August 30th 2008


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Articles from this issue:

CLIMATE CHANGE: It's official: the world is cooling, not warming

EDITORIAL: Olympic Games backfire on Beijing

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Tougher times ahead as commodity boom falters

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Should we rescue imprudent banks?

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: How Labor's Carpenter may cling to power

WATER: Radical plan to overcome water shortage

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Remembering Menzies' "forgotten people"

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: Resurgent Russia's conflict with Georgia

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Recipe for social conflict / Putin's gamble / Once more unto the swill buckets, dear friends

SPECIAL FEATURE: B.A. Santamaria, strategist and prophet

MARRIAGE: On breaking the marriage covenant

HISTORY: Hitler proposed a "final solution" for Christianity

OBITUARY: Bob O'Connell (August 29, 1922 - July 30, 2008), a generous man of integrity

Economic production needed, not speculation (letter)

BOOKS: WHAT'S HAPPENING TO OUR GIRLS? Too much too soon: how our kids are overstimulated, oversold and oversexed

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STRAWS IN THE WIND:
Recipe for social conflict / Putin's gamble / Once more unto the swill buckets, dear friends


by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, August 30, 2008
Recipe for social conflict

It was Marx who said that the capitalist has no country; only the workers, farmers and simple people love their country, and would fight and die for it.

But they were bunnies. The proletariat should band together, as finanz-kapitalists had done, but make their own one socialist world.

And we know what Marx and most of his followers thought of farmers and peasants, drooling away in their rustic idiocy. Like the English, the "new men" would industrialise, and rationalise agriculture, and open the country to imports from all corners, leaving the rustics to quit the land and join the propertyless proletariat.

Not everyone liked this outcome. Leo XIII thought an international socialist world would either be an abomination or impractical. The fact that it would be godless, materialistic and anti-intellectual; destructive of family and tradition; and bereft of all the localism and the myriad small institutions which underpin society, and which most people value more than their state - these aspects did not endear the international socialist future to Pope Leo and his friends.

The "international proletariat" is a recipe for social conflict followed by dictatorship. Democratic socialism, on the other hand, left to itself, would possibly adapt to its host society. After all, its members possessed other cross-cutting allegiances - e.g., Italian, Christian, localist.

And the farmers and peasants for Leo XIII were the salt of the earth. They should be given land and protection from greedy landlords and shonky dealers in the commodities market.

Marx had then gone on to describe economists as the prize-fighters of the bourgeoisie.

See how Western capitalists, including especially Australians, seem prepared to go to any lengths to sell things - anything - to the Chinese dictatorship, and to Vladimir Putin's revanchist and expansionist new Soviet empire. Naturally, much of the Western media, and of course the hired prize-fighters, have faithfully followed suit.

;

Putin's gamble

To take Putin's dictatorship first: as I write, either the Russian army has been disobeying orders, or the Kremlin is breaking its agreements - e.g., one brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy - even before the ink had dried.

The Russian army is occupying Georgia and destroying its defences, for example Georgia's naval base on the Black Sea, and indeed whatever takes their fancy. As I write, they are sitting near Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, and no one knows if they are going to enter it.

One should consider the relevant principles laid down by Putin and his friends in dealing with the rest of the international community. They are being directed against Europe and the United States at present, but could be applied elsewhere. The question is: what are they, and how valid are they?

One: No country sharing a border with Russia may be a member of a military alliance, e.g., Finland, Ukraine, the Baltic States (and they have been warned), or Georgia.

Two: No nation, but especially no European nation, may accept an anti-missile system from the US. To do so will be interpreted as a breach of the non-proliferation treaty, an act of hostility towards Russia, and a licence for Moscow to take whatever steps required to redress these illicit transactions. Russia will consider appropriate means, including, if necessary, regime change. Bush's proposed innovations are forcing Russia towards a new Cold War position.

Now what kind of principles are these? Legal? Moral? Customary rules? Of course not. They are mere political utterances - backed by the usual threats and sanctions which accompany such utterances.

A nation has the right to take an ally if it regards this as necessary for its self-defence, and sometimes reluctantly sharing a border with a large and threatening neighbour is perhaps the strongest ground for entering a defensive alliance.

Similarly, a nation has the right to adopt whatever weapons system it considers likely to enhance its security, especially if the weapons are demonstrably defensive and, where successful, sparing civilians.

Russia and China have certainly thought so - they have seldom added the caveat about sparing civilians. No, this is an exercise in attempted realpolitik - but most seriously meant.

President George W. Bush, and inferentially Senator John McCain, are making hay as a result of Putin's stupidity. The 13 ex-Soviet states, many of whom routinely disliked one another, have come together in solidarity to support Georgia. The common enemy, and common threat, is Russia. The only other country consistently speaking out, and with an obvious interest in doing so, is America.

