A new CCP useful idiot emerges

I popped over to Shits and Giggles today for the first time in many moons and when I arrived saw this fantastic example of why Labor will be out of power for three or four decades:

Driving in the dark in our conflict with China

There is a co-ordinated front from the defence and security establishments, the Coalition back-bench, US-financed think tanks and the Murdoch-dominated media in attacks on China

The Coalition is promoting a confrontation with China at a time of great global economic and geo-political crisis. That’s the whole point!

The current state of Australia-China relations has been met with growing incredulity and anxiety. Why would Australia, in the middle of its biggest depression since the 1930s, provoke a trade war with its biggest trade partner? Why is it doing so with a rhetoric based less on condemning abuses of human rights and suppression of democracy – one that has been variously dialled up and down since 1989 – but of a rising empire directly threatening our way of life?

Even though Australia currently has little idea of an economic future outside the trading relationship with China – one that has floated it recession-free from the mid-1990s to the present – the current government and the defence-intelligence establishment are hurtling to some kind of showdown. A heady mix of 1980s Cold War dénouement and 1939/41 emergency, there’s a heightened sense of national awakening – ‘we’ve let you walk over us for too long’ – and of impending and inevitable conflict. From the bottom of the old war chest, ‘whose side are you on’ has been dusted off, and, some tweaks here and there, it still fits.

Pearls and Irritations has been forthright in highlighting both the hypocrisy of this strident ‘evil empire’ rhetoric and the abandonment of a clear-eyed assessment of national interest this entails. The only viable global hegemon – geopolitical, economic, military, ideological – is the US, and its record as a warfare state, one perfectly happy to install and support dictatorships, needs little more comment here. It is led by a president whose trashing of democratic process, rational discourse, consistency of position and common decency is undisputed. Indeed, his global supporters revel in this casting aside of the liberal niceties, celebrating the chaos and outrage that puts ‘the elites’ on the defensive. It is to this president, and his appointed ultra-hawks, that the Coalition government does not just pay necessary lip-service but, rather, cringing homage.

How to explain such a useless act as the call for an independent inquiry into the origins of the Covid-19 virus, immediately squandering the political capital of a ‘good pandemic’? What possible benefit could it bring? There are many ways to register displeasure with Xi Jingping’s regime. Instead China is framed as an actively hostile power, bent on malign interference with our democratic institutions, our universities, our communications infrastructure, even our agriculture. This is a co-ordinated front from the defence and security establishments, the Coalition back-bench, US-financed think tanks and the Murdoch-dominated media. Coordination is not necessarily indicative of a plan. Militarily and strategically ‘containment’ via an assertive US hegemon is as far-sighted as it gets, along with some diplomatic overtures to countries that, however wary of China, are completely opposed to the confrontational rhetoric coming out of Canberra. Economically there is no plan whatsoever. You don’t have to read far into Sun Tzu to realise the serious dangers to which this exposes Australia.

The justification, whether from Malcolm Turnbull, Clive Hamilton or Peter Hartcher, is that we need to assert our values, even if it costs us, and refuse to be bullied. One problem is that the ‘bully’ is actually giving us pocket money and, despite the iron ore, is capable of walking away. But what values are we actually defending? Here lies one of the answers to the conundrum of the current night drive into a confrontation with China. With apologies to Pascal, ideology has its reasons which realism does not know.

Nobody doubts that we are at the centre of two intimately related geopolitical crises, US hegemony and neoliberal capitalism. Busting inflation using unemployment in the 1980s, then compensating for low wages and welfare cuts by the ballooning of private debt in the 1990s, ended with the 2008 crash. A plentiful supply of cheap consumer goods from China, along with its massive purchase of US Treasury bonds, allowed this system of ‘privatised Keynesianism’ to operate. This global macro-economic system has struggled since the 2008 crash. Larry Summer’s ‘secular stagnation’ has seen low growth, low productivity and capital’s failure to invest in the ‘real’ economy (bigger returns to be found in more financial products). This coupled with low wages, insecure employment and widening inequality. The intervention of the State in 2008-10 put an end to the neoliberal nostrum of the privileged ability of the market to adjudicate efficiency, just as the subsequent repayment of these unprecedented state loans by the population at large, rather than the banks responsible, added to the widespread political cynicism and anger.

