We thank Sharmine Narwani for sending us this must-see milestone in the search for the truth about Syria.  Make this viral.  Send it to everybody.



CLICK ON      =

US ‘refugee swap’ is human trafficking dressed up as humanism – By Reeshan Zakiyya


The Turnbull-Obama refugee deal is an exercise in human trafficking that further cements the Australian government’s record of human rights abuses.

It is a “one-time deal” in which an unknown number of refugees in Australia’s offshore detention facilities will be eligible for resettlement in the US. The deal throws into question whether the government’s September pledge to accept refugees camped in Costa Rica, Central America, made at Barack Obama’s global migration summit in New York, was only the first part of a now expanded agreement.

The government said it will prioritise families, women and children in this process. The offer is not available to those who have accepted resettlement elsewhere or those arriving in offshore camps after 13 November. Any refugees who remain because they are rejected by the US, or who refuse to accept that the Australian government can extinguish their human rights, will face the prospect of 20-year temporary visas for Nauru.

Behrouz Boochani, Manus detainee and journalist, explained to the Guardian, “Be sure that most people would love to go to America, but some people need to join their families in Australia”. Another reason for Manus Island refugees to stay is that there is a current court case in Papua New Guinea, seeking compensation for their years of detention.

No doubt, as Boochani notes, there will be relief among many refugees that perhaps their ordeal in Australia’s gulag archipelago is finally coming to an end. The detention system is renowned for torture, murders, rapes, and assaults at the hands of security guards, which have been exposed by determined protests and riots by the detainees and numerous leaks from detention centre staff. You can understand that people who have survived this abomination would take whatever opportunity they could to get out.

But human rights advocates in Australia should see this for what it is: a continuing betrayal of the right to seek asylum. With this deal, the government and its backers are only reaffirming that Australia has no obligation under the refugee convention to grant asylum to people with a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country, and that it can engage in human trafficking.

The US deal was quickly followed by the launch of prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s “ring-of-steel” – the largest ever maritime surveillance effort. According to the Australian, Border Force personnel were sent to Sri Lanka and India to make sure that measures to prevent people exercising their human right to seek asylum would remain in place. So the US deal will clear space in the detention centres only so that any future asylum seekers arriving by boat would again be trapped in Australia’s offshore Guantanamo. As Peter Dutton said, Nauru will remain a detention facility “forever”.

That the deal is a cynical move is also indicated by the language with which it is justified. Turnbull and Dutton continue a long tradition of the ludicrous amalgam of humanitarian and racist rhetoric. They announced to assembled journalists that the aim is to turn back boats and thus limit the “people smugglers’ marketing tool”. But they stressed that the “priority [for resettlement in the US] is very much on the most vulnerable which are family units”.

Three years of offshore processing has given Australia the reputation of international racist pariah. Last year Australia failed to establish a viable “third country” resettlement after investigating options such as Cambodia, the Philippines and Kyrgyzstan.

The offshore system became untenable in April when Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruled the Manus Island detention centre illegal and unconstitutional. Yet the Australian government refused to take responsibility for the detainees and the centre remained open. In September, the government attempted to bribe detainees with $10,000 to return to their country of origin.

The ongoing failure of the government’s attempts to be as brutal as possible has now led to the US deal, which is only a temporary clearing of the camps. Not only that, the government is clearly pushing a racist agenda – the implicit notion is that Turnbull is swapping “bad” Muslim refugees for non-threatening, probably Catholic, Central American refugees.

Nick McKim from the Greens welcomed the deal as an admission indefinite offshore detention was unacceptable. He also acknowledged there were “still significant levels of uncertainty” for refugees because the number eligible and the timeframe are unspecified.

The Labor Party has responded to the deal with confused and tentative support. “We are pleased if it is an end to indefinite detention”, Shorten said. Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said a deal would be a good thing. “We do want to see people moved out of these facilities.”

More critical statements have come from the ASRC’s Kon Karapanagiotidis, who tweeted: “That Australia is willing to take refugees from Costa Rica but not those we are responsible for shows that this is all about politics not people”. The director of the Human Rights Law Centre, Daniel Webb said in a media release, “Showing decency to one person seeking asylum doesn’t justify or require cruelty to another”.

Refugee supporters in Australia should be clear that the US deal is an escalation of refugee-politicking. After 24 years of deteriorating treatment of refugees, we should maintain our demands for an end to mandatory detention, not cave at a deal that only gives the appearance of change. Anything less than letting the refugees into Australia is unacceptable.

We should take inspiration from Behrouz Boochani who spoke to the Guardian, “I prefer to be in prison than leave this island without my friends, because I cannot accept injustice … I’m not a slave that they use for their political aims. It’s time we show people what humanity is and what human rights are”.



Who invents this cruelty? – Written by: The AIM Network

In the past fortnight, the Turnbull Coalition government announced proposed legislation to ensure that each person on Manus Island or Nauru sentenced to the cruel and unusual punishment for no legal or moral reason since an arbitrary date in 2013, will never come to Australia. That’s never ever; doesn’t matter if they want to visit the Great Barrier Reef before government lack of policy on climate change kills it off; doesn’t matter if the person is a famous actor, musician or movie star in their future life; doesn’t matter if the person is representing a country at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast; and it even doesn’t matter if a current refugee on Manus Island or Nauru is a head of state in the future — they won’t be allowed to visit Australia (or only allowed to visit at the absolute discretion of the minister for immigration at the time).

Blatantly unfair, unreasonable and un-called for? — certainly. Unfortunately, we should be used to the Abbott/Turnbull government doubling down on the nastiness and sheer hate defined by their policy on refugees. The Abbott/Turnbull government will tell you that they are stopping the people smugglers from sending people on dangerous open sea voyages using equipment that is clearly not designed for the purpose. Immigration Minister Dutton claims:

What we don’t want is if someone is to go to a third country, that they apply for a tourist visa or some other way to circumvent what the government’s policy intent is by coming back to Australia from that third country.

The Abbott/Turnbull government has a problem. After being given a lesson in humanity by the Papua New Guinea High Court when it ruled that the detention camp on Manus Island breached PNG law, Turnbull has to find a place to house the 1200 or so people we as Australians have illegally imprisoned by various governments going back to the Rudd ALP government. Politically, the government can’t let these people come to Australia as the neo-conservative right wing of the Liberal and National Parties will head further towards the divisive policies of the ultra-right wing parties such as One Nation. As well as that, if the refugees were housed in (say) New Zealand or other countries in the South Pacific, the argument could be made that refugees could simply board a plane to Australia after they had residency in the third country. Logically you would have to ask why anyone that had been treated so poorly by others would ever want to ‘darken the door’ of their oppressors, but according to Dutton it is a concern. While yes, that is a hole in the current arrangements if those on Manus Island or Nauru are successfully integrated into a third country’s society, they might want to come to Australia at a later date, has anyone stopped to think what we are potentially losing by not standing up to the vindictive and xenophobic policies of successive Australian governments?

The Political Sword looked at the contributions made to our society by refugees in March 2014. We looked at Michael Gawenda, the ‘ten pound poms’ (which include Tony Abbott, Julia Gillard, the Gibb Brothers (aka The Bee Gees), Noni Hazlehurst, Alan Bond, Frank Tyson, Harold Larwood, and the parents of people such as Kylie Minogue, Al Grassby and Hugh Jackman), Tony Le Nguyen and Munjed Al Muderis. All the people listed in this paragraph have made a wonderful contribution to this country, and if the governments that supported and encouraged the immigration of these Australians had the same racist policies of the current government, we would live in a much poorer place.

This isn’t solely the view of this admittedly left of centre political blog, this letter was shared around on social media in the few days after Turnbull and Dutton announced their draconian policy.


Clearly, Dr Al Muderis makes a significant contribution to Australia and the world — as people fly to Australia from around the world just to see Dr Al Muderis.

