel but all the rotten bankrupt regimes in the region. The attacks on Gaza could possibly prompt the move of the Egyptian revolution in that direction. We shall see.

The bigger picture of this is not rockets, but peace and the inability of Zionism to accept that. Hence their provocation in assassinating the Hamas leader while negotiating a truce, ie ending the possibility of a truce. They did much the same thing to provoke Operation cast Lead which killed 1400 people, many of them women and children.

Ultimately a one state solution is the only one that can work. I suppose the Zionist fantasy could work but that involves the complete genocide of the Palestinian people, ie their dispersal from all the lands of Palestine.

Comment from Gary
Time November 17, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I think your answer does suggest a black/white or good/bad take on this. In war, there’s isn’t a simple outcome. Hitler was an evil mass murderer. Churchill bombed Dresden. That doesn’t make Churchill the same as Hitler. Stalin defeated Nazi Germany, but did so by using his own people as canon fodder. The US are responsible for the atomic bomb – an evil no one can defend, but that doesn’t make the concentration camps any less evil, nor the Burma prisons of the Japanese.

In every conflict, there are actions that can never be excused or mitigated. To me, the oppressed have no higher moral right to torture or rape or mass murder than oppressors do.

That’s why South Africa and Rwanda went for Truth and Coconcillaition style justice – not hangings and executions. An eye for an eye only breeds more violence and conflict, I believe.

Whatever disputes over land or injustice may be upheld, firing rockets into school zones and homes can never be justified.The IRA lose their moral authority when they targeted innocent Brits. bin laden too – the Pentagon was a military target, the planes and WTC were civilian. There can never ever be a time when killing women, children and non-combatants can be called right or just.

I often ask my fellow Aussie what they would think if Aboriginal people started blowing up buses or cafes – their cause is as right and justified as that of any oppressed peoples.

But then i ask, what if they killed my family, my kids? Not on purpose, but because they think all white Australians are responsible for genocide and the racism of this country.

No, the firing of rockets and missiles into civilian areas can not be defended, by any side or for any reason.

After all John, Churchill said Dresden was justified, the Americans said Tokyo was justified, Hamas says Jerusalem was justified, al Qaeda says Madrid, Bali and London are justfied – who’s to say Canberra isn’t a justified target and our families not fair game?

Do you not think this is a reasonable position to hold?

Comment from Kay
Time November 17, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Gary

Thanks for the Israeli background piece. No, conflicts are rarely black and white – there are always two sides of a conflict. Overall, this is just a very bad situation. The Palestinians have suffered the rigours of refugee status and all that goes with this for over 60 years. They have a very legitimate grievance.

Yet Hamas has continued to bombard Israel with rockets. And they have persisted with countless rockets attacks regardless of peace talks. One can hardly blame the Israelis from striking back. Either way, there are always casualties – on both sides.

Let’s hope some compromise solution is worked out – and soon.

John does seem to me to view issues in a much more ‘black and white’ way than we do.

Comment from John
Time November 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm

I stand with the Paelstinians in their resistance to the genocide Zionism is carrying out. Which side are you on?

Comment from John
Time November 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm

I stand with the Paelstinians in their resistance to the genocide which Zionism is carrying out. Which side are you on?

Comment from John
Time November 17, 2012 at 5:11 pm

I stood with the Vietnamese against the US and Australian invaders; with South Africans against apartheid; with the Egyptian masses against Mubarak and the Arab masses against the other Western supported dictators; with Iraqis against the West’s invasion; with Afghanis against the Russians’ invasion; with Malalai Joya and other Afghans against the Western invasion. All pretty black and white to me – stand with the oppressed against the oppressor. Which side were or are you on?

Comment from ross
Time November 17, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Gary I’m with John Passant on this one.Israel has nothing to fear from the Palistinians.Israel has all the nukes perhaps more than China.

The USA sends them $ billions each year in aid and they become more emboldened.

Bibi Netanyahu faces and election next year and many in his own country are not happy with his war mongerering escapades.

Netanyahu is grandstanding on contrived aggression by the Palistinians who have zero weapons that really threaten Israel.

There is ample evidence that Israel has used white phosphous on Palistinians ,starved,bombed,bulldozed their houses and stolen their land.

Would you Gary tolerate this in your own country?

Comment from Kay
Time November 17, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Is it necessary to take sides? Conflicts are rarely one-sided. In this case there is wrong on both sides, but just different wrongs. I can usually see two sides to every argument. I aim at taking a balanced view. I try to see conflicts from the viewpoint of both parties. To be able to do that is essential if you wish to negotiate a mutually acceptable outcome.

H.L. Mencken said that “For every human problem there is a neat, simple solution and it is always wrong”. I’m just not attracted to simple assessments – most issues are far more complex than that.

Comment from Gary
Time November 17, 2012 at 7:30 pm

John
We were talking about this at dinner tonight, so allow a longer response.

If someone’s position is always to stand with the oppressed, then wouldn’t this mean that they would be forced to change allegiances and shift support as situations change?

