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.

Animal Welfare and Animal Rights: A Philosophical Approach to a Political Issue

On Saturday the Isocracy Network is holding a meeting with the Victorian convener of the Animal Justice Party on the topic 'Animal Welfare Issues and the [Australian 2016] Federal Election' [1]. Even announcing the meeting has generated some useful debate, as the Isocracy Network has animal welfare issues as one of its major objectives [2]. Now one does not don't pretend for a moment to have any great knowledge on the various legislation relating to animal welfare in Australia. But it is possible to at least begin to consider some philosophical principles from which ethical behaviour and legislation could be informed predicated on the motivation of reducing harm towards others.

Evidence-Based Philosophy and Policy

A first ontological principle is the recognition that animals exist and at least some are capable of suffering. This is the sort of evidence-based philosophical underpinnings that is appropriate for a secular and pragmatic outlook. One does not need, for example, to follow the speculations of the ancient Pythagoras that we should respect animals due to transmigration of souls, nor does one need to follow the mechanistic claims of the more modern Father Malebranche, who denied that animals had souls and therefore could "eat without pleasure, cry without pain, grow without knowing it; they desire nothing, fear nothing, know nothing".

Negative Gearing and Capital Gains: Tax Subsidies for the Landlord Class

As the Australian Federal Election approaches, it is clear that negative gearing on property is destined to become a major issue. In February, the opposition Australian Labor Party announced that negative gearing would only be allowed on the construction of new homes, following some push from that party's left faction. With support from the real estate industry announced (following prior warnings), the Liberal-National Party government has opposed the plan. In a recent interview, the Prime Minister claimed to understand supply and demand in the property market - which is why he didn't need empirical evidence for his claims. Recently he has displayed his understanding even further:

"What they're saying is warning that Bill Shorten's reckless and dangerous experiment with the largest asset class in Australia will drive down home values and drive up rents," Mr Turnbull said.


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