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John Passant

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September 2015



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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)



Je suis Karen

Thanks to the ludicrous yet frightening Living Safe Together booklet most of Australia knows about Karen, the women who became a ‘radical activist’ (whatever that is) by being involved in the  ‘alternative music scene’ (whatever that is.)

This booklet is designed to go to schools to help students and teachers understand the ‘dangers’ of ‘radicalisation’ (whatever that is) and dob in their friends and pupils. It is a reactionary’s wet dream, full of pompous platitudes and dangerous delusions, born of a world view that sees anyone who questions authority as the enemy. If you are not with us you are agin us. If you are not in ‘Team Australia’ you are a terrorist. This booklet is where Edmund Burke meets Tony Abbott, via the comics.

To be fair to the geniuses who developed this booklet, it was not just alternative music that led to Karen’s downfall. There was also student politics and ‘left-wing’ activism (whatever that is). All of this led inevitably and inexorably to direct action environmentalism, where Karen lived in a forest camp, disrupting logging activities. She was arrested numerous times and ‘lost contact with her family and previous set of friends.’ In other words she believed and practised, like Martin Luther King and many many others, direct non-violent action, in her case to stop capital destroying the environment and with it the very system that produces the drive for profits destroying the world.

Karen eventually left the group, ‘disillusioned with in-group fighting’ and miracle of miracles became a moderate. She ‘took a paid job with a mainstream environmentalist organisation.’ Ah yes, the mainstream environmental movement that has not won many significant victories since about 1986, but which now has all these Green MPs implementing or just itching to implement austerity and piss farting around about climate change.

Maybe the Greens could (they should in my view, but won’t) mobilise that big section of society worried about the threat to the environment, worried about our rotten treatment of refugees, worried about growing poverty and inequality, to sit in in the streets of the major cities and close them down until a government of either conservative persuasion is forced to take progressive action.

One underlying message of the booklet is pretty clear -play by the rules of the one percent. Reform the system, don’t challenge it. As the booklet says:

‘[Karen] also began to question the effectiveness of the protesting methods used by the group. It seemed they might make short-term gains but that there was no sustainable change unless it was translated into wider community support and government policies.’

This of course re-writes history. The suffragettes (whom the booklet incorrectly uses as a good example of nice peaceful reform) did not change the world by being polite. They conducted the sort of campaigns Karen did and were arrested and jailed for the political ‘crime’ of wanting women to have the vote. They won both because of their actions and because they built a mass militant movement. Like those in the Vietnam War who called for victory to the National Liberation Front, their actions shifted the debate to the left and made their demands both accessible to and understood by the public. Indeed their militant wing would, in line with the ‘logic’ of this this booklet, be an example of the ‘violent’ extremism the booklet rails against.

Except it isn’t violent, or extremist. The real extremists sit in Canberra and in the board rooms across the country. It is not Karen who invaded Iraq, or Afghanistan. It is not Karen who is bombing Syria. It is not Karen killing black men and women in custody. It is not Karen driving Aboriginal people off their land to open it up for big mining companies. It is not Karen killing women in relationships or doing little about it. It is not Karen increasing inequality and poverty in Australia. It is not Karen attacking Medicare. It is not Karen attacking penalty rates or wages. It is not Karen who is stopping equal love.  It is not Karen locking up and abusing thousands of innocent people on Manus Island and Nauru.

Karen’s conversion to the mainstream means she is no longer challenging the structures of power that impose this unjust society on us, a society of mass inequality, war, hunger, poverty and fast approaching environmental destruction.

As Howard Zinn so eloquently put it our problem is not civil disobedience; it is civil obedience.



There is another rotten message in the booklet too, namely that Muslims are a threat, captured by a similar message coming from the US. Muslim boys with clocks are dangerous. I will come back to this later.

To comment hit the link under the heading. Comments close after 7 days.  



Comment from Peter
Time September 28, 2015 at 7:57 am

This is one of the best, most relevant and important of your many excellent posts. Based on them, I would have you for benevolent dictator any day. I agree that socialism is an ideal to follow, but in practice, we will always come up against human nature. Thanks anyway for your thoughts, they are always succinct, to the point and admirable.

Comment from John
Time September 28, 2015 at 9:46 am

Thanks Peter. Based on your comment I might write something about the human nature and socialism argument at some stage. Also benevolent dictator is not my aim or my desire – let’s have a democratic society in which we all have a say on a very regular basis.

Comment from Beth Jabornik
Time September 28, 2015 at 11:02 am

This is a cracker of a post John! Really enjoyed it. Thanks.

Comment from John
Time September 28, 2015 at 1:21 pm

Thanks Beth.

Comment from michael
Time September 29, 2015 at 12:11 am

Great piece. It seems to me that this latest attempt by the leaders of the bourgeois to brainwash the children in our society, smacks of desperation. They realise that there is a ground swell of discontent that is gaining momentum like the waves of a tsunami that begins like a ripple. This Governments twist and turns consisting of mendacious fascist propaganda will only get more intense and I see the days when nonconformists will be incarcerated in not too dissimilar concentration camps as our refugee brothers and sisters. The truth must be told and told in ways that will make the apathetic sit up and listen, and join the ranks of the disenfranchised to fight for our lost egalitarianism. In solidarity,people power

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