Milo Yiannopoulos, product of the crisis of post-modern politics

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 11/01/2018 - 12:28am in

A troll who might
as well be the new prototype of the 21st-century politician, what Milo does to
us is what we have done to the world.
Therein lies
the challenge.

Protesters clash during a demonstration outside Milo Yiannopoulos' sold out show at the Melbourne Pavilion in Melbourne, Monday, December 4, 2017. Erik Anderson/ Press Association. All rights reserved.

Can a
non-ideological right exist? Is there such a thing as rebellious
conservativism? Can being a member of a sexual minority be used as a shield to
hold in front of you when you attack the forts of (supposedly) traditional left/liberal
political correctness? These are the questions we should ask in relation to the
quasi-invitation of Milo Yiannopoulos, a celebrated star of the Trump (online)
subculture and a figure almost completely unknown in Hungary, to a conference
organized by the Hungarian government

Typically, in the
current reality of Hungarian politics however, we tend to respond to such
crisis identities and crisis-political products of (post-)modernism as those of
Milo by hysterically stigmatizing the phenomenon as far-rightism. To quote the
dialogue of Péter Nádas and Richard Swartz
: "Verdicts appearing in the clothing of
finality are valid for one day only (...). They are final verdicts based on the
prejudices derived from contemporary taste."

Let us examine why
Milo should be considered more than just a "far right" provocateur,
and why he may instead be a product of the crisis of postmodern politics.

Starting his career
as a tech journalist and gaining dubious fame for his extreme acts and statements,
and actually becoming a real opinion shaper as communication between such
individuals and the public became increasingly privatized, Milo reduced public
political discourse to the language of social media, thus becoming the face of
an "alt-right" that concurrently denies the validity of ideologies,
is anti-elite and xenophobic as well as heavily reliant on the fear of
postmodern identity-driven politics. He is the face of a right the political
essence of which may perhaps be most validly described as ‘troll politics’.

Systematic upsetting

Earlier on, a
significant part of Milo's activities was that he went to anti-Trump rallies
with his camera during the presidential election campaign, and while the
participants of these events were demonstrating for peace, solidarity, and
compassion under the flag of a tolerant America, they often reacted arrogantly
and violently in Milo's videos. This was the way the Trumpist online network
was able to "deconstruct" the self-image of Democrat supporters.
Shared at an exponential rate within minutes, these videos, albeit aired with
less significant viewership compared to the total American population, managed
to reach where they needed to (and even farther), via the new online marketing

So the point of
these actions was to quickly and widely "deconstruct" or undermine
the image that the democrats attempted to convey about themselves. Recording
the scene with his mobile phone, Milo accosted democratic protesters who
gradually lost their "political temper" to the point when one
particular demonstrator began to pound Yiannopoulos with a "Peace"
sign, while Milo was broadcasting the whole thing live on Facebook, thanks to
Mark Zuckerberg.


This kind of
"systematic upsetting" could not have worked so well in the time of the
slow-response print media. The camera crews of major networks were sometimes
unable to cover demonstrations in the era before online media dominance but the
appearance and widespread use of (smart) phones has even rendered them
unnecessary. Due to the new technology, opinion narration is privatized and the
impact of the New York Times opinion column is less significant in the era of
visual images (used as [counter-]evidence). We are stepping from one media
bubble to another, finding ourselves in the narrative quarantines of meta-realities
of whose real or supposed impact we don't really have any idea.

The context of the
above is described by Péter Csigó as follows: "Collective speculation in
financial markets has not been the sole case to manifest the systemic crisis of
feedback (or “responsivity”) mechanisms in late modern society. Similarly to
financial investors, today’s political actors are also immersed in a
self-referential speculative game, a “bubble” that retreats from reality and
follows its self-justifying inner logic. While finance actors speculate
collectively on financial asset prices and on to what extent these prices
faithfully represent underlying “fundamental” processes, the system of
“mediatized populist democracy” nurtures a collective speculation about “the
people” and “the popular.”

experts, and observers commonly speculate on how to win the “popularity
contest” of politics, how to win the hearts and minds of their popular
media-using constituencies. However, this speculative process has detached
itself from the real trends of public opinion formation – and it has betrayed
the “fundamentals” of the political field just as has been the case with
financial bubbles and the real economy."

