Open Borders Manifesto

I have added my name to this Manifesto for Open Borders because in principle I believe in freedom of movement and that the workers of the world have no country. Also, I think the various groups in Australia who oppose the policies of the Labor and Coalition parties need to think beyond the paradigm that divides people into genuine and non-genuine, and political and economic, asylum seekers. It doesn’t matter. Just let them in and share the chaos. It’s time for ‘open borders’ to be part of the public discussion and debate on immigration.


On Open Borders Day 2015, the 16th day of March, we marked the third anniversary of Open Borders: The Case. We also published the Open Borders Manifesto, a brief document summarising the objectives of the open borders movement.

The list of signatories is in alphabetical order, based on surname, and is current as of March 16, 2015. If you would like to add yourself to the signatory list, please contact us (preferably via email: and provide your name, with professional or academic affiliations if applicable.

Open Borders Manifesto

Freedom of movement is a basic liberty that governments should respect and protect unless justified by extenuating circumstances. This extends to movement across international boundaries.
International law and many domestic laws already recognise the right of any individual to leave his or her country. This right may only be circumscribed in extreme circumstances, where threats to public safety or order are imminent.

We believe international and domestic law should similarly extend such protections to individuals seeking to enter another country. Although there may be times when governments should treat foreign nationals differently from domestic citizens, freedom of movement and residence are fundamental rights that should only be circumscribed when the situation absolutely warrants.

The border enforcement status quo is both morally unconscionable and economically destructive. Border controls predominantly restrict the movement of people who bear no ill intentions. Most of the people legally barred from moving across international borders today are fleeing persecution or poverty, desire a better job or home, or simply want to see the city lights.

The border status quo bars ordinary people from pursuing the life and opportunity they desire, not because they lack merit or because they pose a danger to others. Billions of people are legally barred from realising their full potential and ambitions purely on the basis of an accident of birth: where they were born. This is both a drain on the economic and innovative potential of human societies across the world, and indefensible in any order that recognises the moral worth and dignity of every human being.

We seek legal and policy reforms that will reduce and eventually remove these bars to movement for billions of ordinary people around the world. The economic toll of the modern restrictive border regime is vast, the human toll incalculable. To end this, we do not need a philosopher’s utopia or a world government. As citizens and human beings, we only demand accountability from our own governments for the senseless immigration laws that they enact in our name. Border controls should be minimised to only the extent required to protect public health and security. International borders should be open for all to cross, in both directions.

Signatories, listed in alphabetical order by surname:

