‘A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do’

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Remembrance Day in a fearful, servile culture

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…The historian Peter Cochrane recently reminded us in his book Best We Forget that prime minister Billy Hughes spelled it out explicitly. “I bid you go and fight for White Australia in France,” he told Australians in 1916.

It underlined a complicated truth: one of Australia’s central reasons for entering World War I was not as simple as standing with the “mother country”. It was to seal in blood a relationship to ensure Britain would protect White Australia against the feared future expansionist ambitions of Japan, even though Japan was an ally in World War I.

White Australia remained an article of domestic faith and international condemnation until the policy was dismantled in the 1960s and replaced with multiculturalism in 1972.

Yet, a century on, echoes remain. Australians and their parliamentarians in 2018 are restive about immigration, express anxiety about the expansionist ambitions of Asians to our north – it’s China now – and recently, senators even tied themselves in knots over the question of whether it was “OK to be white”.

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The Mongolian Octopus: his grip on Australia 1886

White Australia began dealing with those it deemed “undesirable” or a threat at home during the Great War by detaining and deporting thousands of mainly German-Australians, including naturalised Australians.

More than 7000 were detained in what were called “concentration camps”, and more than 5000 were deported. Scores of German-sounding towns were renamed — 69 of them in South Australia alone under an Act of Parliament known as the Nomenclature Committee’s Report On Enemy Place Names.

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A century later, Australia still detains and deports those it doesn’t want on its shores. And today’s Australia – which long ago switched its hopes of protection to the United States, marching and sailing off to American-led wars from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan – remains a constitutional monarchy, its head of state the Queen.

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Old ties, sealed in blood, die hard. …

Tony Wright, ‘The long reach of old war ties, sealed in blood’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 09.11.18

***

It is proved in the pamphlet that the war of 1914-18 was imperialist (that is, an annexationist, predatory, war of plunder) on the part of both sides; it was a war for the division of the world, for the partition and repartition of colonies and spheres of influence of finance capital, etc.

Proof of what was the true social, or rather, the true class character of the war is naturally to be found, not in the diplomatic history of the war, but in an analysis of the objective position of the ruling classes in all the belligerent countries. In order to depict this objective position one must not take examples or isolated data (in view of the extreme complexity of the phenomena of social life it is always possible to select any number of examples or separate data to prove any proposition), but all the data on the basis of economic life in all the belligerent countries and the whole world.

It is precisely irrefutable summarised data of this kind that I quoted in describing the partition of the world in 1876 and 1914 (in Chapter VI) and the division of the world’s railways in 1890 and 1913 (in Chapter VII). Railways are a summation of the basic capitalist industries, coal, iron and steel; a summation and the most striking index of the development of world trade and bourgeois-democratic civilisation. How the railways are linked up with large-scale industry, with monopolies, syndicates, cartels, trusts, banks and the financial oligarchy is shown in the preceding chapters of the book. The uneven distribution of the railways, their uneven development—sums up, as it were, modern monopolist capitalism on a world-wide scale. And this summary proves that imperialist wars are absolutely inevitable under such an economic system, as long as private property in the means of production exists.

The building of railways seems to be a simple, natural, democratic, cultural and civilising enterprise; that is what it is in the opinion of the bourgeois professors who are paid to depict capitalist slavery in bright colours, and in the opinion of petty-bourgeois philistines. But as a matter of fact the capitalist threads, which in thousands of different intercrossings bind these enterprises with private property in the means of production in general, have converted this railway construction into an instrument for oppressing a thousand million people (in the colonies and semicolonies), that is, more than half the population of the globe that inhabits the dependent countries, as well as the wage-slaves of capital in the “civilised” countries.

Private property based on the labour of the small proprietor, free competition, democracy, all the catchwords with which the capitalists and their press deceive the workers and the peasants are things of the distant past. Capitalism has grown into a world system of colonial oppression and of the financial strangulation of the overwhelming majority of the population of the world by a handful of “advanced” countries. And this “booty” is shared between two or three powerful world plunderers armed to the teeth (America, Great Britain, Japan), who are drawing the whole world into their war over the division of their booty. …

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Private Alfred Jackson Coombs was one of at least 1000 Indigenous Australians who fought in WWI (and who were pushed aside on their return).

