‘Scientific theory is a contrived foothold in the chaos of living phenomena’ - Wilhelm Reich
‘The most basic claims of religion are scientific. Religion is a scientific theory’ - Richard Dawkins
‘The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage’ - Mark Russell
BRISBANE – A sinister feature of rampant and unfettered free market fundamentalism is a myopic worldview limited to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, frequently abbreviated as STEM.
Such a worldview places excessive emphasis on positivism (the doctrine that the only true knowledge is scientific knowledge), structuralism (the doctrine that structure is more important than function) and objectivism (the doctrine promulgating individualism, objective reality, absolute reason and laissez-faire capitalism).
It is a worldview that is complex, controversial and which entangles itself in the many impurities it attempts to resolve.
Its model of order in a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity and diversity may provide some psychological comfort, but it is not an authentic testimony of reality.
Rather free market fundamentalism exerts covert power which enforces absolute control, demands rigid compliance and generates fear while, contrary to what it claims, secretly curtails freedom while promoting evil and unscrupulous government underpinned by a chronic culture of gangster capitalism.
Free market fundamentalism is the exaggerated faith that when markets are left to operate on their own, they can solve all economic and social problems.
But, as Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz argued in a speech as long ago as 2009, “It has come to widely be accepted, both on the left and on the right, that government macro-interventions are necessary to sustain the economy” and “the model based on market fundamentalism does not work”.
However, the Harvard Business School sophism that ‘what gets measured gets managed’, continues with its obstinate tendency to value what we can measure rather than measuring what we value.
The truth is that not everything that can be counted counts, and most of what counts cannot be counted.
This fascination with measurable targets eventually debilitates and dehumanises society. It generates an enormous amount of trivia with a data cemetery full of meaningless statistics.
Moreover, noble attributes such as wisdom, loyalty, discernment and many other ethical qualities are often scorned and categorised as useless or needless impediments.
Such a narrow and inhumane focus transforms virtues into vices while excluding indispensable values such as learning, creativity, imagination, motivation, compassion, love, care and integrity.
Rather than analysing what is beneficial, the emphasis inevitably transfers to futile or shallow parameters.
More recently under federal and state governments, many universities have been forced to seek corporate funding for their indispensable work.
This is an unhealthy alliance, and quite sinister, as it is not unknown for reliance on science alone to be undermined by manipulating evidence, data and analysis to create a positive impression of industry.
Several notable examples in Australia include the deplorable performance of Alcoa in Western Australia and its shocking treatment of the beleaguered residents of Yarloop adjacent to its Wagerup refinery.
Alcoa also operates an aluminium refinery at Kwinana south of Perth and the region is colloquially referred to as ‘the capital of cancer’ by local residents, although ‘the cancer of capital’ offers a much more appropriate description of Alcoa’s intimidating behaviour.
The corporate malfeasance is comprehensively detailed by Dyann Ross and Martin Brueckner’s ‘Under Corporate Skies’ which describes the relentless struggle between people, place and profit.
Similar prolonged battles occurred between then New South Wales premier, Bob Carr and activists in Port Kembla over a notorious copper smelter, since demolished.
And near Mudgee in New South Wales, the Wilpinjong community witnessed the arrival of Peabody Energy’s coal train, with the corporate giant owning all but four properties in the tiny hamlet of Wollar.
In Papua New Guinea, major environmental incidents have been reported at the Ramu Nickel processing plant at Basamuk Bay near Madang.
Additional catastrophic incidents have included the destruction of the Fly River following mining operations at Ok Tedi in the Western Province and the dreadful legacy of the Panguna copper mine on Bougainville.
Meanwhile, PanAust Limited, a Chinese owned company incorporated in Australia, is champing at the bit and awaiting government approval for the Frieda River project.
This has raised increasing concerns about potential ecological damage to the pristine Sepik River and its surrounding habitat.
Many years ago in PNG, the closing ceremony at the annual Morobe Province Agricultural Show featured a spectacular pyrotechnic extravaganza.
A gigantic bonfire at the Lae Showground was used to burn accumulated trash and a naïve volunteer was selected and perched in a crow’s nest to await rescue from emergency services.
Following the daredevil rodeo performances and colourful traditional singsing, the bonfire provided the paying audience and many inebriated gate crashers with additional live entertainment.
