13 Jul. 2009

This article starts with a set-piece of Australian propaganda in the SMH. The scene is set: fog of war, accident, tragedy. The facts: Australian special forces killed an Afghan man. This fact is not in itself important enough to be newsworthy, however – Australians presumably kill Afghans all the time – but that this Afghan turned out to be an important Afghan, and ally of the Western occupiers.

The rest of the article actually is quite interesting, detailing a rather complex set of questions. The problem is the unwillingness of the Australian media to accept that the Australian military are engaged in the practices of bloodletting which has long been associated with imperialist occupations.

Compare indeed this article yesterday. The basic point of it is that an 'atrocity' – committed against enemy corpses – was committed by Australian troops in Vietnam in 1969. On the one hand, the 40 years that have passed allow an admission of what I haven't heard admitted in respect of Australians in the current conflict. Moreover, this doesn't insinuate Australian involvement in any illegal killings, only in the desecration of corpses, the implication being that all those corpses were killed legitimately in the conduct of war. I don't know if that's the case, but of course, Australians did kill civilians in Vietnam.

12 Jul. 2009

The reporting of the shooting of an Australian mining apparatchik in Indonesian-occupied West Papua in Australia is predictably a fog of sentimentality. The obvious individual tragedy that occurs when people are killed – we all have families, many of us have children, etc. – completely obscures the political issues, which are not personal, but larger. This man's personal motivations are relevant to him and his family: yes, surely he was trying to earn money to provide a relatively opulent life for his family in the Australian metropole. This is a consistent motivation among the servants of imperialism. In a sense, the concatenation of such motivations provides the motive force for imperialism: it may even be possible to say that such motivations are, in a strict sense, evil, because of the morally bankrupt behaviour that they lead people to engage in.

For whatever reason, this man has engaged in an operation which is utterly politically dubious: the theft of the patrimony of a colonised and oppressed people. Well should they shoot him. Of course, it's possible that it is not the Papuan resistance that has shot him. It is possible that pro-Indonesian forces shot him precisely to discredit the resistance. It is possible that he was killed for reasons having to do specifically with the politics of business, with commercial interests and bribes, for example. We have only speculation, but the media story casts what has happened banally as 'tragedy', regardless of any facts.

8 Jul. 2009

The Absence of Banking Sector Reform

The intervention of economists to demand a change to the banking establishment in Australia strikes me as rather noteworthy. As is pointed out in the linked article, we are in a period of consolidation between the 'big four', the cartel that already control banking in Australia. The intervention of economists is an acknowledgement of the central role of banking in contemporary capitalism, such that it really can't be left to such arrangements. The government response is even more telling: government is beholden to finance-capital, and will not act against it. The reaction by Christopher Joye, that the government is being 'complacent', is I think too kind. The British government has not been complacent in the crisis: it has acted to rescue the banking sector in a way that has yet to disturb established monopolies, but has rather helped them. Repeated and continuing calls to use the Post Office in the UK as the basis for a national bank, combined with the assets of nationalised banks, have fallen on deaf ears at the centre.

1 Jul. 2009

Ross Gittins on tax cuts for the rich

Rudd's electoral me-tooism trumps his 'fiscal conservatism'. The result: tax cuts keep accruing to the rich, while the economy sinks and the hole in the budget widens.