(en) A.A.Weekly Review

Wed, 12 Feb 1997 22:13:14 GMT

A AA AAAA The A-Infos News Service AA AA AA AA INFOSINFOSINFOS http://www.tao.ca/ainfos/ AAAA AAAA AAAAA AAAAA

Number 236

10th - 16th February, 1997

ABOLISH WAGE SLAVERY What a joke, Johnny Howard and his mob are going to force a few thousand young people to work for the dole. I wonder what they hope to achieve. Do they hope to be showered with gifts because they've artificially lowered unemployment levels? Do they hope to be patted on the back by a population that's so desensitised that they'll support any government effort to keep "the bludgers" off the dole?

The Coalition government may have struck initial public support for their work for the dole scheme, but I don't believe they'll still be patting themselves on the back next week. The work for the dole policy potentially creates a pool of free labour for employers. Introducing a work for the dole program in the volunteer and private sector will increase not decrease unemployment levels. Many employers are very keen to put off paid staff and replace them with government paid staff.

If the Federal government was serious about their work for the dole scheme, they would employ dole recipients in public works programs, they wouldn't let them be private sector work fodder. The work for the dole program raises questions about the wage system itself. Post modern society can no longer use the wage system as a mechanism of distributing wealth. If we want to solve the unemployment crisis we need to consider abolishing the wage system. Why should a smaller and smaller group of people. be forced to work longer hours to support people who want to work but can't find work.

Full employment is possible if the distribution of wealth is not tied up with the wage system. Wealth should be distributed on the basis of need not the type of work you do or don't do. Increasing unemployment levels and the social ills high levels of unemployment cause could disappear overnight if wealth was held in common and distributed on the basis of need. John Howard's tacky little attempt to force people to work for the dole is a recipe for disillusionment, increasing unemployment levels and social dislocation. The short term electoral gains he and his government are hoping to milk from this little publicity campaign will dissipate when people realise that it will do nothing for unemployment levels let alone the skill levels and self esteem of those young people that are conscripted to serve as work fodder for the private sector.

CHUCK'EM IN THE BACK ROOM I never thought I'd live to see the day when the elderly were treated in such a disgraceful fashion. The Coalition governments new nursing home policies will create a two tier nursing home system. Any elderly person who finds themselves in need of a nursing home bed will be asked to cough up a minimum of $27,000 up front to buy them a bed. If they don't have any assets the government has passed legislation that supposedly guarantees them a nursing home bed. If they own a home they will be forced to sell this home to pay their nursing home deposit. The bigger the deposit you pay the better the accommodation and nursing care you eventually receive.

Can you imagine what is going to happen in nursing homes across this country. Nursing home proprietors (and most are profit making concerns) will be able to charge whatever up front fees they like. Irrespective of official waiting lists, it's obvious that those with the cash will have first access to beds. It's blatantly obvious that government subsidised nursing home residents will be put in the four bed wards while private nursing home residents will have the single rooms and the best care.

The governments policies are a recipe for a two tier system of care that disadvantages women. The great majority of women nurse their husbands or partners at home, when their husbands or partners die (remember women live almost a decade longer then men) they battle on for as long as they can, before they are forced to live in a nursing home. Irrespective of the amount of taxes they have paid and the contribution they have made to society they will be forced to sell their homes to pay for nursing home care.

What up to date has been seen as a right is now a privilege. If you've got the cash you can have the best care money can buy. If you don't have the cash you become a charity case. Your contribution to society is dismissed as irrelevant. Even when you're very sick and require nursing home care you'll be forced to pay your own way. What's the point of having a government, any government for that matter, if it can't even provide for the basic needs of its elderly. The Coalitions policies are a disgrace and an insult to every elderly Australian.

TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS A DAY Life's strange isn't it. You or I could be fined a few hundred dollars for a traffic offence, if we couldn't pay we'd serve about six days in Her Majesty's jail to pay off our debt to society. On the other hand Mr. Bond (of Americas Cup fame) pleads guilty to defrauding investors of 1.2 billion dollars and the court tacks a ten week sentence to his 12 months sentence for fraud.

What a pathetic joke the man who was discharged from bankruptcy when he paid his creditors 0.5 cents in the dollar is now going to spend an extra day in jail for every twelve million dollars he defrauded from investors. The jails are full of people whom can't pay fines. Over forty percent of prisoners are in jail for non-payment of fines. While their debt to society is set at one day in jail for every fifty dollars they owe the State. Mr. Bond's debt to society is set at one extra day in jail for every twelve million dollars he embezzled.

Anybody who has any lingering doubts about justice in this society has only to compare the sentences that are dished out to corporate criminals in comparison to the sentences that are dished out for minor crimes against property. It's heart breaking to see so many people dragged through the criminal justice system for victimless crimes and minor crimes against society while corporate criminals use their money to escape justice.

