Tony Abbott, aka The Mad Monk, has positioned himself as PM-in-exile and adopted a sick-minded agenda to poison political debate and destabilise his successor, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
He launched the campaign this week with two “exclusives”: in Rupert Murdoch’s Sydney Daily Telegraph and on his Sky News, a demented Oz version of the media mogul’s Fox News in the US and Sky News in the UK.
Abbott, a former Roman Catholic seminarian, wrote: “Islam has never had its own version of the Reformation and the Enlightenment or a consequent acceptance of pluralism and the separation of church and state.”
His ignorance of history is breathtaking. The Catholic Church fought the Reformation, killing and torturing its adherents; opposed the Enlightenment as “the work of the devil”; never accepted pluralism until the 21st century; and is still struggling with the concept of the separation of powers.
He continued: “We should be ready to proclaim the clear superiority of our culture to one that justifies killing people in the name of god.”
Oh really? Please check out Catholic support for the US-led war in Korea and then Vietnam where between one and two million people were killed. And don’t forget Grenada, Nicaragua, Panama, Afghanistan and Iraq.
How about the cultural superiority of the Church of England, a schismatic branch of Catholicism? At Westminster Abbey on 25 November 1915, the Bishop of London, Arthur Foley Winnington Ingram, told the congregation:
“To save the freedom of the world, to save Liberty’s own self, to save the honour of men and women and the innocence of children, everything that is noblest in Europe, everyone that puts principle above ease, and life itself beyond mere living, are banded in a great crusade – we cannot deny it – to kill Germans: to kill them, not for the sake of killing, but to save the world. To kill the good as well as the bad, to kill the young men as well as the old, to kill those who have shown kindness to our wounded as well as those fiends who crucified the Canadian sergeant, who superintended the Armenian massacre, who sank the Lusitania and who turned the machine-guns on the civilians of Aerschott and Louvain – and to kill them lest the civilisation of the world itself be killed.”
Ingram wasn’t alone. Basil Wilberforce, the Archdeacon of Westminster, said in a 1914 sermon that “to kill Germans is a divine service in the fullest sense of the word”.
Catholic cardinals, bishops and priests gave similar sermons and blessings to “soldiers of Christ” who were slaughtering Vietnamese civilians 60 years ago. At the time, Abbott was in B.A. Santamaria’s youth league feverishly supporting the US invasion of the south and the carpet bombing of the north.
Is Trump a fascist?
The American media is buried in a furious debate over whether Republican front runner for the White House, real estate developer and casino front man (for whom?) Donald Trump, is a fascist.
The coverage rose to fever pitch this week after his “exclusive” Fox News interview calling for all Moslems to be banned from entering the US “until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on”.
There are plenty of fascists around the place. They are recognisable by their ultra-reactionary opinions: racist, white supremacist, anti-black, anti-women, homophobic, ultra-nationalistic, pro-guns, anti-environmentalist, authoritarian and militaristic.
But while fascist is usually used to describe the political outlook of an individual, fascism is a broader philosophical concept to describe the extreme ideology of a far right dictatorship.
Fascism triumphed in Italy under Mussolini in the 1920s and then under General Franco in Spain and Salazar in Portugal. Their fascism paved the way for the victory of Hitler’s Nazism in Germany.
The most interesting aspect of fascism is that it co-existed with capitalism while paying lip service to socialism. Thus the Führer’s Nazi Party was the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and Il Duce created his National Fascist Party in 1919 from the post-Great War wreckage of the Italian Socialist Party.
As a working definition, fascism is the most depraved expression of the capitalist system when it falls into unfathomable crisis.
To save their skins, the leaders of finance, industry and the armed forces shift their loyalties from the formalities of parliamentary democracy to the brutality of mass arrests, internment camps, kangaroo courts and state of emergency laws.
Somewhat alarmingly, the semblance of these developments are in the news almost every day: borders closed, fences built, police and armies mobilised, martial law declared while airports, train stations and metropolitan suburbs are locked down.
For fascism to succeed it requires mass support, either through the establishment of an ultra-reactionary political party or the creation of a popular movement.
Trump is trying to steamroller the US Republican Party, the GOP, into a mass movement using fear of Moslems, crude anti-Hispanic racism, anti-Washington phobia and anti-elitism. His election bandwagon is being assembled at huge expense by supporters from the casino industry (who are they?) to launch him into the White House.
In my opinion, Trump isn’t a fascist and the GOP doesn’t represent fascism. However, US politics have dropped to a depth of depravity which is both alarming and spellbinding.
Alongside losing its global imperial status, the US appears to be losing its marbles as well.
Saving the Reef
The vulgar opportunism of the Australian and Queensland governments knows no bounds when it comes to pretending to be the lordly protectors of The Great Barrier Reef.
The great Sir David Attenborough has made a documentary on the reef, one of the Great Wonders of the World, that is been steadily killed off by toxic chemical run-off from the unregulated sugar cane, banana and mining industries.
His three-part documentary was produced with funds from Tourism Australia and launched at a London premiere attended by nature-loving hunter and shooter, (Sir) Prince Philip.
Taxpayers will contribute $40 million on a global promotional campaign to show the film on television in the US, China, Japan and New Zealand.
At the very same time, the Federal and State governments (Coalition and Labor respectively) are allowing the continued pollution of the reef. They are in denial over the damage and refusing to investigate, prosecute or seek fines and damages against the polluters.
In July the UN World Heritage Committee decided to monitor the Canberra government’s Reef 2050 (2050!!) protection plan which will – eventually – ban dumping at sea of dredged-up silt and mud, limit ports development and commission a river and estuary clean-up. Environmentalist reply correctly: “Too little too late.”
At the London premiere, Attenborough, now 89, said not only was The Great Barrier Reef in danger but so was the BBC. (He could have added the ABC as well).
“The BBC is in real danger, and if you lose the BBC, I certainly will have lost a very, very important element in my life. And I would like to think that quite a lot of people in Britain think the same thing. I certainly do.”
He recognised the right of politicians to seek reforms at the BBC but added: “One of things governments should do is keep the BBC at arm’s length, or keep themselves at arm’s length.”
Can Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a power junkie with close friends in the Murdoch and Packer families, keep his hands off the ABC and SBS, Australia’s leading public broadcasters?
I suspect he won’t be able to help himself, especially when the hedge funds and merchant bankers come a’calling.
If it’s not too much to ask, I’m all for saving the Reef, the ABC and the BBC.
Quote of the week
A witness, referred to as “BWE”, told the royal commission into child sex that he overheard a conversation between Father Frank Maddern and George Pell, now a cardinal at the Vatican, at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne, in 1983
Father Maddern: “How are things going down your way?”
Pell: “I think Gerry [convicted pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale] has been rooting young boys again.”
Next week Pell arrives from Rome to answer more questions at the royal commission. Public relations firms have been retained to “spin” his evidence and News Ltd columnists are ready to supply booster pieces on His Eminence’s behalf.