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A Murder in Europe

It’s difficult from afar to grasp the depressing scale and depth of European disintegration, so let me try from close range to convey something of what’s going on by using a simple method: extracting snippets of randomly-chosen local political news published in a handful of printed and online European sources on just one rather ordinary day, September 18th 2013.

In the Netherlands, newly-inaugurated King Willem-Alexander makes his first annual appearance before parliament with a speech announcing the end of the welfare state. ‘Due to social developments such as globalisation and an ageing population,’ says the king, ‘our labour market and public services are no longer suited to the demands of the times.’ He adds: ‘The classical welfare state is slowly but surely evolving into a “participatory society”’. It sounds promising: citizens will be expected hereon to take care of themselves, or create civil society solutions to such problems as care for the elderly, unemployment and housing shortages. Decoded, the king said: due to EU budget rules, state social policy is fated to shrink. There is no alternative. The egalitarian policies dating from the 1960s are finished. Austerity is not a temporary belt-tightening exercise. From this day forwards, in the ‘participatory society’, each individual must follow the rule, sauve qui peut.

From Germany comes the news that in the five months since its launch, the populist anti-euro party, Alternative für Deutschland, looks to be the only group seriously challenging Angela Merkel’s ruling CDU and the flagging opposition Social Democrats. Just days before the general election, at a public rally in front of the Brandenburg gate, party supporters vent their spleens. ‘Who is this Barroso?’, asks one, referring to José Manuel Barroso, European Commission president. ‘Who gave the banks more say than the citizens?’ Says another party supporter: ‘We’re liable for billions for the Greek economy, which is bankrupt, full of cronies and corrupt. They would be better off with their own currency. Merkel is silent on all these problems.’ Meanwhile, pollsters report that the Green Party’s programme of social justice funded by tax increases for top income brackets seems to be costing them potential votes (support is hovering around 10%). The party is embroiled in a media-driven scandal sparked by its support for a 1980s campaign for the de-criminalisation of paedophilia. Its proposal for public canteens and ‘vegetarian days’ once a week has fallen on deaf ears. These days, Germans are for stability, jobs, rising income, turning their backs on the rest of Europe. They don’t mind ‘Mutti’ Merkel; more than a few German citizens adore her.

Across the Channel, to the south-west, the news is mostly good, if you’re an optimist. The Cameron government launched the re-privatisation of Lloyd’s Banking Group with the sale of £3.3 billion of shares in the bank. It’s the second largest recorded share placement in British history, and ministers waste no time in trumpeting the sale as proof of the UK’s return to economic health. Advanced Business Park, a huge Chinese property developer, meanwhile announces that its new global headquarters will be located in London, with plans to turn the Royal Albert Docks into a £1 billion ‘Asian business port’. Official figures meanwhile show that roaring demand for London housing has pushed property prices beyond their peak at the height of the country’s economic boom. Britain has a major housing supply problem. Yet little new housing is being built; in spite of pay freezes for most citizens, rents are rocketing; and there are reported fears of an impending property bubble.

From the far north of Europe come reports that Arctic ice will be no more after 2050, if not sooner. At summer’s end, unexpectedly, the ice shelf appeared to swell. Satellite data in fact shows that during the previous winter the thickness of ice was a record low, further evidence that the long-term trend is still steadily downward. There’s less gloomy news from the south-east corner of the continent. In Serbia, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, still facing charges over alleged links to organised prostitution, and recently described as a ‘pig’ in a roman à clef written by a former lover, has just landed a job. His new duties include helping to restructure the country’s large foreign debt, attracting foreign investment and helping Serbia manage relations with the International Monetary Fund. Vesna Pesić, a respected Belgrade sociologist, and (it so happens) an acquaintance of mine, questions the appointment. She highlights the strange irony that a country in need of rebranding as it begins negotiations to enter the European Union has hired a disgraced figure, who himself seems to be seeking international rehabilitation. ‘It is propaganda and marketing’, she says. ‘But people here are so exhausted by the recession, and they don’t care.’

Pavlos Fyssas EnetEnglish

That story brings me to poor, picked-upon Greece, a crumbling country racked by the spread of fascism, and news of a brutal political murder. In the port town of Piraeus, outside a café in the early morning hours, 34-year-old hip hopper Pavlos Fyssas is attacked by a group of men dressed in black sweatshirts and combat trousers. Stabbed repeatedly in the chest, he later died in hospital. Protests spread. The blind-eyed police are for once forced to arrest a suspect, who turns out to be a member of Golden Dawn, the neo-Nazi party with 18 members in the 300-seat parliament.

Crocodile tears are shed by the Greek political establishment. State President Karolos Papoulias said that institutional vigilance, social awareness and political determination are needed to combat what he called a ‘repulsive phenomenon’. Tears were shed as well by government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou. ‘Justice will perform its duty immediately and totally’, he said, before calling on all the political powers to ‘erect a barricade against the vicious circle of tension and violence’. He didn’t say how this could happen, which was unsurprising, considering just how many mainstream politicians and journalists have for months been touting Golden Dawn as a possible future coalition partner for the forces of austerity.

Poor Greece. Miserable Europe.

Join the conversation

168 Comments sorted by

  1. Stephen Ralph

    carer at n/a

    Well that was cheery........

    It all sounds like a tolling bell for the common folk. I'm sure that wealthy individuals and companies will continue to prosper and gouge the shit out everybody and everything.

    Tighten your belts says the King of the Netherlands, let them eat cake.

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    1. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      They're not eating cake, a lot of them, they're out here in Australia already.

      Not a lot of immigration, yet, but quite a significant number of student and work visas.

      Which brings us to a relevant detail. Here in Australia, by all indicators we should have over 4,000 PhD candidates completing their theses at any one time. Right now we have less than 1,900, most of whom are here on overseas scholarships.

      That tells me that regardless of the present, those governments are looking nonetheless toward a future that we're still failing to acknowledge.

      So, what are we going to do? Continue to import our academics and postgrads, just (I can only guess) so our own proles can eat cake?

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  2. Peter Ormonde
    Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Farmer

    Strewth John thanks for that.... no dodging it I guess but putting it all in one piece, it's an overdose of dismal news.

    The Greek situation is particularly disturbing - all the more for being so damnable textbook and predictable.

    Let's hope that the Greek establishment doesn't fall for the allure of using these nazis to constrain their increasingly angry population. Do we learn from history at all?

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    1. Mulga Mumblebrain

      Rocket surgeon

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      The West unambiguously supported the fascist Right in the Greek civil war, after WW2, where Stalin betrayed the Communists. Then the USA was the patron and controller of the fascist Greek Colonel's regime (training them in torture amongst other facets of 'US moral values')just as they were with every other fascist tyranny across the planet since 1945, and before.

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  3. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    The author's contention, 'It’s near-impossible from afar to grasp the depressing scale and depth of European disintegration,' is ridiculous.

    For 1000 years, Europeans have fought and killed each other in the millions. The mass killing only stopped in May 1945 when Russian troops stormed Berlin annihilating the German army and its leader, Hitler. Since then Europe has enjoyed the longest spell of peace and prosperity since time began.

    The author may bemoan 'miserable' Europe, but that won't stop millions of tourists burning billions of litres of JetA1 fossil fuel to fly there to enjoy the wonderful sights and sounds of the Paris and Athens.

    Gerard Dean

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    1. Thomas Fields

      "progressive" watcher

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Excellent point on Europe being a hotbed of war for thousands of years. "Progressives" have this peculiar view that history starts from the 1960s; except, of course, when they dredge up colonialism and Nazism to spite Europeans.

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    2. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Thomas Fields

      Most of the world has been a hotbed of wars, and for more than a thousand years.

      Don't forget Genghis Khan murdered and plundered his way through most of Asia and parts of Europe.

