Australia’s History of Benevolent Fascism

Australia’s History of Benevolent Fascism

You can read Part I of this essay, published in September 2021, here.

Australia has had a history of complicated relationships between the governments that ruled over its vast sunburned lands and the individual citizens subject to such rule. The states and territories of Australia have had a degree of autonomy when it comes to how they may exercise control over the individual. The police have been an integral tool for these state governments to violate human rights and individual freedom. As is always the case a context of crisis is used and even when emergency powers are not directly cited, there is an implication that without such measures a calamity would befall the state and threaten each and every citizen.

For most human rights violations are those actions that occur overseas, away from the familiar. And should such violations occur closer to home, there must be a good reason. Those whose rights are violated perhaps in some way deserved it. Rights may be denied because of a greater need for security, safety and health, and violations committed for a collective good. Those resisting are radicals and extremists to be isolated or removed. The government is “us” after all; it serves us and it does what it needs in order to protect us from even ourselves. It is a parent, a benevolent and omnipotent entity that ensures society is secure and safe. It permits what freedoms it deems necessary and from within this entity exists righteous and moral human beings that take their jobs very seriously.

This is the deep belief that many feel within Australia. It is the religion that grows government and erodes liberty. It is the culture of dependence and servitude that not only allows such an expansion but marginalizes those who challenge it, or who wish to be left alone. It creates a class of public servants that live at the expense of the rest of Australia, who do not necessarily care or concern themselves with any greater social morality. Instead they go about their professional days in a self-serving manner because their job security, entitlements, perks and pensions are more important. It is an aristocracy of governance. To help retain and swell this government requires an active police and surveillance state that also threatens privacy and many forms of journalism.

Salisbury Affair

During the 1970s, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser requested that each states’ police Special Branches compile dossiers on anti-uranium protesters (among other dissident voices that were critical of government policy). Each of the state governments began to comply in various degrees or modified the spying and information collecting methods that they had already in place.

In 1972 Harold Hubert Salisbury had been a respected British policeman when he was recruited to become South Australia’s police commissioner. The SA premier at the time was a progressive Labour Party man, Don Dunstan, who was famous for policies that led to liberalization and social reforms. Whereas Salisbury was a man known for his tough on crime attitudes, his pro-capital and corporal punishment stance, and as an ardent drug warrior, so his appointment by Dunstan was a contrast.

During his tenure, Commissioner Salisbury oversaw surveillance on numerous South Australian residents. The special branch likely did what it would have done regardless of his appointment but it was in January of 1978 that premier Don Dunstan dismissed the police commissioner for “giving inaccurate information…to the Government” and “having so misled the Government that wrong information was given to Parliament and the public” (Advertiser, 18 January 1978).

A later inquiry found that a lot of the files on individuals and organizations were not specific to any security risk but instead focused on “political, trade union and other sensitive matters.”  And when Police Commissioner Salisbury was asked by Premier Dunstan, he refused to give details as to what the files contained. Commissioner Salisbury, in his defense, insisted that he was not subordinate to the state government on such matters but to the Queen and her representative in Australia.

A later enquiry found that over 41,000 files compiled by the South Australian police special branch existed. The files were considered to be both excessive and extensive but were often filled with biased and inaccurate information, large parts of which had been intentionally doctored. Who was considered a suspected individual was up to the discretion of police members and what information was entered or invented was also up to them. The files could then serve as records and be used against individuals either as means of leverage or to gain convictions.

The sacking of the police commissioner widened into a rallying point for those who were already critical of premier Dunstan’s policies. Harold Salisbury was depicted as a good and honest man who was unfairly sacked by a partisan premier. The individuals who had been harassed and spied upon were objects of fascination and predation by the police and government in such circumstances. The nature of what special branch had done became lost in the politicking of the moment and though it was for a time an important part of Australian history, it has become almost forgotten now.

The event did reveal however the power of both Australian state governments and their police in the surveillance and documenting of individual lives and interactions based solely on the suspicion of their political beliefs. Such special mandates, like the one directed by Prime Minister Fraser, allowed the police the power to compile library, telephone, and medical records regardless of the individual’s guilt or any charges. The individuals would be completely unaware of such evidence, and in some cases the information could be invented to suit the police. In the modern digital age such a controversy of surveillance seems token where it is now assumed that the authorities can and “should” do these things to protect society. In 1978, it was still considered a point of contention that may have even led to the resignation of a state premier a year later.

“Joh” Bjelke-Petersen

As a contrast to the South Australian Don Dunstan, Australia’s longest serving premier of Queensland, Johannes “Joh” Bjelke-Petersen was a hard nosed conservative that ran a police state with little regard for individual liberty. Ruling from 1968 to 1987, Joh oversaw a period of change in Australian culture that many conservatives such as himself resisted. Joh modelled himself as being a law and order leader. By the end his reign, his legacy was a regime of police brutality with two of his state ministers and a police commissioner jailed for corruption, while the premier himself avoided a second trial that likely would have convicted him if not for his age.

As a reaction to numerous street protests in the early 1970s, Premier Joh gave full support and powers to the police to come down heavy against anyone considered a “radical.” The bashing and bullying of protesters and organizers was not uncommon. Under his regime, restrictions on ‘rock ‘n’ roll bands and censorship of many forms of media through the use of the defamation laws “moral decency” laws were tightened. Joh was a proud rightwing conservative dictator.

In an incident when a raid was performed on a commune, the police burned down residents’ home and destroyed their property all on the suspicion that the individuals had been growing marijuana plants. The premier publicly backed and supported police conduct during such a raid. His tough on drugs stance was celebrated by many like-minded conservatives Australia wide. Premier Joh was a macho image for the anti-freedom conservatives that used the backdrop of the Cold War as an excuse to push their beliefs onto others.

By the end of the 1970s street protests had been banned in Queensland by Premier Joh. As was the case elsewhere in Australia, the Queensland special branch had been compiling extensive files on individuals and groups. This had in many cases led to harassment, extortion, and intrusive surveillance. Though unlike in South Australia, there was no controversial sacking of a police commissioner in regards to such files; instead the premier of Queensland granted the police as much power as possible to impose itself on the citizenry.

For a time Premier Joh had even tinkered with the idea of seceding from Australia and often expressed his support of the Apartheid regimes in Rhodesia and South Africa, praising how the minority white governments ruled over their populaces. The premier of Queensland was a famous man outside of Australia as well. His conservative and cold warrior views were heralded as being simply “anti-communist.” Men like Joh had certain beliefs and views of the world, a set of values that they held sacred. The pillars of government and its institutions allowed them to impose such upon millions of others.

The reign of premier Joh was a perfect example of fascism in Australia that eventually was checked when corruption and incompetence that stalled the authoritarianism of his rule. It was also a telling example of how the state police and premiers in Australia can exercise themselves with a special authority. The “law and order” promises that Premier Joh brought with him satisfied a mob of the population that had similar social views. With some irony the opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine mandates are now viewed as having a rightwing flavor to them, but it was men like Joh and his hard-right ideals that revealed how powerful a state government can be over its citizenry, especially in a “crisis.” And whether it was against marijuana or a virus, such premiers will ruin lives for “health.”

“The greatest thing that can happen to the state of Queensland and the nation of Australia would be if and when we get rid of the media. Then we would live in peace and tranquility—but no one would know anything!” Premier Joh said.

In many ways this period was a template for the coming police enforcement of current Australian states. The laws are arbitrary and inconsistent but the states government and their police powers can conduct themselves as they please, so long as it is claimed that it is for the greater good of the community. While Premier Joh Bjelke-Peterson claimed that God had chosen him to save Australia from communism, the present premiers believe that they need to save us all from a virus, poverty, bush fires, climate change (among other past and present health and safety “threats”). Whatever a state government or its premier deems an emergency can then allow them to use emergency powers, liberty be damned.

Journalism and Privacy

Australia was never a nation that ensured freedom of speech as a secured right. It was often assumed and implied that individuals and agencies had a certain degree of freedom to say or print as they please. Early on, even before federation censors were prolific, a state of laws existed that would protect the wealthy and powerful from slander. Late into the twentieth century more liberty was allowed by the various states and federal government but as is always the case, crisis and the neurotic impulse to see any and everything as a threat further stripped back any promise of real freedom of expression.

Instead of law that guarantees free speech, Australia relied upon anti-defamation laws that have traditionally protected the powerful and governed the right of expression. In times of war and during periods of crisis journalists were often threatened both officially and unofficially by the state. This does not make Australia exceptional but it does exhibit a tradition of aggression against a truly independent press. And it defies the popular notion of being “a free country.”

Outside of journalism and the realm of non-fiction Australia has a history of censoring books, magazines, art, film, computer games, etc. It is a nation that has a culture of paternalism and while not burning books per se, redacts, edits, and denies them entry onto the island continent. Whatever the cited context, the government always knows best and exercises an imperial benevolence often to protect its citizen-children from every dangerous infection. Unfortunately such violent paternalism is often supported by many Australians who truly believe that exposure to certain information, ideas, words, images, or depictions may mutate a human mind into such a deranged way that chaos and violence would befall society.

On a commonwealth-federal and state level the Australian governments had a very active censors office. In times past individuals have had their letters frequently read and edited. In the early days of nation these may have been those with Irish Fenian sympathies or anarchists and communists. Or any literature that defied the moral standards of a good white Christian nation that Australian governments desperately tried to maintain into the twentieth century.

The colonial history of Australia was a period where most of the published material was only made available to inform the residents of the colonies what the laws and local rules were. The crown made it compulsory that such things be read out during church services. It would take decades before the first “uncensored” newspaper would appear. The early roots of a government-dominated printing press helped to implant a modern day culture of mainstream media that does not enjoy true freedom of press.

According to a 2006 Reporters Without Borders survey, ranking countries in relative press freedoms Australia was listed at 35. The post-9/11 world has seen a decline in press freedoms in Australia thanks to new anti-terrorism legislation along with suppression orders on freedom of information requests. The war on terror has given greater muscle to laws that were first penned during World War I, the Sedition Act for example, making it hard for journalists to know what is allowable to write during “war time.”

And as many recent protesters posting on social media are learning, “incitement” is a very real crime in Australia where one can face prosecution based on the allegation that their words or sentiments may lead to sedition or promote the breaking of other laws.

On September 5, 2020, pregnant mother Zoe Buhler was arrested by Victorian police on the grounds that her Facebook post constituted incitement. You be the judge;

PEACEFUL PROTEST! All social distancing measures are to be followed so we don’t get arrested please. Please wear a mask unless you have a medical reason not to. September 5th is FREEDOM DAY! As some of you may have seen the government has gone to extreme measures to prevent the Melbourne protest. Here in Ballarat we can be a voice for those in stage 4 lockdowns. We can be seen and heard and hopefully make a difference! END LOCKDOWNS. STAND UP FOR HUMAN RIGHTS. WE LIVE IN A FREE COUNTRY.

The Foreign Interference Bill would make it illegal for anyone to “receive” and “handle” national security information. This would include the information that was revealed in the “Afghanistan war files,” where evidence came to light of Australian soldiers murdering innocent civilians. Regardless of the bloody content that these files revealed, the terrible war crimes, it is the exposure of such things that is viewed as more dangerous and criminal than the murder of innocent civilians itself.

The bill makes it dangerous and illegal for public servants to expose any government misdeeds to the media. The Australian Federal Police has been an eager implementer of such bills, as was seen when journalists were taken into custody in 2019. Since the 2001 attacks on the United States, those nations that consider themselves the champions of Western values have implemented laws that encroach on individual liberty and grow police powers. It has not won the war on terror, it has only terrorized individuals in the name of fighting it.

As an intimate example, when the Australian Federal Police raided journalist Annika Smethurst’s home they spent seven hours ruining her privacy and humiliating her, including going through her underwear with perverse intent. For those who have been through a police drug raid, especially one that can be conducted on the whiff of assumption, the police will confiscate any items that they deem prohibitive. Sports equipment like baseball bats and tennis racquets can be declared as weapons, for example. It is thanks to the war on drugs and the intrusive invasion of ones home and privacy that journalists or even individuals posting on social media may now find themselves at the mercy of police discretion as they suffer violence, property damage, theft, and even face kidnapping all in the name of implementing these laws.

Personal items that should remain intimate between couples can be pulled out and exhibited with no regard for privacy. Even if no charges have been pressed, the privacy of the individual is not sacred and humiliation is always ensured. Police officers often have gone through personal devices; whether they are “allowed” to or not does not change the fact that the individual has little control in each interaction.

“Police have an inherent bias when it comes to investigating their own…and that bias can skew investigations in all sorts of ways,” explains Melbourne lawyer Jeremy King. “It has been my experience with my clients that police are more sceptical of complainants when there is another police officer involved…then on top of that, there have been particular examples where, deliberately or otherwise, statements haven’t been taken, actions haven’t been taken where perhaps they would have been if a police officer wasn’t involved.”

Identify and Disrupt Bill of 2020

In August of 2020 the “hacking bill” was quickly passed through Australian Parliament that now allows government authorities the ability to spy on and impersonate individuals without their knowledge or consent. The bill allows the federal government the ability to access the social media and emails of an individual or group and permits them to delete, modify, and send messages, even impersonating those that are being “hacked.” The bill allows this conduct to occur so longas “suspicion” of criminal activity is raised.

The wider implications of such a bill are frightening and the full repercussions have not yet been realized. The government can now invent evidence, entrap individuals, and use information, real or fabricated, as a means of extortion to get individuals to stop doing things or to even give up information on others. In our social media age it can also allow the government an ability to create false public depictions of an individual or group through public posts and uploads.

Such a bill is the inevitable mutation of the special branch spying of the 1970s and invention of evidence and information in the past. Now with most of society’s reliance on the digital world, it can allow the government an absolute disregard to any privacy and to materialize whatever evidence it needs to take on any one that it deems “suspicious.”

In September, Adrian Lozancic of the Australian Democrats said, “Make no mistake, Orwell would be proud. This authoritarian legislation enables police to obtain, modify and delete your data without you knowing.”

While these bills are always pushed under the blanket of fighting child pornography, terrorism, organized crime or the illicit drug trade it is the inevitable reality that it will be used by the government to protect itself from whistleblowers or any revelations of misconduct. It is also likely that such information will profit certain individuals that are in positions of power, corruption being the greatest partner to any police state.

The bill has a very broad definition of what constitutes a “relevant offense” and it’s likely to be used against activists and human rights defenders as many of these individuals and groups, like journalists and whistleblowers, come under the definitions that relate to “serious Commonwealth offenses.” Such a law, with how easily it was passed, shows how little care the Australian media and public have expressed themselves and reveals a wider culture that embraces a state of limited liberty.

Encrypted email services and messaging apps have also come under attack with a push to ban their usage in Australia. The notion that individuals may wish to communicate in private with family, friends, colleagues, and customers is lost on some. Instead the spectre that only criminals and human monsters would use such means to communicate is the mantra that government advocates push time and time again. Such a bill may in time expand into the prohibition of such services for the Australian citizen.

“The Identify and Disrupt Bill will operate as part of a larger framework of surveillance laws, including the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018 (TOLA), that amplifies the government’s powers without adequate limitations, undermines encryption, and endangers human rights,” reported Namrata Maheshwari and Raman Jit Singh Chima in Access Now in August.

It is unlikely that the introduction of such a bill will see a limit to government growth. It will be used as a gateway for state and federal governments to peer into every aspect of peoples’ lives. Such bills can then go after individuals relating to many other aspects that the government is fixated on, from the war on drugs, tax evasion, and even to those wary of vaccine mandates. It is a surface that no longer has been scratched but has been gouged deep to the bone, and it seems many in Australia are comfortable with it. At this time the greatest defense an individual has from such intrusions is to not stand out but to go unnoticed. It is a measure of scale for the government. In time technology and software will change this in the government’s favor.

Whistleblowers

It is no wonder that the Australian Julian Assange lingers in legal hell, given the government that rules his homeland. And it has been revealed recently that the Australian government has been aware of what misery he is experiencing while still supporting the British and American government actions that are punishing a man for publishing evidence of war crimes. Whistleblowing is often the enemy of government, in Australia especially.

Take for example “Witness K,” who exposed the corruption and bugging of an East Timor cabinet room, a bugging that lead to the screwing over of East Timor in favor of Australian national interests and the exploitation of the natural resources of a desperately poor nation. As a former Australian Secret Intelligence Service Officer, “Witness K” faces serious conviction. His trial is being held in secret and behind closed doors in front of a court with no transparency or public coverage. Because of the information leaked by “Witness K” the Australian government was forced to renegotiate its agreement with East Timor, after which the government took out its indignation on the spy that had revealed its dirty deeds to the world.

In August 2020 it was announced that the Australian government had spent nearly $3 million dollars in court waging its war on whistleblowers. It is a war that is waged to destroy individual lives by dragging them through the courts and ruining them financially. The victims include “Witness K,” David McBride who is a former defense force lawyer that helped to leak the Afghan war files, and Richard Boyle, who revealed the predatory actions of the Australian Tax Office.

