The fulmination about being soft on violent Islamism, usually directed at leftists, has had to be, erm, redirected recently, after it became clear that ASIO was now calling around a few politicians and asking them to tone down the rhetoric, lest it disrupt their networks of informants in the Muslim “community” in Austral– I mean, sow further dissent.

How embarrassment for the right, whose ragged attempt to revive the grand war for Western Civ rhetoric has become further shredded. They will also be embarrassed, once more, that it is not T.E.H. Leftz pushing multiculturalism, but the right — in which latter category ASIO is, of course, included.

Multiculturalism, as I’ve noted before, is the deeming of certain social sub-groups to be “communities” that have a real boundary, with real leaders to be negotiated with — even though they may have no legitimacy in the eyes of many deemed to be in their “community”.

Party leaders of all stripes suck up to such leaders on the basis of their ability to deliver some votes, and when the election’s over, the right denounces the left for supporting cultural relativism and multiculturalism, until a year before the next poll, when they all go and eat strange foods in western Sydney for another four weeks.

Whatever “multiculturalism” was, it is now a policy apparatus for social and cultural control of populations and persons. So it is not unusual, but inevitable, that ASIO would get into the game. Indeed, everything we’re doing by way of dealing with the numerically small but potentially lethal threat of Islamist terror is being done with the same culture-state technologies that are used to shape and reinforce multliculturalism.

The idea of “de-radicalisation”, in which people who have committed no crime are targeted as likely to do so — sometimes on good evidence, sometimes on very little at all — assumes the same things. It assumes that culture, motives and beliefs can and should be reshaped by an overarching state system, rather than being assessed on their own merits. All of this is done for one purpose: to deny that there is any political content to violent Islamism, abhorrent as it is, or that it is related to the occupation of foreign lands.

***

Dear, oh dear, in the Oz, this:

“James Packer has lashed Australia’s tall-poppy syndrome, saying calculated risk-taking by businesses needs to be rewarded and failures should not be punished. …

“‘Australia is an incredibly lucky country, but with the resources boom over, we are going to have to be the smart country to stay prosperous,’ he said.

“‘That means having the best possible education system, embracing technology, science and high quality teaching at every level. Australia is geographically big, but sometimes we think incredibly small.

“‘We need to instil in our kids an entrepreneurial spirit, reward risk-taking in our businesses and understand that failure is acceptable and — if the lessons are learned — only temporary and part of the overall journey we all take in life and business’.”

It’s the “geographically” that gets me. Thanks for that clarification, Zoolander Packer. Could this puff-piece — puff is a family-publication word for what this article is — get any better than having the fourth-generation inheritor of a media empire lecture us about risk-taking? It could:

“His comments on the tall poppy syndrome back those of Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, who recently claimed Australians needed to be more willing to celebrate success …”

What could be better than than the expat head of a company that minimises tax suggesting that we need a world-class education system to back “innovation”, now that the resources boom is gone? His dystopian plans for the future:

“Mr Packer lists his residence as Tel Aviv in Israel, one of the innovation capitals of the world, where he has made investments and plans to make more in industries such as cyber security.

“He also spends time in Los Angeles, where his former wife Erica Baxter and their three children, Indigo, Emmanuelle and Jackson, live. …

“He reiterated that the development of a new casino in Sydney continued to be the most important project globally in his Crown Resorts Casino empire, which is also developing properties in Perth, Melbourne and Las Vegas.”

Yes, he’s in the “innovation capital of the world” — i.e. a place of companies budded off US-supplied military high-tech, part-owned by the IDF — dreaming of a world of walled-in populations and wall-to-wall casinos. Let’s hope that under Emmanuelle Packer, we can get an easy ride — “Classy name, innit, all posh, like that movie we watched on the special hotel channel, eh, Jim-Jim?”

“Sure. Hey, Erica, put that Mariah CD on again.”

But I’ve saved the best till last, in this extraordinary article, right from the start:

“Speaking to The Australian to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of his father, Kerry Packer, on December 26, 2006, James Packer warned …”

Tenth anniversary. 2006. That’s how smart we are …

***

In Spain, and its general elections, Podemos, the Syriza-style people’s party (“Yes, We Can”, it sort of means), has either lost or won, or won to a degree and will lose, according to your perspective.

The ruling centre-right People’s Party (PP) was returned as the largest party, with 123 of the 350 seats, with the Socialists in second place, with 22% and 90 seats. Podemos came third, with 20.7% and 69 seats, and the fourth was a new Citizens Party, with 14% of the vote. The latter new parties took 6-8% from small parties, but the bulk of their vote came from the major parties, whose collective vote they reduced by about 30%, smashing the two-party system, which has been in place since Generalissimo Franco died in 1976 (he is still dead).

Podemos — the party formed as a citizens movement in the wake of the PP imposition of EU-ordered “austerity” reforms — thus fell well short of the 30% or so target of groups like Syriza in Greece. But it was dealing with different conditions: a Socialist Party that has not discredited itself as utterly as had PASOK in Greece; a blowback effect from the terrible choices Syriza had to make, which lowered Podemos’ support by discrediting alternative parties; and the emergence of the credible centrist (centre-centre-right, one might say) Citizens Party, which took a slice of the vote that Podemos might have got.

The result thus leaves current Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy with the right to first crack at forming a government — his hand strengthened by the early (too early) statement by Citizens Party leader Albert Rivera that he would not stage a vote of no confidence on a minority government.

Rajoy’s possible partners are either the Socialists, in a grand establishment coalition — which gives little advantage to the latter — or with Citizens, who would be foolish to give away their anti-political cachet so soon.

That leaves the possibility of a grand coalition between Socialists, Podemos and Citizens. The last of these have already rejected such an arrangement, saying it would not reflect majority wishes only to a formal degree. But they might be persuaded to support a Socialists-Podemos government, even supposing the latter could be put together with the support of some minor parties.

Such a strategy would accord with the general determination of the new “people’s left” parties of the Mediterranean, to take power when it is offered (as opposed to groups like Beppe Grillo’s Five Star movement in Italy, which has staked its claim on radical refusal), but it’s hard to see an upside.

Yoked to a leading old party, Podemos would not have the prime ministership, nor any capacity to put in anything resembling a resistance to the austerity regime. It would be better placed to remain oppositional and develop its approach, hope that the Citizens party falls apart, and the Socialist party, under new leader Guillermo Acortar, falls into further decline. That would leave Podemos to stride through and pick up power like a feather in the street. At which point, if both Syriza and Bugs Bunny are any guide, a piano falls on you.

One thing Podemos can rely on is that it will go badly for them. They did well in Catalonia, where a village tradition is to put a huge turd in the centre of nativity scenes. The Xmas monster is pooped out by the village strongman after a day of thick stews. “Eat well! Shit hard!” is not only the local motto, but a neat summary of EU economic policy since the creation of the euro. As Jamie Packer would say, Europe is geographically big but thinks small.

Peter Fray

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