      The Chinese were particularly bellicose throughout history.

      And so on.

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    3. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Thomas Fields

      Of course, fascists and Communists have always just been competitors for the same people - illiberal followers.

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    4. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      I don't think it's fair to link fascism with communism.

      Communism in it's pure form may not be all that bad a form of ideology.

      It's a bit like democracy, great in theory, often lousy in practice.

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    5. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen, while they are of course absolutely not the same, they are definitely linked. Remember, Fascism rose as a reaction against Communism. Both try to capture the state, both insist they are taking the State back 'for the people'.

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    6. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      Oh, nearly forgot. When I talk about Fascism, I do not include Nazism. That was a unique phenomenon. Fascism tended not have all the racist emphasis of Nazism.

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    7. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      And in one sense nothing wrong with taking the "state" back for the people. Democracy in another guise.

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    8. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen,

      You can think it's not fair all you like, but that doesn't make you right. Fascism, Marxist, Fabianism, all variants on a single theme - total control of the individual by the collective, with similar outcomes for freedom, human rights and living standards.

      Communists and fascists may argue about trivialities like how the state controls enterprise, which books to burn and which people to shoot, but when it comes to the real issue, whether the state controls enterprise, whether to burn books, and whether to shoot people, they are in full agreement.

      If something is great in theory, but lousy in practice, it means the theory ain't worth squat.

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    9. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Chris Harper

      I was singling out the tenets of Communism only.
      I'm reminded of the saying..."humanity is wonderful - except for people".

      Theory great - practice not so great.

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    10. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      I am afraid the tenets of Communism lead directly to the downside.

      The theory is as lousy as the practice.

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    11. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      I think it's perfectly fair to link fascism with communism - both purportedly strive for utopias for "the masses", both are insular and paranoid, both resort to demonisation and abuse of selected minorities fairly early in the piece, and both follow a trajectory to suppression of everybody but a select Party élite.

      Both are, ultimately, kleptocratic.

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    12. Suzy Gneist
      Suzy Gneist is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Multi-tasker at Graphic Design & Montville Coffee

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      It is, in theory, but the devil is in the detail, as always, and neither fascism nor communism in its mainstream implemented forms are democratic. Of course neither are most of our democracies, at least not in its ideal form of citizens participating in all decisions that affect their lives. Motivations always cloud the ideals, I suppose.

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    13. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Suzy Gneist

      You could argue that one of the major anomalies of a democracy is rampant capitalism. It is a hot bed of corruption and negative influence on an elected government.

      Communism at least in theory strives to prevent rampant capitalism and allow a greater share of wealth to the populace.

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    14. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen, indeed, about taking back the State. You have to remember what was happening in Europe when Fascism appeared on the scene. Mussolini, and the early Fascists were all members of the Italian Socialist Party. However, there was a split - in fact several splits (after all we are talking about commies) - over whether or not to support the Bolsheviks call for the expansion of their revolution beyond Russia. But even by 1917, the Italian Socialists had split into the two main factions of Socialism…

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    15. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      We're now nearly 200 years after the first writings and organisation for Communism started. I think by this stage we are entitled to judge Communism, more by its actions, than its theoretical pretensions, which turned to be catastrophic cluelessness.

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    16. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      And do we apply the same blowtorch to "democracy".
      I suppose Zimbabwe is a democracy given it has elections.

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    17. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to David Arthur

      David, if I had to pick one thread that acts like an umbilical chord joining Communism and Fascism as twins (dizygotic twins), that thread would their pathological illiberalism, Remember, it was liberalism which was the glue of the momentous revolutionary change in the history of mankind - the long 19th century from 1789-1914. Fortunately, over the past generation, liberalism has risen from ashes and bitten the Commies on the arse.

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    18. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      And what a shining beacon the United States is to "democracy" and freedoms.

      The CIA, Homeland Security and other organisations a bastion of liberal and democratic ideals.

      As the poor get destitute and Bill Gates and his mates get richer by the hour, the fabric of the "great State" is being rendered asunder.

      $15 trillion in debt and still they spend like there is no tomorrow.

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    19. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      No such thing as utopia, it's an ideal.

      What can be achieved is improvement, modification, correction - but that can only be achieved when some fault o=r deficiency in present circumstances is identified.

      Could it be that totalitarian nightmares are generally created by those who strive too hard for their utopia?

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    20. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      "And what a shining beacon the United States is to "democracy" and freedoms." Err. perhaps not.

      Apparently, there've been more deaths through gun crime in the US since the murder of Bobby Kennedy than in all the wars the US has ever fought, including its War of Independence.

      The US is not what I'd call a "liberal" state - it's more a libertarian state, with anarchistic tendencies.

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    21. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Crushing some "enemy within" isn't really a utopian idea, so much as a trick to keep people watching one hand while their wallets are being emptied by with the other.

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    22. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to David Arthur

      Yair .... so??? This is how Utopias can be hijacked, deformed and transformed into their opposites - you dewy eyed idealistic bugger! .

      Trouble is you have to keep finding new enemies if you're half good at it. Enemies within, enemies without, queue jumpers, illegal immigrants, yellow or red or blue perils, criminals with guns, the next door neighbour with guns, gays, jews, feminists, socialists, rightists, capitalist roaders, trotskyists, anarchists, liberals, shias, sunnis, catholics, protestants, Bahais, pacifists, vegetarians ... no shortage of potential victims and threats.

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    23. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      "I was singling out the tenets of Communism only."
      Stephen, the numero uno tenet of Communism? Poverty and Ignorance for all!

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    24. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      "You could argue that one of the major anomalies of a democracy is rampant capitalism."
      How so? Democracy cannot get going with a degree of capitalism. It requires a large, private land-owning middle class, and sufficient agriculture, industry, and trade to prevent unwanted dictators and oligarchies. That is why democracy first appeared in 6th century BC Athens.
      Democracy will be a sham for societies with low per capita GDP, and highly concentrated property and asset ownership.
      "It is a hot bed of corruption and negative influence on an elected government."
      Really? Where?
      "Communism at least in theory strives to prevent rampant capitalism and allow a greater share of wealth to the populace."
      Unfortunately, its striving to prevent rampant capitalism required mass poverty and genocide to get by.

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    25. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      "And do we apply the same blowtorch to "democracy"
      Sorry, I don't get you?

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    26. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to David Arthur

      "The US is not what I'd call a "liberal" state - it's more a libertarian state, with anarchistic tendencies."
      Oh good lord David. Have you ever worked and lived in the US?

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    27. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "Utopias based on crushing 'the enemy' within - struggling against rather than struggling for, perhaps David... requires fear as the magic ingredient."
      Sometimes this required. Does anybody resent Gough and Hawke crushing the Commie vermin in Australia?

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    28. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "Trouble is you have to keep finding new enemies if you're half good at it."
      Pure Commie paranoia, Peter. You are still haunted by your 'splitters', 'entryists', blah, blah.

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    29. Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      REALPolitik Outlaw Journalist

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      You struck a chord there, Mr Dean!

      There's not an Indigenous non-[Brit]-European on Earth who hasn't an ancestral story about the warmongering Brit-Euros committing genocide and plundering the "Natives'" resources.

      O! And, their mother - the land! [rebranded as "real estate"]

      Why I refer to Europeans in my blog as "Eu-rape-ans".

      So.., what is the rest of the world to expect from a lurching Eurape, once this "...longest spell of peace and prosperity..." jolts to an austere end?

      O! MORE…

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    30. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      Max Cook,

      You said:"instead of at the far more peaceful non-Eurapeans of the planet?"

      You have proof of this? Africa? Middle East? Asia?

      None of these people capable of being as violent, off their own bat, as Europeans? Nigeria today? Syria? Japanese invasion of China? Cambodian invasion of itself? How did Ecuador lose its sea coast to Chile? Rwanda? India/Pakistan? Lebanon?

