You are here: UNE Home / UNE Blogs / Klaus Rohde: Science, Politics and Art

Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Australian fascism?

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Anyone can chose her/his own way to hell, and each country can chose its own way to fascism. In a number of countries, such as Italy, Spain, Germany and various American countries, fascism in the 20th century was “achieved” along different routes, but they had a few things in common, first of all concentration of economic and political power in the hands of a ruling elite made possible by suppression of a genuinely free press and labor unions.

In a number of posts prior to the Australian elections in September 2013, I gave examples which demonstrate a distinct fascist trend in the then opposition led by Tony Abbott
The opposition won the election, supported by the right-wing (mainly Murdoch-run) media, and mainly on the basis of a campaign that the Labor government under Julia Gillard had broken the election promise of not introducing a carbon tax aimed at reducing carbon emissions, i.e., global warming. My earlier post had suggested what would happen if the Liberal-Nationals would win the election, but what actually did happen was far worse.Tony Abbott, just prior to the election, promised that he would not reduce funding for education, the public broadcasters (ABC and SBS), health, that there would be no changes to pensions and no new taxes, to mention only the most important ones. ( All these promises have been broken or attempts are underway to break them. Just recently, the government announced cuts to the ABC of more than Austr.$ 250 million, and to the SBS of about Austr.$ 50 over five years. These cuts are very substantial and may severely affect the functioning of the broadcasters. Today, Mark Scott, the chairman of ABC, announced that about 400 jobs, mainly from the News services, would be cut. But the main emphasis of the attack on the public broadcasters is to cut the editorial powers of the Managing Director. The government intends to ensure that board members of the ABC, appointed by the government, become directly involved in broadcasting policy, in order to guarantee a “more balanced” program. To date ABS and SBS are the only broadcasters that have given a balanced view on politics, climate change etc..This has been a thorn in the eyes of Abbott and ministerial colleagues for a long time. For example, the minister of agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, declared that the ABC should give more time to climate “sceptics”, in other words those who base their views not on scientific evidence but on what is good for mining magnates. Abbott stated that there are two world views, one presented by the Murdoch media, which control about two thirds of the printed media, and the other by ABC, and that his view is the former. Abbott, at least until recently, was a “climate sceptic”, in line with the beliefs of his friend and co-religionist George Pell, until recently Archbishop of Sydney.

Aims of the Abbott government, some still in the process of being accepted by parliament, include deregulation of university fees, i.e. allowing universities to increase or introduce fees for courses, which would disproportionately disadvantage students from poorer backgrounds, introduction of a $7 fee for doctor visits, giving the go-ahead for new harbours on the Great Barrier Reef, cancellation of security measures introduced by the Labor government for financial advisors to give advice in the best interest of the client (introduced because some scandals ruined thousands of people who had followed advisors’ advice for investments that was given to maximise profits to the advisor), scaling back the Gonski reforms aimed at making education more equitable, removing school positions for confession-free ethical instruction but not for chaplains at schools, reducing the clean energy targets, which make clean (solar and wind) energy less profitable), etc.

Abbott’s views are further documented by his statement that coal was good for Australia, that Australia had too many national parks (which led the recent Brooker price winner to declare that he was ashamed to be Australian), that the ABC was un-Australian, and by his welcome address at the recent G20 meeting in Brisbane, in which he listed the achievements of his government as turning back the boats of asylum seekers, intention of introducing doctor fees, deregulating university fees, abolishing the carbon and mining taxes, etc.

All this indicates quite strongly that there are indeed strong fascist trends: the poorer become more disadvantaged, the wealth and power of a few mining magnates becomes even greater, endangering the very survival of humans, and the press becomes more concentrated and ruled by a handfull of people (mainly Rupert Murdoch).

Finally, many of the measures mentioned above are claimed to be necessary to return an economy, allegedly mismanaged by the previous Labor government, to surplus. In fact, Labor handed one of the soundest economies on Earth over to the Liberals/Nationals. And this in spite of the fact that they had to stimulate the Australian economy in order to avoid a recession experienced by many countries. They were lauded for doing this by leading international economists, including for example the Nobel prize winning American economists Stieglitz and Krugman. – This raises the question: is the government well aware of the basically sound state of the Australian economy, and are all the measures allegedly taken to get the economy back on a sound footing nothing but a lame excuse for getting the “essentials” through, i.e., keeping the population dumb by giving the right-wing press a monopoly and permitting an ever increasing concentration of the wealth of the nation in a few hands?

Future of the Earth

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

The pending climate change report will emphasize the choice we have, to face catastrophic climate change or take immediate action.

“The world’s leading climate scientists gathered in Japan on Tuesday to begin hashing out the final details of a “grim” climate report, which both leaked drafts and those familiar with its contents say will call on policy makers to take immediate action or face a climate future that will otherwise be marked by widespread ecological and human catastrophe.”

Any chance that the Australian government, which has consistently played down the effects of climate change, supports increased coal mining, dredging on the Great Barrier Reef, and wants to reduce renewable energy targets, will do anything substantial to reduce human induced climate change?

But there are of course other important issues: we now have Australian dames and knights! I would suggest to make Rupert Murdoch a knight; little chance that he will get a knighthood in Britain.

The end of capitalism? How to combat climate change.

