ALP is already disappointing, and Tony Abbott is still alive

Date published: 2018-09-21

Its a general trend, that each Australian Government, is more disappointing than the previous, even more so than our trail of betrayals of sad deposed prime ministers. I liked Binoy Kampmark's take on this, given that Australia's relations with various Pacific Ocean states, should now be written off on the basis of Australian government climate change policy alone, since this is sure to help terminate their existence. - ( Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific ) It will be quite easy for China to step in and make much better offers, even though China's growth in emissions, is also powered by Australian minerals. These inter-State dependencies are critical to our situation of the existence of global States, in bountiful trade being a formal cause, and belonging to industrial civilization being final cause of global climate change.

I don't see that a complete take over of Australia Government by China can be much worse than the idiocy we have now. So far, China isn't directly denying the carbon dioxide production by humans as material and formal human causes of climate change and threatening to pull out of the Paris 2015 climate accord. Few people can do this so well as Tony Abbott and still manage to keep their electoral seat pre-selection. It might have helped if the LNP had actually had an alternative pre-selection candidate to choose from. Liberal party members had to choose between Tony Abbott and no one, and a sizeable minority thought that no-one was the best choice. We shall now hope that electorate voters do the right thing.

Australian Governments are always losing the plot. Perhaps they never had it in the first place.

Hence a rumor floating around that Shortster (On "Mad as Hell" show, name for Bill Shorten) is expected to lead a disappointing 1 term government, to be soon ousted by Murdoch and the Mining Interests, after being allowed to mine the shop while the LNP recovers from its current disgraces. The ALP is already a disappointing opposition.

I think that Murdoch and the Australian mining interests already have their leverage and measure on Bill Shorten and the ALP, despite promising talents within the ALP.  We've seen this before. Nevertheless, even old Murdoch agrees that the government party needs to be changed and refreshed from time to time, and his media will be helping to tip the balance. That helps cement his own power. This makes an ALP win the most likely. Otherwise we do not really control this democracy. No one really does. But you knew that, didn't you?

The ALP does have some promising policies and talent.  It would be good to fix up the real estate game of mates and finally end all the housing investment tax benefit scams, in order to make owner-dwellings more affordable. It might even bring down rents. Other welfare and wealth equalization measures could make differences that matter. I do fear that even the best incremental changes will not keep up with more rapid global economic, political and climate events. Our institutions, systems and technology are hide-bound to a cheap fossil fuel past, and historical habits based on cultural assumptions whose relevance is rapidly receding back in time.  The current flat-footed government is incapable of making any change to status quo that doesn't benefit both themselves and their BFFs.

If the next government does what the Mining interests hire them to do, it will disappoint the Australian public. Rapid changes will augment decades long trend of spending cuts as  our economy declines from global oil decline, tighter corporate controls, and the increasing take by the wealthy class. A traditional ALP government won't last long in these permanently declining times.  As nature declines, our intent-on-growth economy will make life worse.

Governments try to clumsily extract more out of nature, but with diminishing marginal and more often negative net returns.  We continue to invest in useless privatization complexity and speed up the sacrifice of nature. This helps give more money to the hungry elite classes, and bullshit jobs on starvation wages to the poor. People gets in other peoples way, and everyone gets in Natures Way.  Witness the rapid rates of land clearing allowed by the NSW government, mostly on marginal lands, in a time of drought. What a futile and hostile waste of Nature!

When is any politician going to say what is realistic (in relation to nature and overshoot), and what isn't? Nature's condition is almost never referenced by politicians. Its decline is nearly always marked from the present, not from a long forgotten state of global physiologic balance.  Nature condition is reduced to bean accounting. Without a holistic sense of nature, we have no concept of reality. State governments are always planning for which piece of nature to take next, and forget that too much has gone already. A State politician dare not mention that every gain by the State is a loss to nature, and consumes the world where free Barbarians once roamed. The State is the antithesis of freedom.

