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An answer to fascism from the mouths of children

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Louisa L                            26 August 2019

Last Tuesday night anti-abortion activists outside NSW State Parliament were elated at a series of wins – a month’s delay, plus a premier on the ropes offering concessions on two different amendments.

As a journalist reported live to ABC News, a young man placed himself immediately behind her. He pointed to his T shirt. It read “Anti-Antifa”. Antifa is the worldwide name for the anti-fascist movement. Being anti-Antifa may not mean you’re are a fascist, but it’s pretty close.

Yet this young alpha male doesn’t represent the core of fascism.

The ruling class will be happy to use and discard him. In Hitler’s Germany the youthful brownshirts were massacred by other Nazis in the 1934 Night of the Long Knives.

The true heart of fascism is a system of violence and outright suppression to maintain imperialist rule.  It’s far more nuanced and sophisticated than 1930s fascism, but just as dangerous.

Complete compliance

So, there’s significant issues apart from the basic human right of women to control their own bodies at stake in the anti-abortion protests.

As economic crisis becomes likely the ruling class is organising, drawing together disparate strands into one fighting force.

There are contradictions in the ruling class about how to deal with crisis. Whichever tactics they choose, the people get screwed.

The Business Council of Australia (BCA) champions soft tactics. Some of its biggest members rely on Chinese markets. It tries to discipline the ruling class into unity, and keep China options open.

But US imperialism is stronger even than the BCA. It demands complete compliance.

Long boom busting

The far right here means US imperialism.

It fears a terrible reckoning is coming for its growth at-all-costs compulsion. It is determined to survive that reckoning.

Its representatives are lining up to make Premier Gladys Berejiklian take the blame for unrestrained capitalism causing a  swathe of destruction in the construction industry.

There’s much more to come. In the next wave of technological development, low wage physical jobs will be hardest hit. Many studies expect nearly 50 per cent of jobs in developed countries will be lost.

The figures are significantly higher across the developing world, including China and India.

The OECD among others argue the percentages will be lower. They base this on what has happened so far. But when capitalism’s long boom busts, the OECD predictions will be blasted out of Australia’s ever diminishing supplies of water.

A big section of our people will find themselves without jobs. 

The imperialists are already preparing use them, to suppress them or both.

Abortion reduces crime rate

Suppression includes prisons.

Crime fell dramatically just as those born after abortion was legalised reached an age where they might begin committing crime.

In 2001, US researchers John J Donohue 111 and Stephen Levitt published a study which began,  "We offer evidence that legalized abortion has contributed significantly to recent crime reductions. Crime began to fall roughly eighteen years after abortion legalization. The five states that allowed abortion in 1970 experienced declines earlier than the rest of the nation, which legalized in 1973 with Roe v. Wade. States with high abortion rates in the 1970s and 1980s experienced greater crime reductions in the 1990s. In high abortion states, only arrests of those born after abortion legalization fall relative to low abortion states.

“Legalized abortion appears to account for as much as 50 percent of the recent drop in crime.”

Levitt states the trend also occurred in other countries including Australia.

Prison reforms threaten profits

But lower crime rates aren’t a problem for everyone. Prisons are big business, and the US leads the world.

It has more people in gaol than any other country, and by far the highest number per 100,000 people at 655. By comparison Australia has 172 per 100,000.

According to the US-based Sentencing Project between 2000 and 2016, “the number of people in private prisons has increased 47%, compared to an overall rise in the prison population of 9%.” 

The American Civil Liberties Union says private prison operator CoreCivic calls reforms that help people stay out of gaol ‘risk factors’ because they threaten profits.

In Montana CoreCivic, despite a terrible safety record, gained government contracts for halfway houses, community corrections and supervision “where it can quite literally control who will go to prison by way of burdensome conditions and violations placed on probationers and parolees.”

Some politicians have shares in the increasingly dangerous, overcrowded and inhumane private prisons they oversee.

In Australia, deaths in custody more likely in private prisons.

Pathways blocked

The NSW Government is expecting a rising prison population. It's funding a boom in prison construction and expansion. Like burgeoning war industries across the world, people and regions reliant on war or prison jobs makes them more likely to support wars and prisons. 

