The Greens, China and Australia’s Geopolitical Reality

Australia, Politics

Joe Humphreys

The Greens need to come to terms with Geopolitics.

On July 1, 2020, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that an imposing $270 billion would go towards Australia’s defence in the next decade to meet the strategic challenges of the Asia-Pacific region in the increasingly uncertain post-COVID-19 world.

A large portion of Canberra’s additional commitment of approximately $70 billion on top of the existing $200 billion defence budget is set to go towards improving Australia’s regional strike capabilities – with $800 Million used for purchasing American built Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASM), $9.3 Billion on R&D for long-range, potentially hypersonic, offensive weapons as well as a potential investment in anti-missile defence capacities.

On top of this, Mr Morrison announced that significant funding would also go towards cyber and information warfare capabilities, and importantly, pledged $7 billion to go towards developing an independent Australian satellite network.

This significant increase in the Australian defence budget, now 2% of national GDP, is a watershed moment in the history of Australian strategic policy. Past governments have laboured under the illusion that U.S interests and hegemony will always ensure stability in the Asia-Pacific, negating the need for Australia’s force projection capacities.

In the third decade of the 21st century, Australia is waking up to the reality of a United States that is asleep at the wheel as it pitches about in a storm of social, political and economic turmoil.

Although the bellicose anti-China rhetoric of U.S president Donald Trump may make it seem that the United States is ready to meet the challenges of a coercive and uncooperative Peoples Republic of China, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The United States is paralysed by a chaotic, inept and objectively absurd president who is now expected to guide the not-so-shiny city on the hill through a new age of great power competition. The United States couldn’t be less prepared.

What this means for an Australian perspective is simple – we are not in Kansas anymore.

China seeks to remake the global rules-based order in its image, asserting its power over its neighbours – namely in the South China Sea – as well as exhibiting increasingly expansionist tendencies. In tandem, China has also increased its efforts to undermine the credibility and regular operation of democracies around the Asia-Pacific, Australia being a prime example.

It’s difficult to ignore the apparent influence China has over Australian universities, as well as the episodic embroilment of Australian politicians with Beijing backed businesspeople.

Nor is it easy to turn a blind eye to the tariffs and school yard bully posturing made by Beijing after Australia called for an inquiry into its COVID-19 response and apparent displeasure at the prospect of Australia providing a safe haven for some 3 million eligible Hong Kong residents fleeing the central government’s slow strangulation of the once great autonomous zone.

Now more than ever before Australia must find the wherewithal to defend both its interests and the rules-based order in the Asia-Pacific.

Social media has already lit up with commentary from the Australian Greens leader Adam Bandt and Senator Larissa Waters criticising such a massive increase in the defence budget during a period in which Australia is enduring growing unemployment and economic downturn, cuts in government spending on tertiary and TAFE education, housing unaffordability, ongoing bushfire recovery, and the ever-pressing need to make a real effort to mitigate carbon emissions and stimmy the progress of climate change.

These are valid points of concern. The amount of money the Morrison government has devoted to the defence of our nation is truly staggering.

Spending billions on weapons while many Australians are struggling to keep their income and attain the quality of life we’ve come to expect is a hard sell.

Despite this, the Greens characterisation of the decision to increase defence spending at the expense of the social wellbeing of the Australian people is simplistic in nature and ignorant of the precarious position in which Australia finds itself.

By refusing to acknowledge the significance of Beijing’s militarisation of its near abroad, its efforts to undermine the integrity of neighbouring democracies and the prosperous, diverse, and vibrant life Australia enjoys, the Greens relegate themselves to a position of impotence in geostrategic debate.

With or without the input of the Australian Greens, Australia will rise to the challenge posed by a coercive Beijing. Green political thought could feasibly play a critical balancing role in Australia’s defence policy, promoting alternate paths to security beyond missiles and submarines, perhaps overlooked by the political right.

An excellent example of how green thinking could have aided Australia’s national security is the massive (and much needed) proposed transition towards a 100% publicly owned renewable energy grid.

Developing an advanced native renewable energy industry could defibrillate Australian manufacturing back to life, driving our economy past its structural dependence on commodity exports, and in doing so, reduce our reliance on China.

Furthermore, had the Greens had success in the 2019 federal election, and had their policy of heavily subsidizing tertiary education succeeded, Australian Universities dependence on international students would be lessened, thus reducing Beijing’s influence over our higher education sector.

In the past the Greens have shown themselves capable of providing constructive, alternative perspectives on defence policy.

In his detailed historical account of the Australian Greens, editor of the Monthly and political biographer Paddy Manning recalled that the Greens under Bob Brown was a party not entirely opposed to interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Brown and the Greens made a valuable contribution by emphasizing the need for any intervention to be led by the United Nations, in accordance with international law, and with the explicit consent of the Australian people.

The Greens have long argued that Australian foreign policy should be more independent from Washington, and it is with some irony that the Australian Greens are now lambasting this latest increase in defence spending, which only increases Australia’s capacity to act outside the strategic umbrella of the U.S.

Independent foreign policy it seems may come with a $270 billion-dollar price tag.

The ‘green voice’ in politics has a valuable place in national security discussion and has the potential to act as both an alternate perspective and moral conscience, providing  policymakers with outside-the-box thinking and serving as a reminder of Australia’s commitment to the rules based order and its duty to protect human dignity above all else.

For it is precisely the Green’s vision of purer democracy unbeholden to corporate power and a tolerant, progressive, and sustainable future that will provide Australia with the moral clarity it needs to negotiate the ideological dimensions which lay at the core of our competition with China.

Without this moral rejuvenation, Liberal democracy will fail to appeal to nations caught in the middle of two otherwise immoral systems.

Make no mistake, a genocidal, authoritarian regime, actively engaged in stamping the life out of the pro-democracy movement in Honk Kong and on campuses around the world is not one which the Greens can allow to remain unchallenged.

The moral and strategic battle that is being fought with China is not something which the Greens can allow to become the preserve of Australia’s political right.

The Peoples Republic of China is, in almost every sense, the antithesis of Green thinking.

With China’s militarisation of Australia’s strategic backyard, growing proclivity for belligerent “grey-zone” coercive methods which blur the lines between war and peace, the need for Australia to fill in the glaring gaps in its regional strategic capabilities can no longer be ignored.

Canberra’s efforts to ensure Australia is able to provide a comprehensive response to regional threats will render Australia a less attractive target for coercion, ensuring that we are able to stand up for both our own interests and those of our allies in the Asia-Pacific.

If the Australian Greens desire to revise the Morrison government’s latest defence plan, they need to also provide an engaging and credible alternative to counter Beijing’s influence.

More to the point, despite the COVID-induced difficulties faced by Australians at home, the Greens cannot allow themselves to fall prey to the same form of insular thinking that produces such meaningless slogans as “Make America Great Again”. The Greens must understand that the domestic interests of the Australian people extend to foreign shores.

The Greens cannot allow themselves to fall by the wayside in our competition with China. The worst outcome, both from a Green perspective and for Australia more broadly, is that the rational, humanist voice of the Greens party will go unheard as debates rage over the future of Australia’s security.

Ultimately the party itself will have to find the wherewithal to strike a balance between its own ideological opposition to military spending and the realpolitik demanded by foreign policy.

The so-called ‘Long Peace’ which developed nations have enjoyed since the conclusion of the Cold War is at an end, as the Morrison government’s defence plan shows. The challenges posed by a violent and revisionist state, committed to controlling and dominating our global neighbourhood must be met by the Australian Greens, if not for the good of Australian society, then at the very least for its own political viability.

 

Spain and the Roman Catholic Church

History

Gustavo Pazo

 

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age. Matthew 28:19-20 RSVCE

No state has ever taken the instruction to spread Christianity around the world, and served the Catholic Church, as devoutly as the Spanish. The greatest Briton of all time, Sir Winston Churchill, referred to 16thcentury Spain as “the mightiest empire that had been seen since Roman times.” However, along with the comparison in terms of power, it also had the most influential role to play since the Romans in the spread of Christianity, and in the strengthening and growth of the Catholic Church. If Rome served as the solid foundational feet for the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church; Spain acted as the far-reaching hands with which its influence expanded throughout the world, from the Americas to the Far East.

Spain as we know it today has existed since 1492, when the united (through marriage) kingdoms of Castile and Aragon completed the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula from Islamic rule, with the surrender of the Emirate of Granada. The unity of the kingdom ever since, was guaranteed by loyalty to the Crown; the common business of Empire; and a shared identity as faithful servants of the Church. An identity which both the monarchy and church saw fit to promulgate, as evidenced by the fact that its first rulers were bestowed by the Pope in 1494 the title of “Catholic Monarchs of Spain”, and are still to this day remembered by it.

Internally the Spanish Crown, concerned with their salvation, gave the Church, and later through the Inquisition, free reign to crush infidels and heretics alike in whichever way they saw fit; including with the use of torture. Conversion or expulsion from Spain was the best possible deal a non-Catholic could have wished for when considering others faced execution if found guilty of heresy. Externally, not only was the Church an integral part of their colonisation policy, it directed its foreign policy in Europe. As the Lutheran Reform began to threaten the power and influence of the Church, Spanish priests and theologians led the offensive of the Counter-Reformation at the Council of Trent (1545-1563), providing clarity in the formulation of an eloquent defence in favour of the Catholic Church and many of its practices and beliefs. In the words of historian Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo the council was “as Spanish as it was ecumenical.” Men like Diego Laynez, Alfonso Salmerón, and Melchor Cano strongly rejected the Protestant notions of predestination and justification by faith alone, and instead argued in favour of free will, ratification of the sacraments, the existence of purgatory, the hierarchy of the Church, and “Sacred Tradition” as an equal source of revelation to Sacred Scripture, among other points of dogma.

Throughout the 16th century, and until the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, Spanish armies loyal to their devout monarchs, joined the struggles in defence (and on behalf) of the Church against Protestantism, and were made to spill their blood throughout the Continent. From Flanders to France and the German states, during the Thirty and the Eighty Year’s Wars, thousands of Spanish men including the famous and feared tercios, took to the battlefields to enforce the teachings of Rome. Their sacrifices saw the return of France as a Roman Catholic state in 1589. Still, some sacrifices were never repaid; the previous year the Spanish Armada had endured the loss of some 15,000 men at sea in an attempt to restore Catholic rule on the English throne, and with the signing of peace in 1648, Holland became independent from Habsburg rule and became another majorly protestant sovereign state.

In what perhaps is its greatest contribution to the history of the West, and the world, Spanish ships led by Christopher Columbus expanded the seas and land of the known world when they reached the Americas in 1492 and opened the door for the cross-Atlantic contact of civilizations. When Spain was then granted papal authority in 1493 to take possession of the newfound lands, this was done on the basis that theirs would be an evangelising mission, seeking to convert the natives who inhabited those lands into followers of Christ and the Church. Over a relatively small number of years, Spanish conquistadors brought the local populations of the West Indies, including the locally powerful Aztec and Incan Empires, under the rule of the Spanish Crown and the teachings of the Church. Wherever the armies went, priests and friars followed, to carry out the mission that had been given to them. In 1521 Ferdinand Magellan, who was sailing across the Pacific, claimed a group of islands southeast of China for the Spanish Empire and proceeded to literally plant a cross on one of them. In 1543, two of the islands were named after the Prince of Spain, and after he had ascended to the throne as Phillip II, the name was extended to the rest of the archipelago becoming the Philippine islands, modern day Philippines. The legacy of the Spanish there can be seen today because Filipinos not only retained many Spanish words in their dialog; they also conserved the religion given to them during their colonial period, making them the second largest Christian state in Asia, and the largest Catholic in the region.

Spanish priests were not only vital in expanding the Catholic Church by preaching to new converts in the colonies, they were also responsible for the formation of many prominent Catholic orders and institutions. For instance, Domingo Félix de Guzmán formed the Order of Preachers, known as the Dominican Order; an order from which prominent Catholics have come from and whose members include Thomas Aquinas, author of the Summa Theologiae and the Summa contra gentiles; Francisco de Vitoria, forerunner of modern international law for his formulation of the rights of Amerindians; and Bartolomé de las Casas, himself a staunch critic of Spanish colonisation policy. A legacy which includes the introduction and propagation of the Rosary; and the honour of having produced five different Popes. Ignatius of Loyola on the other hand, founded the Society of Jesus. Known as the Jesuits, and with an emphasis on missionary work, members such as Francisco Xavier travelled as far as Japan to deliver the message of the Church and were leading figures in the expansion of the Christianity in Asia. The fruit of their work and that of Spain can be seen today reflected in the fact that the current Pope is the first one to be a Jesuit, the first from the Americas (Argentina), and the first from the Southern hemisphere. More recently, in 1928 Josemaría Escrivá founded Opus Dei as an organization designed to be predominantly composed of lay Catholics. Its mission is to share with others, through the example of its members, that a life of Christian holiness does not require direct service to the Church as a nun or priest. Today it is an expanding institution with members located all around the world.

Today the Catholic Church has just under 1.3 billion followers globally. About 48.6% of them live in the Americas, and 483 million of them in Latin America, which was predominantly ruled by Spain. Three of the five countries with the largest Christian populations today are located in the Americas (U.S, Brazil, Mexico), and two of the five were directly administered by the Spanish before gaining their independence (Mexico and Philippines), both overwhelmingly Catholic.

Scholars continue struggling to reach a consensus on the reasons for the decline and collapse of the Spanish Empire, which reached its zenith on the 16th century, but began its decline somewhere along the 17th, before reaching rock bottom in 1898 with a crisis which saw the loss of the Cuban, Puerto Rican and Philippine possessions. Both major Spanish accounts of their own history, however, agree that the Church had a role to play in it. Liberal accounts of the decline largely argue that the blinding devotion to the Catholic faith, and the dark wing of the Spanish Inquisition shut the nation out from the light which broke throughout the rest of Europe and consequentially left the nation behind; blissfully submerged in its outdated ways while the rest of the world moved in the other direction towards Enlightenment. On the opposite side, conservatives tend to emphasise the growing levels of corruption brought about by its own success, and the loss of morality, of faith, and of the shared sense amongst Spaniards that theirs was a holy mission, towards a common destiny, and for a greater cause, as reasons for the collapse.

Nevertheless, the essence of the Spanish nation, for as long as it has been one, was never best affirmed than in the romantically immortal words of Menéndez y Pelayo: “Spain, evangeliser of half of the globe; hammer of heretics, light of Trent, sword of Rome, cradle of Saint Ignatius; that is our greatness and our unity; we know no other.”

Contra Libertarians, A Post-Liberal Critique

Philosophy, Politics

Arrus Kacchi

Ch.I | The Individual

This piece will serve as a sweeping critique of Libertarianism, with a diverse mixture of viewpoints ー all the way from anarchists such as David Graeber to reactionaries such as Julius Evola. The key influence here is C.A. Bond, specifically his recent work, ‘Nemesis’. This piece can also be read as a critique of Liberalism more broadly after all, and consequently of Neoliberalism/Economic Liberalism, as Libertarianism is just Liberalism but harder, in a manner more historically inimical to Power than Neoliberalism. However, I wrote this specifically in response to Libertarians, and so hence the title of this piece. Mind you I was a Libertarian for many years, so this will in a sense also serve as an autopsy of a previous version of me.

The central premise of Libertarianism, the “non-aggression principle” (or NAP), which holds that one may do whatever one pleases with their own property so long as said person respects other people’s rights to do as they please with their own is simple yet rests upon many, many presuppositions, which themselves are not only loaded with other assumptions but also lead to various other places, which we shall endeavour to explore. To give a brief snapshot of what we are dealing withーHenry Olson, from the now-defunct site socialmatter.net provides some good insight;

“Since the boundaries on what it means to encroach on someone else’s property rights are not always clear, the NAP was typically understood as a prohibition on the initiation of force. If, for instance, I put a statue of Mussolini in my front yard, it might “affect” my neighbors by driving down the resale values of their homes. But since I had not used force against their property and only used objects (statue and lawn) that I justly own, they would have no recourse against me. On the other hand, if they lobbied the town government to impose zoning restrictions that would prevent me from putting statutes in my yard, then they would be initiating force against my property and violate the NAP.

Some of the more abstract extensions of libertarian theory were certainly strange. Murray Rothbard deduced that the government could not force parents to feed their children[1]. Walter Block spun justifications for blackmail and littering[2]. Today, if you search the ultra-libertarian Ludwig von Mises Institute website for the term “Ebenezer Scrooge,” you will find at least a half dozen independent results on how Scrooge’s miserliness[3] from A Christmas Carol was actually admirable.”[4]

Weird but ok, let’s go deeper. The Libertarian tells us; You own yourself. This is the beginning of your being from which you freely contract with others. This is your domain, your autonomy which no one but yourself has the right to do with. This is the individual, of whom is the most fundamental unit of society. F.A. Hayek writes;

“[The] basic contention is quite a different one; it is that there is no other way toward an understanding of social phenomena but through our understanding of individual actions directed toward other people and guided by their expected behavior.”[5]

To begin with, “self-ownership” is Cartesian dualism. To “own” is a transitive verb, which requires a distinct object to have, body distinct from mindーCartesian dualism. Hayek is keenly aware of this fact in his text ‘Individualism and Economic Order’, and prescribes this effect of Descartes upon the individualism of Rousseau to deflect this accusation ー going as far as to assert that the French Cartesian individualism itself leads collectivism, unlike the British Liberalism which he, and the rest of the Libertarian project at large, inherits. While Hayek is correct in illustrating that the British tradition loses much of the baggage from Descartes, it never actually escapes the notion of self-ownership because the very British tradition from Locke, that Hayek inherits, posits that;

“Though the earth and all inferior creatures be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person; this nobody has any right to but himself.”[6]

Man’s ‘person’ being his property establishes dualismーthe thinking ‘I’ distinct from the body. A marketised Cogito. St. Thomas objects;

“Some, however, tried to maintain that the intellect is united to the body as its motor; and hence that the intellect and body form one thing so that the act of the intellect could be attributed to the whole. This is, however, absurd for many reasons.

First, because the intellect does not move the body except through the appetite, the movement of which presupposes the operation of the intellect. The reason therefore why Socrates understands is not because he is moved by his intellect, but rather, contrariwise, he is moved by his intellect because he understands.

Secondly, because since Socrates is an individual in a nature of one essence composed of matter and form, if the intellect be not the form, it follows that it must be outside the essence, and then the intellect is the whole Socrates as a motor to the thing moved. Whereas the act of intellect remains in the agent, and does not pass into something else, as does the action of heating. Therefore the action of understanding cannot be attributed to Socrates for the reason that he is moved by his intellect.

Thirdly, because the action of a motor is never attributed to the thing moved, except as to an instrument; as the action of a carpenter to a saw. Therefore if understanding is attributed to Socrates, as the action of what moves him, it follows that it is attributed to him as to an instrument. This is contrary to the teaching of the [Aristotle], who holds that understanding is not possible through a corporeal instrument (De Anima iii, 4).

Fourthly, because, although the action of a part be attributed to the whole, as the action of the eye is attributed to a man; yet it is never attributed to another part, except perhaps indirectly; for we do not say that the hand sees because the eye sees. Therefore if the intellect and Socrates are united in the above manner, the action of the intellect cannot be attributed to Socrates. If, however, Socrates be a whole composed of a union of the intellect with whatever else belongs to Socrates, and still the intellect be united to those other things only as a motor, it follows that Socrates is not one absolutely, and consequently neither a being absolutely, for a thing is a being according as it is one.

There remains, therefore, no other explanation than that given by Aristotle—namely, that this particular man understands, because the intellectual principle is his form. Thus from the very operation of the intellect it is made clear that the intellectual principle is united to the body as its form.”[7]

Unlike say a vehicle and its driver, the ‘you’ reading the words on the screen and sensing, understanding the words involves the body. And so it follows that your body is not separate from you; your body with its biological design is you. This is the Aristotelian view of hylemorphism (hyle, “matter”; morphe, “form”) that you are not only your soul, nor only your body, but you are of both body and soul. Your identity does not exist in one of the two particulars but in their unity. But then, the transitive verb of “owning” cannot take a distinct object without violating the law of identity. Therefore said dualism is nonsense and the formulation of “self-ownership” is rendered as such. Julius Evola elaborates that the unit of the “individual” isn’t even a worthy point of discourse as it is categorically substanceless;

“For all practical purposes, the pure individual belongs to the inorganic rather than to the organic dimension. In reality, the law of progressive differentiation rules supreme. In virtue of this law, the lower degrees of reality are differentiated from the higher ones because in the lower degrees a whole can be broken down into many parts, all of which retain the same quality (as in the case of the parts of a noncrystallised mineral, or those parts of some plants and animals that reproduce themselves by parthenogenesis); in the higher degrees of reality this is no longer possible, as there is a higher organic unity in them that does not allow itself to be split without being compromised and without its parts entirely losing the quality, meaning, and function they had in it. Therefore the atomic, unrestricted (solutus), “free” individual is under the aegis of inorganic matter, and belongs, analogically, to the lowest degrees of reality.

An equality may exist on the plane of a mere social aggregate or of a primordial, almost animal-like promiscuity; moreover, it may be recognised wherever we consider not the individual but the overall dimension; not the person but the species; not the “form” but “matter” (in the Aristotelian sense of these two terms). I will not deny that there are in human beings some aspects under which they are approximately equal, and yet these aspects, in every normal and traditional view, represent not the “plus” but the “minus”; in other words, they correspond to the lowest degree of reality, and to that which is least interesting in every being. Again, these aspects fall into an order that is not yet that of “form,” or of personality, in the proper sense. To value these aspects and to emphasize them as those that truly matter is the same as regarding as paramount the bronze found in many statues, rather than seeing each one as the expression of distinct ideas, to which bronze (in our case, the generic human quality) has supplied the working matter.”[8]

Your ousia means nothing without its relationship to eidos. The identity of a given individual is itself made intelligible by its participation in social identities. In this sense, the person (I will henceforth be contrasting the non-liberal conception of the individual with the Libertarian concept by calling the former, “the person” instead of “the individual”), in his  Geworfenheit, always has some kind of being-in-the-world which paints him with various social colours. Social identities, of which the individual is really posterior to. Hayek does contest that every individual has a social existence, but because his Liberal anthropological assumptions lead him to believe that we contract into social orders, which we shall explore as nonsense later, there can be for him one that exits it. But as we never entered into society from pre-society, we always have social eidos. Are truly always ‘thrown’ into the world. We are always of some colour. The individual that is pure ousia not only does not exist but has never has existed and will most likely never exist, which makes individualisation all the more corrosive as we shall explore.