The justice system in this country is structured in such a way that even if corporate criminals are found guilty, the chances of them serving any major custodial sentence is very minimal indeed. Sometimes you wonder why the State even bothers to have trials for corporate criminals. Irrespective of the damage they do to other people, irrespective of how many lives they ruin, irrespective of how many people they drive to suicide, they never seem to run to of money or are punished for their crimes. Most corporations indulge in varying degrees of corporate crime. Few ever come to trial, the majority of those that do use the legal system to evade justice. They will never be brought to justice if their laws and their courts are used to try them.

SHOOT THE BLOODY REFEREE!! Not happy with the referee's decision then shoot'em. This seems to be The Liberal/National Parties response to the High Courts WIK decisions. Friday John Howard has called a gathering of the clans to discuss the "vexed" question of native title and pastoral leases. Instead of accepting the referees (High Courts) decision he has called everybody together to see if the Coalition government can force indigenous Australians to give up what the High Court has just given them.

Although John Howard would like to extinguish native title on pastoral leases, he is not keen to legislate to remove these rights. He knows the government would face a huge compensation bill and even more importantly Australia would become an international pariah if the government legislated to remove native title on pastoral leases. This leaves him only one option, he needs to be able to wring concessions from indigenous Australians.

In order to do this he needs to apply enough pressure on indigenous Australians so that they will be forced to give up what few rights they have won from the High Court. While he is attempting to force concessions from indigenous Australians he is also attempting to change the makeup of the High Court so that the government will not be troubled by future judicial rulings. The National Party attack on the High Court is no accident, it's a concerned effort to force one or two members of the High Court to resign so the Coalition can stack the High Court with conservative judges.

It's amazing to see the forces "of law and order" cry foul when a decision goes against them. Everybody else is told to take it "like a man" when decisions don't go their way. When decisions go against the conservative forces in this country, they set up a hue and cry to change the law or failing that the composition of the courts. The law and order brigade is always very keen to follow "the rule of law" if the laws protect their property rights. If by some chance a decision goes against them, they are very keen to abandon the rule of law and take matters into their own hands.

WHAT'S HAPPENED TO THE DREAM? Black and coloured South Africans are just beginning to realise that universal suffrage without economic power is not the road to freedom. The riots that exploded in parts of Cape Town last weekend are an expression of the anger that many South Africans feel. Two years after the election of the A.N.C. government blacks and coloured South Africans are still waiting for a tangible sign that things will change for the better in the near future. The riots and deaths in Cape Town mark the beginning of the end of the African National Congress government.

Mandela and his government have embarked on a course of white appeasement and black capitalism. Property relationships have not changed or are expected to change. Wages haven't risen and over 50% of South Africans can not find work. Some of the most disadvantaged (robbed) people in South Africa today are the children who boycotted the South African education system in the mid 1970's and who spearheaded the struggle against Apartheid. Twenty years down the track many of these brave youngsters now find they are in their thirties, have no education, work or prospect of work.

Their dreams, hopes and aspirations have been scattered around the squatter camps that have sprung up across South Africa. Although the government has changed, and the flag and national anthem has changed, any moves towards the redistribution of land and wealth have been consigned to the ideological wastelands. The same corporations and people still own the means of production distribution and exchange. The election of an A.N.C. government has strengthened not weakened their hands.

An increasing number of South Africans are sick and tired of a government that is gripped by a desire to bring about change by attracting foreign capital, irrespective of the social and human costs. The riots in Capetown are a symptom of the Claytons revolution that dragged South Africa back into capitals fold. Change in South Africa is inevitable. What change and at what human cost this change will be brought about will depend on whether the A.N.C. dominated government sides with the corporate world or the people it's supposed to represent.

ANARCHIST QUESTION AND ANSWER Q. What Do Anarchist Think About The Current Move Towards "Small Government"? A. The State's core role is control. Popular pressure during the 19th and 20th Century has forced the State to take on non-core functions. The greater the forces of revolt and insurrection the more humane the State has become. Universal health care, social security benefits and the nationalisation of essential services are some non-core functions that the State has been forced to provide. Popular movements have demanded that the State provide services that people need and can't afford to access in the private sector.

The movement for smaller government is a total sham. Corporations across the globe want the State to shed its non-core functions and concentrate on its core functions: - maintenance of the status quo and the protection of the interests of those who own the means of production, distribution and exchange. It's fascinating to listen to the proponents of smaller government. They're very keen to give away or sell off profitable State enterprises. They're very keen to reduce the number of public servants, but they never suggest that the size of the armed forces or police departments should be trimmed. They understand that their power ultimately rests on the State's ability to deal with popular movements.

The calls for smaller government actually assist anarchists to put forward ideas that call for the abolition of government. One of the greatest difficulties anarchists have faced since WW 11 is explaining away the "philanthropic" nature of the State. Why would anybody want to abolish the State if the State is able to provide for their physical needs and at the same time protect them from the excesses of the corporate world.

As the movement for smaller government rips off the State's benevolent mask and the State reverts back to its core function of control, people are more likely to listen to anarchists calls for the replacement of the State with a federation of community and workplace councils that are based on egalitarian principles. The move for smaller government and the social consequences of this movement may be just the shot in the arm that the post modern anarchist movement needs.