Such aggressive actions against present-day whistleblowers are a reflection of a past that is smeared with a disdain for those who come out against the government and its nefarious actions. In the case of “Witness K” even his lawyer, Bernard Collaery, is being prosecuted and faces a hefty jail sentence. The Australian government has empowered its police to such a point that journalists are deterred from reporting objectively and whistleblowers risk everything should they expose injustices and misdeeds. It is a state of fear, the perfect instrument of a democratic authoritarian state. And for many Australians, so long as these actions are done with a degree of benevolence and in the name of a greater good, then the sacrifice to liberty and in some cases the murder of innocent civilians is a price that they are willing to pay. Because in the end, so long as people have welfare and jobs then human rights be damned. That seems to be “Aussie way.”

The War on Drugs for Her

The War on Drugs for Her

She had just turned fifteen. She was a good girl, though some of her friends had a wilder side. They did like to party. She was excited to attend a music festival, a large one geared to people under eighteen. While she was there the police were conducting an operation to curb the use of recreational drugs. Twenty or so teenagers, including herself, had been taken almost at random by the police officers.

It was a hot day, so she had worn very little. As she was taken away she was roughly handled. The police officers accused her of being in possession of drugs, a girl who had not even tried alcohol yet. She had a certain look and was hanging out with friends who had been caught in the past with such contraband. This assumption allowed the police officers to take her.

She was made to strip naked as the uniformed adults ran their gloved hands over her body. They were indifferent to her embarrassed state and made her feel like a piece of meat. Her legs were spread as she stood, with a mirror they looked up into her genitalia and then a latex covered digit took her virginity. The pain was sharp. The finger twisted and probed into her, finding nothing. She began to shake, her blood on the finger of the glove as the officer ripped it from their hand and discarded it like a full condom.

She was told that she could get dressed, she was “free” to go. She did not sleep well that night. She told her parents what had happened but did not go into details. On the television news the police spokesperson was matter of fact as the cameras captured their professional manner. Three of those who had been strip searched were in possession of contraband. For a little while there was some condemnation and outrage but it passed.

But for her, the nightmares continued.

The sight of a uniform caused a rush of fear inside of her. She felt instant fright and afterwards, when the sickness had passed, an anger that she could not unravel. She was seventeen when it happened again. While in a car with some friends, the police pulled them over. They searched the teenagers and found that the driver had been in possession of enough drugs to get the others in trouble. It was alleged that there was enough to sell. The driver was accused of being a dealer. She had never been aware of him doing that.

When she had to attend court she was fightened, ashamed, and embarrassed. She didn’t know what was going on. People in strange costumes spoke on her behalf and an old man in ancient attire frowned at her. He said that the teens had to be taught a lesson. They needed to be punished. There was a war going on, and she was now treated as an enemy combatant.

She was sent to a youth jail. It was called something else, but it was jail for those not yet legally adults. Once there, she was forced naked and more adults in uniforms wearing gloves searched her body. They were as rough and indifferent as their predecessors. She was now a prisoner of war, feeling as though she had no real rights. She had been found guilty of a crime. Her pleas of innocence were wasted tears in a storm.

As the months dragged on, she was repeatedly stripped naked and made to reveal her insides to those in uniform. Her body no longer belonged to her. Drugs destroyed lives, she had been told repeatedly, and now it seemed hers was added to the list…even though they never found anything on her.

She had always been pretty, and knew it. For years she’d been told that on and off, even before she had become a teenager. She was gifted a sweet smile, though she no longer showed it. Being pretty in jail is a quality no one wants.

One day she learned that lesson. She was taken, molested, and felt the savage thrusts of an attacker. It hurt. The guard threatened her. He ripped the condom from himself just as that first police officer had removed the bloody glove. She quivered in her cot that night, her tears stung her face. If she did her best to avoid the uniforms, she told herself, it would be over soon.

But the nightmares, the memories, they never leave.

She was eventually allowed out. Her pretty smile was now a wary frown, and bags hung under her eyes. She fought with her parents, and most of her friends treated her as if she was contaminated. Did they somehow know what had happened? She found part-time work and soon mashed into different scenes. The nightmares tortured her most nights. It was only then that she first tried drugs. Legal ones, prescribed ones, to help her sleep. Eventually she began to self medicate. The “banned” drugs came later.

They were to help her forget.

In her fragmented state of mind, strange men took her body. She had learned early on that it no longer belonged to her. Uniformed or not, it was all the same to her now. She found herself in a hospital, just a “junkie slut,” as one nurse said to another as she lay in purgatory with a drip in her arm. Once she was discharged more professionals from the government visited her. They were paid to be compassionate. She was now given money, put on schemes to help her buy groceries, and they even paid for her rent.

She was now called a victim. Not because of the imprisonment, the kidnap, the shame, or the rape. But because she had tried to wipe those memories away with drugs. No longer an enemy combatant, a child soldier, she was one of the war’s innocent victims, a new statistic. A lost addict used to justify those uniformed crusaders.

That’s what the War on Drugs felt like to her. And even now that she’s “clean,” the memory of it all still hurts.

The Exchange: A Citizen and a State Agent in Victoria, Australia

The Exchange: A Citizen and a State Agent in Victoria, Australia

Footage of police violence and the tantrums of the mob during the recent lockdown protests, not just in the Australian state of Victoria but the world over, depict a division between the powerful armed professionals of the government and the angry rage from some parts of the citizenry. The narrative can suit ones own partisan bias, media habits, and how much the lockdown has influenced you. Captured recently was an interaction between police and the citizen dissenters.

It is a human moment. Behind the dark military armor, the helmet, and the badge lurks a man. Alongside him an almost naked by comparison protester, a lowly citizen. The phone camera is on, it shakes and captures the interaction with as much uncertainty as those that it records.

“What sort of gun is that?” the citizen with the phone asks an armed officer as he walks on heavily laden in kit. Ahead is another officer, walking fast past unarmed citizens. He is stressed. “I’ve had enough of this,” he says. So begins the exchange.

“If you have had as much as us, then why are you enforcing it?”

The police officer with the riot gun replies, hidden behind his armour, “We have to. Listen I am not here to argue with you. Go home, otherwise they will start issuing you a ticket. We don’t want to do it, but we will do it.”

“If you don’t want to do it, then don’t. Stand up for what you believe in,” the citizen says from behind the phone camera. The officer turns away. Standing nearby are other members of the Victorian State Police, some wrapped in riot gear as others hide behind disposable surgical masks and wearing peacetime uniforms. None challenge the interaction, but all watch on. Tired and perhaps, besides the pay rolling in, morally drained.

Another officer in riot gear walks up to the citizen with the phone camera. He is emotionally fatigued, empathetic. “Just go home, alright?” he pleads. “We get paid to do this mate. I am just as over this fucking protest as you are, by protest I mean lockdown. But unfortunately I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”

“You don’t have to though,” the citizen challenges the group of armed officers.

“I’m not skilled to do anything else, mate. So unfortunately at this time of my life, that’s what I have to do,” the officer says with an innocence that defies the consequences of his role. Perhaps in his mind and to those he works with they are reluctant leaves floating on the stream of history. Powerless and yet the powerful require them. They are the power that the rulers wield. And they serve because the officers’ family is more important than the lowly citizens. The police officers’ income is secure, he is not a terrorist filled with a deranged ideology of hate, revenge, and revolution. He is not a zealot of religious or political conviction. He is a man doing a job. A mercenary. That is all authority ever is throughout history, servants of the powerful. It is the magical potion of power.

“And the people like us that aren’t skilled? We don’t get paid, we don’t get the food at the moment,” the unarmed citizen with the camera phone replies.

“I hear ya mate, my wife’s in the same position. She is out of a job at the moment as well. I understand you being pissed off about it. But there is a way to go about it that’s all. Unfortunately punching on with coppers isn’t it though mate,” the officer replies as his colleagues stand by idle, as though he speaks for them, as if he is espousing their sentiments. The defrost of his professional chill, the fiery emotional violence absent. Just two men talking to one another, it is peaceful and sincere. This should be the other way of going about things, yet it is not. This way is unprofessional, unofficial and non-violent. So it doesn’t suit the powerful. It is not the government’s way, because it does not require the government to be involved.

But what are the other ways “to go about it” of which the police man speaks? To vote for more of the same? This is the course, the institution, the monopoly of violence that embraces us all the moment we are born. No contract is signed. We are instead owned, decisions are made for us all, not as individuals but as a mass, a collective. We are not considered with any dignity, we are instead made dependent and reliant upon a government, an entity ruled by temporary executives that are voted by the bigger piece of a mob, that does not represent all individuals. Only those interested in the promises that often go unfulfilled or with hidden consequences and caveats.

Laws that were long ago written by rich and elite minded people who believed in abstracts such as empire, God, glory, and a civilization has changed in the century plus since the federation was created on conquered land. Those past archaic laws are then are added to by modern day mutations and reactionary layers, those of which outlaw momentary trends such as ‘planking,’ act as moral prohibitions against plants or respond with clumsy and heavy hands to terrorism or in this instant against a virus. The individual, men like the one behind the camera or even the officers hidden beneath their uniforms are made helpless and perhaps do become the leaves, not on a stream, but on an ocean of hubris, with no ability to control their own destinies. Just the employed and the owned.

The exchange continues. The citizen behind the camera in a spirited plea of fast words tells the officer and his comrades, what they already know; “…People are killing themselves, none of this has to do with health. Exercise, fruit and the sun, not injections. OK. Mental health…”

The officer breaks the citizen with a camera’s attempt at another way, the alternative to “punching on with cops;” “I don’t have time…at the end of the day, I agree with ya.”

“Then why are you standing on this side and not with us?”

“Because that’s what I get paid to do.” The truth. The honest root of government. All government. No matter what the theology or ideology, it is made possible by those who get paid to make it happen. The central planners may very well be true believers, absolute in their conceit to steer humanity in the direction of Utopia. The experts and commissars may also be convinced of their godlike omnipotence to control other human beings and know events far into the future. They may embrace their own arrogance and conceited intelligence absolutely. And some may just be cynical and power hungry. But on the ground, the meat, the muscle, and sinew of the state are those who are just doing a job. The frightened, the morally neutral or cowardly. The paid.

The pair exchange some more, but another officer pulls his colleague away from the citizen with the camera. As the officer begins to leave the citizen says, “You are doing what you are getting paid to do, not for what you stand in. And that’s why I disrespect you.” It’s an indignant statement of civil disobedience from a man who has been made a citizen of a state that claims to own him and all beneath it.

“That’s fine and I am still asking you to go home please.”

“Get your paychecks so you and your wife can eat. We won’t…just letting you know we won’t go home,” the citizen says to the backs of the officers as they walk away, back to their station, to their families and with job security. Behind them, the community that they claim to protect. The citizens that exist to carry the powerful, to feed the state and who despite all of its claims are in the end its victims.

“…just letting you know if we come back again you are all going to be arrested.”

“That’s fine mate. If you can’t tell we are not afraid anymore.”

A member of the community spoke not just for himself but likely for hundreds, if not thousands of others. Just as the policeman in the exchange likely had expressed the sentiments of those that he serve alongside and the armies of public servants all with financial security, just doing a job. This video captured an insecure moment that was unfiltered and raw. The professional media, both state and corporate, have been cowardly in their consistency of the reporting. At best playing the goofy charade of partisan politics, the politicians have all been political. Some now that it is popular to do so are rearing their heads from beneath their upper suburban homes to peer at the proletariat and dependent class gripes.

Children are lied to in Western society. They are usually told stories about the Tooth Fairy, Father Christmas, and the Easter Bunny. These are fun deceptions that the older play on the younger. It is viewed with little conflict in mind, no regard for distrust and deception. Yet, despite learning from a young age that authority figures will lie to us, we are told about liberal democracy, rule of law, Western values, representative government and community policing. For many the truth is learned in time, just more deceptions and lies. The Emerald City of deceit conjured up to validate and maintain the state itself, to project itself as a vanguard of stability, order, security, justice, and freedom. But for who? For the questioning adult mind, those words are meaningless abstracts.

The state is just a monopoly. It pays well in many cases and it does provide services and while it has some benevolence at the heart of its programs and from its central planners, it is a monolith. A Leviathan. Alternatives, choices, anything other than the state itself are denied or at best polluted by its tinkering and regulatory self interest. The seen and unseen is ever apparent, for the lazy minded it is just the seen that matters. The unseen potential, the many alternatives that are yet to be revealed or allowed, linger in a fog of denial. Instead it is always more of the same. The Wizard never really has any powers, just deception and in this City, violence. The courage, wisdom, and heart belongs to all of us despite any magical direction from the wizards of planning. It is not magical or something that can be steered, it is a living organism of so many unseens.

The response to a virus is a police state. The response to terrorism is a police state. The response to the war on drugs and other prohibitions, a police state. On and on it goes. More censorship, surveillance, home invasions, taxation, policing powers and so on. Never less of these things, just more. The ratchet only ever tightens. For the states in Australia, COVID zero seems to be the Utopia. And it is an unattainable goal. Why not AIDS zero, cancer zero, flu zero or any death causing illness for that matter? Because that would seem silly to defeat by locking down society, by putting police on the streets interacting at times violently with people, who may or may not be infected with a virus. If AIDS appeared in the 2020s instead of the early 1980s, it is likely that the central planners would have responded by banning non-marital passions, night clubs, dating apps or even sex itself in the hopes of curbing a disease. It would not be scientific, only moral.

COVID zero is the next Utopia. It is the impossible promise that the commissars and experts promise the citizenry. The obedient, dependent and true believers do not doubt this vision or most other promises. Smarter people than them are in charge, the certainty of experts are the bishops in touch with the true way. Any that challenge the narrative, dissenters and protesters are the problem. Everything would work, if only everyone just listened and followed the rules. If everyone just ‘did the right thing,’ if everyone just obeyed without question, we wouldn’t have problems. That is the morality that each Utopia requires. The morality that it takes to knock down an elderly woman, two men doing a job spraying her face with chemicals, her the citizen beneath them.

When a private individual murders, steals, or kidnaps it confirms their wicked nature. When an agent of the state does those things, usually on a grander scale, it is performed out of necessity. The greater good, abstractions for the collective confirm this, even if performed by those just doing a job. It is just a job at the end of the day. Utopia is for the smart god-humans to plan and decide for the rest of us.  But they require those armed an in uniforms to implement, whether they believe it or not. So long as they get paid to do so.

Those who live behind the curtains of government, the doers and implementers see how it functions. They are aware that much of it is theater, arbitrary or even corrupt. Elliot Ness enjoyed a drink, many cops smoke weed and take steroids. Yet, they are ardent prohibition enforcers because they are paid to be. The cynicism that many of them feel is not expressed enough. To do so would be unprofessional and challenge the narrative. Instead a culture of vices, domestic abuse, depression and oftentimes suicide is the toll. “I don’t have skills to do anything else” is the belief and maybe the reality. The central planners dream, not for a free market, but a world of less opportunities, filled with licensing, paper work, and denials. The alternatives are limited; government jobs, welfare, and what else remains? It would be a genius perversity if it was done by design. Instead it is merely the un-altruistic outcomes of so many flawed and failed policies of altruistic ambitions. His lack of options are the ironic outcomes of that which he enforces.

And now, parts of Australia slowly wither. The veterans association, the Return Servicemen League, condemns the protests because they clumped across the Shrine of Remembrance. They are the necrolith of state worship for the martyrs that died in wars abroad. Reading and hearing the words of those soldiers who served in many wars, who fought for a notion of some freedom for those at home and overseas, it seems that their understanding of freedom for most is not liberty, just home rule. Under such a definition North Korea is free; it is after all home rule, free of foreign imperialism. That is how many view the wars of the past and present in Australia and how they now rationalize the police state that occurs in some parts of the nation. Home rule is freedom, even as the national government signs another treaty ensuring it acts as a military colony to a greater empire.

We are all human beings, but not all of us think or feel the same. That is the beauty and diversity of life. The perversity of central planning is to believe that we all should become a homogenized collective, to be ruled beneath one system. That freedom is ensured by allowing or forcing the citizen to vote for members of a parliament. It not only validates, but perpetuates more of the same government. To be taught that this is a means to a frontier of liberty is just another deception that children of society are fed. The policeman in the video claims that there is another way, but does not explain it. There is no doubt that he believes that there is another way. But the monopoly does not allow any other way. It is the Leviathan.

For those in Victoria the media are no longer allowed to livestream the protests. Those who share information on the protests in some cases have been visited by the police. Much of the mainstream media is antagonistic towards the protesters and those who dare to question the curfew orders of the state. Men in military uniforms (some observers claim army special forces) have arrested and attacked protesters. A union head, who was in fact trying to dissipate the crowd in favor of the governments wishes, was also arrested. The protests are a crude expression of anger and frustration but also helplessness. The protests are a mob. If enough form and make up the majority of Victoria, would this not then be that sacred democracy, no matter how crude and brutal it becomes?