Ludwig von Mises writes;

“Imagine a state of affairs in which governments are devoted exclusively to the task of protecting the individual’s life, health, and property against violent and fraudulent aggression. In such a world the frontiers are drawn on the maps, but they do not hinder anybody from the pursuit of what he thinks will make him more prosperous.”[9]

However, as C.A. Bond goes to great lengths exploring, the individualisation of society only has resulted from and results in further centralisation of authority. Fundamentally, human social orders are not dualisticーof the ruler and ruled, but rather of;

  • The Centre which occupies Power: Occupied by an institution (or a network of them) or perhaps something metaphysical; The ruling office, Monarch or God(s) etc.
  • The Subsidiary: seen as the appendages of the Centre; Nobility, Church etc.
  • The Periphery: Governed by the Subsidiaries.

Following the work of Bertrand De Jouvenel, Bond illustrates how this essentially centralised mode of human orders results in situations whereby, to increase its domain of authority, to centralise, the centre will raise the periphery against its subsidiaries often through appeals to the common good, or otherwise try to circumvent them. Both Marxists and Liberals have made the mistake of identifying subsidiaries with the centre as a cohesive ruling class, when in reality the development of money (as will be later explored), but for our immediate concerns, the “individual”, was a historical product of the centre in an antagonistic orientation towards its subsidiaries.

To illustrate;

“The reader should bear in mind that to be a freeman in medieval England required that the person was under no feudal obligation to a local lord and was in the authority of the king alone. Here we have a clear example of the king empowering a section of society at the expense of the subsidiary centres of power, and the act being labelled a grant of freedom. To be free in this conception, therefore, meant to be free of local obligations only, and not of obligations to the king, and so not free simpliciter.10

[The modern individual] is instead a subject, and a subject-individual is premised on a disregard for his ability to maintain his individuality separate from the king’s or the government’s, enforcement of his rights as an individual.”[11]

In short, we see that the efforts of Power strips away eidos, of the local influences of subsidiaries, in favour of ousia. You, having less dispersed identities and obligations, makes you a better footsoldier for the centralising state. Bond goes on to track the development of both centralising power and the development of “the individual” as Power levels the Catholic ChurchーDuke of Lancaster promoting John Wycliffe, Bohemian royalty promoting the Hussites, Elector of Saxony, Frederick III promoting Martin Luther and Michael of Cesena promoting William of Ockham ー the centre promoting the periphery against the subsidiaries. Each case we see that this is always within the gestalt of the individual being liberated from the tyranny of ecclesiastical power. This was a development in response to Plenitudo Potestatis, which is what made secular power more inimical to the Catholic Church, yet the process of levelling the Church ended up developing Divine Right as a justification for the rule of secular princes, of which then to be breached by the Papacy to regain strength. In response, the Papacy promoted the likes of Cardinal Robert Bellarmine who asserted the consensual nature of monarchy. First, Divine Law was to be discovered within an understanding of authority as natural and anagogically instantiated, then it was consecrated as the justification for an authority which was otherwise unnatural ー in Divine Right, and then man became “free” and subject to no one save God with Christian Voluntarism ー authority’s unnatural character taken to its end save the overturning of God’s own authority.

This process is also what proceeds the idea of there being a “consent of the governed” which shall be explored later on. But it suffices to say that the notion of the free individual as Libertarianism views it was a product of power, seeking to “emancipate” the periphery from immediate authority to expand its domain. You first didn’t need the Apostolic Church, nor the nobles in other contexts, then you didn’t need the king, then you were “free”. All the while, Power exploited the ability to pull the wool over the eyes of the atomised, increasingly dependent “individual”. This continued to produce the very grandfather of Liberalism and consequently of Libertarianism; John Locke, who saw promotion from the oligarchic Whigs;

“The term ‘Whig Oligarchy’ is appropriate in at least two senses. In the first place, after the Tory dismissals of 1716 one-party monopoly of all central offices of government and Household and one-party control of the main institutions of county administration remained unbroken until the death of George II. At the height of Walpole’s power few appointments of state were made, however minor, that did not meet with his approval; the first criterion applied, whether filling Cabinet posts or the humblest clerkships, was loyalty. Tories were ruthlessly excluded from the reckoning on automatic suspicion of Jacobitism, unless, like Winnington, Henry Legge or the Fox brothers they had already plainly signalled their conversion to Whiggery from the old family creed.”[12]

And in the Anglican Church’s support from the Whig Oligarchy, we see there that Walpole’s Lockean Liberalism comes to spread through the Church itself;

“It was a more debilitating malaise in the age of Walpole and the Pelhams than at any time since the Reformation, and while one can sympathise with a state church forced to accommodate itself to a Whig Oligarchy determined to depress clerical pretensions as never before, the feeling remains that the clergy could have struggled harder to resist the muzzle. That said, there are important aspects of Church-State relations in this period which have frequently been misunderstood. It is clear that after 1720 there was a deliberate attempt to subject the Church to the Whig patronage machine.[13]

Thus it was that the Church that took Tillotson for its model, and for which Locke became almost a second Bible, came to insist in its practice as well as in its preaching on rationality and restraint, on a basic decency and seemliness.”[14]

To counter the Tories and Sir Robert Filmer, as well as the other more conservative Anglican vestiges of Britian, it is quite the irony that the proliferation of Locke’s ideas was not at all due to winning in the “free marketplace of ideas”, a notion we shall tackle in further depth later on, but rather their proliferation not only makes perfect sense but was historically so a product of oligarchic Whig centralisation.

“At this point, the idea presents itself that in any situation where we see the success of individualising or equalising accounts of society, we will also see the fingerprints of conflict between various centres.”[15]

“If we accept that this individual is a product of the Jouvenelian dynamic then, by this act, philosophy in its modern form assumes, and thus by default demands, a political order of centralisation.”[16]

Curiously, the negative rights scheme of Libertarianism also presents itself as a potentially extreme expansion of Power. Adam Katz writes regarding this paradoxical nature of rights[17];

“If there are to be rights, they must be enforced, by some agency large enough to enforce them without hindrance. The state, naturally. The more rights we discover, acknowledge, and demand enforcement of, the more powerful and unhindered the state must be. If we are talking about “international human rights,” we must therefore be speaking of a state, or states, capable of exercising imperial control over other states: to compel other states to enforce the rights in question, and to remove their governments if they can’t or won’t.”

Libertarians would like to tell us that ‘negative rights’ exist in the absence of authority. Yet human orders have never been as such for there to be pre-society, one of pure unobstructed “rights”.

“If rights need to be defended, they need to be defended against someone. When we posit a right, or advocate for one, then, we are imagining a state willing and ready to act against specific people assumed to be potential violators of that right.”

The Libertarian responds that; property rights are defended by the property holder. Yet in a social order with no central order intervening, there is nothing stopping someone with more coercive capital from violating your NAP.  The NAP is a pure Stirerian spook. And that rests upon the absurd assumption that there can be a social order with no centre. Katz continues;

“I have not forgotten that the first calls for rights were for rights against the state. There is something paradoxical in the first consistent articulation of rights that exist separate from and prior to the state, that of Hobbes: the most basic right, that of life, and therefore of self-defense, so that one has the right to defend one’s life even against the state (so, the prisoner on death row being taken to execution has no obligation to go peacefully), leads to the first argument for a state to which nothing is forbidden, except perhaps disregard for its own survival, which really just means the right to self-defense of the sovereign himself. If the individual is to surrender all rights (except self-defense in the last, hopeless, resort) in order to have his most fundamental right defended more effectively by the sovereign, he must accept a sovereign that is capable of doing anything, anytime, to anyone.”

Ok sure, says the Libertarian, but what about those who aren’t NAP purist anarcho-capitalists? What’s so inherently flawed with the concept of a state enforcing a bare-minimum set of rules?

“Hobbes was at least consistent enough to realize that you cannot have rights against the state. The “laborist” argument for rights introduced by Locke initiated the tradition of positing rights against the state, limiting its powers. This is the argument that has, of course, been institutionalized and venerated in the United States, and we still see significant vestiges of this argument among American conservatives, and more than vestiges when it comes to the defense of gun rights. So, it might appear as if this original, “classical liberal” understanding of rights has been distorted by later victimary rights claims: this distinction is what the argument over “equality of opportunity vs. equality of outcomes” and “negative vs. positive rights” comes down to. But it’s not really the case that advocates of these rights stood outside of any entanglements with the state, and just wanted to be left alone to add their labor to various pieces of nature surrounding them.

They wanted the state (first of all a liberalising monarchy) to be deployed against the Church, aristocracy and other privileged groups, such as corporations chartered by the state, independent towns, banks, and guilds. It’s easy for us to overlook this, since the most formidable of those entities either no longer exist (or exist in a thoroughly neutered form), and few today could muster any historical sympathy for them. But that just means that we identify with the state that swept them into the dustbin of history, or broke and trained them. The history of the United States, meanwhile, the first modern society with neither a monarchy or aristocracy, has been the history of different groups trying to influence the state so as to defend their rights against some other, “privileged” group. Meanwhile, defending rights of free speech and bearing arms generally involve trying to bring the state into your quarrel with some local public authority, and whichever groups support it. So, even the most “natural” of rights involve using the state against one’s enemies.”

So the Libertarian is stuck in recursivity. Libertarianism identifies negative rights, of which aren’t to be infringed upon and are prior to the social orderーonly made intelligible through the state of nature argument of which’s intellectual vacuity we shall explore in full later. But it suffices to say that if “rights” can only exist through their enforcement, are only really exercised as tools for centralisation they have historically operated as so, the paradox of the NAP would on the contrary to Libertarianism, require a very managerial, bureaucratic, bloated central authority. Coming back to the idea of the individual of pure ousia, Adam Katz goes even further[18] to say that the creation of the individual, as its creation was a historical artefact for the purposes of levelling social orders, is consequently extremely antisocial ー anti-eidosーpsychopathically so;

“To see yourself as an “individual” is to see yourself as a center of attention, with as many qualifications (titles, formal associations, histories) as possible obscured—the more stripped of qualifications, the more individualised. Liberalism projects the denuded individual back to the founding of society, but that individual is obviously a result of liberalism. In other words, liberalism’s self-legitimating misconception doesn’t detract from the reality of such an individual—but it has to change our assessment of its meaning. Individuals can be removed from their supporting and defining institutional dependencies, which means that the individual is defined against those institutions and dependencies. (Eric Gans sees this self-definition as the project of romanticism.) To be an individual is to be in a perpetual state of mutiny against whatever form of order most directly threatens to define one. Don’t look at me as a “_____,” the individual demands, look at me as… the other of “_____.” Individualism is a kind of negative gnostic theology.”

The individual is a perpetual revolt of the ousia against the eidos.

“David Graeber’s discussion in Debt: the First 5,000 Years emphasizes the violence intrinsic to this abstraction of individuals from their dependencies. Humanism posits the “human” as the highest value, and what makes anything a “value” is its commensurability and exchangeability with other values—and against what can human value be defined other than against other humans? Gans sees the romantic production of the individual as a means of enabling humans to participate in the market—the creation of an “anti-social” self-representation is a way of achieving value within society (Gans calls this the “constitutive hypocrisy of romanticism”). But in that case it is humans, rather than things, that are circulating on the market. We may not readily see or feel the violence of this competitive self-valuing, habituated as we are to it, but it becomes easier if we imagine removing the (also unnoticed) limits upon individualisation that must still exist. What if we were actually to define ourselves constantly, indiscriminately, against every social dependency—friends, families, colleagues, acquaintances, etc.? Such behavior would be psychopathic. Moreover, defining yourself against dependencies don’t leave those dependencies unaffected—rather, it has a deeply corrosive effect. Our mutinies always target specific dependencies, and are aimed at extracting specific concessions—hence, they are best described as hostage taking. Not the market itself, but the “market economy,” is a system of hostage exchange, of more and less direct kinds. It is promoted by those with the most to gain by sowing discord and disorder.”

And what’s even worse, as Mark Fisher illustrates, is that the Cartesian dualism that sets ousia against the dependencies of eidos allows for capitalism, the very hostage-taking process, to blame you for your mental illness and then exploit this condition it creates;

“It is telling, in this context of rising rates of mental illness, that… The current ruling ontology denies any possibility of a social causation of mental illness. The chemico-biologisation of mental illness is of course strictly commensurate with its de-politicisation. Considering mental illness as a chemico-biological problem has enormous benefits for capitalism. First, it reinforces Capital’s drive towards atomistic individualisation (you are sick because of your brain chemistry). Second, it provides an enormously lucrative market in which multinational pharmaceutical companies can peddle their pharmaceuticals (we can cure you with our SSRIs). It goes without saying that all mental illnesses are neurologically instantiated. But this says nothing about their causation. If it is true, for instance, that depression is constituted by low serotonin levels, what still needs to be explained is why particular individuals have low levels of serotonin. This requires a social and political explanation; and the task of re-politicising mental health is an urgent one if the left wants to challenge capitalist realism. It does not seem fanciful to  see parallels between the rising incidence of mental distress and new patterns of assessing worker’s performance.”[19]

In short, the disordered nature of capitalism creates the schizoprenitisation it uses to excuse itself for exploiting for the conditions of which you are now inculcated in. This is made possible due to a fundamental memetic virus, which Libertarianism holds at its very essence in its understanding of the “individual”, that has spread through the ages from the Rationalist project, principally from Descartes in the West, promoted for centralisation purposes, and has created a psychopathic ethos within which we are now confined within. Yet this individual at the centre of our inquiry, in its corrosive and futile attempts at emancipation from itself, ends up creating the very opportunities for itself to be further predated upon. The new managerial examinations of the worker only accelerate his schizophrenitisation as he is forced to wade neck-deep in the sign-exchange marination of the ever examining hypermarket;

“At the deepest level, another kind of work is at issue here, the work of acculturation, of confrontation, of examination, of the social code, and of the verdict: people go there to find and to select objects – responses to all the questions they may ask themselves; or, rather, they themselves come in response to the functional and directed question that the objects constitute. The objects are no longer commodities: they are no longer even signs whose meaning and message one could decipher and appropriate for oneself, they are tests, they are the ones that interrogate us, and we are summoned to answer them, and the answer is included in the question. Thus all the messages in the media function in a similar fashion: neither information nor communication, but referendum, perpetual test, circular response, verification of the code.”[20]

This subordination of the increasingly denuded individual to perpetually interrogative object relations isn’t even the only issue that will keep him up at night and chip away at his psyche, but that of his employability in face of the Dire Problem[21];

“Dire Problem is that there is a line of productive competence beneath which a human being is a liability, not an asset, to the society including him. This calculation is made in terms of the marginal human—does California gain or lose by adding one person just like this person? For millions, the answer is surely the latter.

Worse, with the steady advance of technology, this line rises. That is: the demand for low-skilled human labor shrinks. Abstract economics provides no guarantee whatsoever that the marginal able-bodied man with an IQ of 80 can feed himself by his own labors. If you doubt this line, simply lower it until you doubt it no more. At least logically, there is a biological continuum between humans and chimpanzees, and the latter are surely liabilities.

Why does this matter? It matters because either (a) a man can feed himself, or (b) he dies horribly of starvation, or (c) someone else feeds him. If (a), he is an asset. If (c), he is a liability—to someone. If (b), he makes a horrible mess and fuss while dying, and is thus in that sense a liability. Moreover, the presence of the poor becomes extremely unpleasant well before the starvation point.”

The house divided does not fall immediately but becomes a field within which all are collateral to the competitive levelling of the field. The centralisation process itself deludes the person into thinking that they are being emancipated, consequently dividing the self which becomes a frenzied flesh-puppet for further centralisation.

~ • ~

Ch.II | Ethics and Justice

The Libertarian tells us; Who are you to judge what someone else does with their property (implicitly also their body), insofar as it doesn’t infringe upon another?

Nozick states that  if the world were wholly just the only people entitled to hold anything, that is to appropriate it for use as they alone wished, would be those who had justly acquired what they held[22]. Friedman writes that;

“The consumer is protected from being exploited by one seller by the existence of another seller from whom he can buy and who is eager to sell to him.”[23]

Aside from the fact that this notion already presupposes “self-ownership”, there are further problems with this sentiment ー with the NAP. When someone engages in a socially destructive manner ー in the privations of reason that are the vices, but they are permitted insofar as they do not “infringe upon others”, we are presented with what we call negligence. Apathy is a vice. Libertarian morality is such that there is a fundamentally negligent ethos coded into a system of morality ー a fundamentally vice-ridden scheme. Libertarianism venerates Mao’s 8th type of Liberal that;

“…see[s] someone harming the interests of the masses and yet [does] not feel indignant, or dissuade or stop him or reason with him, but to allow him to continue.”[24]

Evidently, by “dissuade”, Mao doesn’t mean solely through polite argument, but with force or the threat of it as well, which is another thing; the exercise of force isn’t an evil in and of itself. It has its place beyond mere self-preservation and of the defence of property rights as we shall explore later. The fundamental problem, however, is the lack of reference to moral desert inherent in a scheme predicated upon negative rights. A (perhaps our mentally ill modern from Fisher’s example) enters into a contract, willingly with B (perhaps our predatory pharmaceutical companies from Fisher’s example) in which B is allowed to exploit him in some manner ー even in scenarios where A is aware of such exploitation. This is perfectly fine under the libertarian conception morality, and no punitive measure is to be taken for the objective wrong being done to A. A acted purely voluntarily.

It’s not about A’s feeling of approval of what B does to him or her that makes such a contractual, yet exploitative relationship right, which is the fairly recursive Emotivist view, but rather it is about the objective good and as to whether this relationship actualises or robs either of them of this. There must be poena (punity) in response to culpa (evil) for there to be dikaiosune (justice). But it is worse than just that.

Goodness itself is a perfection in some manner, evil a privation ー privatio boni.

“The perfection of the human being is the end to which every healthy social institution must be subordinated, and it must be promoted as much as possible.”[25]

The Libertarian social order is one that is at best apathetic to the cultivation of human perfection and at worst antithetical to the achievement of eudaimonia. Desiring one’s perfection is intrinsic to human nature but perfection cannot come about through the self-actualisation of the individual by itself, from itself. For A to become more than A, A cannot rely merely on A. A must know how to become perfected, which presupposes being taught. Being taught presupposes a teacher ー some authority. To perfect a society it naturally follows you must have some authority to capture the attention of the entire populace and to be able to organise it as such that it may begin to even grasp this perfection ー a socially harmonious and healthy centre. Though, because humans are not without privations, we are not perfect (to be as such would be to be God) the closest one might get is thus in the eudaimonia of theosisーintimacy with and knowing of the perfect divine. Per Plotinus’s formulation of divine simplicity;

“I. There must be a first principle of all if there is to be an explanation of why the world exists.

II. If the first principle of all were composed of parts, then those parts would be ontologically prior to it.

III. But in that case it would not be the first principle of all.

IV. So the first principle is not composed of parts, but is absolutely simple.

V. If there were a distinction between what the first principle is and the fact that it is, then there could be more than one first principle.

VI. But in order for there to be more than one, there would have to be some attribute that distinguished them.

VII. But since a first principle is absolutely simple, there can be no such attribute.

VIII. So there cannot be more than one first principle.

IX. So there is no distinction in the first principle between what it is and the fact that it is.

X. So the first principle is not only absolutely simple but utterly unique: the One.”[26]

As this first principle per privatio boni is purely simple, it lacks privations and is thus purely good. Lacking in privations it is lacking in limits, and is thus unbounded. Yet, as so above, so below ー we should then see that achieving unity with God is in the cultivation of a unity of human goodness, a full capturing and blossoming of which must encompass the life of the person. Quite the opposite formulation of libertarianism, which not only refuses to see the unity of such a lifeーfocusing in on the atomised individualーbut also cares not for requisites for theosis, and consequently of ultimate human happiness or eudaimonia. Libertarianism is actively opposed to the subordination of institutions to the ideal of perfection because it would appropriately require coordination from a central authority which would mean the exercise of force. However, authority is not entirely constituted by the capacity to exercise force as we shall explore later. Note that this order aimed at human perfection doesn’t require levelling centralisation, the circumventing or destruction of intermediaries/subsidiaries, but of their cooperation rather than competition. As St. Thomas writes, this human perfection that culminates in eudaimonia is the highest good;

“Final and perfect happiness can consist in nothing else than the vision of the Divine Essence. To make this clear, two points must be observed. First, that man is not perfectly happy, so long as something remains for him to desire and seek: secondly, that the perfection of any power is determined by the nature of its object. Now the object of the intellect is “what a thing is,” i.e. the essence of a thing, according to De Anima iii, 6. Wherefore the intellect attains perfection, in so far as it knows the essence of a thing. If therefore an intellect knows the essence of some effect, whereby it is not possible to know the essence of the cause, i.e. to know of the cause “what it is”; that intellect cannot be said to reach that cause simply, although it may be able to gather from the effect the knowledge of that the cause is. Consequently, when man knows an effect, and knows that it has a cause, there naturally remains in the man the desire to know about the cause, “what it is.” And this desire is one of wonder, and causes inquiry, as is stated in the beginning of the Metaphysics (i, 2). For instance, if a man, knowing the eclipse of the sun, consider that it must be due to some cause, and know not what that cause is, he wonders about it, and from wondering proceeds to inquire. Nor does this inquiry cease until he arrive at a knowledge of the essence of the cause.