So mediatized
democracy struggles with structural feedback and responsivity defects, which
then exaggerate the perception of events, individuals and scandals, and the
"impact" of which is further intensified by the reactions of a
critical public.

This is how Milo,
who is not simply a troll but the product of the crisis of mediatized politics
and the consequence of the disintegration of self-evidence, becomes well-known,
popular and even a point of reference.

Supporters of British alt-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos clash with left-wing protesters in Lilyfield, Sydney, Tuesday, December 5, 2017. Danny Casey. Press Association. All rights reserved.


On the other hand,
if you really look into it, the aura of this product of political crisis is not
very far-removed from the political technology of contemporary leaders
considered as right-wing populists. The primary goal of this political activity
is not to promote the common good but to maintain a grip on power by occupying
and monopolizing certain sectors (media, entertainment, etc.) and transferring
them into the hands of the business elite collaborating with the holders of
power, so that the thus "captured" state can manipulate the public
through soft censorship.

Despite the many
differences (that are equally important but not emphasized here), the above
political technology seems to work in such countries as Russia, Hungary, Turkey
and the United States. The intensity and grade of organized resistance to it
depends on the individual features of the given region.

However, this is
not the only area where the radical innovation of an alternative and populist
right manifests itself. It is also demonstrated in understanding the negative
effects of postmodern politics. Liberalized by the new leftist movements of the
1960s, the left lulled itself into the illusion that the working class and
their attendant social groups had disappeared. The postmodernism of the 1990s
basked in the un-narratibility of the world (including the ego) and the diffusion of values (and the ego).

At the collapse of
the Eastern bloc, the (neo)liberals of the post-bipolar world were celebrating
the onset of the eternal peace so desired and the multi-coloured democracy of
identities as well as the conforming triumph of the market. In the meantime,
the contemporary right attempted to modernize, while also preserving their
original meaning, the ideas (nation, family, community) that formed the natural
foundation of their political efforts.

These values were
typically met with irony from progressives, who were using forms of  political expression that were coming into line
with the principles of marketing (i.e. politicians are to be advertised the
same way as detergents) and making tabloidism a key device of political
communication. At the time, they were right in thinking that they would be able
to dominate the language of political postmodernism. However, that political
thought relied on the indomitable nature of political correctness, that is, its
applicability to all situations. But this failed to integrate the impulses and
the sometimes extreme self-expressions of those at the bottom of the pile, who
were thus ashamed of them and therefore suppressed them.

These suppressions
were liberated by the populist (pop-political) right. In its communication, it
preserves the traditional ideas of political conservativism and blends them
with the expressions of live speech imitating the language of social media,
including its slang components.

Power-oriented in
its rhetoric, this passionate language is rooted in the sentiments of the
oppressed. It is no longer just tabloidism: not only does it open its bedroom
doors wide; it also exposes bedroom activities completely unveiled for the
political consumer.

In the context of
"official politics", the Milos of the world are trolls. However, they
don't care whether their statements correspond to the reality or the experience
they identify reality with. Ignoring debates, they cause scandal and create chaos
to force their way into the political discourse, click by click. They no longer
want to defeat or surpass postmodern intellectual narratives. Instead, they
want to make them their own, turn them upside down so that they could
eventually hold them up to the progressive elite as a mocking glass.
Ultimately, this ideology-deprived politics aims to sell itself as the natural
addiction of the "people" and the amplifier of the voice of those at
the bottom – which also sounds all too familiar in Hungary.

lead British alt-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos speaks during an event at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, December 5, 2017. Lukas Coch/ Press Association. All rights reserved.


Does Milo
Yiannopoulos take himself seriously? He doesn't need to. Do Orbán's people take
him seriously? They may, but probably just as much as they have realized that
postmodern liberalism must be defeated using postmodernism as the
"means", by creating chaos, upsetting or even ridiculing values and
throwing around ideological inconsistencies.

