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The Chunder Down Under

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 08/14/2014 - 09:18


Let's get this unpleasantness out of the way.  "Chunder" is an Australian colloquialism for vomit, puke.  The latest chunder from Down Under comes to us via Tony Abbott's chief business adviser, Maurice Newman.  The chairman of the prime minister's Business Advisory Council warns that Australia is dangerously unprepared for - wait for it - global cooling.

Newman ...said there is evidence that the world is set for a periuod of cooling, rather than warming, leading to  significant geopolitical problems because of a lack of preparedness.

Mark Butler, Labor's environment spokesman, said of Newman's article: 'These kinds of comments would be laughable if he didn't have the prime minister's ear.'


When Confidence Fails

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 08/14/2014 - 08:58


Few of those who lived through the Cold War with its constant threat of nuclear annihilation realize the role confidence played in preventing an outbreak of apocalyptic hostilities.  Even at times when we thought the "other side" was nearing the point of pre-emptive attack, we had a sufficient degree of confidence that they would do no such thing.  The Red Telephone that connected the White House to the Kremlin was specifically intended as an instrument for maintaining confidence.

The Cuban missile crisis demonstrated the leadership needed to maintain confidence - and peace - in stressful circumstances.  Kennedy was being pulled by contradictory advice given by competing forces some of which demanded a shooting war.  In the end, Kennedy's confidence in Khrushchev prevailed and a diplomatic result was obtained.

Today I have a sense that we have discounted the importance of confidence and confidence-building between major powers.  Under Bush/Cheney, America drove NATO right up to Russia's doorstep.  That was an act of diplomatic aggression that showed no interest in maintaining, much less building, confidence between west and east.  It was both a threat to Russia and a humiliation of Vlad Putin. Imagine if Russia reached a pact with Mexico and wound up parking tanks, surface to air missile batteries and mobile rocket artillery along the south bank of the Rio Grande.

What has the Ukraine conflict become?  It resembles a proxy war reminiscent of the Cold War era.  We support the west-leaning government that ousted the previous democratically-elected (yet horribly corrupt) government in a coup. Putin sees us as interlopers, meddlers, once again wreaking mischief at Russia's doorstep.  That he took Crimea should have been expected.  That he should support pro-Russia rebels seeking to pry loose the Donetsk region is equally predictable.

It's probably safe to say that the confidence level between Putin and western leaders has fallen into an abyss.  We have imposed successive waves of sanctions against Russia and its leaders.  We have actually threatened Russia with dire consequences that await if it doesn't leave Ukraine alone.  NATO Secretary General Anders "Foggy" Rasmussen, an avowed and bellicose neoliberal, is using the final months of his tenure to get straight into Putin's face.  He gives the impression that he's just itching to see NATO jets over the Ukraine before he's put out to pasture.  There are plenty of other prominent hawks in Rasmussen's camp including our own warrior-prince, Stephen Harper.

The German financial newspaper, Handelsblatt, recently warned that the people of the west are being "mentally mobilized" for war by our corporate mass media cartel.  This could hardly have gone unnoticed by the Kremlin.

And what happens when confidence plummets?  Rearmament is one usual result. Rearmament that further undermines confidence.  Russia is rearming with a new strategic bomber, a new ballistic missile that may breach one or more of its nuclear weapons treaty obligations, two new submarine designs and a dandy new stealth fighter designed to turn F-35s into lawn ornaments.  Is this a Russian provocation? Hardly.

America kicked off today's arms race when Bush/Cheney introduced the incredibly bellicose Bush Doctrine that threatened friend and adversary alike with the use of pre-emptive and overwhelming military force against any country or group of countries that should deign to rival America militarily or economically.  That was accompanied by an enormous increase in military spending focused on achieving enormous technological advances that would leave all other nations so far behind that they couldn't catch up.  Out of that depraved mentality emerged the F-35.

For Beijing, a real confidence-buster came with the staging of "Operation Chimichanga", a full scale, dress rehearsal of a pre-emptive "first strike" stealth attack on China to render the Peoples Republic defenceless.  Provocative, yes. Confidence building, plainly not.

America is doing no end of sabre-rattling and we're playing our part in it also.  Our foreign policy has been subsumed into America's.  The F-35 is our admission ticket into America's Aerial Foreign Legion.  There's a reason American commanders refer to it as their "kick in the front door weapon."