If therefore the human intellect, knowing the essence of some created effect, knows no more of God than “that He is”; the perfection of that intellect does not yet reach simply the First Cause, but there remains in it the natural desire to seek the cause. Wherefore it is not yet perfectly happy. Consequently, for perfect happiness the intellect needs to reach the very Essence of the First Cause. And thus it will have its perfection through union with God as with that object, in which alone man’s happiness consists, as stated above (Articles 1 and 7; I-II:2:8).”[27]

We can only be satiated in coming to know what is itself truly unlimited; in participation in and knowing pure goodness, through faith and the exercise of the virtues in works, culminating in the vision of, and unity with, the Divine Essence. As this is purely good in and of itself, it is appropriate to not only exercise influence, but force as appropriate to cultivate a social order conducive to the realisation of our respective telos. However, this isn’t merely to prepare us for some external existence to that of the world you currently inhabit. I must stress that there is a reflective aspect to eudaimonia. For our highest perfection to be theosis, we must first participate in the fullness of our possible being in goodness as we live in the world. We must play the game of life as best as possible, in the most perfect manner. This is the role of the virtues. There is no guarantee for our theosis as such, and so our worldly existence must be of virtue for the fulfilment of our telos ー enabling the person to pass from a present state to a true end;

“We thus have a threefold scheme in which human-nature-as-it-happens-to-be (human nature in its untutored state) is initially discrepant and discordant with the precepts of ethics and needs to be transformed by the instruction of practical reason and experience into human-nature-as-it-could-be-if-it-realized-its-telos. Each of the three elements of the schemeーthe conception of untutored human nature, the conception of the precepts of rational ethics and the conception of human-nature-as-it-could-be-if-it-realized-its-telosーrequires reference to the other two if its status and function are to be intelligible.”[28]

To assert the goodness of something then is not merely reducible to an assertion of personal approval, but rather it is an evaluative term as it relates to the ergon or function of a thing, which is dependent on social context which ordains the manner of the fulfilment of goods. Another essential problem with this entire scheme predicated on free choice in this regard is a Schmittian one. Liberalism is fundamentally an eternal injunction against anyone ever making a final decision as to what is most sacred and valuable, in favour of perpetual and thus an ultimately pointless conversation about it, which can never reach these goods, either internal to practices for which virtues are cultivated for, or in our final end (or does so only incidentally for a few select people independent of said decision). I’m sure you’d rather our conversations to be fruitful, you would want the best for other people and want a functioning political order that mediates resentments instead of selecting for their acceleration ー all of which means that at the end of the day, we need to have a shared understanding of the good, and the goods that allow participation in higher goods ー an ordering of the goods that we can all agree upon. To draw together our previous discussion on centralisation’s creation of the individual and the vacancy of decision, I present you some ancient Chinese wisdom as a dash of irony considering our favourable dealings with elements of Maoist thought;

“When the ruler’s seat is insecure, the great ministers revolt and the smaller ones pilfer. Punishments are then made severe, laws become irregular, rules of ceremony uncertain. Then the people do not turn to what is right.”[29]

To return to Mao and the discussion of force, setting aside his aversion to anything other than scientific materialism, this shared good, homonoia, from which a just social order may be built upon is exactly what should be defended with force ー and because social orders and their unity are never contracted into as we shall later explore, this view of the moral use of force transcends the use seen appropriate by the NAP. Force in poena also has its place in defence of, and employment for, the cultivation of higher goods as we shall now see.

The Libertarian tells us; Justice is only possible when we consider the individual in and of himself and his acts from self-interest. The individual is the smallest minority and is also the truest, most fundamental measure of humanity.

To make the subject of political justice the individual abstracts away from all the identities that comprise an individual identity itself. Again, you’re left with matter without form, ousia without eidos. A just social order requires social harmony, social unity ー homonoia. The Libertarian forces you into a gestalt that renders these very identities which would allow for the cultivation of a just polis, invisible. This gestalt bears similarities to the Rawlsian veil of ignorance in trying to grasp a kind of noumenal individual-in-itself. However, the veil of ignorance is also deficient in conceptualising justice as the veil of ignorance could never actually be operated within. As Alasdair MacIntyre argues, if the rational actor behind the veil of ignorance neither knew;

“…whether and how his needs would be met or what his entitlements would be, ought rationally to prefer a principle which respects needs to one which respects entitlements…, the immediate answer must be [that] we are never behind such a veil of ignorance.”[30]

Operating in a contextual vacuum, one has denied the necessary social contextualisation needed to be able to decide whether the capitalist or the worker, the trans person or the conservative, the white man or the black man, is more deserving of compensation for a given injustice, as what is just must first be informed by inquiry into moral desert ー the lack of which, coupled with individualistic premises being what Nozick and Rawls both share.

The truth is in the whole, fulfilled in its result, but the result cannot yet be reached in denial of that which comprises the whole. A deprivation of context frustrates any fulfilment of justice by denying an adequately informed assessment of desert. Thus the project of justifying morality from an “original position”, from an attempt at evaluating the “the individual” fails, and by extension, so does Libertarian attempts at formulating a conception of justice as they both preclude critical components for the attainment of truth itself. As MacIntyre illustrates in his exploration of the two;

“Nozick is less explicit, but his scheme of justice being based exclusively on entitlements can allow no place for desert. He does at one point discuss the possibility of a principle for the rectification of injustice, but what he writes on that point is so tentative and cryptic that it affords no guidance for amending his general view point. It is in any case clear that for both Nozick and Rawls a society is composed of individuals, each with his or her own interest, who then have to come together to formulate common rules of life. In Nozick’s case there is the additional negative constraint of a basic set of rights.

In Nozick’s argument too, the concept of community required for the notion of desert to have application is simply absent.

It is, from both standpoints, as though we had been shipwrecked on an uninhabited island with a group of other individuals, each of whom is a stranger to me and to all the others. Nozick’s premise concerning rights introduces a strong set of constraints; we do know that certain types of interference with each other are absolutely prohibited. But there is a limit to the bonds between us, a limit set by our private and competing interests. This individualistic view has of course…, distinguished ancestry: Hobbes, Locke…

Thus Rawls and Nozick articulate with great power a shared view which envisages entry into social life as – at least ideally – the voluntary act of at least potentially rational individuals with prior interests who have to ask the question ‘What kind of social contract with others is it reasonable for me to enter into?’ Not surprisingly it is a consequence of this that their views exclude any account of human community in which the notion of desert in relation to contributions to the common tasks of that community in pursuing shared goods could provide the basis for judgements about virtue and injustice.”[31]

Ah, so both Nozick and Rawls are back to being premised on the idea of the individual as prior to social existence. The ghost of Locke walks their pages. In counter to the Libertarian position, Aristotle illustrates that the virtue of friendship, of the shared good and social willing of goodness which Libertarianism is made inimical to, is the foundation of a functioning polis, preceding justice;

“Friendship seems too to hold states together, and lawgivers to care more for it than justice; for unanimity seems to be something like friendship, and this they aim at most of all and expel faction as their worst enemy; and when men are friends they have no need of justice, while when they are just they need friendship as well, and the truest form of justice is thought to be a friendly quality.”[32]

It is unity, homonoia, through agreement that constitutes the healthy polis. The reason for Aristotle’s assertion is that justice is the virtue of rewarding desert within an existing social order. The rewarding of desert also implicates the social distribution of poena. Friendship, which homonoia is treated as the political expression of in a shared conception of ‘the good’, is required for this civil constitution. Threats to this unity should be placed at the end of the barrel of a gun in order to preserve justice.  We also have overwhelming empirical verification as to the detriments that the decline of homonoia, and its causes bears[33]. Population heterogeneity decreases social cohesion. As homonoia is the necessary prerequisite to justice, unrestricted movement of labour, of individuals ー immigration which would lead to population significant heterogeneity, threatens the very basis of justice within the polis. Given an already unified polis, population heterogeneity decreases cooperation substantially, in other words compromising the necessary social constitution of friendship from which justice proceeds.

After all, you are more inclined to will the good of another that you know, that you share a common social existence with, than someone totally alien to such social existence and shared understandings. Here we see quite clearly the moral imperative for the state to obstruct the free movement of labour with force to uphold immigration laws and border enforcement in the preservation of homonoia.

Katz’s accusation of individualism as “gnostic theology” is in full viewーthe psychopathy of individualism is in revolting against an ill-perceived evil ー against the unity of the social order of which is a fundamental political goodーfor something beyond that, which cannot exist, namely the sovereignty of the individual. Moreover, it becomes clear how a competitive social order of the minorities of individuals against each other in their self-interest would be inimical to the kind of ethical life that Aristotle correctly proposes; that of a decision and affirmation of shared goods. Imperium in imperio[34] itself;  what Aristotle calls ‘faction’, the checks and balances of countervailing power, implicitly the competition between power centres, is intrinsically hostile to the social cooperation homonoia demands. The social virtue of friendship, human perfection and man’s attainment of eudaimonia has been repeatedly compromised and frustrated by divided power & centralisation of which the futile ideological exercise of Libertarianism only serves to exacerbate in both its minarchist and nonsensical anarchistic forms.

~ • ~

Ch.III | Authority and Human Orders

The Libertarian tells us; When we speak of authority, of authoritarianism, we mean the ability to coerce, and the actual exercise of force.

I answer that authority is more than just the ability to exercise force or exercise the threat of it. Imagine that I am a public figure. My ability to capture the shared attention of thousands, if not millions of people allows me to draw the shared gaze of these people towards ideas and objects in manner begotten from my inclinations. In this sense, I am an authority, without exercising coercion, much like schools & academia, the media. If I were wealthy I could likewise fund proponents of my ideas, like NGOs/Think Tanks/Foundations do, who need not exercise coercion to do so.

The Cathedral does not need to exercise martial authority to spread its malaise.

The Libertarian tells us; But woke capitalism, just like any cultural trend, is a consequence of consumer shifts in preference, not the other way round. Politics is downstream from culture. F.A. Hayek writes;

“Adam Ferguson expressed it, “nations stumble upon establishments, which are indeed the result of human action but not the result of human design”; and that the spontaneous collaboration of free men often creates things which are greater than their individual minds can ever fully comprehend.”[35]

The reality is that spontaneous order does not exist. Here is where we can finally tackle the idea of there being a pre-society from which social orders emerge ー the state-of-nature. The very nature of language precludes such spontaneous manners of organisation. To illustrate; to understand the language, words/phrases/ideas we utilise in thinking and speaking, and as language is a mode of intentional discipline, we must posit an intentional agent(s) who is/are directing or has directed the forms of language we are using[36], of which we have acquired through socialisation with said intentional agent(s).

The ideas, words and phrases you are using to think and speak with are not your own creations as such, but in so far as they can be said to exhibit originality, you can only really explain what they are and mean by appealing to the meaning of its related words, concepts and phrases of which you inherited from elsewhere. Perhaps you inherited these linguistic forms from your family, and they inherited it from somewhere else. Perhaps you learned it in school or university. From work, or television. From some tradition of thought that has imparted it upon them and perhaps then unto you, external from yourself. Someone must have been the first to use these words, thoughts and phrases because it would be impossible for them to just causelessly manifest in our minds and if they did, they would be meaningless because they lack necessary anterior intention which makes them intelligible. Linguistic forms are diachronic[37], that is to say, that a given idea has a history which makes it intelligible in its use.

A given agent’s use of the word “liberty” for an example, not only means you must understand his or her inclination in using the word, but for it to be fully intelligible you need to know of other words it is related to such as “tyranny”, “dictatorship”, “freedom”, “democracy”, “rights” as well as to know how liberty has been fought forth, or as we have seen, how it has been used as the post hoc justification for the levelling of social orders. For you to have come across those words related to liberty, say word/phrase/idea ‘X’, someone must have directed your attention towards ‘X’, and likewise for your intentional director’s encounter with ‘X’ and so on, recursing back to an originary moment whereby one is confronted with the sublime and newーexternal to themselves and must grapple with communicating it in some mode. An originary scene[38] from which language itself arises, we could say.

So how is this relevant? Well as we see, market demand, as well as political desire, is thus a product not of purely economic factors, or biological factors, of rational individuals reaching a conclusion through discussion, or through the competition of said ideas. Desire/demand for a given social object is a product from whoever is able to capture the shared attention of a given population to direct their collective attention towards said social object, and thus is a construct of some authority. So it follows that spontaneous order in all senses is also nonsensical because it violates the basic relationship between act and potency of communicative acts. A given social order does not spring up from nowhere ー no society has contracted into existence, no cultural form is generated outside of inherited traditions which are themselves, sometimes created but often merely perpetuated by some authority, that being how they get their proliferation, nor do they get proliferation without the sponsorship of authority and “wokeness” is no exception. Woke capitalism is thus a product of authority, capturing those who seek social emancipation within its own processes. Similarly, as Adam Curtis explored in his BBC documentary, ‘The Century of the Self’, the consumer as we know it today is a very recent development and was entirely a product of authority in this same manner thanks to the likes of Edward Bernays who pioneered Public Relations.[39]

Further down the line we also see that progressivism, the strains that have been successfulーespecially in displacing working-class movements in favour of identity-based movements, have been selected for by power;

“Not all foundations adopted the cause of social change, of course; but the overwhelmingly “progressive” large foundations set the tone for the entire sector—especially such giants as Ford, which got radicalized in the sixties, and Rockefeller and Carnegie, which followed suit in the seventies. Such foundations wield enormous financial might: a mere 2 percent of all foundations (or 1,020) provide more than half of the approximately $10 billion that foundations now give away each year, and in 1992 the 50 largest foundations accounted for more than one-quarter of all foundation spending.

When McGeorge Bundy, former White House national security advisor, became Ford’s president in 1966, the foundation’s activism switched into high gear. Bundy reallocated Ford’s resources from education to minority rights, which in 1960 had accounted for 2.5 percent of Ford’s giving but by 1970 would soar to 40 percent. Under Bundy’s leadership, Ford created a host of new advocacy groups, such as the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (a prime mover behind bilingual education) and the Native American Rights Fund, that still wreak havoc on public policy today. Ford’s support for a radical Hispanic youth group in San Antonio led even liberal congressman Henry B. Gonzales to charge that Ford had fostered the “emergence of reverse racism in Texas.”

The notion that the 1960s represented a “populist upsurge,” or that New Left values bubbled up from the American grassroots rather than being actively disseminated by precisely such rich, elite institutions as the Ford Foundation, could only be a product of foundation thinking.”[40]

We see a similar case for the similarly bourgeois notion of ‘human rights’;

“[The UN’s Declaration of Human Rights] was drawn up for the UN in the wake of WWII by a transnational elite with clear aspirations to world governance. That it should appeal to all of humanity and should deign to grant to all equality as well as a newly minted collective identity, seems much like the repetition of James Madison’s invention of the “American people” [previously discussed in the text as the pretext to centralise the US government in spite of the subsidiaries that were the states]. In this case, it is not the sovereignty of individual continental states being targeted but rather that of nation-states.

Finally, a much less recognised development of human rights occurred in the early 1970s. This last development is of special importance as it is not widely known beyond specialised histories of human rights, and only clearly comes to light upon recognising the connection between conflict and the expansion of individualising culture.”[41]

“At this time, elites in the UN, and specific elements of the American power structure, began to focus on the concept of human rights as a means to undermine the legitimacy of Latin dictatorships, communist regimes, and most importantly, the foreign policies of the Republican presidency of Richard Nixon. This final point of conflict is central, and well within the Jouvenelian dynamic of rival centres engaging in conflict over political centralisation. Human rights were not first devised and then implemented; they were raised to prominence by the needs of particular actors in the midst of conflict. As Clair Apodaca writes of structural conflict’s importance to the adoption of human rights in the 1970s American foreign policy in Understanding U.S. Human Rights Policy: A Paradoxical Legacy:

“U.S. human rights policy was not an intentionally planned strategy. Congress saddled presidential foreign and domestic policy initiatives with human rights mandates in order to restrain the immoral, if not illegal, behavior of an imperial president. (p.23)”

To this end, Congress dominated by the Democratic Party, voted to withhold funds for foreign assistance programsーsomething which had never been done beforeーand began congressional hearings in the Subcommittee on International Organisations. These hearings, led by Democratic Party congressman Donald Fraser, were justified on the basis of concerns over “rampant violations of human rights and the need for a more effective response from both the United States and the world community”. The result of these hearings was a report entitled Human rights in the World Community: A Call for U.S. Leadership, which led to the State Department creating the Office of Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs. This report also called for greater promotion of the concept of human rights in the UN, and beyond, something which was evidently achieved.”[42]

“These human rights organisations, funded by the Ford Foundation in conjunction with other influential foundations, were then put to use in undermining not only the latin dictatorships but also towards the end of the 1970s, the communist regimes of Eastern Europe by way of the Helsinki accord. Soviet acceptance of the presence of human rights watch groups with this accord would prove to be a disastrous mistake, one which effectively allowed subversive American institutions to develop and operate within Soviet territories.”[43]

More of this is documented in Bond’s book and his Journal of Neoabsolutism including the promotion of Neoliberal Chilean dictator Augusto-Pinochet and his victims both by competing U.S. power centres, the further promotion of Human Rights and their development by various interconnected NGOs, the development of radical Islam, as well the rise of Behaviourism and modern International Relations as Foundation led projects just to mention a few. To wrap up the small case study on Human Rights;

“These various developments of rights that we have chartered up until the present now appear to have a systematic nature, even if proponents do not fully appreciate it. By developing human rights or the individual as concepts, the thinkers of modernity have been providing the intellectual justifications for a specific structure of authority. That there were, and are, advocates who have not understood themselves as doing so is irrelevant to the result. Indeed we could argue that the less aware the thinkers are of this relationship between the individual and a centralised structure, the more earnest and effective the intellectual disguise for it will be. Disturbingly, this charge can be levelled across vast areas of modern thought. There is scarcely any aspect of modern thought which does not, in some way, depend on, or imply, the individual that has followed in the wake of political conflicts.”[44]

With Human Rights as just one prominent example of an idea that has captured the totality of political discourse for the purpose of centralisation, there is no such marketplace of ideas. Human sociality is fundamentally not conducted through a transactional or contractual mode of intellectual competition, but rather as the drawings of authority to social objects for a variety of other reasons prior to the creation of any space within which disciplinary inquiry is undertaken. Human Rights did not “win” through competition. It won through patronage. Sure, but Libertarianism is not predicated on Human Rights as such. So let us take a look at how a diachronic and intentionally directed understanding of language can explain Descartes as they have previously explained Walpole and Locke;

“From biographical information, we know that Descartes spent his adult life moving between France, Holland, Central Europe and Germany where he fought in the Thirty years’ War, finally ending his days in Sweden at the court of Queen Christina. The regions where in Descartes lived, the reader may note, were among those that had been heavily marked by the expansion of protestant bodies of thought, and by the centralisation that brought them into prominence. While Descartes was, admittedly, a Catholic, this makes little difference, since much of the thought of his time and place, even in Catholic regions, was following the same pattern as Protestant thought, as evidenced by Jansenism. The overall structures of authority made this all but inevitable.”[45]

Descartes was operating in modes of thought, inherited from social orders which had been conditioned in a certain manner by centralising Power, from which we derive the individual ー his relationship with the Swedish royal court having served as his patronage. This process of centralisation is quite the vicious positive-feedback loop.

The Libertarian tells us; The government can only govern insofar as it has the consent of the governed. John Locke writes;

“‘Tis true, in land that is common in England, or any other country where there is plenty of people under government, who have money and commerce, no one can enclose or appropriate any part without the consent of all his fellow-commoners; because this is left common by compact, i.e., by the law of the land, which is not to be violated.”[46]

The idea that the President/Prime Minister (government institutions etc.) derive their authority from “the people through the democratic process” isn’t one unique to Libertarianism but one that is very much in its contractual character. This is the bedrock of the idea of democracy from which it derives its supposed legitimacy. Our previously explored intentionally directed understanding of diachronic linguistic forms renders the idea of a social contract null and void.

How?

No voter votes in an absence of intention, even those who spoil their ballot. Voters come to understand and formulate judgements about who it is they should vote for through ways about thinking, about say policies and other political problems, that they did not create, yet inherited in some form (perhaps through the previously discussed lenses of “human rights” or “individualism”, or perhaps of Democratic Socialism, Neoconservatism and so on and so forth) and receive information concerning, candidates, parties, ideologies and relevant events etc., from media they did, not themselves create (ie. Academia which produces ideologies, NGOs which perpetuate political ideologies and media companies who distribute political information, current event news and propaganda). Inevitably, we see that the voter is conditioned in such a manner to select for centralisation, given the dominant strains of political thought and understanding lending themselves to this.

Naturally in line with the thinking of both Vilfredo Paredo and Robert Michels, when we trace back the flow of intention and discipline we will find only a specific few, who are responsible for who should be elected President. The democratic process, just as with the generation of culture and market demand, are run by unelected, highly influential, intentional agents. They are themselves anterior to elections and the like, transcending term limits and are thus potentially more influential than democratically elected leaders. To take the Italian Elitist conclusion further, we might also note that the idea of spontaneous collective decision making is refuted on St. Thomas’s note that;

“Every natural governance is governance by one. In the multitude of bodily members there is one which is the principal mover.”[47]

We know this to hold true considering that the direction of attention proceeds from a unified agent. So for any given decision, as there is at any given point a most influential agent in any oligarchy, perhaps Walpole as previously explored, there is a singular agent most responsible for said decision. Albeit, since the inauguration of liberalism, these decisions never truly are of any anagogic finality. In this sense, the “consent of the governed” is  inherently manufactured, yet the very notion of consent is beside the point because we never contracted into social orders, to begin with. Any scheme that posits the individual as prior to the social order, the “state of nature” vis-a-vis Locke, Hobbes Rousseau et al., is a model of anthropological minecraft ー whereby individuals spawn into existence and contract into anti-griefing rules or something as equally absurd for real-life application. There is absolutely no historical record for the existence of such a state of human affairs because there is always a centre ー someone or something that holds the most influence, the most shared attention.

But can’t we revolt against the system?

Sure, ok. How and with what means?

To be effective, revolutions need to be;

  • Organised in some fashion
  • Sponsored

There has to be a revolutionary vanguard as such, but also some kind of sponsorship to get off the ground in the first place.

“Without the assistance of a centre of power, any action by the periphery is, by virtue of lacking institutional embodiment and political protection, at best sporadic and ineffective. A popular protest, rebellion or any other form of dissenting action by the periphery, if it has no support from an element in the power structure, will quickly fade into irrelevance; if it does have this support, it will find itself supplied with the resources, exposure, protection, and institutional embodiment.”[48]

As such, revolutionary bodies must be organised into an authority, in a manner that is congenial with an existing authority of their own much as we have described earlier whereby the political desire for a given social outcome is created through direction by an intentional agent already capable of capturing the shared attention of enough people, or perhaps of merely the right people, to realise said political aim. In practical terms, this means an intentional agent more capable of galvanising the masses than the mainstream media, academia, the intelligence community, most NGOs and corporations all combined, or of capturing other power centres such as the Military Industrial Complex, if it is supposed to truly counter the prevailing order. After all, no matter how ephemerally, whether it be a monarch, a network of institutions, or perhaps for an “egalitarian” pre-civilisation order ー the Gods and a metaphysical hierarchy, someone, something, always occupies the centre. Evidently, curtailing the influence of the network of private NGOs who have been instrumental in the process of 20th-21st Century centralisation efforts would not be very libertarian, and neither would the curtailing of corporations in their subversive PR psychological operations. Looks like we have quite the hurdle to subvert or jump over somehow or another but either way, authority is inextricable.