Thorvald Aagaard, Associate Professor, Director of Theater, Pacific Union College
Brian C. Albrecht, PhD candidate, Economics, University of Minnesota
Pedro H. Albuquerque, Associate Professor, KEDGE Business School
Jesús Alfaro, Professor of Law, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Shanu Athiparambath
Ben Bachrach
Dave Barnes
Simon Bedford
David Bennion, Attorney
Daniel Bier
Niklas Blanchard, PhD candidate, Human Capital Management, Bellevue University
Luke Blanshard
Joseph Bonneau, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Computer Science, Stanford University
Donald J. Boudreaux, Professor of Economics, George Mason University
Sam Bowman, Deputy Director, Adam Smith Institute
Geoffrey Brand
Jason Brennan, Assistant Professor, Philosophy, Georgetown University
Beno Brito, Projects Director, Instituto Liberal do Centro-Oeste
Steve Buller
Jason Lee Byas, Fellow, Center for a Stateless Society
Bryan Caplan, Professor of Economics, George Mason University
Leonel Caraciki
Ryan Carey
Simon Cartledge
Richard Yetter Chappell, Lecturer in Philosophy, University of York
Grieve Chelwa, PhD candidate, Economics, University of Cape Town
Lars Christensen
Andrew Jason Cohen, Associate Professor, Philosophy, Georgia State University
Phillip Cole, Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of West of England
Paul Crider
Christopher Dobrogosz
Bryan Joseph Dodson
Eli Dourado
Charles DuHadway
Robert Eckerson, Attorney
Margaret A. Elberson
Ross B. Emmett, Professor of Political Economy and Political Theory & Constitutional Democracy, James Madison College, Michigan State University
Mustafa Erdogan, Professor of Political and Constitutional Theory, Istanbul Commerce University
Daniel Fernández Méndez, Professor, Economics, Universidad Francisco Marroquín
Luis Figueroa, Professor of Ethics of Freedom, Universidad Francisco Marroquín
Bryan T. Fine
Nicholas Fletcher
Scott Freeman
Joshua Gans, Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship, University of Toronto
Paul Geddes, Economics Instructor, Columbia College
Jacob Aaron Geller
Giuseppe Germinario
Casey C. Glick, Graduate Researcher in Physics, UC Berkeley
Zachary Gochenour, Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics, Western Carolina University
Nathan Goodman, Lysander Spooner Research Scholar in Abolitionist Studies at the Center for a Stateless Society
Maithreyi Gopalan, Ph.D. candidate, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University
Manick Govinda, Visiting Artists Co-ordinator, Manifesto Club
Jameson Graber
Joe Green, Associate Professor of Political Science, Dixie State University
Priscila Guinovart
Jeff Hallman
John Halstead, PhD candidate, Political Philosophy, St Anne’s College, Oxford University
Robin Hanson, Associate Professor of Economics, George Mason University
Mikael Hellstrom, Instructor, Political Science, University of Alberta
Christopher Hendrix
Javier S. Hidalgo, Assistant Professor, Jepson School of Leadership Studies, University of Richmond
Fergus Hodgson, Editor-in-Chief, PanAm Post
Jeffrey Horn
Steven Horwitz, Charles A. Dana Professor and Chair, Department of Economics, St. Lawrence University
Michael Huemer, Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Colorado
Giancarlo Ibarguen, Former President, Universidad Francisco Marroquín
Tom Jackson
Peter Martin Jaworski, Assistant Teaching Professor, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University
Scott A. Jenks, Instructor, Department of Medicine, Emory University
Nathan Jones
Emmanuelle Baya Julien
Valdenor M. Brito Júnior, Attorney
Angela Keaton
Rick Kelo
William Kiely
Milo King
Gavin A. Kitchens
Thomas L. Knapp, Director, William Lloyd Garrison Center
Anna Krupitsky
Chandran Kukathas, Chair of Political Theory, Department of Government, London School of Economics
Michelangelo Geovanny Landgrave Lara
Daniele Latella
Mark LeBar
John Lee
Daniel Lin, Professorial Lecturer, American University
Anthony Ling, Editor-in-Chief, Caos Planejado
Raffaele Lo Moro
Ryan P. Long
Roderick T. Long, Professor of Philosophy, Auburn University and President, Molinari Institute
Ray Lopez
Trent MacDonald, PhD candidate, School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, RMIT University
Pedro Magalhães, Attorney and PhD candidate, Law and Economics, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
Akiva Malamet
Rafael Bortoluzzi Massaiol
Kevin McGartland
Jeremy McLellan
Justin Merrill
Jared Meyer, Fellow, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
Gary Miguel
Walter Morris, Director, Acton School of Ballet
Joe Munson
Darren Nah, PhD candidate, Politics, Yale University
Vipul Naik
Janet Neilson, Program Developer, Institute for Liberal Studies
Chad Nelson, Attorney and Fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society
Russell Nelson
Jeremy L. Neufeld
Joel Newman
Sebastian Nickel
Eric Nielsen
Federico Oliveri, Research Fellow, Sciences for Peace Interdisciplinary Centre, University of Pisa
Yaël Ossowski, Programs Director, European Students for Liberty
George Pareja
Andrew Pearson
Ryan Pelkey
Luis Pellicano
Alicia Perez
Graham Peterson, PhD candidate, Sociology, University of Chicago
Kaveh Pourvand, PhD candidate, Political Theory, London School of Economics
Lukas Puettmann, PhD candidate, Economics, University of Bonn
Shaun Raviv
Jose L. Ricon
Dylan Risenhoover
Fabio Rojas, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Indiana University
John Roccia
Trish Ruebottom, Assistant Professor, Goodman School of Business, Brock University
Antonio Saravia, Assistant Professor of Economics and Director, BB&T Center for Undergraduate Research in Public Policy and Capitalism, Mercer University
Paul Sas
Philip Saunders
Yaakov Schatz
Eric Schmidt
James Schumacher
Andrew Scobie
Hafiz Noor Shams, Founding Associate, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs
Jay Shooster
Joshua Shurley, PhD candidate, Politics, University of Manchester
Sarah Skwire, Fellow, Liberty Fund, Inc.
Ben Smith
Evelyn Smith
Nathan Smith, Assistant Professor of Economics and Finance at Fresno Pacific University
Ilya Somin, Professor of Law at the George Mason University School of Law
Piero Stanig, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Università Bocconi
Marilyn Steffen
Wouter Stekelenburg
Barry Stocker, Assistant Professor in Philosophy, Istanbul Technical University
Drew Stonebraker
Scott Sumner, Professor, Economics, Bentley University
Kyle Swan, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, California State University Sacramento
Alex Tabarrok, Bartley J. Madden Chair in Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University
Batur Talu
Laron Tamaye
Fernando R. Tesón, Tobias Simon Eminent Scholar, Florida State University
Pedro Trujillo Alvarez, Director, Department of Political Science, Universidad Francisco Marroquín
Bas Van der Vossen, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosopy, UNC Greensboro
Brian Wagers
Tyler Walker
Hansjörg Walther
Ladan Weheliye
Nicholas Weininger
Christoph Widenhorn
Michael Wiebe, PhD candidate, Economics, University of British Columbia
Samuel Wilson
Stephen Winkler
Barrett Young
Barry York OAM, Historian
Zachary Yost
David Zetland, Assistant Professor of Economics, Leiden University College
Matt Zwolinski, Associate Professor, Philosophy, University of San Diego
Reminder: If you are interested in attaching your name to this declaration, please contact us (preferably via email: and provide your name, with professional or academic affiliations if applicable.

