28 Apr 2011

After The Revolution There Will Be No Gonzos

By Lucas Smith
There's never been a pure socialist state so it's impossible to disprove the theory. Right? Lucas Smith goes undercover at the Marxism 2011 conference
The atmosphere was euphoric as the crowd gathered in Tahrir Square expecting the resignation of Hosni Mubarak. A hush descended as he appeared on the television screen. But Mubarak did not resign. He said he would die on Egyptian soil. The crowd was crushed. All they had worked for had come to nothing.

Then a remarkable thing happened. A rumour began to spread about a similar group of people fighting for a similar outcome in a place called Wisconsin. Protestors in Wisconsin were using the same slogan, "One world, one pain". Though the Egyptian protestors had never heard of Wisconsin the solidarity galvanised them to continue the struggle. Mubarak was ousted three days later.

This tale was told by journalist Anand Gopal in a Union House theatre smelling of stale sweat on the opening night of "Marxism 2011", the premier conference of revolution in Australia, organised by Socialist Alternative (SA) at Melbourne University this Easter Weekend. The extrapolations drawn by Gopal were typical of the weekend's offerings. Though billed as a conference of "ideas to challenge the system," few new ideas were in evidence.

At a panel presented by eight-year member Ben Hillier, called "Exploitation, Profits & Competition: the ABC of Marxist Economics," people were reduced to economic functionaries. I learned that all value derives from labour, all profit comes from exploitation and competition rewards exploitation. It makes sense if you ignore the evidence that properly regulated capitalism is the surest route to widespread prosperity yet devised.

The thing is, no one at this conference needed to provide any examples at all. In fact Marxist economics cannot be disproved because apparently every nation which has called itself socialist has actually practiced a form of state capitalism, where exploitation is controlled by the state but remains otherwise identical with capitalism. You can't disprove something that remains purely theoretical. So forget about counter-evidence. It's just not possible.

After each panel at Marxism 2011, the floor is opened up for discussion. Audience members can and occasionally do ask questions. Usually, however, they deliver angry sermons to their fellow elect. I felt sorry for the grey-haired contingent. It must be sad to spend a lifetime fighting with no result, though ironclad self-belief must have its consolations.

Another panel, "Zionism and the Invention of the Jewish people" was a confusing and unedifying diatribe. Presenter Jade Eckhaus used The 13th Tribe, a book by Arthur Koestler — himself a famous and eloquent deserter of Marxism — which argues that European Jews were descended from the ancient Khazars, not the Judeans as proof that European Jews have no claim to the land of Israel. (The Khazar theory has been discredited by modern genetics.) Given the prevalence of injustice all over the world, the obsession with Israel was slightly disturbing.

I asked the building's security guard what he thought about it all. "I have strong opinions," he said, "but I don't like giving them. My wife is Russian and she calls these people Chardonnay socialists."

At a panel entitled "The Significance of the Arab Revolutions", a massive banner reading "END MANDATORY DETENTION OF REFUGEES NOW" was taped above the speaker's table. A Bahraini man spoke in Arabic and showed a selection of images and videos from the Bahraini uprising. The very first slide read, "Bahrainis are suffering from poverty, unemployment, and naturalisation of Indians, Syrians, Yemenis and Lebanese." The slides displayed the names and photos of every demonstrator killed in the government crackdown. A video was shown of people deliberately run over in the street by jeeps and the crown of a man's head split into three petals like a flower in bloom. These images were incredibly moving. There was sobbing around the room and I myself was aware of my own throat more than usual. But what the montage had to do with Trotskyism eluded me.

Sandra Bloodworth, a member of the SA national executive who spoke at this presentation has one oratorical register: loud. This has been taken up by the rank and file. Her rant against capitalism, was peppered — liberally, you might say — with "you knows", "likes" and the like, you know. Forgive me for not quoting directly, it was too loud and quick for me to follow exactly. Let me paraphrase: Capitalism is a rotten system. The Arab revolutions are irrefutable signs of this. Obama is a tall version of Bush. NATO's intervention in Libya is a front for US interests. Now is the time to join a revolutionary organisation. Waves of revolution will reach Australia, we don't know when, but they will and we need to be ready. Two corners of the banner behind Bloodworth came unstuck during her speech.

The last session I went to was entitled "So you are thinking of joining Socialist Alternative?" I counted 25 people in the room — at least half of whom were current members. Few prospective members asked practical questions such as "What if I don't have a union in my workplace?" "How are internal decisions made?". An unready novitiate would need fortitude.

