The Labor-Green Alliance

In the past several days an array of Labor Party heavy-weights have come out in a ferocious attack on the Greens, nominally their political supporters in the House of Representatives on issues of confidence and supply. The charge was led by the Party's NSW secretary Sam Dastyari, describing them as "extremists not unlike One Nation" [1], with backing from the national secretary of the AWU, Paul Howes who wrote "the Greens pose as much of a threat to working people as Tony Abbott" [2]. Others also joined in the fray; Martin Ferguson accused the Greens as not having a focus on jobs, Bob Carr saying they couldn't be trusted on economic management or national security, with chief government whip Joel Fitzgibbon "the Greens stifled any opportunity we had to finding a workable solution to the very serious asylum seeker issue".

More realistically, Stephen Jones claims that they were hard to work with, and the tight-lipped Greg Combet, described the two parties as having "different values and different policies", a surprise hopefully to nobody. In contrast - and it's been a lonely voice against the chorus - left-winger Melissa Parke showed characteristically good sense when she noted that "It doesn't help either of us to be bringing each other down. It's a gift to the Coalition." But people showing such attitudes are within the targets of Labor's powerful conservative wing; as Cassandra Wilkonson argued, "While there may be good arguments for distancing the ALP from the Greens, it is the green cancer at the heart of Labor that urgently needs to be cut out." [5]

To an outside observer, the vitriol of this attack certainly seems surprising. By any realistic comparison the Green's policies and priorities are hardly extremist - they are merely on the left of Labor. The Greens have been ethusiastic supporters on the financial stimulus which led Australia to dodge the bullet in the global recessions, they've contributed to ensuring that there is a price on carbon dioxide emissions and investment in renewable energy. They support the Mineral Resources Rent Tax and have advocated expanding it. They supported an expansion to dental health car. It is not as if Adam Bant's priorities were unknown [6]. Of the independents in the 43rd parliament, nobody has been more supportive of the Gillard minority government than the Green's sole MP, the first independent to declare support for Labor, and backing the government in 90% of votes - certainly more than Cook, Katter, Oakeshott, Slipper, and Wilkie [7].

Against the Class State and for Democratic Government

If there is a single issue which confuses many on the libertarian left, is the relationship between state and government. To give an example, the Centre for A Stateless Society, does not make a distinction in the general sense, referring to governance only on the scale of voluntary associations. For them, echoing the so-called anarcho-capitalists, state and government are are apparently synonomous. Despite strong theoretical appeals to a mutualist cooperatives, their relentless attack on government is strategically aligned with anti-democratic capitalist forces. To engage with an extremely divergent point of view, the Anarchist Media Institute is strong in its advocacy for the government to establish a "people's bank", for a stockmarket turnover tax, extended support for public Medicare, etc.

It is fairly obvious where the Isocracy Network lines up in this debate; after all, we elected Dr. Joeseph Toscano from the AMI to be our Public Officer, and he kindly took up our offer. This is not to suggest that we support all the policies of the AMI of course (for example, we reject the stock market turnover tax as we reject all generic transaction taxes), but certainly we support the general thrust of leveraging even nominally democratic government to provide positive freedoms and even involvement and participation in the mainstream democratic process. As previously explained, we align ourselves with the practical tasks of political anarchism. Of course, even on this level some of the best libertarian socialists find themselves having to make what at first glance appears to be a contradictory appeal, such as Noam Chomsky's claim of having a short-term goal of extending state authority in order to ensure democracy and human rights (Powers and Prospects, 1996)

Timor-Leste Document Disclosure


"That State Conference recommends to National Conference/Executive that the Federal government conduct a comprehensive declassification of official records relating to Australian policy towards Timor-Leste in the 1970s. This includes material from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and relevant Cabinet records, records of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of Defence and Australian diplomatic posts overseas, and our Embassy in Jakarta."

This motion has been passed at the Kew branch of the Party moved by Lev Lafayette and Steven Hurd, the candidate for Kooyong at the last Federal election, seconding the motion.

The above Urgency Motion is, word for word, the recommendation made by Labor's spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, Laurie Brereton, a press release on January 19, 1999 (cf., Laurie Brereton, Media Release 5/99, East Timor: Comprehensive Release of Historical Records Required, 19 January 1999 available at: http://etan.org/et/1999/january/15-21/18call.htm)).

It is imperative that the Australian Labor Party supports truthfulness, transparency and public scrutiny of Australia's policy towards Timor-Leste during this critical period of that country's history, which included independence from Portugal, elections, a civil war, and an invasion and occupation, which resulted in at least 102,800 deaths according to the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation.

The Responsibility to Protect: Neoliberal Imperialism or International Human Rights?


The Responsibility to Protect was introduced by the United Nations in 2005, a set of principles around the idea that State-sovereignity is not a privilege, by which rules can deal with internal issues with inpunity, but rather a responsibility. The Responsibility to Protect was established to prevent mass atrocity crimes, including genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Responsibility to Protect argues that governments have a responsibility to protect their populations from mass atrocities, that the international community has a responsibility to protect that population if a government will not, or cannot do so, and that this includes all actions including military intervention.