The impossible problem of sustaining our human city-states

The "daily bread" of the Lord's prayer doesn't come from heaven, or directly from the State, it comes from a violent, systematic and energy-utilizing pushback of nature. Ultimately it is entirely in the nature of human States, operating with their nature abstractions, to destroy natures carrying capacity for themselves.  A reading of "Against the Grain" by James C Scott, makes it clear that every intervention to save the State, further destroys its natural supports. The very first grain-based states can be forgiven for their sins, but we cannot absolve ourselves in the full scope of our currently acquired wealth of available knowledge. Unfortunately, that is exactly the problem.  Our decision makers work with the most remote, feeble abstractions, mostly all about money, budgets and BFF favors, and not a full available knowledge of complexity and consequence, which has to be ignored. Living in a City-State is a trade-off.  The long term losses because of human city-domestication are considerable.

It was similar in the very first examples of states, where grain crops were ideal forms of countable, taxable, tradable, store-able currency.  Then and today, such large cities, based on trade, and high ecological footprint costs, aren't sustainable. In "Against the grain" the first States sacrificed sustainability for Grains in exchange for limited sustenance and money. The concentrations of animals and people incubated and transferred new kinds of disease vectors. To restore health and sanity, it was necessary to escape beyond city hinterlands to areas where a diversity of wildlife supported traditional self-sustaining skills. Those people that became stronger, more robust and better off outside the city limits have been labeled the "Barbarians". Until recently, it is the Barbarians who have had the best parts of the city-domestication deal. They could roam the wild world, enjoy the natural diversity, profit from trading the goods required by Cities, and still use the cities as looting stations when necessary. "Against the grain" sadly notes at the end,  the Barbarians killed this golden goose, by letting the States gain a permanent upper hand, by continuing to provide for the States military protection as mercenaries, until the states have flourished by over-coming their former growth restrictions.

As hired military muscle, the Barbarians have allowed states to further ruin the natural world. Since the discovery of the New World, gunpowder, fossil fuels, and industrial technology, states have gained the ability to mass murder at vast distances away from their political city centers, and vastly increase their resource intake and growth. As this is a finite world, nature has declined and unraveled by the same amounts of imposed ruin.

Living inside City States has always been a bad deal.  "Against the Grain" noted the poor health, jobs and nutrition of the inhabitants of the first States.  We still have that problem today.  Our large industrial city conglomerates have higher rates of nutrition and stress related disorders. The author didn't go out of his way to draw current comparisons, but the evidence and conjectures of our first evolutions of the State are well enough drawn out. They seem true enough, to say that our City lives in present form are strictly unsustainable, because our fossil-fueled food base is still sure to decline rapidly.

Our interactions with nature, the ecological diversity of our food systems, how fast we grow on junk food, have subtle effects on our health and mental abilities. Junk food rates of growth are known to be harmful.  See extract from "Human body size and the laws of scaling: Physiological, Performance, Growth, Longevity and Ecological Ramifications."

The earliest states didn't have our toxic air pollution as well. Micron sized particles "PM25", and nitrous oxides are ever present in city air.  Long exposure has been found to be associated with mental declines, including earlier onset dementia. As our politicians are forever working in the middle of cities, it can be strictly assumed that their average mental performance gets ever so much poorer.

Australian Governments always assume things improve from the current situation

ALP,  as government in waiting, are already craftily silent on what to do about Adani, Coal, Fracking, water and the monstrous growth of environmental overshoot by the likes of us. They won't stand in the way of what is "trade" and "progress". On the easier promises, they promise to be less crude by promoting more renewable energy,  but have the usual far off targets, of promises for carbon emission reduction. It is too easy to set far off targets. Somehow decreasing carbon emissions is squared off with more "growth and jobs".  Its going to be very hard for the ALP to create processes and momentum to begin them, such that they will survive a returning LNP government, and fall victim to foreign corporate mining interests, or survive critical scrutiny for sneaky fossil fuel loopholes.

