A Syrian Refugee Story: Qassem Al Salamat, in Istanbul


Breaking news has been released that the world powers have declared a "cessation of hostilities", reports of some 11.5% of population have been killed or injured, with over six million displaced persons and refugees.

There are over two and half million refugees in Turkey. Many have become 'stateless persons'. They are unable to renew their Syrian passports which expire as they are seeking asylum.

One such person is Qassem Al Salamat, in Istanbul. This is his story.


Asylum Seekers to Australia : A New National Policy

Outrage has spread in recent days with the High Court decision to send babies born in Australia to the Nauru detention centre.

Paediatricians are facing potential jail sentences for reporting the mental condition of young children being sent to the centre after alleged sexual assaults, with even onshore detention centres creating the worst mental health problems doctors have seen.

Late last year over six hundred asylum seekers in detention in Nauru made a request to the Prime Minister to allow them to commit suicide.

Almost a thousand academics, experts on child psychology, human rights, public policy and the law, from universities across the country have appealed to the government to release children held in detention.

Federal MP Tanya Plibersek has correctly described Australian politics around asylum seekers to be "nothing less than toxic".

There has to be a better way; and there is.

The following proposed national policy has been produced by Damien Kingsbury, Professor of International Politics, Deakin University, with assistance from Daye Gang, Lev Lafayette, and Anthony Leong. It will eventually require political support and the political will from the major parties. But it will begin with the concerted effort of people who are sickened by how asylum seekers have been treated for political gain.

Sedition, Subversion, Sabotage: A Long-War Strategy for the Left


As the viciousness of capitalism engulfs ever more of us, our yearnings for change are approaching desperation. The system's current leader, Barack Obama, has shown us that the only change we can believe in is what we ourselves create.

To do that, we need to know what is possible in our times and what isn't. The bitter probability is that none of us will see a society in which we'd actually want to live. Even the youngest of us will most likely have to endure an increasingly unpleasant form of capitalism. Despite its recurring crises, this system is still too strong, too adaptable, and has too many supporters in all classes for it to be overthrown any time soon. We're probably not going to be the ones to create a new society.

But we can now lay the groundwork for that, first by exposing the hoax that liberal reforms will lead to basic changes. People need to see that the purpose of liberalism is to defuse discontent with promises of the future and thus prevent mass opposition from coalescing. It diverts potentially revolutionary energy into superficial dead ends. Bernie Sanders' "long game" campaign is really only a game similar to that of his reformist predecessor, Dennis Kucinich, designed to keep us in the "big tent" of the Democratic Party. Capitalism, although resilient, is willing to change only in ways that shore it up, so before anything truly different can be built, we have to bring it down.

On the Continuing Prevalence of Racism

Invasion Day ‘Every miserable fool,’ wrote Arthur Schopenhauer, expressing a great truth not only about nationalism but racism as well, ‘who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.’[1] For those who had nothing else going for them other than the false pride of things they had no say in, such as the color of their skin and the geographical location in which they were born, the two were natural refuges, and it was equally natural that they went together. Thus the observation regarding the American variety of nationalism from Toni Morrison to the effect that, ‘in this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.’

Given such truisms, one might be forgiven for wondering however naively if perhaps, in light of recent major atrocities of history like the Holocaust and continuing catastrophes like the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, such revolting specters of human ignorance and hate might not inspire significantly less hateful and ignoble attitudes and conduct amongst the rest. The history of human societies, soaked in blood and the misery of countless anonymous millions lost to the false pride of nation and ethnicity, would certainly strongly indicate the appropriateness of such a move far more broadly.

Race in Law and Legal Practice

Lawry Love image
The Australian conception of race in part grounds its conception of the law, even in 2015. For example, the medical marijuana debate silences the traumas of Aboriginal and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) people who are disproportionately vulnerable to, and disproportionately targeted by police for, recreational drug use. The CALD label moreover homogenises the distinct needs of white non-English-speaking background people on the one hand and people of colour on the other. As a result, it homogenises the legal challenges created and contextualised by xenophobia and racism respectively.

