Planners Decide On “Siberian Mining City” Look For Sydney

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 23/05/2018 - 8:38am in

Planning NSW and Australia’s biggest property developers have announced their new plan for Sydney, with a motif based upon the thriving mining metropolises of the Siberian tundra.

“The look we’re going for is one we call Novosibirsk with ibises,” said Kyle Woodstain, the Minister For Packing People In Like Pringles Chips In A Can. “I don’t normally have much time for the godless communists but you’ve got to hand it to them when it came to creating joyless windswept communities filled with juvenile delinquents and roving gangs of feral cats.”

“We’ve deliberately designed Sydney in a way that will create thousands of jobs,” said the planning consultant Philippa Corinthian. “Admittedly most of these jobs will involve scraping red smears off the sides of buildings that used to be pedestrians before random gusts of wind picked them up and slammed them into the walls.”

Fresh from a fact finding tour of Omsk, Krasnoyarsk and Norilsk, the town planners raved about the possibilities of bulldozing all residences that contain a grain of charm and replacing them with barren courtyards, cheerless roundabouts and gardens full of spiky leaved shrubbery.

“Sydney has a space problem and one way to solve that is to deprive children of sunlight so they grow up smaller,” said property developer Hamish Espieff. “Look, have you ever seen an unhappy sardine? No, me either.”

Peter Green

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Gramsci on the State, the Proprietorial Class, and the Sovereign Laws of Capitalism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 22/05/2018 - 9:07pm in

“In the sphere of general capitalist activity, even the worker operates on the plane of free competition, is a citizen-individual. But the starting conditions of the struggle are not equal for all, at the same time: the existence of private … Continue reading →

Victorian Police Brought In To Deal With Sydney Harbour Bridge Climber

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 04/04/2018 - 9:41am in

Wednesday morning traffic was ground to a halt in Sydney as a man climbed onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge, closing multiple lanes of traffic.

As the NSW Police cordoned off lanes, they struggled to manage the situation, deciding to bring in their Victorian counterparts to help aid the situation.

Within a matter of moments, the Victorian Police had brutally and relentlessly beaten the man to an inch of his life and removed him from the Sydney landmark. Attending officers even managed to get a quick selfie to add to their collection.

“Yep, we just haven’t got the same level of training as those Melbourne blokes”, commented a NSW Police spokesperson, “I mean, we would have tried using out-dated tactics like talking to the poor sod”.

The Victorian Police managed to bring the situation to a close quickly and efficiently, only requiring four and a half cans of pepper spray and eight batons to subdue the man.

“To be honest, we were up here in NSW for a Police Inter-State Baseball tournament anyways”, stated Brendon Asher of Vic Police, “I guess we got a bit of practice in regardless”.

The police activity signifies the closer workings of state law enforcement, with Victorian police offering to help “put the brutality back into Police Brutality”.

GK Kidd

You can check out our new show Decennium Horribilius at this year’s Sydney Comedy Festival. Hosted by The (un)Australian, the quiz show features teams of some of Sydney’s best comics trying to answer questions about the decade of the 1990s — with prizes for the audience.

Saturday May 5, 5.30pm. The Factory Theatre. Book tickets here.

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

Marketcraft as the New Statecraft

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 12/03/2018 - 7:38am in

by Steven K. Vogel* What if we thought of marketcraft (market governance) as a core government function comparable to statecraft? And what if we sought to optimize market governance rather than to minimize government intervention? I submit that this simple … Continue reading →

A Critique of the Critique of Finance: Critics of neoliberal capitalism rarely recognize the productive power of speculation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 24/02/2018 - 12:46am in

by Martijn Konings*  If there is one theme that unites the various critiques of contemporary finance, it is the emphasis on its speculative character. Financial growth is said to be driven not by the logic of efficient markets, but rather … Continue reading →

Foucault: Neoliberalism is not laissez-faire, but permanent vigilance, activity, and intervention

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 29/01/2018 - 3:44pm in

The Birth of BiopoliticsThe following Michel Foucault’s sharp insights on neoliberalism were presented during his lecture series “The Birth of Biopolitics” at the Collège de France in 1979 — a few months before Thatcher and Reagan took power, but several decades after Walter Lippmann, Wilhelm Röpke, Alexander Rüstow, Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mise, and Milton Friedman articulated, formulated, and then vigorously disseminated their ideas.
Neo-liberalism is not Adam Smith; neo-liberalism is not market society; neo-liberalism is not the Gulag on the insiduous scale of capitalism.
So, what is this neo-liberalism?… The problem of neo-liberalism was not how to cut out or contrive a free space of the market within an already given political society, as in the liberalism of Adam Smith and the eighteenth century. The problem of neo-liberalism is rather how the overall exercise of political power can be modeled on the principles of a market economy. So it is not a question of freeing an empty space, but of taking the formal principles of a market economy and referring and relating them to, of projecting them on to a general art of government. This, I think, is what is at stake, and I tried to show you that in order to carry out this operation, that is to say, to discover how far and to what extent the formal principles of a market economy can index a general art of government, the neo-liberals had to subject classical liberalism to a number of transformations.

