Citizens must rescue Australia’s wobbly democracy
K92 & Femili PNG join against violence

Our impure Ozocracy is beginning to buckle

Brigadier General Jack D Ripper (Sterling Hayden) in 'Dr Strangelove', a black comedy directed, produced, and co-written by Stanley Kubrick (1964)


“It is as inhuman to be totally good as it is to be totally evil” - Anthony Burgess

“Your Commie has no regard for human life. Not even his own” – Brigadier General Jack D Ripper (Dr Strangelove)

“Mr President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks” - General 'Buck' Turgidson (Dr Strangelove)

BRISBANE – Following the global financial crisis in 2008, known to Americans as The Great Recession, free market advocates admitted their entire intellectual edifice was collapsing.

Perhaps no surprise then that, 13 years on, the socio-economic consequences of this neoliberal setback continue to reverberate and gangster, no regrets capitalism prevails.

It is exacerbated by the unending merger of corporate and state interests. Irrespective of political stripe, the ugly elements of fascism have embedded themselves in every alleged Western democracy

We are bombarded with the shallow iconography of patriotic slogans, emblems, anthems and jingles even on the front pages of major newspapers. And the ABC.

Corden - morrisonPoliticians wear miniature flags as lapel badges. National ensigns are embroidered into Covid masks, sometimes upside down.

It is pageantry reminiscent of the 1936 Berlin Olympics which glorified the Third Reich’s fascist ideology even as white crowds sat stunned at the commanding performance on the track of the black Jesse Owens.

A mist of fear with an emphasis on national security shrinks basic human rights and generates guilt by accusation and barbaric and oppressive state behaviour even as the term ‘Islamic terrorist’ is replaced by ‘White supremacist’.

Bread and circuses for the masses include sporting events with jet fighters, beribboned generals alongside prime ministers, frightened refugees sanctioned as enemies, and press crusades against the perceived threat of ethnic minorities and young women.

Rampant misogyny flushes the faces of conservative male politicians along with their entrenched homophobia, rigid opposition to abortion, marginalisation of the Indigenous and pandering to anything in uniform.

Direct control of the media by political cronies is increasingly prevalent. ‘Australia’s most trusted news’, ‘Independent. Always’ and ‘For the informed Australian’ mean the precise converse of what you read.

The first casualty is truth, journalists get words written not right, airbrushed flowerpots tell us what to think while looking pretty, intoning autocues and commanding screens where undifferentiated fact and fancy and hope and lie sweep over and through us.

Corden - Owens Nazi salute
Jesse Owens salutes US-style while a Nazi athlete does as he pleases. Hitler was angered and humiliated by the black athlete's successes at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games

Notwithstanding doctrines covering the separation of church and state, democratic boundaries are infiltrated and religion is another government tentacle with pious rhetoric and devout dogma the incongruous contrary to what is enacted upon the most vulnerable.

The industrial and commercial aristocracy is protected under this merging of corporate and state interests, mostly accomplished by secret donations, strong-arm lobbying and George Stigler’s notorious concept of regulatory capture of sovereign government by supreme capital via the Chicago school of economics.

Trade unions, vilified by the media and criminalised by conservatives, dwindle in size and influence and ability to offer protection for the workers who need them, often unassisted by their own adoption by political wannabees seeking a constituency and who disappear once a leather seat is sunk into.

Governments, which pine to be totalitarian and stay in power forever, disdain intellectuals and encourage open hostility to academics, humanitarians and artists who paint, write, play, dance, sing or act. Such people are colourful to stand beside in photographs but not stand behind in life.

Professors can be censored, lawyers tried in secret, journalists captured by selective information flows, billionaires inveigled by national honours and invites to sup with the great, bureaucrats bullied and disfavoured, and public funds otherwise hypothecated for health, leisure and education, greedily ransacked to win elections.

When Winston Churchill was asked to cut arts funding in favour of the war effort against Germany, he replied, ‘Then what are we fighting for?’

It’s a myth. Churchill never said that. He inspired Britain to maintain the fight against the Nazis, but he never stood up for the arts ahead of military spending. Even right wing moral wisdom is myth.

In many Australian states the Police became a service and then went back to being a force because 'service' sounded too sissy.

Border forceWeary immigration and customs officers were given black uniforms and unrestrained power as a paramilitary Border Force that a leaked internal review disclosed was recruiting trainees who were “cowboys, too aggressive and too keen to use weapons”.

The official report also found “alarming levels of sexual harassment, bullying, discrimination, militarisation, and a culture of nepotism and favouritism” – and that was before it even got started on the public.

The merger of corporate and state interests often involves revolving doors and golden escalators with the frequent transfer of senior executives between corporate boards and government departments.

It creates a patronising disposition of unaccountable power, which secures embezzled assets and sacrifices truth and accountability to protect the reputation of public serpents and other obsequious vermin.