On this, the centenary of World War One, it's important to remember that not all wars are intended or even desired.  History shows it's remarkably easy for leaders to back us into wars of duration and dimensions that were never foreseen.  It doesn't take much - an arms race here or there, sabre-rattling and other provocations, a power vacuum real or perceived, the "mental mobilization" of society - go ahead, light the fuse.

Without seemingly recognizing it, we're creating an incredibly dangerous world packed with stressors such as arms races; geo-political transitions with contested spheres of influence; power vacuums and the rise of failed states; militarized foreign policy; economic, resource and territorial rivalries; and, of course, early onset climate change impacts, all under the umbrella of western neoliberalism. What could possibly go wrong?

Hacktivists Out Alleged Michael Brown Shooter — Only It’s The Wrong Guy

Bastard Logic - Thu, 08/14/2014 - 08:46

Not at all helpful (quite the opposite, actually):

On Thursday, a name released by the hacking collective Anonymous began circulating, but St. Louis County Police said that the name was inaccurate. The same kind of thing happened Wednesday, as another name began floating around and gaining traction. Ferguson police said that that name was also inaccurate, telling The Post that these reports were false.

A spokesman with the St. Louis County Police was critical of the group Anonymous for releasing the information.

“People really need to harshly judge the accuracy of this group, given that they’ve now given false information about several important things,” Sgt. Colby Dolly said on Thursday.

Dolly said that authorities were trying to locate the person identified by Anonymous on Thursday to warn him.

Of course, such recklessness could easily be prevented by, y’know, releasing the name of the shooter (even the NRO, etc).


Filed under: Uncategorized

Another Indictment of Neoliberalism, This Time from Monbiot

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 08/14/2014 - 07:14


Neoliberalism, sometimes known as "market fundamentalism", is the scourge of our age.  It infests our federal politics.  Stephen Harper is a disciple.  Mulcair and Trudeau may be somewhat less neoliberal but it's a matter of degree and it ain't much.

Neoliberalism is a path littered with flawed assumptions and empty promises.  It is a cancer that eats away at social cohesion, that drives inequality that itself arises mainly out of privilege and unjust government largesse from tax favouritism to outright gifting of public property.  It is the engine of economic feudalism.

Guardian columnist, George Monbiot, has additional insights into the scam of neoliberalism:

Even at the beginning of the process, when markets are first deregulated, we do not start with equal opportunities. Some people are a long way down the track before the starting gun is fired. This is how the Russian oligarchs managed to acquire such wealth when the Soviet Union broke up. They weren’t, on the whole, the most talented, hardworking or innovative people, but those with the fewest scruples, the most thugs, and the best contacts – often in the KGB.Even when outcomes are based on talent and hard work, they don’t stay that way for long. Once the first generation of liberated entrepreneurs has made its money, the initial meritocracy is replaced by a new elite, which insulates its children from competition by inheritance and the best education money can buy. Where market fundamentalism has been most fiercely applied – in countries like the US and UK – social mobility has greatly declined.If neoliberalism was anything other than a self-serving con, whose gurus and thinktanks were financed from the beginning by some of the world’s richest people (the US multimillionaires Coors, Olin, Scaife, Pew and others), its apostles would have demanded, as a precondition for a society based on merit, that no one should start life with the unfair advantage of inherited wealth or economically determined education. But they never believed in their own doctrine. Enterprise, as a result, quickly gave way to rent.All this is ignored, and success or failure in the market economy are ascribed solely to the efforts of the individual. The rich are the new righteous; the poor are the new deviants, who have failed both economically and morally and are now classified as social parasites.The market was meant to emancipate us, offering autonomy and freedom. Instead it has delivered atomisation and loneliness.

Free market capitalism, market fundamentalism, neoliberalism - call it what you like - relentlessly moves to clear-cut social democracy to sweep away the last obstacles to the ascent of oligarchy.  It is a corruption of both capitalism and democracy.  It is the conquest of human dignity.  It is very much Kapitalism as foreseen by Karl Marx.  

It is a devilish thing that neoliberalism is becoming so entrenched at the very time that our world is struggling with the early onset impacts of climate change. Neoliberalism, the ethos of modern political classes, can only hasten and deepen our decline.  It is our societal thumbscrew.

We find ourselves technically free but powerless. Whether in work or out of work, we must live by the same rules or perish. All the major political parties promote them, so we have no political power either. In the name of autonomy and freedom we have ended up controlled by a grinding, faceless bureaucracy.  

Exactly.   

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