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Summer 2011-12 • gold coin donation
Is the world too big to fail?
he democracy uprising in the Arab world has been a spectacular display of courage, dedication, and commitment by popular forces— coinciding, fortuitously, with a remarkable uprising of tens of thousands in support of working people and democracy in Madison, Wisconsin, and other U.S. cities. If the trajectories of revolt in Cairo and Madison intersected, however, they were headed in opposite directions: in Cairo toward gaining elementary rights denied by the dictatorship, in Madison towards defending rights that had been won in long and hard struggles and are now under severe attack. Each is a microcosm of tendencies in global society, following varied courses. There are sure to be far-reaching consequences of what is taking place both in the decaying industrial heartland of the richest and most powerful country in human history, and in what President Dwight Eisenhower called “the most strategically important area in the world”—“a stupendous source of strategic power” and “probably the richest economic prize in the world in the field of foreign investment,” in the words of the State Department in the 1940s, a prize that the U.S. intended to keep for itself and its allies in the unfolding New World Order of that day. Despite all the changes since, there is every reason to suppose that today's policy-makers basically adhere to the judgment of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s influential advisor A.A. Berle that control of the incomparable energy reserves of the Middle East would yield “substantial control of the world.” And correspondingly, that loss of control would threaten the project of global dominance that was clearly articulated during World War II, and that has been sustained in the face of major changes in world order since that day. From the outset of the war in 1939, Washington anticipated that it would end with the U.S. in a position of overwhelming power. High-level State Department officials and foreign policy specialists met through the wartime years to lay out plans for the postwar world. They delineated a “Grand Area” that the U.S. was to dominate, including the Western hemisphere, the Far East, and the former British empire, with its Middle East energy resources. As Russia began to grind down Nazi armies after Stalingrad, Grand Area goals extended to as much of Eurasia as possible, at least its economic core in Western Europe. Within the Grand Area, the U.S. would maintain “unquestioned power,” with “military and economic supremacy,” while ensuring the “limitation of any exercise of sovereignty” by states that might interfere with its global designs. The careful wartime plans were soon implemented. It was always recognised that Europe might choose to follow an independent course. NATO was partially intended to counter this threat. As soon as the official pretext for NATO dissolved in 1989, NATO was expanded to the East in violation of verbal pledges to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. It has since become a U.S.-run intervention force, with farranging scope, spelled out by NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who informed a NATO conference that “NATO troops have to guard pipelines that transport oil and gas that is directed for the West,” and more generally to protect sea routes used by tankers and other “crucial infrastructure” of the energy system. Grand Area doctrines clearly license military intervention at will. That conclusion was articulated clearly by the Clinton administration, which declared that the U.S. has the right to use military force to ensure “uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources,” and must
FW Noam Chomsky
maintain huge military forces “forward deployed” in Europe and Asia “in order to shape people's opinions about us” and “to shape events that will affect our livelihood and our security.” The same principles governed the invasion of Iraq. As the U.S. failure to impose its will in Iraq was becoming unmistakable, the actual goals of the invasion could no longer be concealed behind pretty rhetoric. In November 2007, the White House issued a Declaration of Principles demanding that U.S. forces must remain indefinitely in Iraq and committing Iraq to privilege American investors. Two months later, President Bush informed Congress that he would reject legislation that might limit the permanent stationing of U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq or “United States control of the oil resources of Iraq” -demands that the U.S. had to abandon shortly after in the face of Iraqi resistance. In Tunisia and Egypt, the recent popular uprisings have won impressive victories, but as the Carnegie Endowment reported, while names have changed, the regimes remain: “A change in ruling elites and system of governance is still a distant goal.” The report discusses internal barriers to democracy, but ignores the external ones, which as always are significant. The U.S. and its Western allies are sure to do whatever they can to prevent authentic democracy in the Arab world. To understand why, it is only necessary to look at the studies of Arab opinion
conducted by U.S. polling agencies. Though barely reported, they are certainly known to planners. They reveal that by overwhelming majorities, Arabs regard the U.S. and Israel as the major threats they face: the U.S. is so regarded by 90% of Egyptians, in the region generally by over 75%. Some Arabs regard Iran as a threat: 10%. Opposition to U.S. policy is so strong that a majority believes that security would be improved if Iran had nuclear weapons -- in Egypt, 80%. Other figures are similar. If public opinion were to influence policy, the U.S. not only would not control the region, but would be expelled from it, along with its allies, undermining fundamental principles of global dominance. The Invisible Hand of Power Support for democracy is the province of ideologists and propagandists. In the real world, elite dislike of democracy is the norm. The evidence is overwhelming that democracy is supported insofar as it contributes to social and economic objectives, a conclusion reluctantly conceded by the more serious scholarship. Elite contempt for democracy was revealed dramatically in the reaction to the WikiLeaks exposures. Those that received most attention, with euphoric commentary, were cables reporting that Arabs support the U.S. stand on Iran. The reference was to the ruling dictators. The attitudes of the public were unmentioned. The guiding principle was articulated clearly by Carnegie Endowment Middle East specialist Marwan Muasher, formerly a high official of the Jordanian government: “There is nothing wrong, everything is under control.” In short, if the dictators support us, what else could matter? The Muasher doctrine is rational and venerable. To mention just one case that is highly relevant today, in internal discussion in 1958, president Eisenhower expressed concern about “the campaign of hatred” against us in the Arab world, not by governments, but by the people. The National Security Council (NSC) explained that there is a perception in the Arab world that the U.S. supports dictatorships and blocks democracy and development so as to ensure control over the resources of the region. Furthermore, the perception is basically accurate, the NSC concluded,
and that is what we should be doing, relying on the Muasher doctrine. Pentagon studies conducted after 9/11 confirmed that the same holds today. It is normal for the victors to consign history to the trash can, and for victims to take it seriously. Perhaps a few brief observations on this important matter may be useful. Today is not the first occasion when Egypt and the U.S. are facing similar problems, and moving in opposite directions. That was also true in the early nineteenth century. Economic historians have argued that Egypt was well-placed to undertake rapid economic development at the same time that the U.S. was. Both had rich agriculture, including cotton, the fuel of the early industrial revolution -- though unlike Egypt, the U.S. had to develop cotton production and a work force by conquest, extermination, and slavery, with consequences that are evident right now in the reservations for the survivors and the prisons that have rapidly expanded since the Reagan years to house the superfluous population left by deindustrialisation. One fundamental difference was that the U.S. had gained independence and was therefore free to ignore the prescriptions of economic theory, delivered at the time by Adam Smith in terms rather like those preached to developing societies today. Smith urged the liberated colonies to produce primary products for export and to import superior British manufactures, and certainly not to attempt to monopolize crucial goods, particularly cotton. Any other path, Smith warned, “would retard instead of accelerating the further increase in the value of their annual produce, and would obstruct instead of promoting the progress of their country towards real wealth and greatness.” Having gained their independence, the colonies were free to ignore his advice and to follow England's course of independent state-guided development, with high tariffs to protect industry from British exports, first textiles, later steel and others, and to adopt numerous other devices to accelerate industrial development. The independent Republic also sought to gain a monopoly of cotton so as to “place all other nations at our feet,” particularly the British enemy, as the Jacksonian presidents announced when (Continued on page 12)
What is the IWW?
IWW Regional Organising Committee PO Box 746, Rockingham, WA 6968 firstname.lastname@example.org iww.org ~ iww.org.au facebook.com/iwwaustralia
A.C.T. • Canberra (e) email@example.com New South Wales • Sydney (e) firstname.lastname@example.org • Coffs Harbour (e) email@example.com • Lismore (e) firstname.lastname@example.org • Newcastle (e) email@example.com Queensland • Brisbane PO Box 703, Stones Corner QLD 4103 (e) firstname.lastname@example.org South Australia • Adelaide (e) email@example.com Western Australia • Perth GMB PO Box 162, Nedlands, WA 6909 (e) firstname.lastname@example.org Delegate: Jake (ph) 0402 504 327 • Albany Mike P. (ph) 0423473807 (e) email@example.com • Bunbury (e) firstname.lastname@example.org Victoria • Melbourne GMB PO Box 145, Moreland VIC 3058 (e) email@example.com Delegate: Ben (ph) 0418 670 239 (e) firstname.lastname@example.org Melbourne Wobs meet on the last Sunday of the month at 670 High Street, Northcote. Phone or email for meeting times.
Friends: • • • • • • • • • • • • Your Rights at Work - rightsatwork.com.au Earthworker - earthworkercooperative.com Beyond Zero Emissions - beyondzeroemissions.org Refugee Action Collective (VIC) - rac-vic.org Rex Bellotti Support Group - bellottisupportgroup.org Catholic Worker Movement - catholicworker.org Loophole, Melbourne - loopholecommunitycentre.org Melbourne Anarchist Cub - mac.anarchobase.com Jura Books, Sydney - jura.org.au Organise! - organisesa.org Brisbane Community Action - blackflag.co.nr Slackbastard - slackbastard.anarchobase.com
he IWW is a member-run union for all workers, a union dedicated to organising on the job, in our industries and in our communities. IWW members are organising to win better conditions today and build a world with economic democracy tomorrow. We want our workplaces run for the benefit of workers and communities rather than for a handful of bosses and executives. We are the Industrial Workers of the World because we organise industrially. This means we organise all workers producing the same goods or providing the same services into one union, rather than dividing workers by skill or trade, so we can pool our strength to win our demands together. Since the IWW was founded in 1905, we have made significant contributions to the labor struggles around the world and have a proud tradition of organizing across gender, ethnic and racial lines long before such organising was popular. We invite you to become a member whether or not the IWW happens to have representation rights in your workplace. We organise the worker, not the job, and recognise that unions are not about government certification or employer recognition but about workers coming together to address common concerns. The IWW is a democratic, member-run union. That means members decide what issues to address, and which tactics to use and we directly vote on office holders, from stewards to national offices. Why wait? Join the IWW and organise for a better future. Preamble to the IWW Constitution The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.
Perth Wobs protest CHOGM
Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organise as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth. We find that the centering of the management of industries into fewer and fewer hands makes the trade unions unable to cope with the ever growing power of the employing class. The trade unions foster a state of affairs which allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping defeat one another in wage wars. Moreover, the trade unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers. These conditions can be changed and the interest of the working class upheld only by an organisation formed in such a way that all its members in any one industry, or in all industries if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all. Instead of the conservative motto, “A fair day's wage for a fair day's work,” we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, “Abolition of the wage system.” It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. The army of production must be organised, not only for everyday struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organising industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.
fine merchandise from the house of wobbly.
INDUSTRIAL WORKERS OF THE WORLD
MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION FORM
Name (or Pseudonym): Address: City: State: Phone Number: E-mail: Occupation: Industry: Monthly Take-home Pay:
Less than $1500, dues are $4 per month; Between $1500 - $2000, dues are $10 per month; Greater than $2000, dues are $15 per month. Initiation fee is equal to one months’ dues.
ook fine on the picket line with books, badges, t-shirts, bike lights - you name it! Postage varies according to how far you are from us and the number of items you order, we will discount for bulk. Total weight will affect postage. As a rough guide, a few stickers under 150gm and no thicker than 20mm will be $1.10c within Aust and AU$4.10 overseas. A softcover book like Tom Barker and the IWW will be $1.35 within Aust and AU$6.35 overseas. We will of course give you an exact shipping
total once your order has been placed. To get hold of this fine merchandise email Mike at <email@example.com> with your order. Don’t forget to include how many, sizes, preferred colours, etc. If you can, write “I WANT TO BUY STUFF” (or similar) in the subject line so that your email doesn't get lost in the spam filter. We'll get back to you with what's available and an estimated postage. To pay send a money order or cheque to IWW, PO Box 746, Rockingham, WA 6968, and we'll forward your items ASAP.
Find a full list of available items at iww.org.au/inventory.
Badges - only $2 each or $1.50 for 3 or more. Multiple designs, many colours of
Initiation Fee: Total Amount:
The General Strike by Ralph Chaplin $2 Green Syndicalism by Jeff Shantz $2 One Big Union by IWW $2
Tom Barker and the IWW $5
1. I affirm that I am a worker, not an employer; 2. I agree to abide by the IWW Constitution; 3. I will study the organisations' principles and make myself acquainted with its purposes.
Signed.................................................................. Please complete and return to:
IWW Aust. ROC, PO Box 746, Rockingham, WA 6968
FANNING DISCONTENTS FLAMES, Australian Wobbly Poetry, Scurrilous Doggerel and Song, 19142007 $2
NEW! WAGE-SLAVE'S ESCAPE by Mike Ballard - $20 WAGE-SLAVE'S ESCAPE is set in Western Australia. It's 2307. A fascist society exists in the Satellite City States that orbit Earth. Bettina Masters sees a piece of Wobbly graffitti: “Direct Action gets Satisfaction!” and takes you on a revolutionary adventure.
News in Brief
Australia On Wednesday 9th of November, workers at Baiada Poultry in Melbourne began indefinite protected industrial action in their campaign for secure and permanent jobs. The campaign under the umbrella of the National Union of Workers began when every single worker in the largely migrant workforce at the plant voted to strike. The picketline has come under sustained attack but held strong. A picketer had their arm broken when a security guard tried to drive through the picketline, which was reported in the capitalist press as violence on the part of picketers. The company then successfully received an injunction banning all NUW officials from the picketline, forcing the picketline to rely on community support to succeed. On Friday night, 80 police officers rushed the picket line in an attempt to break it but retreated after the line held. At press time the strike was continuing. betterjobsbetterchicken.org.au Papua New Guinea Indonesian security forces fired on striking workers at Freeport-McMoran's Grasberg gold and copper mine after a protest turned violent, killing one, officials say. A dozen other people were injured, including six police, some of them critically. Workers at the mine in easternmost Papua province kicked off a strike on 15 September demanding their pay, which ranges from $2.16 to $3.60 an hour, be increased to between $18 and $44 an hour. About 90 per cent of the mine's 12,000 employees are striking. Grasberg is one of the world's largest and most lucrative gold and copper mines, but has frequently been the site of violent protests over wages that workers complain are about one tenth of what Freeport pays its miners in other countries. The mine has also been the target of environmental protests because of pollution and unfair distribution of profits. Union leader Manuel Maniambo said thousands of striking workers on Monday were trying to prevent replacement workers from heading by bus to the mine, high up in the mountains. When blocked by security forces, they became angry, throwing rocks and yelling insults. The troops responded with gunfire, killing one worker and leaving another hospitalised in critical condition, said Maniambo. India A strike at Maruti Suzuki's plant in Manesar took a new turn in October as workers seized control of the factory, leading to a near-complete shutdown in operations. “The plant is effectively captive in the hands of striking workers,” the company said in a statement, describing the situation at the factory as “grave.” higher expectations. You are going to see more agitation and expectations among middle-aged men who have been downsized and are now working as baristas or short-order cooks,” he said. United States One out of every 25 business leaders could be psychopathic, a study claims. The study, conducted by the New York psychologist Paul Babiak, suggests that they disguise the condition by hiding behind their high status, playing up their charm and by manipulating others. Favourable environmental factors such as a happy childhood mean they can function in a workplace rather than channelling their energies in more violent or destructive ways. Revealing the results in a BBC Horizon documentary, Babiak said: “Psychopaths really aren't the kind of person you think they are. “In fact, you could be living with or married to one for 20 years or more and not know that person is a psychopath. “We have identified individuals that might be labelled 'the successful psychopath'. “Part of the problem is that the very things we're looking for in our leaders, the psychopath can easily mimic. “Their natural tendency is to be charming. Take that charm and couch it in the right business language and it sounds like charismatic leadership.” Babiak designed a 111-point questionnaire with Professor Bob Hare, of the University of British Columbia in Canada, a renowned expert in psychopathy. Hare believes about 1% of Americans can be described as psychopaths. The survey suggests psychopaths are actually poor managerial performers but are adept at climbing the corporate ladder because they can cover up their weaknesses by subtly charming superiors and subordinates. This makes it almost impossible to distinguish between a genuinely talented team leader and a psychopath, Babiak said. Hare told Horizon: “The higher the psychopathy, the better they looked – lots of charisma and they talk a good line. “But if you look at their actual performance and ratings as a team player and productively, it's dismal. Looked good, performed badly. “You have to think of psychopaths as having at their disposal a very large repertoire of behaviours. So they can use charm, manipulation, intimidation, whatever is required. “A psychopath can actually put themselves in your skin, intellectually not emotionally. “They can tell what you're thinking, they can look at your body language, they can listen to what you're saying, but what they don't really do is feel what you feel. “What this allows them to do is use words to manipulate and con and to interact with you without the baggage of feeling your pain.”
