My column - apologies for the centering

Julio Fernández Baraibar julfb at
Sat Nov 20 15:01:00 MST 1999

Dear Gary, the first part of your column about "our guiltiness of other one
's sins" brought to my mind the reflections that some reactionary journalist
did after the argentinian militar dictatorship and when its murders became
public and known. The reflections had two forms. The first was directly to
say that "all us are guilty", included the victims. The other was a creation
of the greatest motherfucker that there is in this full of motherfuckers
country, Mr. Bernardo Neustadt, a tv, radio and press journalist, paid by
the biggest imperialistic interests and creator of a repulsive kind of
reactionary  common sense, who has been "abutant patientia nostram" by the
last thirty years. He invented the expression "the little fascist dwarf who
everybody bears in". This expression, believe it or not, became popular and
untill progresist people use it and this is the big utility of it -and of
its creator-. In first place, it converts all us in the same sort of people
as the dominant classes and, by that, in coauthor of their crimes. But, and
this is perhaps more important, it trys to neutralize all intent of changing
the state of things in fascist, because there are no change without a dose
of neccesary authority with its attributes. In this case the well
intentioned leftist progresist comes and say that "the little fascist dwarf
has appeared".
It seems that "en todas partes se cuecen habas", as an old spanish
expression says.

Un abrazo revolucionario

Julio F.B.

