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.

Introducing The Organic Revolution


The following is the first of a series of articles for a planned publication The Organic Revolution. This introductory article maps an activist information group and the often difficult relationship between criticism of corporate agricultural control, and an opposition which can often take an irrational, conspiratorial, and anti-scientific viewpoint.

Changing Definitions of Marriage : Past, Present, and Future


Plebiscite versus a Free Parliamentary Vote

There is a lot of hand-wringing in Australia at the moment about the prospect of extending heterosexual marriage rights to homosexual couples, and in the coming months one can be assured it's going to get worse. The Federal government is determined to spend an estimated $160 million AUD [1] on a non-binding plebiscite, with the Prime Minister claiming that "the fastest way to guarantee that there is a vote in the Parliament on gay marriage in this Parliament, is to support the plebiscite" [2] - apart from actually holding a free parliamentary vote, he should have added. In engaging in this subject some often amusing correspondence has been entered into; both with the former MP for Tagney, Dr. Dennis Jensen, whose opposition to marriage equality was based on the inability to breed (which generates some truly delicious contradictions), and Dr Michael Jensen, Rector at St Mark's Anglican Church, Darling Point, who struggled to provide genuinely secular reasons for his opposition and was sincerely troubled that he might be a bigot. It is assumed that their mutual surname is coincidence; the genetics of ideology are not that strong.

Burkinis, Bigotry, and Beyond

It is extraordinary to think that after so many decades, indeed centuries, of an alleged claim to secularism that France, of all places, saw fit to decide that an item of clothing would be prohibited at the beach. Obviously in the future people will look back at this and and shake their heads at the inane pettiness of such narrow-mindedness. But for the time being, because as a species we haven't yet quite learned to live with one other on one planet, issues such a cultural and religious differences are thrown about as if they are deserving of some great importance. Of course, it is the reaction to people, and especially women, and especially Muslim women, wearing something different at the beach that has generated such outrage.

The Burkini Ban

The burkini was designed in Australia by Aheda Zanetti. It satisfies traditions among Islamic (and other religions) on what constitutes modest dress, but there is also plenty of examples of non-religious people using it as well - such as journalist Nigella Lawson, who wears it to protect her skin. In fact, Zanetti estimates that up to 40% of people who purchase the burkini are not Muslim - and some are men [1]. The design covers the who body except the face, hands, and feet, but is light enough to enable swimming. In other words, in terms of coverage, it's a loose-fitting wetsuit.

The State, Crime, and Justice


The relationship between the modern State, crime, and justice, is an issue that many from the various isocratic political tendencies have commented on for a number of decades. Among the diversity of arguments there is a common thematic considerations however; (i) that there is a conflict between law and justice, (ii) the recognition that enforcement of criminal law can be part of a repressive State apparatus, (ii) that the very existence of "victimless crimes" are an example of such conflict, and (iv) that behavioural violations often have environmental causes. Of further debate is the methods used to resolve transgressions of behavioural norms; there is popular advocacy for retributive forms justice, involving various punishments from the application of the death penalty to incarceration. More liberal perspectives have argued for transitional incarceration with rehabilitation. A further approach in recent years has been the application of restorative justice principles.

Approaches to crime, prevention, and justice are invariably grounded in assumptions of violent propensity among human behaviour. Certainly various forms of violence (murder, rape, theft) exist throughout human societies, leading some to argue that it is innate or at least there is a degree of innateness. Sometimes such an approach is tied with an interplay between environment; Freud famously argued of an instinct in human beings towards aggression and self-destruction [1] and that the success of a culture depended on the ability to manage violent derangements, especially given that the aggressive outlet often is seemingly independent from tension that contributes to its generation (much has been written about competitive sports as a tension-releasing outlet in this regard, and the evidence of violence-generation as well). What is certain however is the enormous variation in different societies, in time and space, which indicate the massive influence of environmental factors. It is difficult to argue for a perspective of unchanging and universal degrees of violence when there is massive decline in the homicide rate over time and place [2].

Brexit and Deliberative Democracy


by Brad Murray

Well we’ve seen some pretty amazing democratic results in the past few days. The consensus seems to be that democracy is a great thing so I’d like to take a hard look at that in the face of a result that doesn’t seem so great.

First let’s understand that the purpose of democracy is not to ensure the best possible results. No one who implemented the process thought it was going to solve all problems and generate optimal choices for their organization. What they needed was a way to secure legitimacy — to be able to act with the support and investment of the affected populations. Corporations, for example, are very rarely democratic. Sure the board may vote but they aren’t representing the company’s population — the labour pool — but rather shareholders or other external interests. Corporations don’t need to be democratic because they have a totally different mechanism for generating legitimacy: the labour contract. They pay you, you do what they say, or you find another employer. It’s actually a pretty good mechanism in its intended context and is arguably better at decision making than a democracy. Also almost equally not in the case of publicly held companies since it admits to only one genuine objective: constant growth. All other “mission statements” are myths the company tells itself to seem like part of a more complex, more nuanced environment. But nonetheless, the system has almost perfect legitimacy — you can’t argue that the company has no right to tell you to do your job (as agreed in that contract).

Isozoocracy (Equal power for all animals)

by Bruce Poon

Derived from a presentation to the Isocracy Network on May 28, 2016

We here are interested in how best to organise society. But society involves not just humans. For better and worse, society also involves non-human animals.

Animal Protection

Although it has been written about for millennia, the rights of animals is, I believe, going to be the great social justice movement of this century.

The arguments that have been rolled out to explain and argue against racism, sexism, and other ‘isms’ are equally useful to argue against species-ism, the automatic discrimination towards an animal because of its species.

Only in a world where humans are made in the image of god, with souls, and animals are automata placed on earth for our survival and use, would speciesism be acceptable. I don’t accept that worldview.

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