How Anglo-Aussies beat their opponents – and expose the sickness at the heart of their culture

How_Aussies_beat_their_opponents

In the middle of the current Olympics, the following article in praise of the vicious and complete undermining of one’s opponent verbally was published in a major newspaper in Sydney.

The US expression ‘trash talk’ does not capture the full, systematic intent as practiced by Anglo-Celtic Aussies, to which ‘real sport’ the author Richard Glover refers with pleasure.

Glover, also the drive-time compere for the (national broadcaster) ABC’s local radio, published an article in the same newspaper in 1990 titled ‘Bruce Ruxton is right: we should embrace the legends of defeat’.

***

Richard Glover, ‘Sledging skills everyone can use: from Mack Horton to Pauline Hanson,’ The Sydney Morning Herald, 12.08.16

In all the fuss about Mack Horton’s criticism of his swim rival, Sun Yang, everyone seems to have forgotten about the British writer Stephen Potter. It was Potter who, back in 1947, first proposed the idea of gamesmanship – a more subtle version of sledging, but one which may be far more effective.

Potter’s book, The Theory and Practice of Gamesmanship; or, The Art of Winning Games Without Actually Cheating, is packed with ideas for subtly putting off your opponent. We may need to make it compulsory reading for our Olympic team.

Potter is oh-so-very-English and would never deign to criticise his opponent outright in the manner of Mack Horton. Nor would he agree to be part of Australian cricket’s most famous mutual sledge:

Bowler: Mate, you are so fat.

Batsman: That’s because every time I sleep with your wife she gives me a biscuit.

Personally, I think that moment – usually ascribed to Glenn McGrath and Eddo Brandes – is rather fine. I like the way the harsh accusation of cuckoldry – a more forthright term than “sleep with” may have been used – shares the sentence with the childlike delight we might all feel in receiving a free biscuit.

Such tactics, though, would have horrified Stephen Potter. His aim was to discombobulate the opponent, leaving them with the uneasy sense that “something has gone wrong, however slightly”.

Potter’s books became bestsellers in the ’50s and ’60s – and were then turned into television in the ’70s – all from the starting point of a single game of tennis.

Potter was playing doubles, partnering the British philosopher CEM Joad. They were up against two younger men and were not doing well. Joad, in particular, had just delivered a serve which had hurtled well out of court.

It was at this point Joad stopped the game and remonstrated with his young rivals: “Kindly state clearly, please, whether the ball was in or out.”

The young men hadn’t called the ball, believing it was so obviously out of bounds that a call was unnecessary. They offered to replay the point, but Joad declined – leaving the young men with the uneasy suggestion that, in dealing with Joad’s serve, they had committed some slight breach of etiquette.

His fault had become their fault.

The incident put the two young men off their game, delivered victory to Potter and Joad, and sent Potter on a lifelong course of examining gamesmanship in all its guises.

Perhaps John Bertrand, now president of Swimming Australia, is a student of Potter. Certainly, Mack Horton says he developed the idea of psyching-out Sun Yang by studying the tactics used by Bertram when he skippered Australia II to victory in the America’s Cup.

Bertrand’s gamesmanship then was classic Potter. No insults and no demeaning of the opposition. The Australia II crew merely refused to speak the name of their powerful opponents or their powerful craft. They simply used the energy-sucking sobriquet “the red boat”.

Potter would have cheered.

Some sports psychologists go further: they believe that the best sledge of all is a compliment. Jeff Bond, who has worked as an Australian sports psychologist at multiple Olympics, gives the example of a sunny sledge when playing tennis: “You just compliment the person on the other end about the way they snap their wrist during the serve. And that’s pretty much all you need to do. They’ll think ‘oh, what exactly am I doing’, and their game will crumble.”

The same approach, by the way, is highly effective in golf. Next time you play, simply make the happy observation: “That swing of yours is perfect. I really must study how it is that you are pulling it off so perfectly.” Try it on any normal human being and, by the third hole, they’ll be lying in the foetal position, howling for their mother.