      Sorry, but taking your little posting above as a whole, just because you were ranting about Europeans doesn't stop it being about as racist a rant as I have encountered in years.

      What a truly repugnant load of bluster that is.

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    31. Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      REALPolitik Outlaw Journalist

      In reply to Chris Harper

      O? "truly repugnant load of bluster"?

      Yep. Quite so. And, I don't shy from admitting to being racist against the whiteguys of the expansionist, racist, colonialist, plunderous, insatiable, maximum-consumption, wrong-way mentality, if racism describes my disdain at what the white Brit-Eurapeans have done and will keep doing to the mother planet til we all cark.

      "truly repugnant load of bluster" goes both ways o supremo!

      "One man's evil is another man's good", or something.

      Yep, I do agree with your assertions about the violence of say, the Japanese against the Chinese, and of Pol Pot, and in Rwanda. You forgot to mention Ghengis Khan.

      But you also forgot to mention that all your examples were well after whiteguy invaded and upset the balance which existed forever, prior to western colonialism, singularly to satisfy Brit-Eurape's insatiable ie, out of ccntrol, ie., longtime insane desires.

      Truly repugnant load of bluster INDEED?

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    32. Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      REALPolitik Outlaw Journalist

      In reply to Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      Adding, that history seems to me to show that all of us have expanded as much as we can, thus there has always been an era when inter-racial disputes will peak, and then unspeakable horrors will be done by all sides.

      Having the biggest club does not make one the most human.

      Or something....?

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    33. Aleksandra Hadzelek

      Lecturer in International Studies at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Gerard, the mass killing didn't stop in 1945. The war in the Balkans had all the elements of what Europe was supposedly standing up against after the experiences of WWII: ethnic cleansing, mass executions, concentration camps.

      Of course these who consider Europe to be synonymous with the European Union will quickly point out that this conflict was outside the borders of their 'Europe" and thus it doesn't tarnish the image of paceable Europe. Just like the atrocities in Algeria don't count: committed by the French on the French territory, but outside of 'geographical Europe"...

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    34. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      Err, no, I've never been to the US. There's a reason for that, which is that I'm risk averse - there've been more civilian firearm deaths in the US since 1968 (within my lifetime) than US military deaths in all wars since their War of Independence (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/21/american-gun-out-control-porter).

      Meanwhile, many of their citizens cannot find jobs with sufficient pay to keep them out of poverty, and urban infrastructure is decaying for inadequate maintenance.

      Sure, the US is a great place to get rich, if you have all the correct prerequisites. For everyone else, it's a failing state.

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    35. Andrew Smith

      Education Consultant at Australian & International Education Centre

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Agree, the author seems to have apocalyptic visions of Europe nurtured by biased national media and politicians.

      Like happens in Australia, some European nations' media and political classes demonise the EU and outsiders (but only the Anglo world seems obsessed about immigrants and refugees) while their respective states' are happy to take the benefits (classic politicking), while screwing their own taxpayers?

      While the Anglo world has issues with the EU etc., don't ever under estimate European countries and the EU.

      Maybe many economic related issues in the EU zone, but if Europeans could survive the trauma of war and destruction in their streets and homes, rebuild and start the EU project, there is obviously some resilience and drive apparent.

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    36. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      Max, your hysterical hyperbowl is fabulous. Do you mind if I borrow this gem to ask my Portugese neighbour?
      "It's clear the Euro-tourrorists flocking out from zee homelanden are the forward officers reconnoitering the colonies for zee real estate."

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    37. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      "expansionist, racist, colonialist, plunderous..."
      Ah Max, re-check your history books. These things pre-date European expansionism by some ways. In fact, Europeans only started to expand in defence against Persians, Hindus, Mongols, Chinese, Muslim Arabs, and so on. Remember, the Hindus and Persians invented racism and imperialism.

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    38. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Aleksandra Hadzelek

      Aleksandra, actually, the period from 1945-2013 has been the least violent and most stably prosperous in European history.

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    39. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to David Arthur

      Well, David, if you had ever worked and lived for any time in the US, you'd have been quickly disabused of any notion like:
      "The US is not what I'd call a "liberal" state - it's more a libertarian state, with anarchistic tendencies."
      There are taxes everywhere you blink, ubiquitous red-tape, and while the culture is broadly more tolerant and experimental than just about any place on earth, with such a huge and - relatively - wealthy population of over 300 million, when boundaries are crossed, the police and security services have been trained, and react real quick, often only asking questions later. OTOH, the US Court system is based on very, very liberal legal and constitutional provisions indeed, which most countries in the world aspire to for their own nations.
      In other words, the US is a spectacularly diverse place, which by definition means there is a some very bad shit going down, but also some incredibly fantastic shit.
      If you don't like adventure, best stay at home.

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    40. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      Rampant capitalism is not "a degree of capitalism", it is where plutocrats and companies ride roughshod over the population.

      There are countless examples of this in all democracies.
      Erin Brocovitch has made a career out of defending citizens from corporate greed and malpractice.

      Many of the comments in this forum are about the undue influence of the Murdoch press at election times.

      David Suzuki last night on Q&A referenced the iniquity of political parties accepting money from corporations as it made them beholden to them. NSW has seen it's share of dirty politicians getting their grubby hands into shonky deals,

      The wealth of the top 100 wealthiest people in America grew by $300 billion last year. I doubt if that is shared around those who are struggling on the low wages and low social conditions in the U.S.

      They have more people living in their cars than there are in ten small Australian cities. Sure it's a democracy, but it ain't a democracy for ALL the people.

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    41. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      You were critical of the tenets of Communism by using examples from current regimes, I was illustrating that you can criticise current democracies equally.

      I don't want to be continually bashing the United States, but as it is continually touted as the ideal democracy, here is part of an article in today's Guardian written by Gary Younge

      """The self-proclaimed leader of the free world is turning into a low-wage economy with a class system more rigid than most and a middle class that wavers between poverty and precariousness. More than half the people using the food bank in Larimer County, Colorado, that I visited last year were working. More than one in four families in New York's homeless shelters includes at least one working adult. In the absence of a living wage and an ethical pay structure, the work ethic, on which the American dream is founded, doesn't work."""

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    42. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      The US is run by corporations for corporations.

      You write about relatively wealthy populations: you must be one of those economists who'll tell me on average I'm comfortable with one hand in dry ice, the other in a fire.

      1.1 million deaths in all wars from Independence through Civil War to present. 1.3 million deaths since 1968 through civil gun violence. Yeah, sure, they're a happy happy people.

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    43. Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      REALPolitik Outlaw Journalist

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      Sarcasm on sarcasm Michael!

      We have a middle ground.

      Is your neighbor's name "Columb..."-something?

      In support of that exaggerated line of mine, it IS clear to myself, having been amongst tourrorists, on the roads of Australia for the last 18 years. I see an huge amount more than our sedentary professionals and urbanites will ever, in these types of affairs.

      And I can tell you from first hand observation, at least 50% of them come here with that real estate hunt in mind, and, are quite…

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    44. Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      REALPolitik Outlaw Journalist

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      "Remember, the Hindus and Persians invented racism and imperialism." Umm...? I'm old-ish, but not that old. Besides, or, or, if the myths are true, I was elsewhere at the time.

      We parry with, in, and at the past, to what, or who's end?

      Does this crossing of swords bring light to the future, and perennial resolutions to the wrong way fashion of modern technocratic Brit-Eurapean culture?