Education provides pathways to stay out of prison.

Prisoners have high rates of illiteracy, so they have often been drawn into education through the arts, like music or painting. They have success and realise that they have a chance to improve their literacy, so their education deepens.

Because most have only known failure in school, few if any would be initially attracted to all that is now on offer in NSW prisons, just literacy and numeracy.

The arts have been stripped from the curriculum.

In preparation for an influx of prisoners, university qualified teachers in NSW prisons were also downgraded to clerks, told they were NOT to teach, and copped substantial cuts to pay and conditions. Some are so dedicated to their students that they stayed on. The new operator has no experience in education.

Stolen children in hotels and motels

Being in “care" during childhood is a big predictor of later incarceration.

Guardian Australia’s Lorena Allam wrote “The NSW government has removed more than 2,000 children from their homes over five years only to place them in motels, apartments and hotels.”

The NSW Government spent $43.3 million on these “alternative arrangements” in the 2017-18 financial year.

 “Aboriginal children make up just 3% of the children in NSW, yet are 43% of all the children in alternative accommodation.”

Professor Larissa Behrendt's documentary, After the Apology,  lifts the lid on the ongoing and increasing stolen generations happening right now.

All juveniles in NT prisons are Aboriginal. Many of them were stolen from their families.

In Australia, 2019 …

Last year NSW passed a law that gives a child’s family only two years to win back that child. After that, they are put up for adoption and their birth certificate is altered, making it almost impossible for them to know who they are or where they belong.

This writer hoped to avoid a cliched reference to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale about a brutal patriarchal dictatorship, where women are raped and give birth to babies that are given to other powerful families unable to have their own. It is based on the Bible’s Old Testament.

Greg Smith is a former NSW attorney general and former President of the anti-abortion NSW Right to Life Association.

He belongs to the St Thomas More Society, a not for profit Catholic organisation begun in the USA. Its cases usually attack abortion rights. But one case involved Sofia Vergara being sued by her two embryos (produced in vitro and stored) for their ‘right to be born’.

Greg Smith raged against the abortion laws in the Daily Telegraph’s anti-abortion extravaganza previously covered in Vanguard. According to the Tele, “He also slammed the legislation for not considering how to increase the number of babies available for adoption.

“Mr Smith said many couples wanted to adopt children, including his own daughter who ‘had to go to Korea to adopt because they were not available here.’”

The idea a woman should be forced to continue a pregnancy against her will, then hand over her child to a rich and ‘deserving’ couple is almost unbelievable.

But here we are in 2019 Australia. Laws already exist in NSW to steal children, overwhelmingly Aboriginal, and give them to others. And the Daily Telegraph gives Smith a page six column unchallenged.

Not worth a word

Worse still the racist Northern Territory Intervention and Labor's replacement, "Stronger Futures" has been both a land grab and a 14-year experiment in how to isolate and brutally suppress a whole section of the population and appear to get away with it.

The BCA can rabbit on all it likes about Aboriginal owned businesses, saving bilbies and reinstituting traditional burning practises on mining land.

But the NT maps showing which fifty percent of NT will be open for fracking, threatening the world’s largest underground water supply, aren't worth a BCA word.

As far as this writer knows, the BCA said nothing about the Intervention. It legally humiliated First Peoples, condemned them to increasing poverty, denying such basic human rights as water. If it happened there, it can happen to one section of the people after another, with poorer women another target.

Regional NSW

Access to safe abortion will never be a problem for the rich and powerful.

According to Kim Sattler from Illawarra Women's Health Centre, "We get over 50 requests for medical abortions per month and mine is the only women's health centre offering them in NSW! Only 1,000 doctors are registered to offer them nationally.

"It is my view that in NSW women have less termination options than other jurisdictions because of these archaic laws. Less doctors are registering for either medical abortions or procedures and hence there are less referral options.

"At the Illawarra Women's Health Centre we are getting more referrals from regional NSW and Western Sydney because women can't find affordable services or doctors to access.

"No-one talks about women seeking terminations after rape and coercive sex in domestic violence situations which is also very high. It is time that women and doctors are safe to make these medical decisions without being threatened by the religious right," Ms Sattler said.