Milo Yiannopoulos
heralds the era of a new politics. He is consciously spontaneous, innovatively
conservative, a trend-setting extremist. A troll who might as well be the new
prototype of the 21st-century politician.

What Milo does to
us is what we have done to the world.

Therein lies the

Related stories: 

Hyper-political anti-politics

Neither Jews nor Germans: where is liberalism taking us?

India at 70: bigotry rules

Country or region: 


United States




Civil society



Democracy and government

International politics



CC by NC 4.0

Australian Prime Minister Accused of Political Fear-Mongering After Warning of ‘African Gangs’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 10/01/2018 - 9:53pm in

Screen Shot - Constance on the Edge trailer

Screenshot of the trailer for ‘Constance on the Edge – What does it take to belong’, a documentary about one refugee family from South Sudan as they create a home in Australia. Click the image to watch.

The first week of the new year in Australia has been dominated by the issue of so-called African gangs.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a Sydneysider (as residents of the city of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, are called), kicked off a furore when he accused the government of Victoria state government of not addressing gang violence by African youths in the state's capital, Melbourne.

He was supported by the Immigration and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, from the state of Queensland, who claimed that Melburnians are scared to go to restaurants because of rising street crimes.

Both Turnbull and Dutton are members of the Liberal Party, while the Victoria state government is run by the Labor Party. The statements come ten months before elections in Victoria and at a time of rising nationalism across the country.

Allegations of fear-mongering and racism soon followed their remarks. Others, however, thought the prime minister was simply speaking plainly about an actual problem of crime.

Are African youth ‘gangs’ a real issue in Victoria?

The issue had first arisen in 2016 over the controversial Apex gang, which police declared a “non-entity” by April 2017. Later in the year, a string of recent crimes, from vandalism and assault, jumped into the national spotlight. The incidents were blamed on groups of African youths.

This perceived wave of “gang” violence fits with some people's perceptions:

However, many disputed whether there are gangs as such. Pieces of the Puzzled @chris8875 claims to be from one of the hot spot suburbs:

The Victoria-based Police Accountability Project was one of those who questioned if a spate of street crime among African young people was truly happening, arguing that “coverage of ethnicity is selective”:

[…] for crimes involving caucasian people, the suspect’s ethnic background is not relevant to mention, but for the same crimes involving people of African background, we hear conjecture and discussion about the backgrounds, culture, community, and the ethnicity of those involved.

It also cited data that challenged the notion of an African youth crime crisis:

[…] Victoria does not have a youth crime wave – ethnic or not. […] Youth crime rates in Victoria have been slowly declining for more than a decade. Crime Statistics Agency research has shown that most youth crimes are by a small proportion of repeat offenders. Despite this, there’s been a jump in aggravated burglaries and some violent crime types that has got everyone’s attention.

[…] Evidence showed that migrant youth and newly arrived migrants are not involved in criminal activity with less than 10 per cent being overseas born offenders. The second-highest country, after Australia, of alleged offenders in Victoria is New Zealand (2.8 per cent of the total offenders), followed by Indian (1.5 per cent), Vietnamese and Sudanese (both 1.4 per cent).

Victorian Crime Statistics Agency clearly show that the vast majority of offenders in Victoria are Australian born and older than 25.

The ‘gang’ narrative

The Victorian government and police appeared to falter in their handling of the issue, at first denying the existence of gangs then explaining how they were dealing with them.

In a press conference, Acting Chief Commissioner Shane Patton contradicted what his deputy had asserted days earlier and said the “young thugs” in question weren't organised, but are “behaving like street gangs, so let's call them that — that's what they are”:

We have for a significant period of time said that there is an issue with overrepresentation by African youth in serious and violent offending as well as public disorder issues.

Footballer and community activist Nelly Yoa has been very public in arguing that “enough is enough”. In the interview below, he told SkyNews:

There is a gang. We have a problem. Let’s solve it. […] As Melburnians, we are sick and tired of having to live in fear for the last two years.

