Friday, August 25, 2023

Class grievance has failed. Other grievances needed

Grievances is what the Left do. Now that defending "the worker" makes little sense, some other group -- any group -- is needed to be defended. Gays are also now old hat so they have lost their steam. And blacks are not as good as they were. Amid affirmative action it is takes imagination to brand their treatment as oppressive. So transsexuals are a godsend from Marx. They support doing ghastly things to young people so that needs a lot of defending

At the end of the second world war, socialists around the world still believed in the inevitable overthrow of capitalism and the emergence of a workers utopia. Today capitalism is alive and well and, every socialist government that has been attempted, has failed utterly. There were varying degrees of failure from the Marxist nightmare of Cambodia to the relatively painless collapse of the Soviet Union. The astonishing economic success of the Peoples Republic of China only occurred when it abandoned all pretence at socialism and embraced state capitalism.

This left the millions of socialists around the world in a position which Amir Taheri has termed ‘ideological bankruptcy’. He argues the ‘the European left has developed a grievance based discourse… to form a coalition of real or imagined victims’. The class struggle beloved of 1950s socialists has been replaced by constant reference to historic sins such as slavery, colonialism and racism. The replacement of traditional Marxist ideology began in European universities but has infected education systems throughout the West in the past seventy years and has spread into state-owned media such as the ABC here, and the BBC in the UK.

This trend has also led the publishing industry to create a market for books which tell us how awful white people are. Dark Emu is one of the most successful of locally produced books in this genre but there are dozens, and most of them can be found on university reading lists, and HSC set text lists. My own particular favourite is White Fragility by the American academic, Robin DiAngelo, which, according to my Penguin edition, is, ‘A vital, necessary and beautiful book’.

Dr DiAngelo tells me that I am a racist of the worst kind as I don’t believe that I am a racist. There is something reminiscent of the witch-finder-general in Professor Dr DiAngelo’s tone. The fact that I don’t believe I am a racist is not something to be debated. Rather, it is proof of the depth of my moral and social blindness. She argues that, ‘Being perceived as white, carries more than a mere racial classification; it is a social and institutional status… imbued with legal, political, economic and social rights and privileges that are denied to others’. The problem with this sort of generalisation is that we can substitute the word ‘Aboriginal’ for ‘white’ and it till holds true. The legal and economic rights that apply to Aboriginals include mining royalties running into the billions, the right to deny non-Aboriginals access to ‘sacred sites’, free education and health care, the right to appear on The Drum and Q&A to tell white people how racist they are, and so on.

No one denies that there is a substantial gap between the life-chances of the 3.8 per cent of the population that is Aboriginal and the rest us. Everyone agrees that this situation must be addressed. But the latest great idea, the Voice, is doomed to failure because, like all its predecessors, it is based on establishing more government intervention through the creation of yet another bureaucracy. The great irony is that the Marxists and socialists who, half a century ago argued that capitalist governments were established to suppress the proletariat and ensure that the bourgeoisie remained in power, now argue for the establishment of yet another taxpayer funded bunch of government ‘advisers’.

The Pascoes and DiAngelos of the publishing world, cashing in on a gullible public, may not see themselves as Marxists or socialists. They may not subscribe to most of the central pillars of Marxist ideology, and they may not believe in the inevitable overthrow of capitalism. But they would all subscribe to the belief that the state and the white population today conspire to oppress a black population in exactly the same way that, in the 19th century, the state and the bourgeoisie oppressed the proletariat. In other words they would both subscribe to a Marxist analysis of the distribution of power within the state.

The political tradition of classical liberalism holds that a free market and laissez-faire economics, along with civil liberties under the rule of law, provide the best form of government. Economic freedom, political freedom and freedom of speech represent classical liberal ideals and they are all under attack today. In particular, freedom of speech is contested across the Western world. As John Roskam recently noted, ‘Bill Leak, Archbishihop Julian Porteous, Israel Folau… and Calum Thwaites are just some of the Australians either persecuted or prosecuted… because of what they said or believed’ (‘Live not by lies’ The Spectator Australian 22 July). The same trend is flourishing in the UK where J.K. Rowling who, because of her unremarkable views about gender, is only one of many people subjected to abuse which, a few decades ago, would have been unimaginable.

The economic freedom which is central to liberal values is also under attack on many fronts. One current example it the recent debacle in WA concerning the legislation impinging on the right of farmers to put up fences on their own properties. This was a restriction of the economic freedom of the landholders and is also an example of how the WA government’s policy of appeasement of the various Aboriginal lobby groups was always doomed to failure.

And on it goes. A relentless list of injustices and atrocities perpetrated on a victimised Aboriginal population by white oppressors supported by a racist police force and justice system. One problem with this viewpoint is the growing number of Australians from a non-white background. Are the millions of people of Chinese, Indian and Arabic descent, who choose to live here, part of the victimised non-white minority, or are they also involved in perpetuating the discrimination against the Aboriginal population? Are they oppressed or oppressors? This is a question in the left’s too hard basket.

