C'est nous qui brisons les barreaux des prisons, pour nos frères, La haine à nos trousses, et la faim qui nous pousse, la misère. Il y a des pays où les gens aux creux des lits font des rêves, Ici, nous, vois-tu, nous on marche et nous on tue nous on crève.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Victoria, the Surveillance State

Some of this information has been provided to me via a couple of sources, and is not widely known.

The State Government of Victoria funds, administers, and oversees a sizeable portion of the state’s ‘services’, from hospitals to housing. These welfare state services are spread across a number of Ministerial portfolios, as well as a number of ‘Departments’. As much as the libertarians may complain about it, when things go wrong in Australia, the locals tend to expect the relevant government to do something about it.

In addition to those services directly overseen by the State Government, we also have the so-called Non Government Agencies (NGAs), who are private firms to whom state services are outsourced and sub-contracted. This takes place by way of a competitive tendering process and much red tape, though I suspect some of the state’s more ardent capitalists might question precisely how ‘competitive’ the whole process is. In welfare-related industries, the NGAs in Victoria are auspiced almost entirely by one Christian church/religious group or another. The services themselves are secular, but the infrastructure and so forth are provided by the agency and funded by the Government. The same agencies will often have a fundraising component or some other means of diverting cash into less secular activities.

In short, this means that there are hundreds of thousands of Victorians who will come into these services, in one capacity or another. Not unreasonably, we might expect each particular industry to maintain a database for a range of purposes – to facilitate better ‘service delivery’, communicate, for legal reasons, etc. After all, in Victoria we have legislation governing the privacy of individual’s personal information, and the limits to which such information can be used.

What is less reasonable is that there should be a centralised point at which all this information converges. Such a point has been constructed in the form of a computer program, known variously as CRIS or CRISP (as well as a couple of other acronymic monikers). This program was commissioned by the Victorian Government some years ago, and built by a private programming firm. My information now tells me that the Government has since bought out the program, owns it outright, and intends to market and sell it to other states and countries.

My understanding is that, functionally speaking, the above computer program was a turd. The Government spent ever-increasing amounts of cash to salvage the project, running up a bill that is somewhere in the order of $53 million.

The software itself applies to a range of Government programs, such as housing, disability services, youth justice, child protection, and the various NGA appendages attached to these services.

Now, a NGA worker cannot read the file of a housing worker, who in turn cannot read the file of a youth justice worker, even though each uses the same program, and may be dealing with the same individual. We can safely conclude that this program has nothing to do with improving communication or information sharing.

Secondly, the program is functionally inferior to its predecessors – slower, more prone to bugs, and tends to significantly increase the administrative burden of workers. The implementation of this program therefore must have nothing to do with ‘efficiency’, unless it was designed by half-wits.

The only reasons that I can see for foisting this software onto thousands of workers, and, by extension, hundreds of thousands of members of the public (as the software does not merely take details for individuals, but also for their associates) are firstly, that this information is siphoned back to the central branch of these Government agencies. In effect, a massive database has been created, including information about hundreds of thousands of Victorians. Given the ‘welfare’ orientation of most of these agencies, one can readily appreciate that much of the information is sensitive in nature. What does the Government intend to do with all this information? – I have no idea.

The second reason is much more entrepreneurial. I’m told that the program will be marketed and sold to other states (and possibly countries) on the basis of its promised ‘efficiencies’.

In the meantime, tens of millions of Victorian dollars have been blown on a useless piece of software, whose only virtue is being able to keep masses of people under a kind of surveillance. As I wrote earlier, few know of this nasty piece of work, possibly because the Vic Government is among the country’s more secretive. Who knows, this may even unite libertarians and Foucauldians or, more likely, it will simply allow the screws of Governmental control to turn a little tighter.

So spread the word, comrades, and do anything you can to fight this little tyranny, though it be of a petty, and bureaucratic form.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Some religions are plain authoritarian...

