But in November 1999, a watershed moment occurred in the heart of world capitalism – on the streets of Seattle, in the United States – when Teamster unionists, environmentalists dressed as Turtles and many others joined forces to dispute that there was no alternative. Their target was the World Trade Organisation meeting, which was negotiating a new round of free trade agreements, and their blockades of the venue and mass rallies shut it down.
The political prediction business is not one you should engage in unless you’re either willing to repeatedly admit erroneous forecasts (one of Ben Eltham’s most endearing qualities) or to march on obliviously ignoring them (most of the rest of the commentariat). It’s even worse for us Marxists, as we’re notorious for having accurately foretold five out of the last two recessions. The problem is that history unfolds dialectically in the real world, and not simply through a logical derivation from some initial starting point.
It is no accident that Indigenous people are stigmatised through income management. It is no accident that thousands sit in refugee camps just off our borders. It is no accident that government benefits are so low people cannot pay rent and buy food …
Of course, as Austereo CEO Rhys Holleran told reporters, nobody could have ‘reasonably foreseen’ that a prank telephone call made by two Australian radio presenters would set off a chain of events that included the apparent suicide of a nurse – Jacintha Saldanha, a mother of two teenaged children – on the other side of the world.
Govt confirms they have sent women and children refugees overnight to the detention camps in Manus Island indefinitely. Shameful. – Senator Sarah-Hanson Young on Twitter, 21 November 2012
In a recent post on her blog, regular Overland contributor Stephanie Convery argued the Left should develop a ‘pro-exercise’ position that can avoid falling into the trap of reactionary ideas around ‘issues of weight, body shaming, social expectations, beauty industries and personal choice’. I would like to suggest that while Stephanie’s provisional position raises important pointers towards the ‘materialist’ approach she’d like us to stake out, she falls short of a satisfactory solution to the problem.
In addition to shopping centres, Australian universities are increasingly contracting out work like cleaning and security. These are roles that were previously subject to the same enterprise agreements as the library staff or school administrators, who had comparatively good conditions because of long-term union gains, but are now contracted to companies that must win tenders through bidding the lowest cost.
No, this is not a post about the events of the last two weeks in Australian public life, but a review of Bloody Nasty People: The Rise of Britain’s Far Right, by Daniel Trilling (Verso, 2012). There is a connection, however, and if you bear with me I’ll return to it at the end.
When the proposal first came I was flustered. Although we had been living together for six years, we had never discussed getting married. I’d also never really pictured myself involved in a wedding ceremony, which had always seemed too bizarrely steeped in sexist traditions of white dresses and fathers giving daughters away to other men.