Nelly came to Australia as a refugee from South Sudan in 2003. Much of the debate has centred on youths of South Sudanese background.

One South Sudanese community leader, Richard Deng, however, took issue with the “gang” characterization. Speaking with ABC news, he pointed out that the youth in question are Australian of African descent, not African.

He also argued that the “tiny number” involved are not members of a gang, but simply disengaged youth; the solution, he said, is reengaging them with employment and school, not further isolating them by labeling them.

Accusations of partisan politics and ‘dog-whistling’

Some commenters have taken the prime minister to task for opportunism, suggesting he is playing partisan politics in a Victorian state election year with his claims of an African gang crisis. The election is due in late November.

Sydney-based writer Osaman Faruqi maintained in an article on local news site Junkee that:

[…] if there’s one thing conservatives love doing in an election year it’s breaking the emergency glass and pushing the giant red button labelled “race”.

[…] The insidious thing about this kind of craven political campaigning is that the details and facts don’t matter. The conservatives think that as soon as the topic shifts to law and order, as opposed to things like health and education policy, they win.

Additionally, Turnbull and the politicians who have supported him have been accused of dog-whistling, with appeals to anti-immigration sentiments and racism. Wikipedia defines dog-whistling as “coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different, or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup.”

John Wren presented a list of possibilities on Twitter:

‘Media and reactive politics at its worst’

Social media has been dominated by humourous responses to perceived “fear-mongering”. Twitter hashtag #MelbourneBitesBack and “Peter Dutton” trended strongly throughout the week, even against the Sydney Ashes cricket test against England.

Activist group GetUp! joined the throng with this suggestion:

Plenty of Twitter users were on the same track:

Chris Graham, editor of independent media outlet New Matilda, chipped in with “18 Of The Best Melbourne Eateries Where Gangs Of African Youths Probably Won’t Kill You” with his characteristic sarcasm:

African Youth Crime Gangs are out of control in Melbourne. People are being slaughtered. And then eaten alive, after they’ve been slaughtered. And then re-animated and slaughtered again. It’s that bad.

[…] New Matilda hit Melbourne town to find out the best places to eat where you won’t get stabbed or maimed or killed. Turns out the safest place to eat, amidst the chaos and panic, is at an African restaurant.

But not everyone agreed with this approach:

Journalist Jonathan Green, who likes to straddle old and new media, was highly critical of some of his colleagues:

However, football writer Michael Sapro’s reply confirms that it is an issue that won’t be going away soon.

The Victorian opposition has called for a recall of state parliament to debate the street crime issue.

Australian overnight ratings for Twice Upon A Time

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 27/12/2017 - 9:38pm in

Twice Upon A Time averaged 378,000 viewers in the five major Australian capital cities. It was ABC TV's highest rating drama of the day and the nineteenth highest rating program of the day overall (The Ashes and Big Bash cricket, the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, news and current affairs programs taking 14 of the top 20 rating programs on Boxing Day). These ratings do not include regional or time-shifted viewers.

Media Links: TV Tonight

Doctor Who News

The Season of Hope?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 24/12/2017 - 7:16am in


Australia, Marxism


So this is Christmas, as the old song says.

There are objectively more horrifying, devastating, heart-crushing images, to be sure. In a real sense, however, the sheer revulsion this image produces gives it a deserved claim to notoriety.

That photo shows the mouth of a 32 year-old citizen of the richest, most prosperous and democratic capitalist nation ever: humanity's self-appointed beacon to success and freedom. Presumably, it's a recent photo.

As far as I can tell, that man has no name. At least I haven't seen it anywhere (a matter of confidentiality, I suppose). He is one in 41 million Americans living in poverty. (See also)

How did we get to that situation?

There are probably way too many answers. One, however, is relevant here: lack of solidarity. The idea that one looks after oneself and the devil take the hindmost.

409 Australian working families will be having a difficult Christmas this year. They are fighting for their rights and, by extension, for ours. They are our brothers and sisters, they are family.