When asked the ALP naturally blame the greens for their own failed mess of a decade ago. Too bad that Carbon Price is only a minor beginning to climate change mitigation, and by now carbon emissions ought to be rapidly falling by all means possible. It is easy to wish for Bipartisanship, but wealthy Australians apparently live on another planet, and allow the Murdochs and Miners full control of this one. Because one State administration becomes pretty much like another, as they fall into the monetary constraints and current spending and income patterns of a State, we won't really expect any significant difference to the previous LNP administration.

If the next government doesn't do what the Mining Interests want, likely they will be kicked out before full term, because they have already proved to be incapable of standing up for themselves or the interests of most Australians. It doesn't matter which Party gets into government in Australia, Minerals Council of Australia and foreign mining interests have so far always seemed to win.

It is up to government and nation to permit mutual education, that that nature simply can't continue to give away much more of her life, and actually redistribute our diminishing supplies of jobs, necessities more fairly, while sparing our non-renewable resources, and still promote a rapid expansion of renewable energy capture and energy storage budget. A government needs to have both reality and consent of the people to be consistent its actions. Nothing else will do. Australian governments so far fail badly to manage either.

There is no escape from realities like climate physics, and social class competition, and no escape from people who want to keep having much more than their fair share (eg Gina Rinehart, Corporations, Game of Mates profiteers). The biggest poppies will have to learn to live with less, governments will have to learn to stand up to them; as so many of common people are already forced to do. To the degree these tasks prove impossible, the overshoot population will be naturally culled by disasters and lack of basic needs, as now intended by those expecting to make off with most of the loot. Statistically speaking, in the short term, most people will fall into the first category, and in the paleontological view, the remainder and their descendants risk extinction soon after, as in the long run, major earth climate change is frequently evolution's great broom sweep of long established dominant species.

The "end cycle" is always the collapse of the central state

James Scott in "Against the Grain" emphasized the inherent fragility of states, as they always failed, sooner or later, to stand against the impositions, impacts of nature, which they were always trying to keep at bay, including the changes the city brought on itself. A State, like living organisms, is kept in improbable low entropy conditions, by maintaining flows of low entropy from elsewhere. If the low entropy flow stops for a moment too long, the organism dies. As energy gets released in a flow of low to higher entropy, the organism uses the energy to do work to maintain its own low entropy requirements, against the constant production of higher entropy states with the flow of time, caused by the never ending onslaught of the physics, chemistry and energies of nature.

An early city-state was always only one crop failure away from famine and population dispersal. It required constant flow of the accessible minerals of the times. Dirty water, improper sanitation rules, trade, animal disease hosts, could bring on an epidemic. Deforestation brought about faster siltation of rivers and irrigation channels. Continued irrigation brought about saline soils. A collapse in the ability of a city - state to feed itself, an epidemic, a war, always brings about the dispersal of its people. As some form of agricultural slavery was a standard practice, so were walls and policing to prevent escapes. 

In former times, the hunter and gatherer lifestyle, swiddening, horticulture, or roaming pastoralism, was available as fall back escape lifestyles. The city and the sedentary agriculture of planted grain compensated population losses, and worse health, with greater human breeding fertility rates. More mobile and physically active lifestyles away from the city, encouraged fewer, but healthier children on average.

Over time there has been ebbs and flows of people between agriculture-based city states and more mobile diverse lifestyles embedded in nature. The "Barbarians" lifestyle could always be resumed and relearned for the survivors of state catastrophe. The city state was often a central part of productive areas of more settled small towns and villages, and the fall of a city didn't mean the civilization collapsed. Small towns and villages can be self-sustaining. But its only the bigger cities, where administrative capabilities based on grain-money developed, where writing , accounting skills where development, lasting monuments where built, that have remains to tell their story.