> Comrades this is my monthly column. It seems to have centered itself in
> some way that I cannot bloody well fix. Apart from that I hope some find
> of interest.
> regards
> Gary
> The Bin Pleads.
> 1.
> Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend
> With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.
> Why do sinners' ways prosper?
> I hope that by the time this column has appeared on the streets of West
> that the Catholic activist Jim Dowling will have been released from prison
> and reunited with his family. In a previous article I contrasted Jim's
> commitment to the freedom of the East Timorese people to the Machiavellian
> silences of the clerical prince, Bishop Battersby.  However, much as I
> admire Jim's personal commitment and sacrifice, I now wish to argue
> strongly against a key aspect of Jim's political position.  In announcing
> fast in prison he is quoted as describing this "as a penance for the
> ongoing crime we all share for the 24-year betrayal of the East Timorese
> people (Southern News, 30.9.99)".
> In saying this Jim has fallen into the classic trap of bourgeois
> thought.  This, as the American Marxist Bertell Ollman pointed out, can
> only operate along two dimensions  that of the individual or that of
> everyone. Thus a single individual is guilty or everyone is.  What
> bourgeois thought cannot and will not do is to think in terms of groups or
> classes.  It cannot conceive of the notion that a particular group or
> social class may be guilty in East Timor while the great majority of us
> in fact innocent.
> An analogous case is that of the My Lai massacre in the Vietnam War.
> an American army platoon led by a Lt Calley went through the village and
> raped and slaughtered in their customary manner.  When this was revealed
> the Christian evangelist Billy Graham said publicly,  'We all sinned at My
> Lai.' Presumably this was meant to include even the draft resisters and
> brave thousands who unlike Graham had opposed the American invasion of
> Vietnam.  Graham was of course wrong.  The sinners were not everyone but
> those who waged the war and those who supported them.  Above all the
> group was the American ruling class  the most brutal and rapacious and
> powerful class in the history of humanity.
> Similarly Jim is wrong on East Timor.  The guilty are not 'all', but
> those who waged and supported that invasion.  To be specific, the conquest
> of East Timor was designed by Henry Kissinger, approved by Australian
> Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and carried out by Butcher Suharto. These are
> the guilty ones or if you like these are the ones who have sinned. To
> everyone is wrong on several accounts. Such universalism, as I have shown,
> disguises who actually ordered the invasion.  It also obscures the fact
> that most people have no power at all in this world of ours.  In the arena
> of foreign affairs this is especially true.  Wars are declared and bombs
> are dropped and no vote is ever taken.
> Jim's allegation that 'we all share the crime' is also wrong because it
> means it is impossible to theorize innocence.  If we were all guilty over
> East Timor, how could any of us have achieved the state of innocence? Here
> of course we see the baleful influence of Catholic theology with its
> noxious notion of original sin, which proclaims that humanity is a fallen
> race, born guilty.  By contrast with this universal guilt hypothesis let
> repeat that the guilty are those with power and wealth.  The innocent are
> those without power, those who are the victims of this social system of
> ours. Why should they have to 'make the trip to Canossa'? Need I point out
> that those responsible for the tragedy in East Timor are quite happy that
> good people like Jim Dowling go around saying everyone is guilty?
> 2.
>   For the banks are made of marble
> With bars on every door
> And the vaults are stuffed with silver that the workers sweated for.
> I have been asked by a pensioner, who had discovered that he had been
> charged $19 in bank fees, to explain why? He could not understand why the
> banks, at a time when they have never been more profitable, would charge a
> pensioner a sum that he could not afford.  He could not work out how the
> banks could get away with what he perceives as bank robbery. Only this
> it is the banks that are doing the robbing.
> I was tempted to tell him he should contact John Laws.  Apparently he is
> the only person in Australia that the banks will listen to. For didn't
> offer  Laws $1.5 million dollars to shut up?  I was going to tell him that
> maybe Laws would get an answer from the banking community. But instead I
> offered him the truth as cold comfort. The reason why the banks and the
> rich folk that own them can get away with taking money from pensioners, is
> because the pensioners are poor and the banks are owned by the rich.  To
> rich in this society is to be powerful.  It is the very wealth of the
> that enables them to fix the rules so they can become wealthier.  So I
> him that the next time he passes a bank, not to think of bank officials
> toiling away at their calculators but to contemplate instead the wealthy
> class that owns the banking system. It is the greed and rapaciousness and
> immorality of this class that defines the character of the world we live
> 3.   Oh, you can't scare me. I'm sticking to the union...
> David Kemp's leaked plans for the higher education sector have quite
> rightly caused a great stir. Despite the talk  of 'equity initiatives' it
> is clear that the de-regulation of the university system will ensure that
> only the affluent will have access to a tertiary education. Kemp has made
> no secret of his intention to apply market principles to education.  He
> the ideologues in his department think that this is how we will get to, as
> they put it, a 'can do country'. The American expression is of course not
> coincidence.  For Kemp's proposals will Americanize our university system.
> However there is another aspect of Kemp's plans that have received scant
> media or political attention.  He quite clearly targets the National
> Tertiary Education Union (NTEU).  He calls for 'workplace reform', which
> of course code for the destruction of the union movement. He also blames
> the NTEU for 'rigidities' in the system. Why is the NTEU being
> targeted?  The answer is simple.  The union, which is brilliantly led at
> the state and federal levels, fights for the rights of its members. I am
> proud to be a member of it.
> Here at QUT during the very difficult round of Enterprise bargaining the
> NTEU team led by Howard Guille has successfully beaten back the
> management's argument that they cannot afford a decent pay rise.  Guille
> has shown clearly that the money is there.  The university authorities
> now admitted that this is so but that a fair wage for staff is not at the
> top of their priorities.
> Could it be that behind the resistance of the QUT management is the figure
> of Kemp? Certainly in his cabinet document he talks of wanting
> to 'hold firm' and he promises them an 'injection of funds' if they will
do so.
> Well I have news for the authorities at QUT and for David Kemp and his
> of free marketeers.  They will never destroy the NTEU. Indeed the more
> attack us the stronger we will grow for no one wants a world where there
> no protection from the likes of Kemp or the folk who run our universities.
> 4. My heart leaps up when I behold...
> My nights have once more been filled with watching sport. This time rugby.
> The world cup has revived my interest in the game. I was looking forward
> with some eagerness to the game between England and the Kiwis.  However as
> I watched I was dismayed by the sight of the English taking the fight to
> the mighty All Blacks. The sides were tied 16 all and I was beginning to
> fear that the Saxons might win.  Then magic happened.  The ball went out
> Jonah Lomu and the mighty Tongan surged forward.  He swept past two
> and carried two men over with him to glory.
> It brought back memories of his great days of 95 when he could not be
> stopped.  Alas a life threatening illness has meant that he is only a
> shadow of his former self. Still I will never forget the great moment in
> when he charged towards the English line and the full back made ready to
> tackle him. Jonah employed the famous Tongan side step - one boot on his
> opponent's chest and the other on his head. I must confess that for some
> reason the spectacle of a black man running over Englishmen make my heart
> leap with joy. To be sure now isn't it meself that is after wondering why
> that might be so?

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