Pioneered by the African Union, following the failure of the international community to prevent genocide in Rwanda in 1994, the doctrine was codified at the 2005 United Nations World Summit and was affirmed unanimously by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1674.

Critics of the RtP argue that it undermines state sovereignty. Supporters argue that it is necessary to stop mass atrocities. In 2012 the doctrine was imposed to implement a a no-fly zone during the Libyan uprising and an end to military attacks against civilians.

How do we best protect civilians against mass atrocities by the State and other agencies?

Saturday March 19th at 6pm Kingston Hotel Ante Room, 55 Highett Street, Richmond

A Meeting Sponsored by the Isocracy Network (http://isocracy.org) with Speakers from the United Nations Association (Victorian branch).

Political Anarchism in the 21st Century

In a sense, this is the third of a trilogy of articles that posits the Isocratic viewpoint with social democracy and the dictatorial left. In the former, it was noted that there is a terrible international malaise in the official parties of Socialist International, whilst gains by left-wing forces are usually of new, independent, left-papers which were influenced by libertarian and environmentalist policies. The more that social democracy jettisoned its socialist history and did not advance beyond modest popular liberalism, the further it would lose ground. As an alternative, a strong libertarian socialism was proposed to act as a counter - and as an advance - to mainstream liberal capitalism. In the latter article, a strong opposition was presented to "left-wing fascism", which, apart from the primary issue of the horrendous abuse of human rights, perpetuates the myth of the conservatives that socialism is the antithesis of freedom, when in reality socialism ought to be the logical extension of freedom and democracy, rather than a replacement. Again, the option of libertarian socialism was proposed as the preferred alternative.

For those with some background in political theory this surely sounds like an advocacy of anarchism, which is correctly defined by Peter Marshall [1]": "Political theorists usually classify anarchism as an ideology of the extreme Left. In fact, it combines ideas and values from both liberalism and socialism and may be considered a creative synthesis of the two great currents of thought", and provides more than sufficient examples from historic anarchist leaders to justify this claim. Wahl and Jun also concur with this approach, "anarchism combines a socialist critique of liberalism and a liberal critique of socialism" [2], as does David Goodway, "understanding anarchism is to recognize its thoroughly socialist critique of capitalism, while emphasizing that this has been combined with a liberal critique of socialism" [3]. If nothing else, these contemporary writers point out very clearly how absolutely distant the right-wing so-called "anarcho-capitalist" libertarianism is from genuine anarchist and libertarian thought, itself the result of a very particular history in the United States of America, not replicated elsewhere in the world.

Economists, Who needs them?

Economist's dictate that the right taxation mix is the answer. Yet zero taxation with zero land price is not mentioned by them, or by officialdom, academia and for obvious reasons not the fiducial lever pullers. Odd, with recent trillions flowing to bond-holders from central banks, from governments, and before them, the taxpayer, economists present toxic real estate assets as being cyclical normality due to human behaviour labeled exuberance.

When the annual rental value of land in situ is publicly disclosed then speculation and by consequence toxicity cannot manifest. But then that is not economics. It is economic, it is not economic, and yet it is an economy, and on-with-the-show-this-is-it.

Economists are employed by the vested interests and the privileged to argue in favour of the 'dirty deeds, done dirt cheap'. Economists are anti-social anti-communal and anti-production. Speculation gravitates the production value from with their econometric if statement models. They are all taxationists, unable to concede that land is not capital therefore cannot be taxed. Land in situ remains in use, when the rate in the dollar meets the public revenue requirement of the territorial administrative budget. Unlike labour and the products of labour when the effort is taxed. Labour disappears into idleness.

Whether it be by head or by hand the product is from labour and rightfully it is the property of the producer. Else your better off producing something for yourself without going to market with the good or service. It is this corruption of economics that teaches property in land before property in wages.

Support Neo-socialist Class Warfare!

Tony Abbot described the call for a greater share of our mineral wealth as “neo-socialism”.... Christopher Pyne called it "class warfare”.... They're right!

In 2010 the Henry Review of the Australia taxation system recommended extending the existing Petroleum Resource Rent Tax levied on off-shore petroleum extraction activities. This source of public income was considered a highly efficient, effective, and fair way to ensure that all people of Australia have a better share of the commonwealth that is our mineral resources.

Although supported by mining unions, some mining companies used to receiving monopolistic profits objected to the idea to raising billions of dollars of public funds which has been specifically directed to pensions, tax cuts for small businesses and infrastructure projects. They spent $22 million dollars in advertising, forcing the government to reduce the size and scope of the rent to iron ore and coal alone.

Beyond Occupy and Towards Greater Equality

Just as 2011 will be remembered as the year of ongoing Arab spring in that part of the world, for the advanced economies the equivalent will be the Occupy movement. Inspired by the Spanish Indignados, and initiated by the Adbusters group in the Anglophone world, the movement spread to some almost one hundred cities around the world.

Whilst a multi-faceted movement it was most certainly an outgrowth of the global financial crisis of the late 2000s. More specifically however it was a condemnation of the extensive use of corporate welfare (for example in the U.S.) as a means to stablise the economy during that period with the recipients simply using this public money to improve their own financial situation, especially when matched with austerity measures to make up for the shortfall in public finance.

