World Politics

Post #48 – Clinton has declared an ‘Information War’, but who’s the enemy?

State-sponsored news channels like Al-Jazeera and RT are contributing to widespread repercussions that go beyond that of the family lounge room. The question is, what are those repercussions? After all, it’s only a TV show, right?

When defending the growing budget of the State Department, United States Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton proclaimed that America is in the midst of “an information war, and we are losing that war”. She specifically singled out the predominantly state-funded cable news channels Al-Jazeera, RT (Russia Today) and CCTV (China Central Television) as competitors in this war for the ‘hearts and minds’ of the masses. Within the last twenty-five years, countries that can be classified as ‘non-democratic’ have produced and disseminated cable news channels that can be broadcast across the entirety of the globe. These state-sponsored news channels are challenging traditional media organisations in breadth, prestige and influence. The implications of this steady rise in cable news channels materialising from non-democratic nation-states is both reflexive and consequential of a changing economical, political, technological and cultural environment.

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Post #47 – Trump Ain’t A Fascist (yet), But the Truth is a Lot Scarier

In the wake of Britain’s EU Referendum, it seems we have been asking the wrong kind of questions about Trump… and Clinton too.

With the recent shock vote for Great Britain to leave the EU, Trump exclaimed from the grand opening of his new Scottish golf-course that BREXIT was a “great thing“. Many are now questioning whether Thursday’s result will significantly increase the chances of Trump’s anti-establishment ideals. For example, CNN pondered whether the result would trigger…

… a cascade of events that could spark global economic chaos, remake the Western world, reverberate through November’s presidential election and challenge U.S. security for years to come.

Such an event means that comprehending what Trump actually stands for becomes tantamount to comprehending if the American ‘establishment’ are in for the same treatment in November. Naturally this has led to the current debate amongst the intellectual elite as to whether Donald Trump is a fascist – or at the very least, he has fascist tendencies. According to The Atlantic, The Telegraph and Forbes – he’s not. Salon, New Republic and George Clooney think he is. Most can agree that he is an unashamed populist, positioning himself as an anti-establishment messiah campaigning on a platform of economic protectionism and a critic of free trade deals (such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the TPP/TTIP).

The question as to whether one is a fascist depends on one important element though – power. As the German-born political theorist Hannah Arendt once said,

Revolutionaries do not make revolutions. The revolutionaries are those who know when power is lying in the street and then they can pick it up.

So if Trump is the revolutionary he paints himself to be, it won’t be until after he becomes President of the United States (POTUS) that a proper assessment of his fascist tendencies can take place – anytime beforehand (more…)

Post #44 – Budgets, Brexits, Battlelines and Briefcases

There is a Civil War brewing. No I’m not referring to Yemen, Ukraine, the U.S or even the upcoming antics of Captain America. I’m referring to a Civil War over a quantitative expression of a plan for a defined period of time – better known as a budget.

Federal budgets are those funny things in politics that have the power to destroy – or further solidify – the career of the Chosen One that hands it down. A memorable budget is usually characterised by an image, a particular event, or a symbol. Take the example of the Abbott Government’s much-maligned 2014 budget, personified so eloquently in the grainy footage of then-Treasurer Joe Hockey and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann huffing down Cuban cigars. He was henceforth disparagingly referred to as ‘Smokin’ Joe‘, and his career prospects tanked along with the budget. The man many thought might be our future Prime Minister was undid by a shitty budget (more…)

Post #38 – Common Sense (or Lack Thereof… ) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership

After being under wraps for over five years, it arrived a couple of days ago. The long-awaited full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was released to the general public… and it’s fucking huge. Like, literally huge (30 Chapters all up). Across the expanse of the Pacific, people have been trying to sift through the text and figure out what it has in store for all of us… and thus far, it’s not pretty. But the question is, what can we make of it all? Well, the TPP signifies a new era in free-trade agreements, in that “the agreement goes beyond traditional trade issues such as tariffs and import quotas and includes giveaways to powerful business lobbies”. It’s a new kind of monster, the likes of which we have never seen before.

