Towards a 2019 Labor-Green Alliance

Did the lack of even an alliance of convenience between Labor and the Greens result in the re-election of the Liberal-National Coalition in the last Federal election? If the result had been different, what would Australia look like now? How would Australia's political parties respond to such a change? Is there sufficient justification for such an alliance to exist in the future? These are questions that can only be answered with a very careful consideration of the facts at hand, and with equal diligence in the more predictive and prescriptive aspects.

The 2016 Federal Election

The last Australian Federal election was held in July 2016, after a lengthy eight-week campaign and a double-dissolution. All major newspapers, with the exception of the Sunday Age, recommended a return of the LNP government under the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull, who had taken the leadership from the deeply unpopular Abbott government from September the year prior, and was a first term government. The major issues of the campaign were Labor's policies on negative gearing, concerns over the privitisation of Medicare, and debates over the political and economic management of the last Labor government. The election resulted in a two-party preferred swing against the government of 3.13% and a marginal victory on TPP overall (50.36% vs 49.64%), with the loss of 14 seats (LNP 76 seats, ALP 69 seats, GRN 1, XEN 1, KAT 1, Ind 2). On primary vote, the LNP lost 3.51% (42.04%), the ALP gained 1.35% (34.73%), the GRN gained 1.58% (10.23%), and XEN (new party) gained 1.85%.

They Are Not Invincible


The entire beginning of the year has felt like mourning as we say goodbye to one of the most charismatic, intelligent and dignified standard-bearers of Violent American Imperialism in history, and hand the keys to the castle over to a tantrum-throwing man-child that no one took seriously until it was too, too late.

There are lessons to be learned in our complacency, and we should all be looking for ways to pry our brains open for them. We cannot go on the way we have up until now, thinking that justice and equality and good ideas are in any way inevitable. We made, collectively as a society, a very serious mistake that came in two parts. The first part was that we failed to field a meaningful alternative to the status quo at a time when the status quo was being openly questioned by the electorate on both sides. Donald Trump represents an ascendancy of hyperconservative radicalism, and the milquetoast liberal-centrism of Hillary Clinton was no antidote. Even Bernie Sanders’ modest reformism, backed with admittedly fiery language, was nothing more than advocating a shift toward something like what Europe has prospered under for decades. The Overton window in America simply isn’t open wide enough to see all the way to a radical-left alternative.

Australia's Invasion Day


Australia Day, the commemoration of the landing of the British First Fleet in Sydney Cove is a day of division. Whilst a large majority of Australians feel positive about the day, that number falls to less than a quarter of indigenous Australians and, currently, only 15% want the day changed, following the lead of the Fremantle City Council. Barnaby Joyce, parading his typical level of knowledge and sensitivity in public affairs indicated his opposition to changing the date.

The choice of date in itself is a rather strange beast. It does not, of course, represent first European contact with Australia. That was when the Dutchman navigator and colonialist Willem Jansz landed on the western coast of Cape York Peninsula in 1606 which resulted in violent conflicts. It certainly doesn't represent the founding of Australia as a country, that was, of course, Federation, on January 1st, 1901. It doesn't even represent the establishment of the colony of New South Wales - that occurred on February 7, 1776 with a formal proclamation, although that had already been down as a claim (rather than a reality) by James Cook on August 22, 1770 at Possession Island in Torres Strait.

Amina's Story: A Refugee from the Syrian Civil War

What caught my attention was her face with the classic lines full of the past burdens and memory pains, a woman in her forties with a slender face and agonies of a thousand years.

My first encounter with Amina during the English class has triggered my curiosity to know her story, and although I met a lot of persons and heard a lot of stories of refugees’ tragedies, Amina and her story were the most important to me.

Amina was a lady who volunteered at the camp and contributed in spreading happiness among the refugees. We always talked and I had a few questions that needed answers on how she came and the reasons why she had to take the risk to cross the sea and apply for asylum. I was hesitant in the beginning, but eventually I suggested to listen to her story as if we had interviews, she was pleased and perhaps she felt that someone was there to listen to her agonies and we had this interview:

Deliberative Isocracy : The Antidote to 'Fake News'

Fake News
Winston Churchill famously quipped: "democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time" [1]. Which of course does raise the question are there other forms of government which could be better than democracy? Perhaps there be a particular implementation of democracy which works better? Contextually, what are the trends and technological influences and challenges? Careful consideration of these questions leads to a three-part evaluation; (a) the sense of res publica, (b) the relationship between democracy and informed decision-making, and (c) deliberative isocracy in the age of the Internet, which introduces the possibility of an informed and participatory public sphere.

