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Tag Archives: Murdoch

Murdoch: King Lear or Citizen Kane?

By guest columnist Tess Lawrence

It may be premature to write Emeritus Chairman Rupert Murdoch’s epitaph now that he’s ostensibly handed the keys of his media empire to his favoured scion and heir, Lachlan.

Bubba Lachie, you will recall, is the infantile drongo recently forced to payout on a rather silly defamation action against our feisty independent cousin, Crikey.com.au, after daddy’s flagshit Fox News Network settled a defamation action brought against it by Dominion Voting Systems, opening yet another vein on the corporate corruption of (some) journalists and journalism within Murdoch’s bespoke empire.

Bubba Lachlan and Naughty Crikey

Dominion’s victory also conveniently proved the legal case for Crikey.

In a deliriously audacious and courageous flourish, Crikey took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times challenging Lachlan Murdoch to make good his threat to sue over an alleged defamation. Bubba took the bait. Silly sad boy, Bubba.

Dominian proved case for Crikey

Basically, Dominion proved a bunch of Trumpian Fox News stooges masquerading as journalists, commentators, experts and news executives, promulgated lies about Dominion’s role in the 2020 presidential election.

Ultimately, Murdoch and Fox News were hoisted by the one petard. Dominion did us all a favour. Into the public domain and courtroom was tipped a container load of Murdoch/Fox News documents and data from their countless devices that proved unequivocally they were guilty as hell.

The Murdoch machine had to shut down the case. They settled. They paid up. But hey, not before the squalid and unethical behaviour of these entitled dudes was writ large upon the internet’s skies sans frontieres.

At US$797.5 million, It was a helluva payout, even though it was only half of what Dominion sought for injury caused to its reputation and business by Fox.

Uncle Sam became Uncle Spam

At the time, the unelected President Donald Trump might well have been the network’s prime anchor, such was his Fox profile. Fox morphed into the Zombie Trump News network. It was like, Trump 24/7.

Too much Trump was never enough. The endemic mantra it churned was that the election was rigged and that really, Americans had unanimously re-elected Trump. Uncle Sam became Uncle Spam.

Trump: Clickbait for Fox advertisers

But even before that, whilst Trump was still president, any appearance or call-in by the big guy was advertiser clickbait for Fox and friends. Ratings mean advertisers. The talking heads were vying with each other to get Trump on their shows and incessantly talked about him and interviewed experts and others who talked about him to get a ratings uptick.

While they were at it, they spread even more conspiracies and lies. With impunity. As the records now show, they knew their boss, ever the dirty digger, felt no shame in them clothing the butt naked truth in a transparent cloak made from immoral fibres threaded with lies.

Mother Fucker Carlson, Yawn Hannity, Laura Ingraham frontline pit bulls and bitches

Fox’s frontline pit bulls and bitches like the man they call ‘Mother Fucker Carlson’ (aka Tucker Carlson), Yawn Hannity (aka Sean Hannity) and Laura Ingraham, whose sobriquet I do not know, were three heavy hitters who were let off the corporate leash.

All three were indisputable propagandists for Brand Trump. You would be forgiven for thinking they were on his payroll and certainly via the ratings, he was contributing to theirs. There were others.

One thing is certain. Fox News Network and its journalistic mercenaries, still have a case to answer over their collective role in the attempted political coup and insurrection on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Fox: Flesh-eating ravings maul truth and democracy

Their on-air flesh-eating ravings contributed to the savage maulings of democracy, truth and journalism itself along with the unforgivable betrayal of the people by bearing false witness to the truth and the bleeding obvious.

If the Proud Boys were Trump’s Pretorian Guards, then Fox News, under the tutelage and watchful eye, we now know, of Commandant-in-Chief, Rupert Murdoch, provided the pussy grabber with a propaganda unit of which Joseph Goebbels would have been proud, such was its effectiveness in building upon nationalistic white supremacist fervor fueled by hate and fear, lies and more lies and fake news. Surely it/they, were the equivalent of a journalistic Squadrismo.

For the Fox juggernaut, raking in the money from advertisers and the pursuit of even more power and influence was the coveted prize. The Murdoch Machine collected the former whilst Murdoch pocketed the other. For him, power is a bottomless pit. Can’t get enough. Perhaps it’s what gets his rocks off. Perhaps he even covets power more than money.

Murdoch needed Trump. Trump needed Murdoch. Who was/is the neediest of them all? This is unfinished business. There is history yet to be writ.

Hannity goes gaga on Trump’s MAGA stage

Who can forget Hannity being summoned onstage by Trump at a Make America Great Again (MAGA) rally? Supporting causes is one thing, supporting messianic Trump, quite another. Supporting the Republican Party is one thing; endorsing Trump and exploiting his dangerous buffoonery and more, inflating Trump’s public persona to deific status, all served to turn America into Nation Trump. For a moment, Trump was America. And an America far removed from the nation that elected the likes of Barack Obama as its president.

In these dystopian times, such is the stuff of nightmares. Where was the American Dream on the day of the seige upon the bulwark of American democracy, once held up like Liberty’s lamp, as a beacon to the world? It was a warning to us all.

Murdoch’s journalism takes road most travelled

In all of this, are the globally wandering hands of an arch power monger: Rupert Murdoch. His kind of journalism invariably takes the road most traveled. How often he has sat back and commanded, encouraged, nurtured others to do his bidding.

Hannity’s odious master-servant relationship with Rupert Murdoch, emblematic of many, but certainly not all, of Rupert’s frontline journalistic mercenaries, especially those in the United States, Australia, as we here know only too well, and in the disunited kingdom, Britain, the off-shore home of our own meddling monarch, Charles.

This CNN video shows you that despite Hannity’s denials, his onstage appearance with Trump was clearly pre-ordained and for all we know, Trump wizened, puppeteer Rupert Murdoch himself, may have ordered this sickening display of media sycophancy and blatant ratings chase.

 

 

Fox News ratings smashed competitors, once beating those of CNN and MSNBC combined.

Trump’s ego ballooned even further. Like orange ectoplasm, it continues to ooze from every orifice, conflated and inflated by Fox News.

In October 2008, the Donald trumpeted the boast that Fox’s prime time ratings of 2.8 million total viewers was because they “… treat me fairly.”

 

 

Little wonder that Fox News abandoned its hollow motto “Fair and Balanced.”

It ain’t over for Fox yet. Another company, Smartmatic is going to take on Fox News.

They’re mad as hell too. They’ve even prepared a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to tell us why.

Murdoch: King Lear or Citizen Kane?

In the farcical self-aggrandising memo penned to his workers, Murdoch’s personal tragedy warrants scrutiny.

With breathtaking hypocrisy, his reflections reveal a brilliant and shrewd journalist who nontheless remains a deft proponent of industrial strength fake news, gross journalistic misconduct and Trumpian-like delusion on how he is perceived. Is he more King Lear than Citizen Kane?

The memo

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to let you all know that I have decided to transition to the role of Chairman Emeritus at Fox and News. For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change. But the time is right for me to take on different roles, knowing that we have truly talented teams and a passionate, principled leader in Lachlan who will become sole Chairman of both companies.

Neither excessive pride nor false humility are admirable qualities. But I am truly proud of what we have achieved collectively through the decades, and I owe much to my colleagues, whose contributions to our success have sometimes been unseen outside the company but are deeply appreciated by me. Whether the truck drivers distributing our papers, the cleaners who toil when we have left the office, the assistants who support us or the skilled operators behind the cameras or the computer code, we would be less successful and have less positive impact on society without your day-after-day dedication.

Our companies are in robust health, as am I. Our opportunities far exceed our commercial challenges. We have every reason to be optimistic about the coming years – I certainly am, and plan to be here to participate in them. But the battle for the freedom of speech and, ultimately, the freedom of thought, has never been more intense.

My father firmly believed in freedom, and Lachlan is absolutely committed to the cause. Self- serving bureaucracies are seeking to silence those who would question their provenance and purpose. Elites have open contempt for those who are not members of their rarefied class. Most of the media is in cahoots with those elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth.

In my new role, I can guarantee you that I will be involved every day in the contest of ideas. Our companies are communities, and I will be an active member of our community. I will be watching our broadcasts with a critical eye, reading our newspapers and websites and books with much interest, and reaching out to you with thoughts, ideas, and advice. When I visit your countries and companies, you can expect to see me in the office late on a Friday afternoon.

I look forward to seeing you wherever you work and whatever your responsibility. And I urge you to make the most of this great opportunity to improve the world we live in.

Murdoch’s obsession with father, Sir Keith

Keith Murdoch in war correspondent mode Photo: Wikipedia

The memo reveals Murdoch’s well-known obsession with his father, Sir Keith Murdoch, on whose media foundations, Murdoch the younger built his monopolistic empire. In fact, Keith Rupert Murdoch was named for his father and seems to have spent his life endeavouring to prove himself as his father’s equal and more, to his much-loved mother and matriarch of the clan Dame Elisabeth Murdoch.

The beautiful, redoubtable and indefatigable Dame Elisabeth, a noted philanthropist and tireless community entrepeneur, she lived a life of enduring public service. She founded and/or supported so many community initiatives and was still involved up to the time of her death at 103 in 2012.

Indeed, she bequeathed the family home, Cruden Farm, with its famed gardens designed by Edna Walling, to the people. Cruden was where Rupert and his three sisters spent their childhood.

Elisabeth Joy Greene was a mere slip of a 19-year-old who caused a minor scandal when she married the handsome ambitious Keith, because he was 23 years older than she.

It is said that serial matrimonialist Rupert’s penchant for much younger brides, is due in part to the loving relationship and dynamism between his parents.

Dame Elisabeth adored the lauded journalist Sir Keith, of Gallipoli Letter fame and practically deified him after he died. Rupert’s endeavours could never match let alone eclipse that of her beloved husband. She disapproved of his salacious newspapers and the gratuitous Page 3 girls. And she certainly disapproved of Wendi Deng.

Dame Elisabeth gives Rupert Bollocking over turfing Anna for Wendi

An insider told me Dame Elisabeth gave Rupert a right bollocking about the way he discarded and divorced his second wife, Glasgow born Anna Torv, for Deng.

Anna Murdoch’s business acumen contributed to Murdoch’s empire building.

“As well as being beautiful, she has brains, she’s savvy, bright and clever, really sharp. She’s also very warm and has that ability to put people at ease. She’s a wonderful hostess and had no trouble adapting to New York’s high society, such as it was. She reeked old money rather than new. She has a grace about her. But she’s tough as tungsten, a bit like her mother-in law, or should I say her ex mother in law, who was very angry with Rupert. Rupert was a bastard, the way that he treated her at the end. She’s also well read, witty and very funny.

When Wendi Deng had an affair with Blair, I thought to myself, right, Rupert you bastard, now you know what it feels like.”

Deng Murdoched in cold blood

Wendi Deng, you will recall, was rather fond of Tony Blair’s “butt.” The publicly cuckolded Rupert expedited a speedy divorce. As usual. Deng, who has two daughters with the tichoon, was Murdoched in cold blood.

Blair has denied any liaisons with Deng, dangereuses or otherwise. But then, he lied about the Iraq War.

A Catholic, Anna Murdoch bore three of Rupert Murdoch’s six children by three mothers. Lachlan, James and Elisabeth just happen to be the key media players in the family.

In a world exclusive with David Leser in the then Kerry Packer owned Australian Women’s Weekly the usually discreet second wife, married to Murdoch for 31 years, told it like it was.

This from a wrap by Christopher Zinn in the UK Independent in July, 2001:

… She described her state of shock at the divorce, her wish not to appear as a victim and her feeling of “coming out of a deep mental illness”. She also detailed the way that, despite reports of an amicable separation, she was unceremoniously dumped as a non-executive director of News Corp. Of her once-admired partner, who she helped to secure a papal knighthood in 1998, she said: “I began to think the Rupert Murdoch that I loved died a long time ago. Perhaps I was in love with the idea of still being in love with him. But the Rupert I fell in love with could not have behaved this way.”

The since remarried and renamed Anna Murdoch Mann, was brutally honest and one can sense her pain and injury at that time.

… “I think that Rupert’s affair with Wendi Deng – it’s not an original plot – was the end of the marriage. His determination to continue with that. I thought we had a wonderful, happy marriage. Obviously, we didn’t.” She went on: “I don’t want to get too personal about this… but [he] was extremely hard, ruthless and determined that he was going to go through with this, no matter what I wanted or what I was trying to do to save the marriage. He had no interest in that whatsoever.”

She also revealed she’d been forced off the Board of News Corp on which she sat, alongside Lachlan. She wasn’t given a choice, she told Leser.

Perhaps to prove he is his own man and truly owns his chairmanship, Bubba Lachie might reconsider a role for the now Anna dePeyser.