Perhaps in time the government will cut the internet in part or all parts of the state and someday the nation. The curfews will continue and the modern technologies will enable them to track down protesters by their faces, thanks to the facial recognition techniques perfected by the Chinese government. Social media posts and sharing of such exchanges as the one above may very well be an offense, perhaps soon even writing a piece like this shall too. This is the marriage between the police and health state. It is not just the Utopia of clumsy control, it is simply violence. Directly and indirectly. The magical gadgetry and curtains of this magical wizard is the legaleze and official rituals. Behind it is the naked and ugly force of people with guns just doing their jobs.

As for the protests, in 2003 three to four million people in 800 or so cities across the world protested the U.S. led invasion of Iraq. It changed nothing. Iraq was destroyed, one million Iraqis murdered. And in time, after the protesters went home the energy to be anti-war disappeared and soon other nations joined in Iraq’s fate. Whatever the protests do in the cities of Australia and the world over, it will not change the future of more laws, more police action, less liberty. The present crisis, like the prohibitionist war on drugs, has shown that the moral and health crusaders are relentless. They know better and so long as individuals lack moral courage and will do anything for pay, then they will always be the enablers of power and the rest of us powerless. Freedom is personal responsibility and accountability, which is perhaps why Utopias that promise neither and strip away liberty are ever so seductive. And getting there always pays well.

The Benevolent Fascism of Australia, Part I

The Benevolent Fascism of Australia, Part I

Australia is in the news.

The images of police officers imposing themselves on the citizenry has drawn the attention of international critics. It has also raised admiration for those who have big government inclinations. Some have declared that Australia has fallen as a free society, that it should now be considered a police state. Australia, however, already had a history as a police state. The balance between individual freedom and an overbearing government has been one of constant, uneven sways over time and it usually takes a crisis to bring down the full weight of authoritarianism. And most Australians have always been fine with this.

The COVID-19 pandemic has tested both individuals and governments, and shown their true nature. The pandemic response has revealed a dangerous dependence that all of us have been forced to place on government monopolies, from health and infrastructure to security and in many cases, income. The lockdown culture of not only Australian state governments but governments the world over have shown an irrational and reactionary impulse to rule and control, not just to stop a virus but crush dissent itself. They claim it is for all of our health; it is scientific and it’s to save as many lives as possible. No room for debate, only obey and do as one is told. It is the science of law, order, and health.

In practice it has been random, arbitrary, inconsistent, unscientific and some lives really do seem to matter over others. The police have been a crucial element in the fight against the citizenry during the pandemic. It’s been the police that have enforced laws that have destroyed the economy and put lives indirectly in jeopardy. Last year entire apartment towers in Melbourne were instantly quarantined and the individuals inside only access to the outside world was via the police. Those trapped were treated as criminals and were sacrificed in an attempt to “flatten the curve.” Melbourne itself would soon suffer an almost indefinite lockdown cycle. The curve was never flattened.

Following the trend in liberal democracies, partisan politics alleviate blame from specific government departments. The police and experts are viewed as amoral objects who are wielded by incompetent and power hungry politicians. Regardless of the political leadership these technocrats, officials and police officers remain the same. Australia has a history of governance via experts and panels. The politicians usually help legitimize such measures when it comes to excessive policing. It is not a political leadership problem, it is a problem from the ground up. Morality, right and wrong, are exercised by the individual. “Just doing a job” or “Just following orders” is a coward’s shield by which to hide beneath.

It is not just an Australian phenomenon to see the police inserting themselves more and more into the citizen’s day to day. It is however an Australian tradition to lean heavily onto policing for numerous crises. The police are an important tool for the state and federal governments in Australia and act as the aggressive arm to both impose and implement policy while also to protect the government itself. Australia projects itself as a free society that values human rights, but at times in its own history it has a patchwork of authoritarianism which is more common than many wish to admit.

“Australian police forces were similarly founded on violence: racist violence, imperial violence and settler colonial violence. Some of the earliest forms of state policing were established with the specific purpose of extending the colonial frontier.”- Amanda Porter, Senior fellow at Melbourne Law School.

Many historians on colonial Australia consider that the early policing models were not based upon British community methods and organization but instead were a paramilitary model that was used during the same period to impose imperial oppression in Ireland. A lot of these traditions have remained in Australian policing and in how the various governments have continued to wield it. Public health and safety mandates are often the fixture of policing in Australia along with the ever aggressive War on Terror.

Beyond the state level Australia has numerous federal agencies that are granted great powers which obey the Department of Home Affairs and will in the coming years grow more powerful in reach, focus, and powers. The boundaries of colonial expansion may have been fulfilled but those into the individuals private life and against their rights are a frontier that Australian police agencies are continuing to encroach upon. To understand the Australian “police state” we must also understand certain aspects of Australian history and social norms that have made the modern situation possible and why it really is neither unusual or unexpected.

Australians are now in a society where they need to tune in to government officials to find out what they can and cannot do. It is a nation that is run on press conferences, where most Australians watch the television with an obedience to find out the infection and death numbers while hanging on to every word of experts and government ministers. In a recent incident those from regional NSW found themselves under lockdown mandates with only a tweet as the official announcement. The tweet posted at 3pm and stated that by 5pm all of regional NSW would be in a 7-day lockdown. The police perpetrated an ever active enforcement on those who do not have Twitter or didn’t hear about such a spontaneous announcement.

While Australia is in the media abroad, most Australians are oblivious to the condemnation and the risk that lies ahead for them. It is a future uncertain but with the promise of safety nets and blankets provided by a scientific government of planners and scientists. It is a government that is based upon altruistic welfare and reactionary impulses, while also being steered by careful trends of academic hubris. It is a nation of public servants and an ever dependent public. The police exist to protect not so much the individual (and certainly not freedom) but the nation state itself. And in an expression of true democracy, perhaps the mob of the majority welcome and embrace this because many are apart of it in some way.

“Australia’s federal constitution does not protect fundamental human rights nor does it regulate the use of force by the police. Australia‘s federal rules on police use of force generally comply with international standards although an amended law in New South Wales allows use of firearms against suspected terrorists where no imminent threat is perceived.”- Policing Law, The Law on Police Use of Force Worldwide

Medical State

For the advocates of government, especially an all powerful one that is responsible for every aspect of human life, a powerful and active police force is crucial. It is the ugly truth that confuses utopian governance with the dystopian truths of practical history. In the past, besides aspects of moral puritanism, the individual’s health and body was their own domain. But in the modern era of public health we are seeing the unification of the health and police state.

Australia has a populace that believes in the existence of a public health system. It is an ideological abstract which is rarely challenged. It is considered a right to all Australians to have access to “free health” regardless of any failings, scarcity, and prohibition of choice that such a system presents. Because of this the individual’s body becomes a shared entity, one that the state is expected to care for and in many aspects control. Despite the majority wanting such a powerful health system, the past belief in individual body autonomy still lingers in the minds of even the advocates of public health.

So Australia is going through a cross roads between human rights and the call for greater power to the healthcare system over the public and individuals themselves. The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated the conflict between these two perspectives. Those who advocate public health as a right also want the individual to have the right of health autonomy. The reality is that a powerful public health system controls what medication and treatment an individual has access to. It also creates extended waiting periods and it has the ability to determine treatment based on wider concerns than the individual’s own health. Those concerns often being cost, time, resources, and the fatigue-availability of health practitioners.

It is an almost impossible fight for individual liberty when public health is entrenched in Australian society as a “collective good.” The wider implications of costs, shortages, and a lack of alternative treatments are disregarded in favour of a one-payer system that homogenizes and centralizes medicine. It is assumed that a free market of health would leave the poor under the bus and become expensive but it is the health state that creates dependence and makes it harder for many to actually get treatment, not to mention lengthy waiting periods and a lack of accountability when things go wrong.

The police and at times the military have been used to quarantine entire cities and states, separate families, and treat individuals as criminals because they “may” be sick. This is the new reality that health mandates and a powerful health state brings with it. Whatever pretence of human rights is lost and ignored because it is declared a crisis. Just as the War on Terror allows the police to trample on the freedoms that terror organizations threaten, a powerful police state can snatch those liberties away in the name of security. In matters of public health the individual is isolated and condemned as being selfish and placing others at risk, should they seek independence and autonomy. So as is in the War on Terror, those who question government overreach or act differently are marginalized as being a threat to the wider community.

It is not a too distant future in Australia where individuals may be forced to take medication against their will, receive procedures that they do not want, or are denied access to friends and families based upon health status. The public health system has become so important that the private citizen has little choice and say over their own body. The imperial approach and dominion over the individual is always done with a benevolent parental tone, assuming that all individuals are childlike or a risk to everyone else. That is the hallmark of the public health system in the first place, a one way street with little regard to individual needs, wants, and complexities.

The emergency powers of government allows it to disregard international laws and domestic laws that it has promised to uphold. These are the special, exceptional powers of all government, not just Australia’s. War allows a nation to declare martial law, impose curfews and grant itself extraordinary powers. The health crisis and mandates are treated as if the rule of law never really existed. It is an illusion that dupes those who romance government and believe that it stands for human rights. But it always serves itself and grows. The health state is just another aspect of the leviathan’s reach and control.

Just as a person consuming or selling “illicit materials” is considered a public threat regardless of their actual actions, so too can the benign existence of those individuals who do not want the same medical procedures or medications, whether because of ethical reasons or because it may be a direct danger to their health. Elements within the wider community have recently reported on such individuals and tar them as being selfish and “super spreaders” of the virus, which is apparently the greatest threat to human existence. “Dobbing is the new patriotism,” as one commentator put it.

Because a large part of the populace supports the government regardless of political affiliation and consider the experts the absolute authority regardless of human rights and individual liberty, the health state has a large community of active ‘dobbers’ who will inform the police on businesses, families, and people that are defying the mandates and rules that are constantly being amended during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. Those doing the “dobbing” are often doing it because they genuinely believe that those in breech of such laws are dangerous and reckless or as is often cited, being selfish. And in other instances a more cynical aspect of jealousy and spite likely steer the dobber’s actions.

One police officer during the last South Australian state lockdown claimed that their phone lines were non-stop with members of the public reporting number plates of vehicles driving during the period or giving information on those who were suspected of being in breech of the lockdown. In 2020 wives were informing on their husbands who dared to sneak in a late night dog walk and beach goers were filmed swimming on their own in the sun. It is not just a legal problem but a cultural one.

Why is all of this talk about public health so important? Because it is one key aspect of modern Australian culture, the ingrained importance of the government to most people and what empowers the police force in their present conduct. The sword and spear of the Australian government are their police forces and the military. Both are becoming more of a Swiss Army Knife apparatus with so many uses to be wielded, removing the key conceptual function of such entities. The public belief in what the police and military do or should do is often in contrast with the reality of what they are being asked to do and continue to do.

The anti-lockdown protests in Australia have become a divisive issue. The protesters are accused of being “conspiracy theorists” and “anti-vaxxers” in an attempt to label them as simpletons. While some some certainly are, not all. Such simplified claims ignore very real grievances and frustrations. Those sympathetic and wary of police powers can see a heavy handed response and a media backlash that has not given a balanced perspective. In an age where diversity and being inclusive is promoted when it comes matters of political opinions, dissent about one’s own health is not allowed.

The war on the virus has created a paranoia and obsession with defeating an entity through laws and violence against individuals. It is the belief that more government can somehow make people healthy and safe. Just like the War on Terror it looks to erode the freedom that it boasts to safeguard and instead empowers the police state to the point that a nation becomes a prison full of either compliant and eager subjects who believe in such measures or those who are forced to suffer it despite their instincts and desires for liberty (or to be left alone).

What empowers the police state is its benevolent claim of safety and security. Public health is extremely important to the Australian government and the wider public. To question the public health system is taboo and often political suicide. It is a civic religion. The wider implications and dangers of such a system are ignored and denied and inevitably more funding and overhauls are demanded. This in turn gives all control to the government in regards to individual and community health. Because no real free market exists, regulations are so extensive and so many laws are in place that not only are alternatives impossible but people become dependent on the government for all their needs. In a pandemic this empowers the government during and after to such a point that it is impossible to turn off the spigot of dependence.

Lock in Hospitals of World War Two

The police and policing powers for health and moral emergency were ever present before our Federation, when women were subject to humiliation and medical imprisonment because they may spread “venereal disease.” Not to mention the segregation of whites and non-whites in hospitals and other aspects of society (often for reasons of health, according to the experts of the time). During the World War II the Australian government and especially the state government of Queensland treated VD and sexually transmitted disease with an authoritarian approach.

During parts of World War II Australia was in many regions under martial law. Oftentimes this was by the U.S. military as well as the Australian government. From segregation to abuse against anyone who was suspected of being an enemy agent, the police state was in full effect. It was with a perverse intrusion when VD was raised as being both a health crisis and a moral panic that individuals were abducted, examined, and quarantined in humiliating ways and with no regard for their rights.

Women who were suspected of being infected with a VD were examined thoroughly and then imprisoned in what was known as “Lock in” hospitals. They remained here until they were either cured or held for extended periods afterwards. The concern was that such women may infect the men and thus harm the war effort. The public health of the nation was crucial to victory.

As a contrast, men, especially servicemen who had contracted the diseases, were treated as outpatients. It was for the women that a confusing double standard was imposed. On one hand a woman was meant to be chaste and moral and not participate in sexual acts. On the other hand a vast number of women were expected to function as ‘whores’ or women to comfort the Australian and Allied servicemen. Those women who had contracted a VD were locked away until they were cured, and then put back out so that they may continue to service the Allied soldiers. And at other times women who were considered spreaders of VD were shamed and humiliated and in some government propaganda considered a greater threat to the war effort than the Japanese military itself. The police were often used to ‘hospitalize’ women suspected of being spreaders and placed them in medical custody where they were locked away.

When the sense of national danger was most acute in those initial months of 1942, the Australian people revealed a virtually unanimous and unequivocal willingness to accept this unprecedented regimentation, restriction and restraint.”- Kay Saunders, War on the Homefront, State intervention in Queensland 1938-48

A health emergency was both a national crisis and a moral one. Whether it is against sexually transmitted illness or against recreational drugs, it is a matter where both police and the legal powers of government are used in an excessive way. It is the only way that Australian governments on a state and federal level tend to know how to conduct themselves. It is commonly thought that individuals forced into ambulances and then locked into medical facilities is something that would happen only in despotic nations like the People’s Republic of China, and yet the Australian government has done it in the past and likely will do it all the more in the near future.

War on Drugs

Australia has been an extremely enthusiastic nation in the war on drugs. It has used the prohibition of certain substances to justify a lot of excessive policing and put many people in jail because of these laws against substancesSuch a war has also helped to create the ‘bikie’ culture, giving many forms of organized crime a cash cow to profit on the black market. Like everywhere that has attempted prohibitions, it has been a failure and lead to wider, unexpected consequences.

Australia has one of the worse crystal methamphetamine addiction rates among the developed world, a result of a heavy handed approach and harsh prohibitions. While in the past marijuana was the fixation of law enforcement, the black market has developed harsher strains of the plant while finding alternatives to many other party drugs, leading to the current “ice” or “meth” “epidemics.”

Before COVID-19 the Australian drug problem was the public health emergency. A tough on crime attitude and a pariah status for anyone that has participated in drugs has created a “them” and “us” culture. Even though most individuals have experimented with one form or another of the many prohibited substances at sometime in their lives (those among government included), all drugs are deemed as being highly additive, harmful, and a threat to the public health system.

The Australian police are enthusiastic drug warriors at every level. The Federal Police on more than one occasion have gone abroad to purchase heroin and brought it back into the nation where they could then use it to entrap dealers. Breaking their own laws and with little regard of the morality of such actions, the only outcome that matters to police and prosecutors is getting the bad guys. The Australian media and public lavishly swallow up the reporting on successful operations where drugs are denied entry onto Australian streets.

Every banned and controlled substance is treated with the same level of danger and threat. The ever expanding list of banned substances creates less choice for individuals and gives the police and government greater control and means to intrude into their personal lives. A resentment of those who profit from the drug trade helps to spurn on the prohibition war. It is one of envy towards those who are able to make a tax free income. Lost in the middle, as always, are the real victims and room for reasonable debate and consideration.

The “Bali Nine” are Australian citizens who were arrested in Indonesia for transporting drugs. Two of them have been executed by firing squad, one is dying of cancer in prison and another was deported while five are likely to rot for the rest of their lives inside an Indonesian jail. The Australian Federal Police were responsible for tipping off the Indonesian authorities which lead to the extrajudicial killings and heavy punishment of the Australian citizens. The widespread indifference to the plight of these individuals at the time revealed a savage forecast of things to come, where those who go against the laws of the land are viewed with little to no regard and empathy at all.

“This is the harsh reality for Australians who go overseas and become involved in serious crimes.”- Australian Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin to the media in 2005 over the fate of the ‘Bali Nine’

The Australian government exhibits an at times caring and paternal attitude to those who have drug addictions, providing them with extensive treatment plans, outreach, and free needles for users. For those who “deal” and are involved in party or performance enhancing drugs the attitude is stern and extreme. Personal liberties are crushed. If one has a sudden spike in their electricity usage or a sudden income change, these can be grounds for a police raid or search. The onus is on the individual to justify and prove their innocence regardless of actual evidence.