…The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk dictated by monarchist Germany, and the subsequent much more brutal and despicable Treaty of Versailles dictated by the “democratic” republics of America and France and also by “free” Britain, have rendered a most useful service to humanity by exposing both imperialism’s hired coolies of the pen and petty-bourgeois reactionaries who, although they call themselves pacifists and socialists, sang praises to “Wilsonism”, and insisted that peace and reforms were possible under imperialism.

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This man was not named. The only information with this image: ‘Australian War Memorial PO6131.006, PO6131.004’

The tens of millions of dead and maimed left by the war—a war to decide whether the British or German group of financial plunderers is to receive the most booty—and those two “peace treaties”, are with unprecedented rapidity opening the eyes of the millions and tens of millions of people who are downtrodden, oppressed, deceived and duped by the bourgeoisie. Thus, out of the universal ruin caused by the war a world-wide revolutionary crisis is arising which, however prolonged and arduous its stages may be, cannot end otherwise than in a proletarian revolution and in its victory.

V.I.Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, 1917, Preface to the French and German Editions

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The most powerful country of capital

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Trotsky in a 1922 ‘cubist’ portrait by Yuri Annenkov. A version of this appeared on one of the earliest covers of Time magazine – November 21, 1927.

In the United States, the most powerful country of capital, the present crisis has laid bare frightful social contradictions with striking forcefulness. After an unprecedented period of prosperity which amazed the whole world with its fireworks of millions and billions, the United States suddenly entered a period of unemployment for millions of people, of the most appalling physical destitution for the toilers. Such a gigantic social convulsion cannot fail to leave its traces on the political development of the country. Today it is still hard to ascertain, at least from this distance, any measure of important radicalisation in the American working masses. It may be assumed that the masses themselves have been so startled by the catastrophic upheaval in the conjuncture, so stunned and crushed by unemployment or by the fear of unemployment, that they have not as yet been able to draw even the most elementary political conclusions from the calamity that has befallen them. This requires a certain amount of time. But the conclusions will be drawn. The tremendous economic crisis, which has taken on the character of a social crisis, will inevitably be converted into a crisis of the political consciousness of the American working class. It is quite possible that the revolutionary radicalisation of the broadest layers of workers will reveal itself, not in the period of the greatest decline in the conjuncture, but on the contrary, during the turn toward revival and upswing. In either case, the present crisis will open up a new epoch in the life of the American proletariat and of the people as a whole. Serious regroupments and clashes among the ruling parties are to be expected, as well as new attempts to create a third party, etc. With the first signs of a rise in the conjuncture, the trade union movement will acutely sense the necessity of tearing itself loose from the claws of the despicable AFL bureaucracy. At the same time, unlimited possibilities will unfold themselves for Communism.

In the past, America has known more than one stormy outburst of revolutionary or semi-revolutionary mass movements. Every time they died out quickly, because America every time entered a new phase of economic upswing and also because the movements themselves were characterised by crass empiricism and theoretical helplessness. These two conditions belong to the past. A new economic upswing (and one cannot consider it excluded in advance) will have to be based, not on the internal ‘equilibrium’, but on the present chaos of world economy. American capitalism will enter an epoch of monstrous imperialism, of an uninterrupted growth of armaments, of intervention in the affairs of the entire world, of military conflicts and convulsions. On the other hand, in the form of Communism the masses of the American proletariat possess – rather, could possess, provided with a correct policy – no longer the old mélange of empiricism, mysticism and quackery, but a scientifically grounded, up—to-date doctrine. These radical changes permit us to predict with certainty that the inevitable and relatively rapid, revolutionary transformation of the American proletariat will no more be the former, easily extinguishable ‘straw fire’, but the beginning of a veritable revolutionary conflagration. In America, Communism can face its great future with confidence.

Leon Trotsky, Germany 1931-1932, New Park Publications Ltd., London, 1970, 5-7

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And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free: America’s state within a state

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Five part documentary on the state within a state in the United States – what those who comprise it think of the citizens of that nation and how they behave towards them and what they think of and how they behave towards others around the world. A study of megalomania, lies and mass deception, greed and absolute brutality – for that reason, highly recommended.