 

 

In 1998, Rupert Murdoch joined dozens of prominent Southern California Catholics who were awarded a papal knighthood.

Murdoch, who was thought to have converted to Catholicism, stated a while back, he wasn’t baptised in the faith, but would accompany Anna to Mass.

His donations of large sums of money to local Catholic churches was rewarded with the Order of Knight Commander of St Gregory the Great, conferred in 1998. It works in much the same way as donating monies to political parties, perhaps not so effective. Dame Anna also received the same papal award, although that fact received less attention.

It’s said that Anna leaned on Cardinal Roger Mahony who in turn, leaned on the Pope to secure their Honours.

The camel, eye of the needle and rich man Rupert

Because of the phone hacking and Dominion scandals, there have since been calls for Murdoch to be stripped of his papal knighthood.

Here’s Anna Murdoch’s clever quip after the ceremony, that had Rupert chortling:

Rupert: “I thought it was very spiritual and very moving. I was very impressed by what the cardinal said.”

Anna: “I think it was very humbling.

We’re both trying to get through the eye of the needle. Perhaps this is the beginning.”

Some of you will recognize Anna Murdoch’s wry and telling alluding to the words of New Testament gospeller Matthew (verse 19.24) reporter-at-large for Jesus, quoted as saying:

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

* Some scholars contend the translation of the word ‘camel’ should be ‘rope‘ but hey, let’s not get into the fake news bizzo.

Note Anna’s use of the word ‘humbling.’ Years later, after appearing before the UK’s House of Commons Committee investigating Murdoch’s News of the World phone hacking scandal in July, 2011, he referred to it as “the most humble day of my life.” Not only did he eat humble pie, but it was also the day he had a cream pie thrown at him, the security breach bravely thwarted by his then wife Wendi Deng. Talk about having the cake and eating it too.

 

 

Murdoch’s memo: He’s still on Planet Fox!

Murdoch’s memo wasn’t only to his minions. It was also a press release to the world and no doubt he hopes that obituary writers in due course, will quote the noble sentiments he espouses.

His words also reflect the pathos and reflection of those of us who hover closer to death than life. In his carnal pursuit for power, Rupert Murdoch has strayed far from the rebellious swashbuckling disrupter he once was. There is self-pity in his reckoning words, is there not? Truisms as well:

… But the battle for the freedom of speech and, ultimately, the freedom of thought, has never been more intense…

No mention of the fact that time and again such freedoms have been savagely mauled by he and his media outlets, News of the World, Fox News Network et al.

Then there is this:

… My father firmly believed in freedom, and Lachlan is absolutely committed to the cause…

Here’s an apt cliché whilst I get a fresh vomitbag. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Bubba Lachie is so committed to the cause of freedom, that one of his first grown up actions as chairman of daddy’s empire, was to nominate none other than a man renowned for his suppressive rigid right-wing politics and views, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott for the board of Fox Corporation.

Who better than the bloke who scurried out of Parliament to avoid voting in the same sex marriage debate?

News.com.au’s Liz Burke fingered Abbott this way:

“… But when it came time to vote – and he could have voted against it = he made a gutless lurch for the door.

Mr Abbott’s weak act didn’t have anything to do with democracy, it was a protest against it. And history won’t forget that.”

There’s a litany of testimonials about Abbott’s attempts to curtail, even abolish freedoms of all kinds, so I guess that makes him a perfect candidate.

Surely, disgraced ex Qantas Chief Alan Joyce, will be next.

 

 

Murdoch speaks of ethics, denounces elites

Perhaps the more egregious calumny embedded in Murdoch’s memo is this paragraph:

…Self- serving bureaucracies are seeking to silence those who would question their provenance and purpose. Elites have open contempt for those who are not members of their rarefied class. Most of the media is in cahoots with those elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth.

Such abject hypocrisy. Such pathos. It smacks of Murdoch’s perennial interference with the truth; nothing more than a press release from which he hopes obituaries writers will quote. Nothing else to see here. No 13-year-old murdered Milly Parker phone to hack today. Don’t mention the war on truth.

Milly Dowler and her family were/are no elites. The cruel violation of their grief and family privacy was as an inside joke to the then News of the World.

Can you imagine a News journalist hacking Dame Elisabeth’s phone messages after she died? It wouldn’t be right. But Murdoch journalists and agents thought it was alright for little Milly.

How dare Murdoch give us a lecture on freedom and ethics. Both are beggars in the Murdoch millieu.

His words are from a man closer to death than to life, like many of us. What happened to that reforming swashbuckling disrupter of the media who lived and breathed journalism. At what point was journalism cast asunder for the power and the glory?

When I read Murdoch’s memo, the words about the elites rang a bell. Sure enough, Murdoch, who I’m told, has written his own obituary for publication throughout his media outlets, both electronic and print, must keep it in the second drawer on the right.
Cop this 2015 tweet (X):

 

 

Murdoch, she wrote

Some years ago, I published an article in Independent Australia about Murdoch.

Certain people were alarmed that I’d discussed Murdoch use of SawPalmetto used, among other things for sexual dysfunction. He couldn’t get it up. No shame in that.

He had a wife 37 years his junior. Then again, age doesn’t matter when one is in love. Right?

Moreover, I’d seen and verified correspondence and the physician concerned also verified it to me in person. I was told that Murdoch was furious at the revelation – and comments I made in relation to his father Sir Keith. Sacred ground.

I thought of the Milly Dowler phone hacking scandal and the obscene, cruel and brutal invasion of that murdered little 13-year-old schoolgirl’s forever grieving family and the gross moral turpitude of the News of the World and I thought this is a man who can dish it out but can’t take it.

 

Milly Dowler, with her dad, Bob. Photo: Daily Mail

 

Imagine if a News of the World journalist/agent hacked Dame Elisabeth’s phone messages before or after she died.

We are publishing the article in full because it contains pertinent matters hardly discussed in the hagiography written about Rupert Murdoch’s abdication as Chairman.

Murdoch most foul

(Originally published on Independent Australia)

DOES it really matter if Rupert used Saw Palmetto to increase his libido to service his young wife?

Does it really matter that despite industrial strength botox and other wrinkle spakfillers Rupert Murdoch still looks like a pantomime Dame and decades older than his Mother?

You can’t blame him for wanting to be Peter Pan for his Wendi.

Here’s the headline. Came to me in a flash. “Linga Longa Denga” Gotcha!

Does it really matter that the late Professor John Avieson, who wrote a still unpublished and not entirely flattering biography of Sir Keith Murdoch, was warned by Dame Elisabeth Murdoch at a social gathering that the book would never see the light of day as long as she lived?

Does it really matter if Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal in 2007 as marital insurance for his ‘China Doll’ (a more polite employee nickname than Chairman’s Mao) to call her own in the event of his premature death or ejaculation as Chairman or in the event of clan ructions or corporate infarction?

Well yes, brothers and sisters. It matters. And it matters mightily.

Okay, the WSJ might not be the Taj Mahal, but it’s up there in media mogul terms of journalistic prestige. Or was. Maybe now it will get its mojo back.

Of course, Rupert might have bought it for the former Deng Wen Ge (thank you Eric Ellis) to get back at the Bancroft family who’d owned it for 100 years, because just seven years earlier, the Journal published an article about Wendi he didn’t like.

You know, like the obverse of the famous ad – he hated the company so much he bought it.

He has a reputation as a man who cradles grudges and who never forgets a slight.

But intercorporate rutting is a boardroom artform. I believe the Bancroft family is still represented on the Board.

This stuff is right up the rectal columns of stabloids like The Sun and The News of the World and the Murdoch media in general. Why shouldn’t it be? What’s good for the goose is good for the propaganda.

It is news and it’s fit to print. But whilst you’ll read such things about celebrities and we of the great unwashed, you won’t read it about Big Daddy.

You won’t read about it in his newspapers. And you won’t read about it in other papers that he might as well own by default and by virtue of an extended coterie of power and influence.

We forget that the rebirth of The News of the World under Murdoch was baptised in murder and mystery just as in the wake of its death throes, there is great sorrow and mystery at how the courageous whistleblower of the phone hacking scandal, journalist Sean Hoare was found dead in his Watford home on Monday.

Writing about him in yesterday’s Guardian, investigative journalist Nick Davies, described Sean as “a lovely man”.

Explaining why he had spoken out, he [Sean] told me:

“I want to right a wrong, lift the lid on it, the whole culture. I know, we all know, that the hacking and other stuff is endemic. Because there is so much intimidation. In the newsroom, you have people being fired, breaking down in tears, hitting the bottle.”

“He knew this very well, because he was himself a victim of the News of the World. As a show-business reporter, he had lived what he was happy to call a privileged life. But the reality had ruined his physical health:

“I was paid to go out and take drugs with rock stars – get drunk with them, take pills with them, take cocaine with them. It was so competitive. You are going to go beyond the call of duty. You are going to do things that no sane man would do. You’re in a machine.”

Nick Davies, it should be said, must rank among the more courageous of journalists in his relentless work to uncover and publish the truth about the News of the World Hacking Scandal.

 

 

I doubt that anyone in Australia would have easily published it here. And that is an indictment of the moral cowardice of our profession. Perhaps we will find greater courage now that the beast is wounded.

When one contemplates the blind and steadfast courage of the likes of Sean Hoare and lost lives of citizen journalists and correspondents in the frontline of war and terrorism, our comfortable and flaccid obeisance to a media tsar is a betrayal of all that we should hold dear and worthy.

I think of young journalists I know, who in the Bosnian war, daily risked their lives to keep radio stations and communications open for foreign reporters.

I think of Libya, of Egypt, of Pakistan, of Afghanistan and Somalia and Sudan and the wholesale slaughter of journalists in the Philippines and elsewhere.

I think of Iran. I think of revolutions perfumed with jasmine and blood and the stench of fear.

And I think of how easily we here and in Britain and the States, squander our freedoms. And how easily our silence is purchased.

And how often we do unto others that which we would never want done to ourselves.

And of how the Fourth Estate is so often barren ground. Of how truth and justice and compassion are spent seed upon its harsh surface.

It seems that Sean Hoare had a not untroubled life. But still he found in his heart and in his conscience a shared humanity that compelled him to knowingly jeopardise his life and most certainly his career to expose the truth to The New York Times and fine journalists like Nick Davies.

I am alarmed at how, almost immediately, police reports were filtering out stating there were no suspicious circumstances over Sean Hoare’s death.

Given the indecent alliances between the police, News Corporation and politicians, asking us to have faith in anything any one of these groups does at the moment is too big an ask.

Like most, Sean had his demons, but even they could not mar his sense of justice. At least he exorcised one by telling us the truth and he has undoubtedly altered the global media landscape in doing so.

If you read Nick’s full article here, you will get a better picture of both Sean and Nick.

Writing in Sunday’s Independent, journalist Jonathan Owen backgrounded some unsavoury connections between the NOTW, private investigators and some interesting information about Rebekah of sunny Brooks animal farm.

Two former senior News of the World editors wanted for questioning by police

Detectives investigating phone-hacking allegations at the News of the World are keen to question two former senior journalists at the newspaper. Scotland Yard officers have been told the two, former executive editor Alex Marunchak and deputy news editor Greg Miskiw, were both key figures linked to the use of private investigators to access confidential information.

Rebekah Brooks appointed Mr Miskiw as the News of the World’s assistant editor in charge of news, and it was he who employed Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the heart of the phone-hacking scandal.

… After examining documents taken from Mulcaire’s home, police are anxious to question Mr Miskiw, who is living in Florida. His also featured in documents obtained by police following a raid on the Hampshire home of private detective Steve Whittamore, who was used by a large number of journalists to obtain information about public figures. Whittamore was later convicted under the Data Protection Act in 2005 at Blackfriars Crown Court of obtaining and disclosing information after passing information obtained from the police national database to customers.

Whittamore’s network was investigated and broken up by the Information Commissioner, who discovered he was accessing sensitive information from the Police National Computer, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority, British Telecom and a number of mobile phone companies.

The investigation, called Operation Motorman, showed 23 journalists from the News of the World hired Whittamore more than 200 times. The names include Rebekah Brooks, who allegedly commissioned access to confidential data from a mobile phone company.

Mr Miskiw is known to be a close friend of Mr Marunchak, a former crime reporter and senior executive at the NOTW. The two reportedly had mutual business arrangements including the importation of vodka from Ukraine. Mr Marunchak, who left the newspaper in 2006, claims to have been appointed as a special adviser to Ukraine’s UK embassy in 1999.

Mr Marunchak is said to be a friend of a private investigator called Jonathan Rees who was employed by the NOTW to help provide reporters with illegally obtained confidential information. Rees was later jailed for falsely planting cocaine in an innocent woman’s car but was re-employed by the NOTW’s editor Andy Coulson after he served his sentence. [My emphasis]

Detectives also suspected Rees of bribing corrupt officers to supply information to the media. A surveillance operation was carried out on Rees including a bug being placed in his office. It was later revealed that among the hours of taped conversations were many between Mr Marunchak and Rees discussing transactions involving thousands of pounds for work carried out for the newspaper.