The first of these… was basically that of dissociating the market economy from the political principle of laissez-faire. I think this uncoupling of the market economy and laissez-faire policies was achieved, or was defined,at any rate, its principle was laid down, when the neo-liberals put forward a theory of pure competition in which competition was not presented as in any way a primitive and natural given, the very source and foundation of society that only had to be allowed to rise to the surface and be rediscovered as it were. Far from it being this, competition was a structure with formal properties, [and] it was these formal properties of the competitive structure that assured, and could assure, economic regulation through the price mechanism… Neoliberalism should not therefore be identified with laissez-faire, but rather with permanent vigilance, activity, and intervention.” (Foucault 2008: 131-2)
Foucault, Michel. 2008. The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–1979. Palgrave Macmillan.

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NSW Government To Lower House Prices By Making Sydney Unliveable

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 25/01/2018 - 8:18am in



The NSW State Government has announced their housing affordability plan which centers around making the State unliveable for those that earn less than $100,000 per year.

“Let’s face it the exploding population is leading to the demand for housing to go up hence the prices,” said a Government Spokesperson. “So if we drive people away who can’t afford to buy a house, problem solved.”

When asked how they plan to do this the Spokesperson replied: “Well we started with the lock out laws, I mean who wants to live in a State where you can’t buy a bottle of wine after 11pm. When that didn’t have the desired effect we thought let’s muck up the trains. So we’ll see where this goes people, are angry so let’s hope it starts to shift them interstate.”

“Other measures we have planned are over crowded schools, underfunded hospitals and did you see how we’re going to blow two billion on stadiums for rugby league. What a pisser that is, no one ever goes and watches league. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to poke people with a stick as they line up to catch a bus.”

Mark Williamson

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

NSW Premier Promises To Make The Pokies Run On Time

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/01/2018 - 8:41am in


state, Labor, liberal

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has promised all of the State’s residents that the upcoming train strike will have no effect on the State’s precious gambling industry.

“I assure you all that we will move heaven and earth to make sure that any resident of NSW that wants to play the pokies on January 29th will be able to play the pokies,” said the Premier. “We will be running special charter buses to and from the Casino and any resident who wishes to go to their local RSL to gamble can simply call Transport Minister Andrew Constance directly and he will give them a lift.”

When asked what the Premier would do for those who are unable to get to work or school the Premier replied: “We need to priortise and we all know that in NSW nothing comes before gambling. So to those that can’t get to work take a day off go and play the pokies or maybe some roulette.”

“For those with kids many RSL’s have childcare attached so bring the kiddies along, just don’t leave them in the car.”

NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley when reached for comment on the upcoming train strike said: “This Government needs to do more to keep the trains running. I mean people won’t be able to get to the greyhounds and that is a disgrace.”

“We need to keep greyhound racing strong. Hang on if the train tracks aren’t being used then we could race the dogs along them. Oh that’s an idea who said Luke Foley doesn’t have any policies.”

Mark Williamson

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

Memory Chemicals (1979)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/10/2017 - 1:14am in

Just as Scarfolk Council demanded control over cultural memories and the historical narrative taught in schools, it also wanted to control individuals' memories.

To ensure a docile, compliant populace, Scarfolk promoted the idea of clumsy townsfolk forever stumbling into situations and seeing and hearing things they shouldn't, and proposed that measures be taken so that citizens only retained information that reflected the official party line at any given time.

Building on the success of the Black Spot Card campaign, potent, neurotoxic chemicals (and, in some cases, a steel truncheon) were employed, according to one leaflet, to: "cleanse unnecessary or redundant memories, so as to unclutter the mind".

The campaign and treatments were so effective that some people became inexplicably afraid not only to go outside but also to go into rooms in their own homes in case they saw or overheard something forbidden.

