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If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

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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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Sick kids and paying upfront

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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. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

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The article the ANU student ‘newspaper’ Woroni refused to publish

This is an updated version of an article I sent to the editors of Woroni, the student newspaper of the Australian National University. They refused to publish an earlier version of what is written below. I have submitted a cut down version of this to the Canberra Times for their consideration.

John

______________________

Among other things I have been a freelance journalist for many years and have had a number of articles published, including in the Canberra Times.

I wrote an article on my blog, En Passant, responding to a piece of gutter journalism in the ANU student newspaper Woroni. That Woroni article, called Anti-Semitism at the ANU, made a number of unsubstantiated allegations against Socialist Alternative. I responded on my blog with an article, Woroni: j’accuse

This followed on from Filita Page and Emma Macdonald’s more factual article in the Canberra Times (‘ANU probes Jewish student harassment claims‘ Canberra Times 5 March) about accusations of anti-semitism at the ANU being investigated by pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard Baker.

Essentially the Woroni article, without evidence, convicted Socialist Alternative (of which I was a member until December last year) of anti-Semitism and made unsubstantiated allegations of violence on the part of the organisation. The pro-Vice-Chancellor Richard Baker is conducting an Inquiry into the allegations from the two co-Presidents of the ANU Jewish Student Association ‘… that … one was called a ‘filthy Jew,’ and an, ‘Israeli bitch,’ when she declined a pamphlet and to sign a petition from the Alternative, respectively.’

Despite the fact the investigation was then ongoing – the date for the organisation to respond to the untruths was 17 March – the headline to the Woroni article was Anti-Semitism at the ANU.

No room for doubt is there?

It is not just the headline that convicts Socialist Alternative of this most foul racist activity. The Woroni journalist asked ‘one of the co-presidents of the ANU Jewish Students’ Association how she felt about the Socialist Alternative’s systemic refusal to acknowledge the actions of their ANU members.’

Systemic refusal? Socialist Alternative described the accusations as ludicrous. In other words Woroni’s view, without any proof and before the investigation is finished, is that Socialist Alternative is guilty.

In my opinion this article and its clear imputations of guilt have the effect of denying Socialist Alternative any chance of natural justice by pre-judging the situation and influencing adversely any who read the article. I would rather however that this battle be fought out politically rather than through administrative law to highlight the tactics of those who defend the apartheid state of Israel.

Another allegation was that a Socialist Alternative petition was folded into a plane and thrown in the direction of the ANU Jewish Students’ stall. It had on the back ‘Death to the Zionist entity. Love from Hamas.’ The existence of such a plane does not prove who its creator is. Further, in my time in Socialist Alternative we talked about Israel, or apartheid Israel, or Palestine, or occupied Palestine, not the Zionist entity.

This looks to me like someone who knows nothing about Socialist Alternative but wants to vilify them imaging that this is the sort of thing they would say and write and managing to get their hands on one of the petitions from their stall and writing this nonsense.

Woroni also argued without any proof that Socialist Alternative was a violent organisation. It said:

‘An unnamed source informed Woroni that physical assaults by Socialist Alternative members against members of the Liberal Party, took place earlier this year at the University of Melbourne. However, that the incident was not adequately investigated by the University, the student association, or the student newspaper, Farrago.’

Unnamed source? That is not journalism; it is an attempt to smear a legitimate political organisation. There is no proof for this assertion and I bought the possibly defamatory material to the attention of the University of Melbourne and Farrago.

The whole point of the article, and I suspect, the anti-Semitic allegations, is to smear the name of Socialist Alternative forever. The mud will stick, despite the fact there is no evidence.

Clearly there is a pattern of unsubstantiated vilification in the article and this appears to be part of a wider onslaught on the biggest socialist group on campus and in Australia and on the Left more generally. Truth is sacrificed for calumnies and contumely.

Why? Because Socialist Alternative, despite its small but growing size, is one of the best groups fighting against the neoliberal policies of both Labor and the Liberals and has been a strong supporter of Palestine and the successful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against apartheid Israel.

At first I was surprised this complaint wasn’t sent to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) for investigation as a breach of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, a provision I support to stop Holocaust deniers, Islamophobes and other racists spreading their filth and inciting violence against minority groups.