A cacophony of clanging bells from the Lae Fire Brigade truck could be heard approaching, surprising many people that it had sufficient fuel for even the short journey along the Okuk Highway to the showground.
Much to the relief of the anxious volunteer perched above the inferno, the emergency response vehicle team entered the arena but, following relentless tropical storms during the week, it soon bogged up to its axles.
The firefighters, unperturbed, quickly began rolling out the fire hoses, which were hopelessly short. When the water did arrive its pressure would have more than met its match at a urinal trough in the gents toilet.
Meanwhile, the flames began licking the ankles of the now very apprehensive volunteer who, deciding that discretion was the better part of valour, flung himself clear of his impending funeral pyre
He was eventually transported to Angau hospital with two broken legs and other injuries and endured a painful recovery.
Following the closing ceremony the enthralled masses dispersed to their settlements and the organising committee members retreated to ease their pain at the notorious Waratah Club.
The show’s economic outcomes were analysed over several stubbies of SP leswara as inputs were divided by outputs and the venture declared a resounding triumph, although the casualty lying in the Angau hospital emergency department may have disagreed.
An impartial view would have come to the conclusion that justice and judgement are often worlds apart.
In Australia, the federal and New South Wales state governments’ response to the coronavirus pandemic has been deplorable with several leaders repeatedly disregarding fundamental crisis management principles which would have saved their voters much distress.
A recent report in the respected medical journal, Lancet, evaluates China’s response to the coronavirus outbreak at its epicentre in Wuhan, where there was an immediate and prolonged lockdown enforced for more than two months and was remarkably successful in containing the virus.
This rapid action enabled the region to regenerate its socioeconomic activities, limited the spread of the virus and remains one of the most rapidly contained outbreaks of Covid in the world.
The current Covid strategy in parts of Australia provide us with freedom to die or increase the likelihood of contracting what is termed ‘long Covid’ and its diabolical symptoms.
The ineffectiveness of the federal and NSW governments was brutally exposed when its Delta variant ripped through an unvaccinated and vulnerable Indigenous population in western NSW, making a complete fist of their primary responsibility to focus on prevention including reliable quarantine protocols and vaccination.
The coronavirus is an airborne contaminant and mixing healthy and infected people for prescribed periods in designated quarantine hotels with recirculating ventilation is a recipe for disaster and has been a primary source of spreading the virus.
While Berejiklian bragged about her accepting travellers as a great service to the nation, it cannot be overlooked that it also enabled man established global hotel chains to maintain their occupancy rates.
Most hotels in the Sydney CBD, well over 30 in number, were also quarantine hotels.
Vaccination is another preventive mechanism although the immunisation stroll-out under our malevolent federal minister for disease has been abysmal. All other OECD member countries have superior inoculation rates than Australia.
Following many decades of rampant unfettered neoliberalism the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the fragility of free market fundamentalism, which advocates deregulation, privatisation, diminution of trade unions and the outsourcing of essential services.
The corporatisation of federal, state and local governments has emasculated most administrative establishments and eviscerated their structures.
This has been expedited by cohorts of obsequious and recumbent public serpents who are readily prepared to sacrifice truth and accountability via pseudo-intellectual cowardice with an obedience to the orthodoxy that supports corporate socialism.
Welfare has degenerated into warfare and government of the people, by the people and for the people, is an adversarial process of a corporatised state versus its subjects who have been dehumanised into objects.
Much like coronavirus or the malaria parasite, the various elements of fascism always run the risk of mutating into novel variants or unique strains.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, neoliberalism has transformed into a pernicious paradigm of gangster capitalism.
There is no longer any left or right amongst our federal or state governments, it is now top versus bottom and all that remains in the middle of the road is a double white line and dead wombats.
The Commonwealth of Australia does not require a third political party but desperately needs a second one.
Global corporate conglomerates are no longer required to lobby our cabinet ministers because they are the government.
Challenging and defeating this corporate tyranny and subservient kakistocracy with its malevolent freedom to harm will require genuine leadership and must be accomplished without traditional tribal tactics using a transdisciplinary approach.
Meanwhile, don’t vote it only encourages the bastards.
But continue speaking truth to power and always ask, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will guard the guards themselves?