Baiada Strike, Melbourne
Workers from a key component supplier - Suzuki Powertrain India (SPIL) - joined the latest stir at the Manesar factory. “If the labour trouble at the component vendor continues for a few more days, Maruti's India business is headed for a virtual halt,” a company spokesperson confirmed. SPIL - owned by Maruti and parent Suzuki - is the backbone for most of Maruti's operations as it supplies diesel engines as well as transmissions for Kseries petrol engines. The Gurgaon factory, where the company has three plants, produces around 2,800 cars daily. The disruption in supplies from SPIL has already hit the output that fell to 1,800 vehicles on Monday. United States Eleven Domino’s employees hoping to make a little more dough and get a bigger slice of the profits have formed the nation’s first union of pizza delivery drivers. The American Union of Pizza Delivery Drivers won recognition from the National Labor Relations Board over the summer as the bargaining agent for drivers at a Pensacola franchise. The union organizing drive was started by Jim Pohle, a 37-year-old Domino’s driver who said he delivers pizzas because he likes to sleep late, smoke on the job and listen to the radio. “When they declared us tipped employees and refused to pay us the Florida minimum wage of $6.40, I was kind of angry. I came home that night and I told my buddy, I said. ‘We are forming a union,”’ he said. He said he got on the Internet and found St. Louis labor attorney Mark Potashnick, who worked on unsuccessful organizing efforts by pizza workers in Ohio, Michigan and St. Louis. He coached Pohle on submitting a petition to the NLRB. Rodney Johnson, a regional director for NLRB, said the union appears to be the first of its kind. Tim McIntyre, a spokesman for Ann Arbor, Mich.based Domino’s Pizza Inc., said that while the Pensacola franchise was independently owned and operated, the company was disappointed by the union vote. “We do not believe it is necessary in our industry, and are surprised that the individual employees in that store voted to turn over their ability to represent themselves to their supervisor to someone else,” he said in a statement. Pohle’s union and the franchise owner have not agreed on wages and working conditions Apart from wages, many pizza delivery drivers nationally have discussed forming unions because they are often the victims of robbers. In the meantime, the franchise owners have raised the pay of some drivers at their six nonunion stores, Pohle said. Keith Pyburn, an attorney for the franchise owner, would not discuss employee pay, and said only that the company is meeting its legal obligation to bargain with the union. The union could open doors for other fast-food workers, said Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education research at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She pointed to recent organizing efforts by Starbucks employees in New York and Chicago. The Industrial Workers of the World has members at seven Starbucks Corp. stores. Mark Damron, spokesman for Industrial Workers of the World, said the prospects for unionising fastfood employees are encouraging because older people are taking service industry jobs that were traditionally held by younger workers. “As these people move into those jobs, they have
Around Our Union
IWW Endorses Occupy Wall Street On behalf of our union, the General Executive Board of the Industrial Workers of the World sends our support and solidarity to the occupation of Wall Street, those determined to hold accountable our oppressors. This occupation on Wall Street calls into question the very foundation in which the capitalist system is based, and its relentless desire to place profit over and above all else. When 1% of the ruling class holds the wealth created by the other 99%, it is clear that the watchwords found in our union's preamble, “the working class and the employing class have nothing in common”, ring true more than ever.?The IWW does not follow a business union model. We believe that the working class and the employing class have nothing in common and we don't foster illusions to the contrary. Throughout the world, from Egypt to Greece, from China to Madison, Wisconsin, working class people are starting to rise up. The IWW welcomes this. We see the occupation of Wall Street as another step - no matter how large or small - in this process. Oakland General Strike Huge, enthusiastic, crowds swarmed through downtown Oakland with half a dozen major marches on banks and corporations that shut down Wells Fargo, Chase, Citibank, Bank of America and many others. Police stayed clear of the strikers who ranged freely, from Broadway to Grand Avenue and around the Lake. By late afternoon the crowds had swelled to over 10,000. Waves of feeder marches continued to pour into the Oscar Grant Plaza, including 800 children, parents, and teachers who had gathered at the Oakland Main Library. The evening march to the Port stretched from downtown to the freeway overcrossing in West Oakland and thousands more protestors kept arriving as the third convergence of the day reached its peak. Over 20,000 people joined the march which made its way to the main entrance of the port and shut it down completely. Port officials confirmed that the workforce was sent home. Back at Oscar Grant Plaza a festive atmosphere continued as the Alameda Labor Council and dozens of representatives from a cross-section of unions served barbecue to thousands. Day of the dead altars, a 99% story telling tent, string sculptures, and hundreds of posters surrounded the encampment of the occupiers. Speeches, impromptu music jam sessions, and rock and roll echoed off the office towers as Oaklanders and Bay Area workers celebrated a hard won victory of the 99%. Workers Win Big At New York Restaurant Supplier QUEENS, NY – Immigrant workers at Pur Pac, a food distribution warehouse supplying many landmark Chinese restau- rants, bakeries, and cafés in Chinatown and elsewhere in the city, have won a major settlement with the company after prevailing in a bitterly contested workplace justice campaign. The comprehensive settlement will return $470,000 in illegally withheld minimum wage and overtime pay and subjects Pur Pac to a binding code of conduct. The code will include protection for collective activity and compels the company to comply with all workplace laws; including anti-discrimination and health and safety provisions. The workers organized with Focus on the Food Chain— a joint campaign of Brandworkers and the IWW—which is challenging sweatshop conditions in a sprawling industrial cor- ridor of food processing and distribution warehouses that service New York City markets and restaurants. “No one who wakes up and goes to work every day should have their wages stolen,” said Primo Aguilar, a former worker at Pur Pac and a leading member of the campaign. “I feel proud today that my co-workers and I stood up, got orga- nized, and won. This settlement means a great deal for us and our families, but also for our effort with the Focus campaign to win respect for all of New York City’s food processing and distribution workers.” Through grassroots advocacy and protest, the workers persuaded key food retail customers of Pur Pac to stop doing busi- ness with the company until the dispute was resolved. Pursuant to the settlement, worker representatives are notifying customers that the dispute has been resolved favorably. Pur Pac’s product line includes bulk rice, sugar, cooking oil, chop sticks, and soy sauce. In a previous companion agreement, Pur Pac acknowledged that it was the suc- cessor to two predecessor companies, E-Z Supply Corp. and Sunrise Plus Corp., and has recognized the IWW as the exclusive collective bargaining agent of Pur Pac employees. “Every New Yorker depends on workers like the ones at Pur Pac for the food we all need to survive and thrive,” said Daniel Gross, Executive Director of Brandwork- ers and long-time Wobbly. “But for far too long, the city’s food processing and distribution employees have constituted an invisible workforce, outof-sight and out-of-mind. The conditions in the sector are deplorable and systemic but, as the Pur Pac workers have shown, positive work- place change can and will be won. Today, we’re savoring the workers’ hardearned victory and could not be more proud to be associated with this march toward justice.” Pur Pac, through successor companies, engaged in massive wage theft against its Latino and Chinese employees and fired them illegally when they asserted their rights. By engaging in two sham sales and re-branding efforts, the company at- tempted to evade liability even after losing cases in federal court and at the National Labor Relations Board. The victory is the largest yet for Focus on the Food Chain, which prevailed last year in a high-profile workplace justice campaign at a seafood processing facility in Queens. Pur Pac, based in Ridgewood, Queens, is part of a corridor of food factories that (cont. page 4)
(cont. from page 3) starts in East Williamsburg and Bushwick in Brooklyn, and extend into Ridgewood and Maspeth in Queens. Wage theft, retaliation, discrimination and reckless disregard for worker health and safety are endemic in the sector. Earlier this year, the corridor claimed the life of Juan Baten, a Guatemalan immigrant who was crushed to death at the tortilla factory where he worked. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) found that Baten’s death would have been prevented if the employer had not disregarded basic safety precautions. 2011 IWW Convention: Wobblies Discuss Union’s Progress & Plan Ahead Once a year, Wobblies from across the globe converge in one city to report and reflect on the union’s progress, debate and improve upon the union’s internal structure and proceedings, develop goals and ideas for improving upon the union’s commitment to fighting against all forms of oppression, and build stronger relationships amongst each other. This year, nearly 100 Wobblies from across North America gathered in Baltimore, Md., for a weekend of reporting, planning, amending, proposing, voting, networking, and singing at the annual IWW General Convention, from Sept. 3-5, 2011. Kicking off the 2011 Convention Following a welcoming “meet ‘n’ greet” for delegates and other attending IWW officers and members on Friday night, the Convention kicked off the morning of Saturday, Sept. 3, inside St. John’s Church—otherwise known as the 2640 Space—on St. Paul Street in Baltimore. After a brief breakfast of tea, coffee and bagels, Wobblies took their seats and General Secretary-Treasurer (GST) Joe Tessone officially called the 2011 General Convention to order at 9:08 a.m. Delegates representing their General Membership Branches (GMBs) appointed a Chair, Recording Secretary, and Timekeeper for the Temporary Session, after which the delegates elected a Credentials Committee and a Rules Committee. The Credentials Committee confirmed the list of delegates seated on the Convention floor, while the Rules Committee drafted and confirmed guidelines on the proceedings. After a brief meeting held by these two committees, delegates and IWW participants began the Permanent Session and elected the following officers for the Permanent Ses- sion: Ryan G. (Portland) as Chair; Jason Krpan (Chicago) and Diane Krauthamer (NYC) as Recording Secretaries; Cims Gilespie (Lane County) as Time Keeper; and Koala Largess (Baltimore) as Sergeant-at-Arms. The permanent session began with a brief report from the two committees, and approval of the final agenda. A few slight alterations were made to the agenda and the delegates voted to adopt the Rules Committee’s recommendations as set forth in the “IWW Manual of Policies and Procedures.” Once the procedural formalities were taken care of, officers and representatives of the IWW’s various elected bodies presented reports on past, current and future activities. Moving the Work Along GST Joe Tessone started with a re- port from General Headquarters (GHQ). Though not verbally presented on the floor, FW Tessone eloquently opened his written report with the following: “My second term as General Secretary-Treasurer is coming to an end. Holding international office in the IWW has truly been an amazing experience. Though trying at times, I am so proud and honored to have been given this opportunity of a lifetime.” FW Tessone spoke on the floor about the union’s improved finances and membership, emphasizing that the IWW has more than doubled its treasury since 2010. While some of the improvements stem from GHQ’s switch to a new database
in 2010, which has allowed for more efficiency when promoting and developing organizing and outreach opportunities, FW Tessone commented that he was not able to fully implement an online reporting system. This system will give GHQ the tools to handle a larger membership as it will provide the tools to more efficiently contact new members who sign up online, thereby improving growth and ultimately aiding in promoting and developing organising and outreach opportunities for the union as a whole. This, he said, will be one of the larger challenges facing the incoming GST in 2012. While there are many improvements in the works, FW Tessone pointed out that GHQ still needs to build its infra- structure in Chicago. He encouraged all Wobblies who are interested to consider volunteering at GHQ. “GHQ can operate with its minimal paid and volunteer staff, but it can do a whole lot more with extra hands and a constant flow of fresh ideas,” he reported. Next was the International Solidarity Commission (ISC) report, in which ISC Chair D.M. Kloker discussed yet another productive year of building worker-to- worker solidarity that can lead to effective action against the bosses of the world. This year, he said, the ISC focused on three main areas of organizing. The first was reaching out to IWW members in countries without Regional Organizing Committees (ROCs), such as in South Africa, which is on course to have a Cape Town GMB. The second was the ISC’s commitment to starting a liaison program so that GMBs could be more engaged with the ISC, paving the way for the ISC to become a more democratically functioning body. The third main area of focus was responding to calls for solidarity from other organisations throughout the world. While it is important for the ISC to respond to these calls, he commented, it’s equally important for Wobblies who plan to travel abroad to contact the ISC beforehand to help them meet with IWW members or other labor activists and groups in those countries. Following the ISC report was a lunch break, with food generously arranged and cooked by Fellow Workers Kate Khatib and Lanie Thomas of the Red Emma’s collective. Red Emma’s generously provided all of the meals and an assortment of healthy snacks for delegates throughout the proceedings, and there was certainly no shortage of tea, coffee, water, fresh fruit, and crackers served with cubes of cheese. Additionally, childcare was pro- vided throughout the weekend by Kidz City Baltimore, a volunteer anarcha-feminist collective. The General Executive Board (GEB) was next to present its report. GEB Chair Jason Krpan briefly introduced the six Board members: Koala Largess, Ryan G., John Slavin, John Reimann, Greg Giorgio, and Ildi Sipos (who could not attend), and gave an overview of their role in “dang near every affair of the union,” as FW Krpan described it. He went on to speak more generally of the GEB’s work in helping to establish the Canadian Regional Organizing Committee (CanROC) and the Britain and Ireland Regional Administration (BIRA), and emphasized the union’s continuing growth, announcing that four new GMBs were chartered this year: Atlanta, Richmond, Greater Kansas City and Mid-Ohio. Fellow Workers Krpan and Ryan G. briefly summarized budgetary changes and other financial and legal issues, following which FW John Reimann reported on his activities liaising with branches outside of the United States, including his recent trip to Egypt. FWs Koala and Ryan G. commented on the GEB’s commitment to reaching out to Wobblies across regions, pointing out that while a lot of their focus as a body is on regions, the focus of organising should be happening across industrial lines. At the conclusion of their report, Wobblies seated on the Convention floor gave the GEB a thunderous applause for their hard work and virtually thankless dedication to the union. FW Ryan G. presented on the Organising Department Board (ODB) report, written by ODB Chair Matt Jones. He briefly summarized the ODB’s role and purpose to coordinate organizing activity between branches and (cont. page 10)
Collecting Pieces of the Class Consciousness Puzzle
ver the past few months, something different has been taking place across the globe: civil populations have been ignoring standard forms of political activity to take on power structures. The difference this time is that the civil populations have been winning! We have seen dictatorships fall at the hands of the people during the ‘Arab Spring’; Greece, Italy and Spain have ignited with massive social protests and, along with the unanticipated ‘Occupy’ protests which have captured the imaginations of citizens across the world, there is an atmospheric sense that something is different this time around. Some trace the genesis of these insurrections to the beginnings of the Arab uprisings which began in Tunisia in December, 2010. Others relate the surge of publicly expressed discontent to the mass protests in Spain against government austerity measures. Rather than trying to define a ‘ground zero moment’ for the current mood it may be more helpful to step back from the milieu to look at these events on a larger historical perspective. In 1999, the eyes of the world turned toward a massive outpouring of dissatisfaction with the neoliberal status quo which erupted in the national gut of Capital, amongst the greatest wealth producing working class of the world. This was when 40,000 to 60,000 U.S. citizens protested in Seattle against the corporate globalisation agenda of the World Trade Organisation. Of course, the protesters were confronted by the power of the political State, as Starship trooper dressed police came down brutally on protesting citizen workers, shocking most of the world’s media watchers. The capitalist dominated democratic U.S government ordered a particularly vicious crack down on citizens in this instance, because truth be told, the wage-slaves of Capital realised that they hadn’t consented to policies written in their names by paid corporate lobbyists and passed on by pollies out to enrich the employing class. Citizen protest against class domination could not be given political air to breathe so, the hirelings of State violence were called out to quell, kettle, silence and jail dissent. Despite the usual response from the corporate media to de-legitimate and trivialize the protests by focusing on “violent protestors”, working people around the world responded with surprising levels of admiration for the bravery displayed by their fellow workers in America, uttering shock at the totalitarian tactics that the U.S Government used to suppress them. At the time, the feeling amongst the liberal intelligentsia and activists was that the Seattle protests had somehow changed things. The fact that this kind of anti-capitalist sentiment could be displayed in the United States on such a massive scale, fuelled expectations that the working people of the industrially advanced capitalist countries had finally had enough of being exploited (and all that that entailed for the environment and their fellow workers in other countries) and that this would build and build into a solid, class conscious, anti-capitalist movement. Then ... 911 happened. Anti-‘terror’ legislation and jingoism took over in the USA , seeping opportunistically into the legislative acts passed by most of the ruling classes of the world. Like the most ridiculous days of the Cold War inspired witch-hunts of the 1950’s and 60’s, any form of protest was painted as being subversive and ‘terrorist-loving’. Civil liberties were slashed in order to defend the ‘freedom’ THEY hated us for. State surveillance became the new norm across Western nation States. With the post-911 population in legitimate, but often media-induced shock, ruling classes felt fairly confident about setting their talking heads loose to set a tone of putting an end to all of this anti-capitalism nonsense which had been in the air since Seattle. But they were wrong... What people didn’t realise, even some activists, was that the Seattle protests didn’t erupt out of nowhere. It took time for an awareness of being lied too to evolve. It’s like the biggest jigsaw puzzle you could ever imagine; except the jig saw puzzle of consciousness is slightly different from your regular kind. Your consciousness is dominated for most of your life, by school curriculums, social norms, advertisinginduced pathological consumerism, and pro-State propaganda. For some people this pre-fabricated, one size fits all consciousness, lasts them their entire life. But for those who have had their given consciousness of consensus shaken up with all of the pieces scattered onto the ground, due to say, a particularly visceral realisation of their class position, or the culmination of many moments of slavery-awareness, the puzzle’s pattern never looks the same again. And, once the socially engineered ideological puzzle of legitimation has fallen apart, it can never be re-configured in exactly the same way. The person fumbles with pieces to get them to make a coherent picture, but the world that helped them take that initial picture cannot be retrieved—one can never go ‘home’ again. The person has new eyes, and sees that the pieces fit in different ways, ways that could
Delegates to the 2011 IWW Convention in Baltimore, USA.
