Link Roundup: September 16

Good morning (/afternoon, time got away from me) and welcome to this week’s link roundup.

Before we get into the links for this week - if you haven’t already heard, next month Flood is hosting our very first live event! With our friends from Living the Dream, we’re going to the pub for a discussion and Q&A with Elizabeth Humphrys about her new book, How Labour Made Neoliberalism. Thursday October 17, 6:30 PM, at the Morrison Hotel in Woolloongabba. Further details are here (or if you don’t have Facebook, here). If you’re in Brisbane, we’d love to see you there.

This long (looooong) (loooooooooong) piece in Rolling Stone, by Matt Taibbi, is basically the Thing to Read if you’ve been meaning to comprehensively catch yourself up on the 2020 Democratic primary race. It is organised roughly by candidate, so it’s also a useful resource if you, for some reason, wish to further inform yourself about any of the ghouls who have thrown their hats into the ring. Taibbi makes so many sick burns on all of them, but I loved this bit on Biden, and I challenge you not to read the Trump parts in your internal Trump-voice:

In a mid-June appearance in Iowa, Biden tipped off reporters that he’d be making remarks about Trump. Dressed in dark-wash dad jeans and blue shirt, he became the 10,000th Democrat this year to call the president an “existential threat.”

Trump wasted little time laying into Biden. “Joe’s a loser,” he quipped, adding Biden was a “dummy” who was “even slower than he used to be.” Saying he’d rather run against Biden than anybody, Trump said, “I think he’s the weakest mentally. . . . I like running against people that are weak mentally.” He then ripped Biden for keeping a light schedule, saying, “Once every two weeks . . . he mentions my name 74 times in one speech. . . . That reminds me of crooked Hillary. She did the same thing.”

Like many of you, I’ve been following (with great sadness and anger) the case of Priya, Nades, and their two young daughters, an Eelam Tamil family facing deportation from their home of Biloela. This piece in Overland, by Ben Hillier, is a good top-to-bottom explanation of what has happened, what the political situation in Sri Lanka is like at the moment, and why the family is at risk of persecution if they are in fact deported.

Here’s a long(ish) feature by the Guardian on the reality of living on welfare in Australia, an experience which is variably “absurd, frustrating, and insulting”. It sometimes feels depressing linking to these pieces, because there’s nothing really new to say about Centrelink - it’s a severely cruel and dangerous institution which should be immediately put down. This piece is useful in bringing the violence and absurdity to life, though, and I recommend sending it to your racist aunt who thinks drug-testing welfare recipients is a great idea. Relatedly, Friend of Flood and erstwhile Floodcast guest Jeremy Poxon - along with other members of the Australian Unemployed Workers Union - recently went to Canberra on a lobbying trip to demand a raise to Newstart and an end to the cashless welfare card. You can listen to an interview with them here, and follow Jeremy’s updates here.

Thanks to reader Tim for sending in this essay on the history of neoliberalism in Europe, which posits earlier beginnings (around the end of WWI) than historians usually report, and traces its evolution over the past hundred years. There’s a good bit in there about how neoliberalism intersected with racism and colonialism, but to me, the most important argument comes at the end:

The Geneva School knew just what it wanted from international laws and institutions, above all in Europe. The same cannot be said for swathes of the left, for whom the idea of Europe remains shrouded in a benevolent mist. The image of the EU held by those who still hope to reverse the Brexit vote is rarely darkened by its actions, from the devastation of Greece under Troika-imposed austerity, to the stagnation of Italy, whose modest fiscal stimulus runs foul of Europe’s draconian deficit and debt rules, to the way it treats those who cross its southern and eastern borders ... The antidote to neoliberalism on this scale is not technocracy with a human face, but, as a first step, what it has always feared most: state power, in the hands of ordinary people. Whether Tory-led Brexit will eventually lead to that is another question.

SPEAKING OF BREXIT, we have just recently recorded a new Floodcast, which should be piped hot and fresh into your ear canals later this week. (I’m pleased to report that full audio quality has been restored on this episode.) We check in with our comrades around the Western world, charting the fortunes of Daddy Bernie in the US and Corbyn in the UK. We then complete a seven-minute Brexit questionnaire, and finish off by discovering the sexual fantasies of various political party supporters in Australia and the UK. (Yes, erotic asphyxiation by Aldi bag DOES make an appearance, how did you know?)

Finally, if you’re on the lookout for some positive news, this little nugget brought a smile to my face and joy to my heart. Godspeed, light-fingered comrades, godspeed.

Until next week!