The Kremlin has also introduced a principle similar to that employed by Hitler. There are Russian people living in neighbouring countries who deserve protection; where they are being discriminated against, persecuted, or attacked; or just want their host state to mesh in with Moscow, to which they still look...

They have a right to call on their fellow Russians to help them, if necessary, to liberate them. Just as Hitler liberated the Rhinelanders in 1936, the Sudetan Germans in 1938, the Volkdeutsche of Poland in 1939, and so on.

The 13 ex-Soviet colonies have good reason to fear the introduction of these principles. There are Russians living in most, if not all, of the ex-colonies. Many Red Army people were left there to procreate, gain citizenship rights and start up pro-Moscow political parties. These fifth columns would start agitating upon Moscow's signal. The Baltic states are particular danger zones here.

Once a member of NATO, a nation has acquired the backing and protection of its other members, at least in theory. Russia would think twice before intervening in such a country. But a non-member of NATO can find itself on its own.

It was therefore Putin's aim to prevent his neighbours from gaining the protection of NATO, for Russia had plans for them. Bush pushed to get Ukraine and Georgia in, under cover; but NATO, led by France and Germany, had the decision postponed. It could cause trouble, they said.

Well, they've got trouble, and so have the Georgians. France and Germany appear to be repenting. Germany - whose previous chancellor Gerhard Schroeder now works openly for Putin - has said that Georgia and Ukraine should be admitted to NATO, while France's Sarkozy has been trying to make reparation for France's earlier self-interested obstructionism, by brokering a deal with the new Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, which has been immediately betrayed by Prime Minister Putin and the Russian Army.

Holland has now signed up for an American anti-missile system. Keep up the good work, Vladimir! So Putin has now turned on Poland, and is talking about missile strikes on Poland.

Europe's leaders have been typically stupid, ever since the Americans created conditions of security and affluence which underpinned the long boom, including the European boom.

Europeans felt they didn't need the Yanks, but could advance under the new myths of a united "Yank-free" European Union and the United Nations, under their admittedly corrupt control ... and do business with the new communist barbarians, and the Muslim reactionaries. Not only do business, but cut one another's throats in doing it.

The myths have collapsed. The Europeans are now trapped in the web of Russian oil and gas blackmail and the Chinese cargo-cult - not to mention the further blackmail of revanchist Islam.

Under the circumstances, America looks like the only guidepost - and one way of reviving European prosperity in the form of a new Cold War boom led by the US.

One shouldn't be too distracted by America's economic woes; she is remarkably resilient. And now that America's voters are beginning to see through Obama's mists of snake-oil, and his readiness to vacate positions once set in stone, plus his readiness to drop old, inconvenient friends, the situation could look very different by November.

I won't talk about the Chinese Games fiasco, and the oppressive general atmosphere of bathos and deceit. It can keep. But consider, 1.3 billion Chinese are in deep mourning, because some athlete pulled a muscle.

But - incidentally - Nepal now has a new prime minister - a Maoist whose 20-year rebellion cost 200,000 Nepalese lives. These are things to watch, not the tragedy of Chinese sports stars, or one of ours, snapping a tendon in the egg-and-spoon race.

 

Once more unto the swill buckets, dear friends
(with respect to Henry V)


We have previously had occasion to discuss student union fees, and, with the reappearance of Labor on the government benches, need to do so again.

We predicted that, given a chance, most tertiary students would withhold the union fees, for their unions had done nothing for them. They watched their often scarce monies syphoned off to the Labor Party, or other even seedier political cabals, while cliques of student leaders lived off the fat of the land, made deals with the most unsavoury elements of their university (viz., the top people in the administration), and enjoyed real estate junkets and heaven knows what else.

Only when one such speculation failed, and millions of student dollars were irretrievably lost - as has happened in Melbourne - did this culture of student union and university leader impropriety surface.

After the Howard reforms, only 2 per cent of students stayed in the union; ditto, the Sunshine Coast. Massive haemorrhaging of student support was general, but especially marked in the jerkwater colleges in NSW, where students get less than nothing.

Now there are basic services owed to students, which universities have a duty to provide. They are now refusing to provide them. Flush with government funding, milking the immigration industry for all its worth, they are still crying poor mouth.

In collusion with the de-legitimised "student leaders", these administrators are now lobbying Rudd's crowd to repeal Howard's reforms, and get the old gravy-trains running again. And resume screwing poor, often defenceless, students for money.

Being the ideologues, and themselves the beneficiaries, nay the creatures, of many a sheltered workshop, Rudd's people are proffering a sympathetic ear. Corruption upon corruption.

Our conservatives have to take a stand here, and protect these widely supported reforms. Many of them didn't have the guts before. Many of them, or family members, were compromised - that is, were part of the great student extortion industry.

Well, will they have some feeling for the public interest, or the concern for the rights of the majority of students?

Or will they continue the Pontius Pilate position? That is to say, do a Ted Baillieu. I am your leader: I will follow you anywhere.

- Max Teichmann
 




























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