Perhaps it's too late for our American brother, but it may not be too late for those Aussie workers.

If you can chip in, please do. Tell them that you care and you are with them. Tell them that there's hope in unity.

Merry Christmas.

“It’ll all be alright, mate”: man cures friend from depression using one simple sentence

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/12/2017 - 8:24pm in

Perth, Australia (dpo) - This is an extraordinary psychological breakthrough. It all happened when a friend of bank employee Manny Paterson opened up to him about his long-term struggle with depression. Manny managed to cure his friend of the illness simply by saying, “It’ll all be alright, mate”. Experts agree that this method could spark a true revolution across the whole field of psychology.
Read more »

Jodi Magness on the Archaeology of Early Islamic Settlement in Palestine

One of the other books in the winter edition of the Oxbow Bargain Book Catalogue for Winter 2017 is Jodi Magness’ Archaeology of the Early Islamic Settlement in Palestine. The blurb for this says

Archaeological evidence is frequently cited by scholars as proof that Palestine declined after the Muslim conquest and especially after the rise of the Abbasids in the mid-eighth century. Instead, Magness argues that the archaeological evidence supports the idea that Palestine and Syria experienced a tremendous growth in population and prosperity between the mid-sixth and mid-seventh centuries.

Eisenbrauns, 2003, 9781575060705, Hardback, was £49.99, now £14.95.

Magness is an Israeli archaeologist, who has written some brilliant, very accessible, popular books on the archaeology of the Holy Land. I recognise that my own religious views mean that I have a bias towards Biblical archaeology and the Ancient Near East, as opposed to the later, Muslim periods. However, western concerns with these periods have meant that precious later evidence of Muslim culture and towns have been destroyed as archaeologists have dug through them to get to ancient Egypt, for example. The British archaeologist John Romer was particular critical about this in one edition of his series on the history of archaeology for Channel 4, broadcast in the 1990s, Great Excavations. In one sequence, he sifted through the sand around one excavated ancient Egyptian monument, picking out pieces of Islamic period pottery, and sadly remarked, ‘There was a whole town here once.’ And explained that it had been either destroyed, or at least its remains had, by archaeologists determined to get at what was underneath from antiquity.

Which of course, may partly explain – but does not justify – the Islamist rage against pre-Islamic Egypt and its monuments. Like the pyramids, which they’d love to destroy.

Magness’ conclusions don’t really surprise me. There’s an argument about the demographic and economic conditions of the late Roman Empire at the time of the Muslim conquests. Part of the reasons for the Fall of the Roman Empire was economic stagnation, as I’ve pointed out before to combat the rubbish spouted by right-wing politicos and classicists like Boris Johnson. During the late Byzantine Empire, towns shrank, and many disappeared completely as they were abandoned. Those that survived tended to consist of a castle or fortification and a church around which was a much smaller settlement.

The nascent Islamic Empire put the region in touch with an expanding state that grew to cover the Near East and spread into parts of India. It gave merchants the opportunity to establish trade networks across a vast area. Furthermore, even when the Byzantines and Muslim emperors were still at work, Christians in the early caliphate were not prevented from contact with their spiritual superiors and coreligionists in Byzantium. Also, the official Byzantine ‘Melkite’ church, as it was known in Egypt, had persecuted the various ‘Jacobite’ or ‘Nestorian’ sects, which they considered heretical, often with horrific tortures. The result was that when the Muslims conquered the region, the persecuted masses opened the gates to them and welcomed them as liberators.

At the moment, however, Netanyahu, the Likudniks and the other members of the Israeli religious right in his coalition seem to be determined to erase any history of Palestine, that challenges its exclusive Jewish character. There are any number of books and articles by western historians attacking this and comparing it with militant nationalist movements elsewhere. Such as by Philip Rahtz, a very respected British archaeologist from my part of the West Country in his book, Invitation to Archaeology. This is not anti-Semitic, and Rahtz himself has always been anti- or at least, non-racist. He describes in the above book how shocked he was when an apparently liberal Australian student he was teaching was deeply surprised by his interest in the archaeology of Aboriginal Australians. ‘But they’re just apes!’ she exclaimed.

