May 7th 2005

  Buy Issue 2706

Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: SECRET INTELLIGENCE: New evidence of Soviet espionage in Australia

EDITORIAL: Australia and China: supping with the devil

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Australia's impending economic slump

SCHOOLS: Give academic excellence a sporting chance

NATIONAL COMPETITION POLICY: Review whitewashes National Competition Policy

TRADE: EU and US try to force China to cut textile exports

DRUGS: Howard Government's drugs campaign falters

REGIONAL VICTORIA: Radical activists' campaign of sabotage

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Labor Agonistes / Blankety Blank / Gentlemen versus players / EU Light Opera

RUSSIA: Baltic States to boycott Moscow's World War II memorial

1955 LABOR PARTY SPLIT: Conference marks 50th anniversary of Split

1955 LABOR PARTY SPLIT: The Great Labor Split remembered

CONSTITUTION: Dangers in Howard's new centralism

RELIGIOUS VILIFICATION LAWS: "Witch" sues over Christian Bible study

How to tackle abortion and pornography (letter)

John Paul II's greatest achievements (letter)

East Timor and West Papua resistance (letter)


Books promotion page

Labor Agonistes / Blankety Blank / Gentlemen versus players / EU Light Opera

by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, May 7, 2005
Labor Agonistes

Kenneth Davidson, a long-standing economic commentator in the Melbourne Age, recently gave the Australian Labor Party - particularly the Victorian branch and Kim Beazley - a total bucketing. He said: "[The Labor Party] belongs to a self-perpetuating oligarchy glued together by lust for power and which, if needs be, is as hostile to the dwindling rank-and-file membership of the ALP and the egalitarian values the party still pretends to represent as it is opposed to the Coalition parties." (The Age, April 14, 2005.)

Well ... that was already known to a lot of us; but for the New Class having to read it in The Age - and from their leading partisan - is like the audience of Communist Party faithful in 1956 having to listen to Khrushchev having to tell them about the real state of the Party and of Russia, and who was doing, or who had done, what to whom. No going back after that for the Comrades! So they left in droves, saying it was because of Hungary. Now pull the left leg.

Nor is there any way out for the objects of Davidson's scorn and anger as to what happened to the party which he and so many of us used to respect. Of the ALP federal executive, Davidson writes: "Virtually every member is now a full-time professional party politician, ministerial adviser, bureaucrat or trade union official." Just like the old communist executive apparatchiki and nomenclatura. Vox populi, keep out!

Davidson then castigates Labor's compulsive branch-stacking, such that their MPs and many union bosses are even more unrepresentative than they might otherwise have been. Victoria is perhaps the worst of a bad lot, and various damning reports, such as the John Cain (Jnr) Report are simply shelved, so the branch-stacking and palace-looting go on.

Perhaps the straw which broke the camel's back was the proposal to remove "at least three sitting federal members, including two frontbenchers, in favour of Right factional heavies", plus the fact that Kim Beazley "seems to be off on a celebrity preselection factional frolic all on his own in the grand Latham tradition", e.g., Midnight Oil.

Kim wants to see sporting identities, such as Eddie McGuire and AFL sporting "notables" like Kevin Sheedy, Leigh Matthews and Andrew Demetriou dumped into safe Labor seats before the next election. This is the measure of Beazley: mind at the end of its tether.

Davidson describes all this as "an affront to the democratic process" ... But how far back in time do we have to go to find an Australian Labor or trade union movement guided by democratic principles? In fact, our polity is a plutocracy, alternatively run by the two members of an oligarchy, i.e., Labor and Liberal. The party is really over.

And for the passengers? It is Ecuador this morning and Colombia this afternoon.

Blankety Blank

Terry Brown spun us a very amusing yet instructive yarn about SBS television and Channel Seven the other day (Melbourne Herald Sun, April 15, 2005).

Channel Seven had a black-out a few Wednesday nights ago, which lasted 48 minutes. Blue Heelers couldn't be shown nor Air Crash Investigation, which was scheduled to start at 9:30pm. Bad luck for Channel Seven, especially as the ratings war is now fierce and continues.

But ... during the time the screen was beige, blank and soundless, more were watching it than were watching SBS - live! SBS's Dateline - which was tracking a doctor through the Congo - had 105,000 fewer viewers than Channel Seven's blank screen. And the new ABC comedy, Nighty Night - launched with great publicity - had 35,000 fewer viewers than the blank screen of Channel Seven at its lowest attendance point, viz., 88,000 sightless viewers.

I think this little tale just about sums up the political and cultural irrelevance of these two publicly-funded institutions, once regarded with respect and affection, and not so very long ago.

Gentlemen versus players

The grossly intimidatory behaviour of China towards Japan shows how completely unreliable that country is in any scheme of world order, or regional order, and just how important to us is the American connection, in what is a sea of troubles, and one likely to remain so.