ACTION BOX - HOPE Fear by itself can never provide the spark that ignites social movements. Hope initially for a better life and eventually for the creation of a community that nurtures and protects this new life is an essential component of any anarchists social and psychological make up. It doesn't matter how many inadequacies we expose in the corporate world. It doesn't matter how much fear people experience unless we as individuals and groups are able to foster hope, the struggle to create an egalitarian community will never be taken seriously by other people.

I'm not talking about blind rhetoric that has no basis in reality. I'm talking about that hope that sustains us during even the most difficulty times. Change occurs when hope overcomes fear and people believe that they can put new ideas into practice. It's no accident that the most difficult time for any authoritarian figure occurs when their authority is challenged.

The fall of authoritarian societies over the past decade are normally accompanied by attempts to create communities that are based on the hope for a new and better life.

It's all very well to have a catalogue of corporate and State failures at our fingertips. It's all very well to raise a hue and cry about the excesses of the State and corporate world. What's just as important if not more important is our vision on how we would tackle these problems. Unless we can ignite the spark that begins the search for solutions to the excesses and failures of the State and corporate world our tales of woe will soon create a sense of hopelessness among the very people we are trying to influence.

Nothing highlights that spirit of hopelessness that is such an integral part of the communities we live in than the slogans "you can't fight city hall - shit happens". The ability to generate hope is one of the most important things that we can do. If we don't believe that egalitarian change is possible, why should anybody else believe that such change is possible. The struggle to create an egalitarian community revolves around the struggle to overcome fear and create hope that change is not only desirable but possible.

AUSTRALIAN ANARCHIST HISTORY I.W.W. BANNED The Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.) was banned by the Australian Federal government on the 31st August, 1917. The I.W.W. was the only Australian organisation that had opposed participation in World War One from the very beginning. They believed that W.W.1 was being fought by workers for the benefit of capitalists on both sides.

In an attempt to blunt the I.W.W.'s radical opposition to W.W.1 twelve members of the I.W.W. were arrested on arson charges on the eve of the December 1916 referendum on conscription. Although the Billy Hughes Federal government tried to censor the anti-conscription forces the people of Australia voted against conscription. Not satisfied with the failure of the 1916 referendum the Hughes Federal government banned the I.W.W. just 2 months before a second referendum in late 1917. Membership of the I.W.W. was punishable by six months imprisonment. Many I.W.W. members languished in Australian jails till the end of W.W.1 because they were members of a banned organisation.

In spite of the governments best attempts to win the 1917 referendum a majority of Australians in a majority of States ignored the governments campaign and once again voted against conscription. Many Australians who are alive today owe their life the those brave members of the I.W.W. who resisted the governments attempts to introduce conscription. Over 60,000 Australians died in W.W.1 many more would have perished on the killing fields of Europe if the government of the day had been able to introduce conscription. The governments failure to introduce conscription was in no small way due to the efforts of the I.W.W.

PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS There were seven of us (no not the magnificent seven) seated around a table. It was Sunday morning and we had gathered to participate in the Federation of Occupation Based Union Congress that was held in Melbourne on Sunday the second of February. For two and a half hours we listened to reports and discussed agenda items. There were six men and one woman. Two had travelled from Queensland, one had come from New South Wales and the rest of us were from Melbourne.

Nothing extraordinary really, seven anarchists talking about present and future possibilities. So what people meet every day to talk and organise and act. This meeting was extraordinary, not because of what we did or did not achieve, it was extraordinary because four generations of activists met in the same room and talked and discussed as one. Jack must be pushing seventy, he has been an anarchist for most of his life, Liz and I are part of the sixties and seventies generation. David and Evan are part of the x generation and Chris and Todd are just seventeen and already seasoned activists.

It's not often in life any of us have the privilege of sitting in a room with four generations thinking, discussing and acting together. Last Sunday was one of those days that highlights that all of us, irrespective of how old or young we are, need to communicate and work together if we are to create an egalitarian community.

STOP PRESS - TREADING WATER Australians are just beginning to realise that John Howard is a man who is hell bent on dragging us back into the 1950's. Nearly twelve months after the election of the Liberal/National Party government nothing has been done to prepare us for life in the 21st century. Instead of investigating possibilities for the future, John Howard and his government seem more keen about looking to the past for answers to today's problems.

John Howard has never made any bones about the fact that he is a conservative. Those Australians who somehow believed that conserving the past is the way forward were overjoyed when the Liberal/National Coalition took over the reigns of power in March last year. Nearly a year down the track many people are beginning to realise that conserving the past and maintaining the status quo is the road to ruin. John Howard's way is the road to international isolation and economic stagnation. Every single policy the coalition government has pursued has been couched in rhetoric that glorifies a golden past that never existed for the great majority of people who have lived on this continent. John Howard's future is a mirror image of the barbaric ideas and practices of the past. The current coalition government has become an embarrassment not only to radical activists but to every Australian who does not want Australia to degenerate into an isolated white settler lagoon on the economic social and cultural edge of the known world.

Joseph Toscano/Libertarian Workers for a Self-Managed Society.




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