At this session it was also explained why the Greens are an anti-progressive force. Bob Brown backed away from Marrickville Council's motion to boycott Israeli products. Therefore he is a stooge of the system. Apparently, there is no room for compromise. If you're not with us all the way you're against us all the way.

So what kind of people attend a conference like Marxism 2011? In about equal proportion, middle class types taking their guilt to its farcical extreme, true working class stalwarts, and academics. The largest demographic was composed of white males, followed by white females. There is no doubting the good intentions of these intrepid millenarians — and the time they dedicate to handing out flyers, attending and organising rallies, signing petitions and participating in union politics, is not insignificant.

The people I meet seemed realistic about the future. One attendee, Ben Hillier, told me that the hoped-for revolution won't come anytime soon and certainly a stable capitalist society such as Australia won't be first in line. So what motivated him to campaign for something that he does not expect to see in his own lifetime? "One billion people living in poverty," is his answer. "We have an end goal in mind, sure, but there are a lot of little goals along the way."

That sounds good, but too many of those attending Marxism 2011 acted like they have a monopoly on righteousness. And from what I could tell, the entire conference rested on an a priori argument. Real socialism has never happened therefore it can't be disproved. The Arab revolutions are necessarily victories for socialism. Racism is impossible without capitalism. Yes, really.

As the cries of "one solution, revolution!" went up following the bludgeoning force of one speaker after another, the crowd was electrified. I felt the way I always feel when I'm dragged into a church service. Wouldn't it be nice to believe?

 

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David Grayling
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 12:16

It's great to see that somewhere in Australia, there are people who are actually questioning the status quo.

I mean, questioning is a sign that a person's brain is actually working, that the person is more than a zombie that repeats all the mantras and ideologies and nonsense they've been taught.

One example of this fallacious indoctrination is: "It makes sense if you ignore the evidence that properly regulated capitalism is the surest route to widespread prosperity yet devised."

I guess those who are starving or living in poverty throughout the world probably wouldn't give this statement a tick but, not being white, they don't count, at least in some circles.

Universities were supposed to be places where people were taught to think, to question. Now they, because of corporate funding, are merely vocational training centres where prospective CEOs are groomed and shaped for corporate servitude.

While I don't support communism, neither do I support capitalism which has turned the bulk of humans into grasping, two-legged pigs.

Universities should drive the corporate Barons from their hallowed halls and return to their original purpose: to educate broadly!

http://dangerouscreation.com

DeclanT
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 12:47

Wow. Apart from the fact that a lot of your own middle class guilt clearly comes through in this article, I guess the main thing I was struck by was how utterly apolitical all of your attacks against the conference holders were.

Its one thing to disagree politically. But all the petty comments about Sandra Bloodworth's loud voice, the banner falling down (how pathetic, right?), middle class guilt and monopolies on righteousness are completely apolitical. How about some discourse on why you think the Soviet Union and China were socialist countries, rather than just railing on about Tony Cliff's analysis of state capitalism (though clearly you don't really know what that is). I would contend that in fact there HAVE been no socialist societies, and that the determining factor of what defines a society is NOT simply what it says it is.

You content yourself with vague statements like “It makes sense if you ignore the evidence that properly regulated capitalism is the surest route to widespread prosperity yet devised.” Actually, capitalism has been both regulated and unregulated in its existence and always has inevitably ended in crisis. But maybe as a middle class male yourself, capitalism works out ok.

Anyway, thoroughly disappointing article. Most of it really was turgid rubbish, with all the usual criticisms of the organised left coming through.

LukeMR
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 15:08

Well, I thought it was a very entertaining read. Somehow I don't think the author was aiming at "serious journalism" - so I appreciated the colour.

Lucas, you got talent bro, I was right there in the hall with you!

As, for the substance - I'm just going to weigh in with this. No one likes that apolitical "Penn and Teller" "south park style" (much as it is one of my favourite shows), you're all stupid for having an ideology social commentary.

But, the view of the world that doesn't see ANY place for capitalism, free enterprise etc in the elmination of some of the world's problems (namely those related to economic resources) is the kind of thing that gives ideology a bad name.

The revolution will not be televised because it aint here and it aint wanted. The SA people should think about the quite literally billions of people who are now living free of extreme poverty with the contribution of capitalism in places like in Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, China, Brazil (and more).

There isn't one approach or one pure ideology that can deliver a better world. Ideology is important but must be nuanced because we as humans are nuanced. I don't think Marx ever got that.