As The Australian foreign affairs editor, Greg Sheridan, pointed out in an excellent analysis, if China can push Japan back into the quietist and ultra-passive diplomacy of pre-Koizumi days, "it can do it to any other country in the Asia-Pacific" (The Australian, April 21, 2005). Except the USA.

Japan's crimes are:

  • to want a seat on an expanded United Nations Security Council (a proposal supported by Australia);

  • to play a more active diplomatic role in Pacific and world affairs (long urged upon her by many major actors in the global system);

  • supporting the US in her policies on Taiwan; and

  • wishing to build up her air defences.

We should be endorsing all of this, for China clearly needs a countervailing force, whereas America does not - in fact, more power to her, not less.

No demonstrations occur in China without government permission and supervision. The rent-a-lout/rent-a-patriot antics form an important part of what China calls her international relations, dating back through the Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap Forward - and, if you examine them, the Boxer Rising and the Taiping Rebellion.

It's quite hard to find spontaneous demonstrations anywhere. It's like the bazaar mobs of the Middle East and Sukharno's populist intimidatory use of crowds. We are looking at immature, underdeveloped political systems. But ... all the more dangerous therefore ...

Stalin's Russia ran two foreign policies in the 1930s. One, the Litvinov line, talked peace and anti-fascism and a popular front with all anti-Nazis. It spawned a positive tsunami of popular fronts, agents of influence and useful idiots, as well as the sincere concerned people looking for solutions (they had no say then, nor now).

The second parallel policy option, Molotov's, was hardline Realpolitik and, when Stalin decided that Litvinov's policy wasn't working, Litvinov was dropped, the Nazi-Soviet Pact initiated, and the mutual conquest of Europe by Nazis and Communists began.

In the same way, I think, Beijing has two parallel foreign policies and no shortage of pro-China fronts, useful idiots, sympathisers within the Western foreign services and media - and, of course, the inevitable ubiquitous corporate carpet-baggers chasing the cargo-cult dollar, no matter what the future consequences to their fellow-countrymen might be.

In fact, Greg Sheridan was sounding like a lone voice for a time.

But no more. Today's anti-Japan bully could be turned on to the US - or us - tomorrow.

So, like Iago's advice to Roderigo, we should keep our money in our purse.

EU Light Opera

European Union anti-crime officials met the other day to discuss pooling information about the continent's criminals, so many of whom jump from country to country and draw on a rich panoply of false papers. A central EU database, to be accessed by any EU national police force, for drug-smugglers, illegal immigrants, terrorists, pimps, embezzlers, etc, was the proposal. The enemy is Borderless Crime. The solution? Borderless Surveillance.

No agreement was reached. Enough countries, led by gallant little Belgium, demurred on grounds of cost (!). The existing, admittedly inadequate, computer complex is really better than a very expensive, comprehensive state-of-the-art one, they say.

Of course, the rejected new one would be able to pick up German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer's criminals from Eastern Europe as well as the usual African and Middle Eastern blow-ins.

But, as one EU spokesman said, it could interfere with national sovereignty, you know. (So it wasn't about cost.)

Britain has just "discovered" it has at least 500,000 illegal migrants, one of whom, an Algerian, murdered a British policeman in the course of his arrest in an anti-terrorist raid by the police. But Europe would rather have illegals, police kept in the dark, and budding terrorists roaming around, than allow Europe's police to pool their information. For they (the European police) might bring the whole rotten social political system down.

We have just had some major police victories over drug-smugglers, with multi-million dollar hauls of amphetamines, ecstasy, etc.

So I was initially surprised to hear a spokesman from some drugs foundation express far less than ecstasy at the news. "It's only the tip of the iceberg," he said.

What was he saying? That much more is getting through than is getting stopped? Or being locally manufactured than is being detected? Quite possibly. If so, it bespeaks a very large market for drugs here, does it not?

Or else the big fish, here and elsewhere, aren't being caught. Why aren't they being caught? And what of the laundering of drug and other criminal proceeds through what would have to be parts of our banking and financial systems which have rarely been detected? Why?

Perhaps he was talking about all that. Perhaps not.

But there is a fallacy which lurks around this and other pathological situations which goes: "What is the use of treating the symptoms when it is the causes we must discover?" We encounter this fallacy when talking of war, world poverty and terrorism.

If doctors waited for the root causes of diseases to be known as a prerequisite for treatment, a lot more people would be sick or dead. The answer, I suppose, is to treat the symptoms at the same time as you separately seek out the causes.

Then you can work out how to negate, or how to remove, the triggers. But total success may be a long time coming. So drug addicts need to be treated now, sick people need to be treated now and criminals need to be deterred now.

  • Max Teichmann

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