For example, I agree about standing for the black/coloured South Africans against apartheid. That meant supporting the ANC. Now the ANC shoot mine workers and repress freedom, so I am against the ANC.
I supported the Rhodesian Bush war against Ian Smith. I supported Mugabe over the oppressive whites. Now I oppose Mugabe.
I may have thought the Afghani’s mujahidin were the side to support against Russia, but they are worse in their repression of women, education, freedom and their massacre of the Hazara people. I oppose the Taliban, but also oppose Australia invading their country. It’s getting grey now …

Sha’ria law and fundamentalist Islam repress women and minorities. It allows for the execution of gays, of communists and those who favour socialist collectives. It bans certain forms of education, free press and free speech.

So it’s not black and white, is it? Let’s say Hamas win this war, take the land, have one state they dominate politically and socially.

Will you support them, or will you oppose their repression, their subjugation, their summary executions, their banning of unionism and collective bargaining?

To answer your question John, there is no ‘side’ I support. To me, it’s not an AFL fixture.

I cannot support a people or movement (like Mugabe or ANC) and then later oppose them because what they do is just as bad (or worse) than what was there before. But I can support the war against the Nazi’s and the Japanese and still condemn what we did as reprisals.

Please don’t think this petulant or redundant John, but your position is liking saying ‘who did you support in WW2?’ and if I say the Allies, you counter that by saying I support nuclear bombs and the fire-bombing of Tokyo.

Comment from John
Time November 17, 2012 at 8:18 pm

And your neat simple solution is?

Comment from John
Time November 17, 2012 at 8:19 pm

I don’t think resisting Zionist genocide is taking sides. It is standing with humanity against barbarism. Your both sides of the argument presmably applies to world war II. If not why not?

Comment from John
Time November 17, 2012 at 8:23 pm

WWII was an imperialist war. I support the slogan of turning it into a civil war, a class war against the class enemy, as happened in many countries during and after the First world war. Ernest Mandel argues that WWII was actually five different wars – imperialist battles in Europe, anti-fascist, expansion of US and Russian imperialism etc. Bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the fire bombing of Dresden, were war crimes.

Comment from John
Time November 17, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Sharia law etc oppresses women, which is what the US puppet in Afghanistan is doing right now. That’s why I support Malalai Joya and her call for the US to get out and for the Afghan people to rise up against the Taliban, a US supported and developed group, much as Hamas (a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood) initially enjoyed support from Israel and the US as a counterweight to the secular left. I support Hamas in its opposition to genocide just as I would have supported the French resistance against the Nazis, despite not agreeing with the PCF and its Stalinist vision of the world. One can support resistance to an oppressor without supporting the main resistance group. I do not support Hamas’s politics. Let me give you an example from Egypt. I support for example the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt in the ongoing revolution there, the revolution that if it ripens and succeeds is the solution to Zionism and its genocide. I do not think such an equivalent organisation yet exists in Palestine.

My comrades in Zimbabwe were recently framed by Mugabe for the crime of showing a short film on the Arab Spring. I support them.

Comment from Kay
Time November 18, 2012 at 8:27 am

Gary

I your comments very sensible and balanced. I too find that my support of “the oppressed” is always mitigated by the knowledge that the oppressors will probably be just as oppressive, if not more so, if they were to gain power. Whilst I am very open to accept new nuances to an argument, and am prepared to sway one way more than another, I always aim at seeing both sides to arrive at a more balanced view.

From reading this Blog for some time, I can see that socialists are constantly striving for revolution, uprisings, and conflict to allow the oppressed/’workers’ to take control of society and run things ‘their way’. I have absolutely no faith that any ‘one system’ would benefit all (and I am not necessarily just referring the ‘rich capitalists’ here). For example, there are those ‘workers’ who are full of initiative and enterprise who in a capitalist society could try out their ideas by setting up a small business (that could grow in time). Such people would be thwarted by a socialist society. Such people appear to be hated by the socialists. The ‘oneness’ of it all is quite scary to me!

I just happen to think that the world’s democratic capitalist societies offer the best overall freedom settings for the population as a whole. This system is a long way from perfect to say the very least, but it is a system in which change can occur if enough people want it – via the ballot box, not via a ‘revolution’. Taxes, labour laws and regulation can be used to limit the excessive wealth of the top earners. Social security and Medicare, state funded education and other services can provide a ‘safety net’ for those less well off. These services and taxes etc require constant vigilance and adjustment, but not total disbanding.

I was recently briefly in Vanuatu. A small island completely dependent upon tourism to survive. Threw off the dual control of French and British colonial rule some time ago. Our guide explained to us that there are two levels of society there – the ‘town’ people and the ‘village’ people. The villages are run very much on socialist lines as far as I can see. A ‘Chief’ is selected (many different rules, depending on the village). He is supported with food and other help by the villagers. He helps his villagers out when needed. He makes rules and decisions. Sounds pretty good. Only problem – the villagers have zero access to education or medical assistance/medicines – or anything that requires money as opposed to bartering. He explained that there are no state-funded services. Only the ‘rich’ town people can afford to send their children to school as the fees are very high. Likewise, only ‘town people’ And they do have a Parliament and democratic elections. Very hard to get the right balance in the society as a whole. I’m not sure how this society can progress to a more equitable society other than by increased pressure in Parliament to provide greater state-funded services. It is a fairly impoverished country overall, but they are proud of their self-rule. It was an interesting visit.

Comment from John
Time November 18, 2012 at 5:22 pm

The point Marx made was that the productive forces of capitalism had reached such a level that our basic human needs could be satisfied, not by profit making but by democratic production and distribution. Villages in Vanuatu have nothing to do with that.