Argumentum ad temperantiam

Okay, so I have a bone to pick with this popular image.

I know everyone likes it, but it is deeply troubling. My main problem with this is that it presents us with a Balance Fallacy or an inverse false dilemma wherein the truth is only to be found between two extremes. From Rational wiki, which does a nice job explaining why this is a problem:

"While the rational position on a topic is often between two extremes, this cannot be assumed without actually considering the evidence. Sometimes the extreme position is actually the correct one, and sometimes the entire spectrum of belief is wrong, and truth exists in an orthogonal direction that hasn't yet been considered."

Philosophically speaking this is where the problem of finding a true source on political matters is problematic.

Towards a 2019 Labor-Green Alliance

Did the lack of even an alliance of convenience between Labor and the Greens result in the re-election of the Liberal-National Coalition in the last Federal election? If the result had been different, what would Australia look like now? How would Australia's political parties respond to such a change? Is there sufficient justification for such an alliance to exist in the future? These are questions that can only be answered with a very careful consideration of the facts at hand, and with equal diligence in the more predictive and prescriptive aspects.

The 2016 Federal Election

The last Australian Federal election was held in July 2016, after a lengthy eight-week campaign and a double-dissolution. All major newspapers, with the exception of the Sunday Age, recommended a return of the LNP government under the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull, who had taken the leadership from the deeply unpopular Abbott government from September the year prior, and was a first term government. The major issues of the campaign were Labor's policies on negative gearing, concerns over the privitisation of Medicare, and debates over the political and economic management of the last Labor government. The election resulted in a two-party preferred swing against the government of 3.13% and a marginal victory on TPP overall (50.36% vs 49.64%), with the loss of 14 seats (LNP 76 seats, ALP 69 seats, GRN 1, XEN 1, KAT 1, Ind 2). On primary vote, the LNP lost 3.51% (42.04%), the ALP gained 1.35% (34.73%), the GRN gained 1.58% (10.23%), and XEN (new party) gained 1.85%.

They Are Not Invincible

The entire beginning of the year has felt like mourning as we say goodbye to one of the most charismatic, intelligent and dignified standard-bearers of Violent American Imperialism in history, and hand the keys to the castle over to a tantrum-throwing man-child that no one took seriously until it was too, too late.

There are lessons to be learned in our complacency, and we should all be looking for ways to pry our brains open for them. We cannot go on the way we have up until now, thinking that justice and equality and good ideas are in any way inevitable. We made, collectively as a society, a very serious mistake that came in two parts. The first part was that we failed to field a meaningful alternative to the status quo at a time when the status quo was being openly questioned by the electorate on both sides. Donald Trump represents an ascendancy of hyperconservative radicalism, and the milquetoast liberal-centrism of Hillary Clinton was no antidote. Even Bernie Sanders’ modest reformism, backed with admittedly fiery language, was nothing more than advocating a shift toward something like what Europe has prospered under for decades. The Overton window in America simply isn’t open wide enough to see all the way to a radical-left alternative.

Australia's Invasion Day

Australia Day, the commemoration of the landing of the British First Fleet in Sydney Cove is a day of division. Whilst a large majority of Australians feel positive about the day, that number falls to less than a quarter of indigenous Australians and, currently, only 15% want the day changed, following the lead of the Fremantle City Council. Barnaby Joyce, parading his typical level of knowledge and sensitivity in public affairs indicated his opposition to changing the date.

The choice of date in itself is a rather strange beast. It does not, of course, represent first European contact with Australia. That was when the Dutchman navigator and colonialist Willem Jansz landed on the western coast of Cape York Peninsula in 1606 which resulted in violent conflicts. It certainly doesn't represent the founding of Australia as a country, that was, of course, Federation, on January 1st, 1901. It doesn't even represent the establishment of the colony of New South Wales - that occurred on February 7, 1776 with a formal proclamation, although that had already been down as a claim (rather than a reality) by James Cook on August 22, 1770 at Possession Island in Torres Strait.

Amina's Story: A Refugee from the Syrian Civil War

What caught my attention was her face with the classic lines full of the past burdens and memory pains, a woman in her forties with a slender face and agonies of a thousand years.

My first encounter with Amina during the English class has triggered my curiosity to know her story, and although I met a lot of persons and heard a lot of stories of refugees’ tragedies, Amina and her story were the most important to me.

Amina was a lady who volunteered at the camp and contributed in spreading happiness among the refugees. We always talked and I had a few questions that needed answers on how she came and the reasons why she had to take the risk to cross the sea and apply for asylum. I was hesitant in the beginning, but eventually I suggested to listen to her story as if we had interviews, she was pleased and perhaps she felt that someone was there to listen to her agonies and we had this interview:

Deliberative Isocracy : The Antidote to 'Fake News'

Fake NewsWinston Churchill famously quipped: "democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time" [1]. Which of course does raise the question are there other forms of government which could be better than democracy? Perhaps there be a particular implementation of democracy which works better? Contextually, what are the trends and technological influences and challenges? Careful consideration of these questions leads to a three-part evaluation; (a) the sense of res publica, (b) the relationship between democracy and informed decision-making, and (c) deliberative isocracy in the age of the Internet, which introduces the possibility of an informed and participatory public sphere.

Trump is the fulfillment of an ancient Chinese curse

"May you live in interesting times" was a curse the ancient Chinese hurled at their adversaries, wishing them strife, oppression, and struggle. It applies to us now because for all the uncertainties a Trump presidency holds, it will certainly be an interesting time, filled with opportunities for resistance and perhaps revolution.

Big T's pedal-to-the-metal exploitation of humanity and the planet will accelerate the vicious policies of his two predecessors, poisoning the environment, forcing our financial will around the world, killing thousands of people in imperialist wars, manipulating other nations, modernizing our nuclear weapons, and jailing dissenters at home. Fortress America will continue to expand globally as prison, sweatshop, and fire base.

After all our years trying to change this country, how could we end up with this?

Fight back or go under

By William T. Hathaway

The presidency of Donald Trump is going to be a slap in the face of American workers that will wake us up to the reality of social class. Big T's pedal-to-the-metal policies will show us clearly that we are one class, the ruling elite are another class, and our interests are diametrically opposed. Our declining standard of living is essential for maintaining their wealth, and they will do whatever is necessary to continue that. They will jail us, deport us, kill us, anything to crush resistance.

But in the long term they won't succeed.

Why not? Because we, the working people of the United States of America, are stronger than the ruling elite. We are the 99%. Everyone who has to work for someone else for the essentials of living is working class, but many of us have been indoctrinated to emulate and admire the owners. They are a small, parasitical class that has stolen our labor for hundreds of years. The wage slavery they impose saps and undermines our lives, our energies, our futures, even our sense of ourselves. They are truly our enemies.

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.


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