Noni Hazelhurst, the Bee Gees and even Gillard and Abbott have also made a contribution to this country in their own sphere of influence. So why are we persecuting those that are attempting to become refugees in Australia in the twenty teens? While many were ridiculing (probably with some justification) ex-Prime Minister Rudd’s contribution to the debate at the beginning of the month, Rudd does have a few points that are worth considering. Rudd claims:

This is both bad policy and bad politics: on policy, the far right in Australia represent the worst of the xenophobic, nationalist and protectionist wave that we now see raging across Europe and America; while on politics, appeasement of political thugs like Abbott, Dutton, Abetz, Andrews and, depending on which way the wind is blowing, Morrison, only embolden the far right to demand more, not less.


This measure is about the politics of symbols, designed to throw red meat at the right, including the Hansonite insurgency, and to grovel to the broad politics of xenophobia. Turnbull, once an intelligent, global citizen, knows better.

Rudd claims that Gillard (his successor and predecessor) changed his policy.

It sought to negotiate offshore processing arrangements with East Timor and later Malaysia. These failed. Then in August 2012, the government announced the reopening of offshore processing in Manus and Nauru. The government also increased the number of refugees we would take from the UNHCR “global pool” of refugees from 13,000 to 20,000. Nonetheless, in the first half of 2013, the UNHCR delivered reports criticising the treatment of refugees, which the government sought to respond to.

It is also claimed that when Rudd regained power he made significant changes to the agreement around refugees that Australia had signed with PNG, including a clause that the Manus Island camp would only operate for one year. Rudd’s opinion article concludes by stating:

I have kept silent on Australian domestic policy debates for the past three years. But this one sinks to new lows. It is pure politics designed to appease the xenophobes. It is without any policy merit in dealing with the real policy challenges all countries face today in what is now a global refugees crisis. And it does nothing to help those refugees left to rot for more than three years, who should be resettled now.

While a lot of the article by Rudd is an attempt to justify his own past deeds, he is correct to suggest that refugees are not solely an Australian ‘problem’ and, to be realistic, Australia’s ‘problem’ is insignificant on a global scale. Rudd is also correct that far right political groups around the world are attracting votes using issues such as protectionism, isolationism and blatant racism. The Guardian runs a series called ‘The Long Read’. Co-incidentally, on 1 November, it published an article in the series titled ‘The ruthlessly effective branding of Europe’s far right’.

As The Guardian suggests:

They have effectively claimed the progressive causes of the left — from gay rights to women’s equality and protecting Jews from antisemitism — as their own, by depicting Muslim immigrants as the primary threat to all three groups. As fear of Islam has spread, with their encouragement, they have presented themselves as the only true defenders of western identity and western liberties — the last bulwark protecting a besieged Judeo-Christian civilisation from the barbarians at the gates.

These parties have steadily filled an electoral vacuum left open by social democratic and centre-right parties, who ignored voters’ growing anger over immigration – some of it legitimate, some of it bigoted – or simply waited too long to address it.

The move to the far right is not just a problem in Europe or arguably part of the reason for Donald Trump’s nomination as President by the Republican Party in the USA. The New Yorker recently published a stinging takedown of Trump and the ultra-conservatives noting:

Trumpism does not seek simply to make a point and pass on its genes to more politically palatable heirs, nor is it readily apparent why he would need to settle for this. When George Will announced his departure from the G.O.P., last summer, he offered a modified version of Ronald Reagan’s quote about leaving the Democrats—“I didn’t leave the Party; the Party left me.” But a kind of converse narrative applies to Trump; he didn’t join the Republican Party so much as its most febrile elements joined him. Trump is partly a product of forces that the G.O.P. created by pandering to a base whose dilated pupils the Party mistook for gullibility, not abject, irrational fear that would send those voters scurrying to the nearest authoritarian savior they could find. The error was in thinking that this populace, mainlining Glenn Beck and Alex Jones theories and pondering how the Minutemen would have fought Sharia law, could be controlled. (For evidence to the contrary, the Party needed look no further than the premature political demise of Eric Cantor.) The old adage warns that one should beware of puppets that begin pulling their own strings.

Australia too has its extreme right wing claiming far more influence than they deserve.

Pauline Hanson stood as the Liberal Party candidate for the seat of Oxley in Queensland at the 1996 election and was dis-endorsed two weeks prior to the election due to some extremely ill-advised remarks made in the campaign on Aboriginal welfare. In her 1996 maiden speech in the House of Representatives, Hanson claimed that Australia was being ‘swamped’ by Asians. On the morning of Hanson’s maiden Senate speech last September, the ABC looked at her claim from 20 years ago and looked at the immigration figures from the 2011 census. It found:

By 2011, the proportion of people in Australia who were born in Asia had almost doubled to 8.08 per cent.

The proportion of people born in Australia fell from 73.93 per cent to 69.83 per cent — more than eight times the proportion of people born in Asia.

In addition, the ABC reported that:

James Raymer, head of the School of Demography at the Australian National University, said the incidence of Asian migration to Australia was hardly surprising, given our geographical location in the region and the sheer size of the world’s Asian population.

“The whole Asian population represents 60 per cent of the world’s population … Europe only represents 10 per cent of the world’s population,” he said.

“There’s a lot of Asians in Europe, there’s a lot of Asians in North America, a lot of Asians in Canada, and they’ve all been increasing.”

Undeterred by her previous prediction falling somewhat short of the mark, when Hanson made her maiden speech in the Senate in September 2016, she warned Australia was at risk of being “swamped” by Muslims.

As far back as 2011, Fairfax media was questioning the racism of politicians such as Cory Bernardi:

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie should be applauded for his stand against racism in the Liberal Party and, in particular, the recent comments by Liberal senator Cory Bernardi, singling out Muslims for denigration.

Does Bernardi think that by demonising Islam he will win votes, and is Opposition Leader Tony Abbott tacitly approving this latest attempt to play the politics of hate so he can watch where it goes?

This is a disturbing insight into the thinking of some senior Liberal figures. It comes from a party that has, in turn, used fear of Muslim extremism to lead us into two wars and then used that fear to prevent the victims of those same wars coming to Australia.

The current hatred of refugees isn’t logical, moral or ethical — it is a part of a political race to the bottom of the ocean. Ultra-conservatives such as Hanson, Bernardi, Trump, Le Pen in France and so on are using the misery of fellow humans to improve the prospects of a political career and are manipulating the vulnerable and hard done by to do so.

In the 1970’s, Coalition Prime Minister Fraser and the ALP both supported the arrival of hundreds of thousands of South East Asian refugees who came to settle in Australia. While the policy at the time was not universally popular, the benefits to Australia in the long term have clearly outweighed any problems. On a logical basis, the policy was fair enough — we had been part of a coalition of armies that had bombed much of South East Asia in an attempt to stop the expansion of communism. It is now history that the Vietnam War was unsuccessful, communism didn’t expand and the refugees that came here have largely integrated into our society. So why the difference with those from the middle east? We are a part of coalition of armies that are bombing that area of the world to stop the rise of ISIS. Don’t we owe something to those that are the unintended victims of having their homes bombed back to the stone age?

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, successive Coalition Australian governments, with support from the ALP, supported the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Europeans who were displaced before or during World War 2. The photos at the top of this article are not recent, they are from social media and portray Europeans using whatever they can to emigrate to North Africa prior to Hitler’s Germany taking over parts of Southern Europe. What goes around comes around apparently. And as The Political Sword observed in September 2014, Jesus was a refugee.


This article by 2353NM was originally published on The Political Sword.

For Facebook users, The Political Sword has a Facebook page:
Putting politicians and commentators to the verbal sword – ‘Like’ this page to receive notification on your timeline of anything they post.

There is also a personal Facebook page:
Ad Astra’s page – Send a friend request to interact there.

The Political Sword also has twitter accounts where they can notify followers of new posts:
@1TPSTeam (The TPS Team account)
@Adastra5 (Ad Astra’s account)



It’s no wonder no-one will help Dutton – By Kaye Lee

Let’s cut to the chase.  Our refugee policy is a dismal failure and making it worse for cynical political purposes is despicable.  Dutton is a disgrace who has been increasingly emboldened by Turnbull’s weak-kneed pandering to the far right and Labor’s cowardly chase to the bottom for fear of losing the racist vote.

Stop the bullshit, admit you got it wrong, and start looking for solutions instead of someone to blame.