      Perhaps so? But, I dare to suggest, only if it educes such deep wisdom as to convince a majority [HA…

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    45. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      Well Max, thank you for letting me borrowing your line. I swear, I shall try to add the extra 25 million words from your reply above whenever I do so. :)

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    46. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Ironically' at the founding of the US the locals had wages 60% higher than the homeland they escaped. ( as reported in The Wealth of Nations ).
      What happened, a failure to learn or teach their own history?
      There is no free market at work here, just Adam Smith's Idle Rich enslaving the poor while history is ignored.
      The same happening with diminishing wage levels in Australia.

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    47. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to James Hill

      Dare I say for fear of being accused of heresy that dear old Adam Smith was more than a teensy bit involved with the "idle rich".

      He earned his income teaching the sons of the precious aristocracy and wealthy. And swanned around Europe as tutor to several of them.

      He lived in largish house with servants. He was no real friend to the poor or destitute. Just another academic making a quid.

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    48. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      The philosophers of the Scottish enlightenment postulated successive stages of human "Development" until we reached our modern times which they defined as mass literacy and numeracy, which corresponds to common levels of understanding in which no-one is disadvantaged.
      Something the first peoples had managed, making them by that latter definition "Modern".
      When people were able to herd animals they, according to these philosophers were also able to go to war, taking their sources of food with them…

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    49. Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      REALPolitik Outlaw Journalist

      In reply to James Hill

      Thanks.

      And so, the expansionist Homo Sapiens wiping out the European "Neanderthals", known now to have been very attuned and "spiritual" peoples.

      "Amoeba to Empire to self-Extermination".

      Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist texts teach our only way of escaping the cycles of birth and death, birth and death, is free market corporate capitalism, don't they? lol :)

      As Farmer Pete infers, the discussion - the Conversation, is distracted off-topic by those not of their own mind.

      I think, in fact…

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    50. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Now, now Stephen, Adam Smith's definition of the Idle rich was that they earned their means for survival, while being idle, by getting money as interest on their loans, and he deliberately selected this telling term to provide a distinct and irrefutable comparison with those people who, having no money to invest "at interest" had to live by their "labour" instead.
      And he laboured with these distinctions in order to argue that Wealth was actually created by the action of labour on raw materials and…

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    51. Mulga Mumblebrain

      Rocket surgeon

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Gerald, they weren't 'Russian' troops, they were Soviet troops. I know that the Rightwing MSM brainwashing apparatus has banned the use of the hated and feared word 'Soviet', but there's no reason to go along with their historical re-creation efforts.

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    52. Mulga Mumblebrain

      Rocket surgeon

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      The Chinese were not particularly bellicose throughout most of its history. Often China was rather insular, only demanding tribute, at other times, say under the T'ang, it was rather cosmopolitan, welcoming visitors from many regions. At no stage of its history that I can recall was it ever anywhere near as belligerent, intimidating, bullying and aggressive as the Europeans in the last 500 years, particularly the English and their bastard offspring the USA, by far the most ceaselessly aggressive and brutally destructive force in human history.

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    53. Mulga Mumblebrain

      Rocket surgeon

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Communism's practise has been mostly unsuccessful, so far, because of human failings eg Stalin, and because of the unremittingly violent opposition to it from the global parasite class. This included subversion and military aggression, culminating in the Nazi attack of 1941. When the Nazis lost, their intelligence apparatus in the East, the Gehlen organisation, went straight over to work for the USA. Western powers and the Vatican aided the escape of numerous fascist monsters to safe havens in South…

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    54. Mulga Mumblebrain

      Rocket surgeon

      In reply to Chris Harper

      In Cuba, for example, despite a vicious blockade by the USA, and hundreds of terrorist attacks from the US regime and fascist emigres, the Government has fashioned a pretty good society, with the basic decencies of life very well provided. In the rest of Latin America, under the 'freedom' of undiluted US influence and capitalist misanthropy, all the other countries, with one or two exceptions, have at one time or the other over those decades, been charnel-houses of murder, genocide, assassination, torture and 'disappearances', some, like Guatemala, for decades. The USA has never ceased subverting and attacking any Government that commits the supreme crime of governing for its people rather than for the USA's economic interest and that of the Latin American parasite compradore class, who educate themselves in the USA, have homes there and salt away the stolen loot from pillaging their own countries there.

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    55. Mulga Mumblebrain

      Rocket surgeon

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Capitalism, in any form, but particularly neo-liberal Market Absolutist capitalism, is totally and irredeemably antithetical to democracy in any meaningful sense of the word.

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    56. Mulga Mumblebrain

      Rocket surgeon

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      And they spend two trillion, every year, on the ways and means of terrorising the planet to ensure that no government anywhere arises or persists that commits the ultimate crime of ruling for the people, rather than the local branch of the global parasite over-class, whose brutal patron and protector is the USA (or, as I prefer, either Chomsky's 'Real Evil Empire' or the Fourth Reich).

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    57. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Mulga Mumblebrain

      Err, liberal market economy engenders dynamism, particularly technological progress.

      Don't confuse it for corporate socialism, which is what we've got - witness the heavy-handed suppression of innovation via "Enclosure" of Intellectual Property (for comparison, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inclosure_Acts).

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    58. Mulga Mumblebrain

      Rocket surgeon

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Nigeria, part of the global war on Islam, run out of Israel with the USA as the main destroyer of states. Syria, under attack by jihadist butchers (long-time US allies in Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Algeria, Iraq and Xinjiang) financed by US allies, the theocratic despotisms of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, with Turkey and Jordan complicit and Israel pulling strings, as ever, behind the scenes, in pursuit of Oded Yinon's 'Zionist Plan for the Middle East). Cambodia, attacked by the USA in a devastating…

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    59. Mulga Mumblebrain

      Rocket surgeon

      In reply to Andrew Smith

      Anglosphere hostility to the EU derives from the fear that the EU might become a threat to the Yankee Reich's global hegemony. The US banks were instrumental in the economic subversion of countries like Greece, and at strategic opportunities the utterly discredited and discreditable US 'ratings agencies' would come out with some new, dire, agit-prop, to start some new phase of the crisis. The USA and its stooges similarly fear China, which is why they are incessant in their Sinophobic agit-prop and active subversion, our MSM propaganda sewer is full to the brim with nasty hatemongering against the Chinese (positive stories are strictly verboten) and Western propaganda shills inside China, report on the country with undisguised racist and civilization contempt and disdain.

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    60. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Mulga Mumblebrain

      Perhaps we are thinking of different Chinas and different histories.

      Whilst there were a number of stable periods during China's history, it would seem to me that the was a lot of clan/tribal warfare and dynastic squabbles.

      Many emperors ruled with an iron fist and their armies were brutal.

      Not exactly a peaceful bunch.

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    61. Mulga Mumblebrain

      Rocket surgeon

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      Your grasp on history is rather tenuous. The Persians, Chinese and Hindus never came into direct contact with Europe. Your talent for hysterical historical fabrication is, on the other hand, prodigious. Racism was probably invented long ago, but the Jews with their division of humanity into 'Us and Them' might get the gong. Certainly their racism is the longest continuous manifestation of the error.

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    62. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Mulga Mumblebrain

      I finf fascinating the level of racism which seems to be deamed acceptable if:

      1) the speaker is otherwise deemed a progressive or otherwise left wing.

      and

      2) The object of said racism is directed at the apparently acceptable targets of Europeans and/or Jews.

      This statement here, smearing Jews, all Jews apparently, is just another lefty manifestation of the oldest hatred. The most sickening aspect of this is not that this bloke has paraded his blatant judeophobia for all to see, but that with all his raving so far not one of the oh so prim and properly left readers of this site has, to this point, called this person out as the racist he is.

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    63. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter,

      I am not one to go running to mummy saying "the bad man offended me, please ban him", even if you have made it clear that is the approach you prefer.

      I find the ignorant and bilious hate this man has bee spraying pretty dreadful, but even more dreadful is that not one, not even one, progressive has expressed reservations, let alone disgust, with his rants.