But back to Stephen Potter: he has a million other tips. He recommends, for instance, offering your opponent advice, although, he says, “the advice must be vague, to make certain it is not helpful”. Always, also, present yourself as an expert. When playing chess, for instance, you should randomly make the observation: “Your castle won’t like that in six moves’ time,” even if you have no understanding whatsoever of the game.

And, when playing billiards, do feel free to approach your opponent with a kindly smile, and the offer of a breath mint – preferably seconds prior to a key shot. You can then follow up with the observation that their technique is “incredible”.

Certainly, I’d like to see the sunny sledge brought into politics, replacing all the unpleasant sledging of the recent election period.

“Bill Shorten? A genius. Some of his zingers are just hilarious. Every time he lets rip I feel so inadequate.”

Imagine the psychological impact once Malcolm Turnbull has complimented Bill Shorten in such warm terms.

“Zingers are one thing,” Shorten could reply.  “I just admire the way Malcolm has managed to gain such loyalty from his own party. It must be great knowing the whole party has your back.”

As for Pauline Hanson and her forthcoming maiden speech, perhaps someone could wander up just as she’s about to speak.

“Breath mint, Pauline?”

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How bleak is our valley

The_Lucky_Country

Graeme Philipson

May 15, 2007

I write this column from Santa Clara, in the heart of Silicon Valley. That term describes the collection of small cities straddling the San Andreas fault, south of San Francisco.

The name was coined by US journalist Don Hoefler in 1971. Locals call it “The Valley”. When I first came here nearly 30 years ago, I was very excited. I had visions of some sort of technological utopia, a land where computer dreams came true and you could pick up microchips off the street.

Somehow I thought it would be something special. I was sadly disappointed. Special things do happen in Silicon Valley, but the place itself looks like anywhere else in urban America.

That means it’s a collection of shopping malls, corporate parks, warehouses, fast-food joints and the like, all criss-crossed with freeways.

Lots of people live in the Valley, although you won’t ever see their houses while driving around. They are hidden by high walls.

At the southern end of Silicon Valley is the city of San Jose, some way down Highway 101 from San Francisco’s dreary southern suburbs. That is one of the most congested and least attractive stretches of freeway in North America, which is saying something.

Silicon Valley is a boring-looking and overcrowded place. Its appearance hardly measures up to its worldwide reputation as the birthplace of the computer revolution.

So much for the complaining. Never let it be said that I’m anti-American. I married an American, and my son carries a US passport. My real complaint is not with Silicon Valley’s ugly appearance and unattractive highways, but with my own country.

Why is there no Silicon Valley in Australia? It’s not just the scale of the US. There are other factors.

Nondescript though they may be, the cities and towns that form Silicon Valley house many of the most interesting and innovative companies in the IT industry. The area has lost none of its allure, and it remains the Mecca of tech hopefuls around the world.

They are drawn by companies such as Yahoo and Google. They are drawn by Hewlett-Packard and Oracle and Apple and Sun, and by small hardware and software start-ups in their hundreds.

They are drawn by the world class research facilities, such as Xerox’s famous Palo Alto Research Centre, and IBM’s Santa Theresa labs, and by Stanford University. They are drawn by the analysts and consultancies and PR and market research companies that thrive on all this stuff.

If you want to get into films, you go to Hollywood. Advertising: New York. If you want to get into computers, you go to Silicon Valley.

The Valley has made millionaires of thousands of people. The first were Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, who gave their names to what has become the world’s largest IT company. (Did you know HP is now bigger than IBM?)

Silicon Valley spawned Apple Computer, through which Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak rewrote the American dream. It spawned Sun Microsystems, which continues to prove that “the network is the computer”. (Sun, by the way, was originally an acronym for Stanford University Network).

We only hear about the successes, and some of the more spectacular failures. For every winner, there are a dozen losers. Small companies we have never heard of regularly disappear into oblivion, taking with them the hopes and dreams of thousands of intelligent individuals.

At least for a while. People in Silicon Valley know that not every good idea will translate into money. The philosophy is to keep trying until one does. And those who do succeed tend not to stop there; they get up and do it all again.

