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 an 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.

End of Life Choices

voluntary euthanasia rights
Submission of the Isocracy, Inc., to the Legal and Social Issues Committee of the Victorian Parliament Concerning End of Life Choices

1. Status of the Submission

The Legislative Council has ordered teh Legal and Social Issues Committee to conduct in an inquiry in the need for laws in Victoria to allow citizens to make informed decisions concerning end of life choices.

This submission was prepared by Lev Lafayette on behalf of the the Isocracy Network, Inc. ("The Association"). The Isocracy Network is incorporated in the State of Victoria, Number A0054881M.

After The Revolution : The Libyan Civil War

Like any form of war, it is rare that revolutions unfold according to some preordained plan. This is because of course, there is usually several plans in operation, which just so happen to have a common interest. After the common interest is achieved, they will often turn on each other. This is particularly important for those who wish to establish a democracy after a dictatorship; unless the revolutionary constitution and new military provide a commitment to liberal and secular rights, the majority - without a familiarity with these concepts - may very well turn to theocracy, following the long-repressed religious leadership. Likewise a broad-based revolution really needs to be careful of its political preferences; being united with political opponents to overthrow a dictatorship is unhelpful if those opponents are worse that the dictator in question.

It is thus the outcomes of the civil war that becomes the deciding factor of what political system will rule a region after a revolution that has multiple participants, and this raises a matter of critical importance for social activists outside of the region of military struggle. The contemporary case of Libya is an illustrative example, starting from a review of the Gaddafi dictatorship, then the Libyan revolution, the current Libyan Civil War, and the relevance for similar countries.

Criminalisation is the Crime! Part II

Firing squadIn the previous part to Criminalisation is the Crime! I pointed to the central act of the State in understanding the nature of crime. That, for the majority of crimes resulting in incarceration, they are non-violent acts. In the case of the United States many of these offences relate to drugs, often just their mere possession or use. I also referred to the undeniable reality that some crime – indeed, much violent, physical and mental, crime – relates to complex biological and social factors. The danger in calling out a crime as a fact of biology or society is, or should be, apparent. Until we arrive at some future golden age of total knowledge the true content of criminality will elude us. This perhaps disspiriting observation should not, however, deter us from the task of peeling away the detritus of archaic understandings and customs.

We also observed, through the initial case study of Singapore (to which we will return), that the political nature of crime is one of the primary means of social control in the State’s arsenal. In its role as social arbiter, the State goes by many names: the Judiciary, jurisprudence, justice, the Courts, and so on. (All reflecting the Roman foundations of law, ius.) In the case of Singapore, the State wields the authority and power of law to mould society, punish miscreancy, and to ensure that the balance of power, between the State and the populace, is bent toward the former. This is not to single out Singapore as a singularity among the modern ‘democratic’ bureaucratic States. Indeed, Singapore falls into line within the spectrum of Anglo-American liberal democracies, albeit more overtly within the control of an authoritarian political dynasty (the Lee family and the populist party it has helmed since the 1960s, the People’s Action Party).


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