For me, the worst instances of the behaviour of this state within a state discussed in this series  (particularly because of their implications) are the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (at the beginning of Part 4, which is appropriately named ‘Necrophilous’. The part begins with an excellent quotation.).

The exposure of the justification given for those bombings is consistent with what I already knew and have posted about (‘War Crime or War Winner? The Truth about the Bomb’ – an article written by Murray Sayle).

Oppenheimer’s megalomaniacal false modesty (quietly spoken, sage-like, eyes downcast – knowing not to look at the camera, to prevent his eyes being read) as he links the destructive power of the bomb to Indian religion is truly repulsive.

Robert Oppenheimer and General Groves at Trinity Test Ground Zero, 1945. The white canvas overshoes were to prevent fallout from sticking to the soles of their shoes.

J.Robert Oppenheimer and General Groves at Trinity Test Ground Zero, 1945. The white canvas overshoes were to prevent fallout from sticking to the soles of their shoes.

The coup in Australia on 11.11.75 is discussed from thirty minutes into Part 1.

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/counter-intelligence/

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Comment on ‘The Suicidal Empire’ and the rise of China

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Deng Xiaoping in 1979

I disagree with ‘salvaging the principle of empire’ (Dmitry Orlov, ‘The Suicidal Empire’, Desultory Heroics) as a solution to the problems discussed by the author above. To do that would be to remain entrenched in them, under the name of another nation.

Engels predicted in 1894 that the development of capitalism in China would force millions from that country and, given the size of China and the number of Chinese, would force the US and Europe to become socialist – in order to continue competing with China. He wrote ‘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)

China is not capitalist and it carries the lessons of socialism – learned at immense cost both from its own history and from that of its revolutionary precursor the Soviet Union. Where Lenin, while acutely aware of the problems in developing from an impoverished base, failed with his limited NEP because of his hatred for the bourgeoisie, the Chinese, in also developing from an impoverished base, have learnt a crucial lesson – to relax an obsession with Marxist theory and a hatred for anything bourgeois and to recognise the necessity of incorporating financial reward for individual initiative as a key driver for economic development. The benefits of this have shown clearly since the reforms of Deng Xiaoping.

Those reforms have resulted in hundreds of millions being rapidly lifted into a degree of wealth referred to in the West as ‘the middle class’ – a development still very much underway. The middle class in the West, on the basis of its wealth, education and common values has had and continues to have (despite the present ongoing depletion of that class) a powerful political voice and I expect the Chinese with that same degree of wealth to want that as well. 

And this in a state governed by and with the benefits of a single party (without the wasteful stupidity of obligatory opposition) which shows not only great sensitivity to what is taking place in China and its position of leadership (e.g. their continuing crackdown on corruption) but a flexibility and a willingness to experiment with socialism.

The Chinese Communist Party is doing what the Communist Party in the Soviet Union would not and could not do. The significance of this sensitivity, flexibility and willingness by the Chinese Communist Party can’t be overstated.

In my view, the relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and this rapidly growing number of millions with wealth in China, in particular, will develop such that not only may Engels be proven correct in his prognostication that the development of China will motivate the advance of Europe and the United States (and hence the rest of the West) to socialism, but this process in China will also generate economic, political and social forms of organisation that will be models for the world.

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The Ozzie spirit in 2018

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Melissa Cunningham, ‘Cranky customers cause Woolies to backflip on plastic bags’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 30.06.18

Woolworths has backflipped on its plastic bag ban after irate customers refused to pay for plastic bags at the checkout.

The supermarket giant will hand out free reusable plastic bags for 10 days, after stores were inundated with complaints from customers who refused to pay for bags or did not have enough of their own stored up.

It comes a week after Woolworths issued a ban on single-use plastic bags in stores across NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia. The reusable plastic bags, which usually cost 15 cents, will be available free until July 8, the supermarket giant said.