An Italian judge was sentenced to a year in prison for refusing to sit in a courtroom with a crucifix on the wall, his lawyer said...Crucifixes have been present in Italian courtrooms since a 1926 justice ministry directive under the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini that has never been repealed in mainly Catholic Italy. (source)

Benito who? I suspect there will one day be a generation who, nourished on propaganda, will have never heard the term 'fascism' without the epithet 'Islamo-' thrown in front of it.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Lies or Stupidity?

The tinfoil Rightists of the blogosphere frequently complain about 'left wing bias' in Universities. Supposing this bias to exist - is it any wonder, given the cretinism and dissembling that our Rightard friends exhibit when trying to argue a point?

The example, in this case, is a piece of 'research' by Joan Martin, on behalf of the proto-fascist British National Party, known for their criminal violence, anti-Semitism, and other niceties.

Naturally, this garbage is not only lapped up by the usual credulous bigots, but is then, without shame, passed off as gospel truth. It's not clear to me how this research, an attempted critique of Marxist influence on society, could be taken seriously by anybody, much less grown adults. Are the brazen liars, or merely drooling half-wits? Let's have a look at some of the rotten fruits of this research, and see:

The time-line explained:
KARL MARX.1818-1883
Marx was a German Jew with radical views.

At least they got that bit right.

In 1842 he became a member of the Hegelians an anti-religious, radical group with Satanic interests.

And thus the blithering idiocy begins. Hegel was actually conservative in almost all of his opinions, and was an advocate of Protestantism. He also exhibited the typical conservative subservience to traditional authority figures. Neither Hegel, nor any of his followers whose names are known to history, have any demonstrable link to 'Satanic interests'.
Furthermore, following Hegel's death, there tended to be two groups of students influences by him: the Right Hegelians (conservatives, obviously) and the 'Young' (Left) Hegelians. Marx, in his early days, was associated by the latter. What they took from Hegel was not conservative opinion on Church and State, etc, but rather, Hegel's dialectical method of philosophy. Perhaps this is superfluous, since I see no evidence that our resident rightards have read a page of Marx or Hegel.

In 1843 he left Germany and went to Paris where he met Engels who helped him financially.
In 1845 he was expelled from Paris.
In 1848 went to live in Brussels were he wrote the Communist Manifesto.
In 1849 Marx moved to London and lived there for the rest of his life.

Back on track, but hardly an exposé.

The Abolition of Private Property
The Abolition of the Family.
The Abolition of Countries and Nationalities.
The Abolition of all Religions, morality and Religious Liberty, this shows the Hegelians Idealism.
The Abolition of Freedom of conscience. In a Democracy people believe in the freedom to choose.
The word Communist covers anyone who aspires to World Government.
Marxism works towards achieving World Government and World Dictatorship.

The Manifesto includes a few other things, too, such as calls for universal education, and the abolition of child labour. You can see why the free marketeers would oppose it. Fundamentally, however, Marx and Engels used this text to argue in favour of a stateless and classless society, not a 'world dictatorship'. At the time of the Manifesto, only one nation in Continental Europe was a democracy (France), and even that brutalised its citizens, and even that only became democratic through revolutionary force.
Of course, the Manifesto has nothing to do with the abolition of religion or 'freedom of conscience', though Marx did point out the unholy alliances formed between religious powerbrokers and earthly rulers. Still less did this text have anything to do with 'Hegelian idealism', since Marx considered himself to be the precise opposite of an 'idealist' (i.e. he was a 'materialist'). The strident internationalism of the Manifesto cannot be understated, and it is on this point, as on many others, that Marxism is the precise opposite of fascism/Nazism, despite the dissembling of Rightards.

In any case, there is no excuse for the constant black propaganda against Marx, when all of his works are readily available for free.

Marx and his friends Engles and Balunin (sic) received their ideas from Moses Hess the founder of the German Social Democrat Party. Moses Hess taught that to gain a World State it could only be brought about by a revolution using class and racial hatred. He said race struggle is primary, class struggle is secondary.”
Mikhail Balunin said “That what ever the name or label of those who aspire to world government they must be prepared to awake the devil in people and stir their passions for them to act.” Passion as with football hooligans, vandals and various peace groups and the race groups.