Alarm bells

By Wednesday evening, August 21, thousands of pro-abortion protesters gathered in Sydney’s Martin Place. That day Australia agreed to send 200 troops to the Persian Gulf. This is no coincidence.

From the 1960s onwards, protests against imperialist wars had strong involvement by prominent religious leaders.

In Sydney, protests against Australian involvement in the Iraq War was far bigger even than the Vietnam War Moratoriums. Here 400,000 took to the streets, with strong and very visible involvement across what are now big religious divides.

Well over 90 percent of Australians opposed the invasion without United Nations support.

Alarm bells rang for US imperialism. It is determined to use religion to strengthen its control here, as it’s already done on home territory.

“Strict father family”

Linguist George Lakoff’s 2004 classic, Don’t think of an Elephant, investigated how the US far right reframed the ideological underpinning of their propaganda to influence more people. In 2006, his Whose Freedom? The battle over America’s most important idea looked more deeply into how the right tapped into conservative views of the family.

One chapter is called, “The Nation-as-Family” Metaphor. He says what we see as the ‘ideal’ family is central to our view of politics.

He speaks of two opposing views of the ideal family. ‘The strict father family’ values ‘moral authority, discipline, and self-reliance through the individual pursuit of self interest’. The other is ‘the nurturing family’, where the central values are ‘empathy, responsibility for oneself and others, and interdependence’.

Lakoff writes, ‘The radical right is using its message machine to move people more and more toward a thoroughgoing conservatism, toward using the strict father model in all aspects of life and politics.

He says they are difficult to challenge because they have ‘an emotional as well as intellectual content’. They are also ‘a whole world view, a way of seeing every aspect of life’. Next they seem natural and like common sense’. Finally, ‘they are almost unconscious, which makes them difficult to examine’.

While anti-abortion protesters are mainly religious, the appeal of this 'strict father' family belief system is far wider.

Divided by race and religion

Abortion is also an ideal frame for making ground in migrant communities.

In addition, huge increases in private school funding over decades have deliberately cemented division. Schools are increasingly segregated by sex, race and religion.

Local state comprehensive high schools that used to bring people from all backgrounds together have been undermined.

Family and religion are important for belonging in a new country, but separation now continues into second and third generation migrants through sectarian schools.

Because churches are usually patriarchal, Lakoff's strict father family has appeal to traditionally anti-communist communities like the Coptic and the traditionally anti-fascist like the Greek Orthodox.

It reaches into Muslim communities on whose homelands recent wars have most often been fought. They are already  divided over US-fostered religious sectarianism. Yet schools with large numbers of Muslim students were empty of senior students during the Books not Bombs protests before the Iraq War.

Despite climate change contradictions with the US right, Pacific Island peoples are overwhelmingly religious and patriarchal, although many women have strength and some influence. The furore around Israel Folau has ignited political action.

Groups like these are drawn to the protest.

Pie in the sky

Under feudalism, whether in Europe, Asia or anywhere else, established religious institutions used brutal tortures, inquisitions and excommunications to control peasants and occasionally kings.

When feudalism was overthrown, the power of religion to suppress the people took a major hit.  Marx’s famous statement that religion is the opium of the masses told of that post-feudal period, where organised religion’s power had been largely relegated to a spiritual realm, keeping people quiet in the face of oppression.

Hungry? Homeless? Spiritually distressed? Be good. Do as you’re told. Wait till you die and you’ll get a warm cloud, angels entertaining you and all the food you need. As the old Wobblies sang in the not-so-great Depression, “There’ll be pie in the sky when we die.” But eternal hell awaited those who rebelled.

Religion a secondary contradiction

Yet, by 1904 Lenin wrote of priests joining revolutionary ranks in Russia against feudalism. He stated that religion was a secondary contradiction, that it belonged in the personal realm, that propaganda and suppression could not defeat it, that complete separation of church and state must be maintained.

In the 1960s and 70s, revolutionary ferment and rebellion also influenced some churches to serve the masses. Liberation theology, often Marxist minus the atheism, was powerful in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Philippines, and influential in Australia.

