It is looking as though Australia is about to be hit with the same sort of austerity measures being imposed on countries like Greece and Spain. It is utterly bizarre given that the Australian bottom line demonstrates one of the healthiest economies in the world, measured in terms of debt to GDP ratio. Australia is the envy of the OECD. Yet just as thin anorexics look in a mirror and see only a need to diet more severely, so to do Tony Abbott see a need for severe austerity.
The real problem here is one of economic principles. The Global Financial Crisis left neoliberalism looking rather hollow. Instead of facing up to reality, neoliberals have decided that the solution to the problem was more of the same thing that engendered the crisis. So today, I thought I would recommend a couple of good books that make for a good intellectual antidote to this sort of nonsense thinking.
1. Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown
by Philip Mirowski
I thought this introduction to the book by the publisher summed up the issue with the Australian Liberal Party handling of the economy rather well:
At the onset of the Great Recession, as house prices sank and joblessness soared, many commentators concluded that the economic convictions behind the disaster would now be consigned to history. And yet, in the harsh light of a new day, we’ve awoken to a second nightmare more ghastly than the first: a political class still blaming government intervention, a global drive for austerity, stagflation, and an international sovereign debt crisis.
It is precisely the nightmare that is the Australian Commonwealth Budget about to be delivered by the Abbott government. It is a government stuck in the economic thinking of the 1980’s.
2. The Keynes Solution: The Path to Global Economic Prosperity by Paul Davidson
It is worth reading that in the era of neoliberalism how different the attitudes were after the Great Depression and the WWII including amongst the political right. Since then the right has jettisoned the Keynesian orthodoxy of the past, and adopted neoliberalism. It has been assumed that Keynes is dead and buried but there is an encouraging resurgence of interest in his thinking after the Great Recession. Of course, there is a resurgence of interest in Marxist economic analysis too, and his insights too deserve to be re-read in a fresh light (without the usual vulgar Marxist readings that lead Marx to proclaim that he was not a Marxist).
3. Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty (Translated by Arthur Goldhammer)
I have left the best to last. This book has reached the bestseller list and has caught on like wildfire. It is a tremendous critique of contemporary capitalism.
An interview with the author introducing his book:
The Guardian also published an excellent review of the book that is well worth reading.
However, it is all a little too late for the Abbott government, which is taking a Tea Party style extreme neoliberalist ideological line. When in opposition, I thought it might just be theatre and grandstanding, and that once in a position of responsibility, I hoped that a certain economic pragmatism would set in, but that has proven to be far from the case. This lot are so deluded that they really do believe in their own rhetoric.
Happy reading (and I don’t mean the budget).
The following excerpts are taken from Karlheinz Deschner’s book, God and the Fascists. Although written forty years ago, it has only just appeared in English translation for the very first time. It is clearly a book that has been suppressed by the church in the same way that news about paedophile priests has been suppressed. It is a book that reveals the naked truth about the Catholic Church to which Tony Abbott belongs and which blesses him in the same way it blessed Croatian ultra-Catholic fascist leader, Ante Pavelić, whose brutality was so immense that even the Nazis protested, utterly appalled by their gross excesses—whereas Pope Pius XII uttered not a word of protest, and instead blessed Pavelić.
Keep in mind the reason for the name “Nazi”. It was a contraction of the name, “Ignatius”, just as Rick is a contraction of Richard. Someone by the name of “Ignatius” was called “Nazi”. The reason why the National Socialists were nicknamed “Nazi” was only partly because of its German name of “Nationalsozialismus”. The other principle reason for the nickname “Nazi” was that Ignatius was a stereotypically Catholic name because the party originated in the south, in Catholic Bavaria, as a Catholic political party—a bit like the Liberals at the moment:
Of course, Tony Abbott is a graduate of St. Ignatius School in Sydney: St “Nazi”. Or to quote from the editor’s introduction of Deschner’s God and the Fascists:
In his resume at the end of the book, Karlheinz Deschner says, in 1965, “If one considers the attitude of Eugenio Pacelli to the politics of Mussolini, Franco, Hitler, and Pavelic, it hardly seems an exaggeration to say: Pius XII is probably more incriminated than any other pope has been for centuries. He is so obviously involved in the most hideous atrocities of the Fascist era, and therefore of history itself, both directly and indirectly, that it would not be surprising, given the tactics of the Roman Church, if he were to be canonized.” And now the beatification is already under way, less than fifty years later! If Hitler had won the war, one may wish to add, then he would presumably have long since attained the same Catholic honors.