Or perhaps 'passion' as seen by today's bigots, such as the BNP, or the Cronulla rioters, or some of our rightard bloggers.
Notably, no attempt is made to cite a single instance of 'racial hatred' by Marx, let alone demonstrate that is was 'primary' in his struggle. For what it's worth, Marx was influenced by Hess only in the relatively early days of his career, and he later disagreed with much of his work. In any case, Hess was a proto-Zionist, and therefore hardly an enemy of the rightards (must bring on the Rapture!).

Marx wrote three requirements for those who wished to join the fight for World Government.
1 To read the Communist and Revolutionary teachings of Marx and associates and work accordingly.
2 To work to destabilise nations both morally and financially.
3 To work to gain political control of the MONEY supply and the ASSETS of each Nation and put them BEYOND the REACH and CONTROL of each Government by ensuring that nations become INTER-DEPENDANT on each other for FOOD, MACHINERY and through LOANS.

Marx didn't actually set up a school or club of 'Marxists'. Naturally, one would expect anybody calling themselves Marxist to have read at least some of his works, just as we would with a Freudian, Newtonian, or whatever.
Point 2 is most interesting - it allows our conspiracy-minded tinfoilers the opportunity to interpret any perceived 'instability', new fad, crisis, or change in the wind as a MARXIST PLOY FOR WORLD DOMINATION!!!

Marx also said, “Steps should be taken to provide a master race to produce Leaders and Dictators”

Did he now? This slanderous claim is rather easily proven false. Significantly, the scum who produced this libel did not bother to attribute the quote, perhaps knowing that their half-witted audience would devour it anyway.

Based on this inauspicious beginnings, the rightards purport to demonstrate that a Marxist world government is about to take over any day now:

Capitalism was infiltrated and attacked from within in order to destroy its reputation and Hollywood was implemented to break down the image of the man who financially supports his family and to help create the romantic image of the ‘activist’ (who, when stripped of this fallacious image, is nothing more than an instrument to destroy what we had).
As globalist Marxists reach the zenith of their power, we small band of resisters face the prospect of seeing the true face of this beast unleash its vengeance upon us. It will have its day, the Bible predicts this. But that day will be cut short. We will need to be salt and light to this planet while we can. When we are gone, there will be nothing left.

How embarrassing. This is real fish-in-a-barrel stuff, and easily dismissed. Woe unto the next generation of half-educated youngsters, who may be so unfortunate as to take the above claims seriously, or to think that Hitler was really a socialist, or that Hillary Clinton is a communist and Obama a fascist. The ideas of Marx are there to be discussed and debated, but I can't see any attempt to do that in the above passage, which is being circulated as holy writ by our holy fools. As long as such flagrant smear tactics and peddling of untruths passes for Rightist 'research', we can expect, much to the chagrin of bigots, that genuine scholarship and academia will remain firmly outside of their grasp. But what can one expect from clowns whose highest philosophical achievement is (snicker) reading Ayn Rand?

Friday, 1 February 2008

Why the Frankfurt School is Hated

1. A cartel of German professors (and one Italian) are responsible, according to Pat Buchanan, William S. Lind, and other members of the dribbling idiot-right, for the 'cultural Marxism' that has infected the American mind. '[T]hose who love freedom should consider these besieged institutions — the family, traditional religion, [Helleno-Christian] morality — as “layers of strength” that have remarkable resiliency and must be restored. But the work of restoration cannot be effective unless a sufficient number of (people who care) come to understand the conspiratorial origins of our culture war.'

2. 'Frankfurt school' is an anti-Semite codeword for 'Jew'.

3. 'Newspapers and magazines of the radical Right constantly stir up indignation against what is unnatural, over-intellectual, morbid and decadent: they know their readers. The insights of social psychology into the authoritarian personality confirm them. The basic features of this type include conformism, respect for a petrified facade of opinion and society, and resistance to impulses that disturb its order or evoke inner elements of the unconscious that cannot be admitted...The Nazis were already using the term 'cultural bolshevism' under the Weimar Republic, and hatred of what it refers to has survived the epoch of Hitler, when it was institutionalised.' - Adorno, 'Commitment'.