“Since we phased out single-use plastic bags nationwide on June 20, some customers have told us that getting into the habit of bringing their own reusable bags has been a challenge,” Woolworths managing director Claire Peters said. “We’ve listened to these customers and heard they just want a little extra help from us to get through the transition to a more sustainable way of shopping. This will not only help support customers as they work to form new habits, but also ensure they’ll have reusable bags on hand when they next shop with us.” …

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‘Civilisation’ pushes back the hordes of its own creating

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Iranian refugee Omid Masoumali died having set himself on fire after UNHCR told him he would remain on Nauru. He had been on the island for three years and was requesting to be sent to a third country.

Antony Loewenstein, ‘Australia’s brutal refugee policy is inspiring the far right in the EU and beyond’, The Nation, 30.06.18

In an age of refugee demonisation, Australia was well ahead of the curve.

Soon after President Trump assumed office in January 2017, he had a phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The transcript of the conversation, leaked in August, revealed that the new US president admired his Australian counterpart because Turnbull was “worse than I am” on asylum seekers. Turnbull had proudly stated, “If you try to come to Australia by boat, even if we think you are the best person in the world, even if you are a Nobel Prize–winning genius, we will not let you in.”

In their phone call, the prime minister begged the US leader to adhere to a deal struck by Turnbull and former President Barack Obama the year before, in which the United States had agreed take up to 1,250 refugees imprisoned by Australia for years on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Nauru in the Pacific. In exchange, Australia would take refugees from Central America.

Trump didn’t understand why Australia couldn’t take the PNG and Nauru refugees in. Turnbull responded, “It is not because [the refugees] are bad people. It is because in order to stop people smugglers we had to deprive them of the product.” Trump liked what he heard. “That is a good idea,” he said. “We should do that too.”

Turnbull was proudly explaining the complex system established by Australia many years earlier: Refugees are imprisoned in privatised remote detention centres on the Australian mainland and on Pacific islands. Trump isn’t the only one who is impressed; many Western leaders have not only expressed admiration for Australia’s draconian refugee policies but have initiated ways to implement them in their own nations to contend with the recent surge of people fleeing Africa and the Middle East.

The mainstreaming of xenophobia regarding refugees was perfected by Australian politicians more than 20 years ago. Along with a media-savvy mix of dog-whistling against ethnic groups with little social power, refugees have been accused of being dirty, suspicious, lazy, welfare-hungry, and potential terrorists—and they’ve been accused of refusing to assimilate, despite the country’s largely successful multicultural reality.

Australia hasn’t been shy in offering advice to European nations struggling with an influx of refugees. Former prime minister Tony Abbott warned his European counterparts in 2016 that they were facing a “peaceful invasion” and risked “losing control” of their sovereignty unless they embraced Australian-style policies.

“Effective border protection is not for the squeamish,” he claimed, after pushing the concept of turning back refugee boats at sea and returning people to their country of origin, “but it is absolutely necessary to save lives and to preserve nations.” Abbott refused my requests for comment.

Australia has accepted about 190,000 people annually in its permanent migration program in recent years. This year, however, the migrant intake will be the lowest in seven years. There’s an inherent contradiction in Australia’s migration policy: The country quietly accepts many refugees who come by plane, but treats those arriving by boat with contempt and abuse. Between 1976 and 2015, more than 69,600 people seeking asylum—mostly from Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East—have arrived in Australia by boat.

Unlike some European nations, such as Britain, Spain, and Italy, where about 65 percent of people oppose immigration, authoritative polling by Australia’s Scanlon Foundation found that a majority of citizens back new arrivals: 80 percent of respondents rejected selecting immigrants by race, and 74 percent opposed the idea of selecting immigrants by religion—and yet growing numbers of people expressed opposition to or suspicion of Islam. And calling for a large cut in immigration has entered the Australian mainstream. The latest polling from the Lowy Institute in 2018 found that a majority of Australians now back a curb in migration. Many of those pushing this argument claim that caring for immigrants is too costly and that priority should be given to improving the infrastructure and environment. It’s possible, of course, for such a rich country to do both.