Excerpts from God and the Fascists by Karlheinz Deschner:
A PAPAL BLESSING FOR CRIMINALS
After the German troops had invaded Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941, and occupied this country too, they cooperated with Croatia’s Fascist-Catholic movement, the Ustaše Party (“Ustaše” — “rebel”). Their intellectual progenitor Ante Starčević was of the view that there should not be any Serbs at all, that everything called “Serbian” must disappear, which was why, as Starčević wrote, “the Serbs [are] work for the slaughterhouse.”
The Ustaše now proceeded against the Serbs according to this principle, led by Dr. Ante Pavelić, a former lawyer from Agram. Pavelić certainly viewed himself as a scholar of Starčević, who was glorified in the so-called Independent State of Croatia as “the greatest Croatian political ideologue,” as “the creator of the ideological basis,” and as an “example for Ustaše fighters.”
On April 10, 1941, when Pavelić was still absent, an “Independent State of Croatia” was proclaimed, which also included Bosnia, Herzegovina, part of Dalmatia, and some purely Serbian borderlands. Of the roughly six million inhabitants of this state, only about three million were Catholic Croatians, two million were Orthodox (Serbs or Bosnians), and more than half a million were Bosnian Muslims. The rest were ethnic Germans, Magyars, Jews, Slovenians, Czechs, and others
The proclamation begins and ends with the name of God: “God’s providence, the will of our great ally, the centuries-old struggle of the Croatian people and the great willingness to sacrifice for our leader Ante Pavelić and the Ustaše movement both at home and abroad have ordained that today, before the resurrection of the Son of God, our independent state of Croatia will be resurrected.” And at the end of the proclamation, it says again: “God be with the Croats! Ready for the Fatherland!” —In the night of April 13, Pavelić crossed the Italian-Yugoslavian border; on April 17, he appointed his first cabinet. Then southern Serbia was given to the Bulgarians, a part of the northern province was occupied by the Hungarians, and in May, Pavelić traveled to Rome with his ministers and some clergy, including Archbishop Stepinac’s vicar general, Bishop Salis-Sewis, and ceded more than half of Dalmatia to Italy, to which he also made further major concessions. The so-called crown of Zvonimir (the last independent Croatian king from the eleventh century) was offered to King and Emperor Victor Emanuel III for Duke Aimone of Spoleto, who had already appeared at the Vatican as the designated king of Croatia on May 17, but who, for reasons of caution, never entered his kingdom.
The day after, Pavelić—sentenced to death in absentia because of the double murder of Marseilles twice, by France and Yugoslavia—in addition to his sizeable entourage (Pavelić, “surrounded by his bandits,” as the Italian foreign minister Count Ciano had already written in his diary some weeks previously) was also received and blessed in a particularly solemn private audience by Pius XII. Croatia’s Catholic press were very moved by the attention and warmth of the pope, who finally dismissed Pavelić and his retinue amicably with best wishes for their “further work.”
Countless Serbian clergy suffered horrific torture. In Zagreb, where Archbishop Stepinac and the Apostolic nuncio Marcone resided, the Orthodox metropolitan Dositej was beaten and tortured to such a bestial extent that it made him insane.
Three princes of the Orthodox Church, Bishop Platon of Banja Luka, the metropolitan of Sarajevo, Peter Zimonjić, and the bishop of Sava as well as several hundred Orthodox clergy were murdered.’ Bishop Platon and his companion, the priest Dusan Subotic, had their eyes gouged out while a fire burned on their chests, and their noses and ears were cut off before they were finally given the death blow. The Catholic clergy demanded that the Orthodox convert everywhere. “When you have come over to the Catholic Church,” Bishop Aksamovic of Đakovo promised, for instance, “you will be left in peace in your homes.” Many became Catholic in this way but even more were massacred.
Just a few pieces of evidence.
One night at the end of April 1941, Ustaše surrounded the Serbian villages of Gudovec, Tuko, Brestovac, and Dolac in the district of Bjelovar. Then they had the Orthodox priest Božin, the teacher, Ivanković, and 250 peasants, men and women, dig a grave, tied their hands behind their backs, and buried them alive.
