Asylum seekers are not a problem: they’re people


With thousands of asylum seekers and refugees in the Straits of Malacca, crammed into boats without food and water, rejected by country after country and towed back out to sea, the desperation of vast numbers of people scrambling to reach safer shores could not be starker. They may be fleeing terror. They may be fleeing destitution. And we must strive to understand the circumstances of such flights in their entirety before we dare to point an accusatory finger.

The blame game will only succeed for so long. A hugely successful propaganda technique is to isolate the ‘fall guy’ and blame to the hilt. When it comes to asylum seekers, we are told to blame the people smugglers. While I dare say such traffickers are not my kind of folk, because I prefer to spend time with people with scruples, they are, like many agents and go betweens, providing an essential service, and making a profit out of the fee.

In  The last time they turned back the boats, Jeff Sparrow draws a parallel between the rejection of the Bangladeshi and Rohingya refugees and the Jews on St Louis, and our ‘casual indifference’ to such atrocity. Such indifference is cultivated in part through a manipulative play on our fears, of terrorism, and of ‘opening the floodgates to job stealers.’ Thus a nation may stand firm against ‘marauding outsiders’, control its borders with impunity, its citizenry hardened into callous yet bogus self-preservationist attitudes.

What is alarming about today’s situation is that we are able to turn our hate-fueled eyes in the direction of any and all outsiders, wherever they come from. And the causes of asylum seeking are ignored.

Yet unless we examine those causes, we will be complicit in an evil as great if not greater than the Holocaust. People take flight when fight is not possible. When villages have been razed, towns ethnically cleansed, when the women are raped and the men slaughtered. When there is nothing left to eat or drink. People flee because they are desperate. The decimation of the Middle East, the ongoing violence and oppression across North Africa, Myanmar, the civil war in Ukraine, are but a few examples.

We are also on a precipice. Climate change is already spawning refugees. Bangladesh, home of 156 million people, is slowly sliding under the sea, village by village.

And let’s not forget there are huge sums to be made out of refugees. (And of course war) Who cares about human suffering when profits can be gleaned running detention centres? In fact, refugees make more money than prisoners, so bring it on. The more suffering the better. This sort of statement is not seen on Serco’s home page, or G4S’s, but it should be, and if these corporations told the truth about themselves it would be.

Serco, a corporation run by the super-rich. A corporation that profits out of the poor. That sucks from the teat of the tax payer’s bottle confident the bottle will never run dry.

In essence, asylum seekers exist because the super-rich exist. Because such people are expendable. The reality is that we are all expendable. The insanity of the situation we are living in is that of a parasite determined to kill its host.

Australia is a world leader in a universal cruelty. When St Louis  was looking for a home, the locus of evil was Germany. Now we have multiple loci as country after country seeks to guard and close its borders. I have no idea how this will end. I suspect that there will be much horror ahead before it does.

Globalism, Empire and the Rise of Nationalisms



Guernica  With war in Ukraine and the Middle East I wake up each morning thankful for happenstance that finds me where I am.

In an age of global neoliberalist empire where the free market reigns, dollar-profit-bottom-line its beating heart, little wonder that much of what passes for catastrophe caused by others is far more likely to have been either created or constructed-after-the-fact in order to further the cause of empire and diminish apparent external threats. Enemies are everywhere, shape-shifting, one moment China, another Russia, or Iraq, or Syria…  The biggest threat to globalist America may now be the counter-globalist BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) who have have gone so far as to create their own development bank, challenging the autonomy of the World Bank and IMF. Which may account for both the West’s (the US and its cronies) dogged demonisation of Putin and the military build up against China, including the recent militarisation of Japan, the American empire having stepped behind those nations (including Philippines and Japan) in territorial disputes over tiny islands in the East and South China Seas.

Empires generally stop at nothing to retain their power. Defeat an insufferable humiliation, they will fight to the last man, they will connive and contrive every means to retain or appear to retain their power. It may be the case that the emergence of BRICs will require a sharing of global power. It may be that BRICs will surpass America and become the one dominating power. Meanwhile the rest of humanity, pawns in this elite game played mostly by and on behalf of the banks, will continue to suffer in various ways.

