OK, I’m back. What did I miss?
we’re the same too
We got a leaflet promoting the local Greens candidate in the mailbox.
Much of the current election process has consisted of watching the ALP furiously agree with the Liberals on everything except a a very few carefully chosen issues with which they feel totally safe - everything else they have vigorously supported and so mostly successfully diffused as an issue, while getting as much of their socio-institutional base and apparatus to stay in line. (The lack of union complaint about federal legislation which would severely restrict the legal ability of unions to campaign on any issue, and in particular to call for any kind of boycott, is directly connected to ALP support and ALP pressure for unions not to make a public fuss.)
This leaflet included a quiet example of the Greens doing the same, on an issue on which they feel vulnerable: drugs. While highlighting their difference from the ALP and Liberals on almost everything, the only point which they attempt to make regarding drugs is that they are the same as the ALP and Liberals. Literally the only point, literally the same. Issue diffused. Courageous stuff.
Meanwhile, as I took a tram along Swanston Street I couldn’t help but notice a billboard-sized photo of Adam Bandt’s head smiling at me, promoting him as a candidate for the Greens.
Very soon we will have a victory, it seems, and many people will be irritatingly acting as if such a victory for the ALP is some kind of positive political development - which seems cretinous in relation to (a) what the ALP is saying they will do; (b) what the ALP will actually do; (c) what the ALP did the last time they were in office; (d) what the ALP has always done when in office; and more particularly (e) the forces at play determining the trajectory of policy and social relations more broadly. I’m sure Afghan’s will be pleased if it is an ALP government sending troops to help out, as the Bougainvilleans were when the ALP supplied PNG with the military capacity for starvation blockades and murderous violence, or the Iraqis when the ALP helped out with what is often called Gulf War I and then with the ’sanctions’ which killed over a million people in one of the more neglected near-genocidal mass-murders-as-policy of the very late twentieth century, or the East Timorese were…well, you get the point.
The Australian Government, Curtain University of Technology and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research have spent time and money trying to help with the expansion and consolidation of the few corporations and chains which seek to control agricultural distribution in the Philippines. On the one hand this is presented, predictably, as help with ‘development’, specifically with developing ‘linkages’ between small farmers and ‘market intermediaries’. But the nature of such ‘help’ becomes pretty stark in the Philippines, where the relationship between economy and violence isn’t hard to spot.
A great deal of the work done to help this section of capital in its struggles for control and profit and ‘market share’ involves companies such as Dizon Farms. For a 2005-2006 research project in this area, the Centre noted that:
Dizon Farms, as the largest vegetable consolidator in Manila, is interested in establishing better linkages with farmer groups. Issues that need addressing for the chain associated with Dizon Farms include: agronomic support at the farm level poor handling and packing procedures opportunism, inconsistent quantity and quality chemical residues and food safety.
The Centre never got around to discussing the role of the private security forces of the company, the collaboration with the army/security forces in repression and harassment of workers and local communities, the mutually supportive relations with politicians involved with death squads aimed at keeping the population compliant and working, etcetera - in particular involvement with the ‘counter-insurgency’ actions of the 28th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Monkayo.
Which gives a little context for the recent actions of the local company of the New People’s Army (NPA), outlined in their subsequent statement thus:
The people’s army disarmed the security forces of the despotic agribusiness giants, Compostela Plantation Inc. and Dizon Farms […]. Sixteen firearms, including two baby armalites, various ammunitions and military equipment were seized during the offensives done in broad daylight.
Red fighters from the 5th Pulang Bagani Company of the New People’s Army-Southern Mindanao disarmed the security forces of the two big companies in sitio Pilar, Barangay Babag, Monkayo in Compostela Valley Province. No one was hurt during the disarming operations. The twin disarming operations were a punitive action against the two despotic agribusiness companies for their active collaboration with the fascist 28th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines deployed in the province. Using their armed goons and security forces, these agribusiness giants had been harassing and threatening plantation communities, including the workers and its growers.