The 2008-10 crisis served only to strengthen US financial hegemony, and yet while this helps its ability to print ‘fiat money’, there is little sense that the US has a vision of what a restored global economic system might look like. This before the pandemic hit. And while the US remains the dominant global military power by far, its ability to enforce its will has declined. The destabilising devastation wrought on large parts of the Islamic world, the network of global oubliettes for suspected terrorists, unprecedented levels of surveillance (including its own allies) with brutal suppression of whistleblowers – all this was in place before Trump started tearing up agreements (Iran, Pacific Trade, climate), withdrawing from long established (by the US!) international bodies, asserting America First and accelerating a geopolitical onslaught on China. These are all symptoms of a very powerful hegemon whose armature of hard power is showing through the soft shell of consent. This hegemonic faltering was not caused, but has certainly been exacerbated by, a challenger whose economic system, for all its flaws, is of comparable strength, and whose military-technological prowess, while not allowing it to replace the US, quite clearly sets a limit to its power to coerce it.

The problems of neoliberal macroeconomic theory are acknowledged even by The Economist, as are the huge challenges facing global economic ‘management’. No Sunday newspaper is now complete without another book on the crisis, if not death, of liberal democracy. It is generally recognised that the prestige of the US is at its lowest ebb since the 1970s, a caesura next to the ‘American century’. This without mentioning the global pandemic and the larger climate emergency whose visible plumes now waft across California and the Amazon, Siberia and the Mediterranean and soon again, no doubt, Australia. All of these call for a new global order or framework, ways of dealing with deep-seated and very frightening systemic challenges. The US Democrats are working on this. So it is even more frightening that our current government, which denies that any of these problems even exist, now proclaim that the major threat we face is a Chinese Communist menace.

The levels of fantasy and mendacity involved in this emerging cold war are plain for all to see, once out of the spotlight of a highly manipulated Australian media. The subservience is not just to American foreign policy interests currently articulated by ultra-hawks, but to a Republican party that is hell-bent on returning the US to the policy settings of the pre-New Deal ‘gilded age’ of plutonomy. A Coalition government that seems to have ‘no enemies to the right’, with no climate or viable renewables policy, no industry strategy outside of fossil fuel and mineral extraction, one whose response to the deepest recession since the 1930s is to cut taxes for the rich, deregulate labour and cut red (i.e. green) tape: these are the ones who now, on our behalf, stand up for our Australian values.

Contrasts with the last cold war abound. The contemporary ‘enemy’ has an economy as strong as the US, especially now it is being pushed into hi-tech autarchy. China is asserting its military strength, but this is around its immediate borders. Though there are multiplying zones of tension, nobody seriously thinks China is hellbent on some kind of Imperial Japan-style East Asian empire building. The only empire left is that of the US, with bases all around the Chinese border. Though by 1989 the direct association between the Left and Soviet Russia was long gone, an ideological-historical affinity persisted. You would be hard put to find any kind of ideological or organisational links between the contemporary Left and China. China is more interested in convincing Wall Street and Harvard Business School theorists of its efficient economic management model than it is of inspiring any leftist social movement.

This is a confected ideological re-enactment of 1989-91, even though the ‘enemy’ says it wants to work with us, and from whose enforced retreat into autarchy nobody is set to profit. This coupled with a 1950s anti-Communist witch-hunt, even though there aren’t any communists left – perhaps not even in China! Its basis in foreign policy realism is tenuous, and its implications for Australia’s economic future deeply concerning. It is being promoted for the worst possible reason, which is that the Coalition has no ideas for the future of Australia, its economy or its place in the world.

As with climate change, it wilfully ignores rational examination in favour of clinging to the current settings at all costs. The values for which it is standing up are nothing to do with Hong Kong democracy or ethic autonomy in Xinjiang; they are the values of the Coalition and its clientele networks seeking to continue to do as they like with the nation, equating their own enrichment with the prospects of the nation as a whole. As these economic foundations unravel, a war with China, cold or hot, stifling thought and dissent, pulling people back into line, will do very nicely. For in times of uncertainty and multiple global emergencies, what better idea than all piling into the ute for a night drive to war with China?