One of the driving forces behind Silicon Valley has been the willingness of these people to have a go, and the willingness of others to give them a go. There is no shortage of angel investors and venture capitalists who will take a punt on a good idea.

Try to do that in Australia: the clever country, the land of the fair go. Bankers and financiers here want to see bricks and mortar, or a warehouse full of stock, before they’ll lend you money.

They simply don’t understand, as the Americans have for years, that assets in the information age are very different from those of the previous era. Australian banks are still coming to terms with the industrial revolution, which ended some time ago.

That is why there is no Silicon Valley in Australia. Our country is littered with the corpses of companies that tried and failed to do what hundreds of companies in Mountain View and Sunnyvale and Menlo Park have done.

Some Australian companies have succeeded, such as Mincom and NetComm and Software Developments. But many more have failed, sometimes through bad management or bad luck, but more often because of a troglodytic investment climate, small-minded bankers who are happy to gamble on the promise of real estate development but who lack the foresight and intelligence to understand how the centre of balance in the economy has moved from physical objects to information.

Information is an asset, as we all know. But it is a very different type of asset than coal or buildings or iron ore or wheat. The difference is that information can be infinitely reproduced, which means its value lies not in its generation but in its propagation.

They’ve known that for two generations in Silicon Valley. But governments in Australia, and the gnomes of Collins Street and Martin Place, are still stuck in an industrial era, antediluvian mindset.

And now it’s too late.

***

Dear Graeme,

Your well titled and refreshing, important, more – necessary – article ‘How bleak is our valley’ in yesterday’s Herald lays the responsibility for what you wrote about at the feet of troglodytes who run the banks.

In The Lucky Country Horne, delicately positioning his argument between the denial of the existence of a capitalist class and the avoidance of the depth and extent of ugliness in his subject, referred to Australia’s ‘troglodyte past’. Like you, he held responsible ‘men in power’.

Peter Conrad, in his Boyer lectures a few years ago, most academic and weak, while acknowledging a provincial past, argued that Australian culture has, as it were, ‘moved into the modern era’.

Shelley Gare’s ‘the Triumph of the Airheads’ details the impact of consumerism and capitalist ‘movers and shakers’ on primarily urban Australian society.

But these men in power, these ‘small-minded’ bankers of whom you write also exist in other cultures. And Howard himself is not an aberration, an excrescence. As Judith Brett correctly argued, he not only understands this culture at a gut level, he has risen from and plays the ‘middle’ – like a Paganini.

Short of socialist revolution, it is Australian culture itself that needs to be taken by the throat and exposed, analysed and acted on for Australians to begin systematically addressing the failure you deplore.

The dominant Anglo-Saxon based culture in this country has at its heart the poison of shame – and therefore the need to shame. It has at its heart a feeling of inferiority, reflected in an astonishingly subtle servility to the dominant world power (the shifts in the pronunciation of ‘Iraq’ by Australians since the first Gulf War – notably those in the media – replicating that of Bush, not as Iraqis or Arabs pronounce it – and as all Australians used to pronounce it, is a study in how servile this culture is) while displaying a bullying arrogance in the region.

The clearest manifestation of this disease, ‘for all the world to see’, was during the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games when the packed stadium sang as a hymn, by ‘candlelight’, and repeatedly, Australia’s de facto national anthem (with its reference to prostitution – ‘waltzing Matilda’ – and possibly the first example of product placement – for Billy Tea), ‘celebrating’ (?!) the suicide of a failed petty thief as he ran from authority.

Compare this song with ‘John Brown’s Body’ and the events on which it was based. Or with another de facto national anthem – ‘Flower of Scotland’ – which, even though it refers to an eventual military defeat, is about a people who stood, and won, against a far stronger power. And of those Australians who know or sense this ‘cringe’ in ‘Waltzing Matilda’ – it fuels their meanness.

This culture that prides itself on its capacity to ‘celebrate’ has at its heart the celebration of loss, failure and defeat – from that of Leichhardt to Burke and Wills to Ned Kelly to Breaker Morant to Waltzing Matilda to Dad and Dave, to the letters in the first capitalist world war over the re-division of areas of exploitation from Private Jones at Gallipoli to his mother, to Lasseter to Les Darcy to Phar Lap to Whitlam on the steps of Parliament House to Australian Story… Noble all, in the face of loss, failure and defeat.