The internationalisation of Australia’s refugee stance has, unfortunately, coincided with Europe’s right-wing populist surge. Europe has recently faced millions of asylum seekers arriving on its shores. Many want them stopped and turned back. It’s a view shared by some of the continent’s most extreme political parties; Italy’s new right-wing government is already turning refugee boats away. Some far-right Danish politicians tried but failed to visit Nauru in 2016 to see how it was housing refugees. Punitive attitudes are moving from the fringes to the mainstream, so it’s not surprising they want to see how Australia does it. If this democratic country can warehouse refugees for years, with little tangible international sanction—apart from increasingly scathing UN reports on its migration program—why not European states, with far more people crossing their borders?

I heard this argument regularly when talking to European fans of Australia. Jens Baur, chairman of the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany’s Saxony region, told The Nation that he praised Australian “success” against refugees because it was an effective “deterrent.” For Baur, Europe used “ships of the navies of European states as a ‘tug-taxi,’ bringing refugees from the North African coast to Europe.” He wanted Europe to follow the examples of Australia and anti-refugee Hungary.

A more influential European politician, Kenneth Kristensen Berth of the ultranationalist Danish People’s Party, Denmark’s leading opposition party, has increasingly copied Australia’s hard-line position as his party has grown in popularity. Berth said that he liked the “efficiency” of Australia’s system and had no sympathy for refugees trapped on Pacific islands.

“It is their own choice,” Berth told me. “They have been warned by Australian officials that they will never be able to call Australia their home if they tried to reach Australia illegally. As long as they are not manhandled in these detention centres, I do not find any fault at the Australian side.” (In fact, countless refugees have been assaulted.)

One of the key architects of Brexit, former far-right UKIP leader Nigel Farage, praised what a fellow UKIP MP called Australia’s “innovative” refugee approach and wanted the European Union to follow. Farage ignored my repeated requests for comment.

The ideological underpinning of Europe’s far-right support should be understood as a politically savvy mix of racism, a kind of nationalist socialism, and isolationism. Sasha Polakow-Suransky, author of the recently published book Go Back to Where You Came From: The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy, explains that many far-right leaders are “defenders of a nativist nanny state.” He told me, “They are not neoliberal dismantlers of the welfare state but defenders of social benefits for only the native born. This is a populist pitch that has been extremely effective at drawing ex-Communists and social democrats into their ranks. These politicians are seeking ways to protect their comprehensive social safety nets and avoid sharing with newcomers.”

Polakow-Suransky finds that in this worldview, Australia’s generous social benefits to its citizens should be copied in Europe but not for “what they perceive as the grasping hands of undeserving new arrivals who are seeking to leech off their welfare state.”

The Australian methods are ruthlessly effective; waves of refugees have attempted to arrive by boat since the early 1990s. Thousands have been physically and psychologically traumatised after being locked up, and one was even killed in detention by local guards (a subsequent Senate inquiry found that Australian authorities failed to adequately protect him). They’re often refused necessary medical care, and sometimes returned to danger in countries such as Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. A fundamental element of international law, which Australia routinely breaks, is the concept of non-refoulement, the principle that refugees should not be sent back to a place where they will be in danger.

Australia’s refugee policy has been condemned in reports by the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, as well as in eyewitness accounts by activists and journalists. I’ve visited many of the most extreme facilities myself—such as Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean—and have heard horror stories from asylum seekers and guards. Successive Australian governments have paid tens of millions of dollars in compensation to many of these refugees, and yet the policy continues, with strong public support. In an age of refugee demonisation, Australia was well ahead of the curve.

These policies were developed before the September 11 terror attacks, but they gained greater currency after that infamous day. After that trauma, it was easier to brand boat arrivals as potential terrorists and Islamist extremists; there’s been almost complete bipartisan political support for this view ever since.

Australia’s anti-refugee campaigns are targeted at a scared white population, of course, but their appeal is broader than that. According to the 2016 Census, nearly half of citizens were born to first- or second-generation migrants—and there are plenty of conservative former migrants who have little sympathy for more recent arrivals by boat. As journalist James Button wrote recently in the Australian magazine The Monthly, “Most Australians, including migrants, accept the brutal bargain: you have to be invited, there’s a right way and a wrong way.” The “wrong way” apparently deserves no sympathy. It doesn’t help that there are still very few nonwhite mainstream journalists in Australia, which means the perspectives of the growing number of non-Anglo residents are not getting the media attention they deserve.