[Click here to read the Independent‘s powerful larger story.]

The gutless self-censorship in this country about Rupert Murdoch and his various media dealings is disgusting. We have yet to address our own media cankers.

How many Australian or UK newspapers have ever retold the undoubtedly bizarre and ripping yarn of the tragic story of Muriel McKay, who was mistakenly kidnapped instead of Rupert’s then wife, Anna, a few days after Christmas Day in December 1969 – the same year Murdoch bought The News of the World?

The hapless Muriel, wife of Alick McKay, then Deputy Chairman of News of the World (he wasn’t made a Lord until 1976) was actually driving the Murdoch’s Rolls Royce whilst the Murdochs were in Australia.

Alick McKay returned to his Wimbledon home to find the doors forced and Muriel missing.

In a saga that belongs on the ‘tall tales but true’ shelf, it transpired that two brothers, Arthur and Nizamodeen Hosein, who were living beyond their means on a country estate and vainly trying to insinuate their way into a disdainful British establishment, apparently saw Rupert Murdoch being interviewed by David Frost and thought it would be a good idea to kidnap Anna for a ransom that would put an end to their financial woes.

The Jamaican-born brothers were subsequently caught and charged with kidnapping, murder and blackmail. Both were given life sentences. I understand that Nizamodeen Hosein is now back in Jamaica and have unconfirmed reports that Arthur Hosein is now out of prison and lives in England.

If ever there was a cold case begging to be re-examined, this is it; given the advances in forensic science and if there’s anyone left at Scotland Yard.

Tragically, Muriel McKay’s body still hasn’t been found. It is said that her body was dismembered and fed to the pigs.

Lucky that the sub editor who wrote the infamous headline ‘FREDDIE STARR ATE MY HAMSTER’ was not on duty that day.

© Tess Lawrence

Tess Lawrence is Contributing editor-at-large for Independent Australia and her most recent article is The night Porter and allegation of rape.

 

 

 

 

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Dan Andrews – and Murdoch crying wolf

Rupert Murdoch has done incalculable harm to the democratic experiment throughout the AUKUS nations and beyond. In Victoria, his propaganda campaigns have made him the magnate who cried wolf. The state’s integrity infrastructure is in perilous condition but Newscorp’s constant invective against Labor governments, and Premier Dan Andrew’s government in particular, has made it more difficult to fix.

In the recent spate of Australian elections, it appears that extravagant campaigns by Murdoch media were having diminished impact on the centre/left vote. Scott Morrison’s government received the thumping it had earned. Dan Andrews’ resounding win and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s loss were the opposite of the outcomes Murdoch’s tools had fought to achieve.

Since, News Corp editors have not steered their platforms away from the hysteria that pervades their framing of news stories and opinion pages. The Voice to Parliament, for example, continues to receive breathless, distorted coverage aiming to deny Prime Minister Albanese the “win.”

For Victoria, the Murdoch news has become particularly toxic. The constant demonising of the Andrews’ government pandemic management was out of step with majority opinion and Murdoch’s fanning up of dissent made Victorians’ lives harder over those long months of lockdowns. The attacks on Dan Andrews in the lead-up to the November election reminded the radicalised right base of how much they loathed Andrews, but reinforced the majority’s utter disdain for Murdoch and his Dog Line of brimstone-breathing pundits.

The Victorian Liberal Party – the local political arm of the Murdoch project – has collapsed into chaos. Their echoes of News Corp messaging are treated with equal disdain. Radical right figures spouting Murdoch-ready messaging seem unelectable in this relatively progressive state; the more moderate old guard is struggling to keep them from destroying the edifice.

The media hysteria that has distorted every act by the Andrews government over the 2020s has now had the unexpected effect of inoculating that government from effective condemnation for genuine problems.

Despite mounting pressure over the first quarter of 2023 over integrity questions, Labor’s lead only appears to be growing, and Andrews’ personal approval has been barely touched. It remains to be seen whether IBAC’s special Daintree Report will have more of an impact. Victoria’s government integrity framework is in dire need of reform, but too many centre/left voters believe the news on the topic is just another Murdoch hit job.

The original strong design of the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) was nobbled by the Liberal government that implemented an anodyne version in 2011. The body was effectively designed to fail.

The model was improved in 2015 by the Andrews government broadening the definition of corruption to include misconduct in public office. Those reforms, however, were inadequate to allow it to do its job effectively. The situation has worsened since.

There are three main crises for IBAC. One is that it, like the Ombudsman, remains dramatically underfunded: this is a method that governments’ use to shackle bodies that monitor their performance.

The second is that its jurisdiction requires a criminal offence to be involved. This means that “grey corruption” of the kind discussed in the Daintree Report is not covered. The majority of Australians have come to believe that pork-barrelling and other ways of using taxpayer funds to achieve electoral advantage are indeed a form of corruption that must be addressed. This is in line with Transparency International’s benchmark definition of corruption.

The third is the secrecy with which IBAC is forced to operate. The purpose of an integrity body is to discover, investigate and expose corruption. Without public hearings and reports, its work is crippled.

IBAC can only conduct public hearings in “exceptional circumstances.” Integrity experts argue that the test should be that public hearings take place when it is in the public interest. It is crucial that politicians and public servants know that they are being scrutinised and will be held to account. Hearings are not begun lightly: they are instituted after lengthy, in-camera investigation.

The definition of “exceptional circumstances” is vague and invites well-funded subjects of inquiry to contest the designation through repeated court hearings. That process then gives the well-funded an advantage, seeing the details of the investigation being conducted.

Victorians were unable to know the findings of several secret IBAC investigations before the November election because of another defect in the body’s legislation: the process granting a form of natural justice to those who will have adverse findings from the investigation. Contrasted to the streamlined version in NSW, the Victorian process is much more onerous and can end in the courts, already bogged down by Covid19 pressures.

Problematic also are the centralisation of power in the Andrews government and the army of ministerial aides whose allegiance is to Andrews and the party rather than the public interest. The public service is discouraged from giving frank and fearless advice, experiencing harassment from ministerial aides.

We saw in the May 2022 federal election that the rule of law is important to Australians. The processes of government must be pressured towards integrity by appropriate adherence to norms, systems and by scrutiny. Not only is there the likelihood of poor decision-making and the waste of taxpayer money in the short-term, but also the risk of the degradation of democracy itself in a government antagonistic to the inherent competition. We must strengthen our systems to protect against future governments’ wrongdoing as much as current risks.

Pesutto’s Liberal opposition is a threadbare bunch. The fact that Pesutto was unable to distance the party from Moira Deeming’s extremism when announcing her ouster – including having been an office-bearer in an organisation fighting for complete abortion bans – reinforces that his relatively moderate faction is under siege. As such, they pose little threat to Labor in the medium term.

Both Murdoch and the Victorian Liberal opposition supported the extremist conspiracy networks emerging on Melbourne’s streets to brawl with police over the pandemic. The politicians’ and media’s overblown critiques of the Andrews’ government and its pandemic handling became blurred with frightening figures bringing gallows to “freedom” rallies.

A discredited media and opposition are a problem for Victoria’s democracy if they cannot hold the government to account when necessary. Dan Andrews and his government must not scoff at calls to strengthen integrity measures just because the opposition is weak. The state deserves a great deal better.

 

This was first published at Pearls and Irritations

 

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Our media is failing us

Our media is failing us. At a moment when one side of politics has abandoned the bases of democracy as an impediment to their grasp on power, we need journalists holding them to account rather than gaslighting the public, normalising the rot.

In the lead-up to the US midterms, national security expert Juliette Kayyem tweeted about the dangers of bad reporting, concluding, “It is 2022. Get it right. Or a new job.”

Kayyem contrasted evasive reporting about “voter fraud” claims with the kind that justly illustrates that such accusations are bogus while reporting that the claim has been made.

We face different political problems in Australia, although the media crises overlap. We too have “savvy style” reporters in the press gallery who share politicians’ cynicism. We too have access journalism (or friendship) that causes a journalist to hesitate to “burn” a source or pal. We have horserace coverage that doesn’t focus on the overview, at a moment when that couldn’t be more important. We have refuge-seeking journalism, particularly at the ABC, that cringes from examining the sordid quality of some political behaviour over the last decade. We have normalcy bias journalism that can’t step back far enough to see how radicalised one side of politics is becoming, still covering “both sides” as though both sides had equal merit. There are many reasons for this crisis, but they remain a cause for self-evaluation by self-respecting journalists.

The particular crisis for Australia lies in the fact that our two primary print media organisations – affiliated with television or radio platforms – are owned by corporate interests headed by figures who clearly see their corporations as political tools. Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch barely need detailing on this front. Peter Costello’s NineFax has been more discreet in its political deployment, and it retains some journalists who continue to practice their craft with integrity.

Print media, while an embattled format, is crucial. It is where most of the investigations and in-depth reporting continue to be carried out, providing the meat upon which the electronic media feeds.

The cooperation of Rupert Murdoch’s Herald Sun and Peter Costello’s The Age with a floundering Victoria Liberal Party in the final weeks before the state election has been a truly shocking display of the state of Australian “conservative” politics and its allied media.

The Age has deployed the leak of IBAC documents to hint at wrongdoings by the government. It is the Australian right in Victoria and federally that has fought so hard to protect the reputation of politicians, but when a strong enemy can be inconvenienced, reputational harm is suddenly desirable. IBAC reports at this stage are still being finalised: those individuals facing adverse findings are being given the chance to challenge aspects, and the findings can still be altered as a result. The purpose of this secrecy is to ensure that reputational harm does not take place until the fairest outcome is achieved. The way to achieve greater transparency is to remove the crippling limitation on public hearings only taking place in “exceptional circumstances.” You can be sure that Liberal Victoria would be crying foul if the positions were reversed.

This was exacerbated by the suspension of The Age‘s ban on “political actor” op/eds for the election period to allow a column condemning the Andrews government’s integrity by Roshena Campbell. She is a Liberal-member councillor, and wife of Murdoch mouthpiece, James.

In the Herald Sun, two appalling gambits have been played. Frontpage “scandals” have been mocked up about the car accident that was settled over a decade ago involving the Andrews family, and about Premier Dan Andrews’s fall in 2021. The latter is particularly loathsome: making hay out of the Premier’s injuries is not newsworthy. This story functions only to allude to the conspiracies that abounded at the time. The constant emphasis on the small size of the steps is intended to provoke a renewed flurry of gossip around the conspiracy that stated the injury was not a fall but the result of sensational fantasies of lurid violence.

The fact that, as Media Watch recounted, the broader media opted to chase these Murdoch non-stories relentlessly is an appalling breach of integrity and professional standards. All 17 questions at the press conference that followed were about the resolved bike event, and the evening news framed the coverage as the Premier’s refusal to answer questions, despite the fact he had given endless dutiful answers about the story at the time.

The Murdoch propaganda battalion has clearly decided that selling Matthew Guy’s opposition is beyond them; the only way to gain traction for a messy Liberal Party is to aim to destroy Dan Andrew’s continuing popularity in the state. Peta Credlin’s tawdry “documentary” about Dan Andrews will have compounded the demonising for the few who watch Sky.

At the same time as the Murdoch media chose those gambits, the Victorian Liberal Party released an advertisement directed to those conspiracy spheres that had spilled violence onto Melbourne’s streets, amongst whom the lubricious gossip had flourished. The party here allied itself overtly with that violence and suspicion of vaccines.

Throughout the worst of the pre-vaccine pandemic, the Murdoch media aimed to make our Victorian lives hellish by compounding the misery. Victoria was constantly under attack, while similar experiences in NSW garnered praise. The difference? The colour of the government. They followed this by insulting Victorians for our continued majority satisfaction with Dan Andrews and what he had worked to achieve with our cooperation. Credlin’s documentary and 17th November column in The Australian described the support as a “cult.”

The same voter-smacking agenda is underway in the American right-wing media in the wake of the midterms where the women who poured out to vote against the stripping of their reproductive autonomy are chastised for being too stupid to vote for the right in their own alleged interests. (This reflects the US’s dominant media consensus that reproductive justice would not be a midterm issue; apparently, women don’t set the news agenda.) This talking point was echoed in a pathetically trollish column for The Australian by the Menzies Research Centre’s Nick Cater. His tantrum might help drive more centre-right voters to Teal candidates.

At a moment when the east coast of Australia is once again covered in water, our neighbour Fiji is asking for the money to move dozens of its villages to safety and COP27 is taking place in Egypt, our media fails us with context-free reporting. Corporate media is barely covering the appalling revelations of the Robodebt Royal Commission. And that corporate media is working hard to grant a shambolic Liberal opposition government in Victoria, no doubt intending to capitalise on their baron’s goals in the aftermath.