DH Lawrence, his poem ‘Poverty’ – and what does it mean to be progressive?


DH Lawrence (1885-1930)


Marx understood perfectly well that capitalism was disruptive; that was what he liked about it, that, along with the possibilities that such disruption opened up in its wake.

The following is contributed by guest blogger TomG.

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DH Lawrence’s poem ‘Poverty’ was read to me by an old friend several years ago as a birthday gift. It turned out to be a very good one. I knew that DH Lawrence had a reputation as a right wing sympathizer; I also knew he hated the bourgeoisie and had written a poem, ‘How Beastly the Bourgeoisie Is’, to that effect. But aside from that poem I was unfamiliar with any other of his poetry. Beside liking ‘Poverty’ and appreciating my friend’s consideration of me I became sufficiently intrigued to pursue Lawrence’s poetry and ended up reading a collection of his shorter poems, Pansies, written toward the end of his life and which contained both ‘Poverty’ and ‘How Beastly the Bourgeoisie Is’. Both of these poems were written after the 1926 General Strike in the U.K. but before the rise of Hitler or the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, neither of which Lawrence lived to witness or offer an opinion about.

What is it about this man, who died in 1930, age 44, who hates poverty and the bourgeoisie with a visceral intensity (the bourgeoisie were not too keen on him either), and whose sympathies lie with the right? On a flippant note I think: this is the perfect man for today’s strange and politically discordant times. On a more serious note, on reading his poems, ‘Poverty’ in particular, I am reminded of the confusion that abounds today about just what terms like “progressive” and “reactionary” mean. Since my initial political schooling in the 1970’s, particularly in supporting the National Liberation Front in the Vietnam War and embracing revolutionary Marxism, these terms seem to have morphed into one another, the revolutionary left in the developed world has collapsed completely, the reformist left looks cadaverous and economic development and internationalism, once proud mantles of the left, are being championed more by the right. Go figure.

So looking at Lawrence’s poem became a vehicle for raising some very contemporary questions. But first, the poem.


The only people I ever heard talk about my Lady Poverty
Were rich people, or people who imagined themselves rich.
Saint Francis himself was a rich and spoiled young man.

Being born among the working people
I know poverty is a hard old hag,
and a monster, when you’re pinched for actual necessities.
And whoever says she isn’t is a liar.

I don’t want to be poor, it means I’m pinched.
But neither do I want to be rich.
When I look at this pine-tree near the sea,
That grows out of rock, and it plumes forth, plumes forth,
I see it has a natural abundance.

With its roots it has a natural grip on its daily bread,
And its plumes look like a green cup held up to the sun and air
And full of wine.

I want to be like that, to have a natural abundance
And plume forth, and be splendid.