Netanyahu and his thugs are determined to close mosques and churches, or at least keep them very tightly controlled, just as the illegal settlers they support seize Palestinian land and homes in the Occupied Territories. So I really don’t know how long a genuinely open archaeological investigation of the Islamic period will last.

“No-one Is Forcing Us To Watch Cricket” Australians Suddenly Realise

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/12/2017 - 8:31am in

After 140 years of obsessively watching every second of the cricket, the Australian population has suddenly worked out that no-one is holding a gun to their head to make them do it and they could actually be doing something much more productive with their time.

“That’s thirty solid days every summer that I’m going to be spending learning how to speak French, getting to know my kids or actually reading the whole of my mobile phone manual,” said enlightened former cricket fan Norbert Sprinkler as he curiously examined a cicada in his backyard.

“I built a rockery,” said Jim Citronella.

“I was spending five whole days watching something that ended in a draw… it only took the Americans four days to fly to the moon,” said former avid cricket watcher Leanne Pinkzinc as she finally did that new bushwalk.

“The average curling match takes just over two hours, which explains why Finland invented Nokia and is a world leader in education innovation, whilst we haven’t invented anything since the stump jump plow and Derryn Hinch is one of our senators,” said Buster Southerly as he stretched wire over the top of his brand new carp pond.

Historians agree that as a job creation measure during the great depression armed guards were employed to force Australians to watch Don Bradman bat and go see Pharlap race. However, watching cricket has been totally voluntary since the end of the war.

“Thank God I can finally clear all these cricket autobiographies off my bookshelf,” said former fanatical Perth cricket fan Roger Fremantle-Doctor. “I even had Brad Hodge’s book. Brad freaking Hodge.”

Peter Green

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter or like us on facebook.

Donald Trump Names Penrith As Australia’s Capital City

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/12/2017 - 8:27am in

Donald Trump has reversed decades of US foreign policy by recognising Penrith as the capital of Australia, despite warnings from around the world that the gesture will further inflame relations between bogans and the rest of Australia.

“We will begin the process of moving our embassy and its staff away from Canberra straight away, because frankly I just don’t get roundabouts,” said the President from the seventh hole of the nearby Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club. “We’ll still do an annual porn and fireworks run down to Fishwyck but otherwise I doubt any of us will miss the place, and I’m really looking forward to spending as much time as possible at the Panthers Cable Water Ski facility.”

The move is sure to spark hostility from residents of Greater Western Sydney, who will tell anyone who bothers to listen that if they were an independent nation their economy would be larger than New Zealand’s, and who have hopes of establishing their own capital city on the west bank of the Nepean River.

“Mr Trump thinks that if Penrith is the capital city there will no longer be any need to provide air conditioned trains to the centre of Sydney,” said Pope Francis in a statement condemning the action. “This move will only further inflame the delicate peace in the region, especially if he tries to hold Floriade on grounds that are sacred to people who worship the bindi.”

Peter Green

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter or like us on facebook.

Governments haven’t always shirked responsibility for our low wages – The Conversation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/12/2017 - 11:20am in

File 20171129 28869 1ymu7fl.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Post-war Australia experienced a boom with full employment and falling inequality.
State Library of Queensland

Warwick Smith, University of Melbourne

For the last four years or so average wages in Australia have barely kept pace with inflation, meaning no real pay rises. And all the while, the government has been betting on the market to improve things.

Treasurer Scott Morrison stated:

As the labour market tightens, that’s obviously going to lead over time to a boost in wages.

As the Treasurer asserted, economic theory says these conditions should lead to rising wages, but they aren’t. The country continues its record run of 26 years of economic growth and the banks and other big corporations continue to post record profits.

Read more: How market forces and weakened institutions are keeping our wages low

The Reserve Bank of Australia is at a bit of a loss, speculating at its latest meeting that maybe globalisation and technology are to blame.