We desperately need the Murdoch Royal Commission. We desperately need news media laws that balance the range of news available to Australians. Above all, we desperately need the journalists who work in these organisations to look to themselves, as Juliette Kayyem demanded. If they’ve lost the will to remain public watchdogs, they need to find themselves a new job.

This was first published at Pearls and Irritations

 

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“Family values” and fascist-leaning politics

The radical right, and in particular, Murdoch’s News Corp, are laundering the dirty ideas of the people deploying fascistic politics to make them seem normal “conservative” thought.

News Corp’s James Morrow recently said the quiet part out loud. In his News Corp column Fascist label for Italys PM misses the message” [paywalled] on the 28th September, he advised that “successful politicians on the right” around the world can offer Coalition politicians a game-plan for how to “cut through.” This would be less concerning if the politicians he used as models were not Italy’s Giorgia Meloni and Florida’s Ron De Santis.

Morrow disdained the label “fascist” for Meloni. He asserted that using it in her case is “to strip the word of any meaning and turns it into an epithet for anything more conservative than the most bland centre-right politics.” Whether the label itself fits her ideology, Morrow continues the radical right’s tendency to normalise the extremity of their position as merely right of centre. In this way most formerly centre-right Australians (and defeated Liberal politicians) become labelled left. The more progressive citizenry then become “socialists.” Thus is the neutered ABC denoted as activist left by the right. This constant effort to centre the Overton Window over their increasingly radical position aims to naturalise their ideology for the electorate.

Disguising this drift towards authoritarian politics as “normal” rather than a lurch towards fascism should frighten us all. We must resist the lure of that numbing repetition.

Morrow selected a number of positions held by Meloni (and De Santis) to celebrate as goals for Australian politicians. In particular, he selected: family, national identity, religious identity and gender identity.

Meloni and De Santis want national identity to be as close to monotone as possible: patriotic and uncritically supportive of a mythical nation that never existed in the way their nostalgia recreates it. In this lens, religious identity is intricately tied to that mythical national identity. Their nations are white Christian nations, they assert, whatever other versions of history will say. Anyone with a contrary story should remain invisible. There is little ambiguity in the fascist politics evoked by these dogwhistle terms.

Morrow wrote of targeting “high migration.” He is surrounded in Australian “conservative” politics by figures who proudly espouse western chauvinism and spruik elements of the “Great Replacement” conspiracy. More strident voices in this tribe, even on moderated Twitter, are discussing plans such as “when it is time to repatriate people en masse from Europe.”

In attempting to strip the “fascist” label from Meloni, Morrow aims Australian politicians at the European “traditionalists.” This, he believes, is the “bread and butter” politics that can “cut through” for families at home hoping for rescue from their children who need, apparently, to be deprogramed from “activist rot.”

His emphasis on “family” – and gender – is part of the Eastern European “traditionalist” ideology. Putin and Orban, like Meloni, both put defence of the family at the forefront of their missions. That aspect of their politics is at the core of De Santis’s repressive policies. De Santis is recorded as overtly copying these from Orban. The European “traditionalists” have worked with the “family values” religious right movement from America since the 1990s; it is not difficult for De Santis to bring them together.

To fight for “the family” sounds anodyne but is freighted with threat for many.

“Family values” for Meloni and De Santis, for Putin and Pence, means “traditional” sex roles with no deviation. Men are to be returned to their leadership of the home and the country (for all that the occasional woman manages to share power). Women are intended to abandon the civic space; their presence there is loathed as “feminism.” Abortion (and contraception) is targeted because it is seen as enabling women’s civic and sexual autonomy. It also entails the destruction of European seed for a faction that believes that Western civilisation is doomed and set to be overrun in the “Great Replacement” panic.

The greatest target for all these men, and Meloni, is gender and sexual fluidity. Just as the Third Reich aimed to purify the “sexually aberrant” from the Aryan people, these modern politicians target LGBTQI people more broadly, with the tiny trans community used as a vulnerable wedge to begin the campaign.

Selecting the targeted outsider to unify the mythologised nation is, again, classic fascist politics. While stripping women of reproductive autonomy, and the right to enter the civic space, is a threat to be feared, the implied violence (legal and physical) against the LGBTQI communities is far more concerning in the near-term. Putin uses the language of ridding Ukraine of its perverted western liberalism as part of his justification for war in the same year that American politicians have introduced over 240 hundred bills limiting the LGBTQI community. The Texan Attorney-General has said he would be “comfortable” allowing the Supreme Court to adjudicate his state’s defunct rule making homosexuality illegal. Preachers in America are demanding the right to execute, or have executed, LGBTQI people. There is no coexistence possible.

Morrow is not, to be clear, advocating that “conservative” politicians in Australia become fascist or make erasing LGBTQI Australians part of their platform. What he has said here, however, is that the way for Australian “conservative” politicians to “cut through” is to adopt the strategies deployed by their considerably more extreme international counterparts.

Morrow quoted Meloni bemoaning: why is the family an enemy? Why is the family so frightening?” The family is neither an enemy nor frightening, except in the besieged mindset embraced by the radical right. The deployment of the word “family” to mean that women must cede equality and, more urgently, that LGBTQI people must be erased is indeed frightening.

Losing solid gold Liberal seats to progressive candidates underlines that the Liberal Party has already absorbed far too many talking points, policies and strategies from the increasingly radical and religious international right. It is to be hoped that taking Morrow’s advice would continue this political decline.

This was first published in Pearls and Irritations as News Corp is normalising fascistic politics

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The Right Wing disinfosphere and the King

There is set to be some anxiety in monarchist groups in the community as they reconcile the ascent of King Charles III to the throne with their fear. Even in educated hard right circles like The Spectator Australia’s readership, conspiracy theories about him are evident.

In the “Flat White” online part of The Spectator Australia in July, an anonymous column was posted about “Prince Charles’ ‘Great Reset.’”

The Great Reset is conspiracy theory that argues that the World Economic Forum Davos set are billionaires planning a Green totalitarian takeover. The name is derived from a WEF plan (repackaging the standard Davos message) released in June 2020 promoting sustainable development in the economic reset provoked by the pandemic. It encouraged “green growth, smarter growth and fairer growth.” The then Prince Charles was used as the face of it in the promotional video at its launch.

The Spectator column argues that the Climate Emergency is an “excuse” created “as a non-negotiable reason to dismantle the free market and democratic governance.” The author posits that governments are using Net Zero to destroy the agricultural sector and rip wealth from the middle and working classes who will then be forced to depend on handouts.

The core of the author’s vitriol is saved for “stakeholder capitalism,” a concept that is a key to the Great Reset and sustainable economics. It is the (flawed) model where businesses are pressured towards cleaner practice by ESG scores. Environmental, Social and Governance metrics are intended to balance Milton Friedman’s impact on shareholder capitalism that dictates profit is the only responsibility. These ideas are, according to the column, socialism.

The new King was, by this account, not just enacting a betrayal of the ordinary citizen,” but of the system and his role:to protect the constitutional monarchy from rising climate fascism and globalism (also known as international socialism).”

The author believes capitalists and entrepreneurs can solve any problems without government “climate cult” interference. The widespread failure to help Australian regions beset by bushfires and floods over the pandemic moment has been superseded by the image of 1/3 of Pakistan under water and over 30 million people homeless and without food. America’s West Coast is in dire water peril with cities like Las Vegas and Phoenix existentially threatened. The facts would seem to contradict the author’s contention. No plucky entrepreneur is likely to fix this.

The comments beneath the column are filled with more overt conspiracy theory rhetoric of this kind: “the mainstream media is owned and controlled by these same WEF loving globalists” and the “takeover agenda” of the WEF. According to these posts, the Number of the Beast was apparent in Great Reset materials. There are many reasons to disdain the self-satisfied posturing of the WEF set, but the label “fascist totalitarians” is a stretch, and the belief that they are satanic is ludicrous.

The adjective “globalist” signifies part of the association of the Great Reset conspiracy. As with so much of the “conspiracy smoothie” that has suppurated out from QAnon over the pandemic era, this term denotes the antisemitism at work. Globalists and lizard people terminology (also in play about the Royal Family) are coded antisemitism. Toxic ideas about “elites” (more antisemitism) creating a pandemic and using mandates and vaccines to destroy society in a number of different ways are at the heart of the narrative. Elite-controlled paedophilia, the QAnon central panic, is also implicit in some versions of the conspiracy.

On the swamps of social media, the “elites” are weather-engineering the floods on Australia’s east coast to displace the residents and build “smart cities” as part of the WEF “high-tech dictatorship.” A number of ugly responses to the Queen’s demise in these spaces illustrate that they placed her in the evil “elite” category.

The Great Reset conspiracy, depicting climate action as socialism linked to the WEF, emerged from the Heartland Institute. This “thinktank” at the core of the climate denial industry is a feeder of ideas into the right wing disinfosphere. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News has been a major amplifier of the fear mongering about the Great Reset and its looming socialism to be imposed by Green “elites.”

Naturally what Fox mainstreams, so too does Sky News Australia. The Institute for Strategic Dialogue has used Great Reset conspiracy theories as a case study on disinformation in 2022 Australian politics. They highlight the absurd rhetoric on Sky, where billionaires are Marxists aiming to destroy capitalism. Sky After Dark echoed Tucker Carlson and other Fox talking heads in aiming to foment hysteria about this threat to freedom. Rowan Dean described the WEF as “a hardcore leftist eco-horror show replete with quasi fascism” and the Great Reset as an end to democratic rights with a society ruled by the elite.

Pauline Hanson then introduced the Great Reset to Parliament. Ralph Babet, Clive Palmer’s $100 million dollar senator, touted reading Glenn Beck’s 2022 book The Great Reset on Facebook on the 3rd of September. (Beck apologised in 2014 for ‘helping tear the country apart” in his time fearmongering on Fox News and talkback radio. In 2021, he retracted the apology on Fox, returning to the grift.)

So social media spreads pictures of King Charles being poked in the chest by a Rothschild to convey a more blatantly anti-Semitic form of this conspiracy being promoted by Sky. The Spectator Australia funnels it into the educated right they are radicalising. All seem happy to portray the Davos billionaires, who are prinking up their free market capitalism with decorative furbelows of social justice posturing, as agents of capitalism-destroying totalitarianism.

Any attempt to create climate action that might mitigate the horrors of the worst version of the climate crisis is thus immediately discredited as a form of Great Reset oppression. Right wing Americans are taught to fear the Green New Deal as a communist threat that would rob them of all their rights. Disasters in Australia that could provoke the public to pressure for action are remodelled as the work of the elites or pretexts for totalitarianism.

This battle between the billionaires who want no action taken and the billionaires who would like to appear to be doing something without doing anything is thus transformed into an existential struggle between freedom-loving battlers and a totalitarian progressive elite.

And so King Charles’s history of support for environmental projects and sustainable development has drawn the many conspiracies about his family into the Great Reset horror. The very people most keen to display their respect for the crown are torn by their climate denial loathing of anyone promoting policy to address the crisis. It will be interesting to see how they reconcile their ambivalence.

This was originally published at Pearls and Irritations as Murdoch, the Prince/King and conspiracy theories

 

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Australia’s Orban Sycophants

Australians welcoming the defeat of our nascent religious right in the May election need to pay attention to the echoes of the American right-wing strategies looming ahead of their 2024 election, and the faction in Australia that shares those goals.

The religious right has looked to Putin for leadership for years now. More quietly, the ideas and strategies of Hungary’s Viktor Orban have pervaded the sphere.

In America, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson has been an outlier speculated as a post-Trump Republican candidate. Florida’s Ron DeSantis looks much more likely to win the nomination at this stage. Both men have worked to promote Hungary’s Viktor Orban’s ideas in America.

Rod Dreher, ultra-conservative American intellectual, persuaded Carlson to broadcast for a week from Budapest in 2021, celebrating Orban’s achievements and his proudly illiberal democracy to the Fox base. This year Carlson released a documentary promoting Orban’s strategies as the ideal Republican model. These apparently led into the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), America’s key radical “conservative” event, being hosted in Budapest in May 2022, where Orban told the crowd that the right must have its own media and that it should broadcast the Murdochs’ favoured performer, Carlson, to the nation 24/7.

Orban continued that his latest election had “completely healed” Hungary of its “progressive dominance” and that the authoritarian right factions of the world should unite and coordinate to “take back” all the key institutions of the West.

It has just been announced that Orban is to return to speak to the CPAC audience again in Dallas in August.