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Australian activists opposed to these policies have spent decades campaigning against them, including attempts to refer Australia to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity over the country’s abuse of refugees in detention. Human-rights lawyer Madeline Gleeson, a lecturer at the University of New South Wales Law School in Sydney, told me that there were “persuasive grounds for arguing that certain conduct of Australian officers could engage their individual criminal responsibility,” but prosecution in an international court faces major obstacles, such as whether such a court could even be convinced to hear a case about abuses committed by a Western, democratic nation.

It’s now impossible to deny that Australian refugee policy is inspiring some of the most draconian asylum directives in the EU and beyond. How did a nation with such a positive international reputation become a global leader in harming asylum seekers?

For most of its existence as a settler-colonial nation, Australia had an official White Australia policy, preferring migrants with a British background. This began to change in the 1950s, and by the late 1970s, Australia was welcoming tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the chaos in Southeast Asia after the Vietnam War. But in the early 1990s, the Labor government introduced mandatory detention for asylum seekers, who mostly came from Cambodia at the time (survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime, the numbers were modest; they didn’t surge until the early 2000s, partly due to the “war on terror” under more conservative Prime Minister John Howard). The prime minister at the time, Paul Keating, said recently, “To be honest, it was not a great human rights issue for [the] cabinet at the time”—because they feared an avalanche of asylum claims from global conflict zones and troubled countries in the region, including China. It was the beginning of a process that has become increasingly harsh.

The scale of Australia’s detention network is difficult to fathom. With a population of around 25 million, and a land mass not much smaller than that of the United States, Australia has room for many more refugees and a need for skilled newcomers. But the country has long had a fear of the outsider (this sentiment may be partially rooted in the fact that Australia, established as a British colony in 1788, committed genocide against its first inhabitants, the Aborigines). Whereas once it was the Chinese and Vietnamese arrivals who were viewed with suspicion, today many Australians are convinced that brown, black, and Muslim refugees deserve the harshest treatment imaginable.

The cost of maintaining Australia’s detention camps is astronomical. The latest figures, released in early 2018, show that in the 2016-17 fiscal year, Australia spent $4.06 billion on “border protection.” This included “offshore management” of over $1 billion. The annual cost for each refugee housed in detention was $346,178.

Australia spent $10 million in the 2015-16 fiscal year (and millions more on other, similar projects) on overseas advertising directed at citizens in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The message was clear: Do not come to Australia by boat, because the path is completely blocked. The world’s surging refugee population—the largest since World War II, at more than 68 million—has done nothing to soften Australia’s resolve (aside from a small effort to welcome 12,000 refugees from war-torn Syria and Iraq). On the other hand, when white South African farmers faced threats earlier this year, the Australian government said they “deserve special treatment” and could be fast-tracked into the country.

In 2013, the Australian Parliament passed legislation removing the country’s mainland from its migration zone, allowing the government to send all arriving asylum seekers to PNG and Nauru. The point of offshoring refugees was that the Australian government could claim that any abuses or problems there were the responsibility of the countries in which they occurred, client states such as PNG and Nauru. It was a blatant lie, but it allowed multinationals that run those facilities to make a fortune (I attempted unsuccessfully to get a response from the company currently running the Manus Island facility, Paladin Solutions PNG). The offshoring in these poor and corrupt countries consigns the people imprisoned there to a legal black hole, in locations akin to Guantánamo Bay or even so-called “black sites” where journalists are rarely allowed access.

Operation Sovereign Borders was the name given in 2013 to the Australian government’s program to deter refugees at sea; it included paying Indonesian people-smugglers to turn boats around. Since 2013, the Australian Navy has turned back at least 31 boats carrying 771 people. Despite the fact that many asylum seekers were found by Australia to have legitimate claims, this had little effect on their treatment at the hands of officials, who often delayed decisions about their fate for years. The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection ignored my repeated requests for comment.

European support for Australia’s refugee policies goes way beyond rhetoric. I’ve spent years investigating this issue and found evidence that officials from both individual European nations as well as the EU are secretly meeting senior Australian officials to understand how to adopt Australia’s policies on a continent-wide scale.