Elections under corrupt governments are often a complete sham or an attempted sham and include smear campaigns, widespread bribing, manipulation of polling and fraud in counting. Josef Stalin’s wise dictum still resonates, “The people who vote decide nothing but those who count the votes decide everything”.

We saw such in Papua New Guinea in the rorted 2017 national election; how tempting it must be to Australia’s politicians as a next step after the current redirection of taxpayers’ funds to their re-election campaigns.

Eighteen months ago, financial journalist Michael Pascoe wrote, “I stopped counting politically-rorted federal grant programs when I got to $1.1 billion. I should have kept going to reach $8.1 billion”.

Sunshine Beach Surf Club - not really in the 'Needy' column of federal government expenditure

Pascoe, occasionally seen at his Sunshine Beach Noosa hideaway, had observed then deputy prime minister McCormack happily part with $2.5 million of the taxpayers’ best, for a flash new Sunny Beach surf club in the electorate of Barnaby Joyce’s mate, Llew O’Brien.

“The club has built a flash bar, restaurant and event centre on its brilliant site overlooking the Sunshine surf. The previous bar and restaurant were more modest, very much Sunshine rather than neighbouring Noosa, yet still a fine spot,” wrote a wistful Pascoe.

The coronavirus pandemic has revealed the fragility of rampant neoliberal ideology and the concept of free market fundamentalism underpinned by laissez faire economics.

Its impact includes corroded public services, oppressive working conditions, an insecure and exploitative gig economy, massive underemployment, stagnating wages, declining living standards, escalating inequality and increasing psychosocial disorders, used as an excuse to give people back their Freedumb and give Covid a fighting chance to steal more lives and ruin more bodies.

Governments have emulated business in understanding that a crisis provides many opportunities to do things they could never do in normal conditions when the populace is less anxious about its material and existential prospects.

Hence the injunction to ‘never waste a crisis’ and, with the hands of Morrison gripping the national purse, enforce a more dystopian version of capitalism, the politicisation of everything, regression into divide and rule, surrender to social barbarism, and fawning to the interests of cronies in the expectation that those handed free billions are bound to steer some back to keep the gift-giver in power.

There were some idealists who lost their grip early in Covid and thought the need to act in a more controlling manner in the face of a great common threat might somehow yield a new dawning of social progress, economic good and political wisdom.

But they did not understand the magnetic attraction of handing more control to governing politicians whose foremost desire is to stay where they are.

So we now perceive the totalitarian features: predictive analytics; voice identification; the supra-surveillance of facial recognition; social media algorithms dissecting and profiling users; cameras and microphones staring at you from your clever TV; smartphones effective as ankle trackers; metadata as useful as a resident spy in your closet; and our movements across the landscape and habits as a consumer pretty much understood.

More gated residential and self-sufficient compounds will spring up with minimal requirements for local council development approvals. The complexes will include overpriced luxury shoeboxes with ocean glimpses, provided you are fit enough to stand on a box.

Shopping will be exclusively online, which will probably weaken consumer rights but prevent shoplifting.

Goods will be despatched from remote automated warehouses aloft in drones or in driverless vehicles. This will significantly reduce waste, minimise energy consumption, slash overheads and increase profits.

Mass gatherings at major sporting events and music concerts will be prohibited and arts and entertainment will involve annual subscriptions to online streaming services appearing on screens as big as the wall of your living room.

Algorithms will furtively manipulate choice and suppress subversive or radical material that might cause you emphatic feelings of autonomy or eccentricity. After all, you are allowed the illusion of free will, what more do you need.

ChinaAs China gradually outpaces a stricken and divided USA as the dominant world superpower, it is demonstrating this reach for hegemony by utilising the accepted and deplorable track record of dynasties towards human rights within the empire and manipulating the behaviour of weaker states beyond it.

So far China has mainly stuck to biasing trade and investment but no true empire has been able to resist force of arms where other impulses fail. Mao knew that political power emerges from a gun barrel and that without the gun influence and supremacy will ever be in danger of vanishing.

The grim nights on Tiananmen Square in June 1989 and Dee Brown’s ‘Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee’ provide all the substantive evidence you need as to the brutality of total power.

In AUKUS Australia has just made a captain’s pick in favour of people who look more like us; too scared to go it alone and too ignorant to understand how the ancient art of diplomacy might offer a smarter way through.

How Chinese propaganda views the AUKUS pact (Global Times)
Bullying South-East Asia - how Chinese propaganda views the AUKUS pact (Global Times)

But, if it does come to war, as so many of our countrymen who never fought in one seem to favour, it needs to be comprehended that war does not determine who is right, it merely establishes who and what is left.

The track we’re on, unless the people determine in the next few weeks or few months is not to their liking and the other mob have a better plan, may determine we’ll arrive at the same place either way.

And that place is not appearing too flash.