In Otočac, 331 Serbs were liquidated and the Orthodox priest, Branko Dobrosavljević, was forced to pray in front of the tortured and dying while his little son lay literally cut into pieces before his eyes. Then the priest’s hair and beard were torn off, his eyes were gouged out, and he was tortured until he died.
The same crime happened in Svinjica, in the province of Banija.
In Kosinj, where the Ustaše had gathered six hundred Serbs, a mother had to catch the blood of her four sons in a bowl.
In Mliniste, in the district of Glamoč, a former member of parliament, Luka Avramovic, and his son were crucified.
When Pavelić held an audience with the Catholic episcopate on June 26, 1941, and Archbishop Stepinac said, “we attest our deference with all our heart and promise devoted and loyal cooperation for the brightest future of our fatherland,” three Orthodox bishops, more than one hundred Orthodox priests and members of the Order, and 180,000 Serbs and Jews had been murdered in Catholic Croatia within six weeks.
In the following month, July 1941, the Ustaše killed more than 100,000 Serbian women and children in just a few days in houses, schools, prisons, and Orthodox churches, on streets and in fields. The church at Glina, for example, was converted into a slaughterhouse according to a report from the Ustaše involved, Hilmia Berberović. “The bloodbath lasted from 10 in the evening until 4 in the morning and went on that way for eight days. The killers’ uniforms had to be changed because they were drenched with blood. Later, impaled children with limbs still bent in pain were found. Two thousand Serbian men, women, and children were killed in the butchery that had been ordered by the justice minister Dr. Mirko Puk, who came from Glina, and the prior of the Franciscan monasteries of Cuntic, Hermenegildo alias Castimir Hermann.
The death lists are nearly endless. Every small subordinate commander went on a manhunt and quickly reported his successes to the authorities in order to be decorated by them. The Ustaše commandant of Vojnić called Zagreb, saying: “Hunt plentiful today. 500 in total.”
This included atrocities that nearly make the deeds committed by Hitler’s concentration camp minions pale into insignificance. The Ustaše pushed red-hot nails under fingernails and rubbed salt into open wounds. They mutilated all possible body parts. One penchant was to cut their victims’ noses and ears off and gouge their eyes out. The Italians photographed an Ustaše who wore two chains of human tongues and eyes around his neck.
The Italian author Curzio Malaparte interviewed Pavelić in Zagreb.
“While he spoke,” Malaparte wrote, “I looked at a wicker basket that was on his desk to the right of the Poglavnik. The basket was opened and a lot of sea creatures or something similar appeared.
‘Oysters from Dalmatia?’ I asked. Ante Pavelić lifted the lid and showed me what looked like a mass of sticky, gelatinous oysters. He said with a tired, friendly smile: “A gift from my loyal Ustaše. Forty pounds of human eyes!” This was the man Pius XII had blessed.
EVEN THE GERMANS PROTESTED
At the Führer’s headquarters, the special envoy of the foreign office for the southeast of Europe, Hermann Neubacher—who was therefore Pavelić’s “State Enemy no. 1″—repeatedly reported of “truly horrific events in my Croatian neighborhood,” to which Hitler replied: “I have also told the Poglavnik that such a minority cannot simply be wiped out: it is too big!” And on another occasion, Hitler said: “I will finish with this regime one day—but not now!” –”Now” he had a blatantly cynical “understanding” for the butchery and spoke out against “staying the hand of the Croatians’ actions against the Serbs.”‘
And why not? Especially when even the pope kept silent!
But the German envoy in Zagreb interceded with both oral and written communications to the Ustaše government.'” And the German general Glaise von Horstenau also told Pavelić of “his serious doubts about the Ustaše’s excesses . . . and he substantiated his communications with numerous concrete examples from most recent times.”
Several monks assumed executioners’ posts in a concentration camp. The Franciscan Zvonko Brekalo was an officer at the death camp of Jasenovac, notorious because of his mass beheadings. About 120,000 Serbs died there. In the fall of 1942, the Franciscan Miroslav Filipović-Majstorovic, called “Brother Devil,” actually ran this camp, supported by a series of clergy—Brkljačić, Matković, Matijevic, Brekalo, Celina, Lipovac and others. Forty thousand people were liquidated in four months under the command of the Franciscan father. The Franciscan scholar Brzica alone beheaded 1,360 people with a special knife in one night, on August 29, 1942.