WHY THE HOSTILITY, MAN?: This is why the TPP faces such stiff opposition – both here in Australia and abroad. But like other things we the people despise, it will most likely pass into law across the Pacific over the next year or so. There’s a feeling of inevitability and helplessness wrapped up in these convoluted and secretive trade agreements our governments keep buying in to.

There was a man who understood better than most why we accept these bullshit trade agreements, and he died in the process of essentially, calling ‘a spade a spade’. He was a visionary in (more…)

Post #37 – Hillary Clinton Is Like That Aussie Ice-Skater Who Shouldn’t Have Won That Gold Medal But Did…

I want you to think back to 2002, specifically the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in the good ol’ U.S of A. We Australians are pretty shithouse at any winter sports (due to our lack of snow and ice) but we also love any and all competition. For example, we’ll jump at the opportunity to turn two flies climbing up a wall into a contest. We’re frequently referred to as a ‘sports mad‘ nation, and the Winter Olympics is no exception to this. We don’t understand half the fucking ‘sports’ that are being contested, but we’ll watch in wonderment anyway – because that’s how we roll.

Now when it specifically came to the 2002 Winter Olympics, we didn’t really have high hopes. We’d never won a gold medal at a Winter Olympics and to be honest the team we sent over weren’t predicted to be bringing much of anything back other than some STDs, some souvenirs and some killer hang-overs.

But then a saviour came along – an accidental hero. His name was Steven Bradbury. (more…)

Post #35 – The Language Used to Sell us the TPP and Other Shitty ‘Free Trade’ Agreements

The famous American philosopher and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that…

Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone

That was in 1876. Today, I reckon Ralph might agree with me that large multinational corporations are on the brink of buying up all those ‘stones’. You see, language is no longer simply a form of communication between us common folk – it is a tool. As with any tool, it can be used for good… or evil. Contemporary ‘free-trade’ agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) demonstrate the latter.

From his self-imposed refuge inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, the whistle-blowing Wikileaks founder Julian Assange recently railed against this new global ‘free-trade’ agreement by calling it out for what it is. He proclaimed in succinct and somber terms that…

if you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs

With Abbott and Co. close to signing an agreement that you and I have no control over (or that most Aussies have never heard of), but that the largest corporations in the world were brought to the negotiating table for – you have to ask yourself, ‘how’d they get away with it?’. It’s nothing to worry about according to Tony Abbott, we’re just ‘open for business!‘ –  but what does this phrase, and others like it, really mean?
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Post #25 – Marx VS Tocqueville: Who Got It Right?

I want to introduce our first contender to the ring… the young and sprightly Alex deeeee Tocqueville! To those who don’t know who Alex de Tocqueville is, you’re really missing out on a truly fascinating character. He was a rich French boy who left aristocratic France to check out this new thang called ‘democracy’ taking place over in the U.S over 200 years ago. He noted down in his famous books Democracy in America I & II that this ‘new world’ had way better living standards and better social conditions than those witnessed back in Europe. But he also criticised and critiqued the peoples’ relationship to the market and the nation-state in amazing detail. Another fascinating aspect of his writings essentially predict the ensuing racial issues that the U.S.A still suffers from to this day. An event like the continuing protests and acts of violence in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore are not just isolated incidents instigated by solitary racist police forces in either Southern ‘hick territory’ or a shitty post-industrial city. According to Tocqueville, the very foundations of the American narrative are intrinsically tied in with their history of slavery and oppression – it is part of the DNA of modern America. The election of a black president matters for little – the United States is not post-race, and an understanding of Tocqueville’s writings indicate that it never will be. The damage has been done, (more…)

Post #24 – Are Countries With Nukes Really Trying To Save The World?

The Doomsday Clock, devised by the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, now stands at three minutes to midnight, or doomsday. It has been adjusted 18 times since its creation in 1947. It has been set as close as two minutes to midnight, in 1953 when the United States tested a hydrogen bomb, and as far as 17 minutes from midnight, in 1991 as the Cold War expired.