      You want to complain to the man, feel free. I prefer that this person show to the world just what he is. As you know from previous discussions, my opinion is that you defeat this stuff through rational argument, not banning and censorship - that's your preferred route.

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    64. Thomas Fields

      "progressive" watcher

      In reply to Mulga Mumblebrain

      Communism and socialism do not work because human beings do not primarily strive for equality, rather, they strive for distinction. For equality to work it requires a massive tax payer funded bureaucracy to implement and the executive branch of government to enforce.

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    65. Thomas Fields

      "progressive" watcher

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Spot on, Chris.
      "Progressives" have this strange idea that when they use racial smears it's not classed as racism, but when a conservative does, it's evil incarnate and therefore must be punished and censored.

      I say let Mumblebrain sprout his hatred. It gets it out in the open and shows "progressives" for who they really are.

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    66. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Thomas Fields

      Distinction is fine if you're not in a refugee camp after fleeing The Sudan. Or caught up in sectarian and civil violence in Syria et al.

      Distinction is fine for the West if you have the opportunity and wealth to shine. Give me equality anytime.

      Countless billions of dollars are wasted every year on a myriad of folderols......might be better spent on equality.

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    67. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Bit of a 'red herring' actually Stephen - this menace of 'equality'... the real issue is equality of opportunity ... so everyone - to the extent it is humanly por geographically possible - gets a fair chance in life. What they make of it is up to them.

      What I find dreadful about the systems advocated by conservatives is that they regard it as perfectly proper that opportunity should be rationed via a market - that one's chances in life are determined by what mum and dad or the grandparents did for a living, how much wealth they accumulated and how deep your pockets are as a result.

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    68. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I was using equality as it was the word chosen by TF.

      But there are probably many words that could be substituted.

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    69. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Yep ... no doubt Stephen.

      But this caricature of reformist objectives - the notion of some North Korean system of factory produced 'equals' - is a rather common straw man furphy. I know you wouldn't be so silly ... was more directed to Thomas actually - but I don't really think he'd appreciate the distinction.

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    70. Thomas Fields

      "progressive" watcher

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Not at all, Peter. Inequality can be empirically measured and therefore justified. Equality is a metaphysical proposition that has no empirical grounding. I am merely honest in abiding by reality rather than idealities.

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  4. Felix Acker

    Health Promotion

    The analysis and description of the situation in Germany conveyed in this article is not accurate and misrepresents the issues in the country.
    First of all, the 'Alternative fuer Deutschland' is a very young protest party that deals, exclusively, with Germany's interaction with the European Union, in particular loan payments to indebted countries Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Ireland, etc.. . It is absolutely not the only party to challenge the Christian Democrats, it only happens that if the AfD manages…

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  5. Thomas Fields

    "progressive" watcher

    I see these events as a positive in Europe's development. Economic downturns provide opportunities for countries to alter their values and future outlook.

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Thomas Fields

      Wow that's a harsh statement. Seems to me that in economic downturns the rich get richer and the poor get trodden on.

      Who generates these downturns - the plutocracy, the Wall St traders, the governments - certainly not the common folk.

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    2. Jo McBain

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      As a side note from the parallel world Ms Rhinehart- In Gina's world, the non violent ( aka wall st bankers , rich) ) would pay to remain in the community, because ' ""Let them pay to get out of prison or not enter prison (a new source of revenue), and let them be part of the taxpaying workforce," she wrote"... Seems to me they already do!

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    3. Thomas Fields

      "progressive" watcher

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      It may be harsh, but it's true. When dissatisfaction amongst the majority of citizens occur, a turning point is usually inevitable. A leader/group will rise and take advantage of the dissatisfaction and promise them an alternative future. In contrast, when economic times are good, the majority of the populace is satisfied, become lazy, embrace comforts and lethargies of all kinds. The last thing these people want is "change".

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  6. Anna Ross

    Healthcare professional

    At last, another nonsense concept, the EU, is falling. This was the greatest misguided "shotgun marriage" in history. There could not be a more disparate group of countries to tie together. They will all do better learning to cope without having big daddy Germany propping them up. What a relief for German taxpayers! That other folly, "the Joke", or the UN as the left call it, will fall soon too. Roll on.

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Anna Ross

      Sad but probably true.........guess we'll see thousands of diplomats and bureaucrats in the dole queue.

      They must have cost billions over the years. The gravy trains have finally run out of steam.

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    2. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Anna Ross

      It is hilarious in 2013, to go back to 2006-08, and re-read Kevin Rudd's ghost-written articles to the Monthly, raving on about how alike Australia is to continental Europe in our politics, and economics. It was ahistorical, ideologically schizophrenic at the time. Reading it now, the man just sounds pathetic. I suppose, knowing Rudd's chutzpah, he'd probably come out and even admit that he never wrote it in the first place!

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  7. James Jenkin

    EFL Teacher Trainer

    How have Germans under Merkel 'turned their backs on the rest of Europe'? How does the fact the Christian Democrats look like retaining power, and support for the German Greens has fallen, help show 'the depressing scale and depth of European disintegration'?

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    1. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to James Jenkin

      Yes, I think the question to be posed is rather, who is carrying the credit against whose borrowings?

      And Greece, having to rein in their spending, their excessive salaries to unproductive people, their profligate lifestyle, their failure to accumulate adequate reserves to see them through inevitable downturn?

      Nobody can say they weren't warned. Even then it became a major political crisis trying to get the population to cut back and accept the reality finally.

      We have to wonder when people will start to wake up, or better, accept not the end of the 'welfare state' but that it may well have been better for the failed welfare experiment not to have been tried to start with.

      And before anyone says hindsight is cheap wisdom, I'd say yes I'm inclined to agree. It's foresight that's in short supply.

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    2. Shannon Conroy

      Manager at FMCG

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      Well the situation in Europe has shown its very hard to get people to "take their medicine"

      Raising the retirement age in Greece (to 58) led to riots in Athens. Same thing happened in France when it was raised from 60 - 62.
      You have to wonder how it was ever allowed to be lowered so far down. Meanwhile in Germany they're talking about raising it to 69 for the full pension.

      This is only the start, you will see more violent riots and civic decay as the reality of the European future steadily dawns on its citizenry in the next decade.

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    3. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to James Jenkin

      "How have Germans under Merkel 'turned their backs on the rest of Europe'?"
      You mean, 'whose paying for the food and clothes in the rest of Europe's back'.

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    4. Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      REALPolitik Outlaw Journalist

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      I like Greeks. They're earthy types most.
      But, to your "..And Greece, having to rein in their spending, their excessive salaries to unproductive people, their profligate lifestyle, their failure to accumulate adequate reserves to see them through inevitable downturn?"

      I say, being from Melbourne being the 3rd largest Greek-speaking city on earth, that the migration of their "Conacreters" et al to Australia, had them flock into real estate, here and in Greece, at such a rate and number as to…

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    5. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      You mean those in debt to Germany with no means to pay them back since all the manufacturing jibs that create the money to lend in the first place are al in Germany.
      Perhaps the Germans should be sending their students to study in the Sunny climes of Greece. (or Spain or Italy or Portugal)
      , at least for the first years of their degrees so that the Greek economy get the wherewihthal to repay loans to Germany.
      It makes sense if you are going to sell your manufactured goods to people to ensure that they have the income to repay the loans by which they buy those goods in the first place.

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    6. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to James Hill

      James, compared to Germany's universities, good luck getting young German students to choose Greek or Portugese universities instead!