The Libertarian tells us; Rule of law is the most desirable mode of political operation for the state as it allows the subordination of men to a neutral order and a government limited from exercising abuse. So a government ruled by law is thus a just government. Ludwig von Mises writes that;

“The contractual order of society is an order of right and law. It is a government under the rule of law (Rechtsstaat) as differentiated from the welfare state (Wohlfahrtsstaat) or paternal state. Right or law is the complex of rules determining the orbit in which individuals are free to act.”[49]

Carl Schmitt proved that rule of law is also a spook as sovereignty ー he who decides the exception, is always conserved ー but we already know this because we know of the centrality inherent to human orders. Moreover, rule of law, as is rule of science, are both rule by formula. Sir Robert Filmer writes;

“Whereas being subject to the Higher Powers, some have strained these Words to signifie the Laws of the Land, or else to mean the Highest Power, as well Aristocratical and Democratical, as Regal: It seems St. Paul looked for such Interpretation, and therefore thought fit to be his own Expositor, and to let it be known, that by Power he understood a Monarch that carried a Sword: Wilt thou not be afraid of the Power? that is, the Ruler that carrieth the Sword, for he is the Minister of God to thee — for he beareth not the Sword in vain. It is not the Law that is the Minister of God, or that carries the Sword, but the Ruler or Magistrate; so they that say the Law governs the Kingdom, may as well say that the Carpenters Rule builds an House, and not the Carpenter; for the Law is but the Rule or Instrument of the Ruler.”[50]

The application of  political formula necessitates an actor to actualise its operation and is inextricably coloured by the human action of said application. In the fallacy of “rule by law,” and the fallacy of “rule by science,” we see a common thread: the fallacy of “rule by formula,” in which it is pretended that a government can be conducted by some mechanical process, in which the human character of the governors is irrelevant.[51]

Therefore there is no rule of law, only rule of men. Do you want these men & women to be wise, to be virtuous? To exercise phronesis? You probably know what I’m getting at already.

~ • ~

Ch.IV | The Economy

The following critique of Libertarian economics is also implicitly a further critique of Neoliberalismーof Economic Liberalism at large; its presuppositions, its conclusions, it’s after-the-fact justifications.

The Libertarian tells us; Capitalism is the most natural economic system because markets and the like are just the default mode of human economic interaction. Contradicting this nature produces inefficiencies hence why Capitalism is the most desirable system and has produced the most wealth.

Murray Rothbard writes;

“What we need is for government to get out of the way, remove its incubus of taxation and expenditures from the economy, and allow productive and technical resources once again to devote themselves fully to increasing the wellbeing of the mass of consumers. We need growth, higher living standards, and a technology and capital equipment that meet consumer wants and demands; but we can only achieve these by removing the incubus of statism and allowing the energies of all of the population to express themselves in the free-market economy.”[52]

Capitalist markets are an emergent phenomenon and not spontaneous. The “state of nature” and likewise for Adam Smith’s “land of barter”, are both historical fictions and refuted by very cursory anthropological evidence ー the earliest records of the development of money is as a debt system for the accounting bureaucracy for the Sumerians. Money is a product of a given authority looking to centralise, and as we have already explored, the demand for a given object is a product of a given authority itself, in all senses beyond perhaps mimetic desire. Geoffrey Hodgson argues that a key factor in the development of Capitalism was a powerful and sophisticated state apparatus able to protect property and trade;

“John Kenneth Galbraith (1987, 299) wrote: “The separation of economics from politics and political motivation is a sterile thing. It is also a cover for the reality of economic power and motivation. And it is a prime source of misjudgement and error in economic policy”. Similarly, Douglass C. North, John J. Wallis, and Barry R. Weingast (2009, 269) argued: “The seeming independence of economic and political systems on the surface is apparent, not real. In fact, these systems are deeply intertwined.”  I also concur with Bruce R. Scott (2009, 4) in his claim that capitalism is both “a political phenomenon” and “an economic one” and that “specifically it requires the visible hands of political actors exercising power through political institutions.” Capitalism always involves legal and political institutions: pure “anarcho-capitalism” is an unrealisable fantasy.”[53]

“A key factor [in the emergence of capitalism] was the development  of a new and sophisticated state machine that was strong enough to protect property and trade, but adequately restrained by checks, balances [etc.,] to protect a relatively autonomous legal system and to allow the development of self-governing organisational forms that could engage in productive activity and reap the rewards of innovation.

Once a merchant class became well established in [European nations], it became a political lobby to defend its interests, reinforce countervailing power, and enable the development of a relatively autonomous system of law. In countries where merchants had greater power and autonomy (contrast England with Spain) the rewards of global trade made this class even more powerful and led to institutional changes that further checked the arbitrary power of the state. Access to emerging Atlantic trade routes enhanced this process of positive feedback between commerce and countervailing power.”[54]

Note Hodgson’s illustration of ‘countervailing power’ leading to further checks of state power, which we should recognise immediately now as imperium in imperio. In other words, capitalism is an inherently deterritorialising process, it emerges and exists within prevailing positive-feedback loop systems of insecure power, selecting for more of itself and is contingent upon such processes. The state isn’t dependent on capital, and capitalism cannot exist within every type of statist order, but instead is contingent upon a very specific kind of statist order ー of divided power, one that historically self-selected, and continued to select for the levelling process ad nauseum. The conclusion that must be drawn then is that capitalism is a direct development of centralisation under insecure power, and could not otherwise exist with formal sovereignty. Furthermore, as David Graeber exploresーmoney itself is a product of bureaucratic centralisation;

“Credit Theorists insisted that money is not a commodity but an accounting tool. In other words, it is not a “thing” at all. You can no more touch a dollar or a deutschmark than you can touch an hour or a cubic centimeter. Units of currency are merely abstract units of measurement, and as the credit theorists correctly noted, historically, such abstract systems of accounting emerged long before the use of any particular token of exchange.

The obvious next question is: If money is just a yardstick, what then does it measure? The answer was simple: debt. A coin is, effectively, an IOU. Whereas conventional wisdom holds that a banknote is, or should be, a promise to pay a certain amount of “real money” (gold, silver, whatever that might be taken to mean), Credit Theorists argued that a banknote is simply the promise to pay something of the same value as an ounce of gold. But that’s all that money ever is. There’s no fundamental difference in this respect between a silver dollar, a Susan B. Anthony dollar coin made of a copper-nickel alloy designed to look vaguely like gold, a green piece of paper with a picture of George Washington on it, or a digital blip on some bank’s computer. Conceptually, the idea that a piece of gold is really just an IOU is always rather difficult to wrap one’s head around, but something like this must be true, because even when gold and silver coins were in use, they almost never circulated at their bullion value.”[55]

For an example;

“The Sumerian economy was dominated by vast temple and palace complexes. These were often staffed by thousands: priests and ocials, craftspeople who worked in their industrial workshops, farmers and shepherds who worked their considerable estates. Even though ancient Sumer was usually divided into a large number of independent city-states, by the time the curtain goes up on Mesopotamian civilization around 3500, temple administrators already appear to have developed a single, uniform system of accountancy—one that is in some ways still with us, actually, because it’s to the Sumerians that we owe such things as the dozen or the 24-hour day. The basic monetary unit was the silver shekel. One shekel’s weight in silver was established as the equivalent of one gur, or bushel of barley. A shekel was subdivided into 60 minas, corresponding to one portion of barley—on the principle that there were 30 days in a month, and Temple workers received two rations of barley every day. It’s easy to see that “money” in this sense is in no way the product of commercial transactions. It was actually created by bureaucrats in order to keep track of resources and move things back and forth between departments. Temple bureaucrats used the system to calculate debts (rents, fees, loans …) in silver. Silver was, effectively, money.”[56]

The money is thus in no way as spontaneous or “natural” to human social life in the manner that Libertarians like to think it is, but a bureaucratic, one could say statist, creation whose legal enforcements are vital for its modern, Liberal existence. The Liberal social order, divided power, preceded the much later development of Liberal Capitalism. A specific political configuration was required for the generation of capitalism, not the other way around. On the development of money as a product of centralisation, Bond writes;

“With the arrival of the Germanic kingdoms, we find that the Roman taxation system and the circulation of coinage inherited by these kingdoms seem to have all but disappeared. These non-monetary kingdoms operated on a system of land dispersal, where land was granted to vassals from whom they could provision their own forces. It appears that a similar process occurred in the Near East, where land reforms were instigated as a means to maintain an army following the collapse of the Byzantine coinage system. In the West, such an arrangement required a substantial devolution of power to the local lords, who were granted the land to maintain. The monarchs had to rely on the lords agreeing to supply men and resources under the lord’s immediate control, which presents a case of subsidiary power centres having a great deal of leverage vis-à-vis the primary Power centre.

This first stirrings of the centralisation of monarchy become apparent with attempts by monarchs to reintroduce coinage on a large scale. This may seem somewhat surprising given that the modern economic assumption that money is both natural and an extension of barter, but this is erroneous. To understand why monarchs would wish to implement a coinage system, we need to understand that a monetary system is not a natural and spontaneous affair, but, rather one that requires a demand which itself is not spontaneous.”[57]

Well, this should all seem fairly familiar to you by now dear reader. Demand for a given social object of attention is a construct of some intentional agent ー in the case Bond is illustrating it is for the purposes of undermining local lords, whilst in Graeber’s case, it was for bureaucratic administrative purposes. Both are essentially two strains of centralisation. Bond continues;

“All of these aspects of a monetary system have to be created with great effort, but despite this effort, the benefits are great for centralising power. We must consider that a coinage system bestows on the minting authority a source of profit in the form of reminitng and debasement, a form of monetary manipulation which also weakens subsidiaries by making their wealth depreciate in comparison to those who are miniting coins. The coinage system also allows the central Power to engage in disintermediated relationships with elements it would previously have been unable to engage. Money, for example, allows the purchase of mercenaries who can be used in lieu of the nobility, thereby offering the central Power access to a body of men directly loyal to itself. In addition, once this system is widespread, the possibility of transferring wealth over long distances becomes feasible. Discharging feudal dues in the form of produce is an inherently localised system; discharging it in coinage is not. The implementation of a wide spread taxation system premised on coin the makes it possible for a kings court to reside in one place indefinitely, and so we see the development of capital cities following the  establishment of coinage systems.”[58]

What we consequently see is that money, that the Libertarian takes for granted as spontaneous and natural, is not only an emergent product of central authority but also is precisely what makes the Libertarian’s nightmare, taxation, possible in a widespread manner. A strange irony. Conversely, is the abolishment of money possible? Maybe it is? Good question. Is it a desirable thing to abolish it? Perhaps, but this is definitely worth exploring, as is market consciousness itself, which I will endeavour to do at a later time. To continue, another of the economic liberal’s sacred cows to slaughter is free trade. Milton Friedman writes;

“In the economic jargon coined more than 150 years ago, that is the principle of comparative advantage. Even if we were more efficient than the Japanese at producing everything, it would not pay us to produce everything. We should concentrate on doing those things we do best, those things where our superiority is the greatest.”[59]

However, Ricardo’s Principle of Comparative Advantage is rendered defective in exploring a few key underlying presuppositions;

“(1) Domestic capital or factors of production like capital goods and skilled labour are not internationally mobile, and instead will be re-employed in the sector/sectors in which the country’s comparative advantage lies;

(2) Workers are fungible, and will be re-trained easily and moved to the new sectors where comparative advantage lies.

(3) It does not matter what you produce (e.g., you could produce pottery), as long as you do it in a way that gives you comparative advantage;

(4) Technology is essentially unchanging and uniform; and

(5) There are no returns to scale.

Assumption (1) doesn’t hold today and what happens is movement of capital under the principle of absolute advantage (Lavoie 2014: 508). This results in a type of race to the bottom for industrialised countries that do not protect their industries. (2) is of course highly questionable. (3), (4) and (5) are utter nonsense. Abstract pro-free trade arguments often seem to make the implicit assumption of full employment, or the effective tendency to full employment, in all nations as well, which is yet another mad and unrealistic assumption (Lavoie 2014: 508).”[60]

Of course, as we can intuit, (2) relies on a very malleable, denuded individual, which a liberal like Ricardo takes as natural, but is actually as we know a product of centralisation. Moreover, protectionism is better for economic development, so much so that the industrial revolution would not have happened without Walpole’s protectionism (a strange irony). Despite its widening technological lead over other countries, Britain continued its policies of industrial promotion until the mid-nineteenth century. Britain had very high tariffs on manufacturing products even as late as the 1820s, some two generations after the start of its Industrial Revolution. Ha Joon Chang also points out, the industrial revolution might not have even happened in Britain as it did, in absence of the policies that were promoted by previous governments at the protection of infant sectors which perpetuated their industrialisation;

“Symbolic as the repeal of the Corn Law may have been, it was only after 1860 that most tariffs were abolished. However, the era of free trade did not last very long. It ended when Britain finally acknowledged that it had lost its manufacturing eminence and re-introduced tariffs on a large scale in 1932 (Bairoch, 1993, pp. 27–8). Thus seen, contrary to the popular belief, Britain’s technological lead that enabled this shift to a free trade regime had been achieved “behind high and long-lasting tariff barriers” (Bairoch, 1993, p. 46).”[61]

Chang’s argument generally follows the idea that the initial explosion of industrialisation, the industrial revolution itself which predates this period and easily had a much larger scale and proportion of development than that of the 1860s to 1910s, was propelled by the likes of Walpole’s interventionist policy reforms of 1721 and its continuation through the first half of the 1800s. To be kind of reductionistic about it for clarity’s sake, the process for many European nations generally went:

Adoption Protectionism  → Technological development  → Adoption of Economic Liberalism.

Chang, in addition to illustrating in detail the Walpolean parallels with Hamiltonian U.S. policy, interrupted by only a brief interlude, 1913-1929 until impinged by the  GATT in the 1950s;

“[The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, portrayed by free-trade economists such as Jadish Bhagwadi] as a radical departure from a historic free-trade stance, only marginally (if at all) increased the degree of protectionism in the U.S. economy. As we can see from table 1, the average tariff rate for manufactured goods that resulted from this bill was 48%, and it still falls within the range of the average rates that had prevailed in the United States since the Civil War, albeit in the upper region of this range. It is only in relation to the brief “liberal” interlude of 1913–1929 that the 1930 tariff bill can be interpreted as increasing protectionism, although even then it was not by very much (from 37% in 1925 to 48% in 1931, see table 1).”[62]

(Table 1)63

Because it wasn’t until the 50s, after the 1947 establishment of the GATT that the US truly liberalised trade ー that is after it was able to establish itself as a political and economic superpower. Chang also cites that post-war economic development followed a model similar to Walpole’s protectionism and moderate regulatory intervention citing Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, however, their interventionism was more sophisticated than Walpole’s.

“They used more substantial and better-designed export subsidies (both direct and indirect) and much less export taxes than in the earlier experiences (Luedde-Neurath, 1986; Amsden, 1989). Tariff rebates for imported raw materials and machinery for export industries were much more systematically used than in, for example, eighteenth-century Britain (Lueede-Neurath, 1986). Coordination of complementary investments, which had been previously done in a rather haphazard way (if at all), was systematized through indicative planning and government investment programs (Chang, 1993 and 1994). Regulations of firm entry, exit, investments, and pricing intended to “manage competition” were a lot more aware of the dangers of monopolistic abuses and more sensitive to its impact on export market performance, when compared to their historical counterparts, namely, the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century cartel policies (Amsden & Singh, 1994; Chang, forthcoming).  The East Asian states also integrated human capital and learning-related policies into their industrial policy framework more tightly than their predecessors had done, through “manpower planning” (You & Chang, 1993). Regulations on technology licensing and foreign direct investments were much more sophisticated and comprehensive than in the earlier experiences (Chang, 1998). Subsidies to (and public provision of) education, training, and R&D were also much more systematic and extensive than their historical counterparts (Lall & Teubal, 1998).”[64]

At this point I anticipate that the Libertarian will be foaming at the mouth, ready to eject the words; “SINGAPORE, HONG KONG, DUBAI”. But on very cursory examination, it wasn’t the free market, rule of law or any such liberal platitude that made them as lucrative as they became, rather it was the fact that they were administered personally[65], where Lee Kuan Yew, Sir John Cowperwaithe and Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, respectively, had and exercised near-total executive authority, which allowed for the cultivation of their material prosperity.

In summary, Libertarianism is either fatally incorrect or advocating for impossibilities regarding nearly everything it purportedly stands for. Where it is wrong, it is corrosive, perpetuating that which would frustrate your telos, would rob you, and does rob you, of your happiness and is merely apologetic for a predatory system it cannot change. It is inimical to that which is purely good, goodness itself, and your intimacy with such goodness ー ideologically setting itself against moral social ordering. It tries to justify itself with what might frankly be called spooks. It doesn’t even understand the enemies ー authority and coercion, that it sets up for itself, and even when it falls back on the most base economic justifications, it still fails as it starts out with historical absurdities as key presuppositions. It is then further refuted in regards to “economic prosperity” compared to other economic systems. This isn’t necessarily to praise the industrial revolution and its consequences however, as it is also in part to blame for our schizophrenitisation and for the acceleration of capitalism which compounds this process after all. Rather, it is to illustrate that the justifications Libertarianism presents for itself are equally as easy to shoot down. Nonetheless, the various strains of the Liberal tradition that Libertarianism largely participates in, that have successfully inculcated modern man, have proven to be destructive at the most fundamental levels in the perpetuation of social orders inimical to the cultivation of perfection and the execution of justice. Baseless and corrosive, this ideological malaise must be handled by a cooperation of anti-capitalists and social conservatives, a Post-Liberal unity that goes beyond the petty left and right, and should be dealt with extreme prejudice.

Republished from sympoiesis.net

~ • ~

Notes & References

[Ch.I Notes]

[1] The way Rothbard manages to justify such a thing is in invalidating legislature as “coercive” and thus evil, which we shall explore as erroneous later on.

Applying our theory to parents and children, this means that a parent does not have the right to aggress against his children, but also that the parent should not have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate his children, since such obligations would entail positive acts coerced upon the parent and depriving the parent of his rights. The parent therefore may not murder or mutilate his child, and the law properly outlaws a parent from doing so. But the parent should have the legal right not to feed the child, i.e., to allow it to die. The law, therefore, may not properly compel the parent to feed a child or to keep it alive. (Again, whether or not a parent has a moral rather than a legally enforceable obligation to keep his child alive is a completely separate question.) This rule allows us to solve such vexing questions as: should a parent have the right to allow a deformed baby to die (e.g., by not feeding it)? The answer is of course yes, following a fortiori from the larger right to allow any baby, whether deformed or not, to die. (Though, as we shall see below, in a libertarian society the existence of a free baby market will bring such “neglect” down to a minimum.)

Rothbard, Murray Newton. The Ethics of Liberty. New York: New York Univ. Press, 2002, 100.

He then assumes that humans would spontaneously form, in a marketised manner, in modes such that neglect would be reduced. This is quite unabashedly the enshrining of an order that takes the market hostage-taking process Graeber and Katz explore to its extreme.

[2] From Walter Block;

What, exactly, is blackmail? Blackmail is the offer of trade. It is the offer to trade something, usually silence, for some other good, usually money. If the offer of the trade is accepted, the blackmailer then maintains his silence and the blackmailee pays the agreed-upon price. If the blackmail offer is rejected, the blackmailer may exercise his rights of free speech and publicize the secret. There is nothing amiss here. All that is happening is that an offer to maintain silence is being made. If the offer is rejected, the blackmailer does no more than exercise his right of free speech.

Block, Walter. Defending the Undefendable: the Pimp, Prostitute, Scab, Slumlord, Libeler, Moneylender, and Other Scapegoats in the Rogue’s Gallery of American Society. Auburn, Alabama: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 2018, 41.

[3] At the time of writing this piece, there are 9 current entries concerning Scrooge from the Mises Institute website:

https://mises.org/library/scrooge-defended

https://mises.org/library/defense-scrooge

https://mises.org/wire/more-scrooge

https://mises.org/wire/christmas-lets-celebrate-different-scrooge-scrooge-mcduck

https://mises.org/wire/was-scrooge-victim-christmas-carol

https://mises.org/library/correcting-scrooges-economics

https://mises.org/wire/ebenezer-scrooge-humanitarian

https://mises.org/wire/defence-ebenezer-scrooge

https://mises.org/wire/ebenezer-scrooges-tiresome-crusade-against-consumerism

[4] Olson, Henry. “The Death And Tragic Rebirth Of Libertarianism.” Social Matter, September 25, 2018. https://archive.is/qr7BL#selection-603.0-603.46.

[5] Hayek, Friedrich A. von. Individualism and Economic Order. London: Routledge, 2016, 6.

[6] Locke, John. The Second Treatise of Government ; and, A Letter Concerning Toleration. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2002. Ch.V, §. 27, 12.

[7] Aquinas, Thomas, and Timothy MacDermott. Summa Theologiæ: A Concise Translation. Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1989. Prima Pars, Q:76:1, 114.

[8] Evola, Julius, Guido Stucco, and Michael Moynihan. Men among the Ruins: Postwar Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist. Inner Traditions International, 2002, 135.

[9] Mises, Ludwig Von, and Bettina Bien. Greaves. Human Action. a Treatise on Economics. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007, 685.

[10]  Bond, C. A. Nemesis: The Jouvenelian vs. the Liberal Model of Human Orders. Imperium Press, 2019, 15.

[11] ibid., 12.

[12] Holmes, Geoffrey, and Daniel Szechi. Age of Oligarchy: Pre-Industrial Britain 1722-1783. London: Routledge, 2016, 27.

[13] ibid., 103.

[14] ibid., 114.

[15] Bond, Nemesis, 47.

[16] ibid., 60.

[17] Katz, Adam. “Power and Paradox.” Anthropoetics 23, no. 2 (2018). http://anthropoetics.ucla.edu/ap2302/2302katz/

[18] Katz, Adam. “Sovereign as Onomastician-in-Chief.” GABlog (blog), July 13, 2017. http://gablog.cdh.ucla.edu/2017/07/sovereign-as-onomastician-in-chief/

[19] Fisher, Mark. Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? Zero Books, 2010, 38-39

[20] Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2018, 75.

[21] The horrifying reality then is that it is more economically efficient to just eliminate the swathes of the labour force that, in being made redundant by techno-capital, are now economic drains on the system;

That is, as machine intelligence increases, economic demand for human intelligence at every level goes to zero. Oops!

As both a good Carlylean and a good Misesian, the King condemns economism—the theory that any economic indicator can measure human happiness. His goal is a fulfilled and dignified society, not maximum production of widgets. Is it better that teenagers get work experience during the summer, or that gas costs five cents a gallon less? The question is not a function of any mathematical formula. It is a question of judgment and taste. All that free-market economics will tell you is that, if you prohibit self service, there will be more jobs for gas-station attendants, and gas will cost more. It cannot tell you whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Moldbug, Mencius. “The Dire Problem and the Virtual Option.” Unqualified Reservations (blog), November 12, 2009. https://www.unqualified-reservations.org/2009/11/dire-problem-and-virtual-option/.

Albeit, as we have explored and shall continue to explore, Mises is still operating upon quite disastrous premises, and so he too needs surgical removal from Moldbug’s scheme for a healthy social order.

[Ch.II Notes]

[22] Nozick, Robert. Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Oxford: Blackwell, 2017, 151.

[23] Friedman, Milton, and Rose D. Friedman. Free to Choose: a Personal Statement. Paw Prints, 2008, 228.