However, to understand what’s really going on it’s helpful to look at something most economists and politicians ignore: history.

How past governments have dealt with low wages

There was a period in Australia, and much of the rest of the developed world, from the end of the second world war to the early 1970s, that is often referred to as the “post-war boom”. During this roughly 25-year period, unemployment averaged 2%, inequality fell steadily and economic growth was strong.

Australia’s unemployment rate, 1901 – 2001

Unemployment in Australia.
Treasury, Author provided

This didn’t happen by accident. Towards the end of the war, policymakers and economists began planning for the post-war period.

They had lived through the Great Depression with unemployment averaging 20% and then they had lived through the war, where the war effort resulted in full employment. They asked the obvious question: “If we can achieve full employment through government spending during the war, then why not during peace time?”

That question and the resulting policy answer, outlined in the Curtin government’s 1945 white paper Full Employment in Australia, resulted in the post-war boom with full employment and falling inequality for the next 25 years.

The 1945 white paper (a remarkable political document by today’s standards) tackled the complex questions of inflation, unemployment, wages and economic growth with mature nuance. Policy proposals weren’t made to appear win-win but weighed up costs and benefits, accepting that we must take responsibility for the costs.

One of the costs of a capitalist, market based system is unemployment. In this context, unemployment was not seen as an individual failing but as a collective responsibility. The paper stated the government should accept responsibility for stimulating spending on goods and services to the extent necessary to sustain full employment.

How far we have come from 1945. Today we blame and demonise the unemployed for not being in work, even though there are many more unemployed people than there are available jobs.

Rather than governments taking responsibility for full employment, they set up punitive “employment services” regimes that require the unemployed to jump through meaningless and often demoralising bureaucratic hoops or face financial penalties.

So, what happened in the 1970s to change our attitude to full employment so radically?

During the post-war boom, inequality had been steadily falling. That is, for 25 years, the proportion of the country’s output that was going to the rich was steadily falling. Unsurprisingly, the rich fought back.

Skyrocketing inflation combined with high unemployment (stagflation), caused by the oil shocks of the 1970s, allowed business representatives to claim that the Keynesian system that had given us the post-war boom was a failure.

Enter the age of individualism. Neoclassical economics and its political counterpart neoliberalism were all about individual choice and individual accountability.

To use the words of US billionaire Warren Buffett:

There’s a class war, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.

Andrew Leigh, Battlers and Billionaires

The current stagnation of wages we are seeing in Australia is no accident and no mystery. It’s the result of the intentional erosion of worker power (largely due to the successful campaign to demonise unions) and the end of the bipartisan federal government commitment to full employment.

The impact of full employment on wages is profound. The greatest bargaining chip a worker has is to withdraw their labour.

When it’s difficult to get a new job, unemployment benefits are well below the poverty line and the unemployed are demonised by politicians and the media alike, workers are much less inclined to push hard for improved wages or conditions.

I’m not arguing that we could simply adopt the policies of 1945 and magically return to the golden years of the 50s and 60s; Australia is a very different country and too much has changed. However, we can learn a great deal from the 1945 white paper in terms of ambition, commitment, and the embrace of complexity and nuance.

The federal government could restore its commitment to creating full employment in Australia, using its spending power to make up for any shortfall in private jobs as it did during the post-war boom. History demonstrates that the careful and coordinated use of both fiscal policy (spending and taxing), and monetary policy (interest rates) to manage the economy can create a more prosperous and egalitarian Australia.

The ConversationIt’s well past time for a 21st century update to the 1945 white paper on full employment.

Warwick Smith, Research economist, University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Capitalism for Dummies: Slavery and Taxes.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/12/2017 - 8:13pm in

It's been two years since Adele Ferguson and Sarah Danckert (Fairfax Media), plus a Four Corners team (ABC News), exposed the wage-theft practices entrenched in 7-Eleven Australia and affecting foreign workers, largely on 457 and student visas (the kind of courses advertised overseas as "permanent residence courses": you, the sales pitch goes, pay to get a beautician qualification, say, and -- welcome to the capitalist paradise Down Under! -- you get a resident visa).