Of course the rigorous HRC investigation process probably rules out any such referral, but such a recommendation might be a convenient way out for the ANU. A couple of months later when the HRC can find no evidence for the accusations (if it is ever referred by the complainants) against Socialist Alternative it will all disappear quietly without any publication in the Canberra Times or Woroni of the findings.

The stench from the foul lie of anti-Semitism will however linger with Socialist Alternative forever in the noses of the many students, staff and others who read the rotten Woroni article and remember the ANU investigation.

I sent my Woroni: j’accuse piece to Woroni as a rebuttal of the gutter journalism in Woroni. Their response on the Friday morning of 14 March was to refuse to put the article on their website or include it in the next edition of their hard print copy.

Part of their reasoning was it had already been published on my blog, which has a readership perhaps of 200 a day and almost none of them ANU students or staff. My argument was that to reach ANU students and staff who read the gutter article of 11 March, my rebuttal should be published in the same journal that the piece of gutter journalism appeared, namely Woroni.

Another argument for not publishing my Woroni: j’accuse article on their website was that the website is reserved for their ‘reporters’. I would have thought a rebuttal of the untruths and gutter journalism of their ‘reporters’ takes precedence over ‘rules’.

The fact that the focus of the enquiry appears to be unsubstantiated allegations and does not appear to even doubt the accusations, the fact that the 11 March ferociously anti-Socialist Alternative article came out before the enquiry deadline had been reached, that Woroni has refused to publish either of my rebuttals, all lend weight to the suggestion that this is part of a concerted campaign against Socialist Alternative for its anti-capitalist politics and support of Palestine as well as its energy and activism, using any mechanism to attack them.

To overcome that previously published response over a month ago I sent another article (basically an earlier version of this article which hadn’t then been published on my blog) responding to the untruths in the Woroni article. I also sought details of the editorial approval process for the article and have FoI’d information about it.

At first Woroni quibbled about accepting this second article before rejecting it completely. They also wrote to me demanding I stop saying I was being censored.

On 21 March I received the following curt response from the Woroni editors.

This email is to notify you that we will not be publishing your article in the next edition of Woroni or online.

In other words untruths and gutter journalism are OK but a rebuttal will not be published. The censorship continues.

There is a wider aspect to this. The neoliberalisation of higher education has resulted in a less and less free atmosphere at Universities and a dumbing down that denies critical thought by academics.

 

As Jason Andrews in Woroni reported earlier this year (‘SPIR course cuts and staff losses will hit ANU students‘ Woroni 11 February and ‘The SPIR rout continues‘ Woroni 25 March) there have been a number of departures (some would suggest forced departures given the climate in the School) from the School of Politics and International Relations, the School where I am undertaking my PH D.)

They are qualitative and critical researchers and as Jason noted, these  departures and disestablishment of recent courses, ‘must provoke students to question whether or not SPIR is becoming a school almost exclusively focused upon quantitative and institutional approaches to, and studies of, politics and international relations.’

The answer to that is ‘it is’ and this is part of the wider neoliberal agenda to drive out and marginalise all those at Universities and elsewhere critical of the current society and who do not worship at the altar of the ‘free’ market and profit.

This is a free speech issue in two other respects – the right of the Left to organise at the ANU and to support Palestine, and my right to have my voice heard above the gutter press that is Woroni. We on the Left may have to start organising on campus and elsewhere to win back free speech for the Left, for the marginalised, for the poor, for a working class view to be heard, if the baseless slurs against socialists and denial of access to Woroni continue.

Of course I kept Tim Wilson, the so-called Commissioner for Free Speech, up to date on all the issues but have never heard back from this warrior for free speech only for the rich and powerful and their bigoted mates.

I finished up my J’accuse article with this:

‘As more and more people realise the apartheid nature of Israel and while ever the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign grows and contributes to that success, the louder and louder will the cries of anti-Semitism flow from those with an interest in defending the apartheid regime. They cannot rebut the substance of the arguments that show the apartheid nature of Israel so they resort to unsubstantiated assertions, untruths and innuendoes of the sort found in this cheap piece of gutter journalism. Woroni, j’accuse. ‘

Add censorship to the unsubstantiated assertions, untruths and innuendo in the Woroni article and it appears to me that the target, by any means necessary from the forces of reaction, is specifically Socialist Alternative because of its politics and activism, especially around Palestine and in defence of students against attacks from both the Liberal and Labor governments, and more generally the left for daring to question the status quo.