[24] Mao, Zedong. Mao Tŝe-Tung’s Quotations; the Red Guard’s Handbook. Nashville: International Center, George Peabody College for Teachers, 1967, Combat Liberalism, Selected Works, Vol. II, 31-32.

[25] Evola, Julius, Guido Stucco, and Michael Moynihan. Men among the Ruins: Postwar Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist. Inner Traditions International, 2002, 139.

[26] Feser, Edward. “Plotinus on Divine Simplicity, Part I.” Plotinus on Divine Simplicity, Part I (blog), January 15, 2010. https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/01/plotinus-on-divine-simplicity-part-i.html.

[27] Aquinas, Thomas, and Timothy MacDermott. Summa Theologiæ: A Concise Translation. Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1989. Prima Secundæ Partis, Q:3:8, 178.

[28] MacIntyre, Alasdair C. After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory. Bloomsbury Academic, 2014, p.53.

[29] Max F. Muller. Sacred Books of the East. London: Routledge, 2004, Li Ki, Lî Yun, 2.11.

[30] MacIntyre, After Virtue, p.288-289

[31]  ibid., p.298-290, 291

[32] Aristotle, and Jonathan Barnes. The Complete Works of Aristotle: the Revised Oxford Translation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995, Nicomachean Ethics, Bk.VIII.I, 1154b20-28, 1825.

[33] Quite a few resources linked here but here are some choice selections. On the micro-scale;

In this article we tested whether ethnic diversity in one’s immediate residential surroundings has an impact on social trust. Using survey data merged with data from the national Danish registers, our results show that ethnic diversity of the micro-context— measured within a radius of 80 meters of a Downloaded from asr.sagepub.com at University of Otago Library on April 23, 2015 16 American Sociological Review person—has a statistically significant negative impact on social trust, controlling for a large number of potentially confounding variables. When expanding the size of the context, the effect of ethnic diversity is diluted, and we take this as an indication that interethnic exposure—which is inevitable in the micro-context, but not in more aggregate contexts—is the mechanism underlying the negative relationship between residential ethnic diversity and trust.

Dinesen, Peter Thisted, and Kim Mannemar Sønderskov. “Ethnic Diversity and Social Trust.” American Sociological Review 80, no. 3 (2015): 550–73. https://doi.org/10.1177/0003122415577989, 15-16.

On the macro-scale;

Our analysis shows that peace does not depend on integrated coexistence, but rather on well defined topographical and political boundaries separating groups, allowing for partial autonomy within a single country. In Switzerland, mountains and lakes are an important part of the boundaries between sharply defined linguistic areas. Political canton and circle (sub-canton) boundaries often separate religious groups. Where such boundaries do not appear to be sufficient, we find that specific aspects of the population distribution guarantee either sufficient separation or sufficient mixing to inhibit intergroup violence according to the quantitative theory of conflict. In exactly one region, a porous mountain range does not adequately separate linguistic groups and that region has experienced significant violent conflict, leading to the recent creation of the canton of Jura. Our analysis supports the hypothesis that violence between groups can be inhibited by physical and political boundaries. A similar analysis of the area of the former Yugoslavia shows that during widespread ethnic violence existing political boundaries did not coincide with the boundaries of distinct groups, but peace prevailed in specific areas where they did coincide. The success of peace in Switzerland may serve as a model to resolve conflict in other ethnically diverse countries and regions of the world.

Rutherford, Alex, Dion Harmon, Justin Werfel, Alexander S. Gard-Murray, Shlomiya Bar-Yam, Andreas Gros, Ramon Xulvi-Brunet, and Yaneer Bar-Yam. “Good Fences: The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Peaceful Coexistence.” PLoS ONE 9, no. 5 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0095660.

Why does violence erupt in some ethnic conflicts but not in others? To answer this question, I introduced a theory of ethnic war called the theory of indivisible territory. I argued that the likelihood of ethnic violence rests on how a conflict’s principal antagonists—a state and its dissatisfied ethnic minority—think about or value a disputed territory. Attempts to negotiate a resolution short of war will fail when, [1.] the ethnic minority demands sovereignty over the territory it occupies, and, [2. the state views that territory as indivisible. Ethnic war is less likely to break out if one condition only is met, and very unlikely if neither condition is met.

Toft, Monica Duffy. Geography of Ethnic Violence. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010, 127.

  1. As we shall explore later, such demands are only truly spurred by political patronage, irrespective of Toft’s categorisation of them as ‘charismatic demagogues’ or ‘representative statesmen’, which is made accessible for, and actively selected by, centralising power in situations of power insecurity.
  2. A centralising authority would never, and does not ever delegate territory to subsidiaries in such a manner that make territory divisible.

Liberalism has various mechanisms at its disposal to keep civil conflict from emerging, namely the fact that the demands of the periphery are conditioned and directed by centralising authority, and of course various technological developments, from money to surveillance, which make this easier. Nonetheless, it follows that population heterogeneity could be and, as Toft explores, is exploited repeatedly for centralisation.

[34] Here is Bond’s elaboration upon imperium in imperio, and power security;

In categorising unsecure power and secure power Mencius Moldbug correctly identified that the primary motivations for power centers to engage in leveling conflict were the insecurity of their positions and the blocks they faced, they simply could not, and cannot, govern in a direct and concise manner. This has many further ramifications which we shall cover later, but for now it suffices to note that as these power centers were placed in positions of chronic conflict within society. The centers were unable to engage in actual direct conflict to resolve the tension, so the alternative option was, and still is, to pursue that of advancing their attempts at centralisation and conflict against competing power centers by appeal to greater societal good.

Secure power in contrast is power which is not placed in a position of conflict. This conflict can take the form of either the balancing of institutions against one another, such as with the republican structure and the balance of power it enshrines, or by claims of law or human rights being bounding, thereby placing the judiciary as a competing institution – there are many variants of imperium in imperio.

In pursuing this line of investigation over a number of years, an extremely accurate and effective model of the current liberal power structure was developed on the Unqualified Reservations blog which managed to trace the development of power by virtue of ignoring the frames of analysis which current political theories take as relevant. This analysis neither took the human individual as the relevant point of analysis, nor did it take current political institutions such as nation states as relevant. Instead, by placing the analysis on the manner in which internal institutions have been allowed to operate in a state of permanent surreptitious conflict, a picture emerged of a strange governing entity which centred around the Ivy League universities, media, the civil service and additionally non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society foundations in a systemically logical conflict against all other intermediary structure which have been under sustained and continued destruction. The key point to note is that the systemic conflict provides all of these centers with the context within which their decisions are enacted, rendering their actions predictable to a large degree. This is why we can see all the progressive institutions acting in a similar manner without need of a central governing body. Unsecure Power is then definable as power acting in a system designed on (or degraded to) internal conflict.

Secure Power in contrast is Power acting within a system in which institutions are complementary and not conflicting. Authority flows down only. Similar entities are seen in the form of corporations, the very same entities which actors in governance have been engaging on ever greater levels as a means to provide effective and efficient services, something which the national governance structure of the modern state has been unable to maintain. The great expansion of private military companies and privatisation in everyday walks of life are premised on the idea that the profit motive is a strong driving force for competence, but fails to take into account that the profit driven companies are first and foremost driven on a model of governance which is a rejection of imperium in imperio, thus ensuring a means of management which allows for clear and effective action. No one creates a business with an imperium in imperio design.

The modern system has managed to ingrain imperium in imperio not as a solecism, but as an unalloyed good. Institutions in unceasing conflict are assumed to balance out society and ensure no center in particular may hold total power…., Jouvenel’s great observation [was that] this division of power has led to continual and unceasing conflict between internal institutions using the concept of equality as a means of undermining competitors.

Bond, Chris A. “The Patron Theory of Politics.” The Journal of Neoabsolutism (blog), May 2, 2017. https://thejournalofneoabsolutism.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/36/.

[Ch.III Notes]

[35] Hayek, Friedrich A. von. Individualism and Economic Order. London: Routledge, 2016, 7.

[36] Here’s a further elaboration on the intentional character of communicative acts from Knapp & Benn Michaels;

John Searle, for example, asserts that “there is no getting away from intentionality,” and he and others have advanced arguments to support this claim. Our purpose here is not to add another such argument but to show how radically counterintuitive the alternative would be. We can begin to get a sense of this simply by noticing how difficult it is to imagine a case of intentionless meaning. Suppose that you’re walking along a beach and you come upon a curious sequence of squiggles in the sand. You step back a few paces and notice that they spell out the following words:

A slumber did my spirit seal;

I had no human fears:

She seemed a thing that could not feel

The touch of earthly years.

This would seem to be a good case of intentionless meaning: you recognize the writing as writing, you understand what the words mean, you may even identify them as constituting a rhymed poetic stanza-and all this without knowing anything about the author and indeed without needing to connect the words to any notion of an author at all. You can do all these things without thinking of anyone’s intention. But now suppose that, as you stand gazing at this pattern in the sand, a wave washes up and recedes, leaving in its wake (written below what you now realize was only the first stanza) the following words:

No motion has she now, no force;

She neither hears nor sees;

Rolled round in earth’s diurnal course,

With rocks, and stones, and trees.

One might ask whether the question of intention still seems as irrelevant as it did seconds before. You  will now, we suspect, feel compelled to explain what you have just seen. Are these marks mere accidents, produced by the mechanical operation of the waves on the sand (through some subtle and unprecedented process of erosion, percolation, etc.)? Or is the sea alive and striving to express its pantheistic faith? Or has Wordsworth, since his death, become a sort of genius of the shore who inhabits the waves and periodically inscribes on the sand his elegiac sentiments? You might go on extending the list of explanations indefinitely, but you would find, we think, that all the explanations fall into two categories. You will either be ascribing these marks to some agent capable of intentions (the living sea, the haunting Wordsworth, etc.), or you will count them as nonintentional effects of mechanical processes (erosion, percolation, etc.). But in the second case-where the marks now seem to be accidents-will they still seem to be words? Clearly not. They will merely seem to resemble words.

Knapp, Steven, and Walter Benn Michaels. “Against Theory.” Critical Inquiry 8, no. 4 (1982): 723-42, 727-728.

[37] Ferdinand de Saussure on diachronic linguistics;

Diachronic linguistics studies the relations which hold not between coexisting terms of a linguistic state, but between successive terms substituted one for another over a period of time.

Immediately, we see the parallels within the historical process of individualisation and its relationship to centralisation – the process replaces the previous form(s) employed for centralisation with a new form(s) over the course of history as the political problematic that centralisation itself faces; from Divine Right, all the way down to Human Rights. Each one not coexisting but successive, and often in conflict with each other, in their employment by Power. There is a Heraclitean element here as Saussure continues;

Absolute stability in language is never found. All parts of the language are subject to change, and any period of time will see evolution of a greater or smaller extent. It may vary in rapidity or intensity. But the principle admits no exceptions. The linguistic river never stops flowing. Whether its course is smooth or uneven is a consideration of secondary importance.

The paragraph that follows concerning literary language is of specific interest to our enquiry concerning the hierarchy of intentionally directed linguistic forms within a given field of shared attention;

It is true that this uninterrupted evolution is often hidden from us by the attention paid to the corresponding literary language. A literary language (cf. p [267] ff.) is superimposed upon the vernacular, which is the natural form a language takes, and it is subject to different conditions of existence. Once a literary language is established, it usually remains fairly stable, and tends to perpetuate itself unaltered.

Saussure, Ferdinand de, and Roy Harris. Course in General Linguistics. London: Bloomsbury, 2016, 167.

[38] The origin of language, the first sign, emerges from the mimetic crisis of the originary event;

According to the originary hypothesis, the first occurrence of language was in the originary event or scene of language. The birth of representation within the mimetic triangle involves a new form of consciousness. Not only is mimesis of the human other not essentially conscious, it essentially excludes language. (The game of Simon Says exploits the fact that language interferes with rather than aids imitation.) In contrast, in the case of mimesis of the object, or representation, my sign imitates not the object’s actions but its formal closure, to which I must be attentive in a new way.

But although the mimetic triangle contains all the elements necessary for the emergence of the sign as the solution of the mimetic paradox, language as the foundation of the human community can only have arisen in a collective event, where the multiplicity of the participants multiplies mimetic tension. The object desired by all members of the group becomes the center of a circle surrounded by peripheral individuals all mediating each other’s desire. The aborted gesture of appropriation occurs as the solution to an originary mimetic crisis in which the group’s existence is menaced by the potential violence of mimetic rivalry over the object. Animal hierarchy that previously prevented general conflict by limiting rivalry to one-on-one relationships breaks down in the intensity of this crisis. The emission of the first sign is the originary event that founds the human community.

“A Brief Introduction to Generative Anthropology.” Anthropoetics, May, 2017, http://anthropoetics.ucla.edu/gaintro/.

[39] Essentially, Freud’s theories concerning the self became widespread in the ruling class, the centre, largely at the behest of his nephew Edwards Bernays who was extremely well connected. He assisted with President Woodrow Wilson’s WWI propaganda efforts, President Calvin Coolidge’s PR, and went on to spread his theories through Hollywood, most of marketing in the earlier parts of the 20th Century, and became quite influential with the likes of Goldman Sachs. The goal was to produce ‘happiness machines’, denude and individualise the person to such extreme degrees so that “in an age of mass democracy”, per the Freudian paranoia that was in vogue, the masses and their “underlying dark forces of desire” could be subdued and managed in such manners to produce high volumes of economic output. This meant that advertising became a kind of psychological warfare against the general public, to break down their various limitations on their desires and demands for consumption, so they would consume for consumption’s sake.

The Century of the Self. BBC. United Kingdom, 2002. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ3RzGoQC4s.

[40] Another curious note is how even though many of the Foundation personnel may have at one point been leftists, or even Marxists;

Schrank, a former Communist, recalls the “secret anti-capitalist orientation” of his fellow program officers. “People were influenced by the horror stories we Marxists had put out about the capitalist system,” he says; “it became their guidance.”

By the 1990s, anti-capitalism had all but taken a back seat.

Today, the full-blown liberal foundation worldview looks like this:

First, white racism is the cause of black and Hispanic social problems. In 1982, for example, Carnegie’s Alan Pifer absurdly accused the country of tolerating a return to “legalized segregation of the races.” The same note still sounds in Rockefeller president Peter C. Goldmark Jr.’s assertion, in his 1995 annual report, that we “urgently need . . . a national conversation about race . . . to talk with candor about the implications of personal and institutional racism.”

Second, Americans discriminate widely on the basis not just of race but also of gender, “sexual orientation,” class, and ethnicity. As a consequence, victim groups need financial support to fight the petty-mindedness of the majority.

Third, Americans are a selfish lot. Without the creation of court-enforced entitlement, the poor will be abused and ignored. Without continuous litigation, government will be unresponsive to social needs.

Fourth, only government can effectively ameliorate social problems. Should government cut welfare spending, disaster will follow, which no amount of philanthropy can cure.

Notice how the enframing of the latent foundation led flavour of anti-capitalism is entirely within that of narrative led by racial periphery grievances rather than economic grievances themselves? By the time Kimberlé Crenshaw’s “Intersectionality” and Critical Race Theory is rolled out by the Rockefeller Foundation in the form of the Bellagio project, the diachronic nature of centralising forms is all but painful as the new form of racial and sexual equality replaces that of economic justice for the purposes of centralisation.

MacDonald, Heather. “The Billions of Dollars That Made Things Worse.” City Journal, 1996.

[41] The most significant upswing in the use of the term is dated around the mid 1970s by Google’s Ngram Viewer.

Bond, C. A. Nemesis: The Jouvenelian vs. the Liberal Model of Human Orders. Imperium Press, 2019, 48.

[42] ibid., 49.

[43] ibid., 51.

[44] ibid., 54.

[45] Footnote;

Jasenists, despite being Catholics, adhered to many doctrines shared by Calvinists, such as predestination and justification by faith.

ibid., 58.

[46] Locke, John. The Second Treatise of Government ; and, A Letter Concerning Toleration. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2002. Ch.V §. 35, 15.

[47] Aquinas, Thomas, Gerald B. Phelan, Joseph Kenny, and Ignatius Theodore Eschmann. De Regno: Ad Regem Cypri. Bismarck, ND: Divine Providence Press, 2014, Ch.III:XIX.

[48] Bond, Nemesis, 7.

[49] Mises, Ludwig Von, and Bettina Bien. Greaves. Human Action. a Treatise on Economics. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007, 198.

[50] Filmer, Robert, and Peter Laslett. Patriarcha and Other Political Works of Sir Robert Filmer. The Legal Classics Library, Division of Gryphon Corporation, 2013, Ch.III, II, §. 4.

[51]  Moldbug, Mencius. “Three Homeworks for Professor Hanson.” Unqualified Reservations (blog), June 27, 2010. https://www.unqualified-reservations.org/2010/06/three-homeworks-for-professor-hanson/

[Ch.IV Notes]

[52] Rothbard, Murray Newton. The Ethics of Liberty. New York: New York Univ. Press, 2002, 252.

[53] Hodgson, Geoffrey Martin. Conceptualizing Capitalism: Institutions, Evolution, Future. University of Chicago Press, 2016, 11-12.

[54] ibid., 17.

[55] Graeber, David. Debt: The First 5,000 Years. Melville House, 2014, 46.

[56] ibid., 39.

[57] Bond, C. A. Nemesis: The Jouvenelian vs. the Liberal Model of Human Orders. Imperium Press, 2019, 11.

[58] ibid., 12.

[59] Friedman, Milton, and Rose D. Friedman. Free to Choose: a Personal Statement. Paw Prints, 2008, 43.

[60] Keynes, Lord. “The Cult of Free Trade in a Nutshell.” Heterodox Economics Blogs, July 4, 2016. https://heterodox.economicblogs.org/socialdemocracy21stcentury/2016/keynes-cult-trade-nutshell.

[61] Chang, Ha Joon. Kicking Away the Ladder. Cambridge: FPIF, 2003, 5.

[62] ibid., 6.

[63] ibid., 2.

[64] ibid., 11.

[65] In response to this Foundation for Economic Education piece Bond writes;

Whoah, whoah, whoah… hang on a second.

Hong Kong had a competent government, pursuing market economics under the rule of law.

But;

Cowperthwaite had almost complete control of Hong Kong government finances and used it to implement his policy of “positive nonintervention.”

Eh? So which is it? Rule of law made this possible, or someone with” almost complete control of Hong Kong government finances” am I missing something here? Is this making any sense?

Bond, Chris A. “Hong Kong, Singapore, and Dubai: Classical Liberal Paradises” reactionaryfuture (blog), June 14, 2016, https://reactionaryfuture.wordpress.com/2016/06/14/hong-kong-singapore-and-dubai-classical-liberal-paradises/.

How to fix the NBN

Australia, Politics

James Calligeros

It’s finally 2020, and as the NBN rollout starts to wind down now is a good time to take stock of just what the flipping heck happened over the last 10 years. We were promised in 2009 that by the end of this year we would have an all-fibre access network to replace Telstra’s and Optus’s dilapidated twisted pair and HFC access networks. Instead, thanks to some absurdly transparent political manoeuvring around 2013, what we actually got was… Telstra’s dilapidated twisted pair and HFC access networks under new management. And while this was good for my Telstra shares, it was and still is an absolutely diabolical, unforgivable, politically-charged sabotage of objectively good national infrastructure, intended to do nothing more than prop up Rupert Murdoch’s crumbling media empire and to Fortnite dance and then piss on the political legacies of Kevin Rudd and Stephen Conroy.

Since this change in strategy, even mentioning the NBN in less technical circles gets nothing but an exasperated groan and tales of incessant dropouts, slow peak hour speeds, and a government agency intent on flatly denying that there’s a problem. This, as has already been discussed, is by design. But now that the rollout is finished, what can be done to actually fix the problem?

Opacity

The biggest problem with the NBN right now has nothing to do with technology. With the change of government in 2013 came a new board for NBNCo, one that the company’s two shareholders (being the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Telecommunications) knew would carry out their will without question. Gone was Dr Mike Quigley and his corporate ethos of transparency and accountability and in came Ziggy Switkowski, an ex-Telstra executive with ties to the government. According to Switkowski and his new board of ex-Telstra executives, the first and foremost priority for NBNCo was to immediately redact all commercial documents pertaining to the rollout. From September 9 2013 until mid 2014, after the company’s “independent strategic review” was completed, no internal document was available for viewing. When they became available again, most details that interested parties had become accustomed to having access were redacted and deemed to be “commercial in confidence” – information such as fault incidences, revenues and services connected. This included most of the strategic review itself, including its frames of reference and key assumptions made when coming to the decisions it recommended (which conveniently enough for the government involved doing exactly what their election manifesto promised). During this time, all construction work was suspended, and an undisclosed sum was spent on rebranding the company with all references to NBNCo being replaced with nbn™. A worthy use of taxpayer funds from the Strong Economic Managers.

By the time the FTTN/FTTB/FTTC/HFC/anything-that-isn’t-FTTP rollout was underway, this corporate culture had become entrenched. Even nbn™’s customers, the ISPs, were left in the dark about most operational matters to the point where they were entirely powerless to deal with end user complains about slow speeds and dropouts. ISPs would refer customers to nbn™ who would deny any problem on their end and flick them back to the ISP. This is a problem that persists even today, despite the ACCC’s intervention forcing RSPs and nbn™ to publish speed data and refund customers unable to achieve the speed tier they’re paying for.

In virtually every HFC deployment around the world users are allowed to access their modem’s statistics page, which gives extremely important information about the quality of the signal entering the home. On the NBN, access to this page is disabled as soon as the CM8200 gets its configuration parameters from the remote end. There is absolutely no reason to do this other than to obfuscate problems with the HFC network, problems which the company denied for 3 years until they became so widespread and so disruptive that they were forced to put the entire rollout on hold to deal with them. This “pause” as they called it took the better part of a year and still problems persist in certain areas on the HFC network. Had these network metrics been available for public viewing (as they should be) the company would have been forced to act much sooner. People only noticed because Telstra Cable and Foxtel share the same network infrastructure, so those services were also impacted by nbn™’s activities.

Transparency is a necessary facet of accountability and right now nbn™ are doing all that they legally can to avoid being accountable to anyone. The simple fact is that operational transparency highlights the great flaws in what has been deployed when compared with what was meant to be deployed.

The problem with this pathetic attempt to save the Liberal Party’s face using taxpayer money is that it leaves consumers and ISPs totally powerless to resolve disputes with nbn™ unless nbn™ deems the dispute to be “reasonable”. Currently, the criteria set by nbn™ for a “faulty” FTTN service is either a downstream sync speed lower than 20Mbps or 16 (yes, sixteen) dropouts per day with no more than 1 hour between dropouts. If a service syncs at 21Mbps or only drops out 15 times a day, it is considered to be within spec by nbn™, regardless of whether or not there is actually an issue with the connection. The company’s contempt for the end user and their own customers is on full display here. The entire corporate structure exists not to facilitate the rollout of a National Broadband Network, but to actively frustrate that process.