Edmond Paris, who lists a “horrific litany” of Franciscan crimes, affirms that this list could be “extended infinitely.”
After the collapse of the Catholic regiment, it was, tellingly, foreign Franciscan monasteries that became refuges for the mass murderers, Klagenfhrt in Austria, Modena in Italy, and also monasteries in France. “All these monasteries hid the escaped Ustaše. These criminals received Church help and support everywhere. This was only too understandable since the deeds of the Ustaše were deeds of the Church.”
Pavelić and Artuković found sanctuary in the monastery of St. Gilgen near Salzburg, “laden with stolen gold.” They were then arrested by British troops but soon released again as a consequence of a “mysterious intervention.” Artuković went to Switzerland in November 1946, then later to Ireland, and finally to the United States, where he now lives in Los Angeles [he was finally extradited to Yugoslavia and sentenced to death but died in 1988 of ill health after winning a stay of execution on these grounds].
Pavelić, who did not feel safe in Austria because of the Yugoslavian government’s efforts to extradite him, went to Rome disguised as a priest where he lived in a monastery as Father Gomez and Father Benarez. At the end of 1948 he went to Buenos Aires as Pablo Aranyoz, still in possession of 250 kg of gold and 1,100 carats of precious stones—and he was accompanied by the former liaison between Archbishop Stepinac and the Vatican, the priest Krunoslav Draganović, with whom he had been provided by the Commissione d’assistanza pontifical.
Pavelić had to go underground after the overthrow of Peron in 1955. On April 10, 1957, he escaped an assassination attempt with a revolver and later the Argentinian police as well. He somehow managed to reach Franco’s Spain and, undisturbed by judiciary, found refuge in a Franciscan monastery in Madrid. The criminal died in the German hospital in the Spanish capital on December 26, 1959, and, on his death bed, received yet another blessing from the Holy Father. (There is still [in 1965], incidentally, a strict Ustaše organization in Spain, led first by Archbishop Šarić and now by Vjekoslav Luburić, the former commandant of all Croatian concentration camps.) Hitler’s photographer, writes Edmond Paris at the end of his documentation, was sentenced to ten years merely for committing the crime of photographing the Führer. By contrast, thousands of serious Ustaše criminals went unpunished, despite countless protests and memoranda, just because they were under the protection of the Catholic Church.
I have heard that the Radio National is going to broadcast a report about the 1940s version of the “turn back the boats” rhetoric:
Only the boats they turned back were full of Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust. It is something that I have been writing about for a while reminding readers that the UN convention on refugees that Australia shows such disdain for today was set up in the wake of the refugee crisis engendered by the Holocaust. One simply wonders whether the radical right in Australia today are not only climate change deniers but Holocaust deniers too. Even the term “conservative revolution” is exactly the rhetoric used by Spanish, Italian and German fascists. Spanish fascists fighting the republicans certainly spoke of their war as a “revolution”.
In any case, if they talk about what I think they are going to talk about, Tony Abbott isn’t going to like it one bit. It will add to his case for shutting down the ABC. He might like to replace it with a party mouthpiece called “The Populist Observer”. If you are wondering why, it is because over the years there has been a huge controversy on how to translate the German term Völkisch (pronounced “furlkish”, the adjective from “Volk”, pronounced “folk”, meaning “the people”) into English and many historians have tended to leave it in German untranslated e.g. in the name of the National Socialist Party mouthpiece “Die Völkische Beobachter”. Today, it seems the best translation for “Völkisch” is “populist”, replacing the German word “Volk” meaning “people” with the Latin word “populi” also meaning “the people”, so that newspaper name “Die Völkische Beobachter” should be translated as “The Populist Observer”. The story of the sociopolitical origins and character of the “völkische Bewegung” (populist movement) in Pan-Germanist ultra-nationalism and National Socialism is a whole, highly involved blog post (or even a whole book) in its own right. But, for now, suffice to say that the Australian far right (including the current Liberal government) today are perfectly rightly described as being “populist” or Völkisch.