The history of the most numerous smaller scale entities, with their bio-degradable homes and belongings, that have never left much for archeologists. The trading of large cities established trade empires of goods where the Barbarians became the traders, especially where water transport allowed for long distance grain and goods trading. Again, the activities, culture and remains of the Barbarians, outside the monumental remains and writings of states, have left much unknown. But the barbarians and the states have always been like mutual parasites, as the City State requires intensive trade, and hire-able man-power for itself, for protection, and far travelers to carry out their trades. J Scott makes it clear that the Barbarians had the best of the deals. Viable States in mutual trade relationship sooner or later each mutually destroy each others resources for the sake of trade. Multiply the combinations of resources and trading states, and get a world in a mutual orgy of resource depletion and nature destruction, now know as the world economy. The political constitution of the State doesn't matter, only its mere existence, and its dependence on trade of any kind.

Collapse cycle in Australia.

In Australia, there isn't much high density population carrying capacity, except on portions of the south and eastern coast. Elsewhere much scarcity and sparsity rule together. It can be easily conjectured, that as the "Barbarian" corporations start to fail to provide the necessary quantities of cheap oil / diesel fuels, already happening now, and mining capacity and costs in Australia rise considerably, already happening now, our currently over-dense coastal cities will become cess pools of decay and poor maintenance, already happening now.

Our health systems will become more unsubsidized, much like those of the USA, where failure to have a high income, health insurance, and having a disease requiring expensive therapy for treatment, will mean an early death. Such as the costs of insulin injection treatment for type I diabetes, which is itself a disease more easily developed by interactions of food and environment of industrial city-state living.  Governments will lose the ability to pay for police and taxation services.  Many government services are in fact in the process of being "privatized", which in de-facto practical terms, means the de-volution and decay of the capacities of the State. Before government becomes impossible the state loots all available means of income, until its supporting regions, towns and cities, themselves unable to carry the over-weening parasites overhead, but the state is to debilitated to police and enforce its own looting. This is manifested as the disparities in wealth between land and resource owning classes, the looters of the State, and those smaller entities that try to make a sustainable living off local natural resources, requiring reasonable rainfall, water access, and quality soil renewal practices.

It is far too bad that Australia's natural endowment of high quality, volcanic rock , or potassium and phosphate enriched soil is comparatively low. The distributions of water, rainfalls, seasonal changes, and good soils don't align well. Also our States have been more concerned with extraction of income earning minerals, particularly abundant coal, than protecting soils and water.  Not to worry , those mining elites will have packed up, and be long gone elsewhere with their convertible Barbarian currencies, by the time the current global economy finally collapses from its storm of woes induced in nature and resource depletions, as they have always done so. Their will do doubt be some hardier survivors that reskill for basic nature integration and alternative lifestyle specialists, that escape the final epidemics and famines, and I hope there is a fair proportion of original inhabitants blood and surviving culture among them. That will be the end of this cycle of State formation in Australia, having lasted not quite nearly 300 years. On historical average, that's been pretty good average innings for most forms of City State found in the remains and recordings of the past. The longer lasting are the exceptions, and often are many composite cyclic periods happening at the same providential sites, for geographic reasons. 

Since Australia is geographically a remote fossil fueled outpost, its global importance to central continental civilizations and city states is mostly because of its once untapped mineral resources, now fast depleting.  Australia's agricultural resources are mostly fossil fuel dependent, temporary and possible barely self-sufficient to survive the episodic droughts and now growing onset of permanent climate change. On this superficial inspection, Australia's future as a collection of conventional global sustainable city states is very poor. Maybe the early colonial explorers from their central City States weren't so wrong to take it up as a last resort, and even to populate with their city states unwanted starving wastrels and convicts as slaves.