The only way to get the NBN truly back on track is to simply demolish the entire corporate structure and return to a positive culture of operational transparency and accountability, free from the influence of ex-Telstra corporate stooges with deep links to high profile members of any particular political party. Like any government body, nbn™ should be accountable not only to its two shareholders but to everyone in the nation as it used to be. The NBN is being run in a manner similar to Home Affairs and ASIO which is quite simply disgusting for a national infrastructure project that’s been forced on us through legislation.

Productivity (but only for me and my mates)

Public-private partnerships are a spook. And in the case of the NBN, they’re a bigger spook than the bogeyman. There’s not a lot to say here except for that the NBN is being built by layer after layer after layer of contractors, each one taking their cut off the top before passing down what’s left until the guy actually splicing the fibre on the street is on barely above minimum wage. This was a decision made in the very early days of the rollout, as it was decided that amassing and training a workforce would be too costly and take too long. This decision, however, was a poor one. The only reason the private sector was so quick to get going was quite simply because they cheated.

There are people working on the HFC network right now who failed to demonstrate the basic competency of crimping an F connector yet were given their ticket to perform work by dodgy RTOs in exchange for a case of beer. These same RTOs also give their students the answers to the theoretical components involved in becoming certified, leading to a fundamental misunderstanding of standard practice or how various network elements are meant to behave.

The contractors themselves are complicit in this workforce deficiency, too. In order to cut costs (not to save the Government money, but to increase profit margins), most contractors exclusively subcontract to 457 visa holders. There have been instances of fully qualified Australian citizens being fired simply to make way for temporary work visa holders. There has been at least one instance of this occurring because the citizen refused to ignore workplace health and safety regulations where his 457 colleague did not.

The NBN was meant to see Australia return to a publicly owned last-mile access network, as we had until Telstra was privatised. Before said privatisation, Telecom Australia had an entirely in-house workforce of highly trained professionals building and maintaining their network. Such was the quality of this workforce that industry giants such as Ericsson, Siemens and Alcatel would frequently visit Telecom Australia’s various training facilities around the country and take our practices back to Europe to share with the world. Telecom Australia literally set new world standards in telecommunications practice. nbn™ on the other hand is barely capable of meeting existing ones. The company has virtually no quality control measures in place and is entirely at the mercy of cowboy contractors just looking for a free ride on a government gravy train.

Now that the rollout is ostensibly complete, and as the various contracts nbn™ has with its contractors start to lapse, the company must shift towards an internally trained workforce of linesmen, engineers and technicians in order to properly service (and upgrade) this monstrosity they have built with at least a modicum of quality control. Being a telecommunications technician was once an honourable and respected career path for young men, and Telecom Australia was one of the country’s most enjoyable companies to work for. There is absolutely nothing stopping nbn™ from carrying forward Telecom’s legacy save for a boardroom and government entirely hellbent on transferring wealth from the taxpayer to their mates.

High standards (for 1995)

During Dr Quigley’s tenure at the top of the NBNCo corporate structure, the company actually did look something like a true heir to Telecom’s legacy. Hundreds of millions was invested in research and development, and from this came new standards for large-scale FTTP rollouts. NBNCo was instrumental in popularising the adoption of “skinny” fibre, ribbon-like fibre optic cables that are both cheaper to manufacture and easier to deploy in the field. NBNCo also innovated on removing the need for a Fibre Distribution Hub, instead replacing it with a more compact multiport joint closure which fits inside a standard double-length Telstra pit. By April of 2013, the average cost per premises of deploying FTTP had dropped from the initial $2,400 during the rollout’s infancy to a meagre $1,100 in brownfields – already existing homes. Interestingly, as soon as the government changed this figure seemed to increase by precisely 4 times to conveniently make it more expensive than the average cost per premises of FTTN (which now costs over $5,000 per premises in some cases). But I digress.

With the change of rollout strategy, no longer was it necessary to continually innovate or spend money on creating new standards. Telstra had all the standards handily ready to go. In the case of the HFC network, such is the legacy of Telstra’s standards that the brand new tags used by nbn™ to label customer drop cables and outside plant refer to Telecom Australia with the orange and blue T, branding which has been defunct since 1995.

nbn™ were also happy to spruik the latest innovation in HFC technology, DOCSIS 3.1. Despite DOCSIS 3.1 being objectively good, it will never live up to the company’s expectations. Since remedial work on the HFC network started, the company has been deploying ARRIS 1GHz and 1.2GHz rated equipment in the street – a requirement for full DOCSIS 3.1 compliance. However, inside those countless millions of beige nbn™ boxes and grey Telstra boxes on the sides of homes lives one of the many weak links in the HFC deployment – the isolator. When Telstra first rolled out the HFC network, the original DOCSIS specifications used only a small portion of the available bandwidth on a coaxial cable, and as such built the network to a lowest common denominator specification of 750MHz. And despite nbn™’s insistence on activating DOCSIS 3.1, they continue to use the Telstra-prescribed 750MHz isolators in almost all brand new installations simply because this was Telstra’s accepted practice. While DOCSIS 3.1 will work across these isolators, nbn™ will find themselves running into problems as they try increase bandwidth across the network past 750MHz for “Full Duplex” operation. The most insulting part is that Telstra’s HFC network was second-rate even in the 90s compared to most of the world, so nbn™ are relying on decades-old standards that weren’t even standard in their heyday.

As if “adapting” these standards wasn’t bad enough, how about outright plagiarising them? When shifting to a mix of technologies, it was necessary for nbn™ to create documents outlining and explaining the various technical intricacies of this new bastard network. One such document is the Authority to Alter, or A2A, which details what parts of the network on a customer’s property registered cablers are and are not allowed to mess with. Every version of this document, save for the most recent, was a simple copy-paste of Telstra’s old A2A documents, most of which date back to the early-mid 2000s, when Telstra stopped deploying new network assets. In the grand scheme of things this is pretty minor, but it illustrates just how determined nbn™ are to be as wholly unremarkable and ambitious as they possibly can.

nbn™’s entire corporate structure is arguably the biggest problem with the rollout post-2013. A government enterprise sworn to secrecy by its shareholders to obfuscate the utter inadequacy of its “Cheaper, Faster, Better” network. A government enterprise hijacked by the Liberal Party and their Telstra cronies to transfer wealth from the taxpayer to their private contractor friends. A government enterprise so blatant in their goal to simply continue on with Telstra’s mediocrity that they go so far as to reuse and outright steal Telstra materials and documents from 20 years ago. Sure, there are technical problems with the NBN that we will to, but these all stem from the deficient corporate culture imposed on the project by the Liberal Party. Even with the multitude of technical failings wrought upon the nation by the socioeconomic vandals in the Liberal caucus, by putting an end to the absolute rort that is the public-private partnership, increasing internal transparency and resuming the in-house development of work standards and methods, the NBN could slowly and steadily become something that Australia can actually take pride in. We were once leading the entire world in telecommunications, pushing the boundaries of connectivity and setting trends in the industry globally. We can return to this role, or we can continue playing court jester to countries like Romania and Kenya.

Part 2: This time, it’s technical

Having now fixed nbn™’s culture problem (and re-rebranded it to NBNCo), we’re ready to get into the minutiae of actually fixing this travesty of a network. We’re going to make some key assumptions that will make this process a lot less painful.

  • The NBN is put on budget as a national infrastructure expense (it is currently ostensibly paid for with government bonds)
  • The Statement of Expectations has been altered to remove the profit motive (at least for now)

Basically, we’re assuming that money is no object. With the NBN now on the Government’s budget, it can direct funds directly to the project. This is currently not possible, and NBNCo has to ask its shareholders (currently Mattias Cormann and Paul Fletcher) for cash injections. This doesn’t work when the Government’s core election promise was to achieve a budget surplus, and doubly doesn’t work when they don’t actually care about the NBN.

Altering the SoE allows NBNCo to just plough money into the network with no expectation of making a return on it. Some good the expectation of a return is doing now anyway, the company only recently posted a record $2bn loss. Good news is that this doesn’t have to be permanent, and as part of the technical solution for fixing this steaming pile, we will also be looking at how the NBN makes money.

Considering the needless complexity of the current rollout, which precludes a simple catch-all solution, we will be going through each current rollout technology individually. We will briefly discuss each technology, why it sucks, and what can be done to make it not suck.

Fibre to the Node: The fifth horseman

By now, everyone in the country should be aware of what a mess Fibre to the Node (FTTN) is. Originally touted by Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull to be a cheaper, as-good alternative to Labor’s Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) network, the technology has been nothing short of a spectacular failure. Such was the magnitude of its failure that very shortly into its rollout, NBNCo (and PM Turnbull) were forced to drastically change tack, and began casing out the possibility of eating up Telstra’s and Optus’s old Cable networks.

Dr Ziggy Switkowski, the current NBNCo chair, fronted a 2003 Senate inquiry into the state of broadband access in Australia. It was at this inquiry that he declared Telstra’s phone line network to be, “Five minutes to midnight,” basically dead in the water (sometimes literally). It is this same Dr Ziggy Switkowski who was charged by the Liberal Party to roll out an FTTN network utilising this same Telstra phone line network.

FTTN is really only suitable for short lengths of copper. Fibre is run to a box somewhere in the neighbourhood, in which DSL line cards are installed and connected to the various phone lines running to houses. The flavour of DSL used in FTTN drops in speed precipitously with distance from the node, performing around the same as traditional ADSL 2+ at around 1km of line length from the node, assuming the line is in good nick.

NBNCo found out very quickly that Dr Switkowski was not lying for a change in 2003 and many, many phone lines in this country simply not suitable for upgrading to FTTN. Regardless, the Government made the company forge ahead until complaints of slow speeds and dropouts became so deafeningly loud that they could no longer ignore FTTN’s shortcomings. Today, the FTTN footprint covers about 30% of the population, a far cry from the original plan of around 76% coverage. Around 15,000 premises in the FTTN footprint are unable to achieve even 25Mbps download, the speed that was promised to be guaranteed by 2016, and the minimum speed in the Government’s own SoE. The ACCC recently came down like a ton of bricks on both NBNCo and the ISPs for failing to identify customers who were paying for services they could not achieve on FTTN. Customers were being charged for a 50Mbps service while barely receiving half, or even a quarter of that in some cases.

There’s no two ways around it. The entire FTTN rollout was, and remains, a total failure. There is only one logical solution, and that is to completely tear it out and replace it with FTTP. Given NBNCo’s SoE mandates them to provide a baseline of 25Mbps to all premises in the country, we would naturally start with those 15,000 locations unable to attain 25Mbps downstream. NBNCo have access to the line condition of every single FTTN connection in the country, and as such once the priority sub-25Mbps connections are fully remediated, they can assign crews to overbuild the FTTN in order of line quality from worst to most acceptable.

Replacing FTTN should be the number one priority on NBNCo’s list, given that is absolutely the weakest link in the fixed line footprint and responsible for 30% of the country receiving a subpar broadband experience.

Replacing FTTN with FTTP is the only sensible option. FTTP, due to its use of fibre optics all the way into the home, guarantees that the end user receives the speed they pay for, be it 25Mbps or 2500Mbps. FTTP is also future proof; higher speeds can be unlocked simply by replacing the electronics on each end of the fibre, and current fibre optic technology is capable of delivering a throughput of around 27Tbps (yes, terabits per second) over a single connection. Most importantly however, FTTP is by far the most reliable communications technology available. Unaffected by the weather, power outages or even simply your neighbour’s cheap solar inverter (believe it or not, solar inverters have been responsible for many DSL interference problems), FTTP can remain active pretty much indefinitely with no degradation of service, a welcome change for FTTN users stuck on drop-out prone lines.

With FTTN out of the picture, NBNCo actually has a shot at delivering on its Statement of Expectations, as well as delivering quality telecommunications to a segment of the population which has been totally neglected for the past seven years. With access to the Internet being viewed as a basic utility by most now, it is a disservice to the nation to leave people in the FTTN footprint high and dry with last-century broadband speeds and third world electricity grid levels of reliability.

Hybrid Fibre Coaxial: The most least-shit

In 2015, it became apparent to both the Government and the board of NBNCo that continuing to push forward with FTTN would result in a national uprising. Interestingly, the revelation that FTTN is untenable came at around the same time Malcolm Turnbull usurped the Prime Ministership from Tony Abbott.

Returning to FTTP, as per Labor’s original plan, was simply politically unacceptable. The only other technology capable of delivering high speed, fixed line broadband is Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC), but HFC networks are ruinously expensive to deploy, and in the process of being replaced with FTTP in the rest of the world. Luckily for the Government, the solution to the cost problem was right there, buried under a big T. But first, a history lesson. A very long – but ultimately necessary – history lesson.

In the mid to late 1990s, Telstra and Optus were engaged in a fierce battle over pay TV supremacy. Optus was first to market with an HFC network, carrying the OptusVision service. Telstra followed suit, entering a partnership with Rupert Murdoch’s Fox. FOX would bring the subscription TV content and TELstra would bring the infrastructure required to deliver it. Optus’s network utilised a Motorola-designed system called CableComm to also deliver telephony services over HFC, in a bid to rid themselves of Telstra’s monopoly on communications. Since Telstra had no need for such a system, it designed its network predominately for Foxtel. Optus and Telstra then locked themselves into what amounted to little more than a dick waving contest. Rollout targets were aggressive, and both networks’ footprints expanded massively over the course of relatively little time. In order to meet their aggressive rollout targets, however, Optus and Telstra both elected to cut corners in the design of their networks. These cut corners are irrelevant for the delivery of cable television, but become very important later.

In 1996, the first version of the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) standard was released, allowing HFC networks, which were at the time used almost exclusively for cable television, to act as a broadband data network. Since that time, DOCSIS has become the industry standard for broadband delivery over HFC networks.

Telstra were able to call Optus’s bluff with their near infinite cash reserves and when the latter was acquired by SingTel, who pulled the plug on further HFC investment, Telstra too saw no further need to continue rolling out their own network. Both networks were left pretty much to rot for the next 20-odd years, with only essential maintenance being performed to keep services running.

Instead of seeing an old, tangled up mess of rotting coaxial cables, NBNCo saw a free lunch. A free lunch that cost them around $3bn when all was said and done.

After purchasing Optus’s HFC network for $800m, NBNCo quickly found out that not only had Optus neglected to perform routine maintenance, but they had also seriously oversubscribed the network in an effort to maintain revenue in the face of relentless competition from Foxtel/Telstra. Contention ratios across the network were usually well in excess of 600:1. That is, 600 homes sharing a single link back to the exchange. Due to the lack of upgrades over the years, this shared link was usually 1Gbps, meaning that each subscriber on a given coaxial segment was allotted 1.7Mbps downstream. Optus’s network in its twilight years was plagued with complaints of poor speeds and poor reliability. After running trials in Redcliffe, NBNCo deemed Optus’s network so far gone that it was beyond cost-effective remediation, and ultimately elected to abandon it completely, to be replaced with yet another worthless stop-gap technology, Fibre to the Curb/Kerb (FTTC). $800m down the gurgler so far.

The company also purchased the Telstra HFC network – this time for an undisclosed amount via a renegotiated $11bn asset lease deal, originally put in place to allow NBNCo the use of Telstra’s cable ducts and pits, as well as space in their exchanges, fees for remediating unsafe pits and compensation for the forced decommissioning of its HFC and PSTN assets. This renegotiated deal instead put in place an asset transfer for the HFC and PSTN networks, and awarding them even more public money for the privilege. Most importantly, it also gave Telstra a spectrum license to continue using the HFC network to deliver Foxtel indefinitely, with NBNCo to foot the maintenance bill for this. It is estimated that the total value of the HFC asset transfer was somewhere between $1.1bn and $1.3bn.

Someone neglected to tell NBNCo that Telstra’s network design was based on two very major assumptions that made it unsuitable for what NBNCo required of it.

  • The network would be used predominately for pay TV.
  • The network would have a takeup rate of around 30% of passed premises

The first assumption allowed Telstra to get away with using lower bandwidth equipment on the coaxial side of the network since Foxtel only uses a relatively small amount of bandwidth compared to the total a regular HFC network would be capable of. The second allowed Telstra to under-provision the network relative to the number of premises it passed. Simply put, these were cost cutting measures intended to allow Telstra to keep up with and leapfrog Optus’s HFC rollout. Telstra were able to get away with providing DOCSIS services since there was so much spare spectrum available on the network on frequencies that their cheap equipment could still work happily with, and services were so expensive anyway that few in the network’s footprint took up said services.

Having not been made aware of these shortcomings, NBNCo gleefully began relentlessly connecting new customers to the network. CEO Bill Morrow said that the purchase of the HFC network would “…shave years off the rollout…” This was before people started noticing their Foxtel and Telstra Cable services starting to sporadically drop out, when previously they had been stable for years.

HFC is a shared medium. That is, end users all share a single coaxial trunk cable back to the optical node. With each end user you add to this coaxial ‘segment,’ you lower the signal level to each of the other users. NBNCo tried taking an HFC network barely suitable for 30% uptake to 100% uptake without making the necessary upgrades to the equipment in the field. As signal levels across the network fell, dropouts, fuzzy Foxtel pictures and slow speeds became more and more apparent until late in 2017, NBNCo announced that it would be stopping all new HFC connections until further notice to investigate the issues.

A prolonged investigation into the cause of these disruptions made multiple significant findings:

  • Telstra had used low quality fittings and connectors, and had not replaced old ones when they had worn out
  • The amplifiers and nodes Telstra used were ill-equipped to handle the frequencies NBNCo were forced to use (Foxtel and BigPond taking the good spectrum for themselves)
  • Telstra had oversubscribed the network, but to a lesser degree than Optus
  • Poor maintenance standards meant that the network was prone to RF noise ingress
  • Much of the network’s declared footprint was not serviceable and no HFC infrastructure actually existed where it was said to

All of these physical shortcomings were compounded as NBNCo went around disturbing the infrastructure and adding connections. NBNCo kept new connections on ice for around a year while they conducted expensive remedial works. This work included installing new nodes, replacing faulty 30 year old amplifiers and taps, fixing noise ingress points, replacing old connectors and fittings and building out the network to fill in the gaps in the footprint. The sales freeze was ostensibly lifted in April 2018, however many were still not able to order a service until around August of the same year. This “pause” in the HFC rollout as it has come to be known cost the company $900m, bringing the total amount of taxpayer money stolen on HFC to around $3bn, with the total rollout cost blowing out to $51bn. This is $8bn more than the projected cost of a full FTTP rollout.

It is accepted in the industry that while HFC/DOCSIS itself is still more than suitable for delivering high speed broadband, when done correctly. The assumption that simply buying Telstra’s and Optus’s HFC would be a silver bullet for NBNCo comes from data on HFC networks in the United States – HFC networks which cover most of the population, have take-up rates nearing 100%, and as such are aggressively maintained and upgraded by their operators. The Australian HFC networks could not have been further from their US counterparts if they tried. The Telstra/NBNCo network is, to put it simply, an obsolete and failing 90s network with some late 2000s quality of life features gaffer taped on to keep it barely functioning for another 5 years at best; good taxpayer money after bad in the Liberal Party’s pursuit of facial salvation.

This failed abortion of a network is currently the designated technology for again around 30% of the population. Unlike FTTN, however, DOCSIS is unaffected by distance from the node, is mostly immune to noise ingress and doesn’t care if Uranus is in retrograde. As such, the service quality is much, much higher and a full FTTP overbuild is largely unwarranted. That said, in its current form, the HFC network will never be able to keep up with bandwidth demand. NBNCo are already having difficulty getting 1Gbps plans on the network, plans which have existed on the company’s own FTTP network since early 2013.

So, without throwing the proverbial chessboard and starting over, how do we fix the HFC network? Luckily, the people who design, and the US network operators who ratify the DOCSIS standards are a little more forward thinking than NBNCo could ever hope to be in its current iteration. Built in to the latest version of DOCSIS are a number of enhancements which prepare compliant HFC networks for the future.

One of the major limiting factors to HFC network performance is the number of amplifiers between the node and the end user. Current best practice is to utilise an N+0 architecture. That is, the Node plus zero amplifiers between it and the end user’s cable modem. The NBNCo network is currently at an N+3 architecture, which makes it largely incompatible with the latest DOCSIS standard, DOCSIS 3.1. This is especially true if you take into consideration that there remain many of the old Telstra/Foxtel amplifiers still in service, as they were deemed to be working to an acceptable level for DOCSIS 3.0. While NBNCo have been progressively enabling DOCSIS 3.1 on select parts of the network, this is mostly due to its efficiency gains rather than for increasing performance for the end user. D3.1’s increased efficiency means that NBNCo can maintain current performance without performing any physical upgrades to the network.

One of the most important and effective upgrades NBNCo will need to make in the immediate future is moving the physical plant to N+0 Distributed Access Architecture (DAA). N+0 takes fibre deep into the HFC network, maximising network performance by minimising the amount of noise-prone and lossy coaxial cable between the node and the user, as well as lowering contention ratios to a level where the shared bandwidth is not even noticeable.

N+0 and DAA go hand in hand. Where N+0 deals purely with the physical side of the network, DAA is an upgrade that fundamentally shifts how the network itself is provisioned. Traditional HFC networks have the Cable Modem Termination System (CMTS) and RF combiner located centrally at the headend. The RF “DOCSIS signal” generated by the CMTS is then modulated into an analog light beam and sent along the fibre to the node, where it is converted back into an electrical RF signal. DAA introduces a profound paradigm shift with the Remote PHY (R-PHY) unit. This device replaces the CMTS at the headend, and instead resides in the node itself. Instead of the “DOCSIS signal” being generated at the headend and sent to the node in an analog fashion, it is instead generated at the node which talks to the headend digitally for service provisioning. In other words, the communication between the headend and the R-PHY is fully compatible with PON, the fibre architecture used to roll out FTTP.

DAA has huge implications for NBNCo, as it gives the company a simple and cheap upgrade path to full FTTP for when the time comes. Upgrading an N+3 DOCSIS 3.0 network is senseless, as the fibre component is incompatible with PON, and the whole lot would either need to be duplicated or upgraded in situ, which would cause mass service disruptions. By being fully PON compatible, DAA allows NBNCo to simply attach the fibre equivalent of a double-adaptor to the input of the R-PHY device and bypass it with FTTP while leaving DOCSIS services active and uninterrupted. In most cases, this ‘multiport’ is installed at the time the DAA fibre is installed in anticipation of FTTP upgrades. DAA also allows NBNCo to reduce maintenance costs across the HFC network, which is vital as the company currently has a network-related operating expenditure of around $2.3bn. Removing expensive, old, power hungry and short-lived active HFC equipment can lower this figure significantly. Importantly, it also lowers the cost of deploying FTTP to new developments in the HFC footprint, which common sense would dictate should receive FTTP from the get-go.