The ongoing commodification of higher education is clearly succeeding in producing closed minds open only to the narrow range of debates allowed for the rich and for capital.

John Passant was a member of Socialist Alternative until December 2013. His wife, and his former Ph D supervisor, who is himself Jewish, were on the stall.  John is a doctoral student at ANU although the atmosphere is now so poisonous there he hasn’t been into the University for a while and has been working from home or at another University.

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

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Comments

Comment from paul walter
Time April 20, 2014 at 11:07 pm

The
Lobby is a gutter unit. In fact, beneath the gutter.

Pingback from The article the ANU student ‘newspaper’ Woroni refused to publish | OzHouse
Time April 20, 2014 at 11:11 pm

[…] Apr 20 2014 by admin […]

Comment from Tom
Time April 21, 2014 at 4:12 pm

If the Woroni refused to publish your article, then you updated it, creating a new piece, you can’t really say that the Woroni refused to publish it, right? Did you submit the new piece?

Comment from John
Time April 21, 2014 at 8:29 pm

Some updating. The gist of what wasn’t published is there. Yeah, I should go crawling back to the censors and beg them to display some common decency, abide by their own constitution and normal academic and journalist rules? They are beyond redemption as I suspect is the ANU with its blanket of conservatism and putrid air of neoliberalism. If the editors came to me begging and apologising for their suppression of dissident views I might consider it.

Comment from Tom Savery
Time April 23, 2014 at 3:14 am

John, it appears that you are failing to understand the idea behind free speech. Free speech does not guarantee a right to be heard. Clearly, you have had your say and everyone knows what it is as you have posted links to your blog all over the place.

However I must say I find it incredibly ironic that you feel that your extremist views must be carried by student media, while at the same time you believe that we should be banning the opinions of “Holocaust deniers, Islamophobes and other racists” though a legally enforced mechanism. Indeed, the irony only gets deeper with your Noam Chomsky quote ‘The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow a very lively debate within that spectrum”. Isn’t that exactly what you are doing by calling on racist speech to be outlawed?

Furthermore, banning racist speech does not remove racism, it just pushes it underground. When racists are no longer able to speak their minds they often carry out their beliefs in other ways – such as direct violence. Their views will often become more extreme – when their speech is outlawed, there are no replies given to their views, and thus the racist will assume that there is no valid alternative opinion to his own. Do you really want to live in a world where racists hold their beliefs without seeing any kind of rebuttal?

I also notice you claim to be a supporter of the BDS campaign against Israel. Fair enough, that is your right. However I must remind you of that old Jewish saying – “Put 5 Jews in a room, and you will have 6 opinions”. Not all Jews support what is going on in Palestine, and supporting a BDS campaign seems to indicate that you do believe that at least the vast majority is Israelis do support what is going on in Palestine. This is a complete denial of the individual, instead only choosing to look at a stereotype of a group, and then judging all individuals based on the stereotype. Call me old fashioned, but we used to have a word for that: Racism.

Comment from John
Time April 23, 2014 at 10:11 am

Tom, Woroni’s Constitution gives a right of reply. Woroni have refused me that right. The audience that read the untruths in the article ‘Anti-Semitism at ANU’ is denied a response to those untruths. There is nothing contradictory about defending free speech and section 18C. 18C sets limits to what one can say, just as defamation and a whole range of other laws do. BDS isn’t racist. The idea is preposterous and completely lacking in logic. The apartheid regime that is Israel is the racism we need to fight against. Long live a democratic and secular Palestine open to all who want to live there.

You also call my views extremist. This of course is standard operating procedure for those who want to shut down debate. No need to discuss the ideas raised. They are ‘extremist’. Let’s just have nice cosy debates between the two wings of conservatism and neoliberalism without allowing dissidents to have their views aired and to presumptively dismiss them as ‘extremist’. If arguing for a right of reply to untruths is extremist I plead guilty. If arguing for decency in student journalism is extremism I plead guilty. If arguing in defence of Palestinians against the apartheid regime of Israel is extremism, I plead guilty.