Sean Bozkewycz
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 16:08

I also attended the 2011 Marxism conference, having been lured in by the prospect of seeing John Pilger introduce, screen and discuss his latest film, "The War You Don't See.' Pilger's film bravely confronts the issue of media complicity in the rapacious, continuous wars that have become the background noise of the 21st century. His support of the conference three years running is reflective of the intellectual calibre within the Marxist movement.

It was dismaying to read such a superficial, dismissive article on such a progressive website.

Lucas, perhaps you should apply for a position within the Murdoch empire?

Sean Bozkewycz
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 17:27

@LukeMR

Those supposed 'billions' who are now free from 'extreme poverty' also have the wonderful 'contribution of capitalism' to thank for their lack of clean drinking water, vast inequality, global war and a steadily warming planet (and more).

At least they're now on the right team and can use their new found economic freedom to buy bottled water and an air conditioner.

Go capitalism!

GraemeF
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 18:33

"It makes sense if you ignore the evidence that properly regulated capitalism is the surest route to widespread prosperity yet devised."

Only if you ignore the slave labour conditions in third world countries to drag them up above the $2.00 a day mark and the rich capitalists who decimated the work force of countries with unions and environmental standards to opt for the race to the bottom in wages and conditions.

Perhaps you could explain why having the top 1% of Americans controlling close to 40% of the countries wealth is good for society.

This was a very shallow article.

GraemeF
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 18:36

Sorry, I got carried away. I forgot that the survival of the Labor party rests on finding their own scapegoats, be they socialists or Greens.

Poor little Labor. Nasty caring people calling you names?

tadtietze
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 18:39

I'm no big fan of Socialist Alternative, but this article reminds me very much of the kind of "journalism" we saw in the MSM around the Marrickville BDS issue: smug, self-satisfied denunciations of particular views without the need for serious engagement with the arguments put.

The problem for Lucas Smith is that he retails a series of warm & fuzzy claims about capitalism that are repeatedly tested in practice and found to be wanting. No wonder, especially in the wake of the GFC, that increasing numbers of people are questioning whether the system really is as humane and rational as he implies.

For <i>New Matilda</i> to run an article like this, I must presume that either it intends to commission a response from SA (and perhaps other Marxists) or that its editorial policy is to ridicule sections of the Left who don't fit into its particular definition of progressive politics. I sincerely hope the former is the case.

@Dr_Tad — http://left-flank.blogspot.com/

gregrb
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 18:40

Luke, to use the examples of "Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, China..." as places where capitalism has saved the people needs a big rethink. India is still pretty much a basket case because it has been using capitalist models, and one of the only areas that isnt a basket case elected a communist party to local government. Korea and Taiwan were heavily centrally planned, and then sold off the assets to private firms later. They are an example of the tax payer and good government planning doing all the work, then the rich buying that and profiting off it, not an example of capitalism at work.

China is another great example. Since "opening up" a few have got rich and a handful of cities are doing very well, but it was actually state-capitalism/socialism that provided the base for all this to happen. With almost zero FDI China provided basic health care and education to over 90% of its people, miles ahead of India. Since "opening up" some have done well, but all are other indicators are down- employment, healthcare, literacy etc etc. To claim that capitalism has been a success here is drawing a very very long bow. I would say its whats left of state capitalism that's kep the place together, and there are rumblings in China that the country is going to the left again- more centrally planned free medicine, subsidised housing etc.

Left ideas are still very attractive, particularly in China.

And by the way, any notion that being Marxist means you cant have air conditioning or a decent standard of living shows base ignorance. Marxism is about everyone living the good life, not about universal poverty.

Mitzi G Burger
Posted Friday, April 29, 2011 - 08:04

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the delightful observations in this article. It is wonderful that people will go out of their way to devote energy to discussion groups for social change, yet equally evident that such discussions leave the door wide open for crackpot philosophy of the Koestler kind. Marxists may recall that thing called the Kibbutz.

LukeMR
Posted Friday, April 29, 2011 - 09:52

@Sean and @Gregrb

I never said that capitalism "saved" anyone, I said it contributed. These countries still have many problems, as to we. Indeed, capitalism, if poorly regulated can of course damage.

I invite you to tell the few hundren or so MILLION newly middle class Indians that they're a citizen of a "basket case". Or, come to Haiti - where I am now - and go tell the owner of a medium sized business with 25 employees that his pursuit of personal wealth is not helping the community. Please. GET REAL.