never be allowed to be connected before. Over time, the person’s consciousness jig saw is different: governments are no longer seen to serve the interests of the majority of people, because they blatantly spend the wealth we create on wars instead of health; they let us starve on dole queues while they give tax cuts to the mega rich; police can no longer be seen as there to protect and serve the population and help old ladies cross the streets because what fresh eyes see is the police standing around the bosses and governments like praetorian guards protecting power centres from the masses ... etc ... etc... This is why Seattle made a change: because since the consciousness raising of the 1960’s over many issues like civil rights, anti-militarism, women’s rights, environmental rights, class issues etc ... the general process of becoming conscious of power structures had been secretly extending; ebbing and flowing under the surface, making tentative connections here and there against the tide of capitalist propaganda. The Seattle protests were a minor eruption from something that the ruling classes have been trying to suppress for two hundred years ... class consciousness. The pieces of the puzzle had been getting reorganised for decades, filtering down through generations, making their way surreptitiously into mainstream cultural discourses. The 1960s initiated steps towards societies becoming civilized in areas like civil rights, and anti-militarism, in the 1990s the awareness of capitalism as a source of destruction and enforced wage slavery began to bubble to the surface across all sections of what we now call the 99%; but at the time it was hard to understand exactly what was going on—we couldn’t see the forest for the trees. That’s why the working people of the world and the employing class owners of their collective product of their labour were so surprised by the breaking of the 911-enforced crackdown on dissent when, immediately preceding the invasion of Iraq in 2003, millions of people across the world protested in an unprecedented showing of opposition to capitalist imperialism. People were no longer willing to accept government pretexts as gospel. They were beginning to see the corporate profit motives behind the decisions being made in their name. The years following the 2003 global protests were business as usual for the ruling classes as governments and corporations continued their collusion, not least of which being their ‘Coalition of the Willing’ in the Iraq war; the GFC and the following banker bail-outs. The rising consciousness of the people of the world created an environment that was hostile to the spin of politicians and the obtuse decrees of bankers ... people wanted out, but weren’t sure how to go about it. Then, the uprisings in the Arab and Iranian spheres of class domination occurred. The citizens of Tunisia liberated themselves, not through military force, but simply through refusing to participate in the corrupt system of their rulers. The success of the simple act of each person deciding to make their system of exploitation stop once and for all by joining with their fellow workers in a mass act of defiance was so contagious that soon the Middle East was afire with popular uprisings. Of course the governments of these countries reacted violently to the blatant disobedience of their subjects, unleashing security forces on unarmed civilians; the results of which have been widely displayed across Western media and framed as dictatorships gone too far. Western leaders bemoaned the violence and encouraged the dictators they liked, like Mubarak in Egypt, to make concessions to their people to placate them, and to stop the violence because they wanted to appear to be acting morally to the Western populations who were becoming sensitive to political repression in far away places. Then the class conflict came home to the citadel of finance capital. Ten years after 911, on September 17th, a modest group of between 100 to 200 people set up tents in the financial district of New York City. The rest, as they say, is history. At present the Occupy X Movement is still on the rise across the world as protesters occupy over 1600 cities worldwide. While the size of the occupations vary from site to site, popular support for the anticapitalist, anti-class rule message against the 1% runs anywhere from 40% to 70% approval in most reported opinion polls. This kind of support would not have existed for such a movement in the 1980s or even the 1990s, even though capitalism went through periods of crisis during these years. This current moment has only been made possible by a steady increase of class consciousness within the minds of working people and its translation into a movement in the streets of the world. As many may have predicted, Western authorities have reacted in the same manner as their Arab counterparts, by unleashing violence upon their unarmed, non-violent citizens, in the form of paramilitary style police forces, using all types of pretexts to justify their brutality in the corporate media. The scenes of brutality against citizens exercising their freedom of speech in public (cont. page 11)
Justice for Rex Bellotti Jnr
An Aboriginal youth, Rex Bellotti Jnr, aged 15 was run over by a police four-wheel-drive Holden Rodeo and more than two years have passed without any compensation, without any closure. When it comes to Aboriginal victims this is nothing new. Gerry giorgatos
and that he was violent to police, or that he was a physical threat to them, an innocent man was persecuted. If such an obvious culture of cruel favour-dispensation and vicious nepotism and the immoral covering up for each other has been proven again and again why would we all of a sudden trust in police investigating police? This culture does not just victimise Aboriginal peoples, however it is obvious they are the victims of this more often, it also occurs to non-Aboriginal Australians, as has been proven not just in Western Australia, once again by various CCTV footage, however throughout Australia. It can be argued that it is human nature to cower support for one another in a profession as difficult as that of a police officer. People will sacrifice others, even if innocent of any wrong-doing, before they will own up to their perpetration of injustice, even if inadvertent. Rex Jnr's distraught parents arrived at Albany Hospital to find their son sedated by medication however acutely traumatised. Their son said to them that a police vehicle hit him, and he had tried to get out of the way when all of a sudden he saw it. Rex Jnr said that he was trying to cross the road when all of a sudden the lights of the vehicle came on. He does not remember much more than this as he suffered heavy concussion. Rex Sr said that it is often the case that police vehicles attend events, even wakes, where Aboriginal peoples congregate. His son's comment that the police vehicle's lights were not on and then were suddenly turned on does not surprise Rex Sr. He believes that often police vehicles at night when approaching such gatherings may turn their lights off so as not to be conspicuous. However the Police reports do not support the claim that the police vehicle may have had its lights off for any period of time during the heart of night's darkness. Rex Jnr's injuries were life threatening. At near six o'clock the following morning the Royal Flying Doctor flew out of Albany with Rex Jnr for Perth and from there onwards by ambulance to Royal Perth Hospital. After Rex's surgery at Royal Perth Hospital he was humiliated by the prejudicial stereotypes and assumptions of some non-Aboriginal Australians. Rex Jnr was forced to undergo a supposedly 'random strip search' after medication in his shared ward apparently went missing. Rex Jnr's parents, Rex Snr and Liz, after working hard all their lives, after trying to develop one opportunity after another in their Albanybased family life, while managing the various humblings of the various layers of racism that work only to spite many Aboriginal folk, had to pack up and leave Albany for good and of course with their other five children and relocate more than four hundred kilometres north to Perth so as to be able to provide adequate and appropriate care for Rex Jnr. They have endured a two year struggle in the seeking of a sliver of justice, and it is always obvious that in a country like Australia with a predominant hostile denial of its racist identity that real or substantive justice for them shall never succeed. However they are entitled to aspire to some justice, and to some closure through various remedies and in the seeking of some admissions of liability and some ownership of culpability and maybe even some discovery of other vicarious liability. Rex Jnr's injuries, as grievious and as life threatening as they remain, in terms of him refusing an amputation if it were to become necessary, are no longer limited to just physical injuries. Rex Jnr is finding it difficult to come to terms that his life has been dishevelled, that a once promising footballing career has come to an end. His mother encourages his siblings to not play or speak football when Rex Jnr is nearby as this can send him spiralling into depression. Rex Jnr's deepest wounds come from the fact that the police will not admit that they hit him on the opposite of the road, and that he did not as the police claim intentionally step in front of the police vehicle, a four-wheel-drive with a roo-bar. Rex's deepest wounds are that his testimony means nothing to most of non-Aboriginal Australia however of late he has been comforted by seeing others, many non-Aboriginal Australians, support and advocate for Rex's truth, for Rex's right to be heard and for Rex's full suite of rights. Rex can see that his identity is not seen by every non-Aboriginal Australian as a liability and that he is entitled to be a Nyungar, a Yamatji, an Australian and entitled to be enobled with human worth and dignity. This was denied to Rex by the disgraceful police handling of the investigation. The core problems with the police investigation of the police-related-incident in which Rex Jnr was hit and run over by a police vehicle is that no third party witnesses were interviewed by police for more than a month. Clearly, it appears that if it were not for the persistence of his parents and some mainstream news media the Police would never have interviewed anyone outside of themselves. Other than the involved police officers, as if we are forever expected to maintain an investiture of faith and goodwill in our police, no one was interviewed. Interviews only occurred after The Sunday Times newspaper published a significant article on the tragedy. In the local Albany newspaper, The Albany Advertiser, the only article published four days after the incident quoted police officers, “...it appeared the teenager had deliberately walked in front of the ongoing car” and which they claimed had “...slowed down to 40 km per hour.” Why was it that for more than a month, local police did not seek testimonies from other sources beyond those of the involved police officers? Why would they have not secured these statements especially when it is alleged that at the scene people had screamed out dissimilar testimonies to those of the involved police and when passers-by noted that they overheard disturbing allegations? An October 2009 internal police inquiry would conclude that while police mishandled the investigation they were nevertheless “satisfied that every effort had been made by the WA Police to undertake a thorough and transparent investigation into these matters.” The following month, November 2009, the WA Corruption and Crimes Commission, slammed the police investigation, stating, “Given the injuries suffered by Rex Jnr., it would be hard to accept that the lack of obtaining statements is merely an oversight.” However the CCC limited itself predominately to observations that the investigation was mishandled and did not commit to any acknowledgment of discrimination or racism. However, the WA Police can never argue that the CCC absolved them of the imputation of a culture of cover ups or favour dispensation, this remains as arguably self evident, though it may be argued interpretive, in imputations from this very observation by the CCC. In November 2009 Rex Bellotti Sr said, “Police investigating police again. At the end of the day they exonerate each other... they've got each others' backs.” Rex Sr's distrust of non-Aboriginal Australia extended to the CCC. At the time he said he doubted the integrity of the CCC investigation, after his family had been emotionally exhausted by the apparent indifference by the WA Police. Rex Sr., said “Do you trust them? In the past, police investigations have proven they are not worth the time and space and effort. At the end of the day, they can exonerate each other... they've got each other's backs.” However at the time CCC Director of Operations, Nick Anticich rejected Rex's concerns and was quoted, “The CCC has referred the complaint for a full internal investigation... However, this is not a matter of 'police investigating police' as the Commission will be monitoring and overseeing their investigation. In view of the seriousness of the matter, when the investigation has been completed (by police), the Commission will conduct an independent review into the adequacy of that investigation.” The CCC findings did include, “(Police) have admitted that Sgt (Jason) Liddelow made little effort to gather witness statements in a timely manner. His case management and investigation plan was fundamentally flawed and mistakenly based on the presumption that one highly important witness... needed to be interviewed prior to any others.” Rex Sr at the time said it was good that the CCC had concluded that the investigation was flawed however added, “The CCC describes the things that went wrong as flaws, oversights, inexperience and anomalies. But these are just other words for racism, because the police did not investigate (the case) properly.” At the time Police Great Southern District Superintendent Dene Leekong said, “I admit we should have done it better. We didn't get the statements from some witnesses in time. That's an oversight on our behalf. We had other priority issues unfortunately in our district at the time.” This statement alone by the Superintendent is indicatively appalling let alone discriminatory and arguably racist. Superintendent Leekong continued, “We probably did not manage that case as best we could. We're certainly trying to correct our errors now. But it's not racism and it's not anything sinister.” At the time Rex Sr said, “They can say what they want, but the fact remains they didn't investigate this as they would have for a white Australian. They were hoping it would go away, as it had done in the past where crimes against black people have been covered up.” Witness statements were finally taken by police from Rex Bellotti Jnr, and from witnesses Michael Coyne and Ashlee Riley. All three stated that Rex Jr did not deliberately run or walk into the front of the police four-wheel-drive. They gave testimony that Rex Jnr was crossing the road near a house where a Wake was being held and that in fact when Rex Jnr saw that the police vehicle was approaching him, when allegedly the headlights came on, he tried to 'jump out of its way' however was run over. Rex Jnr's lawyer at the time, John Hammond, was quoted in the news media, as affirming that after The Sunday Times published articles of the various allegations by the witnesses that all of a sudden he received phone calls from four police officers all urgently seeking to interview Rex Jnr. Mr Hammond was quoted, “Why was the accident never investigated until the matter was exposed by The Sunday Times?” Furthermore, Mr Hammond was apparently disappointed that there had been no community outcry about the incident in lieu of other recent police-related incidents at the time and he was further quoted, “Why is there not the same response when a 15-year-old-boy is run over by a police vehicle and faces life-threatening injuries?” Central Queensland University's Cheri YavuKama-Harathunian, Kabi Kabi Senior Elder, with a Masters qualification in Criminal Justice, said, “In spite of the RCIADIC, the Fitzgeral Inquiry, the Dawes Report, other reports about injustice within the crim-
yungar-Yamatji Maaman Rex Bellotti Sr and Nyungar Yorga Liz Bellotti, 42 and 40 years old, have spent their lives working very hard to ensure the likelihood of the personal advancement of their children, in the belief that Aboriginal advancement should be achieved by Aboriginal peoples. They had never asked for help and had worked to ensure that their six children, now aged 6 to 17, have had every reasonable opportunity. They have given every little bit of what they have to provide for their children the experience and hopes of a private school education. On March 6, 2009, the Bellotti family's eldest son, Rex Jnr., aged 15, was involved in a police-related-incident. It was not of his making, he was an Aboriginal person at a place that police were converging upon. Since this police-related-incident Rex Sr, Liz and Rex Jnr and his five siblings have not only had to deal with the trauma of grievous injuries sustained by Rex Jnr however they have had to cope with the culture of brutal silence surrounding the Albany Police and the Western Australian Police and with the contemptible minimalist fodder that we have all long learned to expect from various government authorities, ministerial portfolio holders and from the agencies which argue various demarcation and claim to be independent auditors and investigators. On March 6, within the last hour prior to midnight Rex Jnr was leaving a wake when he was struck by a police vehicle, a four-wheel-drive, with a roo-bar, which according to witnesses was driving on the wrong side of the road. It has been alleged that Rex Jnr was hit by the vehicle on the opposite side of the road, on the wrong side of the road. The police officers in question deny this and conversely claim that they were driving on the correct side of the road, and that it was not on the opposite side of the road that Rex Jnr was struck by their vehicle. However, what beggars belief for many non-Aboriginal Australians is the keystone, almost circus-like police investigation that for a significant period of time struggled to take effect, and for a crucial period of time had very little form and content. There was no bona fide investigation during the immediacy of the event. For our Aboriginal brothers and sisters this is routine - the silences, the mind-boggling fodder, the passing of the buck, the casting of aspersions upon the victim and the victim's family, and upon the victim's cultural identity and their community – for Aboriginal peoples these insults, these discriminations, these racisms are a daily experience, are matter-of-fact. They are some of the veils of this country's racist identity. For near two and half years the Bellottis have been unveiling the discriminatory and racist layers which damage the Australian national identity, and which keep oppressed peoples who otherwise should enjoy a right to their historical and contemporary identities, who should be able to enjoy unfettered self-determination through various political persuasions and cultural settings. The Bellottis have not only been staring into the abyss of spiteful hate by those who are scared by the Bellottis unveiling the layers of racism however they are now being victimised by this very hate because they have the audacity to seek some raindrops of justice, some remedy, some closure for a police-related-incident which thereabouts just about destroyed the life, and most certainly the once immediate hopes, of their son, and which has spiralled Rex Bellotti Jnr into a dark world of melancholia and into the high-end risk of various clinical disorders. Rex Jnr seeks respite through damaging altered states when he cannot cope with the grief of his injuries and the discriminatory and racist insults from the hostile silences that humiliate him and his family. The trauma is so deep for Rex Jnr that he has to live apart from his immediate family, far from the sterile inhumanities of a metropolis such as Perth, and is now living in northern WA, in Carnarvon, with his Aunty Melanie. His family is trying to find the money to buy a caravan for him to live in, with a modicum of independence, on a nearby property to his Aunty in Carnarvon while the passing of time tries to heal Rex's physical and mental wounds. In the meantime the various authorities, who should represent the interests of each of us rather than some of us, act as if they have a right to be affronted by the questions put to them by the family and by others who are now in support of the rights of this family which for far too long endured what most Aboriginal peoples far too often suffer in silence when they have been victim to various injustices. Simply, this whole article can be summed up with the assertion that Police should not investigate Police - this should be 'a given'. Since the 6th of March 2009, it has remained unclear whether then promising footballer Rex Bellotti Jnr will need to have his right leg amputated after he was run over by the four-wheel-drive police vehicle, in Albany, Western Australia. The police vehicle struck Rex Jnr with such force that it dragged Rex Jnr under
the vehicle, breaking his femur and horrifically extensively lacerating his right leg. The police reports which have been secured under Police Freedom of Information Acts state that the police officers in question allege the vehicle was not being driven at a speed greater than 41 kmph at the time of the impact with Rex Bellotti Jnr. Though not impossible, it is difficult to fathom how any vehicle travelling at only 41 kmph would subsume a reasonably sized human being asunder beneath its undercarriage. Aside those involved and those alleged as witnesses we would know much more today, and be able to displace the presumptions of various questionable and conflicting evidences beyond reasonable doubt, if this incident had obliged the courtesy of an extensive investigation. Demarcated investigators should have been called in to examine the scene of the accident, to ensure a full forensic examination, to ensure that all potential witnesses had provided their testimonies. Most of this, if not all of this, did not occur. Therefore, once again the opportunity for trust building exercises between non-Aboriginal Australians and our Aboriginal brothers and sisters has been shattered. It has been alleged the police officers involved did not stay long and in fact left the scene of the incident and that to some of those present, and to many supporters and advocates of the Bellotti family, this is in effect the 'leaving of the scene of an accident' which Australians have been schooled by the news media and by the Police at every opportunity for us to understand that the leaving of a scene of a crime and accident are unlawful and in fact are a criminal offence. Many people, Aboriginal and nonAboriginal believe that the involved police officers could be guilty of a 'hit and run'. The police reports are not clear however they do describe the involved police officers as having remained at the scene for a period of time and that in fact other police officers did arrive. Witnesses have described that Rex Jnr was hit on the opposite side of the road. Witnesses, who were at the wake, or who were Passers-By, describe that the involved police did not remain at the scene and according to them in fact they left the scene of the accident, and that in fact at no time while they may have been there did any police officers offer to assist Rex Jnr.. However the police reports describe the presence of the involved police officers and of another Albany Police Officer having been called to the scene. Rex Jnr., lay encumbered by his injuries pale, hardly a murmur, bleeding profusely, and many would have been questioning whether there was a whisper of life left in Rex’s body, and yet the police officers did not assist. The police reports do describe that the involved police officers called for an ambulance. The victim was left in the care of bereft and horrified relatives and friends and shocked passers-by. Fortunately, one of the passers-by was an off-duty medic who in the immediacy provided assistance. Thirteen hours passed before Rex Jnr., with his injuries threatening his very life, utterly traumatised, underwent urgent surgery. Rex Sr., has explained that by this time irreparable damage had occurred to the leg in question. Rex Sr., and Liz with eyes welling, exhale pained sighs of relief in the fact that their son was not killed by the impact. Western Australian Police Officers lied that Kevin Spratt was a physical danger to them and that he was resisting arrest. The Western Australian Corruption and Crimes Commission thanks only to the harsh unavoidable brunt of CCTV footage proved that the Western Australian Police Officers in question brutishly lied and that they outrageously fabricated the charge sheet. Subsequent the CCC's viewing of the CCTV footage, the CCC had no choice but to instruct that certain convictions against Kevin Spratt be quashed. It is self evident that the nine police officers, and similarly with the prison officers, 'covered' for each other even if it was by 'silence'. In terms of the litany of charges against Kevin Spratt that he resisted arrest
inal justice system metered out to Aboriginal peoples, one thing seems clear, time for justice has stood still for First Nations people of Australia.” Aunty Cheri pointed out, “Our people are still holding the record for being the most incarcerated peoples in our country and worldwide. Our people are still persecuted if we dare to speak out about the inadequate 'justice' process. Our people, just like younger brother Rex, are left in limbo while the perpetrator is part of the justice system.” Aunty Cheri, who contributed research to submissions to the RCIADIC, said “Has there truly been any change?... When stories like (Rex Jnr) come to light one realises that those within the 'justice' system can and will continue to use the very same system to maintain the status quo - injustice for the members of the First Nations peoples... I ask myself what I can do, how do we as a people construct within the 'justice' system a mechanism whereby justice is done when the perpetrators are officers of the system, public servants or the ordinary person in the street who commits a crime on one of our people... Misconduct in the police rank and file seems to be an 'in-house-joke'. It is a joke that is aimed at us, Aboriginal peoples, and is based... within 'the rightness of whiteness' pervading the most powerful social systems.” Whatever happened on the night of March 6, 2009, we may well, as a community and as a common humanity, never know, nor will the mutually accepted account of the evening ever be recorded, however what we do know without doubt is that for a variety of reasons, and some of them having root in favour-dispensation, in various discriminations, be they coated with an investiture of faith, that justice was not sought by the Albany Police at the scene following the incident nor in the weeks subsequent to the incident. It is fact that the testimonies of Rex Jnr and other witnesses were not sought by investigating police officers. This is unequivocal unfettered discrimination and with this point I have no qualms whatsoever standing by it. For the fact that testimonies were not secured from the various witnesses and involved parties indeed bespeaks volumes. Rex Jnr was finally interviewed by police on April 16, and in his police statement Rex Jnr explains that he was not intoxicated, that he had not drunk any significant amount of alcohol at the wake, that if the police vehicle had its headlights on that it would have been impossible for it to have been missed in the heart of the darkness of the night, that the police vehicle did not have blue lights flashing, that all of a sudden headlights appeared, he tried to get out of the way, he was hit by the roo-bar and from then onwards went in and out of consciousness. Statements were sealong with so many other abuses quite clearly shows corrupt actions will not be tolerated, and that mistakes and acts of bastardry will be paid for.” Recently, an Albany Police Officer was twice caught on the same day by 'speed camera' reaching driving speeds of 140 kmph. However he is yet to be dismissed. You cannot apply to the Police Academy without at least a twelve months clean driving record. The Bellotti Support Group is calling for compensation for Rex Jnr, in addition to insurance payments that are yet to occur, and for a framework of support mechanisms, and for some accountability for what may or may not have occurred on the night in question, for the truth of what did occur, for an external non-police investigation of the involved police officers and of the subsequent police investigations. The Bellotti Support Group spokespeople have assured they will not desist from educating the wider community of the indiscriminate discriminations faced by Aboriginal peoples and that they will hold Public Meetings in Perth (August 11) and in Albany, and that they will campaign to the Government of Western Australia in the seeking of some justice, remedies and closure for the Bellotti family. The Group stands steadfast in the belief that Rex Jnr did not have to be a death in custody for justice to be sought, and for them to stand by him, and that they will campaign loud and clear, far and wide in the name of Rex Jnr and all those who suffer injustices because of the wells of prejudices and stereotypes and in which their origins-of-thinking are inter-generationally 'old', from days when racism was matter-of-fact and delivered with 'pride'. Justice does not come for everyone and more often than not it does not come for those who are the object of prejudices, discrimination and racism. However even though there is no CCTV footage to incite some expeditious justice, to raise the 'alarm', or to ensure remedies and closure this family and the folk of the Bellotti Support Group have no choice but to seek a sliver of justice sadly inch by inch. Join the fight for justice at bellottisupportgroup.org.