As an example in NSW, part of the “Music Festival Harm Reduction,” police officers detain and search anyone suspected of being in possession of drugs while at a music event, including those under the age of eighteen. In February 2020, forty-four teenagers from ages 13 to 17 were searched, twelve were stripped searched, and of those six were found to have drugs on them. To have armed adults of the NSW police kidnap teenagers, hold them against their will, strip them and then molest them in the name of public health is a typical example of the measures that are often accepted by the public.

Because six were found to be violating the law, this somehow justifies the humiliation and trauma suffered by others. The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission said that strip searches conducted by police officers on children were ‘potential unlawful’. But they get away with it despite their own laws. In 2019 at the same music festival thirty teenagers were strip searched, but the amount who were in possession of an illegal substance is unknown. In some cases armed adults forcibly took the virginity of a teenager because they needed to internally search them for a banned substance. This is rationalized because it is somehow going to keep that individual and the wider community safe.

“What we know is that in the majority of strip searches absolutely nothing is found, and what we do know for sure is that strip searches are traumatic, invasive and…therefore should only occur as an absolute last resort.”- Samantha Lee, Redfern Legal Centre

Police always want to seem like they are the last resort, so it’s up to their discretion to decide what measures to take. They are used by the government in all means and especially for health matters and in doing so they have an authoritarianism that is of good conscience because it is for the “greater good.” This will ensure that whatever civil rights are violated are done with a measure of greater consideration. The abstract of “good” transcends the humiliation, shame, and worse of the individual in those intimate moments when they are violated. Many in the pubic support the cops and what they do, regardless.

“Prohibition has not worked. Our lawmakers know it, and admit it privately. Should they fail to countenance change publicly, they will merely be putting their own misguided self-interest above the public interest. That is a cruel betrayal.“- The Age editorial, November 29, 2016

With QR codes and contact tracing, the discussion of further surveillance of Australians to minimize the spread of COVID-19 will be accepted an condoned. And in the case of the war on drugs, placing members of the public on lists and denying them travel and the ability to mail or receive items from abroad will continue. In time we will have quaint memories of a more liberal time as the future brings far more dire and extreme measures of law and order. It will be done as an act of benevolence, for health and safety, and the mob of Australians in the greater community will welcome it with closed borders and locked down cities. It is for the greater good, and that is apparently the Aussie way. And now in the twenty-first century, to quote Dr. Steve Brule, everything can now be done “For Your Health.”

 

Recommended reading:

Child Killer

Child Killer

“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”- Howard Zinn

It is hard to imagine that a healthy mind would consider the murder of a child to be a justifiable action. It is the frightening action of monsters, the child killer. Not much is more pariah in a civilized society than such a being. As one series of wars slowly wind down, the drums beat to the distant call of likely more wars. It is the routine conduct of some nations to always be in a state of war, always to be “over there.” And no matter how many innocent are killed, how many children are murdered, there is never any justice, little is learned, and no shame is felt.

With the magical language of legalese, the collective responsibilities of the state, and abstract notions such as “social contracts” and the assumed right of government to rule, the lines of justification for the death of not just a child but of many children suddenly becomes, for some, complicated. Through action of very real violence those representing the state directly will and have murdered many children. At time this was done with direct intention, and on other occasions it was a known outcome where calculations of either tactical or strategic ambition were weighed up, and sometimes it was a mistake. A frequent mistake.

“We took ground fire and we returned fire. We estimate that around 40 were killed. But we operated within our rules of engagement.”- U.S. Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt on the Mukaradeeb Wedding Party Massacre (May 19, 2004), 42 civilians killed, 13 of them children 

It is then that the collective in some ways assumes responsibility. When the dead children are familiar, the call to justice is strong. Those who are associated with the killers are considered the enemy and often considered as guilty. The ‘trigger pullers’ are guilty, some may argue not if they were obeying orders. When the children are murdered in the application of foreign policy, guilt tends to be suffocated beneath the layers of bureaucracy and national politics. The murdered children of foreign policy become non-entities, dehumanized and made to seem unlike us. But like the victims of criminals at home, they are very human, They are the same as us.

Western liberal democracy is considered to be sacred. It has values that ensure its civilized perfume lingers on. Beyond its frontiers are barbaric regions of hatred and zealotry, religious fanatics and tribalism. The West is secular and has reason, beyond which is the endless wilderness of savages. Despite this belief the nations of Western reason have continued to go abroad and kill for decades. With a zealotry that transcends any theology, it can only be found inside the halls of academic pontification that such mass murder is always justified and conducted for good cause.

“We cannot let our qualms over collateral damage paralyze us because our enemies know no such qualms.”

“Given the damage we were willing to cause to the bodies and minds of innocent children in Afghanistan and Iraq, our disavowal of torture in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed seems perverse.”Sam Harris, The End of Faith

It is the miracle of collective obligation and responsibility that both removes any obligation and responsibility while also spreading it across an abstract amount of individuals. A national government can kill thousands of children, with the intention of punishing the populace that they belong to. It is done in the name of national interest, the interest of the liberal democracy and its people. It is the strategic ambition and intention so determined by those who are elected through the legal institution and processes of liberal democracy.

How far along the line does the responsibility for the murder of those innocent children go? The operators of the weapons systems, the commanding officers, the logistics crews, the war planners, the policy makers, the contractors, the manufacturers, the voters, the taxpayers, the unborn, etc? It is a calculus that tends to go only one way, against them and not upon those inside the privileged Western liberal democracy.

“War is when innocent people are killed for the interests of others.”Winston Churchill.

During World War II, all German citizens were often considered responsible for the deeds of their government. Babies not born when London was blitzed or children unaware of the mass death camps being managed by the government that ruled over them all in some way became a legitimate target to be bombed from above. Inside Japan, not a democracy but a complicated imperial system of arrogant layers that lead to the murder and torture of millions, the private citizen had no say in government policy. But in the mind of planners a powerless Japanese baby was somehow still responsible for the policy of its government. In killing a child does this punish the community, the nation, or government? Such is the act of terror. Terrible it may be, it is argued by the killers that innocent life can be taken so long as it serves the cause of the righteous.

“In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil.”- Robert McNamara

We are told that those in the liberal West enjoy a free society, they are nations of laws with checks and balances whose leaders are elected. The people have a say, either directly or through representation. When a national government of the liberal West murders the innocent, does that then make the citizenry who vote in free and fair elections responsible? It seems not.

It is a skewed perspective of justice. Perhaps a victors? A sane mind knows that it is wrong to kill the innocent. Especially a child. A liberal democracy is full of sane and rational individuals who value such virtues. Most claim to cherish justice, freedom, and the right not to be murdered, especially from a foreign military that has travelled far with the intention of starving, bombing, and assassinating with direct and random recklessness.

“55.6% percent of the U.S. public preferred and 59.3% percent approved of killing 100,000 Iranian civilians to save 20,000 U.S. soldiers”- SD Sagan & BA Valentino on a Gallup poll asking about a hypoethetical war with Iran, Revisiting Hiroshima in Iran: What Americans Really Think about Using Nuclear Weapons and Killing Noncombatants 

Never have the people of the liberal democracies been held responsible, unlike many of those civilians who suffered beneath tyrants. An often claimed declaration from the private citizen is, “I can’t do anything about the wars,” or “I am powerless” and so on. Well then, what good is such a system of government if that is the case? The very virtues boasted by such governance are meaningless when they matter most.

The children that are blown to pieces in a drone strike or starved to death in an embargo are living human beings. They are not fictional creatures invented for talking points. The animosity and grief felt by those who love such children, the pain that the children themselves endure are very real and ever lasting. They do not suddenly evaporate because the policy of a liberal democracy had claimed good intentions.

“Most children killed and injured directly by U.S. forces and their allies were killed the same way as their parents: they died when bombs fell; when they were caught in ‘cross-fire’; shot in night raids; shot at check-points and run over by U.S. convoys who speed through the streets and roads.  The roadside deaths are often not recorded unless the U.S. gives some compensation to the families.”- Neta Crawford, Accountability for Killing: Moral Responsibility for Collateral Damage in America’s Post-9/11 Wars

Children whose parents were not even born during a war have been blown to pieces as they walk to school or play when a mine or bomb that had been sitting for decades suddenly explodes. Long buried in the marsh or jungles near their homes, they are horrible reminders of the past when liberal democracy visited their lands. This is the reality for thousands of innocent humans in the decades since the United States waged war on South East Asia.

A war that was fought to end communism; to save the people by bombing them. The planes and crews have long retired. The nation that dropped the bombs has moved on. It is a distant memory of mostly pop culture now, trapped in the films of Oliver Stone and Francis Ford Coppola. To the people of those lands it is still a home that continues to explode with random death and with chemicals that mutate babies with such frequency. But for the liberal democracy that war ended long ago. Not for its victims. Especially the children yet born.

Many years after the war some administration officials may admit some guilt as Robert McNamara exhibited in “The Fog of War” but most are venerated and cheered as heroes of history. It is always the great nations over there, it is always an expedition or crusade of the righteous. To quote Peter Van Buren, it is claimed that “we meant well.” Is that enough to wash away so much blood? And did “we” mean well in the end? an one shake the hand of so many demons and not expect to be considered the devil?

Maybe the only reason why the child killer from within is considered so wicked is because it may have been your baby, or a familiar’s that was murdered. Those abroad may as well be statistics, photos that no one can embrace. Perhaps the reason why war comes so easy to these exceptional nations is that the citizens who make it possible have an ideology of neurosis. Everything everywhere may in some way harm them, so they need to act with paranoid might, just in case. And should the blowback occur, then they have an absolute right to kill all, even children.

“We think the price is worth it.”- Madeline Alrbright, U.S. Secretary of State on the near half a million Iraqi children killed by U.S. sanctions in the 1990s.

It is after all the righteous domain of government to declare a city legitimate for destruction, to be bombed by fleets of planes or that a region should be made a “free-fire-zone” where soldiers may kill anyone or thing that lurks inside of the lines on a map. That entire nations may be starved of food and denied medicine, that children may be targeted by a drone, even if a citizen of ones very own nation. Would it matter if war was declared by Congress, senate or parliament or that war had not been declared at all? It does not change the fact that thousands are murdered. It is the power of the righteous to kill the children of another, simply because they can. Because they think it is worth it.

“Nearly 2.3 million children under the age of five in Yemen are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021, four United Nations agencies warned today. Of these, 400,000 are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition and could die if they do not receive urgent treatment.”- World Health Organization report on the coalition war and blockade against Yemen (February 12, 2021)

When ISIS executes children in an almost universally agreed upon atrocious act, we are told this is why such a group is hated and opposed. These actions which make them monstrous is one of the defining aspects of such organizations, just as the Khmer Rouge or Lords Resistance Army are death squads of brutal conduct with countless victims. Still they have followers, supporters and those who enable, not to mention the killers who believe in the objectives and even methods. Not all of the killers are brutalized press ganged children or brainwashed zealots but many are willing individuals of rational thought. As perverse as it seems, some are even apologists for such cruelty and attempt to justify it, ends to means as such. When it is a collective that murders in the name of a cause, others will rationalize the calculations, weigh the murder upon intended outcomes. As a non-state actor, these groups are by definition illegitimate, criminal.

It is in the extreme examples of violence and torture that such illegitimate terror groups and regimes are considered pariah. It is not because they collect taxation, provide services, and operate schools. It is what most would agree to be considered, as McNamara calls it, “evil;” kidnap, torture, rape, murder and especially killing children, these are the evils that define such regimes and organizations. They are the evil actions of evil actors. What good lurks among this evil is not determined by the victims but only by those who are in someway involved in the evil acts. For some of those who live in the liberal democracies responsible, they can even pretend that this evil never happens at all.

“…many readers are no doubt thinking that war is a messy, unpredictable business, which always ends up hurting innocent people, such as children. Exactly. That is why war must end.”- John Horgan, Scientific American

The great nations of western liberal democracy continue to exercise imperial ambitions abroad. Creating instability when they claim to bring it, installing tyrants when they are supposed to oppose them, fighting terror by either supporting, training, enabling and allying with such groups. It is the alchemy of death and mayhem that planners play with, conducting “peace missions” that either prolong war or expand it and at times create an animosity that may lead to further wars. Murder of the innocent is not just the domain of government, but the government is the only entity with the exceptionalism to be “allowed” to do so. And in a liberal democracy does so, despite defying the virtues that it such governments apparently stand for.

“Running became a death sentence, even for women and children, with the dead person’s actions being recorded as ‘tactically manoeuvring’ to a firing position.”- Brereton Report on Australian war crimes in Afghanistan

Job security and patriotism are the often rationalized calculations as to why individuals can participate and ignore such murder. Indifference does not wash away so much blood. If you claim to support the government and profit from its actions, you under many definitions are complicit. In the eyes of the less moral, a legitimate target. After all it is likely that your own government would reserve such a definition for you, if you were born over there. Even your children would be considered legitimate to murder in such a case.

“The aim of Bomber Command should be unambiguously and publicly stated, that aim is the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers and the disruption of civilised life throughout Germany. The creation of a refugee problem on an unprecedented scale and the obliteration of German cities and their inhabitants.”- Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris, Royal Air Force

Claiming to care about something and then ignoring it is not caring. Boasting that the murder of the innocent is abhorrent and then playing a dance of intellectual masturbation to justify it only proves that you support the mass murder. Most killers have a rationale and claim to have a righteous reason, whether through self preservation or a paranoid need to push their reach into the lives of others. In the end, the victims suffer. You can not claim to be good if all you ever do is evil (even if you believe otherwise). And ignorance of the murder is a choice in our age of constant information.

The next time your government commits to kill in your name, no matter how righteous the mission seems, it won‘t seem that way in a matter of years. No matter how evil the enemy is, they will pale compared to the next. And no mater how different the people are to you, there is more in common than you realize. If you dare to view the photo of a corpse wrapped in carpet congealed in dirt and blood, or of a young child burned to the bone from phosphorous or dismembered because of a land mine, they were real children. The stench, the pain, the agony are absent in the distance between you and them, but it is all too real. Just imagine that the child is your own, or at the very least a familiar.

Learoyd: “Why would you ever kill this baby, huh? Why?”

Captain Fairbourne: “Why would you have let me?”

From ‘Farewell to the King’

Perhaps we need to be the monarchs of our own morality. Moral dignity does not come from the mob or from law but from your very own principles as an individual. Nothing will change if you outsource your dignity and principles to others. So much collective cruelty is made possible because the individual does not stand up and defy the blood lust of the group. Even when that group is familiar and even when that blood belongs to a stranger. She loved being tucked in at night by her father, he loved to play soccer with his friends; why would you allow your government to murder them? They are children, imperfect beings but perfect in their innocence of the cruelty in this world. Innocent of the indifference and absolute power that strangers far away have over their lives. If you do not care or in some way think that they deserve to die to satisfy abstract ambitions then maybe you are just another child killer too.

The Philosophy of No One

The Philosophy of No One

Philosophy is that ancient gift that speaks to us despite the distance of time. The wisdom and perspective of those long dead carry words of weight and understanding that allows us to find a commonality with a past that is beyond imagination. It can allow us better reflection for now, and to grant us a perspective of scale.

The human condition is universal, unconstrained by place or time. It is a constant of all culture and race. The wise thoughts and timeless ponderings from those who lived and have been long dead are a testament that in time, we too shall be dead. Our lives can be as significant or as wasteful as we are allowed and allow ourselves. Philosophy in its many forms is the individual’s contemplation and explanation of self and the world outside. It is the many seeds for thought. What they may blossom into is unknown and as unique as the soil of the individual’s mind.

In time as faith and philosophy eroded away and institutions became more powerful than the god’s themselves, humanity invented ideology. The Utopian materialism of mechanised coercion, and far worse than theological religion, it is the belief that humanity can be steered, manipulated, and strangled into compliance; a compliance that will yield an imagined outcome dreamed up by the most arrogant, maniacal, and driven minds.

Whereas philosophy of the past came in many forms, it was for the individual to direct themselves and to contemplate their own actions and thoughts. To improve the world one deed at a time and by becoming a glowing example of a way, not just the way. It was the many understandings of self and community. The fertile potential for the solitary being, the many, the ruler, and even the tyrant.

It is in the absence of different voices, not just all but any other philosophy that many are unable to weigh up that which seems right to them, in a given time and place. The understanding that ones own self can go through many transformations. Our thoughts and circumstances will always change. Ones own philosophy may switch and mutate, evolve and at times disappear. And beyond the complexity of our own self lay the millions of others who inhabit this world and their own needs and considerations. Philosophy can be the wise appreciation of this. Ideology is the maniacal need to conform and command all under one, in the service of an imaginary common goal. That it turns out is not so common after all. That is why force is required.

In the disappearance of any philosophy, one tends to lack principles and the dignified ideals of self along with the respect of many others. Instead they are a rudderless vessel flowing upon the currents of other’s will and lost to the winds of contemporary demands. It is then with the avatar and conformity of ideology that one can replace self accountability with the promises of such an ideology. Whether atheist or a theological believer, ideology can infect ones mind in the belief that all and everything is for the common good, the public interest.