Those who could still manage to venture into rooms immediately forgot why they were there and, following a deluge of confused calls to the authorities, they had to be reminded that they had forgotten, and should now forget that they had remembered that they had forgotten.

Trump, Bannon & ‘deconstructing the administrative state’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 26/02/2017 - 7:45pm in

Trump Bannon

Donald Trump with Steve Bannon

When Donald Trump’s top two White House officials, Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus, appeared together at the American Conservative Union’s CPAC conference the other day, Bannon (the big ideas member of the duo) outlined the top three priorities or “lines of work” of the administration:

The first is kind of national security and sovereignty and that’s your intelligence, the Defense Department, Homeland Security. The second line of work is what I refer to as economic nationalism and that is Wilbur Ross at Commerce, Steven Mnuchin at Treasury, Lighthizer at — at Trade, Peter Navarro, Stephen Miller, these people that are rethinking how we’re gonna reconstruct the — our trade arrangements around the world. The third, broadly, line of work is what is deconstruction of the administrative state. [Emphases added]

On the third line of work, which is the subject of this post, Bannon clarified that he meant regulations created by government agencies on behalf of a “progressive Left” that is unable to pass legislation. Bannon referred primarily to business regulations, but Trump’s latest Executive Order initiates a review of regulation across all the functions of government.

What does such radical-sounding language mean? Is it simply a repackaging of exhausted conservative demands for a “small state”? Is it just a partisan attack on left-wing regulation while keeping right-wing state activity safe? Or does it mean something more profound about how the state works? These explanations seem unlikely as Trump has repeatedly promised to defend social security and ensure universal access to healthcare, alongside expanding the military and injecting massive sums into infrastructure.

The concept of the administrative state is one that some conservative thinkers are promulgating as a critique of modern US “progressivism”, of which Barack Obama is a key exponent. Indeed, Obama introduced more regulations than either of his two predecessors (see graph below). Perhaps most feted among conservative thinkers on this question has been Michael Anton, now part of Trump’s senior national security staff. Before November he wrote a series of widely-discussed articles under the pseudonym Publius Decius Mus, at the Claremont Review of Books, to make the case that conservatives should support Trump despite the celebrity billionaire’s obvious flaws. See here for the original article and here, here and here for his responses to critics. At the heart of Decius’s line of argument was that Trump (consciously or unconsciously) was laying out a course of action that would save Constitutional government from its subordination to the unelected and unaccountable administrative state. Hillary Clinton’s election, meanwhile, would signal a point of no return in this process.


In broad outline, this conservative critique of the administrative state targets progressivism, which is usually seen as originating with President Woodrow Wilson, and which is defined as a political movement that sees the US Constitution as having reached the limits of its effectiveness so that social progress must now be implemented by technical experts (usually government bureaucrats under the direction of a progressive administration) unencumbered by legislative politics. Thus, under Obama a gridlocked Congress was repeatedly circumvented through court decisions and federal agency policies, regulations and guidelines to extend, redefine and even override existing legislation. In a sense, these conservative thinkers have developed a critique of the modern technocratic turn in politics — of which Obama was unquestionably a practitioner. While they locate it in an ideologically-driven “progressivist” politics, this blog would see technocracy as one way that the political class has dealt with its own declining authority (in the US most spectacularly reflected in declining trust in government, and especially the legislative branch; see Pew and Gallup opinion poll data below).

Pew Trust in government 1958-2015


Trump laid out a similar argument regarding the Supreme Court, although in much less ideological terms, in his book Crippled America:

Candidates for political office always say they’re running on their record. Unfortunately, their records are made up of them talking about what they’re going to do, rather than them getting things done. Our nation’s capital has become the center of gridlock. It seems like these days most of the energy in Washington is being spent deciding whether we’re going to keep the government operating or not. No surprise there: Washington’s been running a going-out-of-business sale for a long time. It’s no wonder that our president and Congress have such low ratings in the polls. No wonder that we’ve lost our influence and the basic respect of both our allies and enemies throughout the world. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has decided in their infinite wisdom to fill the breach by making social policy rather than defending our most precious historic assets, the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We have three branches of government, but the trunk of that tree is rotting away.

A controversial case of administrative state action that Trump has rescinded (at least temporarily) is Obama’s 2016 guidance to schools on non-discrimination against transgender kids (including how to manage restroom and locker room access). The guidance claims to rest on a series of court decisions and consequent federal policy statements that interpret anti-discrimination laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act (1972); see endnote 5 of the document for a list of the relevant cases and policies. These laws explicitly oppose discrimination on the basis of sex, but were later reinterpreted by the Supreme Court and federal agencies as opposing discrimination on the basis of gender stereotypes and, later still, gender identity. Thus, over time but with no change in the wording of the law, sex discrimination (i.e. based on biological sex) has morphed into gender identity discrimination (i.e. based on subjective identity).