For starters, the oft-repeated dog whistle of 50,000 asylum seekers arriving under Labor should be put in perspective.  That is less than an average of 8,500 per year.

As Kevin Rudd points out, there were reasons for the spike in arrivals.

“During 2009-10, security circumstances changed rapidly in the region: the rolling disaster of the decision to invade Iraq led to a massive exit of asylum seekers; the new regime under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saw a fresh exodus from Iran; followed by a major civil war in Sri Lanka with Tamils fleeing from persecution.”

As inconceivable as it may have seemed that Turnbull would so completely turn into Abbott, he has now wholeheartedly taken up the “Stop the Boats” slogan, and is showing his “strength” by coming up with even worse ways to persecute people who long ago lost all hope.

Quoting Rudd again:

“This measure is about the politics of symbols, designed to throw red meat at the right, including the Hansonite insurgency, and to grovel to the broad politics of xenophobia. Turnbull, once an intelligent, global citizen, knows better.”

So have they stopped the boats and saved lives?

A report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) found that in 2014 more people than ever took to the seas in search of asylum – an estimated 350,000 people.

The UNHCR and other agencies estimate that in 2014 more than 4000 individuals, including hundreds of children, did not survive these journeys.

In our region of Southeast Asia, the same UNHCR report estimated that, in 2014, 54,000 people undertook terrible risks on smugglers’ boats, the majority of whom left from the Bay of Bengal fleeing towards Thailand and Malaysia. Hundreds of others were moving further south in the Indian Ocean. This figure represents a 15% increase over the same period in 2013, and more than triple the estimated number of departures during the same period in 2012.

The majority of these were ethnic Rohingya fleeing ongoing violence in Burma’s Rakhine state. UNHCR estimated that, in 2014, 540 people died during these journeys, due to starvation, dehydration and beatings by crew members. UNHCR reports that those who do make it to Thailand, Malaysia or Indonesia face detention, exploitation and violence.

An update from the UNHCR on September 20 describes the situation in Europe.

Despite the number of crossings this year (300,000) being 42 % lower than during the same period last year (520,000), the number of people reported dead or missing so far this year (3,211) is only 15 % lower than the total number of casualties for the whole of 2015 (3,771). At this rate, 2016 will be the deadliest year on record in the Mediterranean Sea.

This situation highlights the urgent need for States to increase pathways for admission of refugees, such as resettlement, private sponsorship, family reunification and student scholarship schemes, among others, so they do not have to resort to dangerous journeys and the use of smugglers.

We have been calling on EU Member States to increase pledges, including for unaccompanied and separated children, speed up the registration and transfers of candidates, and for more nationalities fleeing war and persecution to have access to the scheme.

Effective relocation is key to increasing solidarity and responsibility sharing in Europe, and ensuring the better management of movements, including helping to address irregular secondary movement and reliance on smuggler networks. This is particularly vital given the humanitarian situation in Greece, and the increasing number of people staying in Italy and applying for asylum.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, has pointed out that maritime movements are a growing phenomenon, which requires a range of responses including: effective search and rescue, proper systems to deal with arrivals and identifying those with protection needs. What is also required is identifying why people are fleeing and what is preventing them from fleeing by safer means.

In a speech last year, Guterres said:

But one thing is clear: focusing only on border control and deterrence will not solve the problem. It is the duty of any government to ensure security and to manage immigration, but these policies must be designed in a way that human lives do not end up becoming collateral damage… One cannot stop a person who is fleeing for life by deterrence, without escalating the dangers even more. Any effective response must also address the root causes of this phenomenon.

We have not stopped the boats or deaths at sea.  We have not stopped the people smugglers.  We have just made them everyone else’s problem and the suggestion that everyone else should do likewise is met with the disgust it deserves.

Is it any wonder that that odious creature, Dutton, can’t find any country willing to help him with his paltry (in comparison) problem brought about by his stubborn insistence on destroying the lives of a mere couple of thousand people who could so easily be brought to this country – problem solved.




Day to Day Politics: Couldn’t give a rat’s … – By John Lord

Wednesday 19 October

1 The Prime Minister was interviewed by Fran Kelly on the ABC Tuesday. I sat and watched as he tempestuously answered questions about Monday night’s Four Corners program concerning the conditions asylum seekers endure on Manus and Nauru.

I was overcome with sadness that this man could not manage a scintilla of sympathy for their plight. Only the tired well-worn Duttonish words of blame escaped his lips. The same words repeated as if no others existed. Words destined to be repeated endlessly until death do they part, for they have been sentenced to a life of incarceration, and not a crime have they done. He had no answers for the plight of children. Nor did he seem to care.

2  Alan Austin writes that Australia’s net debt has smashed through the $300 billion barrier. Gross debt is now above $450 billion. Both have been met with deafening media silence. In under four months this financial year, the gross debt blow-out has been above $8.0 billion per month. In comparison, Labor’s monthly average was $3.08 billion overall, including through the GFC. But they got it down to $1.19 billion over their last six months. This confirms the Turnbull Government has completely lost control of Australia’s revenue, deficit and debt.

The Labor Herald had this to say:

”Every now and then someone introduces a word into Hansard for the first time. For more than a century the word ”octupled” has been waiting for its day in the sun. This week, Tanya Plibersek could wait no longer and drew attention to the fact that for the last financial year, the deficit ended up being eight times larger than when the Government took office in 2013. The Coalition has failed to take responsibility for “blowing out the 2015-2016 deficit by over eight times… You have octupled it.”

3 Barnaby Joyce is still refusing to release what can only be described as a blatant self-interest decision to relocate an agency in his portfolio to his own electorate. It’s the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. It will cost a lot of money and many of the staff don’t want to go.

As is his want Barnaby couldn’t give a stuff. Barnaby is just one of many Coalition MPs who disregard the facts in pursuit of an argument. The people have a right to know.

4 To buy the votes of Senators to get their ABCC legislation passed Nick Xenophon wants  imported building materials to be subject to local building standards and increased protection for whistleblowers, while David Leyonhjelm wants importation of the seven-shot Adler shotgun to be legalised.

Yes you read correctly. Buying votes with banned guns can be very dangerous.

5 I could hardly believe my eyes. A headline on the front page of The Australian. Chris Kenny was demanding more diversity of news from the ABC.

That’s a bit rich, I thought, coming from the most biased news outlet in the land. And then I read that the PM dined at the lodge with Murdoch editors and met with Fairfax Media prior to that. I’m tipping a change to media rules will follow.

6 A tweet from Craig Emmerson:

“If the Government truly believed in needs-based welfare it would withdraw it from the well off. But it won’t because that’s its support base”.

Here is another from Tao der Haas:

“So if I get a few people together & call it a think tank,church or Institute, I’m tax exempt like IPA, Hillsong or Sydney institute?”

7 The latest ACOSS report shows that 3 million Australians a living below the poverty line and that includes 731,000 children. And at a time when the Government is cutting Social Security payments.

The Government reacted by saying that it was very committed to finding ways to encourage people to look after themselves and get people off welfare if they didn’t need to be on it.

An observation.

“The only true measure of a countries worth is what it does for its least well off”.

The Assistant Minister, Zed Seselja, said the “Our opponents on the left have pushed, I think, a welfare mentality in this country,” Seselja told Sky News on Sunday. “We simply can’t go on assuming huge numbers of Australians welfare will just become the norm.”

Bloody marvellous reaction when for every job available there are 19 people wanting it.

8 The Crickey Poll Bludger this week has a combined average with Labor on 52.1 and the Coalition 47.2. 98% thought that the population had gone to sleep.

NewsPoll also reports that Pauline Hansen has also increased her vote since the election and is likely to provide the same problems for the Coalition as do the Greens for Labor.

And yesterdays Essential Poll has Labor 6 Percentage points ahead 53/47

On their weekly questions 55% want a vote in the Parliament on Same sex marriage. 58% Think the Government will be unable to get things done. 79% of voters would be concerned if Trump became President.

9 On this day last week Andrew Leigh achieved what no Opposition member has ever achieved in the history of our Parliament. He had a “second reading amendment” carried.