But wait, there's all that solar and wind

Sure, there is a lot of renewable energy potential in Australia. The energy from this could be utilized to support a modest population, or even our carrying capacity overshoot levels, given enough capital investment. But the global elites of this world seem to feel that Australia isn't worth the effort, if the products of our lifestyles can't be shipped back to their hungry city states and cultural centres, and support their industrial metabolisms, they are not interested As an agricultural area, not that much heavy energy consumption needs to be supported in order to ship agricultural produce back to China, India or Phillipines. Australia's large per capita, coal consuming, car driving excessive city populations doing bullshit jobs are totally surplus to the longer term requirements of the global economy.  Providing healthy sportsmen, prior to the intensive city domestication ruining our average health, we made moderately good cricket teams and bigger steroidized rugby players, and a good healthy amount of scientific and other intellectual achievements.  That was a sign of still being in a healthier growth phase on cheap fossil fuel inputs. That was all in the past. Now Australian governments are penny-pinching bureaucrats running a country that is actually in advanced shut-down mode. The numbers of domestic sheeple that are falling into the poverty traps tells that story, as the remaining rich players compete with each other to buy and sell resources, and see who gets shares of money and payola favours for the biggest coal lease and mining rights.

Australia as a climate-change survivable nation is already written off in the minds of elites who are playing the bigger world monopoly war games, much as the rulers of States in olden times felt the need for raiding parties for slaves, or looted their neighbours grain just at harvest time. Its a dirty rotten game, and we are a dirty rotten human species. Australia has been quite happy to see Vietnam bombed and people herbicided, Iraq shocked and awed for oil, Libya steam-rolled, Yeman starved and bombed as we speak, supporters of Israel colonisation of the pre-existing Palestinian state, supporting drone warfare everywhere, NATO expansion in Europe across to Russian, recent Ukraine coup, in all the recent propaganda moves on Russia, China resisted in South China Sea, send our troops , planes, ships around the world to support the USA city states games and ploys, and spyware on everything. We are the result of the empire chasing of Europe, played a part in the mass killings of colonialism, racisms, two world wars, the UK and European forays into Asia, China and Africa, the war against Japan, Korea. Its never going to end until we can't make any more bullets or fly anymore planes. Thereafter, it will be just local killings, as Australian city states remainders get to fight it survival with each other, until no more humans exist, or a satisfactory low density of human being descendents have learned to co-exist with nature appropriate for the shifting wild climates and ecosystems.

Our renewable energy technologies, like the writings and recordings of former city states, are so far still acutely dependent on intensive fossil fueled mineral mining for production of all components, their maintenance and future replacements. China and mainland continental states probably think they need  the remaining resources for themselves, and wish to waste as little as their finite production capacity as possible on breeding more untrustworthy Barbarians like ourselves in such a remote, climate-change producing, and non-long term viable country. And we should know by now that the far-sited and blood-thirsty rules of absolute powers elsewhere think of Australia has having little long term importance. So our Australian government and our entire land, its natural wonders, rare species and non-renewable resources, are not really ours or for our future descendants, by any long term measure we may think to choose for ourselves. That thought can apply to the our entire race and planet, for long-term Kantian imperative has always applied to evolution and equality of relationships, but mostly in the negative. What we have done to others, will eventually be done to us.

Once we get down to  needing food and water survival necessities, and the local carrying capacity for people, the amount of renewable energy high technology available is irrelevant, unless it is absolutely needed for local subsistence, and it is indefinitely maintainable, with the necessary manufacture of high tech components, and highly specialized educations of those maintainers and work force, and the chains of machinery capital that build other machines. All these characteristics belong to the same high energy, dense population city-states, that require trade and the combinatorial destruction of nature, and vast amounts of permanent low entropy energy and mineral resource flows in order to persist. Our peak numbers of too many of these are still bringing about the climate change that will terminate all of our life supports, air , water, housing, transport, infrastructure, and soil, that are to be lost in climate change.  All those dependency sources of low entropy are disappearing exponentially fast, just like physics says they always do. It is now a matter of a relatively short human generation time, to see all the State systems of energy, materials, water and food dominoes fall down, one after another, in quick collapsing chains, and a devolution to smaller, less dense, human societies, some of which may persist in some sorry form, like the last Aborigines in Tasmania.

Michael Rynn
The Australian Labor Party is already a disappointing opposition. Show us what future ALP politicies will survive the next LNP government
Disappointing Australian Federal Government Opposition.
The Australian Labor Party is already a disappointing opposition. Show us what future ALP politicies will survive the next LNP government