Justin O’Connor is professor of Cultural Economy at the University of South Australia, and is author, with Xin Gu, of the forthcoming Red Creative: Culture and Modernity in China (Intellect)

I rest my case. What kind of brainwashing apparatus was this kid tortured with at uni?

No doubt I will be branded a Murdoch lackey, neo-liberal hack, climate troglodyte, war-mongering, racist imminently.

David Llewellyn-Smith
Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith (see all)


  1. > Justin O’Connor is professor of Cultural Economy at the University of South Australia, and is author, with Xin Gu, of the forthcoming Red Creative: Culture and Modernity in China (Intellect)

    Says it all.

    “Modernity” = tech – in support of an 11th century socio-political system.

  2. “.. Australia currently has little idea of an economic future outside the trading relationship with China …”

    A-hahahahahahahahaha … (kill me now)

    I still haven’t met a twenty something that had any useful world views – perhaps because they all come out of Uni having been taught ‘what to think’ rather than ‘how to think’. That’s the entire education system top to bottom – riddled with ‘progressive’ thinking.

    • Tell me about it … I have a daughter studying liberal arts at one of the G8 universities.

      On the plus side, it certainly makes for a more energetic discussion each time she visits.

      • Diogenes the CynicMEMBER

        I studied Ancient and Early Modern History as a mature student. The older professors were fantastic, it was all about looking at sources and compiling a solid argument based on the surviving evidence. It was a lot more useful mental training than my previous business degree, most of which was revealed as complete bunk when the GFC occurred.

    • …but thinking is dangerous, can lead to unhappiness, displeasure with verified facts and worst, may lead a person to become critic and doubt the known science.

    • The PhD literally means Doctor of Philosophy. If more people did philosophy, where you are literally taught how to think, with heavy training in formal logic and finding flaws in arguments, we’d be much better off. IMO part of the reason the French put up with less bull from their leaders is because philosophy is compulsory at school (or at least that’s what I heard!). It is telling that Drew Pavlou was studying philosophy. Arguably useless for money making, but great for building a population that is capable of having reasoned debate.

      • +many 1000s
        (As an aside I’m not sure that too many governments are that keen on the idea of their citizens having this ability – it might render spin and sloganeering impotent during political campaigns).

        An Argentinian colleague of mine, many years ago, made the point that most South American governments were keen for their populations to be educated to the most basic level only. Keep them ‘dumb and dependent’ is the general philosophy, apparently.

      • French have attitude, thats sufficient. Studying philosophy is no promise of a better or worse outcome. Same century of French philosophy that produced Satre, also yielded Foucault.

      • That would explain why Martin North, a Filosopher from Oxford, can analyse the economy much better than many so called expert Economists.

  3. This intellectual powerhouse is wasted as a mere “professor”. Kick him upstairs to a “vice” chancellorship, where he can torture dissidents and police thought. Meanwhile, I’m still hiding greenbacks, not renminbi, under the bed.

  4. I’d estimate that about 35-45% of the adult Aussie population are mouth-breathing anti-American lunatics to some extent. And I don’t mean that in the sense that criticism of the US is anti-American. I mean it as lunacy has been accepted as conventional wisdom. And they live in a country that by their definition has done essentially the same things as the USA, including being a colonial power that virtually eradicated the native population. The cognitive dissonance is staggering, but I’ve come to simply expect it now.

    • “I’d estimate that about 35-45% of the adult Aussie population are mouth-breathing anti-American lunatics to some extent. And I don’t mean that in the sense that criticism of the US is anti-American.”

      Pretty much true, whilst slavishly following any US cultural trend without a second thought! There is also another 15% who believe the US can do no wrong.

      • Kodiak, Dennis. It may be 35% of social media voices you hear are pro-China.

        For a more accurate read, check the Lowy poll. It shows, even a majority of Greens supporters rank ANZUS and by proxy Five Eyes as important to Australian Security.


        Recent outbursts by Australian Government bureaucrats (eg Sec DFAT) show the seriousness of the challenge before us. Further, they do not trust politicians to do the job and will take carriage in the national interest.