I remember being impressed when I first heard it and further readings deepened my appreciation. It captures the grim determination to survive that those subjected to the rule of the old hag need to have as they try to escape her grip; and it evokes their desire to flourish. One of its great strengths is its authentic tone; no privileged condescension here, Lawrence is speaking from a personal and very individual experience. This, I think, also proves to be its central weakness; more on this below. Its aims of natural abundance and splendour are modest; who could possibly deny the right to material comfort, to the personal and cultural growth Lawrence yearns for in the poems last lines, to those who either do not enjoy them or whose experience of them is tenuous or subject to the caprice of external forces?

But the question I returned to was how progressive is the poem? It would have been a pertinent question when Lawrence wrote it; and in today’s climate where confusion reigns about what it means to be progressive, it remains pertinent. In trying to answer this I ended up looking at the poem from two angles. The first of these is aspirational, deeply personal and all the more powerful because of it. The second deals with the ‘how to?’ question, the road to take to consign the old hag to the history books. The poem’s silence on this last point should not forbade us from taking this matter up for the silence contains suggestions which are implicit in the poem and are faithful to the man.

The Aspirational

Lawrence knew poverty first hand and arguably its effects contributed to his early death from tuberculosis; there is a bitterness, a knowing, which is intimately felt and communicated. Like those who feel her pinch now, the desire is to escape, to get out from under, to get ahead. This is a progressive yearning; it always has been and it remains so whether or not the pinch is felt in the so-called developed world or in the undeveloped or third world.

Lawrence’s attack on the romanticism accorded “lady poverty” by the privileged, his exposure of their hubris is also personally felt, hard edged and progressive. He wants the old hag removed, along with the pieties of her well heeled apologists; he wants to develop, to move forward (literally, to progress). No problems here. In spite of his generally right wing sympathies he could be speaking for workers everywhere; so too for those ground down and “pinched” by poverty over the millennia.

You take the high road and I’ll take the low road*

If Lawrence offers suggestions here, of what is the best path to take escape from the old hag’s grip, they are ambiguous to the point of being opaque; the poem is, after all a personal testament and not a manifesto. And I must confess to liking the way the question is left open. It is up to the reader to pick up and develop this should they be inclined to do so.

Being a communist I’m inclined to do so and somewhat absurdly perhaps the first person that popped into my mind when I read the poem was Richard Burton. The second was Deng Xiaoping, but more on him later. Actually the Burton reference is not so absurd: both he and D.H. were sons of miners who knew what it was to be pinched, and both became famous in their respective artistic fields, one being sympathetic to the left, the other the right. So while the reference to the dearly departed Welsh thespian is playful, it is also serious. Burton described himself as a socialist (a communist on occasions – because, he said, he didn’t exploit others) and justified his wealth and lifestyle by pointing out that everyone should be able to live like him. He was right. He too wanted to have a natural abundance and be splendid and it is something he thought all people should have. Greens and assorted pseudo-leftists, please take note.

If Marxists, of whatever stripe, are to promote beliefs in economic and social development and the cultural and personal transformations which spring from these, then we aim to level upwards, not downwards. We can argue about roads, (can of worms anyone?) but as soon as we concede, hands wringing, that development may have gone too far, too quickly, too disruptively; that it is ruinous to the environment or to ‘fragile eco-systems’ and must therefore be stopped; that the human footprint is bad; that modernity has sold us a lemon and so on, we cease to be progressive let alone Marxist and we give the old hag a legitimacy she does not deserve. We may remain concerned, decent and politically active souls involved in any number of things; and, heaven knows, there is a chance that some of these activities may even be progressive, but we ourselves are left at the starting blocks.

Marx understood perfectly well that capitalism was disruptive; that was what he liked about it, that, along with the possibilities that such disruption opened up in its wake. He understood too that in order to create a propertyless working class capitalist development dispossessed the mass of peasants and drove them into the arms of what was then (and is now, in developing countries) an unregulated free labour market with all the uncertainty, impoverishment, degradation and possibilities that accompanied this. But even before the Manifesto was written he also understood the need and opportunity that these same developments afforded the working class to organise and fight for political rights and economic concessions. And while it is true that he had wanted and expected the working class to recognise the need for revolutionary transformation – a task that still beckons – it is also true that the working classes in all advanced countries has been able to wrest significant democratic and economic concessions from their respective ruling classes, thereby ameliorating the kind of poverty that characterised the Industrial Revolution of Marx’s and Dickens’ time. While the old hag is still with us, she has been forced to give ground and develop the capacity to ‘shape shift’ as developed economies see a widening wealth gap accompanied by a decline in absolute poverty. In the undeveloped world she remains a traditional old hag while in the developed world she has also assumed a distinctly post modernist capacity.