DeSantis does not so much promote Orban as create what has been described as “American Orbanism.” His people admit, behind the scenes to following and echoing Orban’s strategies. Florida’s “Don’t say gay” bill which depicted any mention of anything to do with LGBTQI identity in schools as “grooming” echoed Orban’s 2021 bill focused on the same issue. DeSantis’s press secretary told Dreher that, “Oh yeah, we were watching the Hungarians, so yay Hungary.”

Orban targets minorities as a supposed threat to Hungarians and then devises laws that push Hungary further into authoritarianism to address the non-existent threat. LGBTQI people are the latest target after bigoted attacks on refugees, Romani, and non-Christians. Florida punishing Disney for its tepid pushback against anti-LGBTQI legislation echoes Orban’s strategies for punishing opponents. The primary institutional enemies are educational, media and social media. Control of the message is central.

The key appeal of Orban’s ideology, as well as Putin’s, is that they posit a white Christian – Western – Civilisation as the world’s great treasure and one that is under attack. Progressive “elites” or globalists – usually embodied in Jewish figures like the loathed George Soros – are depicted as executing a “Great Replacement” of the white embodiments of the west with black and brown non-Christians. The key appeal of his strategy is that he rejects liberalism in the existential battle to preserve the mythologised heritage.

This alliance of culture warriors is apparent in the Australian right. Morrison’s defeated government contained both the traditionalist defenders of a beleaguered Western Civilisation that Tony Abbott drew to prominence, alongside the American-style Evangelicals who are more theocratic in goal, aiming to impose national purity through government action.

Tony Abbott’s international advisor from 2010 to 2014 was Mark Higgie. His years as Australian ambassador to Hungary from 1998-2001 (before becoming our “senior spy” in London) seem to have made Orban’s career a focus for the ideologue. He echoes the same “Hungarians are free” line as Rod Dreher, but the latter when asked about the dark underbelly of living in an illiberal democracy tends to reply, I dont know much, to be honest. Like Dreher, in 2019 Higgie moved to Budapest. He writes for The Australian Spectator.

The main intellectual conduit of Orban’s ideas to the West is the Danube Institute. Brian Loughnane, Peta Credlin’s husband and former Liberal Party federal director is on its international advisory board. Tony Abbott appeared with Higgie there before the pandemic conversing about immigrants “swarming” over the borders. Alexander Downer spoke in Budapest about immigrant Bantustans. Kevin Andrews spoke about reversing declining birth rates in the west at the Budapest Demographic Summit, a “biennial gathering of ultra-conservative and highly influential decision-makers, politicians and individuals actively working to curb the rights of sexual minorities and women.”

John O’Sullivan is the president of the Orban-funded Danube Institute. He has edited Quadrant and serves as its international editor with Keith Windshuttle. O’Sullivan too has written about how the left exaggerates the discomforts of living in an illiberal democracy.

One early event that aimed to foster Danube Institute immigration phobia for a broader Australian audience was a Conversazione in Melbourne in 2016. In fact, it fostered Great Replacement fears in a local audience of the rich and powerful albeit without using the term. Orchestrated by a Quadrant writing LaTrobe academic, with O’Sullivan as a speaker and featuring a Windshuttle essay on Quadrant in the program, it highlighted the connection between that publication and the Orban-booster spirit.

Loughnane also spoke at the event, although Credlin was not present. One of the nations leading News Corp journalists appeared, presenting a speech that expressed lurid objection to Muslim immigration. (That journalist has been a guest of the Orban-funded Mathias Corvinus Collegium in Hungary, which hosted another migration talkfest in 2019.)

Fresh from the January Islamic Radicalism and the West conference held at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Brits Daniel Pryce-Jones and Daniel Johnson also spoke at the Melbourne Club that day alongside Geza Jeszensky, former Hungarian foreign minister and noted eugenicist.

Tucker Carlson is now watched by Murdoch’s Australian print editors as a guide to the beliefs of Rupert and Lachlan. Carlson’s show is pervaded with incitement to violence over the existential attacks on white Christian civilisation by the elites and their immigrant hordes; over the threat to (white) American children posed by progressive groomers particularly their teachers; over the existential threat posed by any liberal who embraces diversity and acceptance.

Dutton and News Corp’s new focus of a war on teachers in Australia has been picked up by the IPA in its “Class Action” program to stop teachers “dominating our children’s schools” with “woke ideology.” There they aim to gather “concerned parents and teachers” in a reproduction of American Christopher Rufo’s cynical moral panic about Critical Race Theory. In America, teachers are leaving the profession, exhausted partly by poor funding and the pandemic, but also by being barraged with conspiracy-fuelled hate by parents and outside groups attending school board meetings in threatening mode.

We saw Morrison fighting hard for his religious discrimination bill while neglecting crucial work, aiming to provide a tool of backlash for marriage equality. The trans sports issue was deployed in the election as an echo of the bitter American attacks on trans youth and LGBTQI people in general. The religious right here has begun to echo the fight against reproductive rights.

After the recent release of census data noted the decline in Christianity, Peta Credlin wrote in The Australian (paywalled) in full Orban mode warning of “the centrality of Christian inspiration to Western civilization.” She defined an Indigenous Voice to parliament as “anathema to the fundamentals of Christian faith” and obliquely blamed Chinese and Indian immigration for the crisis.

The combined forces of the radical right – whether Christian Nationalist in intent, or in bigoted fear of a Great Replacement, or cynically deploying culture wars – all have the capacity to distort our civic debates as they are doing at all levels of government in America. The outcome in America is catastrophic.

It is critical for Australians to watch the international right forces filtered through to our democratic project, directly from the opponents of democracy, or filtered through the American role models so central to our “conservatives.” They are not defeated here, but regrouping.

This was first published in Pearls and Irritations.

 

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What is the “mad left”?

Even before the Albanese government was certain that it would have a clear majority, the Sky News chorus had begun baying about the “mad left” taking power. What the madness constitutes is never quite made clear. It is “vibe” rather than diagnosis.

It is not to be dismissed because of that inexactitude. This is another echo of the games deriving from the American right where the so-called left is essentially unfit to hold office; only the right can form a legitimate government. The fear-mongering underpins the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, as well as the continuing efforts to “stop the steal.”

It is further developed in the US. The intertwining of the religious right with the Republican Party has given an Evangelical (Pentecostal) infusion to the mix. In the Spiritual Warfare battle between good and evil that must be won for Jesus to return, Jesus votes Republican and the “left” is a demonic force obstructing him.

Depicting the largely centrist Democrats as a wild left is quite an achievement. Two Democrat senators owned by the right prevent most legislation being passed, let alone progressive bills. Depicting the party as the face of evil in America makes democracy impossible.

The “conservative” parties of the UK and Australia are playing a less extreme version of the same game as part of their efforts to entrench minority rule. Their policies are not in the interests of the voters they need in (approximate) democracies: culture war battles inherent to “conservative” identity must replace policy platforms to attract the majority vote.

The GOP is aided by a deeply distorted democratic structure underpinning the republic. The Tories have just passed legislation that undermines the independence of their electoral commission in a substantial blow to British democracy. The Australian “conservative” parties struggle to surmount a hurdle not faced by their UK and US brothers: compulsory and preferential voting. Disillusionment and despair are strong motives not to bother voting if it is optional. These egalitarian measures force the Australian Coalition partners to work harder to convince their bloc to vote against their own interests.

The process of undermining Australians’ faith in our strong electoral processes is underway. Clive Palmer and his conspiracy voters are overtly echoing American talking points. Ballot boxes were hidden and shady companies provided electoral management, if you loiter in this underbelly of the internet.

The fact that the Labor Party achieved a majority government at all could be considered a miracle given the barrage of propaganda and nonsense that a lacklustre press gallery churned out as election coverage. That farce crested its years of echoing Coalition talking points; the members of Scott Morrison’s inner circle of reporters to whom inside information was granted were keen to maintain this access. Only a handful still merit the professional label of journalist.

This propagandist spin continues to seethe for the more mainstream “conservative” voter. News Corp has deployed the Dog Line to howl the weakness of Labor’s victory. Sky’s Gemma Tognini wrote in The Australian that Labor’s vote was “staggeringly low” and that the idea that Labor voters “abandoned it” robbed the new government of a “firm mandate.” Somehow “sliding into power via preferences” is a sign of shoddy victory rather than a canny electorate. The Australian’s National Editor, Dennis Shanahan, wrote to remind his peers that “tears, recriminations, claims of a lack of mandate, the lowest primary vote on record or that Labor is only a hybrid government tinged irrevocably teal and green from its independent allies” are “pointless.”

They are not, however, pointless. The point is to undermine faith in our voting system, as well as Labor’s right to form government. Through the Howard years, conservatives argued that voting should no longer be compulsory. In the controversial 2020 parliamentary committee report on electoral matters, conservative voices had pushed for the voter ID laws and optional preferential voting. Happily for the Coalition, optional preferential voting would “devastate Labor.”

Unlike the UK, Australia has so far seen off these Republican-style attacks on our electoral process, but we need to remain aware of the risks. The formerly conservative side of politics is entrenching a more radical right trajectory and undermining the numbers voting combined with enraging their base are the only ways they can bring a hard right government into being.

NSW moderate Matt Kean observed that none of the lost Liberal vote went to more conservative candidates. Nonetheless, Sky’s Peta Credlin celebrated the chance to go more radical right now the so-called moderates have been flushed. Sky’s Rowan Dean berated the moderate “bedwetters” betraying the base with their Labor-lite impotence. The toxic chorus demands the Liberals embrace more radical positions.

Sky News is funnelled free-to-air into the regions drumming in this message that Australia faces “three years of hard-core left-wing government that will destroy the fabric of this nation.” It unifies the conspiracy spheres that underly the UAP vote with a resentful base. Peter Dutton’s initial speeches as Leader of the Opposition have been loaded with disdain for the capacity of the ALP to govern. This has provided amusement for the many “safe Liberal” electorate voters who turned against the Morrison government’s malign incompetence, but it is to the base that he speaks. The mythical “socialist left” embodied by the Labor Party will destroy everything.

By depicting Dutton as a “pragmatic conservative” rather than a radical right figure, Greg Sheridan aims to normalise the leader’s authoritarian political leaning. Dutton has said he thinks parliament is a disadvantage for sitting governments. He combined Australia’s enforcement and surveillance arms in one body in the mega-department of Home Affairs, and deployed them in a highly illiberal way. He victimised an out-group for the vengeful pleasure of his in-group. His pitch is to lead this so-called party of the worker against the educated elite of the left.

Like America, we can celebrate the victory of the centre left over manifestly incompetent and malevolent radical right governments. Like America, though, we should be very careful not to believe the radical right is defeated.

This was originally published in Pearls and Irritations.

 

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Another nail in Australia’s coffin – the silence will be deafening

Another nail in Australia’s coffin – Facebook bans sharing news in Australia and Google backs big business – guess who wins? PS: But… we can still write, post and share our own.

Does that sound like a tweet or what! Another nail in the coffin for Australian democracy, freedom of information, voice and ears. Flying blind – The silence will be deafening on FB.

Game, set and match? This is not freedom of choice. This is political censorship by default and design. The Australian media news landscape embroiled, further compromised, falling off the edge of the continental shelf and the Australian public alienated from its own local news and rest of the world, like have we all just been sent to Coventry?

This was the LNP Think Tank’s intention and a golden opportunity to fulfil their primary goal – Can you and I, can we not see this!

This guy (Josh) and his buddy (Scomo), and the whole frigging LNP camp of degenerates really need to fuck off to the casino big time. We have them now to blame for ‘all of us’ becoming news blind in Australia on Facebook and Social Media. Going against their declared political principles of free trade, freedom of information, news and free speech for a bigger prize. This is a huge setback for Australians.

This is exactly what Frydenberg and Morrison want, to silence and deafen FB or more to the point Australians who use FB to share their news, thoughts, views and opinions. By doing so they get to control the flow of news, media and opinion. The public broadcasters, ABC and SBS were never going to be free to enter these deals and you would be grossly naive if you thought smaller independent news outlets would ever gain traction on this legislation with the corporate giants – That’s not how Monopoly is played. Google have taken a different path but can you see them entering into the plethora of smaller agreements and will our government under this legislation or policy direction give a damn!

 

Image from dailymail.co.uk

 

So Frydenberg and Morrison get to spread their shit here on FB and everywhere else for free, what hypocrites. The News giants like Murdoch and News Corps get to rake in the money and spread the pain for their shit everywhere – and laughing. There will be no informed democracy and elections in this game. The Liberals are doing this, not for equity, fairness or justice, but given all the run offs and stacked consequences, as planned; giving them massive control over news, media information available, not available, accessibility on public and social platforms. Will this be good for the economy even?

The chosen ones, yes.

I don’t condone FB’s decision, but Morrison and Frydenberg knew very well this was the likely path, and why indeed should FB as a business pay for users, other people’s decisions on what they share – What kind of fucked up business model is that? What next? Will the Liberals have ‘us’ pay for shared advertising too? Actually, we already are, out of the public purse.

