No day is the same peoples, so let’s take the wheel

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Every day we act, albeit mostly unconsciously, to recreate the day before. With the same habits, commute, and routine always adding up to something new. No matter how hard we try though, our days are different. In a world striving for repetition, all we can achieve is change. Our realities are messy, complex and above all fragile.

I want you to think back over the last week – concentrate on each day. Were any two really the same? Sure there might have been similarities – shifts at the same time, fixed appointments, tasks and chores you needed to get done. Your life next week will be different compared with this week as it was to last week. It might not be any better but it’s still not the same. Even the process of following our routine produces change over time – whether it’s our choice of diet, an exercise routine or in my case simply the cumulative effects of bad posture. Think of how Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day takes up piano lessons and progresses rather amusingly from complete novice to an apparently first-time virtuoso. It is the semblance of sameness from which change itself can stem.

We take our cues from our highly fallible and selective memories to get us through our days. Our memories and instincts are like an evolutionary rough guide for survival – collapsing our sum total of experiences and differences into a shorthand set of instructions for what we need to do next. In such an environment change is a potential threat and our realities form from a set of falsely secure assumptions so we can get what we need done. It is here we conflate the inevitably (from a human time-scale point of view) of the physical and natural world with the inevitably of the human community we construct and reconstruct each day.

There is a gap between the complexity of our experiences and the memories of those experiences. But there is another gap; between the complexity of reality itself and our ability to experience it. We don’t see reality with our eyes but a simplified translation of it – complete with blind spots and short-term memory to string together a coherent visual experience. We are forever simplifying our experience of reality. There is a difference between what you see and the reality of what is around you. For example, when you order your coffee at the same time at the same place each day you don’t naturally perceive that our solar system has travelled nearly 20 million kilometres around our galaxy from one order to the next.

In order to survive and make do we simplify reality – where change is ignored or a threat. This makes change, even when we want it, appear a much more distant or improbable prospect than it really is. And for those of us who are actively seeking change in the world, it means the arrival of new tools, campaigns, strategies and organisations can be seen as a threat.

No system of control and uniformity lasts forever. There is only change.

Change is inevitable and yet it surprises us when it arrives.

Solidarity to the people of #Ferguson.

Solidarity to the people of #Gaza.

Solidarity to the people of #Scotland.

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Abbott and Hockey are killing people

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Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are killing people. Fellow humans and citizens are dying because of the decisions they are making and the deliberate policies they are pursuing. I cannot see into the future. I don’t know what the final death toll we will let them get away with is. I don’t know exactly whose children, whose brother, whose sister or whose parents will die because of their decisions. I only know that there will be a death toll and that each of us knows someone who will die.
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We Count! So #whatweneed is to talk about the #shitweneed

Where does hope spring from? A progressive form of hope comes from a belief that things can be different, in contrast to the conservative form of hope, which is a vague trust that the existing institutions of our society will fix our problems. As I wrote in my last post – Australia is experiencing the death of this conservative hope but we are still awaiting the birth of a new hope. What I would like to put forward after a few weeks of discussion with many people is a proposal to nurture the growth of a belief in change in the Australian people.
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Hope is dead. Long live Hope.

In Australia today, we lack hope. It is the missing ingredient for social change. There is no great love for our institutions of power or the ideas they espouse. The status quo reigns but only for want of a challenger. It reigns in weakness; battered, bruised and beaten. Most people no longer trust the concrete forms the status quo takes nor many of the ideas which inform it. Continue reading

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Community membership

communitylogoThis week the National Union of Workers (disclaimer: where I work) launched a new form of Union membership – a community membership. From a personal perspective, in this post I would like to outline what I think this means for the union movement in Australia and the prospect of building for progressive change.

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Calling a General Strike

Each day we wake up to the reality of the past feeding off the future. As each day is ushered into the present, corporate vultures repeatedly feast on the organs of the future. We rip off shreds of our national wealth and feed them to the vultures. Their hunger remains. We push more and more student and housing debt onto the next generation struggling to make its stand in the world. Still the vultures want more. We push the costs of ecological clean up to a future we imagine will never arrive. Still the vultures hunger. They will never be satisfied. The seemingly perpetual present of the Prometheus cannot continue. It is a cycle that dooms us to oblivion. Continue reading

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6 Reasons why Social Funding can effectively end political corruption

Shit is about to get real...ugly

Shit is about to get real…ugly for the political class.

While ICAC has temporarily suspended its inquiry into the soliciting and concealment of political payments, we have a chance to reflect on the systemic implications of what we we’ve found out. The roll call of resignations, suspensions and those broadly implicated in the last few weeks runs deep – former NSW resources Minister Chris Hartcher, former Federal Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos, Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey, former NSW Police Minister Mike Gallacher, Central Coast MPs Darren Webber and Chris Spence, and former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell. It feels like a George RR Martin novel where the body count is extensive, the web of intrigue intricate and there are thousands of pages of plot still to come where the axe will continue to swing. O’Farrell’s unexpected beheading certainly signals the unfolding of chaos for the political class in the capital and the rest of the seven kingdoms. Continue reading

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The Blog is Back

Need before Greed

The Blog of Claims is back people. I’ll resume posting on topics designed to get us to a world which is based on fulfilling the needs of the many as opposed to meeting the greed of the few. I’ve been on extended hiatus between getting married, going on honeymoon and getting in the swing of a new role at work. However, I’m now in a position to begin regular posting again so here’s the rules:

  1. The usual posting cycle will be once per fortnight – every second Sunday.
  2. Topics will generally be a mix of unionism with a hack effort at politics and economics thrown in.
  3. Individual posts will be between 700-1000 words (give or take 10 per cent).
  4. I’ll attempt to throw in a dash of humour where possible.
  5. All of the above may be broken where I judge necessary (for instance it would be pretty boring if I turned this post into 1000 words).

For for some extended reading here’s a dialogue I engaged in with ACTU economists Matt Cowgill on housing policy. Enjoy.

I’m also open to taking suggestions re updating my blog roll, so please let me know what you think I should add or delete.

 

 

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We’re no longer beholden to Detroit

To lament the death of the Australian car industry is to grieve for something which never existed. Australia has never been anything more than a branch office for the global players of Detroit and Tokyo. An industrial reflection, perhaps, of Australia’s subservient foreign policy. Our political class has never really had the courage or strength to take matters into their own hands. And so it continues with General Motors (GM) announcing the cessation of Australian manufacturing from 2017. The mainstream political debate is stuck between lamenting that this was an inevitable but natural result of market dynamics and that further public subsidies could have kept GM manufacturing in Australia. Continue reading

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Australia’s Kleenex workers – used for dirty jobs then thrown away

My union, the National Union of Workers, held a demonstration this morning at Southern Cross Station called the Fluro Fightback. Here’s the corresponding article in The Guardian about it, “Australia’s Kleenex workers – used for dirty jobs then thrown away”.

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