What a pity that those views are not communicated in the student media of which I am a member and have a right of reply. That looks to me like an attempt to silence those who defend Palestine and who argue the piece of gutter journalism called Anti-Semitism at the ANU is part of a wider campaign by pro-Israel campaigners to lie about their opponents since these pro-Israeli campaigners cannot rebut the basic argument that the Israeli regime is an apartheid one.

By the way there is nothing extremist about the view that Israel is an apartheid regime. Many of the liberation fighters against apartheid in South Africa understand that for example.

All Woroni had to do was abide by its Constitution and allow a response to the gutter ‘journalism’ of the article Anti-Semitism at the ANU. That it couldn’t do that both condemns the editors and supports the view this is part of a wider campaign against BDS and pro-Palestinian groups and the Left. The logic of this pro-Israeli campaign of untruths and their adoption by the Woroni editors seemingly of itself necessitates overriding Woroni’s own Constitution and denying any rebuttal.

Comment from John
Time April 23, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Tom, one more comment about 18C.

‘I told [Tim Wilson] that the hostile atmosphere fostered by racist speech hampered its targets’ ability to access public space and to participate in education and the workforce. How, then, have their rights not been violated?

‘Wilson responded that it’s all about where you draw the line, which is the type of meaningless non-answer that he is of course entitled to provide in a society that values freedom of speech.

‘Whether it’s a satisfactory answer from a human rights commissioner is another question.’

http://blogs.crikey.com.au/thestump/2014/04/23/tim-wilson-and-freedom-of-expression/

Comment from Tom Savery
Time April 23, 2014 at 1:37 pm

John, I feel that I may not have been clear enough, and that you may have misinterpreted what I was trying to say. I have no interest in shutting down your opinion. You have the right to it, and you have the right to try to get it published. What I am saying is that it is not a violation of your right to free speech if the media then refuses to publish those views (Even though it might be against the rules of Woroni).

I must also continue to protest your continued smearing off all Israelis though your support of the BDS campaign. The majority of Australians are firmly of the belief that that campaign is racist – just look at the fallout from the Marrickville council supporting it, both on itself and the Australian Greens.

As you may be aware, the BDS campaign has organised protests against Israeli companies such as Max Brenner, which have nothing to do Palestine. Equally, Israeli academics have been boycotted for no reason other than they are Israeli. This certainly does border on racism. Interestingly, attacks on Max Brenner and Israeli academics would quite possibly fall under speech that is designed to “offend, insult or intimidate” under section 18C of the racial discrimination act due to its offensiveness to mainstream society, and Jews in particular. Yet, you still believe that section 18C is something you should support?

There is one other issue that needs to be addressed, that of the “unnamed source”. If you read any newspapers reporting on a group which has intimidated others (or accused of doing so) the sources will almost always be unnamed, due to their fear of reprisal attacks. This is commonly accepted practice across journalism, for if the media was unable to use unnamed sources, its ability to report on genuinely violent groups would be hindered – and then they would win. Now, I can say that I have personally had unprovoked threats of violence against me from both Socialists and Greens at ANU, so I can absolutely understand the articles source’s desire to remain anonymous. Of course, an anonymous source is still never as strong as a named one, as you rightly point out.

Comment from John
Time April 23, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Tom, Woroni is a student newspaper supposedly representing the views of its members, ie students. Certainly I exclude some comments on my blog if the comment is a gross personal attack, racist etc. But I am not a student newspaper. You characterisation of BDS is completely wrong. the exclusion is of Israeli institutions as part of the apartheid system. Next you will be telling me I was wrong in the 1980s to boycott South African institutions using the same sophistry. Max brenner is associated with israel. And if you think the BDS activity fall under section 18C I suggest you launch a campaign to apply it. wonder why it hasn’t happened? Because apologists for Israel know it will fail because it is untrue.

The cops tried with some bullshit offences in Victoria against protests outside Max Brenner and it was thrown out for the disgrace it was.

I look forward to Jack Lynch winning his case and giving renewed legitimacy to BDS.