        • Pew polls came out recently. 33% of the Australian public thinks positively about the US. The US in it’s entirety. Not Trump. That’s lunacy. And it doesn’t bode well for the future of this country.

        • I have no doubt that regardless of how Australians feel about the US at present (more Trump than anything) most if they had to make a choice would follow the US than China. Me, I’d rather we take our own road.

    • 》And I don’t mean that in the sense that criticism of the US is anti-American《
      You don’t?
      From reading prior comment made that statement has exactly zero expressed support.

      Anyway, when asserting cognitive dissonance of Aussies (who actually think), please compare the number of foreign countries Aus have actually invaded, lead to invasion, incited terrorism and breakup, dropped nukes, violently overthrew democratically elected governments and leaders….
      I can go more but why, this is plenty.

      • You are exactly the kind of mouth-breathing moron that I was talking about. It’s your default setting. Everything is a Seppo conspiracy. Lunatic.

        • You are right…
          It must be because I did not take any Browndo as I grew up and my electrolytes are permanently low to allow any brain activity….

    • that’s probably right kodiak … maybe a bit more when I think back to my original uni days in the mid ’70’s

      my better half (she’s from AL) gets a lot of positive responses from her ‘southernness’ but she also notes the pervasive Anti-US bias, especially on ABC & SBS

      I think it is the dissonance that you note that explains so much of what has fallen apart so badly in Oz …

  5. P&I has become a shadow of its former self. I regularly scan the daily missives, and more and more frequently just scan rather than read the content. Awful stuff. This piece is typical of the recent Sino apologia.

    • What fatally corrupts an otherwise worthwhile website is Christian “compassion”. Just now, Rizvi on P&I can accuse me of hating all “brown people”, because I argue against his mass-migration propaganda.

  6. Jesus this is funny.

    Enter the Dr Liz Allen of China. He deserves to be treasured as someone who identifies as an expert in something he is clearly totally unqualified on; apart from barking mad self interest that comes with ideological rabies that qualified him for a Woman’s Weekly discovery tour of far-Left organisations that issued titular titles like parking fines that he put on his CV.

    Here is Manchester born and Pommy educated Justin’s CV:


    His PhD was on:

    “French Intellectuals and the People: 1820- 1939” (Cracker Jack stuff!)

    But it was his master’s degree that really cut the mustard and set him up as a Sinophile:

    “Intellectuals and the Popular Front in France” (Merde hey!)

    But that didn’t stop our new Aussie “Dr China” cause he jumped a tramp academic steamer and became the new:

    “…Visiting Professor in the School of Media and Design, Shanghai Jiaotong University, where he jointly runs a Global Cultural Economy research hub.”


    And one wonders if that had ANYTHING to do with his political interests that are kind of on the table like a steaming barker’s egg with his editorial works in China, being on the Editorial Board of:

    “Research on Marxist Aesthetics (Shanghai Jiaotong University)”

    (NB: Marxist Aesthetics must have something to do with finger painting with poo in the gulags from 1917-1950)

    I dare anyone to read this person’s background and not burst out laughing at the post-modern language and convoluted prose that has more ideological twists and turns as an enemy of the people being given 40,000 volts in a Kremlin basement:

    “I was actively involved in the promotion of the ‘cultural industries and urban regeneration’ agenda in Manchester, leading up to the establishment of the Creative Industries Development Service (CIDS) of which I was first chair. I was also heavily involved in the development of the Northern Quarter and the 24 Hour City programme. In the wake of New Labour’s Creative Industries initiative…”

    Manchester? Why didn’t you say so before! Whenever I go to Manchester I eat Chinese.

    But click on the “more” and read the post-modernist babble…that goes on and on and on and on….


    Justin O’Connor takes the cake and Dr Liz Allen isn’t going to be happy about that come morning tea time. Will there be a tag team academic showdown between Manchester’s own son ‘Dr China’ and our own ‘Dr Demography’?

      • Thanks. This took me 10 minutes. The MSM routinely publishes “title, institution and claim” then anoints cranks as “experts” and does no due diligence on their qualifications nor assesses their independence. The vast majority of people on the extremes of any debate are cranks of this ilk. If you dissect their CVs their own hubris almost always shows that to be the case.