Would you charge me if I offered you a lift to the supermarket to get your groceries? The government (the Liberals) are raving bonkers.

Australia totally screwed on this one, folks! This is political censorship, where only the sharks profit at the expense of freedom of choice, information and information sharing, one of the founding principles of the internet, and ironically democracy, fair dinkum. Yes, the Liberals, Nationals, News Corps, big business elites et al are pushing our noses in it and our heads in the sand – make no mistake. I can’t breathe!

End game – Erosion of political and electoral public intelligence and information, control of the airwaves, right wing power grab and supremacy, come next election. Not even Trump could manage this (Foxy News versus Washington Post), but here by any other means, with a swoop of the pen, Morrison, Frydenberg and the Liberals (image source: ‘elbows kissing’ courtesy of the Australian, how ironic) are banking on that ignorance turning in their favour, like it did for 74 million Americans! Another nail in the coffin for Australian democracy, freedom of information, voice and ears.

Eyes to the right where we can expect the procreation of more lies, hypocrisy, false (manufactured) news and proliferation of extreme right wing and fundamentalist opinion, especially from Murdoch, News Corps, Government, corporate mining elites and big business; and sadly, Facebook and Google are deserting the public camp for consumerism in their own separate ways. Did I mention tongues and fiery pulpit of the very holy Morrison-Frydenberg spirit – Holy cow!

They say no man is an island, Australia is and has just become even more isolated from the rest of the world, thanks to the LNP and our government – Regulation be damned (on this one).

But maybe we are all just about to become more creative – We can write, post and share our own news and opinion pieces with complementary piccies. Isn’t that what these social platforms and truly independent media are for?

This is democracy. Let’s get to it!

 

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Sometimes Even Censorship Doesn’t Help…

Most of you probably saw Monday’s papers which contained words interrupted by large blocks of ink suggesting that the inbetween bits had been redacted. Of course, they hadn’t because if you read the printed words, they still made sense so the whole thing was a little contrived.

Personally, I’m not sure that it was the way to go. It may have been far more effective to have printed a story with the best bits blanked out. To show you what I mean, look at the following hypothetical example:

Barnaby Joyce caused quite a stir while at the (redacted). After consuming (redacted) followed by(redacted), he seemed (redacted), so nobody was surprised when he pulled out his (redacted) and started showing (redacted) to anyone in the vicinity. “Look at my(redacted)!” exclaimed Barnaby, “What a beautiful (redacted)!” He was forced to stop when his (redacted) went (redacted). He requested to put his (redacted) into a nearby (redacted) but he was told that it (redacted). He did manage to use someone’s (redacted).

Which, of course, is a lot more worrying than the unredacted version.

Barnaby Joyce caused quite a stir while at the local pub. After consuming a hearty main course followed by a dessert, he seemed relaxed, so nobody was surprised when he pulled out his phone and started showing photos of his baby to anyone in the vicinity. “Look at my boy!” exclaimed Barnaby, “What a beautiful baby” He was forced to stop when his mobile went flat. He requested to put his charger into a nearby powerpoint but he was told that it was faulty He did manage to use someone’s portable charger.

Similarly, read this one about Scott Morrison so that you can see how censoring information can create a totally wrong impression.

ScoMo, as he likes to call himself, or (redacted), as many others call him, has some very interesting friends. Most people have heard about his friend, (redacted) , whose father was a (redacted) . But very few people have heard about his bestie whose part of (redacted) group which believes that there’s a “deep state” conspiracy trying to (redacted), and whose wife is on the public payroll as (redacted) , because the media have been told not to print anything about them because it’s been declared off limits by Morrison and none of them want to print anything unless the government says it’s ok.

Oh, apparently I can’t print the unredacted version of that one without expecting the police to come and ask me to hand over my computer and show them what I had in my underwear drawer…

Anyway, I can’t wait for the media to actually show the sort of courage that I’m not prepared to because I’m worried that they’d make fun of my Sponge Bob boxer shorts. Besides I’m not a serious journalist…

I trust that last sentence won’t have me sharing a cell with Julian Assange, and not just because the Ecuadorians said that he wasn’t much fun. Whatever, if you don’t hear from me, you’ll know that I’ve been (redacted) and (redacted).

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University Woes: The Managerial Class Gets Uppity

The university, in a global sense, is passing into a managerial oblivion. There are a few valiant holdouts, but they have the luxury of history, time, and learning. Cambridge and Oxford, for instance, still boast traditional academics, soaking erudition, and education as something more than a classroom brawl of the mind. They can barricade themselves against the regulatory disease that has made imbeciles of administrators and cretins of the pretend academic class. They can, for instance, rely on their colleges to fight the university, a concept so utterly alien to others. Across Europe, the management structures wear heavily. In the United States, the corporate university took hold decades ago. Academics are retiring, committing suicide, and going on gardening leave.

In Australia, a more serious problem has become evident: You cannot expose the obvious. You cannot, for instance, expose the evident plagiarism of colleagues. You cannot expose corruption within the university, notably the sort that celebrates graft over industry. You cannot discuss the decline in academic standards, or the purposeful lowering of admission levels. The obvious, in a certain sense, is that standards will be lowered if there is a need for largesse and revenue. The natural impulse of fat cat Vice-Chancellors is to cry foul that the government of the day has not forked out from the taxpayer’s wallet. Pay the university; fund more places. Give us more funding, because we are teaching and research institutions.

The problem with this dubious formulation is that funding a university in its current, monstrous form is tantamount to giving a drug lord a state subsidy for a pool, a perk, or a prostitute. (A suitable doctoral dissertation: Compare the rhetoric of Pablo Escobar with Australian university management from 2000 to 2019. You won’t be disappointed). Vice-Chancellors of the university world are white collar criminals on par with bankers, and, like those bankers, claim they perform an invaluable service. When they fail, they are simply moved on to another institution, leaving their sludge in ample supply.

The pro-vice chancellors, the deputies, the deputy-deputies and the deputies under them, are co-conspirators in an enterprise that robs students blind and plunders the goodwill of academic staff. Never has there been a better case to start putting these types into re-education camps, the very sort that they wish academics who disagree with them to attend. Apropos on that point, it is notable that universities in Australia love sending disagreeing and disagreeable academics to counsellors hired by the university itself. Thought-crime thrives down under.

Be that as it may, the recent news that Murdoch University, a squalid outpost of obscurantism located in Western Australia, has decided to counter-sue an academic for exposing the lowering of academic standards, should come as confirmation. How utterly revolting to expose such a squalid secret! How revolting to believe that standards should be kept! (The issue here, as much as anything else, is to put to bed the snake oil language of being a “global educator”. A local non-educator will suffice).

Federal Court documents have done more than reveal that the university is seeking compensation from Associate Professor Gerd Schröder-Turk for millions lost since he appeared on a Four Corners program in May discussing the plight of failing Indian students. It involves a counter-action against the academic, who initially filed an action under the Fair Work Act to restrain the university from disciplining him for discussing the lowering of academic standards.

The university has been rightfully punished by a decline in student numbers but insists that it “maintains admission standards consistent with the national standards for international students, along with English language requirements in line with those across the sector.” In short, the Murdoch argument is that made by those who think failure sells: they all do it, so why pick on us?

Murdoch University’s overpaid VC, Eeva Leinonen, claims to refute (is it not confute?) “the claims made by the ABC” in an email sent to students after the Four Corners program aired. She babbles incorrigibly, resorting to those nonsenses about employability and global reputation for a university that struggles, just, to be local. “In 2018, Murdoch was ranked number one in Australia for graduate employability. Employers value the knowledge and skills that you have learnt at Murdoch University.” (Leinonen is yet another example of how corruption, to be pure, needs to be imported – she cut her teeth as Vice-President in Education at King’s College, University of London).

Even Australia’s restrained whistle-blowing commentators have been a touch troubled by the arid and vicious reasoning of Murdoch University. The university, as a realm of academic protection, is a piecemeal matter in Australia. But modern management, being itself a high-functioning criminal class, has made it imperative to cast an eye on protections for those who blow that all too rare whistle on plagiarism, charlatanism, shallow standards and good, down-to-earth theft.

A. J. Brown, who wears the rather rusted crown of whistle-blowing authority in a country that has found the practice irksome, ventured the obvious in his assessment: the action by Murdoch University will stifle whistle-blowing. “I’m not aware of any situation where a university, or really… any sort of organisation, has counter-sued the whistle-blower for damages.”

Murdoch University has revealed some important, and cheery results, for those who believe that the academy, and university, remains a place of challenge and learning rather than numbers and padding. The institution, in an effort to target Shröder-Turk, is full of complaint: shovelling amounts out for investigations by tertiary regulators; lamenting the upgrade of the Immigration Risk Rating by the Department of Home Affairs. Schröder-Turk should be given a knighthood.

What is needed, in the immediate future, is a redrafting of laws in states and the Commonwealth that permits full, iron-sheeted immunity to those who expose managerial corruption. This case shows the quibbling and the lack of clarity of those who engage in what is called “public interest disclosure.” University academics fit uncomfortably within that skimpy bit of legislation known as the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013, but Shröder-Turk has attempted to apply it. (The provisions are so miserably weak and vague as to be ineffectual and, as the court documents note, he was “largely unsuccessful in his interlocutory application”). Nor can they avail themselves of the Corporate protections recently passed in Australia, exaggerated in their protections, but nonetheless important for having taken place.

What is astonishing is the free rein given to universities to punish and discipline their personnel for a disgusting tendency, namely, to have, and defend, principles central to teaching and research. How dare these learned types stand up for principled admission standards? Care about grades? Worry about performance? Away with those hideous farts, those people who refuse to play the corporate ball game.

We so happen to disturb an age where the university, as it has become, should be abolished. We await the madly dedicated Martin Luther in academic dress and garb to target his theses with venom against the Papacy of Management; we await the sit-ins of keen students, aware of thought, who have decided to be more than drugged consumers, leading the militant protests directed to learning, the determined opposition to expose the corporate hypocrisy of this dying animal. (Academics won’t, cowardice being their poesy and milky blood). Best kill it off now, and put us, and everybody else, out of a collective misery that serves to rob taxpayer, learner and instructor.

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Tony Abbott Changes Liberal Foreign Policy

“Let’s wait until we’ve got all the facts in before we come to hard and fast conclusions. But obviously it is the clear and settled position of the Australian Government that larger countries should not bully smaller ones, that countries should not aid people who are in rebellion against their own government and that international disputes should be settled peacefully in accordance with international law.”

Tony Abbott, 18th July, 2014

Waiting for the facts, now there’s a change for a start. Ok, it didn’t stop him directly blaming Russia for this tragedy before the investigations even begin, but that’s a vast improvement from when he interrupted Question Time earlier this year to announce that the missing plane was on the verge of being found.

Still, it’s an excellent move that the Liberals are now adopting the policy that “larger countries should not bully smaller ones”! This will, of course, prevent our future involvement in such events as:

  • The Vietnam War
  • Both Iraq wars
  • Our attempts to screw East Timor on oil
  • The G20
  • Trade agreements with the USA
  • Support for the Japanese effort in World War Two

As for “aiding people who are in rebellion against the their own government” – apart from annoyance at the foreign countries who may have contributed to Clive Palmer’s wealth – this probably stems from the fact that Abbott – being English – is still upset over the American War of Independence where tea was tipped into Boston Harbour, while colonials dressed as Native Americans chanted, “No taxation without representation”. The current Tea Party have drawn their name from this event, but left out the word “Boston” from their name. Similarly, in order to achieve consistency, they’ve also left out the words “without representation” from their slogan.

Now, I know some of you will object to me calling Mr Abbott “English” given that he’s lived here since childhood and that he took out Australian citizenship in his twenties. (And, as Parliamentarians aren’t allowed to be dual citizens, he’s clearly revoked his British citizenship – even though there appears no evidence of that.) However, when I complain about referring to Mr Murdoch as an Australian, I’m told that he’s born here so that makes him Australian, even if he has given up his citizenship. As Terry McCrann put it yesterday:

“In the 1960s Murdoch went to Britain, in the 1970s to the US, in the 1980s to the very different universe of Hollywood; that, and a lot more would, as they say, be and is continuing to be history.

But all through this dizzying roller-coasting cacophony of activity he never left Australia.

That’s obvious in business terms. NewsCorp is now the country’s unequalled private sector media player — bizarrely, challenged and increasingly confronted only by the nominally publicly owned but “their” ABC.

BUT he never “left” Australia in even more core personal terms. He always will be quintessentially Australian.”