cured from various witnesses at a snail like pace between April 5, in Albany to April 30, in Bruce Rock, and then to May 5 extending to Katanning, with various statements conflicting with the police officers' versions of the events. However, on July 15, after Major Crash Investigations filed several statements and memorandums, the Great Southern District Police Office 'found' that there was 'no offence' committed by the driver of the police vehicle, and that there was 'insufficient evidence for any charges' and that the matter was 'finalised'. What is concerning about this 'finding' is that in the documents attached to this 'finding' there is an assessment by the investigating police officer that there were conflicting versions of the events so dramatic that any reasonable person would have assumed that an 'external' inquiry occur even if no for no other reason than to remove aspersions and imputations against the Police however preferably in pursuit of a contextual truth beyond reasonable doubts. Police should not be investigating police, we need demarcated Police Inspectorates who do not report to the Police. Two months ago, after two years of pleading for assistance, to no avail, from the under-resourced Aboriginal Legal Services of WA and from the small social justice community group Deaths in Custody Watch Committee WA, neither being in a position to provide support or to assist in advocating for the rights of Rex Jnr, Rex and Liz came to me - my heart went out to their pain and lone struggle - and we coordinated a snap action rally at the steps of WA's State Parliament - in the pelting rain 30 people turned up. We stopped WA shadow Attorney-General John Quigley and Australian Senator Mark Arbib who both said their offices would assist. We followed up with another rally in the following week once again at the steps of WA's State Parliament - and this time 50 turned up. At the conclusion of the second rally the Bellotti Support Group was formed and has met every
week since. Last Saturday a rally was held in Mokare Park, in Albany, on the main strip, near the town hall. More than 60 turned up, and more than half had driven hundreds of kilometres from Perth, Bunbury and Bridgetown. The rally was followed with a march through town and to the Albany Police station - where supporters and advocates spoke to the Albany Police via the intercom. The Police Duty Officer said, “You can protest outside the Police Station, you may not enter.” We asked if we could file a complaint to Albany Police about the police investigation. He said, “No comment.” We asked who do we complain to when we have a complaint against Police. He said, “I acknowledge 'your existence'. No comment.” Nyungar Traditional Owner and Curtin University Indigenous Research Fellow, Associate Professor Len Collard simply said, “This matter needs to be taken seriously. A young man's life has been destroyed and the people who did this need to be held responsible for their actions and therefore they need to be held to account.” Sydney's Indigenous Social Justice President, Elder Ray Jackson said, “When are the WA cops going to realise that they too are responsible to the laws of the land as is everyone else? Surely, the outrage over the death of Mr Ward, the tasering of Kevin Spratt,
Mining Boom Boosts Australia’s Ultra-Wealthy
n the past year, Australia’s richest 200 individuals have increased their collective wealth by 23 percent, or $33.1 billion, to a staggering $167.3 billion. The recently released Business Review Weekly (BRW) “Rich 200” points to escalating social inequality. Under conditions where working people are confronting worsening economic hardship, unprecedented levels of wealth are being concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite. The entry point for the rich list this year is a record $215 million. In 2008, the previous high point, $200 million was required to qualify, while in 2009 this fell to $150 million and in 2010 it was $185 million. The ultra-wealthy have more than made up for the relatively minor losses they suffered after the global financial crash. “Are the rich getting richer?” the Business Review Weekly asked, answering, “Absolutely.” Four out of the top five made their fortunes in the mining sector, underscoring the Australian economy’s dependence on mineral exports and also pointing to the growing weight of the major miners within the ruling elite. The wealthiest Australian is now Gina Rinehart with a record $10.31 billion personal fortune. Western Australia-based Rinehart inherited her father Lang Hancock’s inperpetuity royalties to iron ore in the Pilbara region now mined by Rio Tinto. She more than doubled her wealth in the past 12 months, with her value estimated at $4.75 billion in 2010. The others in the top five who made their money in the mining sector are Ivan Glasenberg, a Swiss-based resource commodities trader who recently became an Australian citizen and is valued at $8.8 billion; Andrew Forrest, West Australia-based iron ore miner, valued at $6.18 billion; and Clive Palmer, Queensland-based coal and iron ore miner, with a personal fortune of $5.05 billion. The sole manufacturer in the upper tier is Anthony Pratt, with $5.18 billion made from the cardboard and paper firm founded by his father Richard Pratt. Property and shopping centre investor Frank Lowy topped the rich list last year with $5.04 billion—less than half of Rinehart’s current fortune—but fell to sixth spot this year with a slightly lower fortune of $4.98 billion. “It has been an incredible year for the mining industry,” Business Review Weekly senior editor Kate Mills said. “When we talk about the twospeed economy, what this list shows is that it plays out across the whole economy including right at the top end.” The most immediate factor behind the soaring wealth for the major mining corporations and their CEOs is booming commodity prices. But this is not the only factor at play. A proposed Resource Super Profits Tax was one of the factors behind the ousting of Kevin Rudd as prime minster last year. His replacement Julia Gillard immediately
A Platform for Change in the TWU
FW El prolo
ellow Workers: An election was held recently for the driver delgates position at my work. I came up short to the incumbent in a close vote, apparently. Please find attached a copy of the open letter to my TWU comrades which was the basis of my campaign. The letter contains many items that are job and situation specific which mostly are likely not applicable to all workplaces. Nevertheless, Fellow workers may find it a useful tool as a template letter for running a similar campaign. It is obviously the view of our grand industrial band that empowering the large bodies our class thrown together in proletartianised work is a priori. Delegate/shop steward elections are excellent oppertunities to agitate by giving oxygen to the politics of direct democracy amongst those we work and struggle with daily. Fellow workers: On the 9th of November we are holding an election for the position of union delegate. While recognising the valued contribution of the current delegates, it is clear that there are deep-seated structural problems with the TWU. During my 7 years with ACTION working, talking, listening and struggling together with you, there are a number of ways that I would see the delegate’s position handled differently and our union’s structure altered to strengthen our union and make it more democratic and accountable, the better able to express and realise our collective interests. To this end I’ve prepared a platform that I will implement as your delegate in consultation with you, the members. This platform contains strategic measures that give power to the membership to use our collective strength to gain the best possible outcome for members drawing on lessons learned from the last, unnecessarily protracted EBA dispute. As your ACTION TWU delegate I will work for the following: • An annual mass meeting of members. • The union notice board outside the canteen to be made more accessible so that anyone can post, anonymously or otherwise, agenda items in petition form for the annual mass meeting. Each agenda item would be debated for and against before a vote is taken. These meetings would be chaired by a delegate accountable to their fellow workers. These would then constitute a hard log of claims for upcoming EBA’s. • All negotiations on wages and conditions are guided by members and include our full participation through mass meetings and regular consultation and reports.
• Work to ensure that union finances and the salaries of the top officials are transparent and available to all members. • In consultation with members implement a limit on the number of terms any elected official or delegate may serve in order to generate a regular renewal of talent in our union and guard against complacency and careerism. • Implement a process for the recall and replacement via election of any official or delegate deemed by a set number of members, e.g. 100, to be not adequately performing their duties. • That delegates and members be empowered to make union decisions. • That delegates and any interested members receive paid union training in legal rights and strategies of collective self-defence on the job. • Work to see that our union is independent of party politics and disaffiliates from the ALP pending a ballot of members at our first annual meeting. It is time to sever the links between the union office and the party of government. • As your delegate I will put any question to management that is conveyed to me by any member, anonymously or otherwise, and post the answer on the union board or convey the reply privately if appropriate, even if it is a “no comment.” • Improved delegate accessibility. The union to supply a basic handset for 9-5 use that all members have access to on request. I would carry this phone at all hours allotted by the union and be obliged to return all calls. Outside of union shift hours this phone would live in the union office. • A regular fortnightly depot visit at a set day and time with our regional organiser, to be negotiated. If you aren’t a union member, firstly shame on you. Secondly, if the reason you aren’t a union member is the lack of accountability and democratic structure within our union I challenge you to enroll and vote for this platform. If you are a union member and are feeling disempowered and alienated, vote for this platform. What have we got to lose? Vote for a change. Vote up this platform. If you are happy with the our union then this platform will only improve the way the TWU operates, making it a stronger, fighting organization. Again, vote up this platform. This platform is the result of many conversations with ACTION drivers over the past few years. I would like to apologise in advance if I am unavailable to chat about this platform or my candidacy before the election. Unfortunately I will be away on holidays with unchangeable flights booked for two weeks around and inclusive the date of the election. Warmest Solidarity, Dan H.
moved to modify the tax that the major mining companies spent $100 million fighting against. Rinehart, Forrest and Palmer were among the billionaires heading the campaign. Earlier this month, Gillard was feted by the miners for services rendered (see “Australian prime minister in love fest with mining moguls”). In her fawning speech to the Minerals Council of Australia parliamentary dinner, the prime minister declared that the $22 billion in cuts and savings announced in the May budget, including vicious cuts to welfare recipients, was centrally aimed at “leaving room for the mining sector to grow.” The BRW rich list points to the parasitic character of the Australian bourgeoisie. The wealthiest individuals are those who oversee the extraction of minerals from the earth and their export to Asia. The lone manufacturer in the top ten, Pratt, derives his fortune from his father and his dubious business practices. Richard Pratt, founder of the Visy cardboard manufacturing and recycling conglomerate, was found guilty in 2007 of establishing a cartel with his major rival, Amcor. The cartel netted Pratt an estimated $700 million. A further example of the character of this social milieu is the Packer family. James Packer ranks eighth in the Rich 200 list, with a personal wealth of $4.16 billion. Heir to the deceased Kerry Packer, formerly Australia’s richest man, Packer’s fortune is closely tied to his 40 percent stake in Australia’s largest casino, Crown in Melbourne. Crown’s profits are directly tied to the immiseration of many gamblers, often the poorest and most desperate layers of society. The rich list indicates the extreme polarisation of Australian society. There are 35 billionaires in Australia, equivalent to 1.6 billionaires for every 1 million citizens. This ratio is among the highest of all advanced capitalist countries—for example, there are 1.3 American billionaires per 1 million people in the US. The mining boom in Australia, which has created wealth for a few, has helped boost the Australian dollar which in turn has had a recessionary impact on many other sections of the economy. The result has been a renewed restructuring drive in manufacturing and service industries, intensifying the assault on wages and conditions. The BRW Rich 200 magazine features extensive advertising for private jets, luxury cars and Swiss watchmakers. The extraordinarily wasteful activities of the wealthy elite finds expression in the magazine’s description of James Packer’s recent home renovations: “Packer has been busy renovating his $18 million residence in Vaucluse [Sydney]. He spent $12.5 million buying adjacent properties … demolished the two houses, and plans to pour another $13 million into building a 13-car garage, 23-metre pool, underground cinema, gym and staff quarters.”
Class War Down Under: Murdoch, The Miners and the Monopoly on Manipulation
n a country where two out of every three newspapers in major cities are owned by Rupert Murdoch, and which possesses the unenviable mantle of the most highly concentrated media ownership in the Western world, it is unsurprising that public discourse on all things related to big business, and the shadow it casts over society, tends toward the lowest common denominator. According to the minions of Murdoch, the sole threat to human existence – re-affirmed on a daily basis – are “boat people” destined for the shores of Australia – ostensibly vastly unlike those that arrived from Europe in the late 18th Century to colonise the land, at that time deemed empty of occupants. So important are these alien invaders, who average approximately three a day since 2009, that discussion of their asylum attempts assumes the categorisation of “border defence,” and the Murdoch Empire in Australia regularly leads with headlines regarding their imminent arrival and presumably, the subsequent downfall of Western “civilisation”. One might be cynical enough to suggest that the hyperbole and editorial outrage serves to mask and omit issues of a class character. However, the Murdoch media of late has been busy discussing, for want of a better term, other issues within the Australian political milieu pertaining to class and to a degree of propagandistic proportions. Since the election of the Labor government in 2007, proposed reforms have generated hysteria amongst the business elite, and Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp has maintained its position amongst the Australia media landscape as attack-dog par excellence. Foremost amongst these have been the opposition to the Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT), and the two proposed responses to climate change, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), “shelved” by the Kevin Rudd led Government (and undoubtedly a major contributor to his downfall), and its recent successor, the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Murdoch’s Newscorp, in true Murdoch fashion, put its finger to the wind in 2007 and supported the election of the Rudd Government after 11 years of John Howard’s conservative rule; unsurprising, this is not the first time that the media mogul has mounted an aggressive agenda against an incumbent after initially leaping on the bandwagon of change. In 1972, Gough Whitlam, Labor Party poster child of progress, after no less than 23 years of post-war conservative rigidity, was swept to power upon the tune of “It’s Time.” The campaign summed up the general mood of an Australian public tired of the Vietnam War; tired of conscripting its teenagers in death-lotteries and tired of the paternalism of our presumably loving overseer, Uncle Sam, that foresaw our entry into imperialist adventures far and near. It was also an Australian public convinced it was indeed time for many other reforms: aside from the ending of conscription and the freeing of draft-evaders, free universal higher education, a raft of progressive legislation for women and Australia’s indigenous communities were established, amongst many others. In all, 507 new pieces of legislation were introduced. Most disconcerting for our benevolent masters in Washington – whom members of the Whitlam Government had labelled “maniacs” and “corrupt” due to their bloody campaigns in Southeast Asia – was the Government’s pre-election promise to “buy back the farm:” an end to the subservience to (mainly US) multinationals and a campaign to reclaim the minerals, refineries, and industries for the benefit of the Australian public. Buying back the farm, as the Arbenz or Mosaddegh Government’s could have attested, is a risky strategy for any would-be DIY country or politician. In fact, Whitlam should really have known better. He condemned Australia’s own foreign “security service”, ASIO – realistically a regional lapdog for the CIA – for its complicity in the events of September 11, 1973. Whitlam would have his own Allende moment on November 11, 1975, when the Queen’s representative in Australia, the Governor-General, dismissed him in another CIA-backed coup. Earlier that year, 75 Murdoch journalists went on strike over one of Murdoch’s papers, The Australian, becoming ‘a propagandist sheet’ and ‘a laughing stock,’ presumably before laughingstockery became his mainstay. On the 20th anniversary of what has become known as the “Constitutional Crisis,” Murdoch suggested that historic accounts and speculation of his involve-
FW Brendan l.