An understandable slogan that has resulted from this has been the comparison of the "99 percent" versus the "1 percent", along with the recognition "We are the 99 percent". There was anger at the rise of the income share of the wealthiest 1 percent of households and their political control ("Of the 1%, By the 1%, For the 1%). Whilst it is theoretically possible to increase to increase the income of a small group without upsetting the overall distribution (the Gini coefficient), this has not occurred. Overal inequality of wealth in the U.S. and China in particular has increased significantly in the past thirty years, with the UK and India also having notable recent increases.

Thus the Occupy movement was, quite sensibly, founded primarily on moral messages. Not only was there an argument of responsibility ("those who cause the problem should pay for it"), there was also a utilitarian ethic ("people should contribute according to ability"). For as much as one provides a detailed analysis of the economy with carefully grounded reasons backed by strong data, the emotional and objective reality was that people were hurting and there was a breach of a sense of fairness. It is that which inspires public action.

As participants would know the forces of the State came down hard on the Occupy movement when they could, despite a commitment of non-violence by the movement. Whilst brilliantly organised through new social media, a strength of Occupy in the public space was the use of decentralised and participatory democracy in managing local events.

In the wake of the occupations there have been, as expected, numerous articles on what the next step should be. Some have argued the need for concrete demands", others the need for the occupiers to become entrenched into the mainstream progressive organisations (and vice-versa). Whilst both these propositions are completely correct, there is also a need to look at why the Occupy movement eventually tapered. For as much as it to did generate interest and alter the political discourse for a while, the movement is essentially over for the time being. The question remains "why"?

The occupation of public space could only be maintained in the longer term if there was a genuine mass public participation orientated towards the reorganisation of society (the last chapter of Arendt's classic "On Revolution" is particularly illustrative of this need). Simply put, the political situation had not yet reached that level. Under these circumstances it was inevitable that the conservative argument of "You've had your protest, now move on" was going to gain traction. A related response was the attempt of some to turn the tactic of occupation into a principle, the "Occupy Everything" approach (there is an ironically entitled online journal of this name. In the long run, this aided critics of the movement as it increasingly detracted from the strongest message; the movement wasn't about the occupation of public spaces, it was about inequality, the mismanagement of the economy, and the robbery of public wealth.

Submission to the Independent Media Inquiry

Final Scene from Videodrome

I make this submission in relation to the recommended terms of reference if the Independent Media Inquiry (http://www.dbcde.gov.au/digital_economy/independent_media_inquiry).

There is increasing concern, based on recent experiences in overseas media, that a focus on media standards and organisations is required.

It is my considered opinion that Australia does not have effective processes to ensure that illegal or highly distorted media activities occur. The media does not always operate in the public interest, but rather presents highly partisan, politicised and often plain inaccurate coverage of events. Media regulation appears to be implemented quite selectively with minimal attention given to online publishing.

Strengthening of media regulation, primarily by an single independent media with statutory authority rather than industry-funded regulator (the Australian Press Council) and by strengthening the requirements for truth and public interest in media will greatly assist the process.

By regulation complaints submitted by members of the public on media issues should come with reduced and minimum response times. Further, when corrections are deemed necessary they should be placed quickly and with equal prominence to the original report. Such a regulation should apply to all media.

By regulation a journalists, editorials and publishers code of practise can be established with a clear commitment to media freedom within the limits of truth. This should be in addition to the current, and often ineffectual, voluntary codes of the Australian Press Council and the Media Arts and Entertainment Alliance. Such a regulation should apply to all media.

I will cite the following as examples of problematic media behaviour from just the past two months.

Australia's Carbon Price Legislation: Climate Responsibility with Social Justice

Three weeks ago the minority Federal government in Australia passed a historic broad-based carbon pricing bill through the House Representatives. The bill is not yet law, but it is certain to pass the Senate in the near future and will then find its way into the statute books. Under the legislation the 500 biggest emitters of carbon dioxide, some sixty percent of emissions, will pay an initial permit price of $23 per tonne which then be determined by market value in the future. Much of the cost will, of course, be passed on to consumers (who respond with purchasing changes) and there is a comprehensive package to compensate low-income earners and pensioners etc, along with substantial tax-breaks and a very significant increase in the tax-free threshold. Four million households will be better off after compensation, six million will be about equal, eight million will receive partial compensation and seven hundred thousand households will receive no compensation for the price rises. Average households will pay an extra $9.90 per week while average assistance will be $10.10 per week.

The legislation was passed after several years of debate on the issue; prior to the 2010 election the preceding Labor government has attempted to introduce a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, which was also an emissions trading scheme, but with some significant transitional subsidies, leading to criticism from climate advocacy groups and the plan eventually being shelved. After the passing of the current legislation, the opposition leader has made a "pledge in blood" to repeal it, a very improbable proposal. The following represents a review of the carbon pricing scheme, its relative effectiveness, its relationship to social justice issues and the political issues it has raised. Before that however a brief review of the science is required.

Pages

Subscribe to The Isocracy Network RSS