To say capitalism has NO place in a more prosperous society is ridiculous.

The central theme of capitalism is that the private accumilation of wealth should be the primary means of generating economic value in society. To assert this in no ways means you can't have government or not-for-profit social intervention.

A soceity with elements of capitalism does not equal classical, neo-classical, neo-liberal or economic rationalism. Australia, for example, is none of the above.

But - maybe someone else should talk for me about how well the globe has done with capitalism:

http://www.gapminder.org/videos/200-years-that-changed-the-world/

Peter Burnett
Posted Friday, April 29, 2011 - 10:02

I'm really surprised to see this sort of red-baiting on New Matilda. If New Matilda is really out to provoke debate on the future of the Left, the role of social movements, the Left's relationship to the Greens etc., it should be able to find someone to do a better critique of the "revolutionary" Left in Australia, but this article can't delve beyond the superficial.

Is the real problem with the Left that their leaders are loud and say "you know"? If this sort of tripe is the best you can dish up, maybe it's better that NM fades into the sunset again.

gregrb
Posted Friday, April 29, 2011 - 10:14

To Luke- You confuse a business with capitalism. An enterprise or business starting is not something unique to capitalism. Worker owned businesses, coops etc all provide employment and help their communities. I think you misunderstand the message of the kinds of people at the conference, which was the point of my post.

You say "The central theme of capitalism is that the private accumilation of wealth should be the primary means of generating economic value in society." This is the theory, but in practice its based on exploitation. There are many very innovative ways to do business that aren't based on exploitation of this type. Check out, for one example, the Mondragon coop in Spain.

The reality of capitlalism is exploitation. Too claim that the creation of a small (relatively) middle class is a success misses the point- there are many ways to generate middle class populations. This is a very crude analogy, but Hitler also created a middle class, but that doesn't justify the way he did it.

Ian MacDougall
Posted Friday, April 29, 2011 - 16:26

The most influential book that was never written was 'The Necessity of Liberalism' by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. The year it was not written was 1850 (the same year that their 'Communist Manifesto' was first published). But if it had been written and published, who knows? Maybe that part of the planet that came to be east of the Iron Curtain would have been a lot different.

'Liberty' and 'freedom' are words in common use today, particularly in various parts of the Middle East, and they ever have been where the overthrow of tyranny is the main game. But it is difficult to see how freedom to think, speak, organise, write and publish as one chooses can somehow be quarantined from freedom to exchange goods and services as one chooses as well.

Any future worth having will have to contain those rights as part of a larger, healthier and more egalitarian whole, otherwise that future will degenerate into something like the Stalinist past, which was not worth the having at all, and from which the East is still trying to recover.

Indications abound that the West is headed into a period of rising inequality of wealth and power, and is dragging the East in the same direction.

Not good.

Examinator
Posted Friday, April 29, 2011 - 17:13

Luke,
Your reasoning is a kin a mass jump, off 101 Taipei and as they pass each floor the jumpers say 'see how free we are '.
Frankly your version of capitalism is is as delusional. Look around at the devastation it has encouraged.
One doesn't have to believe in ACC or greenie etc to recognise the damage our 'on steroids, consumer based capitalism has and is continuing to create.
gregrb is spot on capitalism is based on exploitation and *non existent
endless* growth.

The problem it with perspectives like yours the equation is full of, (myopic thinking), SEPs (Somebody Else's Problems) to hide the reality that our current "feral" capitalism is a giant Ponzi scheme.

We ARE exploiting everything from non renewable resources to people's emotions and consuming our species' future in the process.

There is NO SUCH A THING AS A FREE LUNCH! Somebody always pays somewhere. The earth is a closed system except for the Sun and even that is finite.

Godfrey
Posted Friday, April 29, 2011 - 19:28

We really deserve a much more nuanced discussion of this on New Matilda. Sure, spending your Easter weekend with SA might not be your idea of fun or the shining way forward for the future. However, the underlying assumption of this article appears to be that There Is No Alternative to some form of capitalism. That attitude is so 90s.

http://www.tradeunion.wordpress.com

David Grayling
Posted Saturday, April 30, 2011 - 07:46

Those who are ripping off the system would love us to think that there is no alternative to capitalism, Godfrey!

Even if capitalism is close to bringing about its own demise, there are still the rapacious dinosaurs who want to extract the last dollars from the masses.