Before the Last Word...

I know that the recently departed Suharto, like all heroes of free market capitalism, will soon be re-baptised, and his atrocities will be forgotten (by all but the Indonesians). Thus it was for Augusto ('Sure he was a bastard, but he was good for the economy') Pinochet. So too, for Yeltsin - known in the West merely as a drunken buffoon, rather than as the man who foreclosed the possibility of a democratic Russia, all the while selling off his country's resources to KGB stooges, and Party cadres.

Naomi Klein has an excellent site that elaborates upon her equally fine book, The Shock Doctrine. Despite many dismissive reviews, I'm yet to see a serious refutation of her theses.

In any case, some interesting material on Indonesia is to be found there.

Indonesia had the biggest Communist Party in the world, with the exception of China. Ex-CIA operatives tell of the part played by the US in eliminating thousands of 'communists', from the highest offical, to village organisers.

The Indonesian economy was guided by advisors from Berkeley. The advice was unpopular amongst the people but then, I suppose that's what massacres are for.

Finally, a 1965 article from Time discusses how Muslims were armed, incited and trained by the Indonesian army and government to kill suspected communists and their families, 'by the thousands'.

Such are the costs of the 'free' market.

KPI's Missed

Does anybody still remember Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 2006? Ostensibly an invasion to liberate soldiers being held prisoner, the war appeared to have been planned for some time prior to this. In addition, despite worldwide condemnation of the inevitable human rights abuses that would follow an Israeli invasion, the US ensured that any 'peace talks' were delayed long enough for large parts of Lebanon to be destroyed, thus allowing Israel's hawks to meet their KPI's.

When all of this was reported upon by the Western press and blogosphere, we were told that such views were based on propaganda, lies, or worse, anti-Semitism.

I was interested, then, to read the following report recently:

A key report into Israel's 2006 war on Lebanon has listed a series of major failings by the Jewish state but said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert acted in good faith.

"Overall, we regard the second Lebanon war as a serious missed opportunity," the head of a government-appointed commission into the conflict, Eliyahu Winograd, said according to an official English translation of his remarks. (source)

A missed opportunity? One opportunity that wasn't missed was the opportunity to target Lebanon's civilian population with cluster bombs (pictured above), for what is sometimes called 'collective punishment'.

"The army should re-examine the conditions for the use of cluster bombs... especially given the need to reduce losses among the civilian population after a complete halt to fighting," the Winograd Commission said.

"The use of these bombs should be restricted to military objectives that justify their use," it said in the 630-page report which was initially released on Wednesday.

Cluster munitions spread bomblets over a wide area from a single device. The bomblets often do not explode on impact, but can do so later at the slightest touch, making them as deadly as anti-personnel landmines.

At least 38 people have been killed and 217 wounded by cluster bombs in the region since the end of the conflict, according to the United Nations.

During the war which raged from July 12 until August 14, 2006, Hezbollah militants whose capture of two Israeli soldiers sparked the war fired more than 4,000 rockets at northern Israel. (source)

Since cluster bombs function more as less as mine-spreading devices, they are the gift that keeps on giving. I won't link to pictures of the sorts of damage these devices do, but images are readily available on Google.

Of course, Hezbollah did fire 4,000 rockets into Northern Israel, according to the above report. I suppose my critics would suggest that would justify some form of measured retaliation, self-defense and all:

"What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs," the head of an IDF rocket unit in Lebanon said regarding the use of cluster bombs and phosphorous shells during the war.

Quoting his battalion commander, the rocket unit head stated that the IDF fired around 1,800 cluster bombs, containing over 1.2 million cluster bomblets. (source)

This comes from the mainstream Israeli press, I might add, not the Green Left Weekly. A ratio of four thousand bombs to 1.2 million seems reasonable. Can't imagine why anybody might have wished to criticise Israeli foreign policy. A missed opportunity, indeed.