And of the ‘tall poppy’ syndrome: it is not that one thinks one stands above another, that one ‘looks down’ on them, it is that that other and at some level knowingly, perceiving any degree of the potential or vision of which you write, on their knees inevitably reacts – as they look up. It was not merely the Minister for Public Works who drove Utzon from these shores, it was the clash of an authoritarian culture which profoundly values ‘the ordinary,’ with a man who lived for intellectual vision.

This country continues to be, overall, an intellectually sleepy ‘paradise’, riding on the broad back of assorted resources as it clings to the coat-tails of Uncle Sam, while still clutching at the skirts of Mother Britannia – rather than, as Horne pointed out, showing responsibility and independence  – with all that those concepts entail.

When Moses strode down from Kosciuszko, he bore two weighty tablets on his hips. On one were the words which are the underbelly of Australian egalitarianism: ‘Thus Far and No Further’ – ‘sympathy for the underdog’, until the second the underdog shows even a hint of rising (during the Sydney Olympics, in the superbly titled and watched by record audiences ‘The Dream’ of H.G. Nelson and Roy Slaven, Doyle said ‘If it rises above a blade of grass, cut it down.’).

This divine rule was riveted in place by the other cultural imperative on the second tablet: ‘(As Ye Worketh Record Hours Per Week, to Consume) Thou Shalt be Laid Back’ – implicitly, ‘Thou shalt not dream’, ‘Thou shalt not be passionate for intellectual vision’, which passion is clear in your article.

Passion for dreams not motivated by consumption, for intellectual excellence that goes beyond dotted ‘i’s, crossed ‘t’s and referencing to the hilt, that truly takes one’s society forward, has at the least the same effect in Australian culture, far more often than not, as do the headlights of a ute bearing down on a rabbit in the middle of a dusty road, and at worst, the triggering of a retributive antipathy.

Fools see it, correctly, as a threat, a disturbance to their paradise, to their myopia, to their littleness – ‘If I even acknowledge let alone praise you for your dreams, for your commitment to vision – particularly intellectual – the pressure is immediately on me to face my shame, my ‘inferiority’, my spiritual apathy, and to dream and aspire beyond my narrow bounds of consumption and certainty. Too much.’

Art colleges are filled with ambitious young, eager to produce something ‘edgy.’ They should sit in any mall on the week-end and watch and learn as the couples pass, pushing their trolleys. In those trolleys, packed full of consumables, sits their child or sit their children, clinging to the bars and looking out at the world. Now that’s edgy, and without the parents even aware of it…

Culture is not the sum total of a people’s achievements, it is the attitude in a society to what is not known, to what has not been achieved. It is a basis in the present not of the past but for the future.

Congratulations on your article. May it stimulate responses and may there be many more such on this and other areas.

Philip Stanfield

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The 2016 census and Australian capitalism’s surveillance state

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Anna Johnston, ‘Why I’m taking leave of my Census: a privacy expert’s reluctant boycott,’ SalingerPrivacy, 06.08.16

Dear Magistrate,

In case the ABS is prosecuting me for non-completion of this year’s Census, I thought I should explain to you my reasons why I have decided that a boycott is the only moral position I can take.

The short version is this: Yes to a national snapshot. No to detailed data-linking on individuals.  That’s not what a census is for.

I have wrestled with what my personal position should be. I am normally a fan of the Census. It has an important role to play in how we as a people are governed. As a former public servant with a policy and research background, I believe in evidence-based policy decisions. As a parent and a citizen, I want good quality data to help governments decide where to build the next school or hospital, or how to best direct aged care funding, or tackle indigenous disadvantage.

But as a former Deputy Privacy Commissioner, and a privacy consultant for the past 12 years, I can also see the privacy risks in what the ABS is doing.