If you look at what is happening in the U.S. with unions being attacked and wages and conditions lowered, you'll get an idea of what will happen here eventually, kind of like Work Choices, Mark 2.

Capitalism has given rise to Oligarchs and Plutocrats (who have most of the wealth) and immense inequality. We have a world full of junk we don't really need and a population of greedy people who stupidly think that the size of their bank accounts are a measure of their worth!

How shallow. How ignoble.

http://dangerouscreation.com

Sean Bozkewycz
Posted Saturday, April 30, 2011 - 12:51

@Lucas

Yes, there has been a lot of fantastic development over the last two hundred years. Industrial civilisation has enabled humanity (at least some of it) to use the Earth's resources at ever increasing rates. This results in the situation where our natural inclination to use the Earth's resources to survive has been magnified out of recognition to the point where it threatens our very existence.

It would appear that the system of unfettered capitalism is incapable of adjusting itself to the new reality of a species capable of permanently altering the life-support systems of the planet.

Hence, the need for new perspectives such as the ones you denigrate above.

"A soceity with elements of capitalism does not equal classical, neo-classical, neo-liberal or economic rationalism. Australia, for example, is none of the above."

I disagree. Australia is one of the most ardent neo-liberal economic liberalisation supporters. Over the last few decades we have see our markets opened to foreign investment and trade, our public services privatised into profit oriented hands, social spending cut, environmental protections routinely ignored and media monopolies growing. These are all key components of the neo-lib economic liberalisation policies that the IMF, World Bank and WTO impose and enforce all over the world.

Of course we live in a 'democracy' and we can vote against these policies right? So we only have ourselves to blame?

It is seriously deluded to think that Australia is not playing a part in the global ascendance of big business and international capital.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Silver Rebel
Posted Saturday, April 30, 2011 - 14:39

Silver Rebel

So called 'Socialist' (Marxist-Leninist, Maoist, Trotskyite, Spartacist) groups in Melbourne are too evangelical and theoretically rigid for my liking. They love to hijack the agenda on important social issues and use political actions to recruit new members and sell their badges and newspapers.

Like cults I've seen the young and vulnerable targetted for recruitment at protest events.

I'm so pleased Lucas Smith has started this debate

gregrb
Posted Saturday, April 30, 2011 - 19:04

Come on Silver Rebel, groups on the far right aren't cultish and evangelical? Every group has those types.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Silver Rebel
Posted Saturday, April 30, 2011 - 22:31

Silver Rebel

gregrb this discussion is about issues facing the left. It's not constructive to throw in a red herring by talking about right wing cults (which of course exist also). The left needs to examine itself too.

Examinator
Posted Sunday, May 1, 2011 - 19:22

Silver Rebel,
Correction : "Socialist" is NOT interchangeable with the list you quoted.
Clearly you are too rigid in your associations.

It is a gross over statement that any of the above "hijack the agenda on social issues". They may in the Labor party not being a member I can only get information second hand, after it's filtered through their biases.
I would suggest it's a wild generalisation to project, membership of these groups and or those inclined are responsible for all "Left" ideas or arguments.

Such ideological rigidity as you seem to be opposed to, is rampant and not restricted to either sides (sic) of politics. I'd reasonably assert that the majority of population are in the middle 'standard deviations' of distribution and are more interested in how issues effect them and not the superficial ideological divide. How else can one justify the convergences between the two major parties and the (more rigid ideological) minors filling extreme niche demographics.
And the need for these minors to compromise in order to meet a wider electorate.

In fact the list you quote are realistically at one extreme end of the distribution curve while the arch conservatives are at the other, both outside the standard deviations of the majority.

The overall weakness in your argument is that it is based on the belief that politics is a natural dichotomy rather than a superimposed or conditioned one.

Party politics is all about the various facets of power. All that changes is the
RATIONALISATIONS to justify the party's (dubious) differentiation and therefore its continued existence. That continued existence is the primary goal of any party. If that wasn't so how does one justify the changes in fundamental stances.

All this leads me to the conclusion that neither side needs to rethink per se rather our Party political system needs to be reformed.

Examinator
Posted Sunday, May 1, 2011 - 19:25

PS in my younger days I'd have followed the pretty blond (in the picture) in any view although my ideological motives would have been more hormonal. ;-)

mpearl
Posted Monday, May 2, 2011 - 14:21

I didn’t attend the opening or closing sessions of the conference, but I did participate in a couple of the same group discussions as Lucas Smith (NewMatilda 28/4/11 After the Revolution there will be no Gonzos), and came away with a different view.