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    7. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      My example would have the German universities set up their own college campuses in the Sunny countries.
      As most people are aware Australia does quite well from foreign students.
      And the European problem is that Germany has lent money to the debtor nations so that they may but their manufactured goods, but they have neglected to provide the means for those loans to be repaid.
      So the experiment continues with the anally retentive Deutschers unwilling to loosen up the strings of their money bags.
      That will have to change.
      This not a wholesale transfer of university facilities just the posting of first and even second year students to the debtor nations to allow those nations to use some of the money that is going to be spent by these students in Germany to be spent in the Mediterranean instead.
      Under these circumstances I think the students will clamour for the experience.

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    8. Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      REALPolitik Outlaw Journalist

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      Hup! No, they much prefer the urban and semi-rural marijuana-growing "professions" in temperate and sub-tropical Australian real estate!

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  8. Pat Moore

    gardener

    What crime did the words of Pavlos Fyssas commit? What orthodoxy did they offend? What were those executed words? Fascism is pervasive to the human character, here and now, there and everywhere across time. The present is run by a crypto-fascist empire nourished and grown to monstrous proportions under the guise and foretold capture of 'the world's greatest democracy'. These European observations are of fallout effects from that occulted reign. The future is more openly fascist. The small men…

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    1. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Pat Moore

      For those with an interest in History of Ancient Rome, the fasces are the sticks representing individual people which, when bound together, are stronger than any individual stick, and the state is then, in fascism, by this analogy, more important than the individual.
      And this strength once gathered, must be directed outward, once the dissenters have been eliminated.
      Now Australia is far too small, in population, to direct that strength outward to anyone, so will we be, instead, stuck in the "eliminate…

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    2. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to James Hill

      James,

      You said; "will we be, instead, stuck in the "eliminate the dissenters" phase with this change of government?"

      Um, it was Gillard/Roxon who prepared legislation seeking to criminalise political dissent, in their proposed ant-discrimination bill, and their supporters who sought to control it by the Finkelstein report.

      It is the LNP who have announced the intention to embed greater protections for free speech and dissent in Australian law.

      You said: ""By their actions shall ye know them"."

      Absolutely. One more reason to be thankful the last lot have been thrown out.

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    3. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to James Hill

      James,

      BTW, there is no basis under which the Roman church, even under the Inquisition, could have been called totalitarian. The Church simply did not seek to control every day life in the manner which the classical totalitarian ideologies sought to.

      We have discussed your constant smears against Christians in the past, this is just another.

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    4. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Very often in times past the RCs were both church & state.

      In one sense they were very much totalitarian.

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    5. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Excellent contention Chris ... pity history shows exactly the opposite.

      One of the most sorry aspects of the last century is the role of the Catholic Church in providing both a moral justification for fascism and lending it public support.

      Now on the assumption you wouldn't be convinced by a critical historical analysis, here's an article from an extreme right-wing RC outfit setting out with pride the role that the Church played in the rise of Franco in Spain... http://vox-nova.com/2011/04/01/for-god-and-country-the-legacy-of-francisco-franco

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    6. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Spurred to delve into the Woolibuddha Archive of Radical Thought (WART), I've dredged up the following:

      "Our confession to God is a confession of a doctrine of totality.... To give ultimate significance to the totalities of race, resistance and personality there is added the supreme totalitarian slogan of our Volk: "Religion and God." God is the greatest totality and extends over all else.

      -Hans Schemm, (Gertrud Kahl-Furthmann (ed.), Hans Schemm spricht: Seine Reden und sein Werk (Bayreuth…

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    7. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      As you wish, Chris, you are entitled to your opinions on the matter.
      On the other hand I am informed in my opinion by a couple of op shop paperbacks by GG Coulton, "Medieval Panorama.
      Vol 1 Foreground: Society and Institutions'
      Vol 2 The Horizons of Thought.
      On the back we find this: "few medievalists have been as learned as Dr GG Coulton and none has been more vigorous in controversy. His battles with Cardinal Gasquet, a historian whom he regarded as a partisan of the Roman Church, resounded…

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    8. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Earle E Carins in his book "The History of the Roman Catholic Church" says...........

      " The Roman Catholic church has always insisted that it, speaking through the pope, is the final authority of faith and morals. It has also claimed that the papal hierarchy can give or withhold salvation through the sacraments, which the hierarchy alone can dispense. This authoritarian, hierarchical and sacramental system is by its very nature totalitarianism in its demands on the people."

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    9. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to James Hill

      We tend to forget the extent of the nationalist, totalitarian regime here in Australia between the wars, and the sheer scale of repression of the late Victorian flowering of culture and the arts, in invention and progress that had in the generation before made this country stand out among nations, not insignificantly brought by Christians.

      What is interesting here, and highly relevant, is the breaking up of right wing nationalism in this country by Joseph Lyons and his deputy, Robert Menzies…

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    10. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      Gil we need to learn from History - that's why it is so important it is taught to primary and secondary kids.

      History for some kids starts with the Apple mac being released onto the market. Any further back and it's black hole.

      and " "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."..............

      Many archbishops and cardinals were both Caesar and God, and as rich as all get out.

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    11. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to James Hill

      "the fasces are the sticks representing individual people which, when bound together, are stronger than any individual stick, and the state is then, in fascism, by this analogy, more important than the individual.
      And this strength once gathered, must be directed outward, once the dissenters have been eliminated."
      This is complete nonsense. The fasces simply never had that great a role in the Roman imaginattion. And there was always plenty of dissent in Republican Rome. Maybe you know better, but I'm not familiar with much Latin literature raving on about 'fasces'.

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    12. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      The British, Germans, Dutch, and Scandinavians didn't seem to think so.

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    13. Russell Walton

      Retired

      In reply to James Hill

      Interesting. The fasces are more than a bundle of sticks they also incorporate an axe, and the usual interpretation is that they represent a magistrate's power to punish criminals.

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    14. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      James does have a particular bias to that mob we threw out Chris, he feeling rather lost in his thoughts quite often and it now seems he resorts to Op Shops, next possibly dumster diving and then he could even hang out around pie shops hoping to glean a Billy titbit.

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    15. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Russell Walton

      The axe in the middle certainly represents power and since the fasces are bound, then that power cannot be wielded separately, but by one alone, probably your magister.
      So there is the interpretation that in order to benefit from the power of the state, the individual must surrender individual authority to it.
      Hence "Fascism" where the individual is subordinate to the state?
      The power of the magistrates and the consequent rule of law, or willing obedience to the law, made for the Pax Romana; though…

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    16. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Russell Walton

      It is possible to detect an unbroken cultural continuum between Ancient Rome and our present Lawyer and Catholic top-heavy, unrepresentative ( and therefore illegitimate?) government.
      With more emphasis on the "Empire" part than anything particularly "Holy" or Christian,

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    17. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Greg North

      Not lost , Greg, and not in thoughts, though you do seem to practice projecting your inadequacies onto others.
      And, yes, I did find a very rare historical book on the early railways, in a St Vinnies Dumpster, rejected and destined for the tip, but which, instead, was conveyed to a local university Librarian for safe keeping.
      Who will come to the rescue of the truly irrelevant Mr North?
      Destined for the garbage bin of history?
      To be reprocessed as Soylent Blue?

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    18. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      No of course not, Michael, that is why the fasces were carried in front of the chief magistrate as a symbol of the authority invested in him by the state.
      Not occupying a great role in the Roman imagination?
      Yes, Chris, whatever you say, but I suppose it would be futile for you to explain the connection between the Roman Fasces and Fascism?
      There were plenty of murderous civil wars towards the end of republican Rome when their more threatening external political rivals had been defeated and they…

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    19. Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      REALPolitik Outlaw Journalist

      In reply to James Hill

      "The church supplied the template for totalitarianism as adopted by the Soviets and the Nazis."

      Can you confirm or disprove, that Josep Stalin was a jesuit for me, and for your argument? It's something I read years ago...