In the 80s it was brutally suppressed with support from anti-communist Pope John Paul 2. In Sydney this pushback by Catholics included Tony Abbott and later paedophile Cardinal Pell after his move from Melbourne.

Anglicans were led by the Jensen brothers, especially Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jenson, and more importantly Principal of Moore Theological College at Sydney University which trained ministers. Their view of 'male headship' in all things is profoundly anti-women.

Then there's capitalist inspired Hillsong.

Temperatures in the abortion debate lifted the same day as Alan Jones’s violent outbursts against Jacinta Ardern. Again, no coincidence.

Less prominent was a former state Liberal MP and current Disability Commissioner John Ryan’s withdrawal from a “real men’s brekkie” at Camden Anglican Church, where he was to speak alongside self-serving misogynist One Nation MP, Mark Latham.

What do we do?

In Australia after World War Two, most corporations needed workers. That will not be the case much longer.

They’ve extended boom times through the mining and construction industries. It seems they are prepared to dig up or concrete the whole country, but their need for workers will be increasingly limited.

The Murray Darling Basin gives a taste of their imagined future. They are prepared to industrialise the whole NT, destroy the Great Artesian Basin and more.

Since John Howard was PM, the federal government has used immigration to prop up capitalism. Migrants are needed now, not primarily as workers, but as buyers of apartments and other commodities.

But that goose has been slaughtered and its golden eggs stolen in growing scandals that looks set to topple the NSW Premier.

The IT revolution, coupled with advances in psychology and online tracking with individually tailored clickbait, means mass manipulation is a whole lot easier.

But calling out about fake news, lecturing people, taking the high moral ground will only cement division.

Understanding the key

Lakoff’s work helps us understand how the far right hooks people. All his work is worth studying.

This means we can gently and respectfully counter manipulation affecting people we know.

Far right memes don’t just deal in lies. Often their hooks are baited with pretended concern for underdogs.  We can start by looking and listening for patterns and areas of agreement.

Some hooks use love of place and country. That’s easy to build on! Others deal in humour.

Some lies can be quietly dislodged by shared historical experience, like childhoods where some of us refused to stand for a very different national anthem, ‘God save the Queen’.

Language is the heart of culture

US imperialism aims to crush people both physical and spiritually.

Many who watch its rise are increasingly horrified.  The key is giving them well founded hope, rather than leaving them prey to pessimism and fear with yet another far right horror story.

Not even refugees in brutal offshore detention have been as consistently targeted by imperialism as First Peoples.

Yet First Peoples survive.

In the face of a BCA charm onslaught, some are bought off or misled that capitalism will give them a future.

But two things stand out. The first is an almost universal determination among First Peoples to strengthen culture, especially language. That gives the young a deep sense of who they are, a foundation from which to grow.

Its words are ancient and powerful.

As a Year One student at Mossman State School in far north Queensland said, learning her language “makes my heart lighter.”

The other standout is the unity between Elders and young emerging Elders.

Seeds of change

In response to the NT fracking crisis, Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network is organising systematically and in increasing numbers.

Seed is targeting Origin Energy because of its clean green advertising, its offices in four capital cities, its links with local councils, its gas bottles supplying country towns and more, make it vulnerable.

Seed use methods similar to the ACTU Federal election strategy. But instead of building on the shifting sand of marginal seats and swinging voters, they build on strong foundations.

Their mass phone calls ensure attendance of supporters at increasingly big events, where people are signed up and contacted to build the campaign. They bring Elders to speak only when they’ve done the groundwork to make it successful.

They are embedded deep within communities. They don’t wait for parliament to fix things. They are fixing it themselves. They share brilliant videos of their successes within Northern Territory Communities who have declared themselves frack free.

They show small children marching up a dirt road with their elders to erect a sign marking a 99 percent frack free vote. They subtitle the children’s excited chant, “We’re young, we’re deadly, we’re fighting for our Country!”

They show a way forward. They inspire. They are the antidote to pessimism.

If they can do it, despite generations of trauma, we can too. Hope. Based on clear strategy. Building on strength. Overcoming division.

That is the answer to US imperialism. That’s the answer to fascism. From the mouths of children.


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