A former senior official at the UN, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to me that in 2016 Australia’s Ambassador for People Smuggling and Human Trafficking, Andrew Goledzinowski, undertook a tour of Europe, trying to convince governments and the UN of the virtues of Australia’s offshore processing model. Goledzinowski is now Australia’s High Commissioner to Malaysia. The Australian government refused to comment on the inner workings of its refugee strategy.

“I am certain that this tour was part of a much broader and longer-term Australian effort to export and legitimise its approach to the refugee issue,” the UN official said. “In that respect, looking at the trajectory of EU asylum policy, it has been pretty successful. The interceptions by Libyan coast guards [of refugees fleeing to Europe who are then sent back to horrific conditions in Libya] are essentially an arms-length version of Operation Sovereign Borders.”

In early 2017, Australian media reported that at least six European countries were asking Australia for advice in managing the refugee crisis. A spokesperson for Peter Dutton, who was then Australia’s immigration minister (he’s now home affairs minister), told the press then that “a number of European nations and the European Union have sought advice from the Australian Government on Operation Sovereign Borders. The minister has personally had discussions with several of his European counterparts.”

Last year the EU openly embraced Australian-style border-protection policies, while still denying it was doing so. When Italy announced it was sending its Mediterranean navy into Libyan waters to intercept refugees and send them back to Libya, along with plans to train the Libyan coast guard to manage the job on its own within three years, refugee rights were ignored.

The Libyan coast guard is underfunded and has been accused of abuses, including firing on refugee boats, but the EU and Italy are committed to boosting Libya’s role as gatekeeper of new arrivals, even though the country is engulfed in civil war and asylum seekers have experienced rape, torture, and enslavement. Amnesty International has accused the EU of complicity in mistreatment—including torture—of refugees by paying Libyan officials to work with people-smugglers and militia groups.

Despite these problems, Italy and the EU plan to spend 44 million euros between now and 2020 to help Libya build a vast search-and-rescue enterprise at sea, according to documents obtained by Reuters in late 2017. And French President Emmanuel Macron said last year he wanted to build refugee-processing centres in Libya to assess applicants before they come to Europe (France currently processes some refugees in a small outpost in Niger).

The EU already gives huge amounts of money and aid to Libya and Niger—two nations that have been cited by Amnesty International and other human-rights groups for numerous violations in their treatment of refugees—to effectively keep Europe-bound refugees in Africa. The EU, which has for years been quietly militarising its response to border security, plans to spend billions to create an EU army.

When I asked the European Commission about contacts with Australia on its immigration policies, it claimed there had been none. But commission officials also told me that they had “enormous concerns” about security in Libya and were therefore focused on “strengthening our cooperation with neighbouring countries to intervene before migrants embark on perilous journeys to Europe and to prevent deaths at sea by ensuring that migrants find a refuge in partner countries and by opening legal ways to Europe through resettlement.”

Critics of European policies have been increasingly marginalised. Jeff Crisp, former head of policy development and evaluation at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, told me that the EU strategy was “smarter than that of Australia. While Canberra employs its own military personnel to implement Operation Sovereign Borders, the EU has contracted out the dirty work to the Libyan coast guard and associated militia groups. And while the Libyan slavery scandal threatened to expose the failings of EU refugee policy, it is now being used by Brussels to suggest that the best solution to the refugee issue is to send them all back to their countries of origin.”

It was perhaps imaginable that Australia would become an inspiration for all the wrong reasons. And with Trump in the White House, Washington could follow suit. Author Polakow-Suransky argues that the Trump administration could “attempt an Australian-style policy on a mass scale and pay off poor Central American countries to stop the flow of migrants or detain them.” In fact, Washington is already paying Mexico to keep migrants away from the US border and has helped militarise the Mexican-Guatemalan border to stop the refugee flow. Private contractors are currently reaping financial rewards from the Trump era’s harsh border policies.

Australia is one of the most successful multicultural nations on earth, and yet its legacy is now tainted by extreme efforts to dehumanise the most desperate people alive. The world is watching and learning.