10 Males get a foot up the bum in a report released by Plan International Australia and Our Watch. It surveyed 600 girls and young women aged between 15 and 19 on their inexperience’s of inequality between December 2015 and February 2016.

The findings, released on Tuesday for the International Day of the Girl, show that more than two-thirds (69%) thought gender inequality was a problem in Australia.

An observation

”The problem is that Australian men have never really grown up”.

11 Did you know that former Tasmanian Liberal MP Eric Hutchinson, who lost his seat at the last election, was given a $200,000 PA job by the Senate President, Stephen Parry?

I’ve said it before, money is no object to them.

12 And did you know that Tony Abbott tried to get Nick Xenophon to support changes to 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act. He was met with a resounding nope, nope, nope.

13 There are those who think that Marriage Equality will now fade into the distant horizon never to see the light of day again. It won’t because it’s not a political problem. It is a societal one. One that periodically will raise its head and command attention and in so doing will continue to serve as a reminder of the incompetency of MPs in general.

My thought for the day.

”Some years ago, I was in Myers (A department store) and I held open a door for a young woman who was obviously in a hurry. Oh, she said, You didn’t have to open the door because I’m a woman.Well I didn’t said I.I opened it because I’m a gentleman”.




The Western propaganda machine – how it works – By Nikolai Starikov


1. Its key core principle is fragmentation. This may sound strange, but fragmentation is the ultimate foundation for Western brainwashing.

It’s no secret that the education system in “advanced democracies” is designed to artificially create a very narrow view of the world. On the contrary, the Soviet school system tries to create a holistic view of the world even among the laziest of underachievers, filling their reluctant heads with higher mathematics, physics, chemistry and astronomy, however unlikely that they would use all this knowledge. Understanding the way our world is connected, cause and effect, and the ability to put together and analyze various facts is called “analytical thinking”. It is the first step in creativity. All those things are suppressed in the Western system of education.

Our country has tried to adopt this system as part of “education reform”, which has one clear goal: the fragmentation of society, not simply into classes, but into castes. The ruling caste receives a classical education in privileged schools, the Cambridges and Eatons, where a holistic view of the world is taught and where future leaders and the elites of the Western world are forged. Everyone else gets an “advanced educational system”, which has virtually abolished homework, leaving students barely able to read. Anyone who went to school in the USSR and is also familiar with Western schools will tell you how much stronger the program in the Soviet Union was. Our high school students solved problems that Westerners studied in college.

The emphasis on this education system in the West is no accident.

The fragmentation of consciousness and lack of a holistic world view are characteristics of a child’s perception of reality. Children, after all, live in their own world, a world of games, fairy tales, and dreams. They eventually develop an adult worldview based on experience, seeing their surroundings for what they truly are.

2. The goal of the Western education system is to raise children. Grown-up children. The only adults in the system are graduates of elite universities who receive a real education. Hence the startling naiveté of Westerners who easily fall for all kinds of nonsense, if it is repeated to them on TV. For example, the idea that the US is a beacon of freedom and democracy for the entire world which, rather than pursuing its own interests only seeks to disseminate a rather nebulous “freedom”.

A child is easy to convince of anything – the key is to keep telling the story persuasively and vividly. The Western information machine is convincing because the same point of view is regurgitated everywhere: no other view is presented. A similar effect is achieved when a little boy poses the same question first to his mom, then to his dad, and finally to his grandmother. Having received the same answer, he decides that it must be so.

3. Children love to play and have fun, and modern Western civilization extends play and fun forever. There are thousands of games, and hundred of apps for games. There are movies, books, entire networks and special places to play. Everything is done to make sure that adults can play as much as they want. Is it important for society and humanity as a whole for individuals to play so much? What is the purpose of play for the human species? There is no conceivable benefit. But it is convenient to be able to manage individuals who only want to have fun, like a little child. This trend leads to immaturity. People do not want to have children — not surprising, since children do not create families or give birth. It’s unnecessary for them. Having families and raising children of your own generally leaves little time for games and ‘fun’.

These three features of Western civilization are behind the strategy used to manipulate “Joe Sixpack”.

Colorful, fragmented thoughts are successfully placed in his head. This man-child, the average Western Joe, has no real understanding of what is happening, and is perfectly willing to believe a tall tale if it is colorful enough and repeated often enough.

So how do you tell a manipulation from an honest presentation of the facts?

  1. Manipulators will appeal to your emotions, using feelings – and a bare minimum of facts – to create a false impression.
  2. Manipulators will present facts in the wrong sequence, in violation of logic, flipping cause and effect. They will invariably show a fragment of what is happening, but never the complete picture.

Notice how Western media campaigns, as well as those of our pro-Western liberals, who are attached to the West by an invisible umbilical cord, are always fragmented and emotional.

In August 2008, “they were all Georgians”. Another time, they were fighting against the “tyranny of Saddam Hussein”. A few years later “freedom reigned supreme in Ukraine” when they burned and stoned the unarmed “Berkut” police force. Then, all of a sudden, they are overcome by concern for the fate of Aleppo, although just yesterday, they couldn’t care less about the fate of Donetsk or Damascus and Homs. Then they will wring their hands over “Putin poisoning Litvinenko with polonium”, and nobody cares that had this been true, the method would have certainly poisoned more than one person, possibly the entire city of London.

They put a small fragment of information into the Western man-child Joe Sixpack’s mouth and wrap it in a beautiful television picture. The picture shows burned trucks, but a total absence of shell craters. Everyone watching believes that the picture shows the result of a Russian air force attack on a humanitarian convoy. Nobody reports the fact that had the convoy really been hit by aerial bombs, the trucks would not just catch fire, they would have been pulverized. But the picture is in vivid color, and oh-so-convincing.

Who is to blame for the deluge of refugees in Europe? Obviously, the European leaders who opened the floodgates of the continent to a million refugees, mainly from Afghanistan and other countries in the Middle East. But what does the Western propaganda machine say? The inundation of refugees is Russia’s fault, because she makes it so difficult to overthrow Assad. Had Russia not interfered, the war would have been over by now and no one would have had to flee to Europe. The lie is not just obvious, it’s a double-header: If you yearn for peace in Syria, don’t support those who violated it – the “opposition” that is. Six years ago, there were no Syrian refugees heading to Europe, even though Bashar al-Assad was alive and well as their leader. Russia’s actions are aimed at restoring that pre-war status quo. Instead, Russia is being blamed for the bloodshed and destruction in Syria, and also, for the fact that some 100,000 refugees ended up in Germany.

When the Pentagon or the State Department, in all seriousness, point out “evidence from Facebook”, they are not kidding or being dishonest. They, too, were brought up OVER THERE. And that’s why some of them genuinely believe this information to be true. Surely, the adults, Mom and Dad, could never lie to their little boy, could they? So the child genuinely believes that if he refuses to eat his breakfast, a scary Jabberwocky will pay him a visit, displeased with his lack of appetite – with all the consequences. The child cannot even conceive of the idea that a Jabberwocky does not exist and that his mother made him up to achieve her practical objective (feed the petulant child). A Westerner cannot believe that the film about “Russian attacks on a humanitarian convoy” may have been fabricated, or that MI-6 could have poisoned Litvinenko with thallium salts, or that the Western media could sink so low as to show “riots in Moscow” with palm trees in the background (because this was actually the footage of the riots in Athens). Surely, a “civilized country” would never stoop to such fakery?

So today, the West and the Fifth Column in Russia “are residents of Aleppo” (“Je suis Aleppo!”), even though neither of them give a damn about Syria in general and Aleppo in particular. It’s just that today, the spotlight of the Western info-circus is directed that way. So everybody is obediently staring in that direction, discussing only what they are shown.

But fear not, in almost no time at all, they will forget all about Aleppo. They will be shown and told a brand new scary tale, and the infantile Joe Six-packs will believe it. They will begin to worry about someone or something… up until the moment the propaganda machine highlights other facts in another country, still failing to notice the tragedy of the Donbas or the various cities in Syria, or Yemen, or hundreds of other places on the planet whose daily tragedies are given the cold shoulder by the Western media.