So, I guess that Rupert is “Australian”; one might almost say that he’s “the Australian” – well, the only one whose opinion counts. (Who needs scientists when Rupert can tell us that the best way to deal with climate change is to build away from the sea?) Of course, we just had the celebration of fifty years of “The Australian” – that newspaper which advocates free enterprise and not relying on handouts, while itself not actually making a profit in the fifty years of its existence.

Ah well, yesterday’s front page of another Murdoch Media Misinformation unit, assured me that Bill Shorten just doesn’t get that we have to find billions of dollars worth of savings while simultaneously celebrating the fact that the Carbon Tax is gone and we’ve removed a $9 billion impost on the economy. And we also want to get rid of that Mining Tax. Because if we get rid of taxes then that’s money that the government doesn’t have and Bill Shorten doesn’t seem to get that when you get rid of taxes like that you need to find spending cuts.

(Typical Labor. When it was announced last year that they’d require people to keep log books on their business-related leased cars, they didn’t understand that this would lead to the death of the car industry because apparently most people weren’t using them for business purposes and if you stop a business rort, that’s bad for the economy – stopping rorts by pensioners, parents, the disabled, the unemployed and anyone else who may not have voted Liberal, on the other hand, is a good and just thing. And let’s face it – any money you take from the government is a rort unless you’re someone whose leasing a car.)

Nevertheless, I can’t understand why – even if they still try and remove the spending associated with it – the Liberals are so concerned with removing the Mining Tax, because, after all, it’s raising so little money, it could hardly be a disincentive to investment. And given some of the things that have been cut because of the “dire emergency”, you’d think every bit would count.

 

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The Murdochracy

We are fighting a war on Climate Change in Australia, we are fighting a war against the strong scientific inference of climate change. It is a sad fact, that the absolute significance to changes in the earth’s climatic cycles are not acknowledged to the broader society.

Transnational media has been allowed to access false information on false pretences to formally and informally describe scientific consensus that is neither true nor conclusive. We are living in an age where it is these pretences that lead to the revulsions in public discourse. They perpetuate evidence to the people that anthropogenic climate change does not exist. We can attribute the gradual process of capitalist change to be an overt perversion of scientific reverence. Intelligent and scientifically minded individuals resist in vain, for the conservative social stance is both triumphant and celebrated, but why?

We can look to these clues with changes in social discourse, by examining the News Limited media. By examining News Limited we can incorporate a corporate capitalist phenomena, where an innate power for financial profit has lead to a democratic override, and the winner takes all. We are living in a time where neither a strong evidential basis nor bi-partisan approach will evoke change significant to stop the transgression of the multi-faceted 70% power distributed, Murdoch media. The shocking reverence of the situation is this: what you read, what you see and what you hear is all a representation of interpretivist opinion backed up by sceptics and conglomerate news bodies who seek to mandate public discourse – without true mass media approaches. These approaches are misrepresentations of facts and figures and bias which divulge the ever condensing incorrect views of climate change. These revered and conversely public trusted tabloids are the ones that are perverting the social justice. The very same justice that leads to the dilution and unstructured social opinion that not only persuades but integrates societal ‘know how’.

For those who are aware, this is what we know: it is not just the configuration of society that controls these aspects, and the dissertation of opinion underlying strong scientific background- as well as the complete and utter reverence that science can and should uphold. It is also something else; it is the greater understanding of complex concepts that are not transcribed in a proper ‘user friendly’ way or if transcribed at all. It is the external factor, the foundations of knowledge and the complexity of interpreting this knowledge to the people. I suspect the underlying consideration that we must address is the ‘denial’ and current ignorance that surrounds corporate body structures such as News Limited and the current Liberal Government and one Tony Abbott and their stakeholders. We can only deduce from these observations, a conformist acquisition, one, where media owned adversaries seek to ignore the evidence of climate change science for, their own initiatives for the favouring of their own financial gain.

For this idea to uphold, we must take into consideration the influence that transnational media can and does have on the wider public opinion. We must transgress this idea further, and consider the elements of . . . dare I say it . . . propaganda. Yes, propaganda! Consider this: it is not without thought that we go so far as to say, political factions of propaganda are truly evident in mass media.

Propaganda, whilst alluding the attitudes of political opinion also eludes the values and emotional upheaval of individual opinion; take for instance Adolf Hitler’s approach. As far as we know, we can see these attitudes transgress to the audience through the author’s personal epitomes and consumerist views. That is, through short worded slogans and repeated headlines that seek to optimize emotional and social relevance- often termed invoking the climate of fear, for example ‘Climate change not caused by humans” and “With Climate scientists like this no wonder we doubt”. A tactic that invokes contextual wording to interpret things that tug at fear and make people go ‘wow’, ‘The media doesn’t agree with experts why?’ But, does this transgress (mass media approach) to influence and persuade individual opinion? Does this really pervert public discourse?

YES and here’s why. We have only to examine the structure of hierarchy in Australian society, to exude confidence that indeed capitalist opinion has strongly and forthright berated the notion of climate change science. How, you ask? By decreeing the factual publication that follows it, in exchange for the more effervescent emotionally charged ‘writing on the wall’ and these short worded slogans are the misperceptions that invoke the general climate of fear. The wall has become no longer responsible for initiating freethinking thought or providing factual and progressive knowledge for adequate exploration of external stimuli, that is, exploration that provokes progressions in critical thinking before one accepts new knowledge. In place we have this wall, a safe cove r- a mask if you will, one that seeks to perversely calm and elude individuals away from real danger, pushing an agenda that ignores the kind of investigative thought that brought about the uprise of modern society, modern economy and scientific progression.

Indeed News Limited has exceeded these prospects, and further constructed a consumerist approach that not only constrains the individual, but also eludes them to the incorrect information that will eventually decimate social, emotional, environmental and political/democratic structure. News Limited will elude their audience to a point of no return in which case, we will see more than a group of troubled individuals with no free thought -but a group of troubled individuals that will vote according to these allusions that have propagated in their mass media world. The result you ask? Well, it’s a group of right winged zombies who neither understand nor amend their thought as to why they voted in such a contentious (conservative) way.

For all to see, News Limited got their wish, for the first time, democracy has failed and for the first time, transnational media came, crushed, killed and decimated an audience of free thinkers. News Limited poisoned their right to execute free thought or one that would favour their way of life. For the first time ever we see ‘tradies’, ‘parents’, ’single mothers ‘, ‘pensioners’ and ‘low-income earners’, vote against subsequent benefits that aim to target the particular struggle their respective bracket represents. What has Murdoch Media done? They have allowed Tony Abbot and his pack of liberal dogs to come forth for the kill and bring about the inevitable crumble of social justice. The Murdochcracy has created a new breed in society, once and for all-this new breed has gone against their own rights, their own free will and their best interests at heart- for favour of liberal conservative factions that aim to destroy the very things they are voting against . . . sound familiar? So, the political factions that were once opposition (for good reason), are thrust into power and News Limited epitomise these views with each passing day, so now, for the first time ever – a corporate capitalist structure has finally decomposed the walls of democracy and laid foundations of misadventure to the democratic right of the people.

That is right – you heard that right! News Limited has succeeded in diluting the values of free thought, transgressing ignorance and interpretivist views that assist with the consumerist/conservative approach to financial gain. One that is not in the best interest of social discourse, the best interests of the people and… not in the best interest of scientific reverence. So . . . the bottom line – all of this is not in the best interest for exposing the truth of Australia’s Changing Climate and the struggles that are yet to come. Is it propaganda? Has the Marino Wool from our jackets been pulled over our eyes? Australia’s climate is changing, so why has News Limited and it’s Murdochcracy been allowed to decide our fate?

*Author’s note-when I say ‘climate change’ I am referring to ‘anthropogenic (human induced) climate change; therefore, the sceptics view is: denial of ‘human induced climate change’.

 

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Introducing the new “ABC free” AUSTRALIA … now with extra ignorance, selfishness and cruelty

(Or why we need the ABC)

abc

Since the coalition’s Murdoch lead victory in last September’s federal election there has been a palpable shift in our national narrative. The images of a sun burnt country forged by convict sweat and hard working immigrants is fading fast, and in its wake a new story is being fashion.

It is a tale of well intentioned, hard working corporations, (who really just want to keep us all employed), being squeezed by draconian regulations and pushed offshore by rampant, out of control wages. It’s the chronicle of a government being driven into the red, not by cutting taxes for the wealthy and turning a blind eye to the corporate “offshoring” of profits (read “legal” tax evasion), but by those lazy unemployed/disabled bludgers on welfare, and their “anti business” environmentalist buddies. It’s the saga of nation overrun by so called “illegals” intent on subverting our immigration laws for the sole purpose of suckling endlessly on OUR government teat, (Ironically most of whom are coming here LEGALLY as refugees).

These new LNP/Murdoch sanctioned mantras are repeated so often, and with such earnest conviction it seems people are finding it pretty damn hard not to buy into it. There are even those in the Labor party who seem quite happy to have joined the chorus.

I hear it everywhere I go, everyday Aussies out there parroting the coalition’s vitriolic hatred for anything even vaguely related to the unions, the unemployed, the environment, asylum seekers, disability pensioners, ABC lefties, foreign aid, etc.

So why all the negative jawboning?

Well, if you read the papers Australia has, up until our recent electoral liberation, been a nation under siege by left wing “special interests”! Because of this evil leftist scourge we have been forced to endure such indignities as the 2nd highest standard of living in the world (after Norway), the planets largest houses, one of the worlds best/most affordable health care systems, quality education, disposable incomes such that we can afford to be the be the worlds leading per capita emitters of of CO2, and the dubious privilege of ranking 69th in our per capita refugee intake (49th in overall terms).

australia__s_contribution_to_the_asylum_seekers_by_wordswithmeaning-d56owrr

When you lay it out like that it’s easy to see why we have all been so unhappy, we have been really suffering! Clearly something had to be done.

But seriously, something has happened to us. If you listen to the rhetoric, it would seem we are no longer a nation that strives for the fair go, but rather one that values our own perceived self interest above all other concerns.

I scratch my head and wonder, how did this happen? When did Australia become a place that embraces the social and political agendas of the most ignorant, selfish and cruel among us?

It wasn’t that long ago that Australian public opinion was DEEPLY CONCERNED with the environmental legacy we are leaving for our children. As recently as last year people seemed happy to talk about the scandal that is corporate tax evasion. There was even a time, in living memory, when refugees that came here by boat were welcomed with a broad smile and a hand up.

So what happened? How did the social and moral imperative get banished from our national narrative? Did it happen by accident, or by design? And if by design, then by who’s hand?

And then there’s the bigger questions. Exactly who’s interests are served by these apparent changes in our attitudes? And is anyone standing against the tide?

The sculpting of public opinion has a long history and there are many tools, such as fear and scapegoating, that have been used to great effect through out the ages. “Group think”, for example is an extraordinarily powerful weapon, (after all who wants to run outside the herd, everyone knows how dangerous that is). The truth however has never been a necessary component when seeking to sway the prevailing sentiments of the masses.

William James, the father of modern Psychology notably once quipped “There’s nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will not believe it”. This rather glib observation was most infamously put into practice by the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, (a man on whom the power of the press was most certainly not lost), who used the simple “lie, repeat, lie, repeat, lie, repeat” principle to whip up the greatest genocidal frenzy in history.

More recently Goebbel’s philosophical musing “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play” has been turned on it’s head by the irrepressible Rupert Murdoch, our prodigal puppeteer d’jour, who, like some gruesomely wizened “whack a mole” has popped up here again to lead his relentless political cheer squad for which ever side will acquiesce to do his bidding. It would appear that, in spite of his meddling hand being beaten down in UK and much of the USA now being hip to the fact that “FOX NEWS” is an oxymoron, if you hand the old boy a monopoly he’ll show you he’s still got it.

murdoch-puppet_1940215i

One rather startling revelation that came out of the UK’s recent Levinson enquiry into press standards , was was that Murdoch had actively lobbied former UK prime minister John Major to change the Torries policy on the EU, lest he engage in willfully biased coverage in order to “hand the election” to Blair’s New Labor (a party/man seemingly more willing to do his bidding). Major refused to allow Murdoch to dictate policy and was duly slammed by the Murdoch press, who came out swinging hard for Blair.

So in spite of the Torries having had a clear lead in the polls up until Major’s “disagreement” with Murdoch, the Torries, (much like Gillard), found the power of a vindictive, inflammatory press mobilised against them simply too great to overcome. Blair was elected and the rest, as they say, is history.

While the Brits were duly outraged, you would think something so blatantly corrupt as seeking to dictate government policy in return for favourable press would raise a dubious brow from someone back here in Aus; but much like the “March in March” (a mysteriously unnoticed gathering of over 100,000 Australia wide) somehow it failed to be deemed newsworthy enough to make any significant impression on the Australian mainstream media.