Hit the road Jack …

Above I had indicated that Lawrence had made no suggestions about what road to take or whether there was even a choice of route. However such a view is disingenuous.
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and a silence is just a silence; but not here, not with DH Lawrence. While this has something to do with his right wing sympathies, leaving it at this is a cheap shot. More at issue is his individualism and how this individualism is largely cut off from his working class roots. There is, for example, a warmth and a fidelity to his past in Burton which one struggles to find in DH Lawrence. It is as though the experience has been too painful and embittering for him to want to do anything other than turn his back on it and escape. He doesn’t want to be rich, to be one of “them”; he just wants to get out from under and to flourish. This is a modest enough desire on the one hand, but it’s all about him (as opposed to him and his mates, and beyond this, his class) on the other. And this is where Deng comes in.

Two sayings of Deng’s stand out above all others: “Black cat, White cat? Who cares so long as it catches mice?”, and “To get rich is glorious”. The former was a metaphor for promoting capitalist economic development over socialist economic development, was uttered under proletarian rule and was designed to fudge. The latter is a blunt, honest admission of his position and was said under restorationist rule where the need to fudge had disappeared. Cats may not matter, but roads do and Deng knew it. So too did his protagonists, which is why they were after his hide.

DH Lawrence and Deng neither knew, or knew of, each other and at first take they make strange bedfellows. But there exists a certain similarity between them, between their yearnings and the politics each is drawn to or promotes. The similarity is around paths to development or what Lawrence may describe as escaping the clutches of the old hag. When Deng uttered his infamous ‘black cat, white cat’ line he was not meaning the he was indifferent as to what approach was taken or that he valued each equally – no post modernist relativism for this man or the newly emerging class that he represented. He had an antipathy to the ‘socialist road’ and favoured the ‘capitalist road’. His appeal was both to the new, privileged class that found organisational and political expression in the communist party (those in power taking the capitalist road) and to the narrow type of individualistic aspirations this class nourished. It is all about getting ahead any way you can and Deng’s way (the capitalist way) will get you there quicker because you won’t have to worry about who you step over, or step on, on your way to achieve your “glorious” prize.

So far as I am aware DH Lawrence did not take an active interest in political economy and it is not on this level that he sidles up to Deng. Lawrence mistrusted and was estranged from his class. The idea of collectivism, of collective action as a means of getting out from under – and in the process, of finding himself as an individual, a very different individual from the one he became – scared him viscerally. My guess is he feared being overwhelmed individually to the point of losing himself. Nietzsche’s modernist affirmation of individualism – that the individual has always had to struggle against being overwhelmed by the tribe and that nothing was more important than the privilege of owning oneself – would have struck a deep chord in Lawrence. It is his rejection of his class and of class politics as such that place Lawrence alongside Deng and places his poetry in a very different political camp than that of the great communist poets like Mayakovsky, Brecht or Hikmet.

DH Lawrence ‘s path to salvation, to getting out from under, is an individual and lonely one. While there is occasional reference made in his poetry to workers, the poor, the rich… there is no sense of attachment or connection and even less of trust. There is a chasm that separates him from his class of origin which finds expression in his poetry. His attempts to bridge this chasm, to really connect, fail. He reaches out to individuals, generally women, never to his class. I think he would have argued that he didn’t reach out to any class, certainly not to the bourgeois class that he despised. While this is true in one sense it also reinforces my point. In terms of class, or even community attachment, he felt and was isolated. This affected his yearnings and his means of escape. It leaves him and Deng sharing an affinity around roads. While the encouragement to get rich would have stuck in his craw the idea of black cat, white cat, of get me out of here any which way, would have appealed.

Lawrence’s mistrust of class, particularly the class consciousness and loyalty that the working class requires if it is to overthrow the capitalist class and to rule society itself, his elevation of individual aspiration above all else, is precisely the bait that Deng (and his equivalents elsewhere) rely upon and appeal to. One doesn’t have to agree with all of it – as mentioned above, Lawrence would have rejected the appeal to be a bourgeois fat cat – to be hooked and reeled in. This is one of the appeals of petty bourgeois individualism (to give it its PC, old school description); we may be genuinely appalled at the behaviour of those who stab others in the back, push or keep others down as they go for glory and we may even protest the fact. But so long as we abjure a class identification and solidarity and put all of our eggs into the narrow form of individuality that appealed to Lawrence, such protest would be as effective as pissing into the wind and the pull of that lone pine tree, flourishing and abundant, becomes impossible to resist. No wonder the tree appealed – it was as cut off from its kind as Lawrence was from his. This type of reaction would have suited Deng and the new Mandarins right down to the ground.