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Bernard Corden

“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.” - Edward Abbey

Dave Ekins

Notwithstanding the chronic pedantry of one of the authors of this missive, it paints a murky picture of how Oz appears to many. Will they now walk the talk and find a smuggler to spirit them away from this hell-hole or is it easier to snipe from the side lines and continue to enjoy a life style funded by tax payers such as me.
Self loathing is so unproductive and quite dishonest if one is not prepared to make a stand or move away. We’re not perfect but a whole lot better than the alternative.
Governments of any persuasion do not set out to screw the population - they all have the best of intentions but frequently get side-tracked by dogma, external events, philosophy and pure bastardry.

Philip Fitzpatrick

I have to confess I've never heard of her.

Please don't let her know that. I'm sure that what the blurb claims is true.

I wonder what else I've been missing out on - it's a worry.

Bernard Corden

Dear Phil - You should take with you a copy of Lisa Wilkinson's 'It Wasn't Meant To Be Like This'.

The cover blurb bills the book as "the long-awaited autobiography from one of Australia's most popular, much-loved and enduring media stars". That should get Phil's heart racing - KJ

Bernard Corden

Technology is not the problem - it is technique:

“Technique is the totality of methods, rationally arrived at and having absolute efficiency (for a given stage of development) in every field of human activity” - Jacques Ellul,play%20at%20the%20Fall%20of%20man%20into%20sin.

Chris Overland

Chips, you have seen the future. It is called the surveillance state. George Orwell's worst fears are being fulfilled.

So, as well as being subject to the de facto rule of huge, ubiquitous and unaccountable international corporations, our most personal habits will be subject to the closest scrutiny by marketing departments and who knows else.

All this for our 'convenience'.

What could possibly go wrong?

Chips Mackellar

Cheer up you guys, there is worse to come. Yesterday on Chinese television (Chanel CGTS - Chinese Global Television Service) I saw a shopping scene from a Shanghai supermarket.

The shopper wheeled her fully loaded shopping trolly through the checkout booth and exited the building without stopping. Outside, she paused to view her mobile phone.

On the way through the checkout booth multiple concealed face-recognition cameras had identified her and linked to her bank account and multiple direction concealed scanners had scanned the contents of her shopping trolly as it passed through the both.

Before she had exited the building her grocery bill had been deducted from her bank account now showing on the screen of her mobile phone.

See what the marvels of modern technology will be doing for us, when Big Brother will we watching our every move.

Philip Fitzpatrick


After that depressing read I'm thinking about heading up into the hills to see if I can find a cave to call home.

Chris Overland

Keith and Bernard have written a fine polemic, much of which rings all too true for me.

I do not think that even the perpetrators of the various insidious developments they have mentioned actually understand what is going on.

Indeed, they may well see what is happening as evidence of progress towards some vague, utopian notion of what a purely capitalist world may look like.

There is no single mind or hand at work. Rather there are systemic changes at work, driven by many hands and minds, few of which comprehend the implications of their collective efforts.

Not everything that is happening is inherently bad, merely capable of being put to bad or perverse purposes.

Nor is the situation irretrievable: we can still choose to draw back from the abyss.

But to do this requires a level of insight and understanding about the basically unsustainable, inequitable and inhumane nature of neo-liberal capitalism.

Alas, I see not much evidence that such insight and understanding is prevalent amongst the Great Australian Public.

To the extent that it exists at all, it seems to be restricted to those whom the conservatives would characterise as 'the chattering classes'.

Even in the Australian Labor Party, once the party of working people and those who lose out under capitalism, seems incapable of articulating an alternative vision in which neo-liberalism's many excesses and flaws are at least contained if not eradicated.

In short, its seems that our democratic institutions are not currently proving up to the task of introducing the structural reforms necessary to produce a fairer, much less wasteful, environmentally sustainable and humane socio-economic system.

It seems to me that only utter disaster will finally awaken 'the masses' to the true nature of the system they have thus far willingly embraced.

Most people seem willing to ignore its evils, seduced by the erroneous notion that it is the only viable path to a good life.

I do not count myself amongst the so-called 'woke'. I am too old, too cynical and too suspicious of virtue signalling to join such a movement.

The 'woke' represent a political dead end anyway. They are just another bunch of authoritarians masquerading as apostles of democracy and freedom.

So, like Keith and Bernard, I struggle to see how we can collectively emerge from what is a growing crisis of neoliberal capitalism without enduring a great deal more pain.

Bernard Corden

The recent Queensland Health i-message regarding Covid-19 vaccinations provides further substantive evidence of ruling by fear.

The message was sent from the number +61 444 444 444, which is symbolic for many Chinese. The Brisbane casino was also designated as an exposure site for a complete 24-hour period on 17/09/2021 and 18/09/2021.

"Fear has many eyes and can see things underground" - Miguel de Cervantes

I once lived at No 28 Benelong Road. 'Double rucky,' my Chinese neighbour would quip - KJ

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