jock talk-back radio host, Alan Jones, were heavily involved with another anti-Labor Party “movement,” the Convoy of No Confidence, led by the online Just Ground Community Forums, which have since been outed as “Astroturfed” by a minority of individuals. The Murdoch Press were triumphal in their depiction of this “revolt of working people,” claiming the group were made up of “butchers, bakers and candlestick makers who are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore:” Australia's uprising is from workers. Workers, who every day drive trucks and travel in aeroplanes all over Australia to work in mines and on cattle stations and in hundreds of industries that service them… They do not like being treated as fools. The federal Labor government has indeed treated them and millions of others as fools. Never has the Murdoch press been so supportive of the rights of working people, and one could suggest the Australian Tea Party keep their eye out for advertisements for Marxist baby clothes appearing on the back pages of Murdoch’s tabloids. The Convey, initially claiming to contain thousands of trucks, cars and buses destined for Canberra managed to produce barely a couple of hundred, many of whom struggled to articulate a consistent or rational argument as to why they were converging on the capital, other than that they were angry; possibly from reading too much Murdoch. Discussions of Murdoch’s capacity to influence his editors and his paper’s perspectives usually adopt what could be described as the Anti-conspiratorial Theory – that Murdoch, with his extensive media operations all over the world, clearly could not have the capacity to supervise and influence the content and character of his various papers, particularly here in the “arse-end of the world,” as former Prime Minister Paul Keating lovingly referred to Australia. Mungo MacCallum, writing in the Monthly, sums up this perspective: …these days Murdoch regards his Australian operations as pretty much on the fringe and allows his editors the kind of independence that their predecessors only dreamed of. An obvious example of this is Murdoch’s support of the use of short-term stimulus packages to combat the global financial crisis, while his Australian economics writers (Michael Stutchbury in the Australian, in particular) have been highly critical. Also, Murdoch declares himself a true believer in climate change, but the Australian has become a haven for sceptics and deniers… What MacCallum doesn’t recognise is that the stimulus package the Rudd Government initiated came from the public coffers to support the private sector, and is thereby an upwards transition of wealth, particularly in a country with a regressive taxation system. What he also doesn’t comprehend is that Murdoch’s supposed belief in climate change certainly does not correspond to his support for responses to climate change – given that they are directed at the interests of his class allies in big business, and also himself. Furthermore, having Murdoch’s editors attacking from a class perspective on these issues – with Murdoch himself claiming he believes otherwise – leads people, like MacCallum, to assume that Murdoch stays at arms length of his papers’ ideological persuasions. Like most powerful men in charge of large corporations, Murdoch presumably chooses or oversees the employment of his staff, particularly at the higher echelons. Those people are chosen because they already support Murdoch’s class prerogatives. Given the hierarchical nature of corporations, where decisions come from the top – or are overseen, or overturned, from above – leads one to the conclusion that Murdoch’s staff are Murdoch’s staff because they largely agree with Murdoch’s ideology, with few exceptions. However, one must avoid such logic, given such assumptions presume acts of a conspiratorial nature, and assuming that rich people look after rich people’s interests patently borders on delusion. Brendan Libertad is an activist, aspiring labor historian and a musician with the anarcho-folk band, A Commoner’s Revolt. For more info visit www.myspace.com/acommonersrevolt.
ment in the events of 1975 do not do him justice, and that his behind-the-stage puppetry and consequent subversion of Australian democracy was actually far more extensive. This time, unfortunately for the forces of real democracy in Australia, buying back the farm isn’t even on the agenda. The Labor Party of today has learnt the lessons of the coup and instead prefers small, increasingly unidentifiable shifts of policy; these used to be referred to as reforms, however, such tendencies today shy away from bearing the name (unless, of course, the reforms are pro-business: then they are indeed reforms, and intelligent and long overdue reforms at that). Nonetheless, the policy shifts of today have managed to ruffle the Champagne swilling, Porsche driving feathers of the new Australian elite. The Australian Mining Industry, tied parasitically to the growth of China and India, reaps profits only dreamt of in the Australia of 1975. According to IBISWORLD Market Research, the Australian Mining Industry is set to reap profits of $209 Billion in the financial year 2011-2012. It was in fact the reforms of the Hawke Labor Government of the 1980s that introduced the neo-liberalism that has allowed Australia’s relatively rich to become Australia’s uber-rich. And as he has demonstrated regularly, both here and in his overseas mouthpieces, Murdoch protects his own class and their interests with all that he has. The debate about the RSPT in Australia has been more comedy than tragic at times – the picture of Mining magnate and Australia’s richest individual, Gina Rinehart, and co-ally multi-billionaire Miner, Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, personally protesting the Prime Minister with placards and fists erected brought a tear to the eyes of many – some laughing, others decrying the lack of rational discourse within the Australian media infrastructure, who reported the event much like they would a gathering of pro-refugee activists, albeit with much greater support for the protesters. The use of Edmund Burke’s dictum, that “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing” on the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies’ website only added to the absurdity that prevails within the culture of Australia’s top one percent. Murdoch’s The Australian, the sole national newspaper, and his two top selling tabloid dailies in Melbourne and Sydney have used the proposed tax, along with the other proposed “solutions” to Climate Change to attack and vilify the Labor Government, although its own incompetence surely provides it no aid. According to Andrew Hughes, an Australian National University academic who researches marketing and political branding, “The Murdoch press has its feet on the throat of a government that’s already on the ropes.” The Government, well aware of this, has declared that Murdoch is “running a campaign of regime change,” a welltrodden path for the veteran propagandist. The Murdoch led attacks have led to an alliance of big business interests, between media and mining, that has flexed it political muscle over the last year. The Sydney Morning Herald, a broadsheet produced by the Fairfax Media – the other approximately 30% of the Australian print media not owned by Murdoch – reported that $22 million was spent by the mining industry to “bring down”
the former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd: The industry's national body, the Minerals Council of Australia, spent $17.2 million, mainly on TV advertisements; BHP Billiton spent $4.2 million; Rio Tinto just over $537,000, and a smaller lobby group, the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, just under $274,000. Moreover, significant financial contributions from various mining corporations were made during the same period to the parliamentary Opposition, led at this time by archconservative, Tony Abbott. Abbott was fundamental in the overthrow of the former leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull, who supported the Rudd Government’s CPRS, and speculation has been rife that Abbott’s push for the leadership was the result of significant lobbying from the energy sectors. The money spent on the campaign to oust Kevin Rudd wrought significant returns: the tax remains, although it has adopted a new appellation, but it now will seek only three-quarters of the original intended amount, leading many within the mining community to suggest their investment has provided returns above and beyond expectations. The mining community has also begun a TV advertising campaign entitled Australian Mining: This Is Our Story whereby they portray the various life stories of their employees. One example was of an employee that had earlier escaped a refugee camp where his parents were killed. Clearly they perceive a lack of support within the wider Australian community. The daily attacks from the Murdoch media, and other conservative sources, particularly on talkback radio, have created an atmosphere that was largely unknown hitherto in Australian society, similar to that created by Fox News’ inflammatory rhetoric and the Tea Party “movement” in the United States. There has been a clear attempt by big business to establish a right-wing populism in Australia: reactionary, emotive, and highly volatile. In fact, an Australian Tea Party has recently been established, its website plastered with horror stories of Marxist baby clothes and other imminent threats to human existence. The website has identified what it refers to as “The Aussie Big 3” – Taxation, Australian Sovereignty and the Debt Threat. Unsurprisingly, these three specific concerns are the same that have dominated the Murdoch media and the Abbott Opposition’s agenda of late. Although hastening to depict itself as a grassroots organisation, the US Tea Party has been exposed as being backed financially by various right-wing think-tanks, lobbies and billionaires. A recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald revealed Australia’s own version of the Koch Brothers, Senator Corey Bernardi – climate change denier and anti-Islam extraordinaire – was heavily involved in the establishment of six different antiCarbon Tax “grassroots” organisations, also pioneering “pro-market” and “traditionalist” values. Bernardi was the subject of recent controversy for his offer to aid Geert Wilders’ visit to Australia, and he has attested to a large picture of Margaret Thatcher being proudly displayed on his desk, happily conceding that he is an “ideological warrior,” much like his heroine. Bernardi and shock-
Old Wine, New Bottles
sylum-seeker policy has taken on different forms throughout Australia’s history especially through the late 1970’s when Australia received an increase in asylum claims by Indochinese people arriving by boat (DOPS, 2005). In the past decade we have seen similar asylum-seeker policies made by two successive governments, the Liberal government lead by John Howard and the Labor government lead by Julia Gillard. All policies made by these governments and those prior are bound by treaties that outline our international obligations for refugees, including the Refugee Convention as part of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) (p358, Fox, 2010). The Labor government was voted in in 2007 and they claimed they would move forward from Howard’s strict asylum-seeker policies to adopt a ‘strict, but fair’ approach. It is now clear that the Labor government did not deliver on this promise with the proposed ‘Malaysia solution’. The policies by both governments are quite similar in that they criminalize those people fleeing desperate situations, attempt to deter people from coming to Australia for asylum, have a strong focus on boat arrivals and include offshore processing of claims. Whilst this is a number of similarities, it has become apparent in the past few months that the Labor government have progressed from this and now are fighting to implement some of the harshest asylumseeker policies in Australia’s history. At the beginning of Howard’s implementation of strict asylum-seeker policy were the events of the Tampa and a standoff with the Australian government in August of 2001. Tampa was a ship that came to the rescue of distressed asylum seekers traveling from Indonesia on a fishing vessel (p356, Fox, 2010). The government refused their entry despite requests for medical attention (p356, Fox, 2010). The government accused the people on the boat of throwing children into the water so they could be granted entry, which was found to be a false accusation (p40, Manne, 2004). This was one of many ways the government aimed to demonise asylum seekers (p101, Manne, 2004). In September of the same year, terrorists attacked the Twin Towers in New York and as a result the media perpetuated an anti-Muslim image around the world, including in Australia (pix, McMaster, 2002). This affected how people viewed asylum seekers because the majority of asylum seekers were from Muslim countries such as Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. This resulted in a fear of terrorists entering our country by boat and the government reacted to this through its asylum-seeker policies. Policies became stricter and there was less consideration of refugee rights. Some examples include, allowing for refugee strip searches, decreased visitor access and increased jail terms for those who flee detention (px, McMaster, 2002). It has been argued that through Howard’s policy’s he “outshone all his predecessors in the demonisation of refugees”. (p147, Manne, 2004). Howard’s goal was to deter people seeking asylum from coming to Australia or making ‘secondary movement’ (p3, Human Rights Watch, 2002). ‘Secondary movement’ refers to “migration by a refugee beyond the country in which she (or he) was first a refugee” (p11, Human Rights Watch, 2002). Migration from these initial counties normally occurs because the first country is still not a safe location for them or not a signatory to the Refugee Convention (p11, Human Rights Watch, 2002). Whilst Australia’s policy will accept secondary movement, this is only on the basis that the previous country(ies) have had a ‘break down’ of its ability to provide protection (p12, Human Rights Watch, 2002). In 2002, countries that the Australian government does not consider to be broken down include all Middle Eastern countries as well as any South/South East Asian countries (p13, Human Rights Watch, 2002). ‘Secondary movement’ and the loosely used term of ‘protection’ is the justification behind decreasing a refugee’s ‘legitimacy’ (p13, Human Rights Watch, 2002). Asylum-seeker policy under Howard also saw the excising of Australia’s migration zone, making it smaller. Considering increased resources were given to the interception of vessels means those caught outside the migration zone didn’t have the right to make an asylum claim in Australia (p14, Human Rights Watch, 2002). This part of the policy was successful in deterring and turning back all boats in the year of 2002 (p15, Human Rights Watch, 2002). In 1999, the Howard government introduced Temporary Protection Visas, which meant genuine refugees were given asylum for 3 years before they had to apply for further protection (DOPS, 2005). These visas were said to add to the “punitive treatment of refugees” under the Howard government (DIAC, 2008). This meant, “people who hold this visa are not entitled to permanent residence” (AHRC, 2005). Under the successive government under Kevin Rudd it was stated that these visas had no impact on the boat arrivals like they were originally proposed to do (DIAC, 2008). In 2008, these temporary protection visas were scrapped as the fulfillment of an election promise by Kevin Rudd (by which stage, 1000 refugees held these visas) (DIAC, 2008).
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The most notorious refugee policy that was implemented during the Howard years was the ‘Pacific Solution’, which existed from 2001 to 2007 (UNHCR, 2008). This meant that asylum seekers arriving by boat would be processed at offshore processing centers, or detention centers. Howard argued this would allow for Australia to strengthen our boarder security (p85, Rajaram, 2003). The countries that Australia was sending asylum seekers arriving by boat included Christmas Island, Nauru and Manus Island (AHRC, 2005). Based on the migration zone, Nauru and Manus Island made up the ‘Pacific Solution’. By allowing for asylum seekers to be detained in these offshore detention centers meant that both Nauru and Manus Island were in breach of their own domestic laws relating to a persons liberty and access to legal advice (p131, Mares, 2002). The UNHCR was against the ‘Pacific Solution’ and as a result, most claims in these places were processed by Australian Immigration department officials (p140, Mares, 2002). This cost of implementing the ‘Pacific Solution’ was exorbitant. In 2001-2002, it cost Australia over double the originally planned amount allocated to dealing with boat arrivals, instead of spending $250 million, the government spent $572 million (p140, Mares, 2002). An additional $431 million was allocated to the processing of asylum seeker claims and detention center upkeep for four years (p140, Mares, 2002). These figures indicate the focus the government had on this issue and what they were willing to spend to deter asylum seekers from Australia. The ‘Pacific Solution’ came to an end with the voting in of a Labor government. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd closed the detention centers in Nauru and Manus Island and the last detainees of these centers arrived in Australia at the beginning of 2008 (Maley, 2008). Julia Gillard came into the role of Prime Minister in 2010 by a successful leadership challenge against Kevin Rudd. Under the Gillard government we see Rudd’s work undone when he stopped the ‘Pacific
Solution’. This claim is made based on the actions of Prime Minister Gillard and Immigration Minister Chris Bowen to fight to put into place the ‘Malaysia deal’, which sees asylum seekers being sent to processing centers in Malaysia. The events leading up to the fight for this policy to be put into place started at the end of 2010 when over 30 asylum seekers died as a result of a boat crashing into Christmas Island (Maley, 2010). This event lead a campaign against people-smugglers, which is what helped shape Gillard’s proposed asylumseeker polices. As with Howard, Gillard reacted to pressure from the media and the public in relation to asylum-seeker policy. Prior to the Christmas Island tragedy, Gillard made an attempt to implement another offshore solution in East Timor, which was rejected by East Timor’s government (Kelly, 2010). Just like Howard, Gillard was attempting to move asylum-seeker responsibilities more and more offshore. The ‘Malaysia deal’ is similar in a lot of ways to Howard’s policies in that its main aim is to act as a major deterrent, but in this case it is aimed at people smugglers. The major difference in this policy compared to Howard’s is the fact that it’s a ‘swap’. The policy proposes that Australia accepts 4000 genuine refugees and Australia would send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia for processing. The controversy behind this is the fact that Malaysia is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention by United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Malaysia also treats their asylum seekers (or illegal immigrants) with no compassion for their situation. The Malaysian government allows for public whippings, refugee labour exploitation and has been described as having a “tarnished human rights record” (Yoong, 2011). Malaysia is also known for its volunteer security corps who hunts down refugees as they’re deemed ‘illegal immigrants’ for deportations, imprisonment among other punitive action (p371, Hedman, 2008). According to an inquiry made by the Australian Human Rights Commission, any guarantees made by the government for asylum seeker protection is not “legally enforceable” (p11,
AHRC, 2011). This means Australia is at risk of breaching their obligations to people seeking asylum under the UNHCR’s Refugee Convention if this policy were to be put into place. Before Gillard proposed the ‘Malaysia solution’, Howard’s ‘Pacific solution’ was deemed as being “unprecedented in its ruthlessness” as stated by Robert Manne a political writer and professor of politics (p4, Mares, 2003). It was only recently that the Refugee Action Collective Victoria deemed the ‘Malaysia solution’ policy to be the “worst in Australian history” (Solah, 2011). Comparable to Howard’s policy, the budget associated with this proposed policy is $300 million (Yoong, 2011). This is more than the initially stated budget that was proposed for the ‘Pacific Solution’, which ended up far exceeding initial predictions. As it stands, the ‘Malaysia solution’ has not been put into place due to the High Court of Australia ruling against the proposed policy as it was in breach of Australia’s immigration laws. As a result, the Gillard government is currently seeking to amend the Immigration Act 1958 to allow for increased power to the Immigration Minister that will allow for forced deportations to occur according to their discretion. As an example, the Minister would be able to deport people based on the idea that asylum seekers “should be able to be taken to any country designated to be an offshore processing country” (DIAC, 2011). An offshore processing country is whatever country the Minister deems to be so (DIAC, 2001). As for current asylum-seeker policy, there is no processing of asylum claims in ‘third countries’, i.e. Nauru or Manus Island. As of July this year, Christmas Island still has just over 550 people waiting to be assessed and a total of 5780 people in detention centers as part of Australia’s asylum-seeker policy (DIAC, 2011). Asylum-seeker policies in Australia leave human rights advocates wanting. The policies under the Howard government were put in place with the intention of avoiding our obligation towards those seeking asylum. Howard made it harder for refugees to have their claim processed in Australia, let alone to be settled in Australia. Gillard is a continuation of this trend and has proposed a plan to deter the people smugglers at the expense of the basic rights of 800 asylum seekers who are within their legal rights to seek asylum in Australia. With the current decision made by the High Court of Australia to reject Gillard’s proposed policy it can be hoped that Australians can start to see through the unnecessarily harsh conditions asylum seekers are placed in when it comes to detention centers and getting their claims processed. Asylum seekers are not illegal despite the government’s attempts to demonise and criminalize them through their policies. Moving forward it would be the right thing to break this trend of policies that don’t take into consideration the human rights and well being for those fleeing horrible situations.
Refugees: Myths and facts
Myth: Asylum seekers are illegal immigrants. Fact: Asylum seekers are neither illegal nor are they immigrants. Immigrants leave by choice and can return at any time. Asylum seekers are forced to leave and cannot return for fear of persecution— such as torture, imprisonment and execution. Myth: Asylum seekers should wait their turn in the queue. Fact: Only 0.5% of the world’s 15.37 million refugees will have access to a queue in 2011. With only around 80 000 places allocated each year for resettlement, if all of the world’s refugees were to join a queue, the wait would be 192 years. Myth: More people are seeking asylum by boat because the ALP is soft on asylum seekers. Fact: As a percentage of our overall immigration intake, Australia accepts fewer refugees and humanitarian entrants under the Gillard Government than we did under Howard. Refugees made up 7.6% of the total immigration program under Howard, compared with 6.6% under Gillard—this is close to its lowest level in 35 years. Myth: Australia is being flooded by asylum seekers. Fact: In the last 34 years a total of 27 437 asylum seekers arrived by boat. At this rate, it would take 124 years to fill the MCG. Fact: Australia received only 1% (10,995) of new asylum applications worldwide in 2010. That places Australia 25th in the world for the number of asylum applications it received and 51st based on wealth per capita. Myth: Asylum seekers are a drain on centrelink and public housing. Fact: Asylum seekers have no access to Centrelink benefits. A limited number of asylum seekers have access to the Red Cross Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme for a certain period of time. The income provided by this scheme is equal to 89% of the Newstart Allowance. Fact: Asylum seekers do not get access to public housing and face significantly higher rates of homelessness than the national average. Myth: Australia takes its fair share of the world’s refugees. Fact: As of 2010, Australia is hosting just 0.21% of the world’s refugees. Australia ranks 69th in the world for the number of refugees it hosts relative to its population. Based on wealth per capita, that rank drops to 79th. Myth: We need detention centres. Fact: Between 1948 and 1992, Australia successfully and peacefully resettled 452 000 refugees. At this time, asylum seekers were processed in the community and there was no policy of mandatory detention. Fact: Australia is alone in the world in its policy of mandatory and indefinite detention. There is a more humane alternative. At approximately 10% of the cost, and without the mental and physical damage, all asylum seekers who arrive by boat can be processed and cared for in the community, just as most plane arrivals are. Fact: A large body of medical evidence now demonstrates that prolonged detention has severe detrimental effects on psychological and physical health. There have been six deaths in 2010–11, five by suicide, in Australia’s detention centres. The Ombudsman reports that more than 1100 incidents of threatened or actual selfharm occurred in 2010–11. Myth: Australia needs to protect our borders from asylum seekers Fact: No boat arrival who may have been a potential threat to national security has ever gained entry into Australia. Boat arrivals are subject to the most rigorous security checks of all arrivals into Australia. Fact: The vast majority of asylum seekers arrive by plane with a valid visa, applying for asylum at a later date while living in the community. None have ever posed a threat to Australia’s national security. Asylum Seeker Resource Centre www.asrc.org.au
What’s Holding Renewables Back?
he barriers to renewable energy are many. It’s not just a matter of the draconian new Victorian laws against wind farms — the legacy of government support for fossil fuels also hangs heavily over the renewables sector. The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) released a study in March that revealed for the 201011 year incentives to fossil fuels — such as the failure to index the fuel excise for a decade — was more than $12 billion. By contrast, climate programs attracted just over $1 billion. And this ACF figure includes $100 million for clean coal — not a real climate expenditure in most people’s view. The fossil fuel incentives are built into the economy in an ongoing way. They are a stable environment for investment. The climate expenditure tends to be sporadic — liable to change at the whim of government. The other legacy hanging over renewables is the privatisation of the energy sector. Prior to privatisation of Victoria’s State Electricity Commission in the 1990s, its workshops in the Latrobe Valley began building wind turbines. The project was abandoned with privatisation. Author Sharon Beder wrote in her 2003 book Power Play that, following privatization: “A report commissioned by electricity distributor Origin Energy found that … Victorian brown coal plants had, to a certain extent, displaced the cleaner NSW black coal plants and SA gas plants in electricity generation. “Even outside Victoria. baseload electricity tends to be generated by old coal plants rather than the newer gas-fired plants that emit less carbon dioxide. The latter tend to be used for peak loads because marginal costs are higher.” The high marginal costs of gas plants are because they have to buy gas on the market. Wind turbines may have relatively high costs to build, but their marginal cost is negligible because they need no fuel. As a result, the spot-market for energy tends to integrate wind farms whenever the wind blows, displacing the expensive “peaker” gas plants. Peak loads are growing faster than overall demand, fuelled primarily by the uptake of air conditioners. This leads to higher energy prices — partly through the use of expensive peaker plants (which may only operate for a few days of the year, but charge exorbitant spot prices) and partly through upgrading the electricity distribution network to accommodate peak loads. It is a golden opportunity for reducing demand (by energy efficiency in buildings, for example, and installing solar panels) to reduce prices. But renewable energy is also keeping prices down. Over the last five years, South Australian wind power has grown to provide 20% of that state’s electricity, largely displacing their import of dirty Victorian electricity. Over that time, carbon emissions have fallen from 9.8 to 8 million tonnes CO2 equivalent, despite an overall increase in electricity use, and wholesale prices have fallen. Clearly, renewable energy has a valuable role. It actually works, despite the years of naysaying that it is too unreliable and too expensive. In fact, renewable energy continues to become cheaper. Solar panels have now reached cost parity with coal power in some regions of Australia. It is becoming harder and harder to quarantine Australia from the developments in renewable energy, which the extreme anti-wind laws in Victoria are a testament to. These restrictions won’t hold new technology out forever — but that’s not an excuse to be complacent. The battle on now is between gas and renewable energy. In the competition to displace Old King Coal, gas is the preferred option of capital. Gas is highly profitable because it’s a commodity in its own right. The “greenhouse mafia” fossil fuel lobby will use their privileged access to the corridors of power in Canberra, and as significant investment into gas generation is made it will accumulate further political and economic inertia of its own. Gas investors will fight to retain their assets. Yet gas, as an internationally traded commodity, is going to increase in price. Choices to move to cheap gas now will not be cheap forever. And the environmental cost will grow even further as the gas industry moves into coal seam gas and shale gas with the attendant environmental destruction. Put bluntly, no mineral gas extraction is environmentally safe. There is too much CO2 in the air already. Renewables are the only safe ecological option, and we can’t wait for price disparity to slowly bring them to the top. We have to build the support framework for renewables now. This is where the problem arises. Despite formally approving many wind farms, and opposing the reactionary new anti-wind laws in Victoria, Labor governments (state and federal) have not yet provided the level of support for renewables that we need. Currently, large-scale renewables are supported by the Renewable Energy Target (RET). Renewable energy generators are awarded Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), which they sell to generators, who then surrender a set number each year to the government to prove they are meeting the RET.
Earthworker Cooperative is a social enterprise with a mission to create solutions for transitioning Australia’s workforce into a low carbon economy. It aims to create jobs, build social capital and protect the environment in local communities through the manufacture of renewable energy infrastructure.
Aim: To facilitate the establishment of manufacturing workers cooperatives through our country, especially in the coal regions ofAustralia, through membership of the Earthworker Cooperative. Objective: To support the factories in their work of manufacturing the best renewable energy products, through support with building the membership of Earthworker Cooperative, financial assistance to the workers cooperatives, support with marketing and any other forms of support asked of us by the manufacturing cooperatives.
But under the Rudd government, home solar panel and hot water installations were awarded five times the number of RECs for each unit of energy generated or saved. These extra “phantom” RECs caused a glut in the market, which has not yet passed and is keeping the REC price low enough so that new wind farms can’t get finance to begin construction. The thing that renewable energy needs is certainty and stability. Previous support schemes have been altered and withdrawn with such capriciousness that it has amounted to almost as much disruption as it has provided support. A set feed-in tariff for large scale renewables would remove the uncertainty of a fluctuating REC market. This is what is driving the rapid expansion of large scale solar and wind energy in countries like Spain — not enough, perhaps, but light years ahead of Australia. Under the carbon price package currently in federal parliament, the sweeteners for the Greens and the climate movement are a promise to close 2000 megawatts of the dirtiest coal power stations, and the establishment of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). The CEFC will have $11 billion to leverage finance for renewables projects. Half of this, however, will be available for projects that are not 100% renewable, potentially giving gas a role, like in the recently approved solar thermal power station to be built in Queensland — perhaps not coincidentally, in the centre of Australia’s coal seam gas fields. The problem with the CEFC is that on commercial principles, it is likely to support the most profitable and cheapest renewable options, not necessarily the most strategically useful. Solar panels and wind turbines are great and they are necessary, but the essential link is 24-hour solar power. The Torresol Gemasolar plant in Spain concentrates the sun onto a heat receiver and stores the heat in a big tank of molten salt. The tank, like a giant thermos, loses only about 1% heat a day, and contains enough energy to run for 15 hours after the sun goes down. This style of concentrated solar power (CSP) with heat storage would be ideal for Australia. It is currently very expensive, but the cost reduction from building one plant to the next is steep, as it is relatively simple technology and scaling up reduces costs rapidly. To build CSP with storage in Australia would not only provide clean energy, but even more importantly, the power of a tangible, real-life example that could not be ignored. It would change the debate irrevocably. Activists in South Australia are now campaigning to use these two “sweeteners” in the carbon price package to call for Port Augusta to replace its coal plants with CSP. While we battle against the conservative reaction against wind power in Victoria, South Australia is set to lead the way again. We can’t afford to be complacent. The forces mobilised against wind power are against all renewable energy. We have to overcome their resistance, but we have to keep going beyond that. We need to develop a viable political framework for a transition to 100% renewables, not simply adding a few wind farms to the current mix. That needs strategic planning that hasn’t been seen since the electricity grid was in public ownership. It needs serious government investment, also not seen since privatisation, and to get these we will have to mobilise serious community pressure and support for the process. Ben Courtice is a renewable energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Australia. Visit FOE at foe.org.au.
Community Blockades Proposed Gas Hub
or over 100 days local residents, environmentalists, and Indigenous owners have been blockading a site for a proposed gas hub at James Price Point in North-Western Australia. The $30 billion hub is being built by a consortium lead by Woodside Petroleum along with shareholders Chevron, Shell, BP and BHP Billiton. The site where the gas hub is to be built—the Kimberley—is untouched wilderness on indigenous land. It has many endangered species, including a population of bilbies living in one of the areas scheduled for clearing. It is a breeding ground for humpback whales and there are dugongs, sharks and sea turtles, which will all be endangered from underwater blasting and dredging as well as potential oil spills. Dinosaur prints 130 million years old have been found near the site. The hub will be a major greenhouse polluter with conservative estimates suggesting it would emit 15 million tons of greenhouse gases per year. It is also feared that the development will open up the rest of the Kimberley to industrialisation, as has already happened in the nearby Pibara region. The area is of great importance to local indigenous people who have lived in the region for at least 28,000 years. There are numerous sacred sites in the area, including some which are closed sites— meaning they are so sacred that even their exact GPS position in not available. The hub will destroy the Lurujarri Songline—a trail which follows the paths taken by Dreamtime beings as they created the land. By singing the song cycles, people navigate across the land, sacred places, laws, ceremonies, places to find food and water—everything needed for life are encoded into them. The blockade began on June 7 to stop the clearing of the area, which illegally began without permission from the Environment Protection Agency. Protestors formed a human chain across the road to stop bulldozers getting through while others locked onto bulldozers, and a car with no wheels appeared further down the road. The blockade managed to hold off all work on the site for 30 days, until at least 70 police officers attacked the blockade and arrested 25 people, including indigenous owners, in an attempt to get a large convoy of Woodside vehicles through. There have also been protests in the nearby town of Broome, with 5,000 residents (out of the town’s 18,000) attending a rally against the hub. Protests and other solidarity events are happening in other parts of the country. Woodside and the Western Australian government have used numerous illegal tactics and dirty tricks to try to push the hub through. Indigenous owners were bullied and tricked into signing off on the deal. A Kimberley Land Council meeting voted in favour of the proposal 164 to 108 in a deal which promised $1 billion in compensation. However, the notice calling the meeting gave no indication that a decision was to be made to sign off on the deal, and many traditional owners were not present for the
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vote. Worst of all, the decision was made under threat by the government that if the deal was refused it would compulsorily acquire the land, leav- ing the indigenous owners with nothing. Bushfires have been used as a cover for land clearing and to get rid of bilbies—whose existence may have resulted in a halt to land clearing—and suspicious fires have been lit in the area. A police boat was spotted running over a whale in what appeared to be an attempt to drive it away from the area; witnesses to the bizarre incident were later targeted and arrested at the blockade. Protestors have been subjected to all kinds of intimidation, including arrests and surveillance. Teachers who attended the blockade had their jobs threatened. The deep divisions created in the indigenous and Broome communities have also been played upon with the government spreading false rumours of racism by protestors. My liyan (in my language): My feelings By Wocky: Rodney Augustine
feel scared to death when I think about this gas hub they want to build on my country. From my own experience, growing up where I came from, I felt free. Free from everything. Thinking of how people living in my community back then. Seeing them through a child’s eyes, they were very happy with themselves and they had everything there. There was no need for them to go anywhere people were more proud, people cared for each other, they might have had their differences but they respected each other. Respect for land and culture. The only thing I hated was alcohol introduced by white man. Came weekend some would be fighting only because they were drunk and that made everyone sad. Now as an adult through my experiences this gas hub is going to bring everything I hate about the city and big towns on my country. I don’t want it. Because it’s going to destroy my sacred site, my fishing and hunting grounds, my community, my family and my being. I’m going to feel like a man with no identity, with no land, no law, no culture and no connection to my dreaming. I am not the only one who will lose out. it would also be my children and all the other children, they will also lose their connection to dreaming. I want to keep this place safe. I want to have the freedom to share my dreaming with my children and the other children there. I want to share this also with you. But if they build a gas hub at Walmadan “James Price Point” I lose this place for ever, and the rest of Australia loses it too. This part of Australia is one of the last frontiers, that’s why people come and visit. Sometimes end up living there, because of its isolation from the big cities and towns. In those days when I was a boy the men were proud, they were doing their job and women took care of their business. They looked after country, their family and community. We were already rich. This richness is freedom to be who we truly are, by following our law. The law says “We are responsible for looking after country” and that is what we must do. My liyan (feelings) is still strong about this law now. Please listen to my feelings and walk with me. I am trying to protect this land for everyone to enjoy.
(Continued from page 4) groups, be in contact with organizers from major campaigns and with members from branches, and build structures that aid in industrial organizing. One of the primary focuses of the ODB was the 2010 Organizing Summit held in Los Angeles, where Wobblies held extensive discussion and trainings. This summit brought together over 40 Wobblies from around the United States and Canada to discuss organizing strategy and coordinate between campaigns. The ODB was also involved in coordinating with the Starbucks Workers Union, the Jimmy Johns Workers Union, and the Construction Workers Organizing Committee. Fellow Workers Wren Monokian and Eric Zenke enthusiastically reported the achievements of the Literature Department (Lit. Dept.) throughout the past year, and what they have in store for the coming year. FW Zenke gave an overview of the Lit. Dept.’s increase in sales, and their hopes that putting the Industrial Worker on the Lit. Dept.’s books will benefit the union’s finances as a whole. Additionally, the Lit. Dept. established a General Defense Committee (GDC) store, in which anyone can purchase books and literature and have these items sent directly to political prisoners. The Lit. Dept. also worked this year to coordinate fundraising to the Madison GMB in helping along their work with organizing to retain collective bargaining rights and other such issues. Additionally, the Lit. Dept. established a new website, http://store.iww.org, which FWs Monokian and Zenke said would aid significantly in promoting sales. They responded to questions and highlighted future goals of focusing on fundraising for organizing campaigns, as they did with the Madison GMB. FW Zenke said the Lit. Dept. will continue to sell merchandise from all of the active IWW campaigns, and they are looking forward to another year of helping the work along. FWs Joe Tessone and Joseph Sanchez were next up to present a brief Audit Committee report. As stated in their report, the Audit Committee’s role is “to make sure that operations at Headquarters were proceeding in a democratic and transparent way and that our membership was being served well by our Administration.” Overall, the committee found significant improvements in bookkeeping this year. FW Sanchez gave a brief summary of what appeared in the full report, highlighting a significant amount of money gained from the Freight Truckers Organizing Committee and other such campaigns, and fielded questions. FWs Tessone and Sanchez said the committee was able to assess GHQ’s expenditures, at times make recommendations on what money should and should not be spent on, and provide some overall suggestions on accounting practices. The newly-formed Gender Issues Committee (GIC) was next in line to present. A committee formed at the 2010 General Convention, the GIC was mandated to “draft a union-wide harassment and anti-discrimination policy to be brought to referendum as soon as possible, and develop proposals to the membership to increase the gender diversity in the union.” The report, written by GIC Chair Monika Vykoukal and presented by FW Stephanie Basile, briefly summarized the role of the committee in both developing an antiharassment policy which incorporates conflict mediation, immediate relief and a confidentiality clause; and focusing on increasing gender diversity in the union. Though they had not formed a specific resolution for increasing gender diversity, the GIC presented many ideas on how to increase diversity, including advertising the Charlie Sato Memorial Fund, which was established in memory of Fellow Worker Charlie Sato to help women Wobblies attend important meetings, such as the annual Convention, by contributing to their travel costs. The GIC has also been working with the Literature Department to sell more gender issues-related merchandise. The GIC presenters concluded the report by inviting other Fellow Workers, especially for male-bodied individuals, to join. Fellow Workers Steve Ayers and X360056 reported on the General Defense Committee’s (GDC) recent work. The two Wobblies defined the GDC’s general activities as having the aim of raising money for the legal defense of political prisoners and those who are under attack for IWW-related activities, and summarized that the GDC has a total of 95 members. In Chicago, the GDC started a local newspaper, and in the Twin Cities local, they created a training program project. Additionally, in Ottawa where the GDC has had a local for a longer period of time, the local gets support from the community for its work. The IWW.org Administrative Committee (IAC) followed with a report on the status of the union’s website. FW Steve Ayers discussed the technicalities involved in redesigning the main website and launching http://store.iww.org and http://wiki.iww.org. He discussed the significant updates on the main website, which is a work in progress that continues to grow. FW Ayers also announced a new website project in the works, http://www.industrialworker.org, which will be the news-oriented site, while http://www.iww.org will be focused on organizing. He concluded the report by thanking FW Steve Ongerth (who was not in attendance) for his hard work and more than 10 years of dedication in develop- ing and administering the IWW website. Convention attendees gave FW Ongerth a round of applause. Next up was the Industrial Worker report, which I presented. In 2011, the IW has grown significantly, with some 1,200 subscribers and 3,000 issues distributed worldwide, as well as a steady increase in overall income. Some of the more prominent stories this year included the ongoing struggles of Jimmy John’s workers in the Midwest and Starbucks workers in South
America and Europe; the IWW’s role in fighting back against anti-union leg- islation in Wisconsin and throughout the United States; and news that promoted international diver- sity and solidarity. New features to the newspaper this year included the “Industrial Worker Book Review” and “Wobbly News Shorts,” as well as pieces from the Committee for Industrial Laughification, such as the re-animation of long-time Wobbly naysayer Mr. Block. The editor thanked all the hardworking volunteers and contributors who make the paper possible and fielded questions. Last but not least was the Finance Committee report. FW Jason Krpan delivered the report on behalf of Finance Committee members MK, Adam W. and Jerry Chernow. FW Krpan explained the committee is charged with advising the GEB and GST on financial matters and helping to draft a new budget each year. Essentially, their work is to ensure that the union is sticking to its budgetary goals. The reports concluded, and as there were no inactive committees to decommission, the delegates voted to take a short break, and, running ahead of schedule, decided to jump to voting on the first agenda item scheduled for Sunday morning. This proposed amendment to the IWW Constitution, which begins with the line: “The General Convention of the IWW shall not remain in session over 10 days,” was discussed, amended, and approved, and the session adjourned for the night so delegates could grab some dinner and head straight to Liam and Jessica’s Ale House for an evening of punk rock karaoke. At the event, held at a bar filled with IWW regalia and owned by former Baltimore GMB member Liam Flynn, Wobblies showcased their singing talents throughout the night with renditions of popular songs by The Clash, Le Tigre, Johnny Cash, NOFX, Crass, and others. In a spirited night of song, dance, jokes and discussion, a few dozen Wobblies reminisced on a successful first day at the Convention, and discussed the proposals and concerns for the coming two days. Back to Business On Sunday morning, Sept. 4, delegates and attending members gathered for a vegetarian-friendly brunch at Red Emma’s, which is not only a collectively run anarchist bookstore and café, but is also a “Wob Shop” as part of IU 660. During brunch, FW Kenneth Miller recognised and congratulated IWW translators who were commissioned by the GEB to translate pertinent IWW materials, and heard a report from the organising work in Madison, delivered by FW Russ Faulkner. After brunch, all of the Fellow Workers carpooled back to the 2640 Space, and Convention Chair Ryan G. called the meeting back to order. Throughout the sessions on Sunday and Monday, the delegates discussed, amended and voted on 10 constitutional amendments and 8 resolutions. Branch delegates discussed pieces of each section, recommended amendments, and debated for hours until the proposed amendments and resolutions either carried or failed. Of particular significance this year was passage of the long-awaited and much anticipated anti-harassment and anti- discrimination polices. While the specific language to be included in the Constitution and Bylaws were amended and debated for nearly five hours, attendees said it was worth the time and energy to form a concrete policy that will more effectively address such urgent issues that have, unfortunately, not taken such urgent priority for the union until now. While the final proposals will still have to be voted on by the membership during the General Referendum in the fall, members of the GIC and others present in the room expressed joy and relief at having pushed the policy this far ahead. After the last of the resolutions were voted on early Monday afternoon, it was time for everyone’s favorite part of the Convention: nominations. During this time, Fellow Workers made nominations for next year’s GST, GEB, ODB, ISC, Audit Committee, Finance Committee, Chair of the Gender Issues Committee, Central Secretary-Treasurer (CST) of the GDC, and 2012 Convention Sites. Some of the nominations for next year’s Convention include Portland, Ore.; Boston, Mass.; Gainesville, Fla.; and Cape Town, South Africa. Good and Welfare As was the case throughout the week- end, the Convention was ahead of schedule, and by 4:00 p.m. on Monday it was time for “Good & Welfare”—a time traditionally set aside at IWW meetings in which attendees make announcements for upcoming campaigns, events and actions, and provide compliments or critiques to the body regarding various aspects of the Convention as a whole. At this time, Fellow Workers expressed a profound appreciation of the Baltimore GMB for all the hard work that less than a dozen volunteers put in to make the Convention a success. Delegates were also commended for passing the GIC anti-harassment and anti-discrimination proposals, and many emphasised the importance of continuing such discussions on anti-oppression work as the IWW moves forward. As per tradition at each year’s general meeting, the weekend drew to a close late on Monday afternoon with a spirited singing of Ralph Chaplin’s “Solidarity Forever,” our longtime anthem. Wobblies used their copies of the recently published “Very Little Red Songbook,” and sang in a circle with their fists raised and heads up high. The 2011 IWW General Convention was adjourned at 4:27 p.m., and Wobblies left the floor inspired by our union’s renewed spirit in moving forward and hopeful for the year to come.
(Continued from page 12) hysteria by the victims of state-corporate policies at home. Much the same appears to be happening in Europe, where racism is probably more rampant than in the U.S. One can only watch with wonder as Italy complains about the flow of refugees from Libya, the scene of the first post-World War I genocide, in the now-liberated East, at the hands of Italy's Fascist government. Or when France, still today the main protector of the brutal dictatorships in its former colonies, manages to overlook its hideous atrocities in Africa, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy warns grimly of the “flood of immigrants” and Marine Le Pen objects that he is doing nothing to prevent it. I need not mention Belgium, which may win the prize for what Adam Smith called “the savage injustice of the Europeans.” The rise of neo-fascist parties in much of Europe would be a frightening phenomenon even if we were not to recall what happened on the continent in the recent past. Just imagine the reaction if Jews were being expelled from France to misery and oppression, and then witness the non-reaction when that is happening to Roma, also victims of the Holocaust and Europe's most brutalised population. In Hungary, the neo-fascist party Jobbik gained 17% of the vote in national elections, perhaps unsurprising when three-quarters of the population feels that they are worse off than under Communist rule. We might be relieved that in Austria the ultra-right Jörg Haider won only 10% of the vote in 2008 -- were it not for the fact that the new Freedom Party, outflanking him from the far right, won more than 17%. It is chilling to recall that, in 1928, the Nazis won less than 3% of the vote in Germany. In England the British National Party and the English Defence League, on the ultra-racist right, are major forces. (What is happening in Holland you know all too well.) In Germany, Thilo Sarrazin's lament that immigrants are destroying the country was a runaway best-seller, while Chancellor Angela Merkel, though condemning the book, declared that multiculturalism had “utterly failed”: the Turks imported to do the dirty work in Germany are failing to become blond and blue-eyed, true Aryans. Those with a sense of irony may recall that Benjamin Franklin, one of the leading figures of the Enlightenment, warned that the newly liberated colonies should be wary of allowing Germans to immigrate, because they were too swarthy; Swedes as well. Into the twentieth century, ludicrous myths of Anglo-Saxon purity
were common in the U.S., including among presidents and other leading figures. Racism in the literary culture has been a rank obscenity; far worse in practice, needless to say. It is much easier to eradicate polio than this horrifying plague, which regularly becomes more virulent in times of economic distress. I do not want to end without mentioning another externality that is dismissed in market systems: the fate of the species. Systemic risk in the financial system can be remedied by the taxpayer, but no one will come to the rescue if the environment is destroyed. That it must be destroyed is close to an institutional imperative. Business leaders who are conducting propaganda campaigns to convince the population that anthropogenic global warming is a liberal hoax understand full well how grave is the threat, but they must maximize short-term profit and market share. If they don't, someone else will. This vicious cycle could well turn out to be lethal. To see how grave the danger is, simply have a look at the new Congress in the U.S., propelled into power by business funding and propaganda. Almost all are climate deniers. They have already begun to cut funding for measures that might mitigate environmental catastrophe. Worse, some are true believers; for example, the new head of a subcommittee on the environment who explained that global warming cannot be a problem because God promised Noah that there will not be another flood. If such things were happening in some small and remote country, we might laugh. Not when they are happening in the richest and most powerful country in the world. And before we laugh, we might also bear in mind that the current economic crisis is traceable in no small measure to the fanatic faith in such dogmas as the efficient market hypothesis, and in general to what Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, 15 years ago, called the “religion” that markets know best -which prevented the central bank and the economics profession from taking notice of an $8 trillion housing bubble that had no basis at all in economic fundamentals, and that devastated the economy when it burst. All of this, and much more, can proceed as long as the Muashar doctrine prevails. As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.
Class War by Casualisation Building the One Big Union
he Eight hour day was won by workers in the building trades in Melbourne on 21 April 1856. But 150 later, increasingly fewer workers in Australia can hold a 38-hour week to their name. Casualisation is the process of shifting employment away from permanent full time engagement, toward part-time and casual work, and it's been rising modestly for the last two decades. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 21% of employees were casualised in 1991 in comparison to 25% in 2007. Casual employment is a job where you have no paid leave entitlements: no paid personal or sick leave; no paid annual holidays; and no paid public holidays (if your workplace is shut). A permanent part-time worker is considered casual if they have no leave entitlements, even though they are still guaranteed the other rights of being permanent employees. It's easy to see why employers prefer it, casual workers can expect to be sacked without warning, have no guarantee of hours to be worked, get called in to work when not rostered, and get sent home as soon as peak or busy periods finish. We can also see how casualisation affects workers' social lives. While employers demand flexibility; landlords do not, neither do utility companies, and stomachs need regular filling. And as the nature of casual employment demonstrates, the flexibility doesn't work both ways, and flexibility for the boss is of course at the expense of security and stability for workers. Under the Fair Work act 2009, the right to challenge unfair dismissal has been severely limited. Outside of the race & sex discrimination laws, workers at small businesses (under 15 employees) can't make a claim for unfair dismissal unless they've stuck around there for a year, something nearly a quarter of casual won't do. For big businesses, it's six months. As most casual employment is in unskilled or low-skilled jobs, it's not surprising that casuals, under the fear of getting sacked and replaced, can easily be made to work at unsafe speeds or do work dangerously. Casualisation also disproportionately affects women, who make up 56% of casual workers and earn on average $400 a week, while men earn closer to $600. While the trend is generally towards further casualisation, there have been some explosive instances of workers fighting back against the trend. In December last year workers at Visy Cardboard manufacturers in Sydney and Melbourne struck over Enterprise Bargaining deals in which the company wanted to further casualisation, amongst stripping of other conditions. Visy workers in Queensland and Western Australia put on overtime bans to pressure the company to budge on the deal. A picket at the Dandenong plant in Melbourne was broken up by Police, with 29 pickets arrested. This comment by a striker (WSWS 2010) outlines the way Visy used casual workers' vulnerability to their advantage: What sort of a future can you build on a casual wage? If people are employed as casuals here for more than three
months, they have to be made permanent. So the company just gets rid of them and brings in others. This is hopeless, but obviously the company thinks it’s a worthwhile exercise because they don’t have to pay them long-service or other conditions. Between February and May, Maritime workers took strike action nationally a number of times demanding, amongst other concerns, a move away from casualisation, which stands at 60% for Patrick bulk and general worksites according to the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA). “This is not acceptable,” Paddy Crumlin, MUA said. “Those casual workers have been stuck in limbo for, on average, five years - some for as long as nine. In December 2009 workers at Australia Post started what was meant to be two days of stoppages over a new enterprise deal. Australia Post claimed that its Christmas Casuals, a few hired extras, and the use of admin staff, to scab, were enough to keep mail distribution centres running during the strike. Australia Post also won an application to Fair Work Australia to have the strike ruled illegal by day two, and won a separate case in the federal court to make the, also successful, pickets illegal – giving the impression that the ¼ workforce walkout and pickets did put significant pressure on their operation. Although its effect was probably negligible in this instance, the will of the bosses to quickly mobilise casual workers as scabs is a worrying tactic, and a clear example of a 'divide and conquer' tactic by AP. Casualisation clearly provides a genuine and growing threat to workers in Australia, and if we are going to begin the struggle to do anything about it, we need to recognise it as exactly that. It is an issue of class struggle at its most basic, the bosses want casualisation because it means not only a cheaper workforce, but a workforce which can cop the slack for business downtime and part of the expansion of one of capitalisms finest concepts: that workers should be made to pay when the bosses have problems. As for some suggestions on how we could begin doing this: • We should aim to deepen our theoretical understanding of this issue, it is complex. • We should develop agitational propaganda that reflects this, and that encourages other workers to get together, form & join unions and challenge casualisation, workplace by workplace. • Unionisation should be a first step, as the Unions are prepared to fight the trend and they provide the kind of institutional protection needed for this kind of struggle. Join and undertake union rep or Delegate training with your union to get some hands on skills in workplace organisation. Of course, we need to place an emphasis on a culture of grassroots self-activity and control, as well as solidarity between each site of struggle and the next, as it's the most effective way forward in any scenario. We only have the rights we have because our comrades and other workers have been fighting and dying for them for a hundred and fifty years. Definitely worth fighting for.
n reality, there is no precise roadmap to a better future. The IWW is a democratic, rank & file union whose members have often debated (or even argued) about how we should abolish wage slavery. This outline is not necessarily the ultimate solution to the tyranny of capitalism, but it does represent the best summary of the most commonly held consensus opinion among IWW members past and present. The processes for establishing the structures listed below are outlined in Article I of the IWW Constitution. It is important to note the following: We have and very likely will continue to experience setbacks. The class war is vicious and the employing class is relentless in their desire to maximize their power and profit at our expense. We must always be prepared to return to previous steps and start anew if we experience a setback. IWW members may organise individual workplaces at any point along this chain of events, but obviously the further along we are in these steps, the easier it will be to organize an individual shop (and the smallest shops will usually be easiest). This particular guide does not address how to establish job control, because that is discussed elsewhere in our “organise” section, and that process is ongoing regardless of how well developed is the IWW union structure. These steps do not address barriers caused by nationality, language, or economic differences caused by difference in currencies. Likewise they do not address (or preclude) the formation of caucuses (such as a women's caucus or a black workers caucus). These are left to individual members to organise as they see fit. There is no set time-line for accomplishing any of these steps (though obviously the faster they are accomplished, the better off the working class is likely to be).