So… If a media baron is dictating government policy in return for press support, but no one ever hears about it, is the political process actually being subverted? Probably, (but then who has time to worry about such things when we are all so busy hating and punishing refugees).

no to refugeesNauru Detention Centre

Or… If a crowd gathers in the city and no one is there to report it, did it really gather? Maybe it did in the hearts and minds of those who were there, but for anyone else, or in the archives of history?… Well maybe not.

march in march

We have been told a lot of things recently, (much of it negative), about everything from the unions to environmentalists, from asylum seekers to the NBN. And while it’s easy to put a question mark over anything a politician might say in an effort to popularise their chosen policy agenda; I can not help but wonder if a press core that is practically a monopoly, (and known to actively pursue it’s owners personal agendas), is actually telling us the whole truth, or even any small part of it?

Like many others I can’t quite shake the feeling that we’re being fed a grab bag of skilfully crafted misinformation, half truths and innuendo designed to direct our hostility toward the poor and disenfranchised, or anyone out there pushing for a fairer, more sustainable policy agenda.

According to the official story, Australians are apparently (on average) far richer than we were 10 years ago… but for some rather opaque reason we just don’t feel it.
I can’t help but wonder why that is?

Is it because we feel more entitled than we used to? (If we don’t have a car, a mobile phone, a laptop, an ipad, a kindle, a 50″ TV, Foxtel, Quickflix, a yearly overseas holiday, and at least 3 restaurant meals a week we think we are suffering an intolerable injustice?).

Is it that we are constantly being assaulted by the relentless negativity of a 24 hour news cycle, telling us that our unfettered access to “more stuff” is being threatened by the poor and disenfranchised?

Or maybe it’s that the wealth is only going to the top end of town, and no one else is reaping the benefit?

It’s perfectly understandable that when we are feeling squeezed we like to have someone to blame, but it is worth asking ourselves, is our anger being misplaced?

Here we are, literally seething with contempt for refugees, single mothers, greenies, protesters, students, socialists, the disabled, lefties, intellectuals and the all those former bank and manufacturing workers that have now joined the ranks of the unemployed. Meanwhile the gap between the haves and have nots is at an all time high. Our trusty government is busy reducing taxes for the top end of town, Corporate profits are breaking records left and right, (but strangely corporate tax receipts are not, Google, for example, had revenue of over $1 billion in Australia in 2012, and yet paid only $74k tax). CEO’s wages and share options continue to defy gravity, and our banks, whilst being incredulously profitable, are shipping jobs off shore faster than you can say “transaction fee”, and so it goes…

*(brings to mind a joke I heard recently: A banker, a Daily Telegraph reader and a refugee are out to lunch. The waiter puts down a plate with twelve biscuits on it; the banker takes eleven, nudges the Telegraph reader and says “hey watch it mate, that refugee wants your biscuit”)

Everyone knows trickle down economics is bunk, and yet we keep buying into the myth, lauding the lords and kicking the powerless. The cognitive dissonance simply staggering!

So my question is this…Who’s interests does this new hateful narrative really serve? Murdoch and his buddies in the 1%, or those of us in the mortgage belt?

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not wholly blaming Murdoch. We all lobby for our own interests, and why should he be any different. What I am saying however is that a virtual monopoly concentration of Australia’s media in any ones hands is dangerous. We need visible, diverse mainstream media to give a balanced range of views.

We also need some measure of mainstream media presence that is not driven by profit, or dictated to by advertising revenue and share holder values. We need a media that is prepared to objectively challenge the veracity of the story as told to us by Murdoch, (and given the governments proposed changes to section 18c of the racial vilification act this is now more important than ever).

In short, we need our ABC.

[twitter-follow screen_name=’LetitiaMcQuade’ show_count=’yes’]

The Tooth Is Out There; Dentists Part Of Global Conspiracy!

Ok, there’s a group of people who are meeting. In secret and they have a plan to do something. I don’t know what. I don’t know when. But – if you doubt me = just look at the evidence. There is absolutely no evidence anywhere of what they’re planning. None! That’s how effective they’ve been at keeping their conspiracy secret!!

The beauty of my first paragraph is that while it could be ironic, it’s also perfectly true. And that’s the flaw with so many conspiracy theories. If the organisation or group is so all powerful, why are they so bad at covering their tracks?

There are usually two responses to this. One is that they’re so powerful that they don’t care; the other is that it’s only thanks to a few intrepid individuals that the truth is coming out.

I’m sure that there are actual conspiracies in the world. While Labor, I suspect, are plotting to take government as soon as possible, I’d hardly put this in the category of conspiracy, any more than the seemingly cosy relationship between Rupert Murdoch and the Liberal Party. It’s only a conspiracy when the stated agenda is radically different from the actual agenda. In the case of Rupert and Tony, it’s clear that Ruperts aim is to dominate the world, and Tony’s aim is to help him. These things are pretty much on public record. (Why has Rupert allowed “The Simpsons” to run? Simple – he doesn’t realise that Mr Burns is an unsympathetic character!)

Now, as to fluoride in our water supply. Yep, there could be a debate about some of the health effects and whether it’s the most effective way to help children develop healthy teeth, but I didn’t really believe as some Americans did in the sixties that it was the “commies” trying to put it into the water supply to poison us all and control our minds.

And so the Facebook meme linking it to Hitler and concentration camps caught my eye. Was it possible that it was true? That fluoride was part of the communist plot to make Americans compliant idiots who’d be easily influenced by propaganda?

Well, a lengthy internet search found no evidence that there was actually fluoride in the water at concentration camps. All of the evidence about this came from people arguing against putting fluoride in the water. You know, it was sort of: “And another reason not to put fluoride in the water is that Hitler did it to keep the Jews docile”. (I would have thought that the machine guns and the dogs would have kept it fairly unlikely that they’d attempt an uprising, but no matter.)

As for the effects of fluoride, well, I could find nothing about keeping people docile. There was a recent Harvard study that suggested it could be responsible for lowering IQ, but that was mainly about children, and it pointed out mixing it with infant formula have a much higher sose than mother’s milk. It wasn’t conclusive. And as the tobacco industry and the climate deniers will tell you, until it’s conclusive, you should do nothing. (Sorry, didn’t mean to link them there. I’ll get comments now from climate sceptics challenging me to prove that they ever worked for the tobacco industry even though it says so in the CV that they put online!) But nothing to suggest that that fluoride would lower the intelligence levels in older people.

Certainly, there was no study that suggested that the Arab Spring may have been a result of a lack of fluoride in the drinking water there. Perhaps, we could check to see if revolutions are more prevalent in countries that don’t have fluoride in their water. But then it could be because the countries who don’t have fluoride in their water – or, indeed, any drinking water – have more reasons to mount a revolt.

I’m sure that none of this has reassured any of the people who are convinced that climate change is part of a global conspiracy to establish Martian rule on earth and that fluoride is responsible for the election of the past ten Prime Ministers of Australia who are all members of the sacred order of Dan Brown’s Vitruvian Man, because, after all, we know that the records of what the Germans did has been completely eliminated from public view and it’s only a few truth-seeker who’ve been able to find documentation linking everything to the Allies real reasons for wanting to stop the Nazis.

No, it’s clear really. Both dentists and scientists wear white coats. They’re all part of the same community that likes spreading misinformation. And we know how easy it is to remove the truth from the internet, so the very fact that there’s no information on how fluoride makes you compliant just proves that the dentists have suppressed it. Yes, I’ve been thinking much more clearly since I gave up seeing my dentist and restricted my fluid intake to nothing but wine. Certainly after a bottle of water, I’m usually quite placid, but after a bottle of wine the effects of the fluoride have worn off and I’m ready to rage against the machine.

Just goes to prove that you shouldn’t let a lack of evidence spoil a good conspiracy theory!

 

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Why Rupert hates unions and Gina loves 457 visas

Image from theconversation.com

Image from theconversation.com

While attempting to clean up my computer, I came across an essay that my daughter wrote earlier this year. I would like to share an excerpt from it.

Marxists see the conflict between the bourgeoisie (those that own the means of production) and the proletariat (those who sell their labour) as crucial to the maintenance of capitalism. Its function is to create an obedient, docile, uncritical workforce who will work to support the upper-class’s lifestyle and the economy. Keeping wages low, or debt pressure high, means workers will be less likely to complain or make demands. As workers struggle to provide their families with all the temptations that a capitalist society offers, they become far less likely to risk their employment, and less able to improve their situation. Even in the unlikely event that an opportunity for advancement should arise, it would often mean abandoning family and friends in order to pursue it. These factors, along with a tendency to marry within one’s own circle, combine to make movement between social classes difficult.

The current political debate surrounding the power of unions, work choices, and the importation of workers on 457 visas, could be regarded as an attempt to disempower employees thus maintaining a compliant workforce. It is difficult for an individual to risk complaining about wages or working conditions, so removing the collective voice and protection of unions means people are unlikely to make waves if, by so doing, they risk unemployment or deportation.

The process of industrialisation in the 19th century led to major changes in family life. Many things that had formerly been produced at home were now produced more cheaply in factories and families eventually became units of shared income and consumption rather than production, private and separate from the public world of business and politics. Men’s place of work was removed from the home and women’s and children’s unpaid domestic labour kept wages low allowing companies to increase profits. Women were increasingly isolated from society and children learned to obey.

Max Horkheimer regarded the family as an essential part of the social order in that it adapted every individual to conformity to authority. He argued that if men are the sole breadwinners, this ‘makes wife, sons and daughters “his”, puts their lives in large measure into his hands, and forces them to submit to his order and guidance’. Marx felt the same way stating that “Marriage is…incontestably a form of private property”. The economic dependence of the family on the father made men more conservative about radical social change which might undermine their ability to provide for their families, while the development of obedience to the authority of one’s own father was a preparation for obedience to the authority of the state and one’s employer.

During the 1960s and 70s the Western world saw a rapid period of social change in which the traditional understanding of the family began to be questioned. Feminist writers such as Christine Delphy, argued that in a capitalist society there are two modes of production: an industrial mode which is the site of capitalist exploitation; and the domestic mode which is the site of patriarchal exploitation. Marxist writers such as Juliet Mitchell examined the exploitation of workers under capitalism, pointing out that women, as they slowly entered the workforce, were doubly exploited through lower wages and unpaid labour at home. Contemporary Marxist writing argues that the family structure socialises children ‘into capitalist ideology’, which ‘prepares them to accept their place in the class structure, provides an emotionally supportive retreat for the alienated worker and so dissipates the frustration of the workplace, and impedes working class solidarity by privatising the household and generating financial commitments which discourage militant activity’ .

The role of the nuclear family in providing, perpetuating and indoctrinating a docile workforce is summarised by the following quotes. Meighan suggests that “For men, the denial of opportunities for excellence under capitalism leads…to a search for power and self-esteem in the sexual arena” Ainsley goes on to explain that “When wives play their traditional roles as takers of shit they often absorb their husband’s legitimate anger and frustration in a way which poses no challenge to the system”, and Cooper states that “The child is, in fact, primarily taught not how to survive in society, but how to submit to it”.

Changes in society have blurred these stereotypical roles. Many more women now are entering the workforce and are far less likely to marry for economic security. The availability of quality education and the explosion of information provided by the internet have made people more informed and less willing to blindly accept what they are told, and for some, it has also provided the opportunity to move from the social class into which they were born. The traditional structure of the nuclear family is also changing with much more diversity in family groups due to such factors as divorce, same sex couples, extended families, and many women choosing not to have children.

There have been other criticisms of the materialist perspective in that its focus was too limited to economic aspects, neglecting the value of and support provided in a loving intimate union, instead concentrating on the oppressive and controlling aspects of families and relationships. It tends to portray people as capitalist dupes without freedom of thought assessing them purely from a labour perspective.

While many of the bourgeoisie would still prefer, and in fact depend on, a malleable, uncomplaining workforce, family power structures are becoming less a factor in achieving this. However, our seemingly endless desire to consume and update means that economic pressures still play a large role. Even with, in many cases, both parents working, employment security usually takes precedence over job satisfaction or working conditions. Children are better informed and largely better educated and therefore have more opportunity to achieve economic independence and possibly change their social class but the rising cost of tertiary education, possible reductions in funding, and competition from overseas students limits the number who can attempt this. The burden is perhaps better shared but the outcome is in most cases the same – be happy with your lot.

Engel’s spoke of the evolution of the family as being both a catalyst for and result of the growth of capitalism. As mankind’s standard of living has improved, our desire to accumulate possessions and wealth to pass on to our families has only increased, as has our willingness to go into debt to satisfy it. Power and control is still exerted by those that own the means of production and they readily use this power to manipulate public opinion. Concentration of the media in the hands of a few like-minded individuals has led to misinformation campaigns that have amazingly ignited the workers to fight for the rights of the rich to get richer at their own expense. Family dynamics may have changed but the willingness of the proletariat to support the bourgeoisie seems alive and well.