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.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Misconstruing Power

The libertarians and conservatives continue to push for 'small government', seeking minimal encroachment by authorities in individuals' personal affairs. The co-called 'anarcho-capitalists' even propose that no government exist at all. To the extent that state coercion and idiotic bureaucracy are to be avoided, people across the political sphere may agree with this push.

In the case of libertarians and conservatives, this push arises from a complete misunderstanding of power. It appears to be viewed in somewhat medieval terms, wherein power is localised within members of a hierarchy, such as a monarch, or legislature.

Another way to understand power - a more philosophical, and more French reading (I'm think of Foucault and Deleuze, ignored and/or despised by the right) is that power is dispersed throughout a system or society. It has no center. Therefore, even in the case of an idealised 'small government', or even in the case of no government altogether, power and coercion would simply be transferred from agents of the state to private actors. In others words, the overall system would not be one iota less oppressive or coercive; you would merely have different agents calling the shots. The 'hard' forms of coercion (police, military, prisons) would almost certainly remain as is. The soft forms of coercion (education, mental health, etc) would be privatised, but would be no less coercive for all of that. You would still have a judicial system, and you would still have exploitation and domination in the workplace.

Consequently, when attempting to think a small government, we ought to completely reject the infantile notions of conservatism and libertarianism as the medieval misunderstandings that they are.

Here's some music:

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Possible Turning Point?

Of all the state ALP governments, Victoria's is the most adept at spin. Given this, and given the huge majority the ALP has in the lower house (notwithstanding a few lost seats in 2006), I figured they'd be a show-in for the 2006 election.

It may not be so simple. This week, we've seen public servants complaining about poor working conditions, the public complaining about poor quality from the public service, and everybody blaming the government.

Today, intensive care paramedics have resigned in the face of years of poor pay, and dangerously unsafe working conditions:

INTENSIVE care paramedics have resigned en masse outside the Premier's office, warning any resulting deaths are on his head.

The state's mobile intensive care ambulance paramedics are in a deadlock with the State Government over pay and have invited John Brumby to join them for a shift to experience life on the streets.

After months of negotiations, the state's 300 MICA paramedics have taken the unprecedented step of leaving hundreds of their resignation letters and shoulder insignias outside the Premier's office in the city this morning.

The resignations will take effect from early September with MICA paramedics returning to normal ambulance duties - unable to perform intensive care services for heart attack or car crash victims on site.

MICA paramedics face a $6000 fine for talking to the media, but one officer said the Brumby government had treated MICA workers with contempt and that its false promises were putting lives at risk. (source)

Curiously, the union are nowhere to be seen in the media on this issue, and the Herald Sun has deferred to the shadow health minister.

This comes in the wake of almost daily storied in relation to the state's child protection crisis:

The Premier today said at-risk children were being forced to wait because the government could not attract and retain staff.

But he denies any child is left uncared for while waiting to be assigned to a permanent child protection worker.

A whistleblower claims 2000 Victorian children alerted to the Department of Human Services (DHS) do not have case workers. (source)

So, it would seem that Brumby, and the government more generally, have been caught out lying by this whistleblower. It has been rare, over the years, to see the Herald Sun directly attack premiers. They've attacked particular ministers, or departments, but have used the kid gloves approach with Kennett, Bracks, and now Brumby. This could mark an interesting turning point in the run up to the 2010 election. The unions need to pull their finger out, as the Brumby government has treated them with contempt in recent times. Secondly, the Greens need to work on some grass-roots campaigning. There are plenty of (mostly) inner-city areas where the Greens could have a serious chance, if they work hard, and there's plenty of disillusionment in Melbourne's suburbs, where the working masses are fed up with labor, but don't necessarily want to get fucked in the ear by the Tories.

Monday, 3 August 2009

RIP Grods

Best wishes to all concerned on a great blog, and hope to see you all on the internets still.