It is an apparent selfless fulfilment of a social mandate that transcends the individual. Yet, it profits many individuals regardless of any merit or virtues. Individuals who lack personal accountability and philosophical checks are able to do many misdeeds, so long as it is done for a greater good in service of the collective and edges within the rules that are so easily made up. Not with any moral considerations, but often just because the utopia for that time needs such nudging.

The ideology can gratify those who lack a deeper thought into believing that they are doing a universal good. That they are serving a community or a greater abstract, society, people, nation or empire. That they are an important part of a greater team and body which is improving, changing, and modifying the world. They are bringing light to darkness and as many empires in the past proclaimed, civilizing the savages. Such a fulfilment can invigorate an individual and make them a powerful member of a team, allow them to ignore the wrongs and ills. The consequences are corruptions and omissions. It is a grand sensation to be a part of something great, it profits the ego and soul. But horrors and wrongs are spread across the chasm, not to shouldered by an individual. So many wrongs, but so few accountable beings.

Human beings are not angels it is said, that is why they need to be herded and branded like cattle. But it is not angels that lead them and decide for them. And never in the history of humanity has the most noble and sincere of heart been drawn to power. It is all an ideological belief, a union of mercenaries that profit, the naive that lack conviction, and the cynical who enjoy powers trappings. The concert of chaos that is caused by those who proclaim the ideology of order, the unintended consequences always needing more tinkering and meddling, more of the same.

Those who push through the cracks and dare the defy the utopian monstrosity are deemed dangerous or selfish. Even if they have endangered no one, even if they challenge the harm done to others, even if they are selfless in their actions and through their efforts are denied the wealth that conformity brings, they are the radicals. They are by their very nature dangerous. To ask the question is a defiance that defies the perfectness of the institution. They are Kirk asking, “What does God need with a star ship?” The voice of reason is unreasonable when the majority are so convicted to irrationality.

So misery washes across the world, each great and promising civilization proclaimed a great society to be built on the bones of those who were forced to build it or who happened to stand in the way. The many native peoples who did not have the manifest destiny of conquest in their culture, those individuals who travelled to the frontiers to be free and those who sip from the waters of feral liberty are to be the manure of progress, the crushed corpses of the ideological march of civilization.

The philosophy of the past is lost in pages that are seldom read. Instead they become segmented quotations attached to photos to be shared on social media. Not for contemplation or to be an introduction into the study of thought, but as a means to serve the self-help fetish, where one does less contemplation and consideration but instead praises oneself for no other reason other than existence.

Despite these many words and pseudo-individualist proclamations, they tend only to be a self serving affirmation that one is on the right path. So long as money is made, the career is secured and that things are purchased then all is well in the world. The ideology that is realized in the great institution is that it exists for all of us, by all of us. It is for a greater good. Despite millions of diverse beings, somehow the greater good is a singular and homogenised monstrosity that is ensured by a violent monopoly. It is the ideology of cowardice.

Self-sacrifice and charity are confused by forced welfare and bondage. It is not through the self-direction and individual consideration as to what one can do for others and where one should direct their altruistic nature. Instead it is directed. Again the institution of force steers and manipulates and despite its generations of coercion and direction it takes only credit for the accomplishments of individuals and shrugs any blame for the failure of its own mandates. And within it lurks the millions who profit from it, who cheer at its growth and who now depend on it absolutely. Those outside of it no longer have anywhere to go. Yield or die. Be bred out. That is the ideology of the imperialist.

Inside the hearts of some lurks the instinct for justice. The excited sunburst of liberty flickers from within their being. It may not be that mighty rebel yell or the revolutionary chorus that it could be. Instead it is the passive and concealed defiance of individuals who are not cowards and who know better than to conform to the collective monstrosity that is consuming not merely reason, but the physical as well.

It is an inner light that flickers like a candle on the horizon, the storm of tyrants are unable to snuff it out. The pages of laws have yet to bury it and the mercenaries that obey and serve can not strangle it. Like the flower in the pavement it springs up. It is not ideology but dignified philosophy. The respect of others, the respect for self. The principle that others are not your property, no matter how much ideological utopia claims otherwise. It is the glowing smile of mutual deed and cooperation, it is the anarchy of nature. Order and chaos can dance together. It needs no king to compose its harmony, and no experts to steer us all into inevitable ruination. It is the philosophy of no one, just the free. It is beautiful if only it is allowed to see the sun.

How Will Australia Remember Julian Assange?

How Will Australia Remember Julian Assange?

“Never believe anything until it’s officially denied.”- Claud Cockburn

This year’s ANZAC day has passed in Australia. It is a national religious holiday where many give thanks for the sacrifice of Australian combatants that served, died, and were injured in the nation’s many wars during its young history. It is a time for reflection, when Australians remember their national war heroes, those who fought for empire in far away lands, from arid deserts to terrifying jungles, against foes from all over the world. It is the popular belief that those who fought did so with freedom in mind. Australia after all is, “One(formerly “Young”) and free” as is sung in the national anthem. Free. But Australian national Julian Assange is not free.

From Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture,

A journalist uses a new platform to expose the dirty secrets of powerful governments, including war crimes, corruption, and torture. However, it isn’t the war criminals and torturers who are punished, but the journalist who brought these crimes to light. His reputation is systematically destroyed, his freedom is taken away, he suffers psychological torture. All this happens not in a military dictatorship or a one-party state known for such behavior, but in Western democracies that portray themselves as shining examples when it comes to human rights.

A Glimmer Into the Future for Journalists?

Conversations about Assange as he lingers in a legal purgatory, has become divisive and at times ignores wider implications that extend beyond the man himself. If Assange is extradited to the United States he may be tortured, forced into indefinite solitary confinement and as the more cynical speculate, suicided or at the very least die from his ailing health. In his current purgatory his mental health is deteriorating. He is being punished.  The Australian government is mostly quiet on Assange. And as it now trembles defiant against the juggernaut of Communist China, it can barely condemn such a state for its treatment of political dissidents and journalists when it is mute on the fate of one of its own citizens.

The Old Bailey in the UK was the scene for the trial of Julian Assange. He is a prisoner of the British government but it is the US that wants him. In a sort of victory the UK judge ruled that it would be to dangerous for Assange’s health if he was to go into a U.S.jail. An indictment on how the US is viewed to treat its prisoners, but Assange is still not free.

The trial of Assange is one for concern and consideration. If he is found guilty will journalists and critics of government face extradition to nation that they are not a citizen, even if they are in another legal jurisdiction?  Currently the United States is a special nation, it is the great empire and its hubris and hegemony is unlike any that has ever existed. In its pursuit of its own contemporary self interests, (often serving partisan domestic politics), the rest of the world is learning what may be possible. Namely future rulers in China, Russia and India may also apply such lessons in the pursuit of dissidents, critics and whistle blowers.

The conversation on free speech has become one of meandering failure. It is no longer a sacred virtue of a free society, it apparently comes with caveats and nuances. Or outright confused liquidity changing with cultural fashions, political correctness and domestic political imperialism. The West which boasts being a champion of free speech, despite a history of prohibitions and censorship, now leads a new front against such a freedom. But those same liberal democracies like the US, UK and Australia are not above lecturing other nations for their rights abuses.

A Bad Man?

The Swedish extradition of Assange for sexual misconduct is still a spectre over his head as a man, it is a serious charge. The Swedish authorities it turned out had worked in a secret agreement to extradite Assange to the US should he return to Sweden. Two women reported to Swedish police that Assange had engaged in unprotected sex with them, one alleged that she was asleep at the time. The women wanted Assange to undergo an STD test, the prosecutor soon dropped the charges against Assange after he was questioned by police while still in Sweden. On the day that Assange had left Sweden, with approval from the authorities, an arrest warrant was issued. Upon his arrival in London, the Swedish authorities refused to meet with Assange regarding the case against him.

Rape is a very serious allegation. Two women alleged that while the sexual interactions started consensual, they became non-consensual. Those who stand for free speech and Wikileaks should not downplay such allegations. A man can be a champion for transparency and journalism while also being responsible for rape or sexual misconduct. To downplay the allegations when victims have come forth is disingenuous and biased. Just as it is to automatically assume that the women were guided by third party actors into accusing Assange. The details of those intimate moments are unknown. What is known is that in 2019 the Swedish proceedings against Assange were dropped.

“The evidence is not strong enough to form the basis of an indictment,” concluded Eva-Marie Persson, Sweden’s deputy director of public prosecutions.

In the minds of many however Julian Assange remained a rapist. Assange’s concerns of extradition to the U.S. where he would not face justice but instead be punished were grounded. The U.S. governments involvement in the Swedish case for Assange is one of concern. As far as the Swedish prosecutors go, there is no longer a cause to pursue Assange. His current legal concerns and limbo in regards to his liberty has nothing to do with the rape allegations but instead deal with the rights of journalism. And among all of the allegations against Assange the war crimes are snuffed away and seemingly no longer matter.

Recollected Julian Assange,

From the beginning I offered simple solutions. Come to the embassy to take my statement or promise not to send me to the United States. This Swedish official refused both. She even refused a written statement. Now she has manage to avoid hearing my side of the story entirely. This is beyond incompetence. I am strong but the cost to my family is unacceptable. Even though I have been improperly treated, I would like to thank the many people in Sweden and the UK who have been very understanding of the wrong which has been done to me and my family.

Personal defects such as being ‘a creep’ or ‘an egomaniac’ are also often raised. When Assange faced a London judge after he was removed by police from the Ecuadorean embassy, he was accused of being a ‘narcissist.’ All he had done was plead not guilty to the charges levelled against him. And so the narrative that his releasing of the many leaks were done because he was an egomaniac was another narrative pushed to condemn him. Rape should be taken seriously, but such character traits and apparent defects are at best slurs or tabloid speculation.  Irrelevant especially given the nature of the evidence presented by Wikileaks and the nature of what those exposed in the leaks are capable of doing.

Russian Asset?

A criticism of Assange and WikiLeaks is in its softer approach on Russia. Wikileaks has never released any documents taken from the Russian government itself. Only those that came from U.S. and Syrian sources. The fact that Julian Assange was able to host his own show on Russian state media, RT, also suggested a pro Moscow angle. It is also alleged that Assange turned down information that if published on WikiLeaks could have challenged Russian ambitions in the Ukraine. But for many it is with the U.S. domestic political circus known as ‘Russiagate’ notably in relation to the 2016 DNC leaks. It is falsely claimed that Assange worked with Russian agents to discredit the Democratic Party and its presidential candidate. The Teflon skin that many inside of the U.S. political establishment seem to have is impressive, especially given the nature of the leaks and yet again it is not the content of the leaks that angers but those who would dare to expose such information for the wider world to consider and know.

The Russian, other governments and groups most certainly have benefited from the information exposed by Wikileaks. Though often confirming and highlighting to the public what they mostly knew about U.S. military and government conduct. In the past Moscow and Hanoi would have also benefited from the journalism that exposed the My Lai Massacre along with the Pentagon papers. That does not remove the guilt of those committing such atrocities or by default mean that those reporting on them do so with the intent of supporting another government.

Assange’s apparent softness on Russia is a weakness, it is perhaps even a bias. Whether this is due to paranoia in the hopes that he would have potential sanctuary in Russia, as NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden received, is unknown. That does not devalue the purity of the evidence that was unveiled to the world. The victims and those in the war zones know the facts, they know who is responsible for the killing. Those inside the corrupt regime such as Tunisia knew the misery of such a place, they are aware of the greed and malicious actions of their rulers thanks to “Cablegate” made possible by the Wikileaks reporting.

The pro-Russian accusation was furthered by the fact that it was only Ruptly cameras that were present to capture the moment that British police took Assange into custody, as though that was some fault of his. The question is why was Australian state media was not interested in one of its citizens going through such a monumental international ordeal. Why were other media outlets not interested in recording the British police enter the Ecuadorean embassy to take Assange into custody. Not for the dropped Swedish charges but to satisfy U.S. extradition demands. Ruptly claims it is because of their determined journalism and likely because the Russian state media persisted with the case while many other mainstream outlets seemed satisfied with the official narrative levelled against Assange.

Drained Swamps and 5D Chess

“Oh, we love WikiLeaks,” said then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.

President Obama can be called a lot of things, intelligent he certainly was. Like most presidents the position of office compromised his election promises. As president the U.S. government removed freedoms and imposed itself militarily with greater energy. Under his presidency their was also a resurgence in the war against whistle blowers and journalists. The Wikileak releases peaked under the Obama years, but they were mostly of events that occurred under President Bush. So for the most part they did not harm Obama in the public narrative. The nature of partisan politics is peculiar in that it seldom harms the government itself, only the administration renting the office space.

Despite the Obama administrations animosity towards journalists it did not pursue Wikileaks or Assange because it was understood that other news outlets would then be as guilty. And that this could be of wider consequence to the U.S. governments relationship with its usually cooperative media. Even as Wikileaks revealed uglier aspects of the Obama years, Assange was not pulled from the embassy. Leading up to his run as president Donald Trump promised and said a lot of things, flying from the seat of his pants and running on instincts he won because he appealed to many who were tired of the same U.S. government and leadership. In the end Trump bought with him more of the U.S. government.

In his first public speech as CIA director, in April 2017, Mike Pompeo went on an anti-Julian Assange tirade. It was also pledged that the assassination and spy agency would go on a campaign against WikiLeaks in his self righteous speech. This in itself revealed the Trump administrations intention on Assange, regardless of pre-election delusions that may have been believed by his libertarian and free speech champions. Trump after all was just another American president, the figurehead of the U.S. government.

Whatever compromises were made by Trump in his final days, he did not pardon Assange or Snowden or any of those others who exposed the dirty secrets of the U.S. government. Trump who came in with the promise of draining the swamp of its many entrenched politicians and government types did very little to do so. And while his champions proclaimed that he was playing some long game or advanced chess to outwit his political rivals and the “deep state,” it was under his presidency that the British police took Assange and started the chain of events that would lead to his potential extradition to the United States.

“I know nothing about WikiLeaks, It’s not my thing,” said then-President Donald Trump.

“Can’t we just drone this guy [Assange]?” asked a similarly minded presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Is He Guilty?

In 2019 Julian Assange was charged with 18 new criminal counts, including violating the U.S. governments Espionage act. Before that time it was unclear exactly what the U.S. government was specifically going to charge him with. While the British judge, Vanessa Baraitser, ruled in January 2021 that Assange could not be extradited to the United States on health grounds for fear that it may end in suicide. It has not been a reprieve or any victory. Instead Julian Assange remains in Belmarsh prison facing the potential for 175 years in a U.S. jail if he is extradited. So long as his trial remains in limbo and difficult to prove or disprove his innocence, Assange remains indefinitely imprisoned and punished. His guilt or innocence are meaningless in regards to his current condition and freedom.

He is guilty by default, is a position that is held by much the mainstream media, the minds of the public and clearly his critics. Guilty of exactly what is difficult and varies according to who. Is he guilty for what he did with the women in Sweden, that is unknown to most but that issue should not be conflated with what he is at present being accused and punished for. Is he guilty of exposing war crimes and government corruption? If that is a crime, then one can say yes.

Project Veritas obtained a phone conversation between Julian Assange and the U.S. State Department then headed by Hilary Clinton from 2011. The phone call was one of the many efforts that Assange went though to warn and then minimise the damage that the 251,000 U.S. embassy cables may put at risk the individuals whose names were not redacted in them. Assange was attempting to warn the US authorities, then unaware, that such cables had been leaked and were available through multiple sources. Wikileaks only published these specific cables after they had already been leaked on websites and were available on torrents and social media. Assange is now being charged with the release of these cables.

“And Who will be releasing these cables? WikiLeaks?” asked Cliff Johnson, a U.S. State Department lawyer, in an August 26, 2011 phone conversation with Julian Assange.

Assange responded,

No, we would not be releasing them, we are doing our usual thing of continuing on with our redaction plan, but we have in the past 24 hours released a some 100,000 unclassified cables as an attempt to head off the incentives for others to release the entire archive, but I believe that nonetheless while we may have delayed things a little by doing that they will do so unless attempts are made to stop them. We have already engaged in some legal attempts to get them to stop but I think that it will not be enough.

Many claim that Assange will not get a fair trial including former CIA officer and whistle blower Jeffrey Sterling. In a recent interview Sterling who has been charged under the same 1917 Espionage Act as Assange, for revealing that safety protocols were not being followed in operations to undermine Iran’s nuclear program, Sterling was jailed on trumped up charges. His experience and insight does not give a positive outlook for Assange and his supporters. Justice will not be served should got to the United States. The trial of Julian Assange is not about right or wrong but revenge for defying the U.S. government.

In a 2020 ‘The Grayzone’ investigation and article by Max Blumenthal, evidence was unveiled about Sheldon Adelson’s security team working for the CIA helped to conduct an obsessive campaign of spying against Julian Assange. The CIA recorded every intimate moment that Assange had while trapped inside the Ecuadorean embassy, including his supposedly confidential meetings with his lawyer. It is even claimed that plots to kidnap and poison Assange were considered. This is the actions of a desperate and obsessed government, bent on revenge. Not one pursuing justice or due process.