I suggest if you have had unprovoked threats of violence against you from Socialist and Greens then you go the police. Why didn’t you?

But of course the fact that it is often ‘unnamed sources’ or unverifiable threats just points to what all of this is – a campaign of lies against the left and pro-Palestinian activists to shut us down.

Comment from Tom Savery
Time April 23, 2014 at 5:48 pm

John, perhaps I still have not laid down my hand properly. I do not believe in section 18C (Or for that matter the rest of the Racial Discrimination Act as it applies to restrictions on the freedom of association). As a result, using section 18C to shut down the BDS campaign would be hypocritical and counter-productive. The more that a boycott of Israel is seen as a fringe minority issue, the more people will ignore it. I strongly suspect that this is why there has not been a push against the BDS campaign (Although I think there was a push against it in NSW, no?).

As to threats from the SA and Greens, both were made in the context of large, diverse groups – so they probably did more harm to the people making them than to those of us who were on the receiving end. Further, people should have the right to say that people who hold my free-market views do need to be killed to make society a better place. That way, moderate society will see them for what some of them truly are – and they will be a lesser threat as a result.

I should probably quantify my objection to the BDS as well. I object to it when it becomes policy – as it did in the Marrickville council and as some supporters are pushing for with respect to university policies. If an individual wants to boycott Israel for any reason, that is there right. They however do not have the right to force that boycott upon everyone else.

Comment from John
Time April 23, 2014 at 6:58 pm

BDS is gaining in traction across the globe and explains the shriller and shriller denunciation by pro-Israeli groups of those who support it as anti-Semites etc. The article in question ‘Anti-Semitism at the ANU’ is a classic case in point.Full of innuendo without proof.

Comment from John
Time April 23, 2014 at 7:04 pm

Tom, none of my former comrades, nor anyone in the Greens that I know, would utter death threats, against anyone, let alone free marketeers. Since these are serious threats and there were clearly according to you a number of witnesses, I urge you go to the police. If not, why not? Not doing so only casts grave doubt on the veracity of your claims. Much like the nonsense in the Woroni article.

The Greens are just another party of neoliberalism.

Comment from Tom Savery
Time April 23, 2014 at 8:17 pm

People did advise us to go to the police at the time, someone may have done so, I don’t actually know. My argument wasn’t to claim that the Greens or SA are violent, but more to show reasons why people do have to remain as “unnamed sources” in some circumstances.

Greens as another party of neoliberalism? This is a party that wishes to nationalise the management of every company on the stock market…. and tax various industries out of existence as well. Sounds exceptionally socialist to me

Comment from John
Time April 23, 2014 at 9:08 pm

The carbon tax is a policy of the market. Increase the price to produce a particular outcome. The Greens don’t want to ‘nationalise the management of every company on the stock market.’ That shows how little you understand. I have a suggestion. Let me challenge you. Find the Greens policy that commits them to nationalise the management of every company on the stock market. Waiting….. Can we begin to deal in facts.

Comment from John
Time April 23, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Who is SA? when did this happen? Where? Who were the other people involved? Excuse my disbelief.

Comment from Tom Savery
Time April 24, 2014 at 1:34 pm

The carbon tax is absolutely not a policy of the market. You write “Increase the price…” – here is the problem. The government artificially sets a price of something they don’t like and lets the “market” handle where the losses are made. In effect its not very different to a direct action policy, where companies bid competitively to see who can reduce emissions the most for a given price. I should add that the market solution to climate change is though legal channels – suing the people causing climate change, as was done with a new super coal mine in Queensland (The Moyles Creek Mine? – I might look this up later when I have a spare minute) with the decision of the judge being that the coal mine vastly improved the well being of society, despite causing some climate change as a downside – he thus saw no reason to block the mine from going ahead.

The Greens policy for nationalising the boards of publicly listed companies is listed here (http://greens.org.au/policies/corporate-governance) which says one of their policies is for “Elections of boards of publicly listed companies to be conducted by an independent statutory body.” – this means nationalisation, and I dont really think anybody would disagree. Further, their next point (number 7) is a violation of free speech in my one of my own degrees, Commerce, by dictating what must be taught.