Months ago I wrote an explanation of all the privacy risks caused by the ABS’s decision to keep and use name and address information for data-linking, in the hope that reason would prevail. I was assuming that public and political pressure would force the ABS to drop the proposal (as they did in 2006 when I was Chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation and we spoke up about it). Lots of people (as well as one penguin, the marvellous Brenda, the Civil Disobedience Penguin), are now coming to realise the risks and speak out against them, but right now, just a few days out, it looks like the ABS is pushing ahead regardless.

There are those who say that we shouldn’t boycott the Census because it is too important. To them I say: Bollocks. (If you pardon my language, Your Worship.) We know where that ‘too big to fail’ argument leads: to more arrogance, more heavy-handed treatment of citizens, more privacy invasions.

And there are the demographers who say the Census data should be linked to other health records like PBS prescription records, because if we as patients were asked for our identifiable health data directly, we would refuse to answer. To them I say: Hello, THAT’S THE POINT! It’s my health information, not yours. You should ask me nicely, and persuade me about your public interest research purpose, if you want access to my identifiable health records. Maybe then I will say yes.  But going behind people’s backs because they would refuse their consent if asked is not what the National Health & Medical Research Council’s National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research is about.

This morning I suddenly realised: the ABS is behaving like a very, very bad boyfriend. He keeps on breaking promises, pushing boundaries and disappointing you, but you forgive him each time. You don’t want to call him out in case then he gets angry and dumps you. So you just put up with it, and grumble over drinks to your girlfriends.

And this bad boyfriend keeps saying these reassuring things, like “oh we’ll only keep the data for four years”, and “the names and addresses are in a separate database”. To that I say: Nice try, but that’s a red herring.

Although there are certainly heightened privacy and security risks of accidental loss or malicious misuse with storing names and addresses, the deliberate privacy invasion starts with the use of that data to create a Statistical Linkage Key (SLK) for each individual, to use in linking data from other sources. Please don’t believe that SLKs offer anonymity. SLKs are easy to generate, with the same standard used across multiple datasets. That’s the whole point: so that you can link data about a particular individual. For example, Malcolm Turnbull would be known by the SLK URBAL241019541 in the type of datasets the ABS wants to match Census data against, including mental health services (yes, mental health!) and other health records, disability services records, early childhood records, community services records, as well as data about housing assistance and homelessness.

Anyone with access to these types of health and human services datasets can search for individuals by generating and searching against their SLK. All you need to know is their first and last names, gender and date of birth. Scott Morrison is ORICO130519681. Kylie Minogue is INGYL280519682. Deltra Goodrem is OOREL091119842. Now tell me that privacy will be absolutely protected if Census data is coded and linked using an SLK as well.

1985_01_21

Never mind four years; the ABS could destroy all the actual name and address data after only four days or four seconds – but if they have already used it to generate an SLK for each individual Census record, the privacy damage has been done.

(Oh, and that line about how “we’ve never had a privacy breach with Census data”? To that I say: Great! Let’s keep it that way!  DON’T COLLECT NAMES.)

So I say no. No. I am not putting up with that bad boyfriend any longer. I believe in the importance of the Census, which is why I am so damn pissed off (sorry again Your Worship) that the ABS is being such a bad boyfriend to the Australian people: trashing not only our privacy, but the value of our data too. It’s time to break up with them.

I have come to this decision with a heavy heart. I am normally a law-abiding citizen. Plus, I don’t really fancy facing a $180 fine for every day that I refuse to comply with a direction to complete the Census, with no cap on the number of days. (Seriously, what kind of heavy-handed law is that? Are you really going to keep hitting me with daily fines for the rest of my life, Your Worship?)

I know that I could give the ABS misinformation instead. Say my name is Boaty McBoatface and that I am a 97 year old man living with 8 wives, that I have 14 cars, my language at home is Gibberish and that my religion is Jedi. Giving misinformation is a common, rational response by about three in ten people who want to protect their privacy when faced with the collection of personal data they have no choice about. Of course, that is also a crime in relation to the Census, but at least that one maxes out at an $1,800 fine.