Congratulations earthlings, as of the 23rd January 2015, we’re now only ‘three minutes’ away to literally wiping ourselves off the face of the earth! This is mostly due to the threat of nuclear annihilation (sprinkled with a bit of catastrophic climate change doom and gloom) because of our presumed inability to keep our finger off the red button. However, the big and muscly nations of the world see the whole matter differently – they’re turning back the clock, just like the very curious case that involved that Benjamin Button fellow. The great powers’ would like you to believe that their actions help it from striking midnight – and how could you not trust the sincerity of characters like Putin and Xi Jinping? That’s why they introduced the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), an international treaty drawn up by the great powers’ (Nuclear Weapon States or NWS) with the advertised intention of promoting nuclear disarmament and promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Nice bunch of guys just trying to protect the world, right? Well no, not really. The designated nuclear weapon states of China, France, Russia, the U.K and the U.S.A (NWS) finalised their implementation of the NPT by 1970, and continue their support in maintaining a tight control over who and ultimately who cannot attain nuclear weapons. For an example, look at all the current hoo-ha over Iran. This is in an era where everybody wants the bomb – from North Korea, to ISIS and the nice old lady next door. So I’m going to look at four main reasons why they want to keep nuclear weapons from being handed around like a pack of gum at an MDMA-fueled rave, and not all of them are as pure and altruistic as you may think.
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Post #23 – Guest Post on UK Elections: Some Countries Do ‘Ave ‘Em

Although one can scarcely believe how the years have flown, it is indeed time for another general election in your founding nation. The last four years have raced by in a flurry of social media faux pas and Boris-baiting, and we once again settle in comfortably to watch the poshest toffs of Britain battle it out for a rather underwhelming island in the North Sea.

Our contenders this year are unsurprisingly the same poor old buggers from the last bout. In the blue corner, dressed head to toe in the tears of unwed mothers is the current big dog, David Cameron. Not content with a mere four years as the overlord of British politics, he’s back for another stab at the top job. This time though, I imagine he’ll attempt to shake off that ineffectual Clegg (who?) and run the gig solo. He’s taken a hell of a bashing in his first term but has impressed with his rubber-like facade and determination to convince us ‘we’re all in this together’. A man so convinced by his ability to connect with the working class, he was even seen wearing jeans in late 2013. His right hand man, George Osbourne, was given a smart phone in 2011 which immediately turned him into the next Cara Delvigne in terms of posting crap pictures no one gives a shit about. His attempts at being ‘down with the kids meets working dad’ saw him post a pic of his working-lunch burger; although at over 15 bucks for the bap (roll in English speak), was met with more snarky remarks than Joe Hockey’s ‘the poor don’t drive’ blasphemy.

In the red corner, weighing in with no discernible opinion whatsoever (more…)

Post #17 – Survival Of The Biggest

Another bank in Australia posts record profits… yawn. Spice it up a little corporate Australia! Throw a few ‘poor returns’ or a ‘setback’ in there to show us paupers at the bottom that the game isn’t completely rigged in your favour. It makes you wonder, should these monolithic corporations really be rewarded with billions of dollars solely for being the biggest and baddest motherfuckers every financial quarter? Are they worthy of such obscene amounts of wealth? I mean, they haven’t invented a cure for cancer or patented an engine that runs on thin air – they’re a bank. Yet I frequently hear defensive phrases come from otherwise intellectually sound people justifying these obscene profits by saying things like: ‘these corporations must be there (and earning that much) because they’re the best at what they do – they’ve earned it!’

But how much truth is in that argument?

It is a popular misconception that the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ can be attributed to the founder of evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin. However it was actually a bloke by the name of Herbert Spencer who first penned this phrase, and it was written to refer to his own economic theories – not biology. So is survival of the fittest in economics a good thing? And what does this ‘competition’ shit that economists’ always talk about mean anyway? Better yet, how do both mainstream and Marxist economists’ understand ‘competition’? Follow me into this peculiarly slippery and dark rabbit-hole and we shall see.

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