Comment: The West is eliminating critical thought, solid educations, work opportunities…a culling of the minds and masses in prep for NWO. Fortunately, for humanity, the whole world doesn’t agree. By subjecting its citizens to unrelenting propaganda and methodical control, the US/West is in jeopardy of a self-fulfilled demise. It has forgotten that people, able to access untampered truth and seek higher standards for all, are its most important resource.


Turnbull’s ‘best practice’? UN slams Nauru as inhuman – By John Menadue

John Menadue 9 October 2016, 12:00pm 16

267 1 0

(Image via

Since John Menadue wrote this, the UN have delivered another report slamming Nauru. This puts paid to Turnbull’s claims of world’s “best practice” and supports John’s contention that our treatment of asylum seekers is evil and cruel.

MALCOLM TURNBULL told the UN that our treatment of refugees is world’s best practice.

Only a guilty conscience could allow such self deception.

In her book Eichmann in Jerusalem, published in 1963, Hannah Arendt refers to the ‘banality of evil’. Her thesis was that Eichmann was not a fanatic or sociopath, but an extremely stupid person who relied on cliché than thinking for himself and was motivated by professional promotion rather than ideology.

She says:

‘The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.’

In a post on Pearl and Irritations, Hugh Mackay speaks of

‘… intentional brutality … why not call our asylum policy what it is immoral?’

More politely Pope Francis speaks of the “gentrification of our hearts”. We are more concerned with money and comfort than the cries of the those in peril. In Syria, for example.

Our policies towards asylum seekers – cruel, evil and immoral – depend on our first dehumanising and then demonising then. They are not like us and do not deserve empathy and protection. It is an attempt to dull and chloroform our consciences.

  • It began with John Howard who told us that asylum seekers are so devoid of humanity that they would even throw their children overboard.
  • Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison laundered our language to hide the cruelty and brutality of our policies. Asylum seekers became “illegals”, even criminals. The Department of Immigration and Border Control now uses the term “illegals”.
  • Journalists are excluded from detention centres because we might hear the cries of abused people.
  • By focussing on people smugglers, Government ministers divert attention from the plight of desperate people.
  • Scott Morrison urged the Liberal Party to beat the anti-Muslim drum so that there would be less empathy for refugees.
  • Senator Abetz told us that asylum seekers that commit crimes in the community should be listed like paedophiles.
  • Scott Morrison told us that refugees bring disease and wads of cash.

Based on this dehumanising and demonisation of asylum seekers, our brutality and lack of compassion is magnified. In the name of deterrence and world’s “best practice” we continue to brutalise 1,700 people in our gulags: Manus and Nauru. We inflict long-term physical and mental injury. We also continue to punish the 30,000 who have been “released” into the community on various bridging visas but are not allowed to work or study. The results can be deadly — really deadly. It is estimated that the suicide rate for Hazara men is three time the Australian average. 

But not content to dehumanise asylum seekers, our “leaders” play mind games with us by suggesting that Government policies are designed to save people drowning at sea. If only there were the smallest grain of truth in this the Government would be sending out ships to rescue desperate people at sea and ministers would be waiting hopefully for the UNHCR or the Nobel Prize committee to make a humanitarian award. Save us from the hypocrisy that our cruel policies are to save lives at sea. That is pure cant. The real object is political, to exploit fear of foreigners. It is shameful. And the ALP has also followed this ruse to justify cruel policies.

As result of the policies of the Rudd and Abbott Government’s boat arrivals have stopped, but we still keep punishing people as a deterrent against future boat arrivals

Through political spin and by good people staying silent, we are losing our moral compass on what is right and decent.

In allowing evil and cruelty to win our political terrain we should recall the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller, who was imprisoned by the Nazis.

He said

First they came for the socialists. I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a socialist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Catholic. Then they came for me and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.

Many people are speaking up for just treatment of refugees but the institutional cruelty continues. It has now become world’s “best practice”.

What sort of a country have we become?

Where is our anger and concern?

I recall a speech some time ago by Bill Moyers, the former host in the United States of the Weekly Public Series on PBS.

He said: 

What has happened to our moral indignation. On the heath, King Lear asks Gloucester, ‘How do you see the world?’, and Gloucester, who is blind, answers: ‘I see it feelingly.”

I feel it feelingly also. The news is not good these days. I can tell you though that, as a journalist, I know the news is never the end of the story. The news can be the truth that sets us free not only to feel, but also to fight for the future we want. And the will to fight is the antidote to despair; the cure for cynicism … What we need is what the ancient Israelites called hochma – the science of the heart – the capacity to see, to feel and then to act as if the future depended on you.

And it does depend on you and me.

We are acting cruelly and immorally. Evil now has an everyday face. But we pretend it is not us. Yet the opinion polls tell us that it is us — that we want to treat asylum seekers this way. 47 per cent of Australians believe we should ban Muslims.

Hannah Arendt said:

‘The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.’ 

That “sad truth” is happening in Australia today. Evil has become banal. We tell ourselves and others that it is world’s best practice!

This article was originally published on John Menadue‘s blog ‘Pearls and Irritations’ on 1 October 2016. You can follow John on Twitter @johnmenadue.


Putin ups the ante: Ceasefire sabotage triggers major offensive in Aleppo – By Mike Whitney


“Syria is the summation of all the errors of a dysfunctional empire collapsing upon itself. History forgotten. Science ignored. Facts denied. Propaganda cannot hide that West is supporting and killing Islamists at the same time in a World War that risks escalating into a nuclear holocaust.” Vietnam Vet, comments-line, Sic Semper Tyrannis

The attack on Deir Ezzor was a flagrant act of betrayal. For the first time in the five year-long war, US warplanes targeted an SAA military outpost killing 62 Syrian regulars. The surprise attacks — which lasted for the better part of an hour and were followed by a coordinated ground assault by members of ISIS – were intended to torpedo the fragile ceasefire agreement and send a message to Moscow that the US was prepared to achieve its strategic objectives in Syria whether it had to launch direct attacks on defenders of the regime or not.

The attacks – for which the Pentagon eventually accepted responsibility – were followed by a callous and thoroughly-unprofessional tirade by the administration’s chief diplomat at the United Nations, Samantha Power. Power dispelled any doubt that either she or anyone else in the Obama administration cared at all about the people who lost their lives in the bombing raid. She also made it clear that she didn’t care if the US had violated the terms of the ceasefire just two days before critical parts of the agreement were scheduled to be implemented.

Naturally, Moscow was taken aback by Washington’s reaction, it’s blatant disregard for the soldiers they killed, and its obvious determination to sabotage the ceasefire. Having reflected on Obama’s de facto rejection of the agreement, Putin pursued the only viable option left open to him; more war. As a result, he has intensified his efforts on the battlefield particularly around Aleppo where the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and crack-units from Hezbollah have launched a three-prong attack that will dispose of the US-backed jihadists that have destroyed much of Syria over the last half-decade and displaced over 7 million civilians.

Bottom line: Having foreclosed the political option for reducing the violence, the Obama administration will now face the consequences for its rejection.

Here’s an excellent summary of developments on the ground around Aleppo from decorated veteran and retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces (The Green Berets) Colonel W. Patrick Lang. The article was posted on September 24:

“As of today, forces have been massed at Aleppo for the purpose of eliminating the East Aleppo rebel pocket. This pocket has now been without re-supply for an extended period. This is true for both the jihadi rebels and the civilian population, many of whom are rebel supporters.

IMO (In my opinion) the main effort by R+6 is taking place at the SE side of the East Aleppo pocket. That is now underway with massive CAS from Russian aerospace forces. At the same time Palestinian militia allies with CAS have attacked the fortified Handarat refugee camp at the NE corner of the pocket. IMO this is a secondary attack intended to prevent the rebels moving forces south to oppose the main R+6 effort.

This is an excellent plan.

At the same time there is an unconfirmed report from SOHR in London (pro-rebel) that a Russian force with 3,000 men has been positioned at al-Safir about 12 km. SE of the main attacks on the Aleppo pocket. If this report is correct this force is well positioned to reinforce the main attack or be used in a defensive move against a rebel effort elsewhere. It would be in the Russian operational tradition to pass a reinforcing “wave” or echelon of forces through the initial assault forces when they become exhausted by combat….

