Monday, February 24, 2020

Slagging off young people

Whilst walking around the streets of Melbourne this afternoon, I happened across this poster for an upcoming protest rally by the activist group, Uni Students for Climate Justice. As you can see from this picture, their next rally will be held on Friday, March 13. I am sure this is an unintended coincidence.

After all, for the superstitious, Friday the 13th has long been associated with misfortune. Accordingly, holding a climate strike on this day fits the alarmist worldview of these climate activists.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

How goes the revolution, comrade?

As a diversion, I took this test to determine how Communist I am. Unsurprisingly, I scored very low. If you feel so inclined, you can take the test for yourself here.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Wokers of the world, unite

As of this writing, I have not worked as a librarian in any paid capacity for just over two years. This was after working as one almost continuously for 14 years. It would seem that I am out of the loop. Suddenly, it has occurred to some of my more progressive peers that librarianship is "oppressive." As this screen grab from Twitter shows, a special interest group is forming to develop a practice for anti-oppressive librarianship. Presumably, library schools will pick up on this trend, and incorporate such concerns into their curriculum.

That librarianship could be oppressive in any way, shape or form is news to me.
Then again, what would I know? I only worked as one almost continuously for 14 years. As well as a consistent customer focus, my work was strongly informed by a desire to help to empower people through education and lifelong learning, technology skills, literacy in all its forms, research and critical thinking skills. I was also consistently neutral. Was I inadvertently an oppressor? Who was I oppressing? I fail to see that.

Friday, January 31, 2020

100 million people served

If you live in Melbourne, Australia, and are at a loose end over the Easter break, you might consider attending Marxism 2020, Australia's biggest socialist conference. As you can see from the screen grab, the conference theme is "A world to win." Marxist evangelists seek to win the world to the hammer and sickle, just like Christian evangelists. Indeed, a cursory search of library union catalogues shows that it is also the title of several books on Christian evangelism and missions, as well as about socialism and communism. Does this mean that conference delegates dream of enacting a worldwide Marxist utopia?

The other day, one of the conference organisers did a radio interview. When asked to do so, she was unable to name one country where Marxism has worked. The interviewer said that he visited Russia in 1987, only 4 years before the collapse of the Soviet Union, and saw first hand the dire situation the country was in as a result of 70 years of Communist rule. She responded by saying that she was a Trotskyist, and that Trotskyists were persecuted by other Communists. This is true, but doesn't really answer the question.

Leon Trotsky was Stalin's rival after the death of Lenin in 1924. Trotsky was eventually forced into exile in 1928, and was assassinated in 1940 by a Spanish agent with links to Stalin at his home in Mexico. There was not enough time for a more comprehensive interview, but I would have liked to hear her opinions on whether or not Soviet Communism would have turned out differently under Trotsky's leadership instead of Stalin's. It is almost as though he was a political Messiah, a benign and compassionate revolutionary.

This is not the case at all. The late Richard Pipes, a well known historian who specialised in Russian history, notes that Trotsky was in favour of forced labor, terror, and concentration camps, all of which were key features of the Stalinist dictatorship. In view of these sentiments, "it is likely that if he had succeeded Lenin, we would have witnessed in the Soviet Union much the same oppression of labor as he did under Stalin."

It is significant to note that Trotsky, not Stalin, introduced concentration camps to deal with the enemies of the new regime. It was Stalin who developed the gulag system by building upon Trotsky's work. As Pipes also notes:

"Though the fact is little-known, it was Trotsky, not Stalin, who introduced into Soviet Russia the concentration camp, an institution that under Stalin developed into the monstrous Gulag empire...Trotsky ordered a network of concentration camps to be constructed to isolate “sinister agitators, counterrevolutionary officers, saboteurs, parasites, and speculators” who were not executed or subjected to other penalties...By 1919, concentration camps were established in every provincial capital. In 1923, Russia had 315 concentration camps with 70,000 inmates."

Elsewhere, Andrew Stuttaford calls Trotsky a "mass murderer." In Trotsky's worldview, murder was permissible if the ends justified the means, the means being the consolidation of Bolshevik power. He was the commissar of the Red Army during the brutal Russian Civil War (1918-1921). As such, he must take some of the responsibility for the deaths of 8 million people during the war.

Conference delegates such as this interview participant would do well to take off their historiographical blinkers, develop some critical thinking skills, and not see Trotsky as a revolutionary hero to be looked up to.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Not ashamed

Flag of Australia (converted).svg

Australia Day, Australia's national holiday, is a day of thoughtful reflection, which includes acknowledging the darker parts of the nation's history, but also celebrating the privilege of living in a largely peaceful and prosperous country.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Changing of the guard?

Hoping to build support among younger voters aged under 35, the Australian Republican Movement (ARM) has announced that it will hold a two year consultation to work out what kind of republic model will work in Australia. Would the President of Australia be popularly elected, or chosen by the Parliament?

If this interview with Sandy Blair, National Director of the ARM is any indication, they have not yet put forward a compelling reason why Australia's current system of government needs to be replaced. Nor have they adequately thought through the implications. The have not explained the powers the president would have. Would the president be able to refuse to sign legislation passed by the Federal Parliament?

Also, whereas the office of Governor General is ceremonial and apolitical, a a popularly elected president could claim their own mandate from the people to disagree with the government on policy matters.

A tougher shock jock interviewer could have grilled them further on the timing of this announcement, asking them if they are capitalising on the advanced age of the Queen, to put it politely, and recent controversies involving the royal family.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Justice deferred and denied

Just over 80 years since the start of the Second World War, Germany has still not fully come to terms with its Nazi past. The documentary podcast, Germany: Justice and Memory, produced by the BBC, examines these issues. Although many prominent Nazi officials were convicted of war crimes, thousands of them never faced justice. Germany used millions of forced laborers during the war, and many of those who survived never received compensation. Some of the corporations that used these laborers never paid out any compensation. It makes for sobering listening.