The following letter from Australian anti-war and Latin American solidarity activist Joan Coxsedge--who is also a former member of the Victoria state parliament--originally appeared in an Australian-Cuban solidarity group's newsletter.
“November 25, 2018
“Matthew Guy’s been done like a dinner so it’s over to Labor to deliver. There’s lots of other things to write about, none of them particularly Christmassy I’m afraid, but that’s the way things are. Once a time of celebration, now a time of reflection and wondering what the devil 2019 will throw at us.
“I’d rather not talk about Trump, but he’s still mindlessly bunging off tweets full of exclamation marks and slogans about ‘America First’ and crap that Iran is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism when It’s Saudi Arabia and Israel and his very own US of A. A man bereft of either integrity or justice, although even he might have gone a bit beyond the pale for defending Saudi Arabia in face of their horrific act of violence in dismembering a journalist while he’s still alive, even if it was a typical Tuesday afternoon for Saudi’s rulers. Amid media outrage, a less publicized story didn’t seem to cut it in the same way. About 85,000 Yemeni children under the age of five died of starvation between April 2015 and October 2018 as a direct result of Saudi’s blockade and relentless violence.
“Who really matters in our world? 9/11 saw 2,996 human beings die in a blaze of publicity. Horrible. But is it worse than the deaths of more than a million Iraqis in a war based on lies? A war engineered by government secret agencies and Washington insiders and sold to the public and rammed through without any public accountability. No-one was tried for war crimes. No-one was sacked. No changes were made to prevent such horrors ever happening again. You don’t need a conspiracy to understand the nexus between plutocratic thugs and elements of the government.
“Julian Assange’s eight-year ordeal is another case in point. Incarcerated under British house arrest by a servile UK government and then holed up in the Ecuadoran Embassy under the protection of former president Correa, despite the absence of any charges filed against him. The current president of Ecuador, the brutal, ultra-right, pro-torture, thoroughly evil Lenin Moreno who wants to privatize everything, including the Amazon, is rescinding Assange’s asylum so that he will be handed over to Washington where a secret indictment and a Grand Jury stands at the ready and where a large number of Democrats and Republicans reckon he should be executed.
“His crime? Telling the truth like Daniel Ellsberg, whose Pentagon Papers were published in the New York Times and the Washington Post and helped bring about the end of the Vietnam War and who was treated like a hero by the rest of the world.
“As an Australian, Julian Assange is not subject to US law. Tell that to the grovellers in Canberra. If he was an Israeli citizen?
“We live in a rich country, except the wealth isn’t shared. Ross Gittins used statistics to highlight the inequalities regarding our education system, with Gonski jettisoned to avoid a row with private schools. And when Catholics put the frighteners on, governments buckle.
“Australia is now in the shameful position of being equal fourth with the most socially stratified education system among the OECD’s 35 nations. Only Mexico, Hungary and Chile have a more class-segregated set-up. 95%of our most disadvantaged are in the state sector. It matters because it shows what happens when schools are funded on the basis of religion and powerful lobby groups rather than need.
“But some articles really pull you up in your tracks and one that got to me was by George Monbiot who describes a press conference held by climate activists last week called Extinction Rebellion. Asked by journalists if aims to reduce UK carbon emissions to zero by 2025 were unrealistic, a young woman stepped forward full of fury and grief. ‘What is it you are asking me as a 20-year old to face and to accept about my future and my life?…This is an emergency. We are facing extinction…what is it you want me to feel?’ No-one responded.
“Tinkering at the edges got us into this mess and will not get us out. Public figures talk and act as if environmental change will be linear and gradual, but the earth’s systems are highly complex and complex systems do not respond in linear ways. Only one of the many life support systems on which we depend - soils, aquifers, rainfall, ice, winds and currents, biological abundance and diversity - needs fail for everything else to slide.
“It was pointed out that 50bn tonnes of resources used per year is about the limit the Earth’s systems can tolerate, but our world is already consuming 70bn tonnes and is on target to use 180bn tonnes by 2050 making ‘green growth’ physically impossible.
“The problem is political. The oligarchic control of wealth, politics, media and public discourse explains the comprehensive institutional failure now pushing us towards disaster. Think of Trump and his cabinet of multi-millionaires; the Murdoch empire and its massive contribution to climate science denial; the oil and motor companies whose lobbying prevents a faster shift to new technologies.
“And it’s not just governments failing us. Public broadcasters have shut down environmental coverage while allowing opaquely funded lobbyists masquerading as think tanks, to shape the debate and deny what we face. Academics, fearful of upsetting their funders and colleagues, bite their lips.
“But growing numbers of people understand that continued economic growth is incompatible with our precious Earth. And we must not allow the Earth’s despoilers to tell us what we can and cannot do. It’s our world, not theirs. And we’re running out of time.
“But we still need a break. Enjoy the company of family and friends and as always, take extra care on our roads…