        The lack of critical journalism has allowed armies of self-professed experts to be cherry picked as useful idiots and elevated when many are in actuality the backyard abortionists of academia. I don’t mind that much that they exist (they always have), but I cannot abide the fact that their authority and qualifications are never questioned – as they question the integrity of others and have hissy fits. Overall, they are a product of the steep decline in the normative values of our tertiary institutions where people are allowed to pretend to be experts and be provided deference as long as the media is stupid enough to accept their credentials.

        • darklydrawlMEMBER

          “The lack of critical journalism”!!! <— This. Hell, I can recall when credible journalists used to call bullsh!t on pollies. Now many of them just churn out the press release without question. The loss of critical thinking in society is costing us dearly.

          • The irony is that much of the critical journalism is now done on the fringe by unpaid commentators.

            And the chilling bit is that there is increasing talk of silencing much of the fringe on the grounds of ‘misleading information’.

            I don’t think enough people are paying attention to this. Who are the arbiters of what is truth and what is fake? People scoff at Orwell’s dystopian view of the future but it’s actually playing out as he envisaged — and they still don’t recognise that it’s happening.

        • “A Woman’s Weekly discovery tour of far-Left organisations that issued titular titles like parking fines that he put on his CV”.

          Love your work, Clive. Don’t ever change.

    • adelaide_economistMEMBER

      Lol, University of South Australia. Also known as TAFE prior to the great expansion of the university system.

    • blacktwin997MEMBER

      Great work Clive, LOL at:
      ‘Justin O’Connor takes the cake and Dr Liz Allen isn’t going to be happy about that come morning tea time.’

      Also bonus points for use of the term ‘barker’s egg’ – one of my family’s favourite expressions.

    • Haywood JablomyMEMBER

      Faaark. A CV full of a whole bunch of nothing. Yet another shameless self promoter.

      No wonder I’ll never get anywhere in life.

    • Excellent work Clive. As a researcher on Liz Allen’s lack of qualifications relevant to anything at all I intended to perform the same service to the community with this clown, but you beat me to it.

    • Great work Clive,
      No one dares to research any more.
      But how does a poor CV disqualify assertions in article as quoted?

      • Many years studying the theory of art management (or whatever he studied…I don’t really understand his waffle) doesn’t qualify him in strategy and geopolitics.

        It’s like Liz Allen bloviating about Australian population policy when her PhD thesis was about fat kids watching too much TV.

        An appeal to irrelevant authority (ie their own) in other words.

        • What grates most about these fake, worthless twits is that get paid to do what they do. To deliver what value, exactly?

        • Cultural economics is not what yiu describe.

          》Many years studying the theory of art management (or whatever he studied…I don’t really understand his waffle) doesn’t qualify him in strategy and geopolitics《
          …and yet you took unargumented dismissal and hysteria response with weight in equal case of unqualification, when it came from a different source?
          The thing is, geostrategy and geopolitics can have experts and amateurs but it is the field that is affected the most with bias than any other area of expertise.
          Justin can be right or can be wrong, but the weight of that judgement does not come from his CV, unless appeal to authority is chosen path. It comes from arguments against what is said.

      • Good question Djenka. In fact an important one that deserves a considered answer.

        If a person writes as an individual there is no impediment whatsoever.

        However, if they write with an academic title associated with a public institution that carries academic authority, the institution (and all of us) should be concerned that their qualifications are relevant and disclosed i.e. what is the nature of their expert status?

        If you are going to write about China-Australian relations and pose that a biased and prejudicial narrative exists against China, it would be appropriate to disclose that you have a professional status at a Chinese institution. Similarly, should you dissect the politics you may seek to disclose that you edit a Marxist journal. You might even advertise your academic qualifications in French political history that you obtained in Manchester and tell us how this relates to deep understandings in cultural, political and social issues that affect Australians who have a few generations of first hand experience under their belts.

        I think the problem we have is partisanship, double standards and ideology mascaraing as analysis.