A century ago there was a genuine distinction between working and middle classes in the Western industrialised economies and Marxist ideas of class struggle were relevant. While the structure of modern economies has completely changed, the ideologies which supported the Marxists and socialists have not. The diminishing number of people parading outside government offices in support of ‘voice, truth, treaty’ are a vestigial remnant of a once important movement. The ABC is their life support mechanism – a sort of artificial tongue.


Australia-California: A climate partnership made in la-la land

Last week, Australian ambassador to the US Kevin Rudd and California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a memorandum of understanding in Sacramento on climate change. It should have been called a memorandum of waffle, as both governments jointly promised to do precisely nothing.

In what seemed like a classic Freudian slip, Governor Newsom expressed shock at the level of interest in the MOU. “This is a hell of a turnout – we are not used to this many people, particularly for something like this,” he said. Of course, he was right.

After ploughing through 1600 words of waffle, the reader learns the MOU “does not create any legally binding rights or obligations and creates no legally recognisable or enforceable rights or remedies, legal or equitable, in any forum whatsoever”.

“This MOU may be modified at any time by mutual consent,” it concluded unnecessarily, given neither party agreed to do anything. The high point of the small section on “specific activities” was “organising joint symposiums, seminars, workshops … hosting trade and investment missions”, which in practice translates to more taxpayer-funded business-class flights across the Pacific.

Sky News host Chris Kenny says Australians are poised to learn a lot from California after Ambassador to the US Kevin Rudd was seen in a conversation with Governor Gavin Newsom which focused on a climate change deal. “It's a marriage made in heaven this climate deal, because California More
A better MOU would have spelled out how California’s and Australia’s energy policies have produced among the highest electricity prices in the world at the same time as their leaders have promised to reduce them, although even Newsom hasn’t had the audacity to promise household power bills would fall by $275 a year by 2025, as Labor did at the federal election last year.

California’s power prices are now the highest in the US, except for far-flung Hawaii and Alaska. In Los Angeles residents paid an average of 28c a kilowatt hour for electricity last month, according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics.

Statewide prices are more than 77 per cent above the national average, up from 37 per cent above in 2012. But, unlike Australians, at least Californians can move to states with lower prices. Despite California’s salubrious weather and natural beauty, residents have been leaving the nation’s most populous state in droves – at first pushed out by extreme Covid-19 measures, but increasingly by a cost-of-living and a broader socio-economic crisis.

The state’s population, according to the government’s own figures, has declined three years in a row, to 39 million. In total that’s almost 600,000 people, more than the population of Tasmania or Wyoming, between April 2020 and January this year.

The MOU also promised to convene “policy dialogues” with “suitable government administrators, regulators, legislators and thought leaders”. It’s uncertain whether renowned Swedish climate expert Greta Thunberg, who once derided nuclear power as “extremely dangerous”, will make the cut. Last year Thunberg acknowledged turning off nuclear power stations in Europe was a mistake given the huge increases in fossil fuel power generation that had led to.

Indeed, the word nuclear isn’t mentioned once in the MOU, which advocated instead for “participation and leadership of Indigenous peoples in climate action” and “nature-based solutions and climate-smart land management” – what on earth these mean is anybody’s guess. Solar and wind generated abut 25 per cent of electricity in both Australia and California last year, and each are near equally ambitious.

Despite the obvious advan­tages in reliable and emissions-free power, Australia has ruled out any nuclear energy generation (except in submarines) while holding fast to its 82 per cent renewable power target by 2030.

California has legislated 90 per cent by 2035, although the Golden State has one big advantage over Australia achieving its goal: nuclear energy. Unreliable power evangelists aren’t stupid enough to plunge their economies into darkness just yet, knowing that could turn voters against their utopian project. In January, California rescinded an earlier decision to shut down its last nuclear power station at Diablo, a 2.2-gigawatt facility that is the state’s single biggest source of power, providing a little more than 10 per cent energy.

In the similarly strong Democrat state of Illinois – which maintains a similar brand of Democrat politics as California – 11 nuclear power plants generate about 50 per cent of the state’s electricity and the average electricity price was about half of California’s in 2021, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

A more honest MOU would have included a pledge to ignore scientific and economic reality. In France, which generates around 75 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power and has the among the lowest carbon dioxide emissions in the world per capita, a law was passed in May to pave the way for the construction of another six to eight nuclear reactors, rather than plaster the French countryside with hideous solar panels and gigantic windmills.

“I’ve been around for a long time on the climate change debate,” Rudd said at the Sacramento launch. “Way back when I pronounced in Australia that climate change was the greatest economic, environmental and moral challenge of our generation I was ridiculed. I make no apology for saying it then. And I make no apology for repeating it now.”

California’s departing residents may disagree, pointing to other more pressing challenges. San Francisco’s social decline has become so egregious that tour guides have started offering “doom loop” tours. Major department stores are leaving the state or locking up their products. Parts of Los Angeles and San Francisco look increasingly like an open-air asylum.