In the intervening years a string of similar cases came to light, affecting not only 457 and study visa holders but also working holiday tourists (aka backpackers). It wasn't just 7-Eleven either: small and big businesses in all sorts of industries were involved. Nor it was just a matter of bosses stealing wages: often female foreign workers were being sexually harassed or abused or even forced into prostitution.

The common denominator in the three categories is that those visas give their holders conditional and temporary residence rights only. Their stay is contingent upon working for a local employer, tasked to make sure these workers fulfill that duty.

I trust I don't need to explain how this situation was open to abuse: would-be residents desperate to stay, on one hand, employers ready to take advantage of that, on the other. This all should have been pretty obvious to anyone (except, evidently, the LibLab government and "progressive" Australians, for whom this is quantum mechanics explained in ancient sanskrit written in cuneiform script).

The news last week was that the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade tabled a report recommending reforms to the regime governing those visas. The word slavery was used:

" 'If you are a Woolworths or Coles and you're sourcing a product, you need to look into your supply chain to ensure there is no modern slavery practices or labour exploitation, or debt bondage,' said Chris Crewther, chair of the committee."

Will that solve that problem? Let's wait and see.

According to the ABS (3101.0 - Australian Demographic Statistics, Mar 2017) the Australian resident population grew in the year to March 2017 by 389,100 people. Natural growth produced 142,400 new residents (36.6% of that total); 231,900 (59.6%) are the result of net overseas migration (the total growth figure includes an adjustment).

In percentage terms, resident population grew 1.6% that year. Without migrants, that figure would have dropped to 0.6%.

Evidently, not all those migrants are as susceptible to abuse (included in those figures are migrants with permanent residence visas, for instance), but -- for me at any rate -- it's hard to advance a more precise figure.

Also according to the ABS (3401.0 Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia. Dec. 2016. Table 6: Short-term Movement, Visitor Arrivals) the reasons declared by short-term entrants in Australia were as follows

(Right-click to open a larger version)
It's important to note that those are cross-border movements: one visitor could and often does contribute multiple entries (and exits).

Together holiday, employment, and education (where abuses seem more prevalent) were, in December 2016, the reasons for visiting for 59.0% of short-term visitors (stay up to 1 year) of the 971,800 short-term entrants to Australia that month. But median stay for all categories was short (10.8 days), therefore, cases of abuse probably affect only those in the upper tail of the distribution: again, it's hard to be more precise.

It seems clear migrants themselves are often big losers, but has immigration lowered wages in Australia?

Academic research denies that and lefties in general accept it as Gospel truth. In the UK, for instance, Chris Dillow has frequently argued that case.

Perhaps they are right and have better population estimates. Still, I don't feel reassured. To the best of my knowledge, that research is generally based on highly aggregated official data (including wage data). In Oz, that essentially means the ABS. Normally, that's as kosher as it gets and I myself use ABS data.

However, call me paranoid or racist or stupid (or all three: I'm just a working class commie grunt, after all), in this case, where wage-theft is common I find it hard to trust information provided by employers: they know they are breaking the law. Moreover, those workers themselves, knowingly or not, are probably breaking the law too. Illegal cash-in-hand payments could be very common. Maybe I'm being unduly cynical, but I don't think that's the kind of information people volunteer to the ABS.

And it could explain the underpayment claims explosion the Fair Work Ombudsman has faced in the last few years.

Further, stories of contractors being reduced to misery aren't unknown in the media. I've heard similar stories from delivery contractors, with one additional detail: those who spoke to me claim to have been undercut by foreign contractors who subcontract the job, paying their staff peanuts. I know it's anecdotal and so it shall remain: to change that researchers would have to speak with them. Unthinkable.

In the meantime, this is how businesses are treated:

This is capitalism, mate. Mainstream economics textbooks don't teach you that kind of shit, do they? Neither do post Keynesian allegedly subversive geniuses, by the way. Whether you like it or not, you're stuck with old fashioned, working class commie grunts.