Comment from John
Time April 24, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Dear Tom, having elections for boards conducted by an independent statutory body is not nationalisation. Nationalisation under capitalism is the capitalist state taking over the company, eg buying it and running it.

It is like suggesting the AEC running elections is nationalisation.

What a carbon price does is attempt to cost an externality which should arguably be factored into pricing. Its aim in other words is to correct that market failure. It is about using the market to produce an outcome. In other words it accepts the market, even if it has to be adjusted, as the way to regulate CO2 emissions. The market of course is the problem.

Comment from Tom Savery
Time April 25, 2014 at 3:17 pm

John, I think you misunderstand the Green’s policy. I believe an earlier policy page Before the election) did say that the role of the body would be to appoint board members. The current wording is murky at best.

The carbon tax might use the market, but it is not a pro-market device. Setting the price of something is never pro-market.

Perhaps I should now throw out a question of my own. You say you are a “Independent revolutionary socialist” – what would a revolution look like, and would anyone have to die?

Comment from John
Time April 25, 2014 at 8:25 pm

It isn’t setting the price of something. It is adding to it across the board for those circumstances in which there is a market failure. In any event the fact the Greens don’t look to setting u Government solar and wind farms shows what neoliberal wimps they are. They don’t challenge the market; they worship before it.

What would a workers revolution look like? Hungary 1956 is one example of such a revolution just beginning. Would people die? Yes. If the revolution there had developed before the Stalinists drowned it in blood then the Stalinists would have been executed to do them from doing precisely what they did.

In esence workers revolutions establish their own democratic organs of governance and rule or will rule so that production is organised not only democratically but also to satisfy human need, not to make a profit.

Comment from Tom Savery
Time April 26, 2014 at 1:04 am

John, a carbon tax sets the price of carbon pollution. Thus setting a price is exactly what it does. Claiming otherwise appears ludicrous.

Personally, I find you advocating killing people to attain your own political ends utterly disgusting. May I remind you the events of 1956 killed thousands in Hungary. In fact, I take it as a borderline death threat coming from a business oriented family. However, of course I believe you have the right to say it.

I must say that I find your last paragraph truly amazing. The free-market justification for profit is that it directs resources to where they best satisfy human need, so your claim that only a democratic system of resource allocation will do this seems to reflect an extremely poor understanding of the ideas of the free-market economists (You seem to suggest that profit is an end in itself, when no economist would ever hold to such a ridiculous claim). There is not trade off between making a profit and satisfying human need, instead the two go hand in hand. May I suggest that you try to understand the pro-market economists’ system a little better before advocating the deaths of thousands in overthrowing it?

Furthermore, your democratic system of organizing production will simply never be able to allocate resources efficiently. When the profit motive is removed, there can be no price signals setting prices for the materials which go into production. As a result, resources will certainly be allocated inefficiently. For example, a factory making a certain product may be able to choose whether or not it uses steel or wood in the production process. Now if there was a shortage of steel, there would be no way for that factory to know this if democratically organised, and thus that factory might redirect steel away from an area where it is needed more urgently – a place where there is no substitute. This is what occurred in the Soviet Union – as all productive resources were centrally owned, the USSR had no way to determine the value of productive resources, and thus various resources were allocated inefficiently. This is perhaps the key reason why living standards were so low.

I also take issue with the idea of democracy deciding everything. Democracy is about the majority, so it seems reasonable to believe that the majority deciding what is produced would decide that everyone would work to produce goods for the slight majority (the 100% would work for the gain of the 51%). Furthermore, in today’s complex world, nobody knows all the products that are made, and it is quite conceivable that 0.1% of the population are highly dependent on some product that the vast majority of the population is not aware of. A democratic organisation of the productive process would very likely redirect resources away from the manufacture or importation of these goods to more generic, more universally useful goods (Thus doing a huge injustice to the people who relied on the rare product). This feeds in to the issue of the 100% working for the 51%. I am sure you would agree that we can already see this happening to today’s Australian democracy (More taxpayer money going to things a huge proportion of people don’t want, such as fighter planes and fossil fuel subsidies). As far as I am aware, all of the pro-market schools of economic thought (And virtually all economists) believe that the market addresses both of these problems – as a result, it is one of the reasons why people like myself support a small government.