The foreign policy establishment (Borg) in the West wants to believe that war is obsolete as a factor in the story of humanity…. They believe that they have inherited the earth and that their cleverness will always prevail over mere force.

We will now have a demonstration that this is not true.” pl

(“Flash! Washpost discovers that Syria War may be “winnable.”, Sic Semper Tyrannis)

Obama’s de facto rejection of the ceasefire has created the conditions for a decisive military defeat in Aleppo. The fate of the CIA-trained “moderate” terrorists hunkered down in East Aleppo is not that different from that of General George Armstrong Custer at the Little Bighorn who was surrounded by a superior military force and summarily slaughtered to the man. This is the option Pentagon warlord, Ash Carter chose when he decided to sabotage the joint military implementation agreement and go rogue. Carter opposed the ceasefire deal and in doing so signed the death warrant for hundreds of US-backed extremists who chances for survival are growing slimmer by the day.

According to recent reports, pro-government forces are advancing on a number of fronts. At the same time, the Syrian and Russian air forces have intensified their bombing campaign reducing large swathes of the city to rubble and killing several hundred Sunni militants. While the jihadists have performed better than many had expected, their fate is no longer in doubt. The cauldron is encircled, their front lines are collapsing, their supply lines have been severed, and the end is in sight.

Aleppo will fall and the US-backed effort to topple the Assad government using a proxy army of Islamic extremists will fail.

A few things need to be said about the ceasefire to set the record straight.

First, there was never any chance that the US was going to abide by the terms of the agreement. The US has no way of separating the “moderates” from the extremists which was one of the main requirements of the deal. That was never going to happen. But, more importantly, the Pentagon – which opposed the agreement from the get-go – had no intention of complying with its demands.


Well, for one thing, as Syrian President Bashar al Assad said himself:

“…the United States doesn’t have the will to work against al-Nusra or ISIS, because they believe that this is a card they can use for their own agenda. If they attack al-Nusra or ISIS, they will lose a very important card regarding the situation in Syria. So, I don’t believe the United States will be ready to join Russia in fighting terrorists in Syria.”

Bingo. Assad is not suggesting that al-Nusra or ISIS are controlled by Langley. He’s merely saying that – inasmuch as the goals of these groups coincide with US strategic objectives (which they certainly do in Syria) Washington will continue to support their activities. In other words, Obama would rather see a “Salafist principality” emerge in Syria then allow an independent, secular government to remain in place. Everyone who has followed events closely in Syria for the last five years, knows this is true.

The other reason the Pentagon opposed the agreement was because they didn’t want to comply with the military-to-military coordination plan. The western media has been particularly opaque on this issue. For example, according to the New York Times deal would be “an extraordinary collaboration between the United States and Russia that calls for the American military to share information with Moscow on Islamic State targets in Syria.” (“Details of Syria Pact Widen Rift Between John Kerry and Pentagon“, New York Times)

Okay, but why is that a problem? Wouldn’t that be the most effective way to defeat ISIS and Al Qaida? Of course, it would. So, what’s the rub? Here’s more from the NYT:

“Chief among Pentagon concerns is whether sharing targeting information with Russia could reveal how the United States uses intelligence to conduct airstrikes, not just in Syria but in other places, which Moscow could then use for its own advantage in the growing confrontations undersea and in the air around the Baltics and Europe.”(NYT)

This is complete baloney. The fact is the Pentagon doesn’t want to have to get approval for its target-list (identify and verify) from the Russian military. That’s what’s really going on. And the reason for this is obvious, the strategic objectives of the US are exact opposite of Moscow’s. Washington has no interest in defeating terrorism in Syria, in fact, as we pointed out earlier, Washington is just fine with terrorism as long it helps them move the ball closer to the goalpost. What the US wants is to topple the regime, replace Assad with a US-stooge, splinter the country into multiple parts, and control vital pipeline corridors. These goals cannot be achieved if the Pentagon has to get a green-light from Moscow every time they go on a bombing raid. How are they going to assist their jihadist assets on the ground if they have to follow that rule?

They won’t be able to, which is why it’s no surprise that SECDEF Ash Carter put the kibosh on the deal by bombing the SAA positions at Deir Ezzor. The massacre effectively ended all talk about “coordination” with the Russians. Mission accomplished.

Comment: Not to mention that cooperating with Russia would go against the anti-Russia propaganda going on now.

But even this does not completely explain why the Pentagon launched this unprecedented attack that killed 62 Syrian soldiers and moved the two superpowers closer to a direct confrontation. To grasp what’s really going on behind the endless recriminations, we need to understand that the Obama administration has abandoned its original plan to oust Syrian President Bashar al Assad, and moved on to Plan B; partitioning the country in a way that establishes a separate Sunni state where US troops will be based and where vital pipelines will be built to transfer natural gas from Qatar to the EU.

This ambitious plan is more than a redrawing of the Middle East and a pivot to Asia. It is a critical lifeline to a country (USA) whose economic prospects are progressively dimming, whose credit card is maxed out, and who is counting on a Hail Mary pass in Syria to save itself from cataclysmic economic collapse and ruination. Washington must succeed in Syria because, well, because it must, because the red ink has finally penetrated the pinewood hull and is fast filling the galley. A defeat in the Middle East could be the straw that broke the camel’s back, the tipping point in the agonizingly-protracted unipolar-new-world-order experiment. In other words, it’s Syria or bust. Here’s a little background that will help to clarify what’s going on:

“Washington has previously made it clear that if it cannot achieve its plan A; regime change, it will go for its plan B; to balkanize the country and help to create a Kurdish and/or Sunni state in eastern Syria…

Attacking the Syrian Army, and allowing ISIL to capture the city will make Deir Ezzor a probable target for the US-backed proxies to attack and annex.” (“The Ceasefire Failed; What happens now?“, The Vineyard of the Saker)

So, Washington wants to control Syria’s eastern quadrant (where Deir Ezzor is located) for military bases, pipeline routes, and a Sunni homeland, which is more-or-less the pretext for continued military occupation. Here’s more from an article by Christina Lin:

“Writing in Armed Forces Journal4, Major Rob Taylor joined numerous other pundits in observing that the Syrian civil war is actually a pipeline war over control of energy supply, with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey needing to remove Assad “so they can control Syria and run their own pipeline through Turkey.”….

…if the Saudi/Qatar/Turkey backed Army of Conquest can control just enough land in Syria for a salafist statelet (aka – Sunnistan) to build the Qatar-Turkey pipeline, then these sunni states can finally realize their pipeline dream. Indeed, the 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency report6 corroborates their desire to carve out a salafist statelet in Syria east of Assad-controlled territory in order to put pressure on his regime.” (“Chinese stratagems and Syrian buffer zone for Turkey-Qatar pipeline“, Christina Lin, Times of Israel)

The idea of splintering Syria into numerous fragments (and controlling the eastern portion of the state) has been promoted by western elites across the board, from neocon John Bolton who said:

“Today’s reality is that Iraq and Syria as we have known them are gone…..Washington should recognize the new geopolitics. The best alternative to the Islamic State in northeastern Syria and western Iraq is a new, independent Sunni state.

This “Sunni-stan” has economic potential as an oil producer….and could be a bulwark against both Mr. Assad and Iran-allied Baghdad.” (“To Defeat ISIS, Create a Sunni State“, New York Times)

Liberal interventionists at the Brookings Institute are pushing for the same balkanization remedy. Here’s a clip from an article at Brookings titled “Deconstructing Syria: A new strategy for America’s most hopeless war” by chief military analyst, Michael O’ Hanlon:

“…the only realistic path forward may be a plan that in effect deconstructs Syria….the international community should work to create pockets with more viable security and governance within Syria over time… Creation of these sanctuaries would produce autonomous zones that would never again have to face the prospect of rule by either Assad or ISIL….”

(“Deconstructing Syria: A new strategy for America’s most hopeless war“, Michael E. O’Hanlon, Brookings Institute)

So, there you have it; divide and conquer. Split up the country, install new leaders, and let the plundering begin. Sound familiar?