Is he guilty of helping whistle blowers gain access to information that they already had access to? Well that is very unlikely. It was with the DNC leaks that hurt presidential candidate Hilary Clinton that raised the modern ire of the US political class, government and media. A rather benign leak that most observers had already an inclination towards knowing as a truth. It was a leak that American partisan political celebrants considered to be far worse than the collateral murder footage. Exposing partisan corruption that may or may not have assisted the election really says a lot about how democracy is viewed in the United States. And in leaking such cables, thanks to the Trump years of madness, in the eyes of many Assange is guilty.

Becoming China

Some who support Assange claim democracy needs truth in order to function and prevail. That is the splendid illusion that such a government provides. It is the liberal democracies that are persecuting Assange and other journalists and whistle blowers. Despotic regimes of a more fascist, theocratic or communist nature also have done, at times on a greater scale, such horrendous acts of suppression and persecution of those who reveal truth and champion its cause. It seems that government itself is allergic to honesty. It is a threat to its sacred power. To have one challenge the narrative and to reveal that beneath the curtain of legitimate power, despite the rule of law and elections, that power and its dangerous outcomes remains.  Whether this is corruption of such values or the very nature of them is one for ideological debate, regardless, Julian Assange and others stand accused before the power of the liberal democracies and their empire.

Nations such as Australia, the United Kingdom and the USA in rhetoric and when it suits them are committed to human rights and the rule of law. They will wage war and execute suspects across the planet in the name of such values and yet when it is for them to yield to such rights they can fall short. Mainstream media pundits and partisan political voices join in with the inconsistency. The inconsistency does not go unnoticed, leaders and voices from the Peoples Republic of China or Russia, places with their own repression, can look to the West and with valid points challenge them on how they are prosecuting Assange.

The Australian government, much of its media and public now find the courage, as Chinese dollars slowed up during the year of COVID, to criticise the CCP for its human rights abuse. It does so with a limp sword lacking any weight or virtue, because the Australian government has done little to champion its own citizen Assange. It has a history of punishing whistle blowers and the journalists that give them a voice. From Save The Children workers being investigated by the Australian Federal Police over “Unauthorised” disclosures of information over sexual assault and mistreatment of children in refugee detention. To Richard Boyle, the Australian Tax Office debt officer that exposed unethical practices to David McBride in the war crimes leak pertaining to Australian forces in Afghanistan. Among many others that have been persecuted by the Australian government for exposing corruption and far more heinous acts. This is the nature of government, democratic of not.

In 2011, Assange described how Wikileaks was working to ensure Chinese citizens had access to their website;

China has aggressive and sophisticated interception technology that places itself between every reader inside China and every information source outside China. We’ve been fighting a running battle to make sure we can get information through, and there are now all sorts of ways Chinese readers can get on to our site.

In a January 4 tweet from this year, China Daily chief Chen Weihua said,

It’s shocking that none from New York Times and Washington Post coming out to support Julian Assange. And Also shocking that Australian PM Scott Morrison is dead quite about the greatest Australian citizen. Shame.

As the West ramps up the rhetoric and war footing against China, it is with a perversity that the free nations replicate many of the same methods of repression and censorship used by the CCP. In Australia there are no laws protecting free speech, despite the common belief that Australia is a free nation with such a basic right. The laws regarding whistle blowers are complicated and those who do come out with information do so with great risk to their freedom. Not to mention scrutiny and financial cost levelled against them. The Australian government has also voiced its intention in going after encrypted messaging services like Signal and Telegram making private conversation harder. Only criminals it is claimed need such a service. For journalists, among others they are crucial. Perhaps they are the criminals that the Australian government refers.

For a time Wikileaks and Assange were an accepted reality, a new phase of journalism. Assange even ran in an Australian election with the WikiLeaks party while he was in exile inside the Ecuadorean embassy, for a moment their was optimism. Governments grew less tolerant and accepting, optimism died. New laws are passed and in Assange’s homeland journalists homes have been raided for their coverage of war crimes.

Free Assange!

Despite mainstream disregard for Assange and his fate, there remains those who put up posters and stickers with his name. “Free Assange!” It is not just about him, but all of us. He is one man, flawed and fragile. But it is the nature of his persecution and the implications that it represents. It is the fork in the road between the deceit of ruled freedom and a darker period of control. One of claimed benevolence, where the state guides and controls every aspect of life, deciding what we are allowed to know, while it conducts itself in our names, it does so without any accountability and with a recklessness that serves only its own self perpetuation.

Assange may very well become a martyr, what life he has remaining will be scarred by his ordeal. And to some that is acceptable. He is being punished. To expose war crimes and corruption is dangerous, it destabilises the credibility and legitimacy of rule and the state itself. To murder innocent civilians or to support tyrannies in the pursuit of hegemonic interests in ever confusing foreign policy, is apparently acceptable. The victims apparently do not matter. They are insignificant, a necessity in a wider plan. No matter how many whistle blowers and journalists expose these acts, they continue to occur. Are the atrocities exposed worse than the criminality of exposing such crimes? That is what defines the morality of the two perspectives.

How will Australians remember Julian Assange? As a hero or a villain? A reminder of both cowardice and complicity, a man who was lost to a moment in time that led to far worse outcomes. A man whose own national government pretended did not exist out of respect to a powerful ally, a man that few Australian journalists championed and a man that some in the Australian public proudly called an Aussie hero. Freedom of speech is a belief in ones right to say and hear things that others may not agree with or enjoy, we have the right to ignore and not listen as much as we should have the right to speak and write. It is one of the great freedoms that many of us assume is a hallmark of a liberal society, the societies that most in the West proclaim to be. A war on free speech soon becomes a war on thoughts. That is why Julian Assange should matter. For Aussies the belief that our history of glory was fought for freedom is sullied by the Australian government not concerned with rights but in its loyal service of empires.

Assange is important to many people the world over, Wikileaks was not just exposing the U.S. government. But most other governments, environmental and financial corruption and the inner workings of power. Wikileaks was a torch that exposed the fangs and slime that slither and bite from within the shadows and darkness of government. What the common person does with this information is individual. If anything Wikileaks pulled down the mask of the ugly beast and if nothing changes, so be it but at least for a time the common person could stare the monstrosity in the eye as it quivered in some shame for what it had done. At times it may seem that much of the world does not want Wikileaks or Julian Assange, it certainly needs them.

Self Defense, Martial Arts, and the Individual

Self Defense, Martial Arts, and the Individual

Self defense is the instinct of all living things. The need to live and survive when attacked. It is only through the insulation of civilised comfort that we tend to ignore the reality of life and neglect the need for self defense. Forgetting that people and beasts do lurk which can do us harm. Fortunately most of us will never be in situations where we are required to defend ourselves. But that does not mean that danger does not lurk close by or in the distance. The nature of the threat is not always the brutish fiend hiding from within the shadows or a pack of wild dogs roaming with a blood lust, it can be clean cut and uniformed as well. But in some circumstances, are we even allowed to defend ourselves?

It is likely that most who are reading this live in a Western liberal democracy. Or in Western civilisation, the belief goes that certain universal rights are undisputed which is what helps to define the West. And yet, upon closer glance in many of the major nations and regions of the West, certain freedoms are absent or fragmented. The right to self defense is one such freedom. The ability to defend person and property from violent attack. From the laws of society itself to the martial arts, the industry that is often associated with self defense there exist many obstructions and deviations for the individuals pursuit in their personal protection.

The Culture In Martial Arts

When coaching martial arts it is sometimes easy to forget that hidden among the ranks of those in attendance there still are individuals who are in need of learning defense. The temptation to ignore the pure self defense applications grow over time as more students openly ignore the real origins of martial arts and are drawn to sport, hobby and fitness. It is after all assumed that any training in a martial art or combat sport will translate into self defense. The more training disregards self defense itself, then the less specific the training becomes for such situations.

Considerations for self defense are at times simplified, sport and traditional dogmas that go with martial arts are often emphasized instead. Such elements are attractive, they allow the student to climb an arbitrary ladder to be graded among their peers and within a wider community itself. The instructor can derive a comfortable income based upon this model. Individually catered self defense is often lost. How much duty does an instructor have to dedicate time to self defense for those that truly need it. In pure economics it is likely not much.

There is perhaps a disinterest by most instructors or in a more likely case an inability to teach and understand self defense. Many instructors have never been in a real fight and lack experience. They may be drawn to the pretend violence of the Dojo where much of the training and applications are academic. The training is performed in a safe place where, at times taking on a cosplay aspect of role play and make believe. This can often perpetuate the culture within the wider community and inside their own training facility, that attendance alone is enough to guarantee defense skills. A belief that the technique which works for sport or the rigid traditional art itself will help the individual in desperate moments of violence.

The belief that such techniques are ancient and proven through centuries of battlefield combat persists. Ignoring that most movements are stale and refined solely for the aesthetic of grading and stylistic value. Or that nuanced sports movements are less relevant to the diverse environments and scenarios of self defense. An over reliance on the assumption that the attributes that one does genuinely get from competition are enough in itself to ensure self defense in a struggle. Along with an apathy that the law at times dissuades the individual from wanting to pursue an independence in their ability to defend themselves.

The martial arts with its uniforms and cultural structures takes on a religious setting. It has rituals and customs that collectivise the group into a unit with a shared interest. It tends to wash away certain aspects of critical thinking and objectivity. The objectives of syllabus or specifics of the sport itself then become a shared goal, attaining rank and immersing oneself in the culture of the martial art. It is a protective bubble that can offer sanctuary for those experiencing low points in their life and it will provide an extra familiar unit that are often supportive and like minded. Sharing in an interest especially one with so many positives can become encapsulating. It can also reinforce certain beliefs. It can also deter from critical thinking and erode any of the original intentions of self defense.

Some have no idea about fighting or violence and that is why they take up a martial art. This may also include the instructor. In fact often when one attains greater rank they become removed from real violence as status and hierarchy insulates them from a need to either compete in challenge matches, MMA competition or even hard sparring. Let alone real fighting. A status above a group of ill informed, can see one generating a belief that the years, money and effort in training has some real value when it comes to self defense. It may and it may not. This is the impasse that exists between belief in accreditation versus the knowledge of experience.

Those who are deemed lower ranks and newer to the culture have no real judgement, the culture itself will weed out those who are wary and critical minded or who do not conform to the norms of the martial art. The rule structures of specific martial arts competition reinforce the doctrinal bias, confirming the aspects that is the fixation of the given combat sport. Should street fights or few rules competition be observed it will be those incidents that have techniques similar to the martial art that then go on to reinforce the supremacy and importance of the art itself. Ignoring all other examples which may show other martial arts in a similar light or even contradict the stylistic bias of a given system.

The beginning student is now surrounded by a self proclaimed expert and scores of like minded individuals who also confirm that expertise, so they will know no better other than to continue to adopt the dogmas and biases. Otherwise they leave. The self defense if it exists may be tacked on as an after thought to satisfy the wider criteria of affiliation or because it may genuinely be an interest of the instructor. And at times because fewer students are interested in self defense, the instructor dedicates less time to it in order to pay the bills. Martial art like most other fitness related industries is very much trend based and self defense has not been a trend for sometime.

The Individual vs Government Contracts

For some of the more self defense minded instructors, creating systems and programs for police and military is a crucial aspect of their business. Most martial arts have their origins in a need from the state to rationalise close combat and unarmed skills for their soldiers and police. A lot modern traditional martial arts were created in the late 19th century and through the 20th century to satisfy nationalism and militarism. In some cases this was the only way for the martial arts to survive. In more recent times a common boasting point is the macho claim that the system or martial art is used by a certain military.

We now live in a World of near instant access to media and where the borders of nations can be digitally open to individuals. The trans nationalism of social media ensures that events that occur in one nation can effect those in another, and the self defense community is itself without borders. More martial arts instructors look to win contracts with local authorities and those abroad, through seminars and programs. The mobile phone has allowed almost instant access to what was in the past done without witness, incidents of violence that support the actions of the authorities and acts that bring them into question. Bearing distant witness can create a variety of perspectives often based on ones loyalties, bias and opinions. Many leading martial arts experts often look to the authorities actions, and showcase better methods that would have improved the situation. The incidents are used as marketing and teaching moments for some, even when the agents of the state may be clearly in the wrong.

The experts focus is on the state agents actions, always assuming that the authority figures are in the right and have justice in mind. The default is that the uniformed aggressor is the morally positive party. Regardless of the individuals involved and often regardless of the regime that they serve. Even in cases of one sided beatings few self defense experts stand up to suggest what the beaten victim should or could do. It is a defense that defies their professional interest and likely own personal bias.

The internationalising of martial arts instruction sees experts being employed the world over helping military’s and police that have nefarious human rights records. The agents that they train will use those methods for tyranny. As is often shown. That is also assuming that State agents closer to home will not in time use their training to make life less free and liberal for the individual. It is easy to be seduced by the uniforms and hefty contracts that such work provides but the wider consequences to individual liberty are ever present. If that is at all a consideration given that many are mercenary minded in the first place. It should always be a consideration.

Not all individuals being arrested are righteous, and not all are evil. Unfortunately the appeal to authority and a growing police state has created a stigma that the state and its enforcers are incorruptible and always pursuing justice. In many places and cases, this is not true. There is a disturbing imbalance in championing the rights of the individual to protect themselves from State agents. For those teaching self defense and advocating it, they near always fall in the default position that the agents of the State are in the right and require their support in training. With the training being focused in taking away individual liberty and not protecting it.

It is the prevailing assumption that might is always right and that the State authorities so long as they perform their duties in public with minimal brutality, that the apprehended will face fair justice. Not all governments are the same, and not all remain the same. Despite this there is an over eagerness to train any body in a uniform, regardless of the long term risk that these bodies pose to others liberty.

What of Honor?

Contrary to the traditional depictions of martial arts. some do take up training to ensure that they have better skills to bully and harm. Rapists have put their grappling skills to vile use against their victims and many who hold rank in the martial arts have been bullies. Such training can when inflicted upon generally physically weaker and untrained individuals be used to strip dignity and injrue.  Is the more numbers through the door approach always best for an instructor? Or is reviewing those that train more crucial to prevent unintended consequences or empowering jerks and bullies. Is reputation, principle and justice not more important than mere monetary gains? Again it is for consideration for those who care.

The martial arts generally wraps itself in ancient myths and uses words like loyalty, discipline and honor. Such words lose any meaning when they are stripped down, loyalty usually means obedience. The assumption that the student will not train elsewhere and will defend the martial art and club with slavish adherence. Discipline is usually more akin to the parade ground thinking of forced rituals, like bowing and wearing the uniform a certain way. Over the self discipline of training on your own, being mindful of your health and hygiene and not injuring your training partners through reckless actions or ego. Or the discipline to stay home when sick and to turn up with a dedication.

Honor has a spiritual meaning for some. Honor for what? How far removed from ego and pride does this word belong?  Honor to fight and meet a challenge? Honor to do what is right?  Well is it honorable to profit in training those who may do harm? Is it honorable to train in a martial art and pretend that you are some human Jedi only to put on the uniform of the storm trooper? Honor is a word. It is washed in the blood and tears of its victims. People speak of honor as they conduct themselves in brutal and dishonorable ways. Martial arts like many military enshrined training is obsessed with the word honor but it is often ill defined in action.

The Right of the Individual

Self defense is the right of the individual. Whether that is in defending themselves from bullies at school, a rapist or a mob of state agents enforcing immoral laws. The trouble is, though they do not acknowledge it some experts and martial arts instructors lean on the side of the doers of harm. There is no consideration for what an individual should do in their own defense as armed agents beat and hold them down. Told not to resist as they are beaten, dignity and sometimes their life is taken away. Before the often indifferent public. Where is the self defense training and consideration for that individual?

In some jurisdictions the individual is not allowed to defend themselves in any reasonable way. They are expected to consider what is allowable while locked inside moments of life threatening circumstances. Those bringing violence to others do not consider the consequences of their conduct. Their victims, often physically weaker, have to consider what they are allowed to do. The victim has to consider what they can use that is at hand or just what is the appropriate amount of violence is allowable in order to save their or a loved ones life. The solution that is lazily offered is that the victim can contact the police. This is the outsourced simplicity that anyone who has never been at risk can offer.  For a slight woman who is being hunted by a deranged man, steel and lead is often the great equaliser. The police, if they come at all, tend to be a long time arriving. And yet she is told in many regions that she has no right to be armed in her own defense.

The particular kind of predator that hunts women does so with a malicious and vile intent in mind. A victim’s ability to deter and threaten the attacker in the pre stage is crucial. And yet threatening with a deadly weapon can be considered more of a crime than rape itself. Can that victim carry and possess a weapon with the sole intention of defending themselves or their family? Again this is allowable in some regions. Whereas in others it is strongly deterred. In such a case one is truly powerless beneath authority. The expectation that authority has dominion over ones rights to self defense is a belief of great consequences. The individual has a mandated reliance on authority in moments of life and death. It is often an academic consideration for those who are not living in fear or who have not lived through violent trauma, to expect victims to be dependent on a public service. To the authority it is simply a profession absent of morality or in considering the dignity of others. It is also about disarming individuals before the authority itself.