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    20. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      Yes Gil, quaintly skipping over the First, Second and Third Holy Roman Empires.
      Between the wars Australians were forced to bear the burden of the massive war debt of the First World War.
      It was "the economy stupid" that induced the right wing repression and paranoia about the Russian revolution being repeated elsewhere around the world.
      Then we had the Great Depression being extended longer in Australia for the same reason.
      Did Menzies and Joseph Lyons disband the right wing Irish Catholic colonial…

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    21. Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      REALPolitik Outlaw Journalist

      In reply to Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      And James.., if so, it adds to my theory that the Soviet communism was designed, perhaps after the western elites won back "the revolution" from the Leninists, to fail so badly, that no one on earth would consider anything under than term/name ever again.

      Jo McCarthy's rampage against as much, the word, in the US later on, cemented in humanity the link between "Communism" and unspeakable horrors, and is as much why even here amongst the educated, the thought of communism is so readily condemned…

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    22. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      Prove that Joseph Stalin was Jesuit for you, Max?
      Is that one of the those "what is the sound of one hand clapping?" questions, for which there is no answer?
      In one of my answers to the matter I quote as an expert Dr GG Coulson who published works concerning the question in the interwar period.
      he spoke of an equivalence between Stalinism and Nazism, and in fact they did sign a peace pact to celebrate their similarities perhaps?
      Before dividing Poland between themselves.
      Someone else called Marxism the greatest Christian heresy

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    23. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      An acquaintance once repeated an opinion that Marx developed his theory about "scientific" communism in order to herd all anti-capitalist dissent under one roof the easier to contain their threat against the existing system of Adam Smith's "Idle Rich" existing off the sweat of the working poor.
      The Idle Rich certainly understood the threat against them in the rising wages and consequent savings of the working poor which manifested in lower interest rates.
      It is all in The wealth Of Nations where…

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    24. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      The people of the Mondragon region of Spain seem to be emulating the First Peoples of Australia by using the co-operative system.
      They have managed to work out how to pay the rent to themselves.

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    25. Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      REALPolitik Outlaw Journalist

      In reply to James Hill

      Thanks for your replies.

      Now 58 y/o, I spent a long time, with breaks, in and around "cooperatives" in the mainstream and in [OH NO?] yep! Nimbin.

      Having been made intolerant of people in general now [PTSDD], so unable to live-up to that which I theorize and rabbit-on in support of, "Communism", I still firmly believe in it as our best way.

      So, from my observations of "volunteer" organizations and cooperatives, their main cause of failure is nothing to do with any inherent flaws or improbabilities…

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    26. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      Thanks for that Max, with sobering realism on the on the potential for working together.
      Saint Paul discovered what you have and responded with if they want to eat, ie share the food gathered by others then let them work.
      So selfishness, based on fear, will always undermine co-operation.
      The whole problem seems to mirror what is thought to be the basis of the Greek Myths, where a new group of "Sky Father" worshipping people overtook their "Earth Mother" worshipping predecessors in the area in question.
      It does come across as pathological, those symptoms which you accurately describe, begotten of a fundamental biological imbalance?

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    27. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Pat Moore

      "Fascism is pervasive to the human character, here and now, there and everywhere across time."
      Pat, actually, fascism was one of the shortest-lived and most geographically- concentrated political movements in world history. Basically continental Europe, 1919-1945. It only started as a reaction against Marxist-Leninism.

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    28. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Chris, you are absolutely correct. What was being proposed during Gillard's Prime Ministership, with Roxon's horrific Anti Civil Liberties Bill, then the Finkelstein Report...I am so glad Roxon went!

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    29. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      Max, you are correct about Communism. It is only possible in pre-agricultural societies, with low population densities. Why anybody ever bought it in the 19th/20th centuries. But even the communistic Aborigines dropped that Communism the moment they discovered the comforts of modern, property-owning, surplus-producing capitalism.

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    30. Pat Moore

      gardener

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      Well in the world according to Michael Sheehan maybe. That reductionism is a very shallow reading of history. The formal fascist NATION STATE regimes of Spain, Italy, Stalinist Russia, Germany..... of leather and jackboot fame... were four examples of a perennial human phenomena, the violent tribal brotherhoods organised against the outsider or the enemy insider. It is a type of patriarchal political fundamentalism usually marked by savage violence against its perceived enemies. Institutionalised…

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    31. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Pat Moore

      Pat, I see. So you're another one of those Commies yet to atone for your complicity in humanity's most horrific social system and machine for genocide of its own people?

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    32. Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      REALPolitik Outlaw Journalist

      In reply to James Hill

      "Honesty", a key to Humility?

      Humility, a key to Enlightenment!

      All Praise the Dumpster Divers!

      For they shall see and live Eternally, in Heaven!

      And, they shall preserve what's important....!

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    33. Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      REALPolitik Outlaw Journalist

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      O dear? "pre-agricultural"? "low population densities"?

      Michael, please desist from parrying with me for your own right wing, terminally-immature glee?

      Trite, unsubstantiated drivel, and wrong on why our Indigenous dropped their Ways.

      Opinions such as yours destroy us.

      Well done.

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    34. Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      REALPolitik Outlaw Journalist

      In reply to Pat Moore

      Quite so.

      My take on your "...Fascism is an abiding and inherent element of human nature." is,

      "Amoeba to Empire to Self-Extermination".

      However, some, avoided the wrong path, and stayed with wood and stones.

      Outrageous, to think that they, for tens-of-thousands of years, were also, Culturally Balanced, and personally Happy!

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    35. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      Well Max, I am always on the look-out for examples to update my "Communism Rocks" database. So if you know something I don't, I'd be delighted to hear all about it.

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    36. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      Opinions like this bloke claims to have don't destroy anyone Max ... might if he had any facts or research or any other indication of learning or understanding. He is an utter fraud.

      Just consider it heckling ... noise and a distraction... ignore him.

      His 'contribution' to discussion is to reduce it to a pub brawl or a slanging match. Don't bite.

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    37. Pat Moore

      gardener

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      No I don't think you do see at all Michael. Your prejudices are blinding you. "Commie...atone for...(my) complicity in...genocide..." (!!). Your prejudices are not only blinding you they are detracting from your rational judgement. No I'm not a 'Commie' as you so incitingly put it, waving that red flag.

      Totalitarianism in any form, Fascist, Communist, Capitalist globalised Corporatism, even if cryptically installed, is the problem wouldn't you say? Politically-violent enforced orthodoxies? And nation states and empires maintaining control by surveillance of citizens, mass media propaganda machines, occupation of government and international bodies and massive police state and war machines?

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    38. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      Totalitarianism equates Stalinism and Fascism, so what is the point of setting up this false antagonism between two sides of the same coin, that biblical coin carrying Caesar's head?
      Except to be an unconscious dupe of those intent of distorting history fro their own purposes?
      What did Lenin say about useful idiots?

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    39. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to James Hill

      James, actually Hannah Arendt's "totalitarianism" thesis equated Stalinism and *Nazism* (not *fascism*).

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    40. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to James Hill

      And James, Communism and Fascism have very significant differences.

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    41. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      You are right, of course Michael, which is why Nazism is equated with Stalinism as totalitarian systems. and communism ,such as in Cuba, is not.
      And no-one thinks that North Korea, which seems to be the actualisation of George Orwell's I984 of "Engsoc" fame is not totalitarian.
      Not communism either.
      But totalitarian is the term deliberately chosen by Winston Churchill to describe Stalinism.

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    42. Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      REALPolitik Outlaw Journalist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Yup! He'd be the first out the door once the shirts came off too, aye?

      O for the days of straight-talking bush folks, who stood for no "bluster" and weren't afraid to stop idiots in their tracks, but who also knew wisdom, even if it be from the mouth of a Bleck Fella, and stood strong to the end for honesty and Intellectual courage?

      The fools always wain, by their own shame, as slowly they come to see their idiocy.