        Justin O’Connor is welcome to his opinion – but as the “Professor of Cultural Economy at the University of South Australia” he has an obligation to tell us why his opinion is worth the “expert” status he seeks to promote on his CV and how he manages the clear political and personal conflicts of (self) interest that drip from its pages.

        It is absolutely reasonable for Australians to have a stake in their own culture. From my experience in Manchester a person from Australia telling the British that they are an expert in their own cultural values and how they should be interpreted, may well require a dentist should it be known that they are employed in Brussels.

        And that’s not prejudicial, it comes from the same place as the Brexit intolerance with elites pretending to be experts in other people’s lives whist flashing a PhD certificate in basket weaving and benefiting hand over fist whilst pretending to be impartial.

        It’s called academic dishonesty.

        • Does it mean that if a non resident carpenter pomegranate from Manchester makes a 1000 word essay on insanely high immigration in Aus and how it ruins everyone’s lives other than the top 5% of income earners- this must be dismissed without arguments because of his CV?
          I would not think so…

          • Er, no…but should said Pom be Prof Population Pom who is a member of a eugenics movement and a member of the KKK one might quite reasonably question his/her authority, motivation and independence. And should Prof Population Pom be of such an ilk I would like to know so that I do not become linked by association. In short, how about we seek to use our universities for scholarship and allow “Think Tanks” to deal with propaganda?

  7. “It [The US] is led by a president whose trashing of democratic process, rational discourse, consistency of position and common decency is undisputed.”
    “All of these call for a new global order or framework, ways of dealing with deep-seated and very frightening systemic challenges. The US Democrats are working on this.”

    I dunno. Some will appreciate the ‘nuanced’ arguments in here. His argument feasts off the same barrow of trash carefully cultivated and pushed by MSM and Democrats since Trump became POTUS.

    Crying systemic racism. Burning cities. Disbanding police. Celebrating villains and bailing crims. Information super-agencies. Cancel culture is where it is at.

  8. 》There are many ways to register displeasure with Xi Jingping’s regime. Instead China is framed as an actively hostile power…《

    Interesting question, why demonise a whole nation when the displeasure is with a political system and political elite…

    • You do exactly the same thing on a regular basis. Do people ignore you in the street because half of your skull is missing?

    • As a person who has traded with people based in China (note the difference), I am flummoxed by this idea that ‘countries’ trade with one another. No they don’t – people trade with each other. I never once sought the permission of any bureaucrat in Australia and nor did the people I struck deals with seek the permission of Xi.

      The whole idea that ‘countries’ trade with each other makes my blood boil. The sheer quantity of pig ignorance associated with this subject is quite epic.

  9. I just went back and re-read this blokes description of his “work” for a second time, and I still have no idea what he actually does. WTF is “cultural economy”?

    I suspect he does nothing beyond use a lot of big words to sound impressive while saying nothing, like lot of “academics” in the arts and social sciences. Talking about talking and such.

    He deserves nothing but mockery and derision.

    • Don’t tell anyone, but if you one called yourself a ‘Marxist’ who critiqued capitalism (Marxism), you now call your area “Cultural Economy”. It’s like Woman’s Studies and Peace Studies etc in that it is a euphemism and Trojan horse. It’s like how “Demography” became a branch office of Big Australia and the Institute of Public Affairs is really the institute for rent seeking tools and neoliberal asbestos. It’s the same MO as the Confuse Us Institutes.

      We need to throw all of this out of our universities – ALL of it (along with the back crackers and marketing schools). Let them set up their own institutions.

    • In my formative years I was impressed by the term ‘academic’.

      Having added 30yrs, or so, since then I treat these people with suspicion in the first instance. Honestly, I struggle to believe that anything other than a small percentage of academics actually add genuine value to the lives of the common man.

      • Modern academia especially in the arts is a ponzi scheme. You have to research a little explored ‘new’ idea and have small number of relevant citations for your work and lit review because your idea is so specialised. When qualified, you somehow have to keep reproducing papers on similar angles to phd, while desperately coercing / recruiting students to study under you to stay relevant. Not my description.. this was Eric Weinstein on the Rubin Report. Fits with my understanding.

        • Sounds about right. I wouldn’t give sh*t but for the fact that taxpayer loot is being torched in support of this nonsense.