Self defense should be the core of martial arts and in many ways to combat sports. The fitness, community, hobby and well being aspects all should be secondary factors. The competition and athleticism of combat sports are integral, but so is defending yourself at all times. Whether during the competition when the opponent may attack you outside of the rules or in the wider world. Self defense and martial art skills are not just for those looking to impose themselves on others. It should be for the under dog, those who want to live and be free. To be left alone. Those who have done no wrong or harmed no one and yet find themselves the victim of either deranged minded beings or well paid agents of violence. It is your mind and body, in time you lose them both. So protect them while you can. That should be your right.

Reflections on ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’

Reflections on ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it.”- Santayana

There are some books you read which leave lasting scars on the mind. For me, that was The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer. Having first read it as a child when war was only a genre of films and comic book features, it exposed a dark truth about war and the evils of the Nazi regime. It was a book of horror. Having recently re-read it as an adult—after consuming many other books detailing history’s most terrilbe moments—its initial horror remains shocking.

Shirer’s extensive history of Nazi Germany is a heavy read not without its share of controversy (which given the subject matter, nor should it be). While it focuses on a uniquely German totalitarianism, its portrayal of victims and villains is universally human. Published only fifteen years after the defeat of Nazi Germany, the book was a surprise success.

Shirer looks at a deeper history of German culture reaching back to Martin Luther, discovering the origins of the Nazi state in pride, militaristic inclinations, a society driven to order and one that rewarded strong national and cultural identities. Following the shame and loss of World War I, economic depression, the emergence of radical anti-liberal and anti-traditional politics, the Nazis promised a restored Germany filled with the romantic delusions of fundamentalist zealotry. The dream of a thousand year Reich was born, to be built upon the bones of millions of individuals.

The Nazi state, as impressive and imperial as it became, began as a putrid ideology festering inside beer halls, spread by the minds and words of angry radicals. The party grew over time, mutating with each personality and influenced from places of simplistic solutions and blame into a welfare-warfare state built on racial nationalism. Sharing the very worse of left and right wing politics, Adolf Hitler became the great leader.

The hatred that the Nazi regime was able to manifest was done with such scale and implementation that it took more than just the single ideology of Nazism to make it possible. If history had only limited periods and examples of genocide and cruelty then it would be easy to just blame the Nazi ideology itself. Mass extermination and torture of innocent human beings had and was occurring elsewhere. From the Armenian genocide to the cruel policies in the Soviet Union, these predecessors assured the Nazi leadership that they too could implement terror on the innocent with impunity. As Shirer details, the Nazi state had a unique evil to its policies.

The book’s bitter facts expose the willingness of well educated and intelligent individuals to surpass any morality so that they may satisfy scientific and medical curiosities. The extensive nature of experimentation is given a degree of detail. Research that was conducted on unwilling and tortured individuals who suffered so that scientists and a state obsessed with racial supremacy and war could expand its knowledge about the ability to heal and destroy. It took such men of talent to help make the Nazi war machine and state advanced and deadly.

It is why many such Nazi scientists were rescued from justice by the United States and Soviet Union after the war. The Cold War would give the Nazi scientists a context to further their research. Absent were the slave laborers mostly made up of European Jews,  who were replaced by factories of employees willing to continue and expand the scientific and medical studies of their masters. Any crimes of the past washed away. For such men, was it purely ideology that drove them to dissect living human beings? Or an indifference to pain that led them to inject children with chemical cocktails that guaranteed an agonizing death? Or was it the unchecked pursuit of science alone that steered their instincts and desires?

One flaw commonly leveled at the book, especially from German critics, is Shirer’s assertion that the Third Reich is the fault the German people. Perhaps in some ways it was a uniquely German regime, but such horrors are not unique to Germany. The Soviet Union, before, during, and after the Stalin era reveals totalitarian characteristics and brutal tendencies that occurred without four centuries of Germany history. North Korea is a prison state which continues to abuse and terrorize millions. Chinese history, whether under Nationalist fascism, war lords, or the Communists is also replete with a history of slavery and torture. Each of these totalitarian states are responsible for mass murder. The dark aspects of humanity and the power of the state make such evil possible.

But it is easy to criticise Shirer from the distance of time and safety. He lived in Germany as a foreign correspondent. He witnessed the tyranny as a helpless observer and his perspective is coloured by those moments. His book ‘Berlin Diary’ is a journey from 1934 to 1941 when as a radio reporter for CBS he watched the rise of the police state turn into a genocidal nation at war. Published in 1941 just months before the United States would go to war, it helped to unveil the nature of the Nazi tyranny. Shirer knew people who were interned and risked their lives as whistle-blowers against state power. He dealt with the Nazi citizens and government alike, during the peak of the regimes hubris. It is at times that ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” borrows beats from his ‘Berlin Diary’.

In many ways this is a book of its time, written soon after the War and for an audience of those who may have suffered through and opposed the Nazi regime. It is also a book where the author injects certain bias, an example is how he views homosexuality as being a ‘perversity’. Shirer leans into the readers prior knowledge that Hitler is from the outset a known villain. Suggesting that all things Nazi as being evil, even before any examples of terrible deeds are given. But in doing so, Shirer attempts to theorise why Hiterlism was made possible. Just as Edward Gibbon looked for a conclusive sole reason as to why Rome fell, in ‘the Rise and Fall of Roman Empire” by blaming Christianity. Shirer also looks into the soul of Germany for his conclusive singularity. The fault being that of the German volk itself.

The street gangs,” in the words of Alan Bullock, “had seized control of the resources of a great modern State, the gutter had come to power.” But—as Hitler never ceased to boast—“legally,” by an overwhelming vote of Parliament. The Germans had no one to blame but themselves.

Shirer condemns every German, because of the belief in the democratic processes, that the voting majority who helped bring to power an unpredictable future of Hitlerism define all other Germans. It is in itself the very collective mindset that defined such a “gutter” culture. Crisis always makes it easy to find a simple answer and to impose blame on others. It removes the need for investigation and the understanding of complexity. It is how the Nazis were able to blame the Jews for defeat in World War One and economic depression. And in the years after the War a journalist like Shirer could readily blame the German people.

History is not so simple and the crimes of Nazi Germany can not be just blamed on Adolf Hitler as a sole individual or even the whole of Germany as a collective. It is easy to say that such an evil mastermind is responsible alone for the millions of dead. That removes guilt and responsibility of the many individuals who themselves pulled the trigger. The destinies of millions were steered at times by themselves not just by Hitler. His hatred may have provided a mandate, but no good person eagerly butchers a baby simply because they were told to. And those who profited from the misery and exploitation did so with their own self interest often hidden beneath the proclamation that it was for the Fatherland. For the Nazis that cause was a hatred of other races, notably the Jewish people. It will only be inside the pages of a David Irving book that such facts are disappeared.

At the heart of Nazi ideology is antisemitism. The steering irrational vulgarity that directed not only Hitler but the ideologically pure. Perhaps it is rooted in Martin Luther’s works but it is not unique to Germany, or even Europe for that matter. The anti-capitalist rhetoric combined with the scientific racism that was in its peak during this time found a common cause with the traditional antisemitic tendencies that existed in parts of European culture. These elements were crucial components of the Nazi ideology, it was not mere fascism or a variant of national communism. It may have had commonalities with those ideals, it was its own unique monstrosity. The censoring and burning of books, labour camps of mass murder are not uniquely Nazi either but they adopted and ritualised such acts to a grand scale.

Not found inside the book, but apparent the world over is the apathy of the morally neutral or even those who know better but are unable or unwilling to resist. Those who go along with it all, no matter how evil the path is. Those who simply did their job or informed on a neighbour because it was the law. Not unique to Nazi Germany, it was happening then in the Soviet Union, and even now in the war on terror. The apathy and obedience is what erodes liberty and justice. It is in the end what empowers and allows the greatest evil capable of becoming the very law of the land.

Nazi Germany was a regime where men of great intelligence could meet at Grosser Wannsee and plan the mass extinction of millions of human beings with bureaucratic calculation. Perfectly legal, but terrifyingly absent of justice. And many who may have lacked ideological purity implemented such horror, merely because it was their job to do so.

The book is a testament to its audience and time, it celebrates the allies and especially the Americans as knights that saved the world from the evil Nazi regime. It lacks the nuance and complicated nature of war. Being opposed to the Nazi regime does not simply rid one of any guilt should they commit atrocities themselves in the pursuit of defeating such an evil foe. At times the book can read as though Shirer wanted to pen a comic book, casting the Nazi’s as a rightfully evil villain but the US and Allies as a Superman or Captain America. To colour these panels the major players of the Nazi party and German military are either described as “stupid” without any real examples or in the case of a man like Ernest Rohm his defining crime being that he was a “homosexual”.

There are many good reasons to read the book. The depth and detail in parts that help to display the horrible nature of the Nazi state along with the sobering realisation that this actually happened. This is a living history that endured for years and harmed millions of human beings and has ramifications even to this day. The murderous street fighters of the early Nazi’s that were at times mere thugs would in a matter of years mature into a party of statesmen and central planners that would steer the nation that they claimed to love into the depths of chaos. By displaying the swastika one is not going to resurrect the Nazi state, it is unlikely that such a state shall ever reemerge. By opposing such an ideology does not necessarily make one a good person. After all Stalin himself was a nemesis of Hitler. Nazi Germany’s greatest foe and perhaps the greatest benefactor of its demise was the Soviet Union. Despite that, the Soviet state was also antisemitic and a collective nightmare riddled with slave camps, mass executions and perverse medical research. There is no good when the world is presented with the Nazi state or the Soviet Union. Only death and misery.

A book like The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is a lesson that can teach the reader the dangers of an ideology that imposes a collective world view and worships hatred. It also reveals the power of the state itself. An unnatural entity that has the power to ruin everything. The lesson is not that Nazi Germany or Hitlerism will emerge again but that many other regimes will arise with shared characteristics. Or that those who oppose Nazism as a symbol will adopt many of its methods and intolerance. When street thugs with idealistic energy burning down shop fronts may some day mature into statespeople and impose their ideals onto others through the power of the state. It should be concern for all.

The great paradox of such a collective tyranny is that the individual citizen does not matter. Race, nation, class are all used to define ones status and worth. And yet these collective regimes require individuals of exceptional nature to lead and to engineer the technology and programs required to make the ‘perfect society’. Becoming a pyramid with hierarchies of elites, at the bottom the common volk and the Untermensch. The state exists to empower the proletariat but from within the state itself rises an elite hierarchy of planners that live better than any past kings or aristocrats. The Nazi state was certainly one such frightening empire of history.

Shirer has compiled a detailed book, but does not give you all of them. Extensive research of primary sources has occurred since the book was written. But as a marker in time it stands on its own merits and will leave one with a heavy heart. Nazi Germany was a human tragedy, but it is not the singular anomaly in the history of humanity. The Nazi state provides fascination in a similar way as serial killers; it is romanced and enshrined as the template for all evil. Its victims become statistical props who are devoured on such a scale that they loose any individual humanity. Their victims are more than just Anne Frank and the countless statistics. The millions are used as a means of contrast against other murder states, providing fodder for academic debates over which regime was worse. That the Nazi state ever existed is frightening. That other such states also exist is scary and that many deny that the evils of Nazism ever occurred is plain sick.

“The man who has no sense of history, is like a man who has no ears or eyes.”– Adolf Hitler

The Banned Books of the Cold War-Era Soviet Union

The Banned Books of the Cold War-Era Soviet Union

“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”- George R. R. Martin

The authoritarian nature of the Soviet Union has been buried by apologist revisionism and has been romanced in the upsurge of sexy depictions of the Cold War. It’s a fondness for a past that never really existed. For its victims it was grim and chilling period of repression. The Stalinist era is one of dystopian horrors, genocide and gulags with centrally planned nightmares converging into a monstrous state headed by a dictator that was saved by the bloodiest war in human history. A period of uncertainty emerged after Stalin’s death, while the promise of reforms spirited the energies of the people and the intellectuals. At the 1956 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party, Stalin and his years of terror were condemned. A glimmer of hope emerged and writers wrote and unveiled the works that they had hidden during the dark years under Stalin.

For Russians, censorship and prohibited literature was not an exclusively Soviet era limitation. The first Russian book indexing prohibited writing goes all the way back to 1073 and insecure, ruthless leaders have imposed versions of censorship ever since. The 19th century was also a period where certain pamphlets containing speeches and essays that condemned the Tsar or questioned the status quo were banned. After the 1905 failed revolution, greater rule was imposed, including more censorship. Many of the heroes of the communist revolution were themselves victims of the censor and would go on to enforce their own censorship once they became the rulers. Under the tyranny of Stalin a prison state emerged and a cloud of death loomed throughout as thoughts and words became a very dangerous act.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn is one of the greatest writers in history. Arrested in 1945 while he fought in the “Great Patriotic War,” his crime was sharing his thoughts in 1940 about the Soviet system and insulting Stalin. The punishment could only confirm his condemnation and would provide fuel for his future writing. His experiences in a hard labor prison for eight years would not only give the world great works, but The Gulag Archipelago would also provide a voice and vindication for the many victims of the Soviet state.

Given relative literary freedom in the decade after Stalin’s death, writers and editors probed the boundaries of allowable opinion. It was a frontier of thought and expression that delved into dangerous territory, not only at the time but for future repercussions, as artists and writers explored and experimented in what became known as the Khrushchev “Thaw.” It was an era where the officials were uncertain as to what they could censor and punish. The authoritarians that had cut their teeth and ruled with omnipotence under Stalin still existed but they lacked the cultural moment to exercise their sinister instincts. Unfortunately, that time would return.

Boris Pasternak completed his novel Doctor Zhivago after over forty years of work. In 1956 he was able to reveal it. In 1957, after Italian Communist Party journalist Sergio D’Angelo tracked down Pasternak and received a copy of the manuscript in hopes of publishing it outside of Russia, Pasternak told him, “You are hereby invited to watch me face the firing squad.” The book was published in Italy that same year. Pasternak was nominated for a Noble Prize in literature the year after. The book was soon criticised by the Soviet authorities for its pro-individualist sentiments and criticism of Stalinism, collectivization, and general anti-Soviet tone. Communists the world over condemned the book and hate mail (along with death threats) were directed at Pasternak.

Doctor Zhivago remained popular and would go on to be made into a movie. The book was also used as a CIA prop as the agency purchased many copies and circulated them to defy the Soviet authorities. The book was no longer a story about individuals in a fictional setting but an emblem of division. It was a predecessor of Salman Rushdie’s Satantic Verses, which drew calls for his death from extremists in the Islamic World while simultaneously he became a champion for free speech advocates and atheists alike. Pasternak’s book was unable to stand on its own as a literary work, and instead would become a pariah piece criticising an ideology of centrally planned authoritarianism.

And in 1962 Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was published in the literary journal Novy Mir, 95,000 copies were instantly sold. The work would later become banned and unprintable inside the Soviet Union, except in illegal typescript where it was widely circulated in secret along with other works. The book was about one day inside a labour camp as experienced by Ivan, it revealed more about the cruel system and institutions than any statistics have or could. Solzhenitzysn would become famous outside of the Soviet world and would himself also win a Noble Prize for Literature. His work becoming less available into the 1960s from within the Soviet Union and his status as a writer negated over time as he had become controversial and by 1966 when his new piece ‘Cancer Ward’ was ready the editor of Novy Mir was reluctant to print the work without the support of the Soviet Union of Writers, the ‘thaw’ had ended.

In 1965 two Soviet authors Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel had been arrested for publishing their works in the West under fake names. Immediately the Soviet media attacked them and ran their names through dirt. In early 1966 both writers were tried and sentenced to suffer in prison camps. The State and its officials had shown its hand, the repression had returned and the two writers were a famous example of any who would dare to express themselves. Even as Russian writers and literature was being celebrated the World over the message and tone of the work may have varied, none of it was so dangerous that those outside of a specific ideology and government felt so threatened that they needed to edit or prohibit it.

The Master and Margarita is a book that in its creation has a fantastic story, the authour Mikhail Bulgakov in 1940 burned the completed copy after having spent 12 years writing it. In his later years Bulgakov wrote his work again and around 1966 after his death a heavily censored version of the book was published. An underground version without the edits soon circulated and the complete version of the book was available in 1973 and a final version was released in 1989. The spiritual and Christian themes were a dangerous threat to the Soviet officials. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov was another in many books also denied publication in the Soviet Union. However it was also banned in Australia, France, the UK and New Zealand and other territories, the original manuscript was refused by several publishers. The romantic and lustful interests of an adult man towards a young girl pushed taboos that transcended Soviet interests but challenged the moral sensibilities of supposedly liberal and free nations. The idea of adults reading words of such a nature would raise the ire of censors and officials the world over.

Soviet typewriters and printing machines had their typographic samples collected from the factory when they were manufactured and then stored in a government directory. The micro features of the typewriter is then used like a finger print.  When a typewriter was purchased it is registered to the owner. This then would allow the officials to determine which machine was used to print the offending works. Some East German and Warsaw Pact typewriters were not subject to such a directory and constraints. So many Soviet citizens purchased some of these machines, free of the registry process and along with smuggled in Western typewriters a dissident activity known as Samizdat (‘self-published’) was able to copy texts and distribute them avoiding the Soviet censors.