But I won’t do that, because I do believe in the integrity of the census data. I don’t want people to have to give misinformation in order to protect themselves. We shouldn’t be placed in that position.

The definition of ‘census’ is “an official count”. I actually want to stand up and be counted. But only counted; not named or profiled or data-matched or data-linked, or anything else.  The privacy risks of doing anything else are just too great.

I have thought about just refusing to provide my name. But even if I don’t give my name, if the ABS is determined to link my Census data with other datasets, there would be enough other information in my Census answers (sex, age, home address, previous home address, work address) to let them proceed regardless. It won’t be enough to protect my privacy.

So until the ABS reverses its decision to match Census data about individuals with other datasets about individuals, I am not going to answer the Census questions at all.

I am sorry, Your Worship. I don’t like being forced to choose, because I believe Australians deserve to have both good quality statistical data for government decision-making, AND their privacy respected. But on Tuesday night, I will choose privacy.

The Census should be a national snapshot, not a tool for detailed data-linking on every individual.

Now convict and fine me if you disagree.

Yours sincerely,

Anna Johnston

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Reply to Jason 2

Bust of Socrates. 2nd century Roman copy from a 4th century BCE Greek original. Museo archeologico regionale di Palermo, Italy

Bust of Socrates. 2nd century Roman copy from a 4th century BCE Greek original. Museo archeologico regionale di Palermo, Italy

Hi Jason,

You have set yourself a difficult and most important challenge.

I watched your video a few more times.

The daimonion tells Socrates that his role is to help others (those you place in Tartarus) understand that they are dead and that they are chained to the world through ignorance.

Socrates then asks how he can wake them up.

His daimonion replies that he cannot, they must wake themselves up on their own and Socrates can only help them in the right direction.

The daimonion, after being questioned by Socrates, then asks him if he is not tired yet of having others tell him what he is.

It seems to me that the daimonion is pointing out that Socrates too does not know who he is, yet his purpose is to help others understand themselves.

I think you have to be clear on your perception of who (your) Socrates is, because that will be essential to the structure and direction of your play.

Do you think Socrates was motivated by the wish to help others/to teach others/to question and to share his love for questioning (the examined life)/to seek the truth and to share his love for it (again, the examined life)?

You have a most excellent motive in this – that others need to philosophise about their lives and their place in the world.

I share that belief.

When I was at college I did a performance piece in which I handed out sheets of A4 paper with a question mark in the middle with arrows either side of it pointing left and right, then sat on a chair in front of the ‘audience,’ and said nothing.

People waited for me to do or say something, neither of which I did.

I simply looked back at them.

Total silence…

Your challenge is to make your point(s) as strongly as possible to your audience.

To begin by having your Socrates and his daimonion walk conversing from the back to the stage is one way.

To begin by having them walk from the stage into the audience and perhaps among them might be another.

To have actors or not even actors but, even better, willing audience members positioned throughout the audience and call out questions to Socrates and have him respond, perhaps spot-lighting the questioners as they speak might be another.

Then turn the spot off, leaving the audience ‘in the dark’ again.

After a few times, no-one knows whether the person next to them might be the next to speak up…

I think every means to indicate to your audience their centrality to your play and to involve them in it should be explored.

It’s an excellent challenge you have set yourself.

All the best,

Phil

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Chomolungma: a challenge to humanity

Wikipedia definition of Chomolungma: ‘Tibetan natives called it Chomolungma, meaning "Goddess Mother of Mountains," but the British named it after Sir George Everest, the crack surveyor who charted much of India.’

Wikipedia definition of Chomolungma: ‘Tibetan natives called it Chomolungma, meaning “Goddess Mother of Mountains,” but the British named it after Sir George Everest, the crack surveyor who charted much of India.’

If you would be interested to watch a study of Western supremacism and of how vast the gulf is between the focused, manipulative self-centredness of late capitalism and what has been cut away from the human spirit to acquire this – its deep connectedness to others and to the world – I highly recommend the documentary ‘Sherpa.’