Fight back or go under

By William T. Hathaway

The presidency of Donald Trump is going to be a slap in the face of American workers that will wake us up to the reality of social class. Big T's pedal-to-the-metal policies will show us clearly that we are one class, the ruling elite are another class, and our interests are diametrically opposed. Our declining standard of living is essential for maintaining their wealth, and they will do whatever is necessary to continue that. They will jail us, deport us, kill us, anything to crush resistance.

But in the long term they won't succeed.

Why not? Because we, the working people of the United States of America, are stronger than the ruling elite. We are the 99%. Everyone who has to work for someone else for the essentials of living is working class, but many of us have been indoctrinated to emulate and admire the owners. They are a small, parasitical class that has stolen our labor for hundreds of years. The wage slavery they impose saps and undermines our lives, our energies, our futures, even our sense of ourselves. They are truly our enemies.

Democratic Eco-Socialism as an Alternative World System


by Dr. Hans Baer, Development Studies Program, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne.

From a presentation to the Isocracy Network 2016 Annual General Meeting, November 19, 2016

Capitalism and the Environment

In the drive for profits, global capitalism sacrfices the basic human needs of the majority. Some, a very small percentage, get much more than they need and others do not even get enough to satisfy their minimum needs. There is an enormous disparity is wealth; Oxfam reports that the 62 richest people in the world have as much as the poorest half of the world's population [1]. The existence of poverty and patriarchy stimulates further population growth which entrenches these problems. Global capitalism's requirement for on-going accumulation and growth is environmentally unsustainable, fostering a treadmill of production and consumption that is heavily reliant on fossil fuels, contributing to climate change and resource wars.

You're Fired! The Unexpected Trump Victory


The reaction of the world to the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America has justifiably been one of shock. Political pundits universally predicted an almost certain election of Hilary Clinton. The anti-establishment Trump was seen as being too radical, too divisive, ignorant, racist, and sexist, and seriously lacking in business and political acumen. How then, was he elected? Has the United States of America really shifted that far to the nationalistic and extreme right? Perhaps, as one self-serving 'blog poster has claimed, absolutely devoid of empirical evidence, it was a result of too much "political correctness"? [1].

Fortunately the idea that people voted for Trump because others called him out on mocking disabled people, bragging about sexual assault, banning people from immigrating because of their religion, and accusing ethnic groups of being rapists [2] is just nonsense. Decent people did not agree with Trump's behaviour and that is reflected in the vote. More sober people (or at least, sober the morning after) have actually looked at the results and have conducted a proper data analysis. Indeed, there is an increasingly wealth of information on the subject because so many political pundits made incorrect assessments. The navel-gazing has been impressive in its own right, but at least there is well-considered evaluations which can be used to counter the usual random self-supporting nonsense that masquerades as considered opinion trawling through the ashes of an election result. More controversially there are logical conclusions which can follow from these evaluations that have prescriptive value.

A Homage to Catalonia


One can, of course, only pass tribute to the title of the great book [1] by Eric Blair, better known as George Orwell of his experiences of this region during the Spanish Civil War. Countless essays have been written on this event and doubtless many lessons are learned. Orwell's short text in the Anglophone world remains particularly memorable due to its glaring honesty of the violent divisions within the Republican army and the degree of dishonest reporting [2]. Indeed it is even surprisingly and moving that the loyalists held on as long as they did. From the outset they were significantly outnumbered in troops, aircraft, and tanks. The nationalist rebels had most of the army of professional soldiers on their side, as well as military support from Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, and fascist Portugal. The republican loyalists received questionable assistance from the Soviet Union, and diplomatic support from Mexico, along with international brigades - constituting up to ten percent of the overall republican force.

Politicians Are Not Leaders


Or: "Why I don’t need to hold my nose to vote for Clinton in November."

Politicians are not leaders.

Aristotle said, "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." You're all smart people or you wouldn’t be reading this, so if you're still here after reading that title, take a deep breath and say it with me:

"Politicians are not leaders."

The President of the United States of America is most certainly not a leader. It has never been the case outside of George Washington, who barely had to win an election. But as soon as it came down to real voting and actual campaigning and policy, the office of President has been held by whomever could rally the most voters. In other words, whomever could find lots of people who agreed with them. This is not radicalism, and it never will be. It is, by definition, conventionalism.

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