Public personages today even imply that 40% of Australians are 'multicultural' (taken from Australian Bureau of Statistics figures) given they have one or more grandparent or parent born overseas, or themselves were born overseas. This percentage obviously includes large numbers of British, German, Italian, and Greek migrants, who are sociologically white in 2015, if perhaps they were not before. White Australian first, second and third generation migrants are not the subject of racism, albeit they may suffer from xenophobia, colourism, misdirected bigotry and classism. This muddies the waters even further: to claim multiculturalism on the basis of figures inflated by white immigrant Australians dilutes more urgent discussions specifically about race, and not ethnicity or migration recency.

Race is convenient to talk about, but not convenient to be embroiled in.

What Labour Markets Are Really Like


It should come as little surprise that many libertarian capitalists lack a nuanced view of labour market economics. After all, they lack a nuanced view on pretty much everything else as well. One does not have to go far to find utterly trite arguments [1] that suggest that a "libertarian" approach would mean "that human beings should be free to undertake exchanges with each other free from force, fraud or coercion" which, from their astoundingly simplistic interpretation of such things, means and end to such horrific interventions in the free market such as minimum wages, occupational health and safety, anti-discrimination laws, penalty rates, sick leave, and holiday pay.

Normalisation and Conscious Bias Correction on the Bench

repeat offender
This paper arose from a panel discussion amongst recent law school graduates, current law students and intermediate Court Judges on the need for Courts to look to the future. I advocated for a broader view of diversification amongst the judiciary, given that the current debate is limited to elevating more women to the bench. The paper is an attempt to bring that discussion to a logical resting point, and to open the debate to other people passionate about public representation and participation of minorities.

This paper focuses primarily on ‘visible’ or ‘objectively verifiable’ needs as the most convenient point of departure, and therefore is not well-equipped to discuss invisible disadvantage such as classism, invisible disabilities, and racism against people with white-passing privilege.

The Karma of Terror

Uncle Sam Against Terrorism
Terrible terrorists are killing our soldiers in their countries and killing us here at home. How can we stop them?

The answer is simple: Stop terrorizing them. We started this war. What we do to others comes back on us.

In addition to centuries of crusades and imperial conquest, the past 100 years show a clear pattern of Western aggression in the region. During World War One the British persuaded the Arabs to fight on their side by promising them independence. Thousands of them died in battle for the Brits because of this promise of freedom. But after the victory Britain refused to leave; it maintained control by installing puppet kings -- Faisal in Iraq and Ibn Saud in Saudi Arabia -- to rule in its interest.

Isocracy Annual General Meeting 2015

1. Committee reports and election of 2015-2016 representatives

2. Guest Speaker, Damien Kingsbury, at 6.30pm speaking on "Fixing Australian policy towards Asylum Seekers"

Damien is Professor of International Politics, Deakin University. Author or editor of more than twenty five academic books on regional politics and development.

3. Dinner afterwards at #1 Steamboat, 1 Lygon Street at 7.30pm

Global Islamophobia

Global Islamophobia Cover

Ben Debney, Deakin University, Australia

Book Review : George Morgan and Scott Poynting (eds) (2013) Global Islamophobia: Muslims and Moral Panic in the West.
London: Ashgate.

Previous to 2001, Islam was a mere flicker on the radar of popular xenophobic paranoia. A decade and a half and the world's first global moral panic later, this situation has changed entirely, apparently by design. As the editors of Global Islamophobia point out, the Terror Scare has elevated Muslims to 'transnational folk devil, foisting the logic of 'if you think for yourselves the terrorists win' on the public realm in the name of defending democratic values. The paradoxical character of the generally destructive effects of this Terror Scare on democratic culture remains hard to miss, not least given the rhetoric about western values that tends to accompany much of the debate.

Protracted scare‐mongering about global Islam has tended to frustrate attempts to understand the meaning of the 9/11 attacks and of their root causes. One might argue that this was its primary function, especially to the extent that blame‐shifting through playing the victim and victim‐blaming are characteristic facets of moral panics. Despite the well‐established link between western military aggression and burgeoning terrorism (for example, Edward Herman's The Real Terror Network; Noam Chomsky's Deterring Democracy), efforts to hold western governments, corporate media outlets and others to account for that aggression, and for the lies told to justify it politically, have been met with mixed success so far. This fact is reflected in the continuing currency of xenophobia and the tendency of purportedly accountable representatives everywhere to blame Islam for everything from global wealth inequality to military conflict to the burgeoning surveillance state.

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