Setting aside all advances of theory and discovery, the key difference between the empire today and the empires of old is that technology has made it possible for so many of us to be aware and informed. We know straight away the atrocities, the displacements, all the human tragedies occurring in the name of empire. We bear witness to the rising of nationalisms the world over, as groups within nations struggle for autonomy, for identity. And we see the bloodthirsty, the basest, of all humanity given freedom to enact cruelty upon cruelty. Indeed, such types are paid for their services. Yet they are no different from their employers who  unleash upon the planet wave after wave of destruction.

I often think the problem humanity faces is one of power, not awareness. That many are manipulated by propaganda, swayed by mainstream media this way and that is not the fundamental battleground. In my view humanity faces a crisis of will. The will to human and planetary betterment (with all its connotations of inclusion, empowerment, sustainability, humanitarianism and so on) versus the will-to-power itself. This latter a corruption, for the power sought is selfish, acquisitive, greedy and destructive.

We are governed by greybeards with arthritic minds. Greybeards cultivating a new wave of technophiliacs whose principal reality is virtual, empathy quotient minimal; compulsive and reckless gamblers with sharp minds for finance and a marked lack of moral fibre; and spin doctors who like nothing more than to rip the conceptual ground from beneath our feet through the hollowing out of meaningful and significant terms such as the notion of empowerment itself.

I do not believe for one moment that a BRIC empire would be any different from the American empire we now endure.

In the face of this reality, unlike those who respond to empiric globalisation through group closure (and inevitable xenophobia) and violence of nationalism (often fascist), my instinct has often been to flee to the hills, live out a life inspired by ideas expressed by Epicurus or Voltaire. Finding myself in just such a place I am thankful for my own circumstances. Yet there is no escape. I am doomed to suffer the suffering of others. And like millions of us the world over, that suffering turns my head back to face the beast.

An Assault on the Downing of MH 17




10505548_493119704152891_8326171427034740122_nI had to watch the news last night, on SBS and ABC. And of course I endured the tedious repetition, the over-dwelling on the usual crisis dimensions from the flowers and the tears to the stock phrases of politicians. And I felt sorry for Putin. Not because I am suckered in by his hang dog looks on camera, but because he has been made the fall guy in such a direct and ruthless manner. The West hailing in the process the old Cold War ideology of big bad Russia (with the attendant sub-text of big bad communism).

I abhor hypocrisy. Since when does the West point a finger at itself? Since when does the United Nations condemn it’s nursing mother America for supplying weapons that kill innocents?

There is every chance that MH17 was shot down by the ultra-right wing Ukrainian government. Every chance that this single atrocious act was orchestrated by an inner circle (possibly with ties to Uncle Sam) in order to elevate tensions, justify all manner of sanctions and retaliations, garner support from a wavering Europe and of course further demonise and ostracise Russia.

Last night I knew I was being indoctrinated by mainstream news. Even the matter of access to the crash site, apparently thwarted by separatist militia, was no doubt a construction of circumstances. Mainstream media was on this occasion so unashamedly predatory and melodramatic, squeezing every last drop of  milk from the udder of catastrophe, that I stood up and went to do the dishes.

Peace be upon those two-hundred and ninety-eight who lost their lives and those who are suffering their loss.

Peace be upon the millions of innocents in Iraq, in Syria, in Gaza, in Sudan, in the Congo, in the Central African Republic, their dead and maimed and the families who mourn, peace be upon the displaced and those huddled in border camps, and peace be upon all those who seek a return to their peace…

War? – Not in MH17’s Name.



BlakeFerdinand moments – The swift and hysterical escalation in Gaza over a crime that may have been perpetrated by any old psycho beggars belief. And now in Ukraine we have a magnificent trigger, one that will justify to all the justness of any act of vengeance or ”punishment.” – Why air Malaysia? – probably no reason, but the number of AIDs conference attendees makes the act all the more an outrage.

The crash is another whodunnit – whether perpetrated by Russian-backed rebels (by accident or design) or the far-right Ukrainian government (by design), we can be sure that we will be told the rebels did it.

The best question to ask in these situations is who benefits? Whether by orchestration or opportunism the warmongers are the primary beneficiaries.

And the warmongers are champing at the bit for war as ever they are. Better a plethora of proxy wars than one fought by own armies or worse, on own soil.

I am so sorry for the human loss. For all the suffering families. But I do think we owe it to all who are gone and to all who suffer not to follow Israel and allow hysteria and intense emotions to cloud our judgement. WAR? – Not in MH17’s name.