their industry. Step 14a - Once an IOC signs up at least ten members in the same industry, it then should apply for an Industrial Union Branch Charter. OR Step 14b - The remaining members or IOCs should continue building their own separate Industrial Union Branches, but in the meantime the GMB converts to a Mixed Local (otherwise known as a General Recruiting Union). As such they will continue with steps 7-14. Phase III - Building Industrial Unions (IUs) If you are part of an Industrial Union Branch: First of all, continue with steps 10-13; these are ongoing steps. Step 15 - Help the formation of other IUBs in your city or region; establish an Industrial District Council, composed of delegates elected from each IUB, IOC, and the remaining Mixed Local(s) in your city or region. Step 16 - Assist other IOCs and members in your Industrial Union elsewhere with steps 1013; start building the structure for an International Industrial Union (simply called an Industrial Union). Step 17 - Plant the seeds for new IOCs and IUBs in places where none exist. This may or may not include the formation of GMBs depending on the situation. Target bigger shops that exist in multiple locations where the IWW has a presence. Step 18 - Assist in the formation of at least five IUBs in your industry and recruit at least 100 members in that industrial union (who may or may not be part of those branches). Step 19 - Apply for an Industrial Union charter. Phase IV - Building Industrial Departments Once you have successfully chartered your Industrial Union: Continue with Steps 10-17; these are ongoing steps. Step 20 - Hold a Founding Convention (as outlined in Article I, Section 4 of the IWW Constitution), hold a referendum, and elect a coordinating body for your Industrial Union (Called a General Organizing Committee or GOC). Step 21 - Target more workers in your industry, build more Industrial Union Branches, plant the seeds for more IOCs, target larger, more regional workplaces. Step 22 - Assist in the formation of other Industrial Unions, especially in the same Industrial Department as your own (e.g. Department 100 which includes IU 110, 120, 130, and 140). Step 23 - Charter at least two full Industrial Unions (in the same department) and recruit at least 20,000 members in that industrial department (who may or may not be members of IUBs or the chartered Industrial Unions). Where multiple IUBs in the same department exist in the same city, form Department Councils. Step 24 - Apply for an Industrial Department Charter. Phase V - Beyond the Industrial Departments Once members establish an Industrial Department: Step 25 - Hold a Founding Convention, hold a referendum, and elect a coordinating body for that Department. Once all six of the Industrial Departments have been chartered, the IWW should be in a position to make serious inroads towards abolition of the wage system. All the while, steps 1-24 should be continuing especially where the IWW does not have a strong presence. To use an analogy in nature, individual members are the “stars” and “planets” that make up the “galaxy” of the IWW, and the industrial unions and departments make up the “arms” and substructures of the “galaxy”. Branches could be said to represent the individual “solar systems”. Old structures will fade and new ones form (usually branches), but the overall structure of a healthy galaxy should remain intact. Currently the IWW is a “galaxy in formation”, since not all of the structures are in place. It is entirely possible that variations on these twenty-five steps will no doubt occur. Some already exist. Subdivisions between Industrial Unions & Departments and Branches & Councils will no doubt evolve as more members join the IWW and organise. More info at iww.org/en/organize and libcom.org/organise/workplace
Phase I - Building General Membership Branches (GMBs) If you are an individual in a city or industry without an IWW branch: Step 1 - Join the IWW. All new branches must start with a single member, or a handful of members. Step 2 - Elect a delegate from your membership (or if you are the only member in your city or industry, contact the IWW's General Headquarters (GHQ) and ask to become a delegate). Delegates have the power to sign up new members and collect union dues. Step 3 - Establish a means of contact. Set up a mailing address (post office boxes are preferable), phone number (with voice mail or answering machine), and e-mail contact. It is important to make your contact information easily transferable (so that the branch doesn't depend on any single member). Step 4 - Set up a regular meeting time and place; start meeting. (Don't keep moving your meeting time and place around. Pick a consistent time and place or you will lose members). Step 5 - Sign up at least three members. Step 6 - Apply for a General Membership Branch Charter, or if you have at least ten members in the same industrial union, apply for an Industrial Union Branch Charter (see Step 14a). Phase II - Building Industrial Union Branches (IUBs) If you are members of an IWW General Membership Branch: Step 7 - Form an Industrial Organizing Committee (IOC) from each group of members in the same Industrial Union (e.g. IU 330, IU 560, or IU 620). Or, form IOCs from singular members in similar Industrial Unions (e.g. IU 310 & 330, IU 320 & 520, IU 630 & 640). Step 8 - Each IOC should establish a means of contact. Set up a mailing address, phone number, and e-mail contact (these can be the same as the branch contact information at first if desirable, but as each IOC grows and evolves into Industrial Union Branches, they should move to establish independent resources). Step 9 - Each IOC should elect at least one delegate. Step 10 - Each IOC should set up a regular meeting time and place, and start meeting. Step 11 - Each IOC should devlop a list of targets, demands, tactics, and strategies for growth. Step 12 - IOCs should contact members of the same industry in other IWW branches (or individuals in other locations) and share information & resources. Step 13 - IOCs target workers, shops, and unions in their industry, attempting to sign up new members, organize shops, or improve working conditions in
(cont. from page 4) spaces in places like Melbourne, New York and Oakland has been sickening. They could just as easily be scenes from Tunis, Cairo or Tehran. However the authorities have heavily underestimated the way in which these actions would be perceived amongst the citizenry and now those in charge of manufacturing consent are realizing that the more violence they use, the more solidarity and growth they are creating for the movement across the population. For every reactionary measure, there is an equal, opposite and growing progressive movement toward more freedom. These are the same populations who were outraged by the violence used against the Arab uprisings. They are now seeing it in their deformed, class dominated democracies, and people are realising that something is amiss. At this point some people must be wondering why it is that their non violent gatherings are being met with such State violence. The fundamental reason is the same whether it is occurring in Yemen or Melbourne. The reason goes back to the false consciousness that is slowly falling away from working people. Employing classes have laboured on at least one thing over the history of capitalism; and that is to convince the servant classes that they have interests in common with the owners of the product of wage labour. That we must care about their corporate profits and toil harder in our jobs in order to fulfil the aims of our rulers; that we must accept the destruction and poisoning of our environment as a necessary evil in order to fulfil the expansion of their profit; that the suppression and dispossession of indigenous populations benefited the greater good, not just the bank balances of the elites--these are the party lines that we have been taught to accept. These stories (posing as ‘historical necessity’) are
losing their plausibility in the minds of the ruled. Working people have been un-learning these stories of control and slavery and are discovering new, untold realities. Our global movements are teaching us a dangerous lesson: if we get up off the sofa, turn off the TV and walk out into the street with our fellow workers then, sit down in a public space and refuse to participate in these systems of exploitation we might make the world a free place to live in. The reason for State violence against these protests is not just because the Queen of Australia was in town or, because small businesses are suffering in the CBD or, because not enough people are visiting Saint Pauls’ Cathedral in London. The real reason is that people cannot be allowed to learn the lesson that if we join together in solidarity and stand up to power structures that we can win. The Tunisian government made that mistake and that spark of Tunisian citizen encouragement led to all kinds of troubles for the ruling classes in the region. The same applies in Australia, New Zealand, Greece and the United States. The problem that our ruling classes are facing is that the Occupy x Movement is only the most recent piece of the jig saw puzzle falling into place for workers across the world. In short, we’re beginning to make out what this puzzle consists in. At best, this movement may eradicate capitalism or, it may at least win some concessions from our rulers and fade out. But the lesson of the movement cannot be un-learned. The possibility of societal change through public struggle against enslaving traditions of power has been implanted in the minds of the world’s working people, and it can only develop into a more radical and broad based class consciousness in years to come.
(Continued from page 1) conquering Texas and half of Mexico. For Egypt, a comparable course was barred by British power. Lord Palmerston declared that “no ideas of fairness [toward Egypt] ought to stand in the way of such great and paramount interests” of Britain as preserving its economic and political hegemony, expressing his “hate” for the “ignorant barbarian” Muhammed Ali who dared to seek an independent course, and deploying Britain's fleet and financial power to terminate Egypt's quest for independence and economic development. After World War II, when the U.S. displaced Britain as global hegemon, Washington adopted the same stand, making it clear that the U.S. would provide no aid to Egypt unless it adhered to the standard rules for the weak—which the U.S. continued to violate, imposing high tariffs to bar Egyptian cotton and causing a debilitating dollar shortage. The usual interpretation of market principles. It is small wonder that the “campaign of hatred” against the U.S. that concerned Eisenhower was based on the recognition that the U.S. supports dictators and blocks democracy and development, as do its allies. In Adam Smith's defense, it should be added that he recognized what would happen if Britain followed the rules of sound economics, now called “neoliberalism.” He warned that if British manufacturers, merchants, and investors turned abroad, they might profit but England would suffer. But he felt that they would be guided by a home bias, so as if by an invisible hand England would be spared the ravages of economic rationality. The passage is hard to miss. It is the one occurrence of the famous phrase “invisible hand” in The Wealth of Nations. The other leading founder of classical economics, David Ricardo, drew similar conclusions, hoping that home bias would lead men of property to “be satisfied with the low rate of profits in their own country, rather than seek a more advantageous employment for their wealth in foreign nations,” feelings that, he added, “I should be sorry to see weakened.” Their predictions aside, the instincts of the classical economists were sound. The Iranian and Chinese “Threats” The democracy uprising in the Arab world is sometimes compared to Eastern Europe in 1989, but on dubious grounds. In 1989, the democracy uprising was tolerated by the Russians, and supported by western power in accord with standard doctrine: it plainly conformed to economic and strategic objectives, and was therefore a noble achievement, greatly honored, unlike the struggles at the same time “to defend the people's fundamental human rights” in Central America, in the words of the assassinated Archbishop of El Salvador, one of the hundreds of thousands of victims of the military forces armed and trained by Washington. There was no Gorbachev in the West throughout these horrendous years, and there is none today. And Western power remains hostile to democracy in the Arab world for good reasons. Grand Area doctrines continue to apply to contemporary crises and confrontations. In Western policy-making circles and political commentary the Iranian threat is considered to pose the greatest danger to world order and hence must be the primary focus of U.S. foreign policy, with Europe trailing along politely. What exactly is the Iranian threat? An authoritative answer is provided by the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence. Reporting on global security last year, they make it clear that the threat is not military. Iran's military spending is “relatively low compared to the rest of the region,” they conclude. Its military doctrine is strictly “defensive, designed to slow an invasion and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities.” Iran has only “a limited capability to project force beyond its borders.” With regard to the nuclear option, “Iran's nuclear program and its willingness to keep open the possibility of developing nuclear weapons is a central part of its deterrent strategy.” All quotes. The brutal clerical regime is doubtless a threat to its own people, though it hardly outranks U.S. allies in that regard. But the threat lies elsewhere, and is ominous indeed. One element is Iran's potential deterrent capacity, an illegitimate exercise of sovereignty that might interfere with U.S. freedom of action in the region. It is glaringly obvious why Iran would seek a deterrent capacity; a look at the military bases and nuclear forces in the region suffices to explain. Seven years ago, Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld wrote that “The world has witnessed how the United States attacked Iraq for, as it turned out, no reason at all. Had the Iranians not tried to build nuclear weapons, they would be crazy,” particularly when they are under constant threat of attack in violation of the UN Charter. Whether they are doing so remains an open question, but perhaps so. But Iran's threat goes beyond deterrence. It is also seeking to expand its influence in neighboring countries, the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence emphasize, and in this way to “destabilize” the region (in the technical terms of foreign policy discourse). The U.S. invasion and military occupation of Iran's neighbors is “stabilisation.” Iran's efforts to extend its influence to them are “destabilisation,” hence plainly illegitimate. Such usage is routine. Thus the prominent foreign policy analyst James Chace was properly using the term “stability” in its technical sense when he explained that in order to achieve “stability” in Chile it was necessary to “destabilise” the country (by overthrowing the elected government of Salvador Allende and installing the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet). Other concerns about Iran are equally interesting to explore, but perhaps this is enough to reveal the guiding principles and their status in imperial culture. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s planners emphasised at the dawn of the contemporary world system, the U.S. cannot tolerate “any exercise of sovereignty” that interferes with its global designs. The U.S. and Europe are united in punishing Iran for its threat to stability, but it is useful to recall how isolated they are. The nonaligned countries have vigorously supported Iran's right to enrich uranium. In the region, Arab public opinion even strongly favors Iranian nuclear weapons. The major regional power, Turkey, voted against the latest U.S.-initiated sanctions motion in the Security Council, along with Brazil, the most admired country of the South. Their disobedience led to sharp censure, not for the first particular, is expanding its dominant role in Iran's energy industries. Washington is reacting with a touch of desperation. The State Department warned China that if it wants to be accepted in the international community—a technical term referring to the U.S. and whoever happens to agree with it— then it must not “skirt and evade international responsibilities, [which] are clear”: namely, follow U.S. orders. China is unlikely to be impressed. There is also much concern about the growing Chinese military threat. A recent Pentagon study warned that China's military budget is approaching “one-fifth of what the Pentagon spent to operate and carry out the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” a fraction of the U.S. military budget, of course. China's expansion of military forces might “deny the ability of American warships to operate in international waters off its coast,” the New York Times added. Off the coast of China, that is; it has yet to be proposed that the U.S. should eliminate military forces that deny the Caribbean to Chinese warships. China's lack of understanding of rules of international civility is illustrated further by its objections to plans the U.S. made clear that Israel must be exempted: no proposal can call for Israel's nuclear program to be placed under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency or for the release of information about “Israeli nuclear facilities and activities.” So much for this method of dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat. Privatising the Planet While Grand Area doctrine still prevails, the capacity to implement it has declined. The peak of U.S. power was after World War II, when it had literally half the world's wealth. But that naturally declined, as other industrial economies recovered from the devastation of the war and decolonization took its agonizing course. By the early 1970s, the U.S. share of global wealth had declined to about 25%, and the industrial world had become tripolar: North America, Europe, and East Asia (then Japan-based). There was also a sharp change in the U.S. economy in the 1970s, towards financialization and export of production. A variety of factors converged to create a vicious cycle of radical concentration of wealth, primarily in the top fraction of 1% of the population—mostly CEOs, hedge-fund managers, and the like. That leads to the concentration of political power, hence state policies to increase economic concentration: fiscal policies, rules of corporate governance, deregulation, and much more. Meanwhile the costs of electoral campaigns skyrocketed, driving the parties into the pockets of concentrated capital, increasingly financial: the Republicans reflexively, the Democrats—by now what used to be moderate Republicans—not far behind. Elections have become a charade, run by the public relations industry. After his 2008 victory, Obama won an award from the industry for the best marketing campaign of the year. Executives were euphoric. In the business press they explained that they had been marketing candidates like other commodities since Ronald Reagan, but 2008 was their greatest achievement and would change the style in corporate boardrooms. The 2012 election is expected to cost $2 billion, mostly in corporate funding. Small wonder that Obama is selecting business leaders for top positions. The public is angry and frustrated, but as long as the Muasher principle prevails, that doesn't matter. While wealth and power have narrowly concentrated, for most of the population real incomes have stagnated and people have been getting by with increased work hours, debt, and asset inflation, regularly destroyed by the financial crises that began as the regulatory apparatus was dismantled starting in the 1980s. None of this is problematic for the very wealthy, who benefit from a government insurance policy called “too big to fail.” The banks and investment firms can make risky transactions, with rich rewards, and when the system inevitably crashes, they can run to the nanny state for a taxpayer bailout, clutching their copies of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. That has been the regular process since the Reagan years, each crisis more extreme than the last -- for the public population, that is. Right now, real unemployment is at Depression levels for much of the population, while Goldman Sachs, one of the main architects of the current crisis, is richer than ever. It has just quietly announced $17.5 billion in compensation for last year, with CEO Lloyd Blankfein receiving a $12.6 million bonus while his base salary more than triples. It wouldn't do to focus attention on such facts as these. Accordingly, propaganda must seek to blame others, in the past few months, public sector workers, their fat salaries, exorbitant pensions, and so on: all fantasy, on the model of Reaganite imagery of black mothers being driven in their limousines to pick up welfare checks—and other models that need not be mentioned. We all must tighten our belts; almost all, that is. Teachers are a particularly good target, as part of the deliberate effort to destroy the public education system from kindergarten through the universities by privatisation—again, good for the wealthy, but a disaster for the population, as well as the long-term health of the economy, but that is one of the externalities that is put to the side insofar as market principles prevail. Another fine target, always, is immigrants. That has been true throughout U.S. history, even more so at times of economic crisis, exacerbated now by a sense that our country is being taken away from us: the white population will soon become a minority. One can understand the anger of aggrieved individuals, but the cruelty of the policy is shocking. Who are the immigrants targeted? In Eastern Massachusetts, where I live, many are Mayans fleeing genocide in the Guatemalan highlands carried out by Reagan's favorite killers. Others are Mexican victims of Clinton's NAFTA, one of those rare government agreements that managed to harm working people in all three of the participating countries. As NAFTA was rammed through Congress over popular objection in 1994, Clinton also initiated the militarisation of the U.S.-Mexican border, previously fairly open. It was understood that Mexican campesinos cannot compete with highly subsidized U.S. agribusiness, and that Mexican businesses would not survive competition with U.S. multinationals, which must be granted “national treatment” under the mislabeled free trade agreements, a privilege granted only to corporate persons, not those of flesh and blood. Not surprisingly, these measures led to a flood of desperate refugees, and to rising anti-immigrant (Continued on page 10)
We have about 50% of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We should cease to talk about vague and unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratisation. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.
- George Kennan, Director of Policy Planning, US State Department, 1948, discussing some of the finer points of America's Manifest Destiny.
time: Turkey had been bitterly condemned in 2003 when the government followed the will of 95% of the population and refused to participate in the invasion of Iraq, thus demonstrating its weak grasp of democracy, western-style. After its Security Council misdeed last year, Turkey was warned by Obama's top diplomat on European affairs, Philip Gordon, that it must “demonstrate its commitment to partnership with the West.” A scholar with the Council on Foreign Relations asked, “How do we keep the Turks in their lane?”—following orders like good democrats. Brazil's Lula was admonished in a New York Times headline that his effort with Turkey to provide a solution to the uranium enrichment issue outside of the framework of U.S. power was a “Spot on Brazilian Leader's Legacy.” In brief, do what we say, or else. An interesting sidelight, effectively suppressed, is that the Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal was approved in advance by Obama, presumably on the assumption that it would fail, providing an ideological weapon against Iran. When it succeeded, the approval turned to censure, and Washington rammed through a Security Council resolution so weak that China readily signed—and is now chastised for living up to the letter of the resolution but not Washington's unilateral directives—in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, for example. While the U.S. can tolerate Turkish disobedience, though with dismay, China is harder to ignore. The press warns that “China's investors and traders are now filling a vacuum in Iran as businesses from many other nations, especially in Europe, pull out,” and in for the advanced nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George Washington to join naval exercises a few miles off China's coast, with alleged capacity to strike Beijing. In contrast, the West understands that such U.S. operations are all undertaken to defend stability and its own security. The liberal New Republic expresses its concern that “China sent ten warships through international waters just off the Japanese island of Okinawa.” That is indeed a provocation -- unlike the fact, unmentioned, that Washington has converted the island into a major military base in defiance of vehement protests by the people of Okinawa. That is not a provocation, on the standard principle that we own the world. Deep-seated imperial doctrine aside, there is good reason for China's neighbors to be concerned about its growing military and commercial power. And though Arab opinion supports an Iranian nuclear weapons program, we certainly should not do so. The foreign policy literature is full of proposals as to how to counter the threat. One obvious way is rarely discussed: work to establish a nuclear-weapons-free zone (NWFZ) in the region. The issue arose (again) at the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference at United Nations headquarters last May. Egypt, as chair of the 118 nations of the Non-Aligned Movement, called for negotiations on a Middle East NWFZ, as had been agreed by the West, including the U.S., at the 1995 review conference on the NPT. International support is so overwhelming that Obama formally agreed. It is a fine idea, Washington informed the conference, but not now. Furthermore,
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