Even as California’s population shrinks, violent crime and property crime have increased since 2020 by 11 per cent and 7 per cent, respectively, according to the state attorney-general’s latest 2022 crime statistics.

Whatever agreements California and Australia make won’t make a scrap of difference to the global climate, given the near entirety of additional increases in carbon dioxide emissions now arise in India and China.

The idea of modern economies being powered entirely by wind and solar is a fantasy, technologically and economically, yet one that holds powerful sway among a very rich virtue-signalling elite, often living in gated communities, for whom California’s rising prices and crime mean relatively little.

California dreaming for the few, not the many.


Murdoch Children’s Bombshell: Medicinal Value of COVID-19 Vaccines Now Questionable Among Healthy Children

According to researchers at Australia’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, COVID-19 vaccines have demonstrated efficacy against severe incidence of SARS-CoV-2 in children and adolescents, but their value proposition as a mass medical tool becomes questionable considering the unfolding dynamics of today: high pre-existing infection and low risk when infected.

Researchers led by John Hart from the academic medical center for young people Down Under acknowledge that most children now have been infected by SARS-CoV-2, meaning they have built up immunity, and the vaccine’s benefit in healthy children is minimal. They argue any energies and attention placed on COVID-19 vaccination campaigns should be used to advocate for vaccines known to offer higher medical value, such as the measles vaccine. The ramifications of this recent set of findings are substantial.

Published in the BMJ Pediatrics Open, the international review was led by medical researchers from the Australian medical institute. They explored the challenges and considerations of COVID-19 vaccination, especially in low-and middle-income countries with high levels of community transmission and infection-derived immunity.

The team’s review, led by Hart, a medical epidemiologist, suggests that any COVID-19 vaccination scheme moving forward, especially in low-and middle-income countries should be coupled with routine childhood vaccination program that the researchers acknowledge “have greater impact on illness and death, including for measles, pneumonia and diarrheal disease.”

Mild for most

The Australian team found that about two-thirds of all young people that had COVIS-19 and were hospitalized in the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic did not require medical intervention. Deaths, the investigators reported, “were extremely rare in children.”

Closing in on child herd immunity?

The researchers also point out that the vast majority of children have been infected with SARS-CoV-2. As immunity has increased over time, the disease continues to evolve. Prior research led by Murdoch Children’s found that croup, triggered by the novel coronavirus, declined in 2022 despite the rise of new variants.

Also, data from the Pediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance (PAEDS) network in America found that rates of pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (PIMS-TS), what was a major driver for childhood vaccination, were “Substantially lower during the Omicron COVID-19 variant period.” TrialSite reported on similar findings in the UK.

Net takeaway

While there are still cases where COVID-19 vaccination is recommended, the Australian researchers are clear—they value of these vaccines for children has markedly diminished. In fact, they use the COVID-19 vaccination push as a primary means of promoting more substantive medical vaccination, such as measles. Reading between the lines, and on the face of the piece, the investigators are more concerned about standard vaccination rates, especially in low-and moderate-income countries.

One takeaway called out by this independent media, children achieved herd immunity against SARS-CoV-2 by infection, not vaccination.

Seaweed farming

It was September 2017, and Elsom attended a lecture by renowned environmentalist Tim Flannery. In his speech, Flannery discussed the potential of seaweed to store quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It instantly inspired Elsom. He would farm seaweed and help save the planet.

But there was another twist. Elsom’s commitment coincided with recent research out of the CSIRO and James Cook University in Townsville, north Queensland – that some compounds in seaweed had the ability to dramatically reduce methane production in cows and sheep. They would discover that two species of a particular Australian red seaweed – the Asparagopsis taxiformis (found in warm Queensland waters), and the Asparagopsis armata – (common in the cooler waters of Tasmania) – reduced livestock methane production by up to 90 per cent if added to the animals’ diet.

Given that 11 per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions came from ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats), Elsom saw an opportunity. He would grow commercial quantities of Asparagopsis and take a significant chunk out of the world’s, greenhouse gas emissions. (The planet’s 1.5 billion cows and 1.1 billion sheep contribute roughly 6 per cent to all global emissions.)

Elsom’s Tasmanian-based company Sea Forest was born. The challenge was to grow enough seaweed to actually make a lasting difference.

By 2021, Sea Forest had attracted more than $40m in investment funds, and it continues to expand. By late last year it was producing 7000 tonnes of Asparagopsis per year, or enough to feed 300,000 cattle.

Sea Forest is not alone in the seaweed farming industry, which is rapidly developing into a multibillion-dollar global industry. In August 2021, an Australian Seaweed Institute report predicted the domestic industry could potentially generate $1.5bn annually by 2040, while reducing greenhouse emissions by 10 per cent. And that’s all thanks to a native Australian red seaweed, and visionaries like Sea Forest chief executive Elsom. He told The Australian last year: “Australia is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet and there’s a tremendous opportunity to better understand the life of seaweed and its many uses.”




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