It is an astounding administrative state solution to a real problem — discrimination against transgender people — that effectively undermines the sex-discrimination laws it rests on. Perhaps more astounding has been the almost complete silence of US feminists on how legal protection against sexism has been undercut by this dramatic reinterpretation of clearly-worded legislation based on well-understood definitions. My point in raising this is not to dismiss the pressing need to address discrimination against trans people, but to outline the problems with the route through which this happened, and the potentially damaging consequences for the interpretation of laws that were won because of mass social struggles for equal rights.

Despite liberal claims that Trump is trying to attack the courts and other parts of the state because he is an authoritarian and/or setting up a pathway to dictatorship, it is more plausible that something else is going on here. On school bathrooms, and other issues, he frequently says these must be dealt with by democratically-elected state legislatures. Similarly, while he publicly excoriated the 9th Circuit District Court for blocking his hard-line seven-country travel ban, he has not rushed to the Supreme Court (as Obama often did) to get that ruling overturned, and instead has gone back to drafting a new Executive Order that will account for the Court’s objections.

In addition, he has nominated Neil Gorsuch to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. While Gorsuch — like Scalia — is a conservative “originalist” (i.e. someone who interprets the Constitution based on what its authors would have intended at the time they originally wrote it), he is considerably more averse to administrative state meddling in civil matters than Scalia was. That is, he tends to uphold the Constitution and laws but is less favourable to regulatory impositions made outside the legislative process, as this perceptive article by CNBC’s Jake Novak points out.

This seems to be how Trump’s anti-political positioning is playing out in the context of now running the executive branch: implementing the program he was elected on is taking precedence and the administrative state is being pared back. I’d argue the two things go together because being seen to deliver on his platform is vital to maintaining enough leverage against his political opponents to avoid being gridlocked himself. It seems clear that this path will set him on a collision course with his own side first, as their preoccupations are decidedly unlike his program, and because the Democrats are in meltdown over the election result which also put them in the minority in both houses of Congress.

Interesting in all this will be whether the more radical sections of the Left can see in Trump’s attack on the administrative state an opportunity to develop some clarity about the problem of the state more generally. Much Marxist thinking these days breaks from Marx’s insistence on replacing the state with an organisation of “freely associated producers” (or a “Commune”), and looks to retaining sections of the capitalist state, although under the control of workers or a “radical Left government”. The growing regulatory reach of state bodies such as the Environmental Protection Agency is often celebrated without questioning the growth of technocratic rule.

At a lower level of state action, the Left has fallen in with many administrative state actions without being critical of the way these reflect a retreat from more democratic channels for winning policy change. The reaction to Trump’s action on the bathroom guidance is one example, seen by the Left as unquestionably regressive when in fact things are much more complicated. Similarly, while it is great that same-sex marriage is now legal across the US, there are convincing arguments that the Supreme Court had little legal basis on which to rest its power to institute such a change. The primary problem, of course, was the utter failure of US politicians to legislate for this even though it was patently clear that US society was ahead of them on the matter. Instead, they deferred to the unelected administrative state to do the job for them. The radical Left didn’t seem to pick up on the problem with decisions moving from parts of the state accountable to democratic processes (however limited) to those further from popular influence. Indeed, some improbably saw the decision as a victory for social movements that on any honest account are much weaker and less radical than those which, in the 1960s and 70s, found it much harder to win such rights.

As I alluded to in my last post, devaluation of even minimal direct popular influence over government has been widely accepted by progressives who lack the social base needed to enforce policies on the state. They have often been uncritical of actions by unelected state officials because they happen to align with left-wing policy preferences. Isolated within the Washington establishment, Trump will find it hard to avoid confrontations with the administrative state. If the Left misreads all his moves as merely reactionary and looks to the administrative state as a shortcut to defending progressive causes, it may well find itself supporting further devaluation of democracy in the name of anti-Trumpism.


You can catch me in a panel discussion on Trump, psychopathology and the resistance to his administration, on The Third Rail. Thanks to the host, Sera Mirzabegian, and fellow panellist Steven Glass for such a stimulating discussion.

The post Trump, Bannon & ‘deconstructing the administrative state’ appeared first on Left Flank.