But the Russian’s will have none of it, in fact, Putin has responded to Carter’s escalation by escalating himself. The circle around Aleppo has closed, supply lines have been cut, the airstrikes have intensified, and the three-pronged ground assault has already begun. So while Washington may have big plans for Syria, they appear to be failing where it counts most…..on the battlefield.

Related Articles



Modern economics has lost sight of people – By KEN WOLFF

This is the first of four articles looking at particular changes, and potential changes, in our economic environment and approach to economics generally.

For those who have followed my pieces on TPS you may recall that I am qualified as a social anthropologist. I take the anthropological view that economics is about how a society uses and distributes its resources — that is any society, whether hunter-gatherer or a modern technological society. It is a view that raises some questions about our modern approach to economics.

Basically the ‘use’ of resources includes a social responsibility for sustainable use so that resources can be utilised by others when required and also be available for future generations. And ‘distribution’ of resources includes a social responsibility to ensure that everyone in a community gets a reasonable share to enable them to survive comfortably within the context of their society.

Classical Western economics, however, is based on the tenet of the rational self-interested individual: that people make rational choices in the market that best provide ‘utility’. ‘Utility’ is something that provides the user/purchaser with satisfaction and/or meets their desires in some way. Adam Smith also introduced the concept of the benevolent ‘invisible hand’ whereby decisions made in an individual’s self-interest actually prove beneficial for society.

In classical economics there are also the concepts of ‘perfect knowledge’, by which the individual makes rational decisions based on information about all the prices in the market, and ‘perfect competition’ by which a product reaches an equilibrium (supply matching demand), and its price also reaches an equilibrium for all suppliers of that product, meaning there is then no competition nor need for advertising of the product. Of course these do not exist in the real world. Neither are individuals always rational in making their decisions in the market. So what was classical economics actually describing?

Even the concept of the market needs exploring. Markets of course go back millennia but the concept of the market has changed over time. Early in human history people shared goods, then exchanged surplus goods for other desirable goods and, as villages and towns developed, for services. Money eventually became the medium of exchange for any good or service.

Markets were not always based exclusively on the individual. In medieval Europe if a merchant from town A left debts when he departed town B, the merchants from town B didn’t pursue that individual merchant directly but would detain the next merchant who arrived from town A and hold him until he, the original merchant, or anyone from town A paid the debts. In that sense, the role of the individual in the market wasn’t as important as it later became — at that time it was believed that the community from which the merchant came also had a responsibility for his behaviour (and his debts). Subsequently merchant guilds were formed in which debts could be settled and over time that grew towards individual responsibility for the settlement of debts.

The other concept relevant to the modern market is private property. While the idea of private property now dominates our economic and social thinking it was not always so. Even in medieval England when land was held by dukes, barons and the like, there was common land used by the serfs, so both common and private property co-existed. It is estimated that, although serfs had to provide labour to the rich landholders, by using the common and small plots around their own dwellings they were actually able to keep from 50% to 70% of the product of their own labour. An industrial labouring class was created during the industrial revolution with the enclosure of the commons (in modern parlance, the land was privatised) and poor farmers and rural labourers no longer had access to that land to supplement their incomes and so had little choice but to work in the factories.

In the market, the logic is that to exchange something I must own it in the first place and the other party must also own what they are exchanging. The logic of that seems apparent when one considers what a thief may offer for exchange: we undoubtedly consider that not to be a fair exchange because the thief does not actually own the item of exchange — or does he? The thief clearly has ‘possession’, so is there a logical difference between ‘ownership’ and ‘possession’ in the economic system?

The emphasis on private property as central to a market economy goes back at least to the 1700s in England. C B Macpherson, a political scientist also trained in economics, argued that political freedom came before economic freedom and was first obtained by the property-owning elites who then used their new political power in their own self-interest to entrench private property rights. And it also goes back in history in the sense that much modern ‘ownership’ is based on past dispossession of previous owners and yet the economic system is based on the modern possession not the historic ownership.

Now private property, whether physical or intellectual, is central to thinking in a modern market and in modern economics.

These concepts were put together by the philosophers Hobbes and Locke but Macpherson also argued that they were bound by the values of their time and hence developed their philosophies around the market, contractual obligations and property; and the concept that an individual is the sole proprietor of his or her skills and owes nothing to society for them — what Macpherson called ‘possessive individualism’.

In rejecting a social element to ownership, economists refer to the ‘tragedy of the commons’ to justify that individual ownership, that is private property, is superior to common or social ownership. Although the idea has a longer history, the phrase came from a paper by Garrett Hardin in 1968. It was suggested that, when people grazed their herds on a ‘common’, a self-interested individual could improve his situation by adding one animal to his herd. The individual would gain the benefit. But if each individual added an animal the common would quickly degrade. While the individuals retained the benefit of having an extra animal, the ‘cost’ (the degradation) was shared, leaving them with a self-interested benefit — before the failure of the system. Following this argument, and its corollary that Adam Smith’s benevolent ‘invisible hand’ of individual self-interest does not work for the commons, economists argue that private property, and the individual’s responsibility for that property, remedies the situation and that became central to modern economics.

That approach is based, however, on a misunderstanding of how commons worked. They were not ‘open access’ as the theory implies. Throughout the world where people shared resources there were usually social and cultural rules that controlled that sharing. In Iceland, for example, the common resource of the fisheries was traditionally controlled by kinship rules that allocated spaces on the beach, that were necessary for launching fishing boats, to individual families. In some communities in India the allocation of the common resource of water for farming was determined by community meetings. People accepted these approaches as essential for the well-being of their communities or, in other words, social responsibility was more important than individual self-interest.

The modern market idea of private property and individual self-interest has basically destroyed social responsibility and the concept of the common good and allowed polluters to pour their waste into the ‘commons’ of the rivers, oceans and atmosphere.

We now use GDP to measure the ‘success’ of our economy but the use of GDP to measure economic activity only arose after the Great Depression of the 1930s when the American government was concerned that it did not see the depression coming. The government asked economic experts for a model that would allow it to keep track of the economy and so have a chance of foreseeing such events in the future.

The use of GDP, however, was being questioned as early as the late 1950s. Even its creator, Simon Kuznets, said that ‘the welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income’.

A major problem with GDP is that it measures only productive activity and takes no account of the losses or costs associated with the activity:

… it tends to go up after a natural disaster. Reconstruction and remediation spur intense activity that is registered by GDP, while the destruction, lives lost, suffering and disruption to families and communities in the wake of a flood, cyclone or bushfire are ignored.

Or as Robert Kennedy said in 1968:

… the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. [emphasis added]

Yet we still rely on GDP as a measure of a nation’s progress although it has nothing to say about the well-being of the people. Gross GDP per head is sometimes taken as a measure of the economic prosperity of individuals: if that is rising people are said to be better off but it does not tell us whether that prosperity has enhanced ‘happiness’.

There is a long history in which ‘happiness’, or well-being, was removed from economics. A chapter in the World Happiness Report 2013 provided a potted history of the changes in the Western view of happiness: from the Greek philosophers and early Christian church’s view that happiness was achieved by being virtuous, to the economic theory of ‘utility’ in which individualism and consumerism prevailed — the early economic theorists brought material goods into the happiness equation, suggesting that people purchased that which brought them pleasure or happiness (‘utility’). In the twentieth century, however, economics came to be dominated by mathematical formulae and the question of whether market consumption could increase happiness and well-being was no longer a consideration.

Economists claim their field is a science and value free but the economy depends on social values like trust. We cannot even have a ‘market’ unless we trust each other. In a shop, the shopkeeper trusts that I will hand over the money after he hands over the goods or I trust that he will hand me the goods after I give him my money — otherwise we could be there all day arguing over who should make the first move. It could be argued that the behaviour of large multi-national corporations is destroying that trust, as is the use of tax havens to avoid social responsibility. And are we now so distrusting that we require automated payment systems, including even when paying for our goods in supermarkets? — now we have to trust a machine! Human interaction is being removed from the basic market process of exchange.

