John Passant

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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
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Real debate?
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System change, not climate change
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General your tank is a powerful vehicle

Poem by Bertolt Brecht (German original and English translation)

General, dein Tank ist ein starker Wagen.
Er bricht einen Wald nieder und zermalmt hundert Menschen.
Aber er hat einen Fehler:
Er braucht einen Fahrer.

General, dein Bomberflugzeug ist stark.
Es fliegt schneller als ein Sturm und trägt mehr als ein Elefant.
Aber es hat einen Fehler:
Es braucht einen Monteur.

General, der Mensch ist sehr brauchbar.
Er kann fliegen und er kann töten.
Aber er hat einen Fehler:
Er kann denken.

General your tank is a powerful vehicle.
It smashes down forests and crushes a hundred men.
But it has one defect:
It needs a driver.

General, your bomber is powerful.
It flies faster than a storm and carries more than an elephant.
But it has one defect:
It needs a mechanic.

General, man is very useful.
He can fly and he can kill.
But he has one defect:
He can think.

In defence of flag burning

This is a link to me going head to head with David Oldfield on radio station 2UE 2 and a half years ago in defence of flag burning.

It was prompted by a young Aboriginal girl burning the Australian flag on the stairs of Old Parliament House on Invasion Day in 2012. It is the second audio down on the page.

I am reposting this because students in Melbourne have been charged after burning the Australian flag at a pro-Palestine rally in Melbourne at Foreign Affairs offices there.

Jailed Aboriginal men converting to radical Islam – every racist’s nightmare and wet dream

It is the worst nightmare and best of wet dreams for Australian racists – jailed Aboriginal men converting to radical jihadist Islam.

Australia’s indigenous peoples have for years been the lowest of the low in the eyes of the colonial settler state and those who benefit from the dispossession of Aborigines. About 226 years in fact.

If there has been one constant theme running through the ruling class Australian nation narrative it has been racism against Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, a racism born as justification for the genocide unleashed on indigenous Australians to win their land.

Of late, the war on terror has deliberately made Muslims the latest target of ruling class fear mongering. The enemy is not capitalism but those terrorist Muslims.

Now it looks as if a new scare campaigning uniting these deep fears is emerging. Aboriginal men in jails across Australia are supposedly converting to Islam. The Fairfax Daily (aka The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Canberra Times) is running a disgraceful piece suggesting that there is an epidemic of conversions going on in prisons. And not just nice conversions, but Aboriginal men converting to the most radical, jihadist versions of Islam.

Imagine that. Black ex-crim terrorists in Australia. It both shocks the racists to the core and proves their fears are completely justified. Completely justified.

Of course there is just one little problem for this new scare campaign. There is no evidence for it, as the article itself admits.

Even if there was, so what? The most oppressed people in Australian society are entitled to look for something that offers them hope in the here and now. Certainly not much in capitalist society offers hope, with indigenous Australians dying over ten years earlier than the rest of the population, poverty rates ten times higher in aboriginal communities than other communities, and Aboriginal prison rates 13 times higher than their presence in society.

A Malcolm X among Aboriginal people leading the fight against oppression would be a great step forward.

The fact that there is no strong left-wing and socialist current in society, let alone a strong movement of black and white demanding a treaty which recognises sovereignty, means that the options for hope for many Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders are pretty narrow.

Now one solution would be to stop jailing indigenous Australians, but since the justice system is designed to oppress the oppressed and to marginalise the marginalised, that isn’t going to happen.

Another more radical solution would be to negotiate a treaty recognising prior ownership and paying the rent. That is a direct challenge to the rule of capital and the only way for it to come about is a working class revolution. One of the first acts of a workers’ government would be negotiating just such a treaty.

But that is in the future. In the here and now we must all, black and white, continue to fight for a treaty recognising sovereignty and paying the rent. We must continue to fight for religious tolerance, against the war on terror and for palestine.

Given that the Fairfax media is the so-called progressive media in Australia, the fact that they are pandering to racists and stoking their fears with jailed Muslim Aboriginal men scare stories shows both just how far Fairfax has degenerated and just how deep into the racist shit the Australian ruling class has burrowed.

And all the time the genocide in Gaza and austerity in Australia remains unremarked.

The colonial settler state killing Palestinians is the same sort of settler state in Australia unleashing its power against indigenous Australians.

If Fairfax is running this sort of racist scare campaign, News Limited won’t be far behind and even more crude.

The threat of reaction and its actuality is getting worse.

It is time for us to take the fight up to the rich and powerful in society and join with Muslims and black Australians against the systemic racism and fear-mongering of the establishment.

That is why it was great to see an Abi=original elder give a rousing defence of of Palestine at a rally recently in Canberra and finish with the cry: La lutta continua.

Unions: fighting against asbestos, unlike the Hawke Labor Government

There was an interesting report in Thursday’s Canberra times about asbestos in the ACT and the union fight against it.

Recently released cabinet documents under the 30 year rule show that the Hawke Labor government only moved to address concerns about asbestos in homes in the ACT when unions in the Territory began industrial action. The Labor government wasn’t concerned about the real health threat the material posed to ordinary citizens.

The issue is still relevant today in Canberra.

About 100 homes in Canberra have been found recently to contain Mr Fluffy asbestos.

Two people have recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma.

One house was demolished the other day, with all the family’s possessions in it, at a cost of about $65000. No government has yet come to the party to pay for the costs involved in the boarding up or demolition of any of the houses.

It looks as if the only people concerned about asbestos and Mr Fluffy were the ACT unions, as far back as 1983. Once again, unions, putting people (and not just members in this case) and their lives before profit.

The full Canberra Times report is here.

Bravo to the Greens New South Wales: A ceasefire can only happen when there is an end to the blockade of Gaza and the Occupation

Bravo to the New South Wales Greens. Here is part of a press release Senator Lee Rhiannon and other Greens NSW parliamentarians have released, arguing that there can only be a ceasefire with the end of the blockade of Gaza and the Occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

Three weeks since the attack on Gaza began, and one week since the ground invasion began the Greens NSW say that any ceasefire deal between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza must include an end to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories and to the blockade of Gaza.

Further on Greens NSW Upper House MP David Shoebridge says:

We are calling on all sides to cease the violence, but this is not a war between equal sides. Israel, with the world’s fifth largest military, is the oppressor and the people of Occupied Palestine are the oppressed.

Here is part of what Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon says:

This war, like those in 2002, 2006, 2008 and 2012, is part of Israeli government’s plans to dominate Palestinian land and suppress the Palestinian people.

To read the full press release click here.

Nominate a real lefty for the Walkley journalism awards

 

The Walkley journalism awards are coming up and they have called for the following (among their other categories).

The Walkley Foundation also invites nominations for two of the awards:

Outstanding Contribution to Journalism (chosen by the Walkley Trustees): Recognises the achievements of a person or group for outstanding or enduring commitment to the highest standards of journalism. Each year, the Trustees recognise the achievements of a person or group that has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the highest standards of journalism – truth, rigour, integrity, fairness – over a lifetime.

Leadership (chosen by the Walkley Advisory Board): Open to self and peer nominated entrants, this award recognises acts of courage and leadership by individuals or teams in coverage of news, innovation in journalism, and/or campaigning journalism. It could be innovation in the way media operates or the business and funding models that sustains journalism, or could recognise journalism that looks outside the square to research, investigate and/or present a story in a new and innovative way.

To nominate recipients for these two awards, send a 300 word statement to barbara.blackman@walkleys.com or to The Walkley Foundation, 245 Chalmers Street, Redfern, NSW 2016 explaining the reasons behind the nomination. If desired, include examples of work, citations from senior media and/or other personal references.

If you know someone in the left-wing media who has made an outstanding contribution to journalism or to leadership, including campaigning journalism and journalism that looks outside the square – and it shouldn’t be that hard given much of the MSM produces ruling class sycophantic drivel – then nominate them. All you have to do is send 300 words explaining why to Barbara Blackman (barbara.blackman@walkleys.com).

Securing the MH17 site: They don’t like it up ‘em

Whenever I hear Abbott talking about Australian police/defence forces securing the MH17 site, I am reminded of this. They don’t like it up ‘em.

Experts are saying much the same thing but in more measured tones. Here’s a link to a report from the Sydney Morning Herald called Australia risks inflaming Ukraine conflict by sending armed police to MH 17 site: analysts. It starts off:.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s plan to deploy armed police to the MH17 crash site risks increasing tension in the Ukrainian territory held by Russian-backed rebels, according to international political analysts.

The often brilliant Jack Waterford, editor at large of The Canberra Times, at his biting acerbic best, rubbishing the Murdoch press Abbott hero worship and war mongering and hopefully leading the fight back against the Murdochisation of the Fairfax stable.

Tony Abbott is having a marvellous time in the limelight representing a country which, with the Netherlands, is leading the international outrage. He might not have willed the circumstances, but shit happens, and he has jumped on to a bus that takes his leadership, local and world-wide on to a level high up above mere politics, and his Lilliputian rivals. He is on a world stage, with bigger players such as the United States and Britain happy to thrust him forward as the voice of anger and common sense. He represents victimhood, and outraged virgins everywhere.

To read his full article, click here: Australia spruiking for a major war against Russia.

Palestine and the Arab counter-revolution

Palestinian flags at Israeli embassy protest in Cairo, May 2011. Photo: Maggie Osama.

As all the hideous machinery of industrial scale death rains down on Gaza, ripping apart bodies, burying people under piles of rubble, and even targeting ambulances as they rush to save the injured, it is difficult to do anything but rage at the crimes of the Israeli state, writes Corey Oakley in Red Flag.

But as the endless stream of horrific images from Gaza exposes the moral bankruptcy of Israel and its Western backers, it is important to understand that this crime against humanity is also the work of the vast counter-revolution that is sweeping the Arab world.

The centres of Arab reaction

The twin centres of this counter-revolution are the regimes in Cairo and Riyadh. Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Saudi King Abdullah are determined to destroy every remnant of the Arab revolution that erupted in 2011.

In Egypt, Sisi has cynically used the deep and widespread hostility to the Muslim Brotherhood to stamp the authority of the military establishment on the country.

Thousands have been imprisoned in Sisi’s “war on terrorism”, which has expanded beyond the Muslim Brotherhood to include anyone who dares to question government policy, let alone fight to revive the revolutionary movement.

The reassertion of control by the old regime, with only a few figureheads removed, has been aided by billions of dollars in Saudi money.

Now, as Israel’s war on Gaza escalates, the attention of Sisi has turned to Hamas, which he considers nothing but an extension of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

The pre-revolutionary Egyptian regime was, since the signing of the Camp David Accords in 1978, a close ally of Israel – something that was always a source of anger in Egypt. But Sisi’s Palestinian policy today is Mubarak on steroids.

Sisi is aligned with the extreme right wing in Israel, which is calling for an all out war in Gaza – up to and including a full scale Israeli re-occupation of the Strip.

The cynical Egyptian “ceasefire” proposal, which was announced without even back channel communication with Hamas, was a demand for absolute surrender, and went beyond even the most cravenly pro-Israel Egyptian proposals in wars past. Instead of being a ceasefire proposal, the Egyptian “plan” amounted to a well-orchestrated move to give Israel political cover for its ground invasion of Gaza, which proceeded on schedule as soon as Hamas inevitably rejected it.

Sisi is backed to the hilt by the pliant Egyptian media.

Azza Sami, a writer for government daily Al-Ahram, said on Twitter: “Thank you Netanyahu, and God give us more men like you to destroy Hamas!” Tawfik Okasha, presenter on the Al-Faraeen TV channel, said: “Gazans are not men. If they were men they would revolt against Hamas.”

Sisi’s most important ally in restoring military rule and crushing the Muslim Brotherhood is the Saudi monarchy. Two hours after Sisi took power last year he received a congratulatory message from the Saudi King in which Abdullah noted: “It is time to uproot this kind of strange chaos, otherwise any state or nation who is unable to rein in outlaws would eventually lose its dignity and honour.”

In a clear warning to other states, he said, “I call on all brothers and friends to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Egypt in any form as tampering the affairs of this country is as a violation of Islam and Arabism and at the same time considered an infringement of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Over the past 12 months the Saudis have gone to extraordinary lengths to isolate the Brotherhood from potential sources of Arab aid. Qatar, the pro-US but also Muslim Brotherhood-aligned Gulf state, has been put underincredible pressure to end its support for the Brotherhood. It has been threatened with punitive action not just from the Saudis, but other neighbours like the United Arab Emirates, which is so hostile to Hamas itallegedly offered to help fund the Israeli assault on Gaza.

It is unclear how the jostling for position between various powers – including the US, Egypt, Qatar and Turkey – to broker a ceasefire, will work out. While Qatar and Turkey are clearly inclined to propose an agreement more favourable to the Palestinians than that advanced by Egypt, there is incredible pressure to accept the fundamentals of the Egyptian position.

Either way, it is a remarkable situation in which Egypt, only three years after a revolution in which sympathy for the Palestinian cause played an important part, can have a more pro-Zionist position than both the US and Qatar (which hosts the US Central Command’s Forward Headquarters in its territory).

The Saudi/Egyptian push to destroy the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas is about much more than just hostility to these particular organisations. Sisi’s support for an all-out Israeli war on Hamas reflects his hostility to any and all Palestinian resistance.

For the Egyptian military, containing the Palestinians was always a key aspect of its strategy for preventing the transformation of the Egyptian uprising into a genuinely pan-Arab struggle that could tear down the corrupt monarchs and dictatorships and bring democracy and social justice to the region.

While Sisi’s grip on power in Egypt is superficially strong, the widespread Palestinian protests across the West Bank and inside Israel, if they did transform into a new intifada, could have an enormously destabilising impact in Egypt and across the region.

Creating the Islamist enemy

The most effective strategy employed by the Arab counter-revolution so far has been its effort to reframe the struggle between dictatorships and mass popular struggle into a battle between authoritarian regimes (secular or not) and Islamist extremism.

The first and most dramatic practitioner of this method was Bashar al-Assad in Syria. From day one he denounced the Syrian revolutionaries as reactionary Sunni-Islamist terrorists, and has gone to great lengths to turn his accusation into reality. Until last month, Assad’s forces had fired hardly a single shot against the Al-Qaeda offshoot ISIS (Now simply the Islamic State). And why would he? While Assad’s forces butchered revolutionaries from the ground and air on one side, ISIS attacked them from the other.

The Egyptian military adopted the same strategy, though with a slightly rearranged deck of cards. It rode back into power last year on the wave of deep and justified anger at Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government’s betrayal of the revolution. The army claimed that it had returned to save the revolution from Islamo-fascism. In reality, it came to bury it.

In Iraq, prime minister Nouri al-Maliki responded to protests last year with a renewed campaign of bombings and attacks on rebellious Sunni areas like Fallujah, the birthplace of resistance to US occupation. His response to ISIS military victories has not been to try and reconcile Sunni and Shia leaders, but to mobilise sectarian Shia forces, plus those of Iran, the US and others to crush the Sunni population in the name of “fighting terrorism”.

The utilisation of sectarianism, campaigns against Islamist extremism, and the militarisation of conflict across the region have all had a devastating impact. What began as a mass popular struggle for democratic rights and social justice, which brought people together across sectarian, ethnic and religious lines, has been significantly pushed back.

Yet the strategy is fraught with contradictions. The counter-revolutionary push across the region has created intense instability. For example, Saudi Arabia initially facilitated extensive funding (mostly through private channels) to elements of the rebellion in Syria. The monarchy allowed this partly because of its hostile relationship with the Iranian-aligned Assad regime, but also to try and prevent the revolutionary forces from taking on too secular and democratic a character. In Iraq, it has channelled funds to Sunni groups opposed to Maliki, which it sees as a way to stymie Iran.

But while the Saudis were happy to see the conflicts in Syria and Iraq take on an increasingly militarised and sectarian character, this also helped create the conditions for the rise of the viciously anti-Saudi ISIS, which since its takeover of much of Northern Iraq is now consolidating its position in Syria and poses a serious medium term threat to both Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Fahad Nazer, a former analyst at the Saudi Embassy in the US, argues: “More than any of its neighbours, Saudi Arabia has the most to lose from the conflict in Iraq spiralling out of control.”

The anti-imperialists who aren’t

The jihadist groups, and in particular the ultra-reactionary ISIS, claim that they are friends of the Palestinians. They are anything but.

It is not just that they pose no military threat to Israel. Indeed ISIS has announced on various occasions that it is more interested in securing control over the population (including Sunni Arabs), and carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing, than in coming to the aid of the Palestinians. More fundamentally, its ultra-sectarian and puritanical version of Islam serves only to divide the mass of the Arab population, and obscure the real divide between workers, peasants and poor and the parasitical minority at the top.

No better is the so-called “secular” and “anti-imperialist” Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Assad trades off his supposed pro-Palestinian stance. But he, like his father before him, serves as a loyal border guard for Israel. It may be that in this current upheaval Assad (or ISIS) makes some token gesture in support of the Palestinians. If he does it will be pure propaganda.

It is no coincidence that the Israelis greeted with fear, not favour, the revolution’s threat to Assad’s rule. There are, of course, a few naïve people in Israel (as there are on the left) who take Assad’s occasional anti-Zionist statements as good coin. But such people do not get to dictate foreign policy. The Israeli establishment overwhelmingly is of the view that the defeat of Assad would be bad for the Zionist state.

Impact on the Palestinian resistance

The bloody, militarised, multi-faceted conflicts that are raging across the Arab world and suffocating the popular revolutionary movements, have added to the difficulties facing the Palestinians. While impressive numbers demonstrate in Europe and elsewhere, there has been little in the way of mass protests in Arab capitals.