In terms of end user outcomes, DAA enables the efficient and reliable delivery of ultra-speed broadband plans in excess of 10Gbps download, whereas there would be no hope of delivering such services over the current N+3 DOCSIS 3.0 architecture. For those users who engage in NBNCo’s Technology Choice Program, it also makes upgrades to FTTP significantly cheaper, encouraging its uptake before even NBNCo are ready to do the upgrades themselves. Cynics would also note that every user-pays upgrade NBNCo makes through the TCP is one less the company has to pay for when it goes around upgrading the network itself.

Fixed Wireless: The ugly stepchild

It’s no great secret that the LTE component of the rollout has been spectacularly mismanaged. Utilising LTE to get high speed broadband access to properties too costly and too remote for wireline technologies was a good idea, however as with all things of this nature, cost cutting has led to a service so broken and so unreliable that many within its footprint elect to retain their ADSL services. Since switching to Fixed Wireless NBN, Whirlpool user Greg Lehey has experienced no less than 288 hours of downtime. Stories like this have emerged all over the country, with people reporting their services simply become unavailable during peak times. This is mostly due to bandwidth constrains imposed by the ineherent design of the NBN LTE network.

One of the biggest oversights in relation to the LTE network is the lack of backhaul capacity from each tower to its respective POI. As LTE is a shared medium, multiple users must share a single link back to the NBN Point of Interconnect, or POI. This is a colocation facility, where user traffic is handed off to the various ISPs’ networks. In order to cut costs, NBNCo elected to underprovision the amount of backhaul from each tower to the POI. Normally, it would be pretty trivial to increase backhaul capacity, as it would simply be a matter of increasing the bandwidth of the fibre optic link to the tower. However, NBNCo’s cost cutting method is so spectacularly stupid that this is simply not a possibility.

Instead of running a fibre optic cable to each tower for backhaul capacity, NBNCo has elected to use a wireless microwave link for many towers in a hub and spoke model. A microwave link is established between the POI and a master tower, which then divides the bandwidth of that link between multiple slave towers, which then connect actual end users to the network. This makes it incredibly hard to upgrade backhaul capacity to each tower, as it involves replacing expensive antennas or increasing the wireless bandwidth used, which often (always) isn’t possible due to extremely limited wireless spectrum available, and legally mandated power limits on wireless transmitters. While NBNCo have claimed that there exists a list of towers and backhaul sites that require upgrading, there is little to no evidence that they have actually undertaken any such work. People are simply being left with the choice of either braving the peak hour congestion, or retaining their ADSL services and thus being forced to spend more than they need to. Regional areas within the LTE footprint are historically underserviced with DSL too, often only being able to get a connection from Telstra.

There are two solutions for remediating the LTE network. Obviously, the most pressing matter is getting sufficient backhaul to each tower in order to alleviate the peak hour congestion and inherent unreliability that comes with using a cascaded microwave link. The only way to do this is to run fibre optic backhaul to each tower. This is an absolute necessity if NBNCo ever hope to make Fixed Wireless a viable solution for regional broadband access, and should have been the only backhaul method specified in the Network Design Rules. Not only will it remove the weakest link in the network in terms of bandwidth capacity, it will also allow NBNCo to free up the wireless spectrum they currently use on backhaul and reallocate it to increasing bandwidth on the consumer side of the network.

Another pressing matter for the LTE rollout is tower oversubscription. Much like with HFC, there are simply too many end users competing for bandwidth from a single tower. Of course, with multiple towers sharing a microwave link back to the POI, this is simply a cascade effect of underprovisioning of backhaul capacity. However, assuming we have now supplied each tower with its own fibre optic link, we can address this issue by splitting down towers, again much in the same way an HFC node split works. Assuming a 1:2 split, this would mean an effective doubling of available bandwidth for each end user between their premises and the tower. This increased bandwidth availability then allows NBNCo to offer faster plans across the network, making the same plans available across both wireline and fixed wireless technologies

Another minor consideration to make is the rising adoption of 5G, and the improvements it brings over LTE. At this stage, such an upgrade would be purely optional, and made in consideration of private competition. The expense necessary to cover regional Australia with 5G for either NBNCo or a private competitor would be ruinous, and so we will not consider this other than to remark that it is a possible (and likely) upgrade path in the medium to long term. With the bandwidth increases we have made above, LTE is still perfectly capable of delivering high speed broadband for some time to come, and any 5G upgrade would either be purely marketing or for increasing bandwidth efficiency to enable a greater number of customers to connect to the same tower.

Part 3: The Economics

One of the major hurdles to the NBN being a profitable enterprise is low Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). The cause for this is multi-faceted, and I make no pretences that I am an economist so this section will be short, however there seem to be two major causes for NBNCo’s money troubles:

  • High bandwidth costs make high-speed plans unfeasible
  • High speeds unattainable over most technologies

The cost of purchasing bandwidth on the NBN is very high compared to other wholesale networks. NBNCo’s pricing structure involves two access charges, billable to RSPs: the Access Virtual Circuit (AVC) and Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC).

The AVC is a per-connection charge, essentially the equivalent of the traditional line rental. AVC is charged based on the link speed between the end user and the RSP’s network and can be considered the “base cost” of providing an NBN service. For example, a 50Mbps downstream/20Mbps upstream (50/20) AVC provided over FTTP or HFC costs an RSP $34 per month. This is not the only cost to the RSP, however. Per the Wholesale Broadband Agreement (WBA), the AVC charge only covers the speed of the connection between the end user and the handoff to the RSP’s network. Using the plumbing analogy, the AVC charge determines only the size of the pipe between the end user and the POI. The RSP must also pay for the data sent across that connection.

CVC is a very controversial and divisive topic. CVC is a charge billed to RSPs based on how much data they transfer over the NBN, and currently costs $17.50 per Mbps per POI. A few years ago, most RSPs were engaged in a pricing race to the bottom in order to try and capture new customers during their transition to the NBN. This led to many severely under provisioning CVC at the POI, causing excruciating peak hour slowdowns even on FTTP. Again using the plumbing analogy, CVC determines the size of the pipe between the POI and the RSP’s own network. In order to keep costs down, RSPs were under sizing the pipe for the amount of flow, and as such the pipe was continually clogged.

The ACCC eventually intervened, forcing RSPs to advertise the “typical evening speed” for each service, which is a decent indicator of whether or not the RSP has purchased enough CVC from NBNCo. This of course led to RSPs actually purchasing enough CVC, as none wanted to be seen selling 100/40 AVCs which could only realistically hit 25/5 during peak hour. This stopped the race to the bottom price-wise, and now most RSPs offer very similar prices for equivalent services.

Part of this under provisioning scheme remains today, however. One may have noticed that a 50/20 AVC would, naturally, require 70Mbps of CVC to use to its full potential and as such should cost . But the typical 50/20 service costs around $70 a month, not $1,259 a month. This is because RSPs use statistics to minimise the amount of CVC they must purchase at each POI. The key assumption is that not everyone is going to be saturating their connection at the same time 24/7, and so RSPs can provision enough CVC to satisfy average peak demand across a given POI, rather than trying to provision enough bandwidth to satisfy constant 100% utilisation. The average amount of CVC provisioned per AVC across the NBN is around 2.3Mbps, up from around 1.8Mbps during the worst of the pricing war. If we assume a provisioning of 2Mbps CVC for a typical 50/20 service, then the NBN cost-price of such a service is $691. NBNCo are attempting to bring this figure up to 2.5Mbps, however this problem is indicative of a wider issue with NBNCo’s pricing scheme, which is acting as a huge barrier to uptake of higher speed plans.

The cost of bandwidth is fixed. That is, it costs NBNCo the same whether you download 1GB or 1TB. Thus, CVC is a manufactured cost. CVC was conceived in order to help fund the rollout by minimising the impact on the public treasury and is essentially a bandwidth tax. It also served a political purpose; the Liberal Party would attack the NBN for being an unprofitable venture and so CVC was used to ensure that the network would be profit-making early in its life to pre-emptively quash such an angle from its detractors.

Under the original FTTP plan, the CVC charge was to be gradually lowered and then removed as NBNCo’s costs fell. The key to making this work was that FTTP’s maintenance costs are extremely low, and beyond the initial rollout, overheads would be somewhat fixed outside of upgrades and emergencies. However, in late 2013, plans changed. With the change to FTTN/HFC/FTTB/anything-that-isn’t-FTTP, NBNCo could no longer rely on the assumption of low and fixed overheads. FTTN and HFC are extremely expensive. Telstra’s old copper network alone costs NBNCo around $1bn a year simply to keep running, let alone fault fixing and upgrades.

The reality is that the change in rollout plans has precluded the elimination of the CVC charge, as was originally planned and has locked out much of the rollout footprint from being able to attain even the currently available high speed plans. Broadband prices will continue to remain artificially high simply to cover the inordinate expense of maintaining this failed, dilapidated, stillborn network while also trying to generate the 7% ROI expected of it.

The Blame

Someone has to take the fall for this. Well, not someone, but a group of someones. And over the last eight thousand words, it should be pretty obvious to all which group of someones has to cop it.

Wrath

The government has, with reckless abandon, neglected the needs of Australia for the last ten years. What should have had bipartisan support from day one as a necessary Government intervention (depending on your economic sensibilities, a regrettable one) in a failed private market was instead attacked relentlessly by an opposition fuelled by pure vitriol and hatred, and then dismantled piece by piece by a vindictive Government intent on doing nothing more than erasing the legacy of its predecessor. For ten years, the Liberal Party has been vehemently opposed to the NBN not because of any technical or economic reason. It has been opposed to the NBN because it was Red Team policy, and under the leadership of Tony Abbott, had become obsessed not with holding the Government to account, but with attempting to undermine and destroy it by any means necessary. If the Australian public become collateral to that, then so be it.

Greed

The destruction of the NBN has been, from day one, primarily self-serving. It has long been said that success in Australian politics is predicated on “kissing the hand” of one Rupert Murdoch, Australia’s own exported oligarch. Not only did Tony Abbott kiss the hand, he led Murdoch to the bathroom and gave him a happy ending, in return for a happy ending of his own. It’s no secret that Murdoch felt threatened by the NBN due to the rise of streaming services and access to media outlets beyond his control. In exchange for a free ride to the Lodge, the Liberal Party agreed to gimp and destroy the NBN by any means necessary. So begins this Government’s long and proven record of wanton corruption.

The corporate reshuffle at NBNCo in the months following the 2013 election was of course nothing more than a wealth transfer exercise from the Treasury to Liberal Party supporters. Gone was the original board, stacked with international telecommunications experts such as Dr Quigley, and here to stay was a board stacked with Telstra executives of the Sol Trujillo era – the Telstra era immediately following privatisation. It was during this time that numerous contracts with third party rollout partners were cancelled, and contracts with Telstra renegotiated and expanded to include asset transfers, larger cash payments, spectrum licensing agreements, and maintenance contracts in perpetuity. Dr Ziggy Switkowski, chairman of the NBNCo board, was once CEO of Telstra and a board member of Foxtel. Once a vocal critic of Telstra’s copper network, now he champions FTTN and HFC as cheaper alternatives to FTTP.

The one exception to this rule is Simon Hackett, founder of Internode. Once extremely opposed to the Liberal Party’s plan for the NBN, he was appointed to NBNCo’s board by the Government in November 2013. While this obviously wasn’t a decision made to reward Hackett, it was done instead to silence a very high profile critic of its plan, one who was very influential in the telco industry. Hackett took the position thinking he could perhaps influence NBNCo from within, however resigned when it became apparent to him that the organisation had been thoroughly politicised, and no amount of influencing would change either the Government or NBNCo’s mind on how best to proceed with the rollout. Hackett resigned in 2016 and was replaced with Michael Malone, founder of iiNet. Mr Malone stated in 2017 that if he were managing the rollout, he would penalise critics of NBNCo by moving their connections to the “back of the queue” if they complained to the media.

These are the people the Liberal Party sees fit to be running a public utility.

Pride

It should have been apparent very, very early into the post-2013 rollout that the new plan was a total dud. In fact, it was apparent. Rather than admit a mistake and assume responsibility by quietly returning to an FTTP-based rollout, the NBNCo was more than content to help the Government save face by wasting undisclosed billions of taxpayer dollars on technological dead-ends like HFC.

We haven’t really discussed Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) yet. I deliberately left that for this section. Fibre to the Curb doesn’t technically exist. After the unmitigated disaster that was the Optus HFC trial and the eventual unmitigated disaster that was the Telstra HFC rollout, NBNCo were faced with a dilemma. Either move un-fixable Telstra and Optus Cable connections to the inferior FTTN (and face the complaints that come with that), or bite the bullet and deploy FTTP. NBNCo chose neither of these options, instead quietly enlisting networking hardware provider Netcomm to invent a new technology – FTTC. FTTC involves rolling out a GPON network to the street, much like FTTP. Unlike FTTP, however, a box known as a DPU is installed in the pit. The GPON signal is fed into this box, and it outputs four VDSL signals to service homes using their existing copper line.

Take a couple of minutes to really contemplate the significance of this. NBNCo, and by extension the Liberal Government, wasted billions and billions of taxpayer dollars in an effort to do no more than salvage what few morsels remain of the Liberal Party’s reputation. FTTC is perfectly indicative of this. For the sake of a few metres of fibre optic cable up a driveway, NBNCo has spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars developing FTTC not for some technical or economic reason but simply to avoid the brief political awkwardness that would come with pushing that few metres of cable up the driveway. If the argument of FTTP being significantly more expensive were true, then this wouldn’t matter as much. However, when you take into account the public money that has gone into developing FTTC, the cost of each DPU, the training of technicians and the commissioning of backend systems, FTTC ends up costing about the same as FTTP. And that’s based on NBNCo’s post-2013 FTTP costs, which in their 2013 Strategic Review (conducted externally by Deloitte and KordaMentha) magically seemed to double for no apparent reason, with FTTP OPEX being classed as CAPEX again for no apparent reason.

To Close

Make no mistake, what the Liberal Party have done to the NBN is simply unforgivable, and is indicative of their wider open contempt for the Australian electorate, its money and its intelligence.

Rather than offer Labor bipartisan support on objectively positive legislation, they elected to obstruct and attack the NBN on every possible turn, aided by Rupert Murdoch and Telstra.

Rather than accept that FTTP is vastly superior in literally every aspect to their own policy, they chose to simply lie about the cost of FTTP, and then obfuscate or redact every single available document that made reference to the cost of FTTP prior to December 2013. This deception continues today; where FTTP costs around the world are plummeting, NBNCo’s internal documents for some reason show costs increasing. NBNCo continues to be accused of artificially inflating the costs of FTTP by industry experts and economists the world over.

Rather than admit that they fucked up with FTTN when it was apparent, they forged ahead with it until the situation was so bad that even the Murdoch press were beating up on the Government for it.

Rather than quietly go back to FTTP, they spent billions of taxpayer dollars – your taxpayer dollars – on short-term distractions like HFC and FTTC for no reason other than to avoid having to admit that Labor was right about something.

The Internet has become a public utility on the same level of necessity as electricity. Greece, a nation known mostly for the corruption and inefficacy of its government, acknowledges Internet access as a basic human right. Australia, ostensibly a free, first-world nation, has a government that has for the last 10 years actively frustrated efforts to bring forth ubiquitous and reliable Internet access; and for what? For some old cunt in New York to sell more newspapers.

Should we elect a government that actually cares about the common good more than it cares about its donors and reputation, it is my hope that at least some of the recommendations made here be acted upon as soon as humanly possible, lets Australia be relegated to economic backwater status in an age increasingly defined by the Internet. The fixes outlined here represent a realistic, achievable and cost-effective way to give Australia a fighting chance at achieving universal broadband access. Sure, it’s not 93% FTTP as was originally envisioned, however the days of that being achievable in the short term are sadly long gone. With these proposed upgrades being a realistically achievable interim goal, hopefully one day soon that dream will indeed be realised.

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

1 Note that this is very close to the retail price of many 50/20 plans. In 2018, NBNCo began offering CVC discounts on 50/20 AVCs in order to encourage uptake, bringing the effective CVC price to $10/Mbps for 50/20. However, considering such discounts beyond acknowledging their existence needlessly complicates things. From now, we will assume that all RSPs pay the full price for CVC.

You Don’t Hate Mondays, You Hate the Modern World

Culture, History

Tom Érglis

“How long can men thrive between walls of brick, walking on asphalt pavements, breathing the fumes of coal and of oil, growing, working, dying, with hardly a thought of wind, and sky, and fields of grain, seeing only machine-made beauty, the mineral-like quality of life. This is our modern danger one of the waxen wings of flight. It may cause our civilization to fall unless we act quickly to counteract it, unless we realize that human character is more important than efficiency, that education consists of more than the mere accumulation of knowledge.” – Charles Lindbergh

I work for a department store, mainly in inventory management however sometimes I’m asked to go downstairs as a customer assistant. This usually involves offering help, being told by the customer they don’t need it and then I resume straightening up mugs.

Strolling through our toys and even clothing sections made me reflect on the waste society that capitalism has produced. All around me in toys were plastics. In homewares there were hundreds of the same mugs just with different prints on them. I knew we had hundreds more of everything on the sales floor upstairs too. Who buys all this shit? It turns out according to an ABC article published in November that we are shopping as if in the midst of economic crisis. Though it sounds strange, I think this is good news.

Unfortunately, this spending pattern is the result of economic pressures being put on families which I obviously do not endorse. I am hoping that this slump in sales sends a message to the big stores that people will not be buying random trinkets. I am also hoping that this attitude will continue after the economy improves.

It is important to acknowledge capitalist economies have functioned for a millennium without the scale of waste that we see today. It is only because of advancements in production and competition (supposedly the great selling points of capitalism) that we are in the present predicament.

Capitalism functions in a vicious cycle. A person works, often in a job they don’t enjoy and to generate money for a place they don’t really care about to receive a portion of the capital which is imbursed into another company for products to distract them from the numbing processes of modernism. As production and purchasing of goods becomes more a part of our lives this numbing effect is only amplified.

In the last century before supermarkets and shopping centres, even the poorest child had one or two toys that would last them a lifetime (usually their lack of wealth meant they made sure the toys WOULD last a long time). These were often hand-crafted by skilled workers and distributed from the very place they were made, by the maker. There was never any need to create high speed, high efficiency production of these toys because there was no market for that. Toys weren’t something you threw away. They were cherished and passed down not because you grew tired of them but because you appreciated the skill it took to create, and the memories it stored. Will a Tickle Me Elmo™ Global Conglomerate Edition Faux Fur Toy™ ever be looked on the same? How does the toy made by slave labour in the Guangzhou Toy Factory #305 make you feel compared to the meticulous craft made by the little toy shop down the road run by the same family for generations? This doesn’t just apply to toys of course, but toys are the best example of things that are nowadays often enjoyed briefly then discarded. We can talk about cars which used to be made of metal instead of plastic composites. When a dent in the side door back then was as expensive to fix as just buying a whole new car, people tended to look after those things. Leather interiors are only recently ‘extras’. A few decades ago, they were standard. How could we afford to make cars in Australia years ago out of quality materials by skilled labourers, but now Holden has to close when all they did was assemble parts from overseas? Shouldn’t the process have become cheaper and more efficient? It would seem not.

Sometimes when I go to the baby toys section of our store there are toys that make obnoxious amounts of noise and almost leap at you from the shelf without even touching them. I’m convinced that this has nothing to do with its function as a toy, but more to do with the way the company demands a consumer’s attention and thus increases the products chances of being purchased. The time when a toy manufacturer was passionate about their craft has been replaced with the need to make as much money as possible by whatever means.

The competition of capitalism can be critiqued very simply in this context. If you make objects constantly available, advertising that penetrates through constant exposure and produce them at such a scale where a person is commanded to try the competition a person will become stuck in an infinite cycle of having an inferior product and be constantly reminded of this state. This breeds jealousy, envy, want and other vices that separate a person from society.

“The modern world has invented a thousand useless luxuries and turned them into necessities; It has created a thousand vicious appetites and satisfies none of them; It has de-throned God and created a shekel in His place” – Mark Twain

Whilst competition that promotes advancements makes life easier, it doesn’t make the process ethical. And making life easier does not necessarily equate to making life more fulfilling.

Returning to the words by Mr Lindbergh that prefaced this article, the overarching quality of humanity is its character. There is no character in the modern day, and I fear the time when civilization has fallen that he warned of has already passed.

Those who have read up to this point could accuse me of being a Marxist. I wish to clarify that I am just as happy to abuse that point of view as I am capitalism, but I can’t help but give Marx some credit. He foresaw that there would come a time when unrestricted capitalism would mean that an employee cannot even afford the products of capitalism, thus the whole system can no longer be maintained. The first things to go will be those stupid mugs, I hope.

Arts, culture, music, architecture and science are all vitally important to character. Art that excites and inspires, culture that is shared yet unique, music which is the rhythm of life and science which is not raw and purely rational but asks questions that sometimes can’t even be answered.

So how do we break free? What is the point of this wall of text? The answer is, I really don’t know. It’s a personal thing to confront and I hope this article has planted the seeds of thinking about how to deal with modernity. Rejecting materialism is a good first step, especially as we see the effects of mass production and consumption being wreaked upon the planet. Next, I would suggest connecting more with the community. The same joy can be brought out of the smallest act of kindness than any object can provide. Finally, explore something higher than yourself and of course higher than the material. Art, culture, religion and reading are all great avenues. Even visiting a park with friends can have a great impact on your mental wellbeing and it’s totally free. You’ll notice in moments of joy shared with other people how quickly your worries disappear. The goal of modernism which is becoming increasingly clear is to create a world full of people whose only thought is work and negative play (e.g. recreation that seeks to mitigate the effects of work, not enhance the human experience). For the sake of our future, do not go blindly into this fate.

Everyone dies, but not everyone lives.” – William Wallace

Is Drew Pavlou’s Penis Real?

Philosophy

Arrus Kacchi 

Note: This article was written with the intent to be read aloud. 

Drew has been castrated. 

Let me explain.

In the high agency hotbed of profound philosophical and sophisticated socio-political discourse that is ‘Discussion Space,’ Matt Kurl suggests the notion that he has mentally constructed Drew Pavlou’s johnson – The Pavlouvian Phallus [henceforth: PP]. The following interaction occurs:

 

drew baudrillard

So I naturally figured that I’d bring into actuality this article, yet the potential descriptive article from Matt Kurl may succeed this article in time. In doing so, we have constructed a reality that now places before us a simulacrum. The precession of said the simulacrum is as follows [i]:

1) The implicit sign representing the PP (a reflection of profound reality).

2) The sign absorbed by Matt Kurl (denaturing of the profound reality).