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

We are rapidly approaching collapse of the present economic system, which cannot cope with the challenges of human induced climate change. An interesting article in Spiegel International deals with this problem: Harald Welzer, “Climate Summit Trap: Capitalism’s March toward Global Collapse”:

Some extracts:

Capitalism Triumphant

………. The primacy of economics has prevailed. It no longer seems to matter how we………. get through…….this century if the world grows warmer by three, four or five degrees Celsius. National economies require an ever-growing dose of energy if their business models are to continue functioning, and, in the face of this logic, all scientific objections to the contrary are just as powerless as the climate protest movements, ……..

Two approaches to escape from this trap have recently been developed:

1. ” ‘Economy for the Common Good’

Imagine, for example, what might happen if a large number of businesses make the improvement of the common good — instead of an increase in their profits — the goal of their commercial efforts.

There are ….. already more than 1,400 companies,…….. in German-speaking countries that have made a commitment to the concept of the “economy for the common good,” …….

In the medium term, the “economy for the common good” movement aims to make such accounting legally binding. The principle is that the more common-good “points” a business achieves, the more legal benefits it should enjoy.”

2. “The Argument for Divestment

Another, even more effective, instrument for creating this sort of change is the “Fossil Free” divestment campaign launched last year by American environmental activist Bill McKibben……… based on the simple idea that entire industries’ commercial foundation can be destroyed if funds are withdrawn from them.

Such initiatives are now active at nearly 400 American schools, colleges and universities. Four colleges and 10 cities, including Seattle and San Francisco, have made the decision to divest. The campaign has also spread to Europe, where University College London just joined the movement.”

Why are the Chinese so clever, and why will they become even cleverer? A perhaps astonishing aspect of Communist politics. And 100 other problems that might and should worry or inspire students and others

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Chinese have had a long history of “eugenic” selection, by putting those in positions of influence who had passed rigorous state examinations. It seems that this policy has now been brought up to date by incorporating findings of modern science. How has the “West” responded?

See this very interesting article by an evolutionary psychologist. And see many other responses to the question of what one should worry about most.

Don’t be fooled by the media

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

A few days before the beginning of the Copenhagen conference on climate change, the media are full of reports on supposed falsification of climate data at the University of East Anglia, England. Where did the information come from? Apparently, professional hackers broke into large numbers of emails between climate change researchers and put a selection of those emails on climate skeptic websites, just in time for the conference. Certainly not cheap, who paid the hackers? Have a guess.

Any evidence that there was indeed falsification of data? Not as far as I am aware. But does it matter? The damage is done.

In this context, a number of years back, the media were full of reports on Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction etc. What were these reports based on? Among the most important pieces of evidence, apparently, were a student essay, and a conversation between passengers which an Iraqi taxi driver overheard and reported two years later. All this comes out again now at the hearings in Britain about the Iraq war. A few million dead! Don’t bother, it all was done in the interest of whom?

For details see:,1518,665944,00.html

“Intervention” in the Northern Territory according to John Pilger

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

John Pilger received the Sydney Peace Prize some days ago (an “embarrassing day for Sydney”, according to one press report!). The full text of his speech on receiving the prize here.

I found the references to the policy of “intervention” in the Northern Territory of the Howard government particularly interesting. This policy was supported by claims “of sex slavery and paedophile rings in “unthinkable numbers” ( the then minister for indigenous affairs).

John Pilger mentions the following numbers, according to him hardly reported in the press.

“Out of 7433 Aboriginal children examined by doctors, 39 had been referred to the authorities for suspected abuse. Of those, a maximum of four possible cases were identified. So much for the “unthinkable numbers”. Of course, child abuse does exist, in black Australia and white Australia. The difference is that no soldiers invaded the North Shore suburbs; no white parents were swept aside; no white welfare has been “quarantined”. What the doctors found they already knew: that Aboriginal children are at risk – from the effects of extreme poverty and the denial of resources in one of the world’s richest countries.”

Pilger further said, drawing attention to what he thinks is really behind the intervention:

“The Territory contains extraordinary mineral wealth, especially uranium. And Aboriginal land is wanted as a radioactive waste dump. This is very big business, and foreign companies want a piece of the action.

It is a continuation of the darkest side of our colonial history: a land grab.”

Neue Brecht Zitate. New Brecht Quotes. Neues aus seinen Notizbüchern.

Monday, October 13th, 2008

Der Spiegel 11.2.08. Abschied vom Beton-Brecht (Farewell to Concrete-Brecht)

Neues aus Brechts Notizbüchern. (Something new from Brecht’s note books) (My translations)

Wisse auch, dass etwas nicht glauben, doch etwas glauben heisst.
You should know that not to believe something, also means to believe something.

Immer noch, wie im Pawlowschen Versuch, veranlassen Glocken in mir Prozesse sicherlich chemischer Art, Gedanken metaphysischer Richtung.
Even now, as in Pavlov’s experiments, bells induce processes in me, certainly of a chemical nature, thoughts of a metaphysical nature.

In der Welt, die ich mir wünsche, komme ich nicht vor.
In the world which I like that should exist, I do not occur.

Was ich nicht gern gesteh: gerade ich verachte solche, die im Unglück sind.
I do not admit this easily: Just I despise those who are unfortunate.

Der Mensch ist kein Schwimmer, der Mensch ist kein Flieger: Er ist aus der Gattung der Rückenlieger.
Man is not a swimmer, he is not a flyer, he is of the genus of backlyers (people lying on their backs).

Ich hätte mein Versprechen gern gehalten. Aber ich konnte nicht/Warum?/Ich hatte keine Lust.
I would have liked to keep my promise. But I could not/Why?/I did not feel like it.

Wie lange dauern die Werke? So lange bis sie fertig sind.
How long do works last? Until they are completed.