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    43. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to James Hill

      James, I agree that Cuba is nothing like Nazi Germany or Stalin's Soviet Union. The Cuban socialist (maybe a more accurate description than 'Communist'?) leaders have not been on an orgy of mass murdering their own people! As for North Korea. How on earth can the entire world just look away at that nightmare?

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    44. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      Well Max, your idea of the 'good old days' sure makes me relieved I was born in the age of the Internet. Arguing your old way doesn't sound as fun as arguing over a keyboard. ;)

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    45. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      Seems he buggers off at even the slightest suggestion of discovery Max. And curiously so have his various pals ... all at once ... again.

      I've taken to heart recent criticisms re playing the man and the decline of political discussion over recent years. It is a bad habit. I think it is important - that the Conversation is too important - to let such folks demean and debauch it as they have done with other public forums.

      So I have set myself a rule - one I'll try and keep despite the provocations - not to respond to these hecklers ... these one line hit and runners who try and de-rail serious chattery. They have absolutely nothing to contribute... let them sink without comment.

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    46. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      Yes, but that is how the war that is peace in North Korea pans out.
      China must welcome that distraction since it has abandoned its support for its former puppet state of Myanmar, just across the Bay from a nuclear superpower who could certainly mess China up if they wanted to make a point of it.
      Ain't that so Beijing?
      But getting back to our more immediate local problems, well a crisis would look a lot like Governor King's early problems at Sydney Cove, with famine at the top of the list.
      On…

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    47. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to James Hill

      The embargo against Cuba is completely ridiculous in 2013. Maybe they're waiting until Fidel carks it.

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    48. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      I've always though the Cuban embargo is one of the longest dummy spits in international history.

      The Americans can't bear to contemplate that Castro beat them.

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  9. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    We could wonder to what extent the state support the royalty of the Dutch but that is beside the point of the acknowledgement of what really is representative of the decades long progressive slide of the developed western nations.
    The King does make a reference without too much detail in globalisation and we could take that as code for impact of the WTO and the supposedly level playing field that it introduces is obviously being tilted by the longer term less productive peoples of previously developed…

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  10. Keith Thomas

    Retired

    I'm presently living in England, John, and the class distinctions really set an egalitarian Australian like me back on his heels. Every day I cycle a few miles from my village into town and I see Bentleys, Ferraris and numerous Porsches. They pass the sad lady with badly dyed hair whose only entertainment is to sit on her zimmer frame watching them go by. In our street we are the only house without at least one gardener. Most also have a cleaner and there are tradesmen around every week installing…

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    1. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Keith Thomas

      Yes it's disturbingly different Keith and for damn good reasons.

      Our founding parents rejected that class-based privilege and inequality decisively... didn't want it here... had been on the receiving end of it all their lives.

      Yet devoid of memory or history, we see our politicians aping the models of their 'corresponding' equivalents in the UK and the US without considering the inequality and disposable people these policies create.

      'Trainspotting' wasn't a fiction - it was a documentary…

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    2. Russell Walton

      Retired

      In reply to Keith Thomas

      After a few years of Coalition "austerity" programs Australia will have much in common with the UK.

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  11. Stephen Ralph

    carer at n/a

    Mass murder.........Russia has about 22,000 murders a year, the U.S. about 14,000 give or take a body or two.

    Then there are the automobile accidents that take many thousands of lives annually.

    No real point I guess, but another perspective.

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    1. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen, per capita, the situation in the US is not good. But on a global scale, the US is a comparatively murder-free society. The REALLY bad places are all throughout Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa (the new "human rights" Mandela Johannesburg, anyone?), Russia, and a few closer places like Indonesia, and of course PNG. All of these places make the US look like a paradise of safety.

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    2. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      Yes, in New Guinea and across Indonesia little old ladies are being gruesomely murdered for being "witches" and practising sorcery, while to their South members of the now government stood under signs saying "Ditch The Witch".
      And our complicit media has no comment, amongst their endless commentary, about this brain rotting superstition that people peddle as religion.

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    3. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to James Hill

      "And our complicit media has no comment."
      But the electorate had a lot to say about her. Ditch her!

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    4. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to James Hill

      One of the curious aspects of Indonesian Islam is its historical acceptance and tolerance of pre-islamic animist rituals - particularly witchraft or dukun. In fact the practice is only now being considered for a legal ban and certainly not under any pressure from islamic orthodoxy. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2013/05/2013518125748270886.html

      It's not so much that women (and men) are persecuted or killed for being sorcerers or witches, but that they as individuals are accused of doing harm using their magic ... the magic itself is fine. It has to do with notions of causality. Something bad happens - who did it? Simple as that. Next thing you know you've got a witch hunt.

      Similar ideas about causality and the power of sorcery are also found amongst the locals in Australia lingering on despite christians, missions and anything else we've thrown at it.

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    5. Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      REALPolitik Outlaw Journalist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      And what has "christianity" and catholicism, judaism and masonry [all small-c] in common...?

      The frantic abuse borne of their ignorance for and of playing with it.

      "Gadjiki", "Clever Fellas", "Black Trackers" evidence our "locals" knew something, and that it is to be treated with the highest respect.

      Indeed, Harry Potter may have saved the precious white, western 1st world kiddies from the evil outlaws who took over here in 1996, but together they've exposed the ancient abuses of aforesaid cults, and now the whole realm is spinning out of control, even of Murdoch's, for it.

      But, however, and, or, has this any relationship with the topic of "a murder in Eurape"?

      More than we can dare admit to knowing, methinks!

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    6. Pat Moore

      gardener

      In reply to Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      Hi Max Good on you for giving the Multiple Occupancy?/communal thing a try round Nimbin. Yep the same old problems always rear their human heads and personalities? Remember seeing a TV program a while back on your Gippsland Gunai people in beautiful country and how they were betrayed.

      Europeans haven't generally realized/admitted a big truth yet. Have not been able to see themselves objectively from the outside to be able to do so...'.the knife that cuts can't cut itself'. Such efficient…

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    7. Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      REALPolitik Outlaw Journalist

      In reply to Pat Moore

      Cheers, Pat.

      Your explanation as to why the Eurapeans have become so Eu-rapacious is historically complex, but thanks for the bracketed meanings of words.

      I guess I can't disagree, because my government tech school drop-out brain drops-out with such lexicons and depth.

      But.., I "might" be agreeing by suggesting that Eurape became so, because it has lived off colonialist plunder for millennia, which had them loosen their self-restraints as to material [over-]consumption, thus in that undisciplined…

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    8. Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      REALPolitik Outlaw Journalist

      In reply to Pat Moore

      And, Pat? As an off-topic..., do you recall the title of that doco you saw, about my Gunai People?

      [ "Betrayed", indeed!]

      Which channel, etc?

      Cheers.

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    9. Pat Moore

      gardener

      In reply to Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      Maybe that was 10 years ago I saw that doco, and a few things remained in my memory from it, the main thing being the community's headman's long walk to Melbourne, the point which led me to the name Beruk Barak of the Wurundjeri clan of the Woi worung people who lived at Coranderrk Reserve Healesville, on line if you haven't looked into that story. So sorry to say Max I was wrong about that being about your people, but another tragic history nevertheless.

      Interesting concurrence on your 'Eurapean…

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    10. Max JUST DEFIANCE Cook

      REALPolitik Outlaw Journalist

      In reply to Pat Moore

      Cheers, Pat. Sadmax on the doco.

      I know about Cornaderk, having read a book on it and of Barak, well before I uncovered I was one-a-them.

      As for Eurape, with a few differences, I guess we're saying the same things?

      I've long thought also, of the influences of colder climate of the Brits' and Euros' habits. But others, the Innuit, for ex., lived in extreme cold without the need to overpopulate. But they did have a perennial food supply.

      Population stops tribes and nations living the…

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