The film by John Pilger and his answers to questions by the audience, was inspiring in the sense of seeing what needed to be changed, as was the session on WikiLeaks & the War on Terror. The speaker on the Communist Manifesto (Michael Kaandelaars) put it into historical context for us. In the “thinking of joining the Socialist Alternative” group, I was the one who asked about who makes the decisions about what issues to pursue. The answers showed the movement to be very democratic in the real sense of listening to all participants. The Socialist Alternative is representative in leadership, but leaders are responsible to the group.

For instance, I asked one of the organisers why they bother to support same-sex marriage, when marriage itself can be seen as an outdated institution. I could empathise with the answer that it is a matter of equality, but I hope it will be only a step on the road to freedom for all from such state-imposed regulation of our private lives.

I didn’t get to the session on the Greens, but I fail to see the difference between apartheid as it was in South Africa and as it is now in Israel. Even the major parties supported a boycott on South Africa, and it was effective. There certainly are other trouble spots in the world, but the Palestinian people have suffered long and badly. We can care about them as well as the others.

The fact that a decent revolution has not happened yet is no reason to suppose it is impossible. Christians also believe in a better world of faith, hope and love, even after over 2000 years, and in some ways it has improved for some of us. Sure, a good revolution may not happen in our lifetimes, but we can see small steps in the right direction. As one of the “grey-haired contingent”, I saw hope in that so many fine young people were working so hard for a better world. And what’s wrong with speaking loudly? At least we oldies can hear then! But it would be nice if younger people spoke a little slower for us.

The session on “Globalisation and the death of the nation state” by Diane Fieldes showed how globalism was not as global statistically as many people think it is. It is very difficult for manufacturers to leave an established factory and a trained workforce in order to move overseas, as many of them threaten to do if the workers do not perform to their expectations.

The pursuit of growth for more profit at the expense of the poor and of the environment, seems obviously wrong. Socialism in a pure form gives something worth working for. Reformist political parties seem to get corrupted when they get power, and they try to appeal to what they think is the majority view in order to stay in power. The task for us is to inform people of the real status quo, so that they can see the necessity for change. Change happens all the time, so why should it not be for the better? People need a vision of how things could be better.

Another issue taken up by the Socialist Alternative is detention of refugees. I also attended the demonstration at Maribyrnong after the conference. The action of the detainees at Villawood in burning down buildings there is an obvious issue of contention. It was certainly a drastic reaction, but as Nick Riemer (“The Right Response to Villawood” New Matilda 27/4/11) showed, the detainees have much to complain about in relation to their human rights. We as Australians have a responsibility to those fleeing the wars where we are causing disruption, e.g. in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Iran or Sri Lanka cannot be pleasant places to live either. If we are kind to them on their arrival, the asylum seekers might be grateful to us and become better citizens – at least they would be less traumatised than they are after being locked up for so long.

Liz Ross on the carbon tax thought that it would benefit the polluters, who would pass on the cost to the public, and that it would not reduce carbon. Capitalism is probably not going to change to renewables. Nor can change be effective if it is imposed from above. Liz Walsh speaking on “What would a revolution look like” said it meant change in the means of production, with involvement of a majority of the population. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (later called Osho) talked about the “hundredth monkey” (a concept which I think was borrowed). It is only as a critical mass is formed that behaviour changes. Mass revolutions have happened, in Iran, Poland, China, Serbia, Bolivia, though they may not be perfect. We need to work towards a critical mass of people who understand, and be ready for the moment of opportunity to make the change for the better be as good as possible.

John Passant
Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 17:19

I went to the Conference. It was inspiring. Lucas's bile and anti-revolutionary fervour prevents him reporting dispassionately on the Conference. Maybe next year NM could send an adult? This pathetic little piece reminds me of nothing so much as stalinist propaganda against revolutionary 'enemies'.

John Passant
En Passant with John Passant
http://enpassant.com.au

Banksiaman
Posted Saturday, May 7, 2011 - 09:32

Lucas found SA's conference rather laughable. There is no greater anti-revoltionary charge than this. How can he laugh under the iron heel of capitalism?
Obviously a stalinist... they were always laughing.
Saint Karl wrote Das Kapital and he didn't put in a single joke. Except maybe for the labour theory of value.
More isms please. We want some new ones. Gigglism perhaps?
I know: He's an unreconstructed juvenile misogynistic antirevolutionary stalinist humourist.
Yep I'm convinced. Where do I join up?