The two most important resistance movements against Israel – Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza – have been severely impacted by the fallout from the Arab uprisings.

Hezbollah has covered itself in shame and abdicated any right to Arab leadership by joining in Bashar al-Assad’s butchering of the Syrian revolution. Hezbollah figures now admit that, even in the event of the Gaza war expanding into Lebanon, their forces have been severely impacted by the amount of effort they have put in to helping prop up the Assad dictatorship.

While any Hezbollah engagement with Israel would be welcomed by ordinary Palestinians, its legitimacy to speak for the Arab masses is unlikely to ever recover.

Hamas, to its great credit, broke with Assad and refused to back his war on the Syrian people. But the Arab revolution exposed the critical weakness of groups like Hamas, which rely so heavily on the support from one or other despotic regime.

After its partial break with Syria and its Iranian backers (its fighters still have access to some Iranian and even Syrian weaponry – more than the Israelis suspected, it now seems), Hamas leaned heavily on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. But after the fall of Morsi, Hamas found itself with few friends among Arab governments – a situation that was exacerbated by intense Saudi pressure on anyone inclined to give it support.

This is what pushed Hamas to accept a “unity government” with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Hamas could no longer afford to pay its public servants, and so was prepared to agree to a “unity” that conceded almost everything of substance to Abbas.

This dire situation, added to by Israel’s undermining of the unity government, is the context in which Israel gained the confidence to launch its latest offensive.

A missed opportunity

It didn’t have to be so. The 2011 revolution – which began in Tunisia and then spread through Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Morocco, Jordan and beyond – represented the single greatest chance to break out of the paralysing impasse into which the Palestinian struggle had sunk.

The long held slogan of the left – that the road to the liberation of Jerusalem runs through the Arab capitals – seemed to be brought to life. As millions rose against dictatorship, they flew not just their own flags but that of the Palestinians as well.

I was in Cairo in May 2011, shortly after the overthrow of Mubarak. The first demonstration I saw in Tahrir Square was 50,000 strong. It was a sea of Palestinian flags in solidarity with the thousands of young people battling Israeli forces in the West Bank and the Golan Heights on the anniversary of the Nakba. “To Jerusalem we will come; millions of martyrs for Palestine!” they shouted.

The next night I travelled across the Nile from Tahrir to join thousands of young people who had besieged the Israeli embassy in Giza. At a later demonstration the embassy was overrun entirely. This time the army defended it, firing tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition at fearless demonstrators until the early hours of the morning.

A number were killed and hundreds wounded or arrested. It was a confirmation of what the left then knew, and is now being proved in spades by Sisi: the alliance between the Egyptian military leadership and Israel runs deep.

But it was not just the military and its liberal backers who denounced the protests. So too did the Muslim Brotherhood, which argued that the Egyptian revolution had to settle its own problems before dealing with “foreign policy”. Worse, the Brotherhood, in close cooperation with Hamas, collaborated with the military to prevent hundreds of Egyptians travelling to the Rafah Crossing to deliver aid to Gaza and demand the border be opened.

Hamas in Gaza, like Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, was determined to stop the Palestinians joining the Arab uprising. Even Hamas, which was elected in 2006 because it refused to embrace the quisling politics of Fatah, feared mass upheaval from below, and saw it as a challenge to both its own increasingly authoritarian rule over Gaza, and the network of alliances it had built up with neighbouring states. Hamas may have partially broken with Syria in protest at Assad’s repression, but it did not break with the logic that has plagued the Palestinian resistance for generations: support for, or at least “non-interference” in, the existing Arab regimes.

None of this is to take anything away from the heroism of the Palestinian resistance that is fighting and dying under the flag of Hamas in Gaza today. Whatever criticism there is to be made of Hamas, its militants resisting the savage Israeli assault on Gaza should have the solidarity of every supporter of a liberated Palestine.

A new, deeper Arab revolution

The slaughter in Gaza brings in to sharp relief the painful contradictions of these last few years. One the one hand, the Arab revolution transformed the Arab world, and raised the hopes of millions that a new Middle East was possible. On the other, the old regimes for the most part are still in place, bloody new conflicts divide those who once joined hands and Israel, once again, is acting with murderous impunity against the Palestinians while the Arab world watches on.

There are two possible conclusions to be drawn.