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Reply to Philomath

Tiencienwey (Tianjin [‘Heaven’s Ferry']), n.d., Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677)

Tiencienwey (Tianjin [‘Heaven’s Ferry’]), n.d., Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677)

Hi Philomath,

No, I haven’t read Fukuyama’s Political Order and Political Decay.

China is succeeding where the Soviet Union failed.

This makes sense because the first successful socialist revolution, opposed by the ‘Whites’ and invading capitalist nations, was in the Soviet Union.

Lessons, and extremely costly lessons, in both states, had to be learnt first.

Capitalist ideology holds these lessons up as proof that socialism could never work, and of its ‘evils’ (hence, to those who dare to dream, to think of and to want something better, ‘capitalism is your best – and only – option’).

But they are lessons, just as the first and second world wars (and the many other wars), the Great Depression and global warming were and are lessons – that this will always be what you must expect under capitalism, as reflections of its driving motive of profit and its unpreventable crises.

Clockwise from top: Jinwan Square, Tianjin Financial Centre and Hai River, Xikai Church, Panorama of downtown Tianjin, Tianjin Railroad Station, Tianjin Eye

Clockwise from top: Jinwan Square, Tianjin Financial Centre and Hai River, Xikai Church, Panorama of downtown Tianjin, Tianjin Railroad Station, Tianjin Eye

The Chinese have learnt that the motive for profit, which is the basis in consciousness of capitalism, must be incorporated within socialism – i.e. on a socialist base.

Over time, it is entirely reasonable that this profit motive can be modified (i.e. re-oriented from the individual to the society – in other words better utilised for the society).

Socialism, which, even more than capitalism, can only fully function internationally, is, as can be seen in China, very much a work in progress.

As China continues to develop, the capitalist nations will be forced by economic imperative, as Engels recognised in 1894, to follow.

Best wishes, Phil

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Images: Top/bottom

Reply to Grimbeau

john-pilger

Hi Grimbeau,

It comes as no surprise to me that an Australian who speaks with the integrity and world-orientation John Pilger does is an ex-pat.

The problem is not ‘America’ nor ‘Americans,’ it is US capitalism and the system of international capitalism it dominates.

But the new is growing within the old.

The same necessity (that of the development of the productive forces) that saw capitalism rise out of feudalism will see socialism rise out of capitalism.

Socialism, despite all the evidence achieved of its immense potential, did not succeed in the Soviet Union because it was not international (of which the Bolsheviks were acutely aware), because the Soviet Union was surrounded by a hostile West which drove it to collapse in an arms race it couldn’t win and also because the Bolsheviks tried to deny the place of individual economic initiative and financial reward implicit in it.

Lenin’s half-hearted attempt to compensate for this failure with his NEP was unsuccessful.

The Chinese have learnt from this and from their own attempt to do the same, to impose theory – as can be seen in the process of reform initiated by Deng Xiaoping.

They have learnt that individual reward and the motive for profit must be incorporated into socialism. The rapid development of China since has been the result.

China is very much a work-in-progress, which the Chinese have so far successfully managed.

These developments within China, that are leading the world, will be models for the capitalist nations as they too turn, are forced to turn, to socialism – as Engels noted in a letter in 1894.1

And a ‘necessity,’ I might add, that the consummate Neoplatonist Hegel theorised in his philosophy.

Phil

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Note

1. ‘The war in China has given the death-blow to the old China. Isolation has become impossible; the introduction of railways, steam-engines, electricity, and modern large-scale industry has become a necessity, if only for reasons of military defence. But with it the old economic system of small peasant agriculture, where the family also made its industrial products itself, falls to pieces too, and with it the whole old social system which made relatively dense population possible. Millions will be turned out and forced to emigrate; and these millions will find their way even to Europe, and en masse. But as soon as Chinese competition sets in on a mass scale, it will rapidly bring things to a head in your country and over here, and thus the conquest of China by capitalism will at the same time furnish the impulse for the overthrow of capitalism in Europe and America,’ Engels to Friedrich Adolf Sorge in Hoboken; London, November 10, 1894, Marx Engels, Selected Correspondence, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1982, 450-451

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John Pilger – break the silence

Speech given at the University of Sydney 22.03.16

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