Silencing the lambs: Asylum seekers are a metaphor for our times


On Line Opinion have just published my latest piece on asylum seekers, for which I am very grateful. The photo here sums up my belief in what Australians are capable of. If this many can gather behind a banner in a tiny village in the middle of a wilderness, then we can only imagine the swell of people standing up, standing for, standing behind this one banner, a banner that represents solidarity with those at the pinnacle of all that is wrong with the world today – asylum seekers.

Here’s the article –

Silencing the lambs: Asylum seekers are a metaphor for our times


Isobel’s first novel Asylum Asylum Cover 2is available in paperback at Odyssey Books, Angus and RobertsonAmazon and the Book Depository. Ebook available through all major outlets.

Hard Attitudes for Hard Times


DickensDespite the grandiose speeches and the spin, across western democracies post-GFC austerity seems to have little to do with reducing government debt and everything to do with controlling populations largely through the expansion and oppression of the underclass – the dalits of western civilisation – the guts sucked from the welfare system leaving a wizened carcass of a once plump beast. Welfare services are corporatised, sold off to the lowest bidder whose sole concern is profit. Corporations or quasi-corporate ngos with minimal or no expertise are given tenders for aged care, counselling, women’s refuges and so on. While Australia’s Abbott government’s Benefit reforms will render destitute millions of Australia’s most vulnerable.

All the while the politico-media complex tells the noble-washed of the middle and still-working classes that the underclass are slobbering wretches with unworthy motives, scammers, scoundrels, cheats and the bone idle, pathetic wretches of Dickensian proportions whose begging hands should be promptly severed. After all, why would a decent voter wish to carry such a burden? Best to lock the worst of them up in the newly revamped and much expanded prison service, run naturally by corporations with a now established if troubled history in the industry. Once incarcerated inmates can then work for a pittance or no renumeration at all, and while the noble tax payer pays the government to pay the corporation, the corporation extracts profits from its prisoners’ labour. A perfect solution and a perfect deterrent should any other member of the underclass wish to question the system.

We are I think witnessing the rapid expansion of an underworld within an overworld, and those either unaffected, affected in beneficial ways, or who respond fatalistically and passively to avoid falling into the underworld, will support the new status quo, happy to buy the spin,  happy to scapegoat the the marginalised, the outcasts, the poor. In case the noble-washed should ever waver, a back-up plan is already in place – the cruel treatment of asylum seekers and the attendant carefully crafted propaganda. Every ideological campaign needs a scapegoat through which to harden attitudes that can then be manipulated and directed towards other groups. That the nationalistic ideology is a complete lie invoked to mask the fundamentally globalist agenda unfolding in every country the world over is of great concern. Nationalism is contagious, and in its worst and most fragmented and divisive forms leads to war. War that inevitably creates an exodus of asylum seekers in its wake. A perfect situation perhaps for the structural changes essential for the globalist project to succeed.

Nationalism has the added benefit of parochialising the vision of the masses so they are incapable of reaching any sort of understanding of matters global.

As for the those with just hearts, our governments have plans for us too. Currently in Australia Attorney General, George Brandis has plans afoot to further strengthen surveillance and terror laws on the pretext of protecting citizens from radically infused returnees from Syria – born-again jihadists with malicious intentions. While it may be true that one or two do pose a threat to Australian society, surely ASIO and the AFP can handle them? Isn’t that what they are trained and paid to do? I believe something much more sinister is at work, exemplified by Josh Allen’s piece in the New Internationalist, ‘Anti-extremism’ government programme targets student activist. Allen highlights yet again how anti-terror legislation is used to monitor and harrass activists of all stripes.

As Arundhati Roy states in many of her essays concerning big dams in India, the primary targets of the neoliberalism are always the poor and activists. Terrorism while real, is thus used as a weapon by the politico-media complex against its own people. Australia treads the same path.

I fear that under austerity the underclass are fast becoming ”asylum seekers” in their own nation, activists that seek to support them and hold corporations and their puppet governments to account are rapidly gagged, while the noble-washed conduct their affairs unaware that an even greater harm has befallen them, their hearts, perhaps once soft and kind, now sinewy and beating a callous pulse.

MH17 Should be Raising Questions Concerning the Nature of Contemporary Warfare



MH17      While the Australian media is almost exclusively obsessed with the deaths of our own (notably broken down into 28 citizens and 8 permanent residents) and the adequacy of our government’s responses on the world stage, turning a global event into a navel-gazing exercise that serves to boost our knee-jerk xenophobia and parochialism and contributing nothing  of substance that can enable us to contextualise the downing of MH17, other writers from around the globe are striving to provide in-depth analyses of the situation on the ground in the Ukraine. One article that provides some insight into the situation is journalist Wayne Madsen’s piece in Libya 360.

Madsen suggests that one possible if not likely suspect in the downing of MH17 is Ukrainian oligarch Ihol Kolomoisky. Of course evidence cannot be conflated with contextualisation and it is the latter that forms the substance of the piece. However, in-so-doing, Madsen alerts me to a matter of far greater concern than the whodunnit drama surrounding this latest atrocity. As Mary Kaldor so persuasively argues in New and Old Wars, contemporary warfare is no longer fought between nation states. What has emerged in the last few decades are wars fought within borders, wars that echo the civil wars of old where a group of separatists rose up in Che Guevara fashion to oust a government. Yet in a new war scenario, as seen too in Iraq and Syria, there is likely to be not one, but several if not many separatist factions (funded by overseas government and private interests), fighting amongst themselves as much as against the perceived state enemy. As Kaldor explains, these factions are comprised of  regular military personnel, private militias, foreign mercenaries and local criminals and thugs. Each faction primarily concerned with seizing control of a city or town, terrorising its people, killing undesirables (intellectuals and humanitarian types) and engaging in ethnic cleansing.

Of course war has always been big business. Financiers of war (banks) make huge profits. But it used to be that banks loaned their funds to governments of nation states. These days another scenario exists in which banks finance corporations who then fund the private militias  -themselves corporatised, and as this link shows, there is an alarming number of service providers. For example, Ukrainian oligarch Kolomoisky raised his own mercenary army, an army whose primary purpose is to serve the interests of Ukrainian gas and oil company Burisma Holdings.  This example points to the emergence of a chillingly feudal scenario, echoing the age of pirates and privateers, as if time itself were in retrograde, catapulting humanity back about 400 years, on a trajectory that will surely down not just an international flight but democracy itself.

Which is why I get annoyed with Australian media, so annoyed that I have set aside the time it has taken me to write this blog piece.