Sunday 20 January 2019

Bits and Pieces: Australia-2019, Europe-1919.

I wasn’t aware that last year South Australia had a State-level Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission. It’s due to formally report no later than February 1.

The royal commissioner, Bret Walker, proposed to extend the inquiry to cover the recent Lower Darling mass fish kill. The SA Government (National-Liberal Coalition), through its Attorney General, Vickie Chapman, declined the offer.

It is expected the report will include “adverse assessments of many governmental decisions and processes”. After being urged by Walker to publish the report immediately after delivery, AG Chapman did not guarantee a publication date, causing concern among SA-based politicians. They fear the SA Government could delay the publication of the report until after the NSW State elections, scheduled for March. Gladys Berejiklian (National-Liberal Coalition) is the incumbent NSW Premier.

In another unusual development, the Royal Commission made public its correspondence with the Commonwealth Government, MDBA, and governments of South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria. The Royal Commission invited those bodies to appear at public hearings, but they refused. Here is where interested readers will find said correspondence.


Another document interested readers must see while they still can, is the ABC Four Corners’ July 24, 2017 “Pumped: Who’s benefitting from the billions spent on the Murray-Darling?”, by Linton Besser. It’s freely available from ABC News website and it shall expire on January 24.


The Australian Academy of Science will assemble an independent team of experts to report on the Murray-Darling mass fish death. Founded with royal patronage under the model of the Royal Society, AAS counts among its members over 500 of Australia’s leading scientists.

Acting on a request by federal opposition leader Bill Shorten, AAS’s report is due before the commencement of the next parliamentary session. Shorten had suggested PM Scott Morrison both parties support an independent inquiry. In the best National-Liberal Coalition tradition, Morrison declined Shorten’s offer, as they already had their own team ready to confirm that everything was what lawyers call an act of God.


2019 marks the centennial of the defeat of the German Revolution of 1919. Hundreds of German workers were killed in combat or murdered directly by the proto-Nazi Freikorps acting on orders of the government led by “social democrat” Friedrich Ebert. Among the murdered, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.

The failure of the European revolutions, and particularly the German one, left the Russian Bolsheviks isolated. From then on, Stalinism and “socialism in one country” became all but unavoidable.

The misfortune of the European workers’ movement did not end there, however. Weakened by the loss of organisational apparatus, with some of its most capable and influential leaders murdered and confronting a rising Nazi-Fascist movement, European socialists oscillated between slavishly following the Soviet Union or gradually drifting into reformism and then, into the Third Way.

Ross Wolfe’s account of the events is as worth reading for the content itself as for the historical photos it contains.

Ines Schwerdtner focuses on Rosa Luxemburg’s relevance to contemporary socialists.

When Marxists think of socialists, we tend to think of men. At best, we remember Luxemburg. Ingrid Sharp and Corinne Painter reminds us of other socialist women.

Lea Ypi’s appreciation of Luxemburg’s intellectual legacy is thought-provoking.

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