One is that a Middle East free of class division, oppression, imperialism, Zionism and sectarianism is impossible. That is the conclusion that the Saudi and Egyptian and Syrian rulers, and ISIS as well, want us to draw. There is no hope, so pick one of us – it’s the best you are going to get.

The second possible conclusion is that the Arab revolution has not succeeded because it has not gone far enough.

It was not enough to bring down individual dictators – the whole system of class rule that they expressed had to be brought down. It was not enough to take to the streets or take to arms – the social power of the masses without whose weight the wheels that grind out the profits of the Arab billionaires would not turn needed to be decisively brought to bear.

It was not enough to rally against imperialist intrigue – the revolution needed to drive the imperialists and their myriad agents from every corner of Arab society. It was not enough to disorganise the old order – it was necessary to create the organisations which could be the vehicle for the new. It was not enough to declare “down with the old ideologies” – the revolution had to articulate its own vision of a new world, a new ideology that put meat on the bones of its great slogans: “democracy, freedom, social justice”.

There is of course, not easy answer as to how these simple notions can be given meaning in flesh and blood. But against despair, they are a start.

And whatever is to come, there are two things that are certain. One, the crisis of poverty and inequality and injustice that brought forth the Arab revolution has not been resolved and will not go away.

Two, however terrible the defeats suffered by revolutionaries across the Middle East these past years, the flame of resistance has not been extinguished. There is no greater example of that in this hour than the Palestinians, whose resistance from the streets of Gaza to the West Bank and the Arab towns of Israel is reviving belief in the intifada.

The historic bearers of Arab suffering, but also the historic spark of Arab resistance, were passed over during the Arab spring. Perhaps now, as reaction storms across the Arab world, the Palestinians can rise from the rubble and the devastation of Shujaia to give the Arab revolution new life.

Sick of mainstream media lies about Palestine?

Subscribe to Red Flag newspaper today. Help maintain a strong voice for the Palestinian resistance and counter to corporate media lies. For more details click here.

Of packages and politicians

The comment on commercial radio by Jacqui Lambie, the Palmer United Party Senator for Tasmania, that any prospective partner ‘ must have heaps of cash and they’ve got to have a package between their legs,’ has seen a few middle class male political gossip mongers go into meltdown and Destroy the Joint condemn her for her ‘sexism’.

Calling her comments ‘sexist’, in response to a sexist question, misunderstands the nature of women’s oppression.

‘I’m not a prude but…’ is how the men often begin their puerile protestestations of prurience. Like its cousin ‘I’m not a racist but…’ the opening line reveals the deepest insecurities and the reality.

Sometimes the repressed outrage is disguised as tut tutting about these type of comments not being appropriate behaviour for a Senator. My god, a Senator saying what millions of Australians can understand and relate to. Shocking.

Obviously what we should have in Parliament, according to our esteemed commentators, are robots able to parrot the party line defending the latest bout of genocide against Palestinians, or invasion of some poor country, or increasing poverty, or brutalising asylum seekers.

Evidently what we need in Parliament is people what speak proper defending the barbarism of the capitalist system, its wars and its austerity.

Jacqui Lambie isn’t one of those professional, fake tan, smooth as baby shit politicians.  She hasn’t had years of coaching and training in Labor Inc or Liberal Inc in how to de-personalise herself to sell a set of lies to the voting public.

None of this means I am a fan of PUP policies. Populism can only get you so far and it isn’t surprising that Clive Palmer, the billionaire leader of the party, used Al Gore as cover for waving through the abolition of the carbon tax.

As readers would know I am no fan of the carbon tax and the costs it imposes on workers, nor of its long term inability to address climate change in any meaningful way. However the abolition of the tax was a signal that the climate change deniers were in charge, and PUP was part of that march back to the 1950s.

So too when PUP supported changes to the financial advice laws which effectively put working men and women at risk of being robbed by rotten greedy advisers, it is clear that their populism goes only so far in defending ordinary people.

There is something else in the outrage about Lambie’s ‘package between their legs’ comments. Apparently women shouldn’t express sexual feelings. It is as if women are mere objects of male desire, asexual receptacles of male lust, not people with their own desires, not subjects of their own.

In this the commentariat reflects the oppression of women in our society, an oppression born of capitalism’s need for the next generation of workers to be raised on the cheap, ie in the family.  To allow or acknowledge that women have individual personhood outside narrow stereotypes might challenge that important role of women in capitalist society.

The response to Lambie’s comments shows that deep down the ruling elite have not left the 1950s.  I’m with those millions of working women and men who say good on her.

Like all posts on this blog comments – see the link under the heading – close after 7 days.