3) The simulation of the sign representing the PP in the article that arrives from the future (masking the absence of profound reality).

Not once in this process did we ask ourselves whether the PP truly was a particular of the Real. This, however, is to be expected. We have suffocated ourselves ever since 1920s advertising, in phallus signs and signifiers within our present mode of capitalist consumer marination, symbiotically depriving us of the little space that societies of control such as ours deny us; 

“The individual never ceases passing from one closed environment to another…we are in a generalized crisis in relation to all the environments of enclosure—prison, hospital, factory, school, family. The family is an “interior,” in crisis like all other interiors—scholarly, professional, etc.” [ii]

Consequently choking on our loss of atmosphere through which we would otherwise grasp or even stroke the Real, the PP merely occupies space in the saturated hyperreal – produced from the radiating synthesis of combinatory phalluses in this hyperspace without an atmosphere, without a true original. We don’t know if Matt Kurl ever saw the PP, or whether he is truthful if or when he claims to have truly seen it. Let us force some conventional conservative wisdom into a dialectic with schizophrenic, post-post-modern accelerationist theory to shed some more light on this scene and how it came into being.

Thesis: Conservatives are inclined to argue that this presently decadent, hypersexualised mode of discourse, an affection of psychoanalysis as it may be, is a product of modernity. Sexual liberation and ubiquitous porn consumption give us our current state of phallus-sign-intoxication. These same conservatives tend to be defenders of free-markets, capitalism, and economic liberalism generally speaking.

Antithesis: Nick Land famously remarked that the essential, catalytic engine of modernity is capitalism [iii]. Capitalism and modernity name the same holistically entropic development, in terms of entelecheia – the intrinsic possession of end. It is a globalised ataxia whose evacuation from history appears inside history as capitalism, transcending and overcoding sociality – our collective being-in-the-world of which we are thrown into [iv].

Synthesis: While conservatives are right when they affirm Thatcher’s slogan implying that capitalism won the day, further nuance must be drawn to the fact that capitalism itself is the motor that enables and propels the deterritorialisation of sexual taboos and boundaries as well as the production and consumption of pornography itself. While the root of the sexual liberation of the 60s may have been essentially left-liberal and of an anti-capitalist flavour, like all revolts against capital;

“…in this germinal accelerationist matrix, there is no distinction to be made between the destruction of capitalism and its intensification. The auto-destruction of capitalism is what capitalism is.” [v]

“Perhaps there will always be a fashionable anticapitalism, but each will become unfashionable, while capitalism – becoming ever more tightly identified with its own self-surpassing – will always, inevitably, be the latest thing. ‘Means’ and ‘relations’ of production have simultaneously emulsified into competitive decentralized networks under numerical control, rendering palaeomarxist hopes of extracting a postcapitalist future from the capitalism machine overtly unimaginable. [vi]”

These Dionysian visions of excess, abundance, and orgiastic emancipation are sublated, repackaged and sold back to the revolutionary – consuming him as he consumes his new shiny new commodities. Sexual liberation is no exception, and it even has come to constitute the ousia of its most recent evolution; neoliberalism (rainbow capitalism, woke-capital and so on and so forth). This evolution produces our hyperreal PP – semiotically castrating Drew Pavlou.

“Where as representation attempts to absorb simulation by interpreting it as false representation, simulation envelops the whole edifice of representation itself as a simulacrum”. [vii]

In an analogical sense, we could even consider there to be a nameable capitalist culprit – Disney, who is responsible for Drew’s castration.

“The imaginary of Disneyland is neither true nor false, it is a deterrence machine set up in order to rejuvenate the fiction of the real in the opposite camp.” [viii]

Swap out ‘The imaginary of Disneyland’ with ‘capitalism’ itself, not the most intricate surgical procedure, and we unconceal another angle through which to explore the cavity between Drew’s legs. Drew is an upstanding libertarian socialist, a stalwart defender of human rights, a spiritual kshatriya for all that is sweet and progressive. Thus the very vitalism he represents is the antikeimenon birthed of and identical in nature to capitalism itself; an affection of its dialectical development. 

The simulacra, Matt Kurl’s creative representation, never hid the truth of the Real PP – it is the truth that hides the fact that there is none. It has no relation to any reality whatsoever: the PP is its own pure simulacrum, lost in a hyperspace oversaturated with phalluses as capital adapts to the new array of flexible methods of control that sexual emancipation and pornography offer through libido dominandi. Drew Pavlou has been semiotically and analogically castrated. Like tears in rain, we lost his dick and Matt’s article will eventually be lost in cyberspace too. Within the chaotic but stultifying, immanent plane generated by the hyperreal that floods our claustrophobic society of control, abstraction precedes the experiential. 

The simulacrum is true.

Citations

[i] Baudrillard, Jean, and Sheila Faria Glaser. Simulacra and Simulation Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2018. P.6

[ii] Deleuze, Gilles. “Postscript on the Societies of Control.” October vol.59 (1992): 3-7. Accessed February 7, 2020. www.jstor.org/stable/778828. p.3-4

[iii] Thanos. “Dark Star – A Special Review of Nick Land’s ‘The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism.’” The Autistic Mercury, February 5, 2020. https://autisticmercury.com/2020/02/05/dark-star/.

[iv] Land, Nick, Robin Mackay, and Ray Brassier. Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007. Falmouth, United Kingdom: Urbanomic, 2019. p.305

[v] Land, Nick. “A Quick-and-Dirty Introduction to Accelerationism.” Jacobite, August 18, 2017.https://jacobitemag.com/2017/05/25/a-quick-and-dirty-introduction-to-accelerationism/.

[vi] Land, Nick, Robin Mackay, and Ray Brassier. Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007. Falmouth, United Kingdom: Urbanomic, 2019. p.625

[vii] Baudrillard, Jean, and Sheila Faria Glaser. Simulacra and Simulation Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2018. p.6

[viii] Ibid p.13

What Are We Celebrating?

Australia, History, Politics

Toby Caro

It is January 24 and the annual outrage of two days’ time is burning expectedly hot. Conversation is stained with the vitriol of disagreement as people condemn each other before they listen to a word.

The usual debate surrounding Australia day is between staunch conservatives who relish the tradition of the celebration, and indigenous voices decrying the hypocrisy of cherry-picking choice parts of colonial history. The contemporary Australia Day represents a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and such passionate points of view are not easily reconciled.

There is no doubt that it is ridiculous to presume a legitimate and continuous government can celebrate an historic event in part. Things happen and they need to be taken for what they are.

Similarly, it is important to recognise that there are indigenous people indifferent to January 26, apathetic to the celebration, or wholly and genuinely disinterested. There are also many white Australians very quick to appropriate such outrage and laud their own position as a herald of virtue.

That is not to say that there is not a significant population whereby Australia Day 2020 represents anything except pain, violence and exclusion.

Passing over what January 26 means now, with our multitude of retrospectively applied ideas, what does the date actually represent?

To be frank, on January 26, 1788, ‘Australia’ did not exist. For many indigenous, it marked the beginning of their subjugation. For many white arrivals it marked the beginning of their forced exile. There is nothing to celebrate.

The first use of the term ‘Australia,’ an abbreviation of Terra Australis, did not occur at least until the early 19th century, the concept of a nation emerged further on still, and incrementally at that.

It is not unreasonable to trace the birth of the modern government to January 26, but to think this was the dawn of modern Australia is unquestioningly naïve.

The Australian value of a ‘fair go’ was first forged around Ballarat in 1854.

Australian political institutions like the secret ballot and the popular vote emerged in the middle of the 19th century.

The Harvester judgement of 1907 enshrined ideas of community and egalitarianism into common law, and World War 1 saw the international broadcast of Australian mate-ship as the ANZAC Digger.

The White Australia Policy was not properly dismantled until 1973.

The Mabo land rights decision was not handed down until 1992, and constitutional indigenous recognition remains unfulfilled.

Australia was not even federated as its own country until the twentieth century.

There is virtue in symbolism. But January 26 is no symbol. It represents a British colony of violence and division.

In contrast, the American reverence of the fourth of July, is likewise marked by the irony of its history (of liberation and slavery), but suffers considerably less twenty-first century malice. This is because it actually serves to stand as a reasonable idea. The values that it captures are timeless, and are capable of evolving alongside society. Whilst it is important to remember and to recognise the history that surrounds it, Independence Day can be positively celebrated in the modern world.

This is not the case for Australia Day. Outside of our dominion status, January 26 does not represent a single aspect of modern Australia, or its values. Reactionary claims of tradition almost exclusively stem from ignorance, indignation or insecurity.

Our national celebration should not be annually characterised by such violent disagreement built on such tenuous arguments. Australia Day is a terrific celebration, on an absurd date, and to attest otherwise is to deliberately not recognise the historical oxymoron of its title.

The World Must Sanction China’s Genocidal Leadership

Politics

Drew Pavlou

In the wake of a recent New York Times investigation into the persecution of the Uyghur Muslim people of Xinjiang, it is time for the world to stop labouring under the increasingly absurd and dangerous assumption that China is an ordinary member of the international community. A cache of some four hundred documents published by the Times, representing one of the most significant leaks of government papers from inside China’s ruling Communist Party in decades, proves beyond reasonable doubt something the world already knew – China is carrying out a campaign of genocide in Xinjiang, a campaign organised by high-level government officials at the direction of China’s dictator-for-life, Xi Jinping. Well, I say that if Xi and his cadres want to behave like banana republic pariahs, it’s high time we adjust our policies towards them accordingly. The United Nations, United States and the European Union should place personal sanctions on Xi and other high level Chinese state officials, freezing their international assets and barring citizens from dealing with them in any capacity. Such a move would obviously mark a radical break in relations. It would be the closest we can come to formally calling for regime change in China. So be it. Sic semper tyrannis.

Because the documents published by the Times are gut-wrenching. They strip back the reality of China’s current regime, exposing the extreme violence at its core. They show how President Xi Jinping delivered a series of private speeches to officials calling for an all-encompassing ”struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism” in Xinjiang using the ”organs of dictatorship,” and showing ”absolutely no mercy.” The human cost of this ”struggle” would be immense. Acting on Mr. Xi’s speeches, party bosses urged officials to ”round up everyone who should be rounded up,” purging those who failed to comply. Millions of Uyghur Muslims were ultimately detained in concentration camps, where they faced torture, sterilization and indoctrination. We may never know the true number detained, but the documents leave a chilling hint at the scale of the gulag archipelago constructed by the Chinese state: officials were directed to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in crowded facilities. The aim of this vast system of mass imprisonment was to eradicate the ”virus in (Uyghur) thinking” – in practice, Uyghur identification with their ethnic and religious culture – so as to sure up ”general unity.” As Timothy Grose put it, the camps were created to ”violently and permanently erase meaningful cultural markers (including Islam and native language) from Turkic Muslims.” This carries all the hallmarks of cultural genocide. Perhaps anticipating the global condemnation that would surely follow such a campaign of cultural extermination, Xi’s speeches reveal a general contempt for the vagaries of international opinion: ”Don’t be afraid if hostile forces whine, or if hostile forces malign the image of Xinjiang.”

It’s time we made Mr. Xi and his political allies afraid. In the wake of the Holocaust, the world committed itself to a simple promise: ”Never Again.” To our everlasting shame, we have broken that sacred vow again and again, in Cambodia, Rwanda and more recently Myanmar. We must not break that promise again today, for it would mean nothing less than the erasure of the Uyghur people. As the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao, Xi is the figure ultimately responsible for this horror. He is drenched in the blood of innocents. So why should he continue to receive lavish state receptions and galas when travelling abroad? Why is he not instead condemned as a pariah for his crimes? It is hard to imagine North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un delivering an address to the jet-set class at Davos, or Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad wining and dining with the President of the United States at Mar-a-Lago, both honours afforded to China’s genocidaire-in-chief. It’s time we do away with diplomatic protocol and niceties and directly confront him for what he is – a brutal gangster dressed up in a Mao suit. And following from that recognition, we should commit ourselves to the only morally steadfast course of action – freezing his billions of dollars in assets parked in the West and barring citizens from doing business with him and his allies. Anything less would represent moral complicity – the blood of the Uyghur people would stain our hands, too.

Critics will no doubt argue that any such move to isolate China by sanctioning its political leadership will make it more dangerous, putting it on a war footing and empowering hardliners within the party. This neglects to acknowledge the fact that China is already on a war footing as evidenced by its genocidal campaign against ethnic minorities – the hardliners are already here, and they are already in complete control. The current status quo of active economic and diplomatic engagement with China and its leadership has not rendered it any less aggressive on the world stage, nor has it encouraged its political class to refrain from massive campaigns of extermination towards ethnic minorities. Clearly, something has to give. In a just world, that something should be Xi Jinping’s status as a respected global leader. If this means he can no longer send his daughter to Harvard as he directs attempts to eliminate an entire race of people from the face of the Earth, I can live with that.

The Shadow of Paul Keating

Australia, Politics

Maxim Salvador Otten-kamp

Since 1996 Australian politics have languished in the shadow of a single man, and the era he ushered in. All the leaders who followed him have been held up to the same standard as a man who never finished high school and never attended university. This is not to say he does not have detractors, but they are overshadowed by his popularity. Now, this is not to say his legacy is not well earned – the shadow he casts is not from an enormous metaphorical statue. Paul Keating had a sense of youth and vibrancy which he brought to his time in government in the highest office. He had a deep passion, and the citizen of Australia were never unsure of where he stood. In regards to his economic and social reforms, Paul Keating defined the last 30 years of Australian political positioning – so too with his stances on encroachment with China, opening the economy and pushing for complete Australian independence.

When Keating won the 1993 unwinnable election, he scared the nation against change, and this was change that arguably would have been bad for the country. However, this was not the Keating strategy: his was to say the transformation of Australia by the Liberal Party was wrong, but the change of the Labor right was correct. Our case concerns the FightBack! document of that year and how it outlined the Liberal Party’s doctrine for the next 26 years. Fightback outlined a series of extreme cuts to all levels of government and at least a sense of a return of social conservatism. All Paul Keating had to do was not rock the boat too severely and scare the Australian people against changing paths. This is the classic argument from power: the party was elected on a certain platform, so why should they work to change the status quo against their original propositions? It is the job of the opposition to push an alternate vision no matter how poorly received or conceived it may be: that is their role – and if anything, the Fight Back document was this alternative. In many ways Fight Back was a change – but a reactionary change, a call-back to a time that never existed and to a time that could never be in the modern world.

We look at the modern politics of Australia and our state of Queensland, and we wonder why the name of the game is slow and steady wins the race? Because that is what has worked for decades now. The parties would adopt different tactics if they felt most Australians wanted massive change, at least if the majority did. There is also another aspect to be considered here: the old guard of parties maintain power over time, especially the ALP. I would attempt to give some analysis of the Liberal-National coalition, but that party do not represent a profound shift in this country besides being conservative business lobbyists. So, the ALP being the vessel of change in this country has seen attempts not to follow this status quo. When Mark Latham ran in the 2004 election, he opted for a far smaller target strategy than that of Kim Beazley, the long-term opposition leader. Then, with Kevin Rudd, he worked with a small target strategy, but it felt different to the electorate, enough that the election victory soared through. There was a sense of change in the air, in the same vein as Barack Obama’s election. It is also worth noting that these two leaders can also be paralleled in that they both represented significant progress and yet did not deliver, either from timidity, or through Third Way posturing until their governments were made immobile or thrown out.

It would be wrong to not admit my personal bias, and suggest that it was not all bad under our Third Way overlords. There were significant pushes for environmental protections, action on Climate change, Education and Health reform. These centre-left governments did make headway in significant areas, but their rule was not the big change that their supporters had hoped for. It was a return to the previous government of the 90s. That style, by the late 2000s, had already become adequate in an ever-increasingly radical world. The Rudd-Gillard governments were relatively moderate entities that pushed some decent policy without a long-term agenda for the nation, then let us pick up from 1996. In some ways, they accomplished this, but they failed to adapt to a newly a-temporal Australia, in that they rejected the very force that had them elected: observing the minor push back against government policies, and steadfastly adhering to propaganda networks sent them into a tailspin. This is most obviously demonstrated by the removal of Kevin Rudd as prime minister in 2010 – and this is not to say Rudd was a radical of any sort. The party elders merely feared that he was, and that he could cost them an election. I would, however, hypothesise that he was also removed partially due to his erratic nature of policy announcement and grandiose rhetoric. Much like how the lesson from the government under Gough Whitlam was not to try too much too quickly, this too was too much for the Australian public. Despite Gillard being on the left side of the party it was Rudd’s faction that brought him under.

I know this article is meant to be about Paul Keating and his influence on our politics, but we seem to have strayed from any discussion of Paul John Keating. He has appeared in the public sphere several times in the last few years, particularly in his music (which I would recommend giving a good hot go) but also in 2013: when Rudd returned and toppled Gillard, and called an election, whom should he invite to chat? Not Whitlam, whom he admired most, not Hawke, beloved by the country, but Keating, a Prime minister who won an election on fear. What was 2013 election about? Fear. The fear of cuts and the chaos of the Abbott government. And as we were to discover, this fear was not without foundation – leadership challenges, an explosion of debt, massive cuts, and many other gaffes. This year, Bill Shorten again called Keating back into action to appear at his campaign launch, where he made a series of comments that were not necessarily wrong, suggesting primarily that the security agencies’ responses to Chinese influence were somewhat overblown. If Keating is treated as the ultimate authority and all discussion is directed back to him, our national conversation is being held back. It seems that every time he opens his mouth the entire national conversation must return and respond to this one man.

Paul Keating was the neo-liberal treasurer of the 80s, and the prime minister of the 90s. But his brand of neo-liberalism must be defined clearly: it was not like his contemporaries in the UK, USA, Russia or China. This was the slow, pragmatic, progressive pushing of a non-academic candidate who touted what became a successful model of social progress mixed with economic liberalism. Tony Blair saw the Australian experiment and hoped to replicate it accordingly. Recently, however, Keating decided to reveal his thoughts on the current situation facing our nation, which were typical Keating: Australia, as the nation we are, should not rock the boat too much. The Americans’ belligerent reaction to the rise of China is one we can placate through economic cooperation, avoiding military confrontation. This follows the recent comments he made about China during the federal election, and essentially the same story told in the 90s.

Keating, even taking his positive qualities into account, is of his time, and has to be left in the past. He once said that Australia is a ‘weak outfit’ in terms of becoming a republic: “I mean, we are not going to take our republic, we are going to wait till the old lady dies or leaves,” he said. “Of course the next day King Charles and Queen Camilla will be there. And of course, they’ll say, `Let’s give the new bloke a go.” His own situation is the same: we don’t want to take his crown while he’s still kicking. We will just wait until he dies and then laud his (likely mediocre) replacement.

This is not to point the finger at Paul Keating for all the woes put upon Australia. One man can only have so much influence. He had a vision for this country becoming a republic, and something greater than we were. However, that vision must change with the times. The mentality of Keating and his peers, which has influenced a generation of Labor and Australian politics, needs to go away for us to move forward. Paul Keating is 75 years old, and he left office over 20 years ago! Yet his shadow looms large over this great nation. We do not have to diminish his legacy to say it is time for new thinking and to change our ways before it is too late.

Queensland’s Very Own Answer To Gladys Liu

Australia, Politics

Drew Pavlou

Amidst the furore over Victorian MP Gladys Liu’s links to United Front groups representing the Chinese Communist Party in Australia, noted progressive social justice warrior Scott Morrison levelled the charge of racism at her critics. Echoing arguments originally trotted out by the Maoist ultra-left, Morrison sought to portray Liu as the put upon victim of a racist witch hunt against those of Chinese heritage in this country. This is a ridiculous, puerile line of argument, reminiscent of desperate schoolyard debating antics. As should be obvious to everyone following this national debate, one need not be of Chinese heritage to enjoy wholly inappropriate and unwelcome ties to the CCP, a hostile dictatorship pursuing genocide against ethnic minorities at home. Just ask Queensland’s very own answer to Gladys Liu, former National Party leader LNP leader John-Paul Langbroek.

Now, Johnny has never been the sharpest tool in the shed. A quick Google search of his name reveals this gem of a headline: ‘’Queensland LNP MP John-Paul Langbroek Denies Hookers Claim, Vows To Repay Hotel Costs.’’ Clearly, there is no pulsing, throbbing intelligence at work here. Perhaps this is why Langbroek blocked me, a twenty year old university student, on Twitter for simply calling into question the little matter of his close ties to a murderous communist dictatorship. Sadly for Johnny, we do not live in a country where those that criticise powerful public officials like himself can be whisked away in the dead of night to some God-forsaken gulag to be tortured and killed – he will have to suffice with blocking me on social media as I continue to point out his ties to the CCP to anyone and everyone that will listen.

And make no mistake, these ties are quite impressive. As Chair of the Parliamentary Friends of the People’s Republic of China, Langbroek has bravely hosted networking forums designed to allow wealthy Chinese businessmen to connect with local battlers, i.e. Gold Coast LNP MPs. According to the Electoral Commission of Queensland, Langbroek recently accepted a $15,000 donation from Dalian Wanda, a company whose owner is a member of the Chinese Communist Party and delegate to the People’s Congress, China’s joke of a rubber stamp legislature.

Perhaps these kinds of donations are why Johnny took the extraordinary step in September  of throwing a celebratory dinner for Brisbane PRC Consul General Xu Jie, just weeks after Mr Jie earned an official rebuke from Australia’s Foreign Minister for praising the ‘’spontaneous patriotism’’ of those Chinese nationalist students that assaulted pro-Hong Kong demonstrators at The University of Queensland. I was one of those assaulted on the day, struck in the back of the head by masked thugs for supporting the fight for democracy and universal suffrage in Hong Kong. I was utterly outraged Xu Jie used his status as a diplomatic official to seemingly endorse these attacks. Langbroek’s decision then to use his position of power and influence in Queensland’s state parliament to lend credibility to Mr Jie in the aftermath of this incident sends a powerful message: with the right amount of cash, any elected Australian official can be made to look the other way as the Chinese state operates with utter impunity in this country. It sends a loud and clear signal to the CCP that foundational democratic values like free speech and freedom of assembly are negotiable if enough money is involved. In the face of this, one can justifiably wonder whether Langbroek remains committed to these values at all.

Ultimately, Langbroek’s sycophantic fawning over a government known to execute political dissidents for their organs shows that the rot goes far deeper than Gladys Liu and has nothing to do with ethnicity whatsoever. There is no Chinese-Australian third column in this country – powerful Australians of a diverse range of backgrounds, professions and political persuasions have developed highly problematic ties to the Chinese state with no heed for its atrocious human rights record. This is a great tragedy for our nation and our democracy, one we must urgently confront without lending credence to the CCP’s race-baiting propaganda. The future of our open society is at stake.