democracy

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…)

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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 #41 – Welcome to the ‘Surveillance Society’

“At some point we have to draw a line”, proclaimed Australian federal MP Scott Ludlam – referring specifically to controversial changes to data retention laws put before the Australian parliament for debate. A few months later (despite all his Youtubing, tweets, Facebook jibes and rousing proclamations in the Senate) the changes he (and many Australians) opposed passed through both houses of Parliament and became law. Maybe, just maybe, Ludlam is fighting the wrong battle here.

Maybe we should be asking ourselves if we ever had any privacy to begin with – maybe, just maybe, we started being a surveillance society a while ago. ‘Why bother [fighting it]?’ was the question posed by Richard Thomas, the UK government’s Information Commissioner who believes the surveillance society is already ‘a reality’… and that was back in 2006.

So on the one hand, Ludlum is saying we risk becoming a ‘surveillance society’, but experts are adamant we’re already there. What gives?

And even if we are already a so-called ‘surveillance society’ – where the government and big business can check our every move – is it really that big a deal?
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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 #3 – Siege

So I sat in front of my computer at work about 9 in the morning on Monday the 15th, mulling over what to write for my third blog. I knew the government’s MYEFO was to be released at about midday, and a lot had already been leaked to the press – I assume as a way of softening the blow of such a massive budget blow-out. It was big news (I thought) and would most likely dominate the headlines for the rest of the week. How wrong I was…

At exactly 10:19, I received an email from my girlfriend into my work inbox. It was short, succinct and at that stage, confusing. It simply read: ‘Office in lock down :/’

Below this rather vague one-liner with a ridiculous emoticon in tow was a link to ABC News – whose information at this stage was also limited. “Police operation under way. It is believed a police officer has his gun drawn in Martin Place. More to come.” I looked up to the TV screen at work – the news-cast on the box also knew very little. For whatever reason, terrorism did not cross my mind. I questioned the intelligence of the man (or men) who decided it would be a good idea to hold up a cafe specialising in round little chocolate balls. Sure, they might have a few hundred dollars in the till, but an escape route from such a busy, central locale was near on impossible. Then I saw the flag planted – live – on the window of the cafe. He’s not planning on escaping – whoever has done this is right where he wants to be.

I was soon speaking to my girlfriend via mobile, who at this stage was worried. She works directly opposite the Lindt cafe and could see right inside the store. Their faces, the flag, the police with their weapons drawn – everything. Then the panic really set in. Rumours of the airspace shut down, reports of explosives inside the cafe and also strategically (more…)