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Comment on Desultory Heroics: ‘The Skripal Poisonings and the Ongoing Vilification of Putin’

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‘This was the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since World War II, they told him; very, very serious’. Why should post the second capitalist world war over the redivision of areas of exploitation be the cut-off point? It was the US capitalist class that first and twice employed ‘nuclear agents’ on the Japanese, when they were trying to surrender, as a warning to the Soviet Union and all socialists. Whatever the West – particularly the US capitalist class – and their agents criticise anyone for, they have done over and again and worse themselves.

Big picture (not one that focuses on individuals, as the agents of capital want you to do): the crisis of capitalism continues to deepen as the world moves from capitalism to socialism just as inevitably as it moved from feudalism to capitalism. MOABs, black ops and psy ops can and will impede this, just as the development of capitalism was opposed, but nothing can stop it.

Why? Not because I like socialism, but because consciousness is secondary and derivative of what is primary – the necessity of nature, reflected in the level of development of the productive forces. It is this that has to be understood. Not only Trump with his bullying bluster, but all political leaders and all individuals are secondary to this.

The Russians will never be forgiven by the capitalist class and their agents for having had the world’s first and successful socialist revolution (military from those same nations now expelling Russian diplomats invaded Russia after the revolution and were defeated). The denigration and now open vilification of Putin points to scores still to be settled. Further, the number of nuclear weapons the Russians possess is on a par with those of the American capitalist class, both far exceeding those of any other nation.

Driven by the crisis of capitalism, the vilification of Putin is a necessary, deliberate and significant step towards revitalising the division between the capitalist West and Russia, China and North Korea.

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Shanghai maglev train

Engels wrote brilliantly in 1894: ‘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).

What Engels got wrong was that China would become capitalist. What he got right was the impact the development of such a huge nation would have on the world.

In order to compete with China, the West will have to become socialist!

The Chinese Communist Party has shown itself, particularly since Deng Xiaoping, to be adaptable, to be able and willing to learn – both from its experience, that of the Chinese people and of the Soviet Union. Lenin saw the need for the NEP but because of his hatred for the bourgeoisie and his theoretical commitment, it was insufficient. The Chinese have learnt essential lessons from this, all at great cost.

But they have had their revolution. Politically, socially and philosophically they are way ahead of the West and, with the potential of the size of their population, any other nation.

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The Mueller indictment and its parroting in Australia

By Patrick Martin Source: WSWS.org The announcement Friday by the US Department of Justice that a federal grand jury has returned criminal indictments against 13 Russian citizens and three Russian companies, charging illegal activities in the 2016 US presidential election, has become the occasion for a barrage of war propaganda in the American corporate media. […]

via The media and the Mueller indictment: A conspiracy theory to end all conspiracy theories — Desultory Heroics

Again, I highly recommend both the article and video. What is taking place in the US (re- the charge of Russian interference in the US democratic process – that it should even be contemplated should be used in first year psychology as a first-rate example of doublethink) is once again being parroted in Australia by the capitalist class via their political and media lackeys in their less noisy charging of Chinese interference in the democratic process of this country – less noisy because of the dependence of the Ozzie economy and ‘laid-back’ lifestyle on Chinese cash, without which Australia would have been mere bubbles on the surface of the briny after the GFC.

The Ozzies have got to be careful (toadying to their masters while not upsetting the Chinese too much) but you can see the emerging structure – the ‘free world’ once again defending itself from those sly, manipulative communists (the Russians will never be forgiven for having had the first socialist revolution) – as China rises to global domination and the US (capitalist class) inevitably loses the position Trump was put into the presidency to maintain.

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On The Beach, 2017

By John Pilger

Source: Axis of Logic

The US submarine captain says, “We’ve all got to die one day, some sooner and some later. The trouble always has been that you’re never ready, because you don’t know when it’s coming. Well, now we do know and there’s nothing to be done about it.” He says […]

via On The Beach 2017 — Desultory Heroics

A very good article overall and far better than the products of the penny-a-liners of the Australian media but, once again with Pilger’s journalism, search it for class analysis – for ‘capitalist class’, ‘capitalist ideology’, ‘working class’, ‘socialism’ and particularly ‘revolution’ – you won’t find them.

OnTheBeach

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