As Jeffrey D Sachs wrote in the World Happiness Report:

A prosperous market economy depends on moral ballast for several fundamental reasons. There must be enough social cooperation to provide public goods. There must be enough honesty to underpin a stable financial system. There must be enough attention paid to future generations to attend responsibly to the natural resource base. There must be enough regard for the poor to meet basic needs and protect social and political stability.

After all the economy does not exist in its own right. The market and the economy is people, as producers and consumers, as it has always been. It is the approach to it that has changed.

In an article in The Monthly, Richard Denniss argued that we are being led to believe that governments, in making their decisions, have to be conscious of the reactions of ‘the markets’. He wrote that we should remember that ‘markets’ per se do not have feelings, do not have needs or demands. What we refer to as ‘markets’ is actually people buying and selling and attempting to manipulate trading for their own advantage.

So historically we have moved from social co-operation in economic activity to twentieth century economic theories that have reduced people almost to invisibility. We discuss economics in terms of markets, GDP and monetary and fiscal policy as though these are entities in their own right. There is no economy without people, no markets, no goods and services without people as producers and consumers but this now gets less attention. The economy is deemed to have its own ‘scientific’ rules that operate irrespective of people and, as mentioned earlier, can now be analysed simply in terms of mathematical formulae.

Until people are re-introduced into the equation (both metaphorically and literally), the economists will not be describing the real economy nor will those utilising economic theory, such as governments (and their advisers), pay enough attention to the needs of their people. When ‘markets’ and GDP come first, people come last.

We need to measure the well-being of the people rather than only production; we need to pay more attention to the sustainability of our use of resources, not only for future generations but to ensure that current generations have reasonable and continued access; we need to ensure a fair distribution of resources, not only within our own society, but for all people globally; and only then will we have an economic approach that is realistic rather than the narrow view of current economic theory.

Next time, continuing the economic theme, I will discuss ‘an economy without people’ as robotics and other changes reduce the size of the workforce.

What do you think?
Who benefits from economic theory if it does not pay enough attention to people?

Why have we accepted the propaganda that even social progress hinges on the economy?

Let us know in comments below.

Recent Posts

Rethinking our priorities

2353NM, 28 August 2016

Some believe that those who purchase Lotto entries, play pokies or Keno or participate in other forms of gambling are effectively paying an idiot tax. On a purely rational level, they may be right as there is a significant chance that the few dollars you give to the Lotto machine operator or similar is wasted money — albeit a small proportion …

Bring out your debt

2353NM, 31 August 2016

After a year of saying that he could get the Federal Budget back into surplus, seemingly by just cutting support to the less well off in our society, Treasurer Scott Morrison finally realised something any school child who has started business studies classes would be well aware of — a balance sheet comprises debits and credits. …

Toxic talk

Ad astra, 4 September 2016

Are you as offended, as disgusted as I am with the language used by our politicians day after day? Have you noted how mean-spirited, antagonistic and adversarial their words so often are?

They use words like poison arrows aimed at the heart of their political opponents …




SYRIANARMYVICTORIOUSALEPPO:  One of the new weapons deployed by the Jaysh Al-Fath terrorists is a French one which was sold to the simian Saudis who then supplied them to the cannibals in northern Syria.  This new weapon is a machine gun cannon with 2 barrels firing 3,000 rounds per minute.  The mechanism is so fast the human eye can’t see the shells emitted  from the barrel.  You can only see a steady stream of fire at night.  It’s range is 5 kms.  However, the cannon has its faults.  The barrels have to be replaced by a trained technician every 3 hours.  A separate support vehicle carrying ammunition and a crew has to accompany the cannon.  While it may sound menacing, it has been a total flop.  Not one single Syrian soldier has been hit by this typically over-bloated technological French sensation.



جوAl-Zahraa` Association District:  We are pleased to announce the departure from this world of Ahraar Al-Shaam leader and child molester, Ahmad ‘Amaayaa, on August 15, 2016.


معركة الكلياتMilitary Academies in South Aleppo:  The SAA is advancing substantially into the core areas of the military schools which were temporarily infested by the Wahhabist monkeys a few days after a lighting attack.  At the artillery college, the SAA has liberated more than 90% of the buildings.  At the Air Force Technical Academy, the SAA now controls over 70% of the area.  On August 17, 2016, the SAA confirmed the destruction of 2 pickups with 23mm  cannons.


East of Khanaasser:  A convoy laden with resupply for the vermin was annihilated.  A truck was destroyed along with an armored car and several pickups armed with 23mm cannons.  Other convoys struck were around the areas of Khaan Toomaan, West of Al-Mansoora and at Matram.


The most important battle was for the Cement Factory.  Why?  Very simply put, the terrorist control of this area would have enabled these cannibals to widen the corridor into the eastern part of the city to 3kms effectively neutralizing the SAA’s artillery control of the narrow route which now exists and which has proven to be useless to the crawling, plague-carrying rats.  The rodents tried very hard to move into the cement factory, Al-Zahraa` Association and nearby Family House but were repelled each time by alert Syrian soldiers.  The attacks were such a flop that our army was able to conduct ground assessments naming these Syrian vermin among the 61 killed:

Muhammad ‘Aatif Al-Ashqar

Fareed ‘Umar Al-Dabiq

Sufyaan ‘Atrees

Talaal Ahmad ‘Abdul-‘Aal

Ahmad Faheem Zayneddeen

‘Allaa` Al-Taahir

Nibraas Shafeeq Naafoori



بالفيديو..تقدم الجيش في ريف درعا وريف دمشقTwo days ago, the SAA and its allies hurtled forward at the south flank of the 1070 Apartment Project pushing right up to the Al-Hikma School.  The Republican Guard reinforcements have just arrived from Tartous and are expected to play a more aggressive role in stanching the movement of rodents in this are.



tankerHeavy fighting reported continuing in Kafr Hamraa, Khaan Al-‘Asal, Ma’araataa, Khaan Toomaan, Tallat Baazu, South Daarat ‘Izza and Umm Al-Qar’.  It has been reported that Russian Kaliber cruise missiles have struck their targets at Daarat ‘Izza and Dayr Ta’izza with lethal preciosity as the British lobbyists in Washington D.C. do their best to coordinate with the Saudi child molesters to convince Obama to increase his support for cannibals.  The Russians report complete destruction of command facilities used by Alqaeda and a factory for manufacturing rockets for mortars.  A warehouse full of weapons and ammo was completely annihilated.  (Note:  The Admiral Kuznetsov is in its last stages of preparation to take position off the coast of Syria).



دمشق: هناك ارتباط وثيق بين تل ابيب والمسلحين

(Archive photo)

Lt. General ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Ayyoob reviewed the troops in South Aleppo and conveyed to them the confidence and pride of the Syrian president and the people of the republic.



1Reports coming to us directly from Aleppo, from relatives, indicate high morale among the population and a suspicion the rats are about to call apart.  The British are desperate to save their murderers.  They are spending millions on lobbying senators and representatives in a last ditch effort to draw the U.S. into another quagmire.  The Saudis, who have lost any good will, thanks to their blatant efforts to blackmail the U.N. into not issuing a report critical of the mass murder they are committing in Yemen have put intense pressure on the Brits to come forward and sell this fool’s errand to a very suspicious American Congress.  According to Senator Richard Black, more and more Americans are becoming aware of the truth behind the war in Syria and thanks to Tulsi Gabbard, the brilliant representative from Hawaii, who knows more about international law than all the neocons in D.C., Congress will tread carefully on this one.

Note:  It has been confirmed that over 14 American Special Operations personnel are trapped in East Aleppo.  Boo hoo hoo. I can’t wait to here they’re there to fight ISIS. Te hee hee.


الجيش السوري يحرز تقدماً باتجاه محور الكليات في حلب 


The Lemniscat has revealed the true identities (or lack thereof) of the mythical doctors of Aleppo who sent a letter to the war criminal in the White House.  Get a look at this and read it with Eva’s article found below in the Comments Section:





Tony Gratrex sends this article by the indomitable Eva Bartlett exposing lies about medical doctors in Aleppo.  A must-read:

Sara Deniz sends us this MoonofAlabama expose of more lying in the Western Press:

If you want proof of England’s complicity in the suffering of the Syrian people, read this sent by Tony:



%d bloggers like this: