Weekly salon 15/12

1. Can democracy survive?

Using democracy against itself: Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (left) with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and US president Donald Trump at the White House in Washington. Kayhan Ozer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Shaun Crowe has written an excellent review article on Can democracy survive?, based on the following books:

This, I think, is crucial:

    Levitsky and Ziblatt’s basic argument is that democracy is less dependent on formal rules than on its guiding spirit. Constitutions might be necessary pieces of paper, even sources of national pride, but they only work properly when reinforced by norms and limited by taboos. Levitsky and Ziblatt call these the “guardrails of democracy.” Although largely unspoken, two in particular are important: “mutual toleration” (parties must view each other as more or less legitimate, not as an existential threat to society) and “institutional forbearance” (parties must allow government to function in some agreed-on way, not seek every possible mechanism to destroy their political enemies). (Emphasis added)

The slide from democracy to an authoritarian regime typically happens in small steps, each of which can seem logical and legal. The tipping point can be hard to discern.

Typical examples are Viktor Orbán in Hungary and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, but clearly we should worry about Trump and the Republicans in the US, especially in voter suppression, electoral boundaries, the administration of elections generally and the election of public officials such as judges and police chiefs.

In Wisconsin, Republican Governor Scott Walker was beaten by Democrat Tony Evers. The Republican state assembly is now passing laws to curtail the powers of Evers and incoming Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul.

Maggie Astor at the NYT says Wisconsin is borrowing a page from the North Carolina playbook. The effect, at the very least, ties up the new administration in the courts for years.

(Thanks for the heads up from Geoff Henderson on this one.)

John Howard once explained that the Labor Party in Australia, representing unions and working people, could never represent all sections of Australian society. I think that since Sir Lynton Keith Crosby AO, the “Wizard of Oz” started running the show the Liberal Party has treated their opposition as lacking the basic legitimacy needed to govern in Australian democracy, hence lies and scare campaigns became legitimate tools of the trade.

Of interest, in 2008 during our German holiday, we went to see the Nazi Museum in Nuremberg.

There too we saw how things changed little by little, apart from a few dramatic eruptions, such as torching the Reichstag. It all began when election after election in the Weimar Republic no party gained a majority and establishment conservatives found it unacceptable to govern with the Social Democrats. So the Reichspräsident Generalfeldmarschall Paul von Hindenberg invited the head of the largest party, an Austrian dispatch runner who had been mistakenly enrolled in the Bavarian Army to form a government. Hitler humbly accepted:

That photo comes from Christopher Clark’s Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947.

Hindenberg was 84 and in poor health. He died during the following year, and the rest, as they say, is history.

2. US journalists are being played

According to Carrie Brown neutrality is being confused with objectivity.

    “Neutrality in the teeth of asymmetric propaganda ==> complicity” — Yochai Benkler

Yochai Benkler, the Faculty Co-Director at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society and Professor for Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School undertook:

    A massive analysis of over two million stories related to the 2016 election from 70,000 media sources documented what many of us suspected: Journalists were manipulated by relatively small number of right-wing media actors into producing coverage that was ultimately favorable to Donald Trump.

In brief he found:


    “We document that the majority of mainstream media coverage was negative for both candidates, but largely followed Donald Trump’s agenda: when reporting on Hillary Clinton, coverage primarily focused on the various scandals related to the Clinton Foundation and emails. When focused on Trump, major substantive issues, primarily immigration, were prominent. Indeed, immigration emerged as a central issue in the campaign and served as a defining issue for the Trump campaign.”

As a result more untrue and/or trivial nonsense was disseminated in the 2016 US election by the media than Russian bots and Macedonian troll factories.

3. May wins in a spectacular belly flop

It sounded like a comfortable win at 200 for and 117 against, but it means that there are more Conservatives than previously thought who will vote against May’s Brexit deal. The was a silver lining:

If you want to read one piece, I’d recommend Gary Younge’s Don’t pity May. Her immigration obsession helped get us into this mess. He says:

    She is not a victim of events but a participant and protagonist in them. She may have voted remain, but as home secretary she contributed to the climate of anti-immigrant fervour that helped make the leave victory possible.

Problem is the Brexit sold during the referendum, for which there was barely a majority, does not exist.

    An image was conjured of Britain striding out of the EU in top hat and tails, like Jacob Rees-Mogg leaving the 21st century for an Old Etonian convention, towards a glorious past. Instead the two most likely scenarios at this point are that we fall out backwards, with our trousers round our ankles, and land on our behinds with no deal; or crawl back in with our tail between our legs and ask for a second chance.

Here’s some more:

The Betoota Advocate blames Tony Abbott for the move against Theresa May.

4. Pope Francis removes Cardinal Pell from the inner circle

That’s as reported by The Guardian (Australia):

    Pope Francis has removed Australia’s most senior Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, from his inner circle in a restructure of his Council of Cardinals.

    Pell’s position as the financial controller of the Vatican makes him the third most powerful person in the Vatican. He is facing prosecution in Australia for historical sexual offences and has taken leave from the position. Pell has strenuously denied the allegations.

    The removal of Pell, 77, from the council does not necessarily affect his treasury position, which he technically still holds, and a Vatican spokesman would not comment further.

As separate information, courts can place suppression orders on cases before the court, especially when further charges are pending.

News organisations in the rest of the world are not constrained by these orders. Of course, on this blog we are constrained.

5. ScoMo becomes the action man

After spending weeks spinning like a top, and then running away from parliament to make sure nothing happened, PM Scott Morrison is suddenly all action, as Laura Tingle notes.

Integrity commission? Done. Religious rights. Fixed. Israeli Embassy? No problem.

Being in a hurry, doesn’t necessarily mean you know where you are trying to go. Dan Himbrechts

Except that he’s not really fixed anything, and I still can’t see him fronting parliament.

Tingle looks at the integrity commission that only deals with criminal matters and has no public hearings.

    Geoffrey Watson SC, who had acted as counsel to ICAC in NSW noted it was “worse than having no commission, in my opinion”.

    Former NSW ICAC commissioner David Ipp told ABC radio that it was “the kind of integrity commission you’d want to have when you didn’t want to have one”.

Tim Soutphommasane is similarly unimpressed with the notion of special religious rights. His worry is that if you entrench the right to teach your faith it may end up being a right to discriminate. He believes “any legislative change should come in the form of a comprehensive human rights charter, not a piecemeal addition to existing laws.”

The Saturday Paper in an editorial Mighty men of values looks at how the election will be played:

    We know, now, a little more of what the election will look like. We know that it will be desperate. We know the Morrison government will do anything to win, except develop policies that address the concerns of the electorate.

    The stories are already being placed. In The Daily Telegraph is spurious legal advice that says Labor’s “softened border policy” would invite criminals into Australia. The headline reads: “Foreign crims’ free pass.”

    This is not new. It was the premise of Howard’s Tampa election. The difference is how naked it has become. No longer are there sly hints, warnings of “who comes”. In Scott Morrison’s Australia, asylum seekers requiring medical evacuation are predators and killers.

    “Asylum seekers convicted of murder or rape could be allowed entry to Australia under Bill Shorten’s softened border protection policy,” the story reads.

Here’s another one:


    Peter Dutton says the policy “absolutely obliterates Operation Sovereign Borders”. He said a policy that relied on boat turnbacks was “a complete joke”.

    He got the headline for which he was hoping: “Peter Dutton says Labor trying to undermine border protection policy.”

Except it’s not Bill Shorten that is “obliterating” Dutton’s system, it’s medical opinion put forward by a conservative doctor who snuck into parliament. And Dutton and ScoMo are confessing that the system cannot function without ignoring medical advice.

Finally:

    Morrison hopes this will be a values election. He is promising curious interventions on behalf of the religious, among others. But his real values are here: his willingness to mislead, to exploit, to stoke fears and cultivate disharmony.

    We know, now, a little more of what the election will look like. In its opportunism, its barefacedness, it will likely be the ugliest this country has seen.

Thus little by little we dig a grave for democracy.

70 thoughts on “Weekly salon 15/12”

  1. Well hallelujah!!
    Australia end the first innings with a surplus.
    And by crickey they’re digging in early in the second to not squander it.

    Some luck, yes, but the harder one works the luckier one can get.

  2. Now, Khawaja needs to show some grit here.
    He’s in for Harris who retired hurt after he let Shami bust his finger up.

  3. Last unsolicited comment about the cricket.
    Lyon is in a purple patch.
    3 innings into the Australian Test summer, against the No.1 team of India, he’s got 13 wickets with the ball and 71 runs as a No. 10 batsman. 3 not outs in 3 innings!!

    Well done Gary the G.O.A.T.

  4. Democracy works when we all feel that our form of government respects and protects all of us. It should not be a tool for imposing dictatorship of the majority. Protection of minorities is more important than letting the majority have their way all of the time.
    Electoral rules should require more than a simple to be changed.

  5. John
    The only argument is, for mine, what form of Democracy is closer to optimal in the long term.

    The onus is on the folk here that say Democracy isn’t the best system to present an alternative system.

    So far no one has the ticker or has no clue.

  6. Malaysia says Australia’s Jerusalem decision is ‘humiliating’ and ‘premature’

    Carefull, that’s Murdoch !!

  7. Jumpy, I was aware that it was Murdoch. Here’s Al Jezeera:

    Australia’s Muslim-majority neighbour Malaysia has said it “strongly opposes” the decision to recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

    The announcement was “premature and a humiliation to the Palestinians and their struggle for the right to self-determination,” the Malaysian government said in a statement on Sunday, advocating a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Earlier, Australia’s immediate neighbour Indonesia – the world’s most populous Muslim nation – was angered by a proposal to move the Australian embassy to Jerusalem, which has since been shelved. The country said on Saturday it “notes” the decision.

    Michelle Grattan at The Conversation says
    ScoMo briefed the Indonesians about the decision before the announcement.

    She give a range of other reaction, including from Labor.

  8. The onus is on the folk here that say Democracy isn’t the best system to present an alternative system.
    So far no one has the ticker or has no clue.

    FFS, who here has argued against democracy??

  9. Some broad has accused Mr Broad of having dinner. Look, I’m Broadminded, but if New Idea reckons the story’s got legs, who are the Australian Federal Police to say otherwise?

    Q: what’s the difference between a “dating website” and a dated magazine?

    New Idea is one of our nation’s misnomers: not new, no idea.

  10. Update from the Broad Church which is the Coalition Govt.

    The Agrarian Socialist National MP Andrew Broad, Mallee, twitted last 21st February:

    Quote from the late Billy Graham “When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost” …… telling words for the Leadership of the National Party

    Best to avoid the Tweety Nest.
    A clever bird is the Mallee Fowl.

  11. Addendum, after some reflection

    The onus is on the folk here that say Democracy isn’t the best system to present an alternative system

    The onus is on you to demonstrate you understand the difference between democracy (a political system) and capitalism (an economic system).

  12. Ambigulous (Re: DECEMBER 17, 2018 AT 11:43 AM)

    Some broad has accused Mr Broad of having dinner.

    I was looking at Andrew Broad MP’s (about us) webpage, which includes:

    I believe a strong economy provides Australians with the resources to properly fund health and education systems and create opportunities for the next generation.

    With global dynamics changing, the concentration of wealth is shifting from Europe and the USA to the Asia Pacific region. This change will have implications for Australia and I’m passionate about ensuring we are appropriately placed in terms of policy to adapt to this shift.

    I want to see a parliamentary system that Australians can once again be proud of. I hope for our leaders to be statesmen and women, who govern for the next generation not just the next election.

    Australia may no longer ride on the sheep’s back but I’m confident that the increasing demand in soft commodities and the rise in wealth in Asia present many new opportunities for those in our country who seek them.

    Interesting statements in view of the latest allegations.

  13. It’s puzzling, Geoff M.
    New Idea isn’t usually an organ for political stories.

    There’s a pun available using the phrase you quote: “not just the next election”, but for once I will exercise restraint.

  14. The onus is on you to demonstrate you understand the difference between democracy (a political system) and capitalism (an economic system).

    No, it is not.
    The onus is on you is to specify an alternative system that can save the human race other than Democracy.
    If you want to and have one.

    As I have lamented here before – the human race is too stupid to save itself. QED

    Looks like you’re at QEF rather than QED.

  15. That is simple Jumpy. There is nothing particularly wrong with our system. The problem is with the politicians who get elected. To fix this we need a system of competency evaluation for prospective candidates along the lines of those being discussed in the US. For starters they with have to pass a psychological evaluation. Next they will need to demonstrate solid scientific and mathematical competency. They will need to be able to pass the citizenship test. They will need to declare their position on a range of vital national interests such as climate action.

    Now aren’t you glad you asked.

  16. Jumpy

    John D is one of the many posters here who approves of democracy as a political system. Not only that, he takes such an active interest in the system that he regularly suggests detailed, practical, electoral reforms to make the Australian democracy better represent the voters’ preferences.

    He outlines the various shortcomings he has noticed and explains how, with reforms, they can be eliminated or reduced.

    Cheers

  17. I find John’s posts thoughtful and often persuasive. Sometimes they even succeed in tearing me away from satire, smut, sarcasm and Southern Rural Pedantry.

    All to the good.

  18. I’ve just become aware of this gem:
    My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, this is how I feel about whiskey:
    If when you say whiskey you mean the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.
    But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman’s step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life’s great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.
    This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.

  19. Brian,

    Don’t be too hard on Paul von Hindenburg. In many nations it is established convention that the leader of the numerically largest party is called on to form a government. Often that requires subsequent negotiations to form a ruling coalition; sometimes under a time limit.

    On the pillars of a democracy, it appears that Sri Lankan courts have rejected the dismissal of their PM by their President. The PM has been reinstated after about 50 days of deadlock. Sometimes courts can be crucial.

    (It was noticed in 1975 that Mr Whitlam didn’t attempt a High Court challenge to his dismissal by the G-G.)

  20. Ambi, your Hindenberg comment got held up in moderation because the “net” in your email address changed to “bet”. Not sure how you managed that!

    I’d freely concede that no-one could foresee the Mr Hitler would behave the way he did.

  21. Been busy the last few days, but my wife and I broke loose to take in a movie – The Widdows . This review would have it:

      a truly sophisticated action film, and by far the best crime movie of 2018 so far.

    We were flawed not just by the guns and violence, but the screwed up attitudes and values served up for entertainment. Brilliant script, acting, photography etc but showing the US as a terminally screwed up country.

    I know this is gangland Chicago. We watch shows like Midsomer Murders and Death in Paradise with detachment and pleasure, but this is something else – full-on earnestly trying to tell us something important about human nature and society.

    Quite disturbing, actually.

  22. I “bet” that wasn’t the worst blunder resting at my feet. I plead the Noah S. Sweat Defence.

    Sorry, Brian

  23. Posted just before midday today in the SMH by David Wroe & David Crowe is an article headlined Nationals MP Andrew Broad to quit Parliament over ‘sugar daddy’ scandal. It begins with:

    Nationals MP Andrew Broad will quit Parliament at the next election after it emerged he had dinner in Hong Kong with a young woman he met via a website that connects older “sugar daddies” with younger women.

    The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age understand Mr Broad will not contest the election expected in May. He holds the safe Victorian rural seat of Mallee, the potential loss of which would be a huge blow to the party.

    I guess there will now be a mad scramble among the Nationals for candidates vying to get pre-selection for the seat of Mallee.

  24. Broadly speaking, the Mallee is only good for broad-acre farming. Blokes there know how to ride a horse. Bareback, you become a broad acher. But still you ache for it.

    The Mallee Fowl, as I recall, builds a mound full of rotting detritus and carefully monitors and controls the temperature. It’s a pity that the National Party can’t control its own temperature

    The Deputy National leader may want to transfer to the Reps. But with rumours of shenanigans, this looks to me a good opportunity for another strong, independent female candidate. It isn’t Indi, but it’s more like Indi than Kooyong.

  25. In a sense, Australia has been a robust democracy since federation. Elections have been run and governments have been elected. There has never been a case of a government has refused to allow a party/coalition that has won an election to take power although there was a case in SA where a government delayed the taking of power because the opposition had won because of the blatant bias in the system of the time.
    However, there have been moments, for example:
    The Whitlam dismissal only took place because state LNP parties installed replacement Senators against the wishes of those who had voted in the original senators.
    Joh was able to screw the system to bias elections in his favour and the WA sytem was also heavily biased in the Liberals favour.
    Then there was the complete suppression of Aboriginal rights for most of the last 100 years.

  26. John

    Then there was the complete suppression of Aboriginal rights for most of the last 100 years.

    My question would be “ In what way at all are Aboriginals suppressed today, what Government regulation, what private enterprise practice ? “
    I see more of the opposite.

    As far as anti democracy folk go here John, you’re obviously not one of them even though someone tried to infer I though you were.( naughty naughty Mr A )
    No, anti-capitalists would say stuff like,

    There is increasing evidence our current political systems are failing us and humanity is at stake.

    and

    Democracy is clearly incapable of eliminating the threat.

    and

    As I have lamented here before – the human race is too stupid to save itself.

    We all know quite well who they are.

  27. naughty, naughty? ??

    It was my opinion I gave.

    I claimed that John’s comments on electoral reform show him to be actively pro-democracy.

    I can’t see how I was “inferring” anything about your opinions, Jumpy.

    Your opinions are your own. You are free to express, explain and justify them.

    No sarcasm intended.
    Carry on.

  28. Mr A
    Well, if you choose to go back to the string of the tread where I was defending Democracy against the anti Democracy type you happened to mount a defence of John on that issue when he was not being attacked.

    One sees that tactic quite often on both left and right blogs.

    Perhaps it was coincidental, perhaps it was intentional.

    Gosh darn it, I’m gunna think the best of you and forget the whole thing.

    Why not.

  29. Well gosh darn it, it appears the anti Democracy type must be me or Bilb since we are the only two left.
    Now Jumpy, in his inimitable fashion, will avoid pointing out just where we expressed these totally imaginary anti-democratic sentiments.

  30. Brian, that article by Shaun Crowe is a great piece of work. This quote is particularly resonant:

    Part of this reflects democracy’s inability to grapple with genuine, perhaps existential, crises, like climate change.

  31. Jumpy: All the examples of failures of our democratic system I quoted were some time in the past. I was also thinking about older stuff when talking about Aborigines.
    Some Aborigines are still treated differently under the law today. Think land rights.) We could argue about the extent to which these help or hinder some Aborigines.
    Aborigines are also more disadvantaged under laws such as “punish by fine and the jailing of fine defaulters” because they are more likely to be very poor than the rest of the population.

  32. Ambi, Brian: a lot of modern leftists point to 1930s Jewish newspapers stating Hitler was dangerous and act as if that meant that the Jewish community predicted the Holocaust before it happened. They did not.

  33. Adolf Hitler had expressed extreme anti-Semitic views before he got his hands anywhere the levers of State power.

    That would have been sufficient to justify the Jewish (and liberal, centrist or non-racist) press warning against him.

    It’s not as if he and his followers hid their hideous opinions. Street fighting. Slogans. Quasi-military uniforms….

    But anti-semitism was strong in many European countries. Let’s not pretend it was solely a Nazi superstition.

    See pogrom.

    Thanks, Scott.

  34. The US predicted a Communist bloodbath in Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia.

    Viet Nam had executions, property seizures and reeducation camps spanning many long years.

    Laos had the standard propaganda and stagnation.

    Cambodia outdid the forecasters by a huge margin, in the scale of its murder, starvation, insularity, paranoia and sheer stupidity.

    ***
    Forecasting is very difficult, especially the future.

  35. Forecasting is very difficult, especially the future.

    Haha, that’s a keeper!

    As smart as the German folk think they are, they have been susceptible to mass stupidity from time to time.

    ( disclaimer, Got German blood in me so it’s not racist to say that apparently)

  36. Yes Jumpy

    It’s good and it’s not mine.

    (You will find that if ever I write something clever or useful it will be a direct quote or an unconscious plagiarism.)

    Don’t be too hard on your German ancestors Jumpy; their countrymen included Beethoven, Leibniz, Goethe, Humboldt, King Ludwig, Kant, Riemann, and Karl Marx.

    Plus several million very fine women.

    In our local library I found “The Kaiser’s Holocaust. Germany’s Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism” by David Olusoga & Casper W. Erichsen.

    It refers to 19th century slaughters in “South West Africa” (now Namibia).

    As it happens, in September 1885, the newly appointed Imperial Commissioner of German South-West Africa, Dr Heinrich Ernst Goering arrived there.

    Yes, the father of Hermann Goering, senior Nazi leader.

    Of course, making the case for “colonialist history” as a factor in the shaping of Nazism would require more than this mere coincidence.

    ***
    Hope you’ve still got your library card, Mr J.

  37. Mr A
    Well, if you choose to go back to the string of the tread where I was defending Democracy against the anti Democracy type …

    Let us check the tread

    John
    The only argument is, for mine, what form of Democracy is closer to optimal in the long term.
    The onus is on the folk here that say Democracy isn’t the best system to present an alternative system.
    So far no one has the ticker or has no clue.

    Since more than two days have passed since I challenged him to provide E…Vid…Ence and none has been forthcoming, I would humbly suggest our erstwhile correspondent was defending democracy from his own inability to parse well formed English sentences.

  38. Zoot
    I think “ piss off you trolling dickhead, I have zero interest in conversion with a duplicitous, lying, NPC jargon, hopelessly inadequate shit poster like you “ would be unacceptable under the comment rules, quite rightly so.

    I think that would be a terrible thing to say, leave alone being the target of such a degrading ( even if totally accurate) comment.

    So I’ll bid you a good night and hope your lot improves exponentially from this moment on.

  39. I misunderstood your comment Mr J.
    I misread it as “most commenters here are anti-democracy”.

    My reply was to indicate that John D is most definitely not a-d. Why would someone think out and expound ways of improving Aussie electoral processes if they were a-d?

    But that wasn’t a QED. It was one example. “Anecdotal” in your terms.

    So apparently you think there are several a-d posters lurking hereabouts

    Must say I haven’t seen any….. IMO if someone advocates a vote for ALP or Greens, they are pursuing “the parliamentary / liberal democracy road” to the changes they want to see.

    Democratic.
    Not a-d.

    On the other hand, if someone advocated
    *bloody revolution, or
    *burning down the skyscrapers and Parliament buildings, or
    *forced labour under propaganda spewing loudspeakers, or
    * more power to the plutocrats, oligarchs and monopolists
    then anyone would quite fairly call that person anti-democratic.

    Darn it, I’ve said too much; tarnation, let’s just leave it at that, okey-dokey??

  40. My understanding is that racism including anti-antisemitism was widespread between WWI and 2. It was a time when punitive expeditions were still widespread, Aborigines had to live with serious restrictions and legal injustices because of their Aboriginality were rife. Then there was colonialism and the way Afro-Americans were treated in the US and……..
    Germany became a leader in the field and got really bad press compared with some other offenders because it made the mistake of losing a war.

  41. I believe Dinesh D’souza, in one of his books, shows Nazi Party meetings minutes that state lots of their anti Jewish treatments were modeled on the US Democrats treatments of Blacks.

    Unfortunately Germany didn’t have a strong anti racism Republican Party at the time to stop Hitler.

  42. Anti-semitism in Europe went on for centuries.
    Russia, Germany, France, Britain,….

    It took a dictator to introduce mass extermination using industrial-scale murder factories.

    I don’t believe the attention paid to the Nazis’ murder of imbeciles, Slavs, gypsies and Jews during the 30s and until the end of WW2 in Europe, is due solely to the fact that Germany was defeated in WW2.

    The scale of their crimes was monstrous.

    Attempts to reduce the chances in future…
    Refugee Convention
    UN
    UN Security Council
    Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    International refugee aid
    IC Red Cross
    UN Rapporteurs
    UN Commission on Human Rights
    National human rights bodies
    UN sponsorship of the State of Israel
    Amnesty International
    Human Rights Watch
    Medecins Sans Frontieres
    International Criminal Court
    World Court at The Hague
    International aid agencies…

    not all of this is down to recognition of the depths of Nazi crimes {and yes, there have been terrible murderous regimes since 1945}, but some of the impetus, I believe, was due to the nations reeling in shock and taking small, united actions to restore civility.

    Three cheers for Bert Evatt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and all the other leaders in 1945-6.

  43. Unfortunately Germany didn’t have a strong anti racism Republican Party at the time to stop Hitler.

    Que? You seriously believe no Republicans owned slaves? There were no Republican plantation owners?
    How quaint.
    I assume D’souza’s book to which you refer is “The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left”. I hate to break it to you, but D’souza is not highly regarded as a scholar. In fact he’s on a par with Alex Jones when it comes to intellectual acumen.
    Historian Ian Kershaw is considered much more authoritative and in his books he shows the US influence on Nazi policy was actually the Eugenics movement.

  44. It’s strange that Hitler is the go to name when in come to mass murders.
    Stalin and Mao were pretty bad too, and they have statues and museums dedicated to them !

    Very strange.

  45. Jumpy: You are right about the Southern Democrats in the US and that it was the Republicans under Abraham Lincoln that ended slavery. Having said that it is the southern Republicans who now seem to be doing things that make it harder for the descendants of the slaves have their vote.
    Ambi: Agree. Racism goes back a long long way. Also agree that the horror of the holocaust has influenced anti-racist attitudes in general since the war.

  46. There’s a museum for Hitler as well. Online only at the moment, but I’m sure they have plans. And he has at least one statue.
    I couldn’t find a museum for Mao, and only one for Stalin.
    YMMV

  47. John
    I’ve seen a fair bit of racism between Indigenous folk too.
    The Aboriginal v Islander dust ups back in my high school days were brutal and not infrequent.

  48. It’s strange that Hitler is the go to name when in come to mass murders.

    So true, and so unfair; all he was trying to do was make Germany great again. This bias against him is probably due to the fact that Jews (like George Soros) are in control of almost everything.
    I stand with Jumpy in decrying the lack of Hitler statues in the world.

  49. Jumpy:
    Prejudice against outsiders is a widespread problem. Groote Eylandters from our side of Groote Eylandt would talk scornfully about that Umbakumba mob even though people from both sides of the island were connected by marriage.
    My wife heard a old friend speak with hostility of “that Balamulu Mob” from the mainland on the basis of a spearing that occurred in 1928.
    Then again, we use labels such as “Cockroaches” and “cane toads” for football teams from the wrong side of the border.

  50. Jumpy

    Pol Pot, Stalin and Mao: certainly each did their bit to maintain the human race’s justified reputation for barbarity in high and low places.

    Many of us are aware of their crimes.

    Mao has a poor reputation, and one of the worst (and accurate?) insults levelled by Chinese at President Xi right now, is that he is attempting to copy Mao.

    I’m confident that every Chinese in the PRC right now has relatives who suffered in the “Cultural Revolution” or witnessed mass degradation and State-sanctioned cruelty.

    Pol Pot’s monuments were stacks of human bones.
    Stalin’s were buried in the Ukraine, the snowy vast lands of Siberia. Gulag archipelago: what a legacy….

    Hitler was not the first anti-semite nor the last.
    Stalin was not the first dictator nor the last.
    Where are Saddam’s monuments? Most of the ones he built were torn down.
    Robert Mugabe?
    It’s a hellish list.
    I disagree with your claim that Hitler monopolises the “bad list”.

    In Berlin, the site of his bunker and death is below an ordinary car park, near the stark Holocaust Memorial.

    The bunker site is unmarked, lest it become a site of pilgrimage for his admirers.

    They took their national cleansing pretty d*mn seriously, in West Germany.

    Have you heard about the small metal ‘tripping stones’ set in German footpaths near houses once occupied by murdered Jews? Simple: name, date of birth and of death. Some locals make a point of going to polish these small markers, on Kristallnacht every year. Good on them.

  51. Mr A

    Mao has a poor reputation, and one of the worst (and accurate?) insults levelled by Chinese at President Xi right now, is that he is attempting to copy Mao.

    Yep.
    I’m sure both Xi and Mao studied Sun Tzu.
    It’s pretty frightening seeing some of the main tenets of “ The Art of War “ being played out by China right now.

  52. In Berlin, the site of his bunker and death is below an ordinary car park, near the stark Holocaust Memorial.

    Ambi, our guide in Berlin, who we thought was very good, told us that Hitler’s bunker was below that tree you can see in the centre:

    You are right, it is still there, below ground, and entirely unmarked.

  53. Danke Brian.

    Our guide took us to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.
    One of the group asked about the bunker and he gestured across, nearby, and explained why it was unmarked.

    It was very moving to be shown the tripping stones on a footpath in Dresden. Several of us were choked up. Not just the Jewish people in our small tour group…..

    In Budapest there is a tiny memorial on the river bank near the Parliament buildings. Bronze scuptures of shoes and boots, seemingly flung at random near each other. At that spot a group of Jews of all ages were thrown in to drown. But someone had the presence of mind to demand they take their footwear off first.

    Europe is drenched in blood red memories.
    Heartbreaking.

  54. No, not safer.

    Look at the reasons he gave for resigning.
    According to ABC News Radio they include

    – the way close allies have been treated
    – apparent lack of concern in the White House that Russia and China wish to impose their authoritarian habits on the world

    Both of those worry me.

    Thanks, General Mattis, for being frank and sounding these warnings in your resignation letter. Congress, please take note.

  55. Mattis is ever the war hawk and Trump is not.
    Mattis was for every war the US got involved in, Trump was not.
    Mattis is pro war, Trump is not.

    Yes, that should make folk feel safer.

    What will it take for the anti-Trumpers to give even 1% approval to something he does rather than 100% disapproval every time ?

  56. Just to go back to your Sun Tzu reference Mr J.

    May I comment?

    1. Every nation has traditions of war, heroism and many have famous strategists or generals

    2. I had thought “The Art of War” was directed to battling against external foes of the Chinese state.

    3. Whereas “The Prince” advises an autocratic ruler on dealing with rivals and his subject people.

    4. If Mao or President Xi were/are using Sun Tzu against “their own” people, isn’t this a cruel perversion?

    5. You may be aware of the debate over the term “genocide”. One man campaigned in international fora to have it recognised as a crime.

    6. But, farsighted as he was, he left out a tragic development: murderous, systematic debasement of one’s “own people” or a sub-class of them. See Pol Pot, see Stalin and the “kulaks”, see Burma and the Rohinga. So these days some folk use the word “autogenocide” for such crimes.

    Cheerio
    and have a pleasant Christmas.

  57. Mr A
    1) Agreed.
    2) No, it was primarily aimed at internal territorial China but its utility universal.
    3) I haven’t read “ The Prince “ so I don’t have an opinion there. But thank you, you’ve motivated me to download the audiobook ( $2.99 ).
    By the way The Art of War only takes 1 hour to listen to, same price I think.
    4) Mao used it internally but Xi is useing it externally. Sun Tzu viewed the optimal strategy on conquest as bloodless, winning Wars without damage to either side. Basically through deception.
    5) I thought genocide was recognised as a crime.
    6) No sure who the “ he “ you’re referring to is here but Sun Tzu was practical militarily not based on any other ideological viewpoint, he emphasised minimising suffering.

  58. On 5. and 6.
    Rafal Lemkin (1900 – 1959) was a Polish-Jewish lawyer who coined the term “genocide” in 1943 or 1944 and whose tireless work led to the Genocide Convention.

    courtesy of Wikipedia

    I’m all in favour of bloodless contests.
    The bystanders often get as blooded as the soldiers, some even get “deaded” in the Goons’ immortal word.

    * d*mn spell check wanted to change Rafal to Ramallah…..

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