Those involved in the illegal reading market also used X-ray film to conceal works and found ingenious ways of hiding banned books or pages inside of the accepted-legal books. It was not just works written inside of the Soviet Union that were banned, many books from the World over, from HG Wells and George Orwell to political and religious texts that may challenge the minds of the reader or raise thoughts that could not be controlled by the State.

The Samizdat typewritten copies covered a variety of topics and genres from poetry, unpublished works to controversial pieces on politics, religion and nationalism. Despite the censors and official media, a lot of people wanted to be exposed to different views and perspectives. Whether they agreed or not, the proletariat was hungry for information. The official lies did less to conceal, it ultimately revealed the repression and shifting narratives of the Soviet state. What was acceptable could suddenly change and then the past officially scrubbed or adjusted to fit the States contemporary necessity. When Soviet citizens were able to read books like Doctor Zhivago and see just how benign its content was, it would only serve to prove the over reaction of the censors and the insecurity of the State itself.

Contraband works made available by Samizdat nourished a liberal instinct and helped to subvert the tyranny of the State, along with rock n roll, blue jeans and the continued economic idiocy that was felt by the common person daily. It is the writer who has the ability to put up a mirror on the system or society that is often the most threatening. The reflection of truth is far more dangerous than any lies. And this is where men like Alexander Solzhenitsyn became so dangerous to the Soviet government that at times they were uncertain how to deal with him. The crime in the past was in condemning the present and in the post-Stalin world it was in comparing the present to that past. Solzhenitsyn and other Russian writers fought this battle against the censors and the officials.

Through the 1970s the Soviet authorities were waging a losing battle against those writing and spreading the contraband. By 1985 over one million items of prohibited material existed deep inside the ‘restricted access collection’ of the Lenin State Library. Under the reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev, Perestroika and Glasnot reversed many of the ancient censorship and allowed artists and intellectuals to express themselves, within certain constraints. Some liberalization does not mean complete freedom. The spigot seemingly had opened up.

In the post-Soviet world, Russia like many other countries has its own nuanced sensibilities when it comes to censorship.  Inside of modern Russia the government itself does not need to impose traditional bans on books as it could have done in the past, instead the publishers do so for the state. Russia is again dominated by the cult of personality, Vladimir Putin. No where near as terrible as Joseph Stalin, though under his leadership Russia is not a free society.  A cultural homogenization exists, where private entities narrow the lanes of acceptable opinion and omit, criticise or banish anything outside of them. A form of cultural nationalism and a vanguard against any subversive ideas or immoralities that may corrupt or hinder Russia.

This is also a modern trend of large corporations and companies all over the world, not limited to publishing books and magazines. The modern Russian censors are fixated on prohibiting the publishing of materials about suicide, homosexuality, some religious texts and in some cases criticisms of Stalin himself, as was the case with the film and graphic novel, The Death of Stalin. A black comedy based on true events just before and after the death of the dictator revealing how deadly men were at times self obsessed buffoons despite ruling over millions.

Though it is in many cases not as bad as the Soviet era modern Russia has its share of direct and self imposed censorship.  Books relating to the usage of drugs such as Apocalypse Culture and The Ketamine Necromance have been banned and copies destroyed. Just as hard to publish are children’s books, where government and non-government actors heavily control such literature. It is not only the content of these books, the font and format that are dictated by the Russian government.

For the state and those interested in controlling others, it is not just the adult’s mind but especially those of children that are important to steer. The family, the school or even the child themselves does not come into consideration, all are determined to be inferior in their own learning and intellectual development. It is from the state and for the state that becomes priority. Such a miserable blandness of cultural porridge is ensured by the brain trust that adores authority. And the authority itself.

As technology and media evolved radio sets, cassette tapes and then video tapes all did the rounds and introduced the citizens behind the Iron Curtain to various perspectives that differed to their own. It helped to grow ideas and ideals, to expose them to the other world that existed beyond the bleak one of control and Soviet utopianism.  It is for the officials and central planners of modern regimes whether those of China and North Korea or even in democracies to massage or deny any alternative narrative. It is the imperial nature of those who are in control and those who benefit from such a system, to remove the alternative thoughts and works. To suppress literature and to condemn it as dangerous or immoral. To treat the citizen as a child like subject unable to make decisions for themselves.

What does it say of a government or society that makes words contraband? Whether a novel such as Doctor Zhivago is not merely a threat to the Soviet Union but communism itself exposes a fundamental flaw in the ideologies and states need to force and repress. In a free market, it is in the access to all forms of thoughts and expressions that can either confirm or condemn freedom itself. It is thanks to freedom that one can share and consider such thoughts. Inside a Soviet system one is deterred and denied from speaking outwardly about the only method of rule. Alternatives are the enemy, a deadly insecurity exists in those past and present who would inflict their views absolutely on others. Then to imprison who would dare to write something contrary, to ban or scrub their words, rather than to argue and to disprove.

The world is a better place thanks to the words of Solzhenitsyn and Pasternak. It is not a better place for the labor camps that imprisoned or the censors that sought to rid words written by such men. For the officials of the Soviet Union did what they needed to preserve the system and to maintain authority. That in itself was a righteous calling. To have a society of one or very few voices is the ore of iron rule, and it is impressive in its frightening scale that such an empire lasted so long and ruled over so many lives. Banning words (not just books and pamphlets) is not unique to the Soviet Union, but they do set an example for reflection. To make art and writing contraband only creates dissent and dissidents. The dissidents’ voice will whisper wherever the tyrant rules and in time they will yell until tyranny itself whimpers. Write on comrades!

Whisphers in the Wind

Whisphers in the Wind

As the fiasco of U.S. democracy shreds at any sense of dignity the world watches on and pretends that the health of the American empire is vibrant, the opinionated social media activist and the interested expert all find outrage in the moment.  Biden and Trump drips from the chanting lips of those who are storming the halls of political might. Far in distant lands, inside the obedient nations of the American empire heads of state read out words of support and condemnation. Outraged citizens from abroad criticise the ousted president, or they cheer for him to troll from the platform of twitter. The social media giants had long ago shown their loyalties as they ban and limit elements of some perspectives of very much the same political monstrosity. But in the end, does it change anything?

The outraged and protesting tug and pull for the reigns of rule. The mob that failed at the sort of works democracy now reveals itself as just that violent destructive blob of people who want more control, want more influence and want a government that does things for them often against others. Whether it is proud boys, ANTIFA, MAGA or BLM the government as it stands really does not change that much, perhaps ‘Amen’ is switched to ‘Awomen’ and pronouns are balanced with some sensitivity or maybe the jingoists get another minority group to blame for the decay of Western or American civilisation. But in the end the empire is ever present abroad and at home.

For the rest of the world, we are forced to watch the melodrama of U.S. politics, again. As though the United States is the centre of the world, or universe. Perhaps the world should care less about what happens inside the U.S. with as much concern as the average American seems to care about the rest of the world. Millions of humans lead their lives despite the petty and often pathetic self importance of US partisan politics and yet some how, the American empire finds them. Whether it is a drone hovering high above, visiting with random murder or a blockade of warships enforcing an almost ancient embargo, it is the American prevalence in all of our lives that seems to be destroying not only the U.S. itself, but the wider world. And when a victor emerges, the world still gets war. Mostly American wars. These are not civil riots protests that waved a fist against state led bigotry, nor are they anti conscription riots over government forcing individuals to fight overseas in another war. Such past riots, have had limited impact in quelling the growth of government or in tempering its destructive might.

Journalist Julian Assange is held captive in legal purgatory, punished for revealing the crimes of war mongers and lifting the up the skirt of many governments. Ross Ulbrycht a prisoner because he created a website, the details of his conviction would  make for an unbelievable fiction and yet it was all too real. Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning are pariah patriots, believers in the religious texts that most Americans claim to uphold and yet most of the voting public and voted for rulers disregard the details of such a constitution and Bill of Rights. And millions of poor and desperate foreigners live and die in the frontiers of foreign policy, their homes and day to day ruined so that macho sounding politicians can profit by propping up tyrannies of maniacal madness. Inside the prisons of the U.S. itself are thousands of convicts punished for victimless crimes, the prohibitions and regulations of a cancerous government that claims to be for freedom, when in fact it dissolves it at every chance. The protests are not for any of them.

A small child, perhaps now dead, coiled in infant agony, starved as its innocent eyes bulged in anguish fronted recent articles covering the desperate situation in Yemen. A situation that would be impossible if not for the aid and assistance of the US and it’s imperial allies. Neither Trump of Biden would save that baby and the many others like it.  The Saudi kingdom, is a profitable friend. The protesters that support the two coins of US partisan politics do not care about the children of Yemen either. One needs not look too far to find the victims of foreign policy, recent and distant to see the true outcome of such actions, but it seems few actually care to. And should they be presented with such facts and terrible images, a religious fog washes across their eyes, allowing them to either dismiss or contextualise the murder and suffering. But a slob tweeting from the toilet or a hair sniffing buffoon are both credible enough to lead, and be despised because they are not the other.

Protests inspired by Greta Thunberg visited many cities across the planet, sort of serious protesters found more energy than the Kony2012 social media inspired activists. They chanted and spread hashtags, cheered for the Swedish teen to shame political masters and then as often is the case, the energy dissipated. Nature continues to suffer, but a new smart phone in the hand is more appealing than living inside a canvas tent among the trees. The fixation with taxing the problem away and regulating industry to ‘not pollute’ is one of often curiosity, ignoring the waste of government itself. Not to mention the destructive pollutant that is the war machine. There once was a time when green movements were anti-government and anti-war. Now many of the supposedly green champions are inside the cathedral of government and so long as biodegradable material is used to transport the depleted uranium shells or a tree is planted on a base somewhere as gas guzzling tanks trample trees in distant lands, then the message is sound.

It seems that since the emergence of COVID-19 that the Peoples Republic of China has become popular to despise. An authoritarian government that had bashed human rights since before its inception, a nation of growing power and influence, that with patience managed to take advantage of the laziness and complacency of modern Western culture. Many inside the West profited from and helped to cultivate the communist planners of China. But now supposedly courageous journalists and politicians criticise the communist state.  Those who had their fingers inside the red cookie jar are ousted, the many honey traps are revealed but before COVID-19, few cared about the organ harvesting, mass executions, forced labour camps and surveillance state. It is hard to reveal those things as Chinese money flowed so lavishly.

The future unfortunately is China’s, not because of the billions of unique individuals of China but the regime itself. The culture of control, social credits, censorship, travel restrictions and surveillance. The nationalism of compromise communism that has developed in the decades since the death of Mao. It is a template by which other national governments may adopt, not by any devious design, but inevitable instinct. The protesters, voters and mobs that throw their violent tantrums do not stand opposed to that, unlike those in Hong Kong who feel the crushing tyranny grip them.  In the US and its partner nations, the coming tyranny is inevitable. It is often welcomed and it is one of elite insight, for your health, for your safety. The custodian government is here for the child citizen, and jobs, welfare will be available. Is that not Utopian?

Just as the war on terror normalised the security state, the war on drugs introduced no knock raids and intrusive searches, the war on the virus will bring with it the ever controlling health state. One that had already been creeping in. A health state of supposed benevolence for those nations of Public Health will continue to see grow, where an ideological health care system trumps choice and efficiency. Instead it gives careers and less care and a generic approach to solutions, that seldom suits the many individuals in need. Then the many regulations strangling society to ensure that the consumer, employer and employee are all directed and guided into one homogenised pattern. Choice, freedom, independence and individual responsibility are all deemed to be selfish. To be dependent, to have fewer or no choices and to be part of a collective is considerate, altruistic or even woke. For many of those protest, the public tantrum is about themes of the same controls, not ending them.

Whatever Americans think about their nation, whether they burn or worship their flag. How little or much that they know about their national history, it is insignificant to the perspective of those in foreign lands who understand the USA for what it actions reveal it to be. A war empire. When the mostly slave owners penned those words on that famous cannabis sheet it is unlikely that the republic that they envisioned would some day become greater than the British empire. And when the French sold lands on the North American continent, that never really belonged to them, to the young republic or when the British burned the capital building after defeating the U.S. invaders of Canada it is unlikely that they could imagine their future dependence and partial obedience to mighty U.S. empire. For those who have been visited by U.S. warplanes, tanks and ships the rhetoric of freedom and liberty are bloody lies. Just as they are for most Americans. But that is not being protested about.

So now as social media waffles on over the calamity in the streets of U.S. cities, will it change a thing? In a few months it would have been but one in many riots that have ravaged U.S. streets. Riots that have claimed lives and destroyed property.  None of which changed the perpetual nature of the US government, domestically or abroad. The outraged don’t really care about much other than the shrillness of the other side. The dead children in Yemen or Afghanistan, the burning lands of foreign wars don’t get that much concern, such scars and tears belongs to others. So when one side stands atop of the heaped mess as winner of the US government, the business of war will go on. The dignity of the individual will be bludgeoned and those who want nothing more but to control, to rule and to be taken care of, shall be victorious. But too few really cared enough to stop it. And those who do care, they are but whispers in the wind.

An Image Is Not ‘Repugnant,’ War Crimes Are

An Image Is Not ‘Repugnant,’ War Crimes Are

An image was shared on Twitter that has drawn the ire of the Australian government and some of the public. It has been called “Repugnant” by the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. Last month Australians tried to digest the revelations that members of their elite special forces had executed civilians inside of Afghanistan (acting in their name). This month they are being asked to condemn the Chinese government for sharing an image on social media. In the woke capitalist era of cancel culture, the Australian government and media are outraged! How is it that a mere digital image could be considered more upsetting than the footage of actual murder, the revelations of numerous atrocities? For some it apparently is, because when national pride is at stake, that is all that matters.

Once the Brereton report had been made public and government and military officials vocalized their prepared statements before the media and wider world, the nation of Australia dipped it’s head for a moment of shame. It did not take long for governments abroad to point the finger at the Australian military’s crimes. In doing so it brought into question Australia’s legitimacy as a champion for human rights and stability. Apparently George Bush’s ‘Sheriff of Asia’ was capable of banditry and crimes. And when the Chinese government trolled Australia on social media, the Prime Minister and others got angry over the picture—not angry at those guilty of war crimes.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, with predictable deflective measures, condemned with disgust that the Chinese government would share such an image. Media bobble heads joined in, condemning the Chinese government while also pointing out the history of the PRC’s own abuse of the innocent. It has suddenly become popular in 2020 for those who ignored the crimes of the communist government of China to suddenly criticize the authoritarian one party state. It now gains one political points to be elevated upon a nationalistic pedestal, since while the Chinese cash flow has slowed, it is safer for those who once profited from China to now blame it for all our ills.

Regardless of the decades of horrendous conduct committed by the communist government of China, the Australian military did murder civilians in Afghanistan. The fact that these murders were admitted and revealed to the public is an exceptional triumph for justice, even if it ends up being token. It is uncertain as to how deep the bloody pit of crimes commited by those who waged the war on Afghanistan goes. But now we have all seen examples of such a terrible adventure, thanks in part to both an Australian government investigation and reporting from Australian journalists, some of which work for the state-run media. It should be a triumph that the Australian government is willing to admit some of its terrible deeds. What it does with this admission is for the future to reveal. But in upholding a semblance of justice it should be praised, but instead the politics of the moment is switching to more nationalism, deflecting the matter onto the Chinese.

To have another government shame your own over such crimes is embarrassing. The innocent civilians, those who were killed and their families who suffered are now lost in the dance between politicians and patriots as forgotten props dropped before the next act of foreign policy is performed upon the stage of history. In the past the Australian media and government could have been heroic and condemned the communist government of China in its treatment of dissident and minority groups, the allegations of organ harvesting, social credits, mass surveillance and censorship. Outside of some voices and limp commentary, most of those acts were ignored or accepted. To share an image that flicks blood on the face the Australian government, however, is “Repugnant.”

How much death and destruction abroad does it take to make Australia secure? How much terrorism can a national government commit abroad before itself becomes the terrorist? These are questions that such a report could raise. Instead the danger is that no real questions will be asked, the policy and adventures abroad will be repeated in the coming years and the outrage over an image will boost the courage of the proud once again. After all it seems that many have already moved on from the war crimes report.

The Australian government and public can condemn the Chinese government and look towards a fatalistic tariff and trade war while ignoring the facts of the matter. No image is more important than the act of murder. What ever outrage points that the Australian government hopes to gain now are short lived. The governments in the region are dripping in the blood of the innocent, both past and present. Australia is among them. You can not wash blood away with more blood. The war crimes report by the Australian government should be a celebrated moment of honest self reflection, a moment to redirect policy and to reform not only the government and military but the public and media mentality. Instead it seems that pride and national self-importance will triumph. The dead are lost to history, the forgotten innocence crushed beneath the weight of arrogant policy. For those who think that the price is always worth it, just how many social media images does it take to wash over the blood of the innocent? Apparently just one.

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