(As an aside, the term ‘petty bourgeois individualism’ certainly describes the kind of individualism Lawrence was drawn to. Unfortunately it’s a term that has been typically used by the radical (and, too often, censorious) left as a term of abuse designed to silence rather than to critically analyse. This is a pity because it tends to discourage communists from asking what kind of individualism, or perhaps more accurately, individualisms, will flourish in post revolutionary and communist societies and how we can recognise their beginnings and encourage their development under capitalism.)

Lawrence’s poem, then, is progressive in so far that it is identifying a problem and in aspiring to rise above them, but reactionary in the solution it implies – individual talent and enterprise cut off from its social base – a solution that, by definition, excludes most of those in the old hag’s grip, leaving them to their own devices as well as to hers.

It might be eighty-five years since Lawrence’s early death from tuberculosis but the question of what constitutes progressive, the question of ‘roads’, if you like, is contemporary and urgent. As mentioned above, this piece is not so much about Lawrence as it is about us. Marxists, there have been numerous incarnations, have been the inheritors and are now the remnants of a once vibrant revolutionary movement (or movements, depending on your stripe) who are now so marginalised and irrelevant to the day to day life and struggles of the modern working class and, very importantly, the individuals who make up this class, that we can now comfortably meet in the roomy confines of a broom closet. To become relevant enough to move out of the broom closet, let alone be credible as a challenge to bourgeois hegemony we need to rediscover what it means to be progressive as well as revolutionary (Marx is a good place to start) and be prepared to fight for it.

If some of the divergent strands of DH Lawrence’s poetry can be of assistance with this then, eighty five years on, we can happily acknowledge the contribution he is now making to a progressive cause.

*The reference is to an old Jacobin song The Bonnie Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond. While the Jacobin cause of Bonnie Prince Charlie was a dud one the song is correct to suggest that roads matter (and that the low road, the one the common folk were made to take, is the right one). The chorus, which has a very familiar ring, is reproduced here:

O ye’ll tak’ the high road and I’ll tak’ the low road
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye
For me and my true love will ne-er meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomon’.

Climate change – opening up to dissenting views of scientists, letting a hundred flowers bloom

I have long felt that in the discussion of climate change, the notion that the ‘Science is settled’ makes little sense – beyond the fact of the Greenhouse Effect. We see in an actual greenhouse how high levels of CO2 promote plant growth and the temperature in a man-made greenhouse is increased. But the real world is not a man-made greenhouse and climate is a complex system, with positive and negative feedbacks. There is consensus, expressed through the IPCC, that the planet has warmed by less than a degree since the 1880s but beyond that – for example on the extent to which CO2 is responsible – the consensus starts to break down.

The IPCC, as the representative of scientific consensus, should allow for minority reports alongside the final report and these should be available on-line and in summarised form, like the main ‘Summary for Policy Makers’.

Like democracy, Science must be based on informed and qualified debate if understanding is to grow and society to progress. The notion that ‘the Science is settled’, when applied to climate change beyond the Greenhouse Effect, has resulted in vilification of dissenting scientific viewpoints. The term ‘denialism’, with all its ugly moral connotations pertaining to Holocaust denialism, is a case in point.

Jennifer Marohasy, a biologist and adjunct research fellow in the Centre for Plant and Water Science at Central Queensland University, has written to Bob Baldwin MP, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, concerning the need for him to urgently establish a public forum to enable dissident views to be heard concerning what she claims, with strong supporting evidence, is the bastardization of Australia’s official temperature record by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

I like the spirit of her letter, as it seeks to allow the expression of dissident qualified views, and I like the analogy she uses with the Catholic Church. She says that leaving things entirely to the established and dominant view is “like expecting George Pell to admit pedophilia during a Sunday sermon”. Her letter can be read here.

I am not qualified to say who is right or wrong but a healthy democracy allows the clash of ideas in which the dominant viewpoint and conclusions may be challenged. Back in the late 1960s, such debate was common on university campuses and it was those of us on the Left who organised teach-ins, inviting opponents such as Frank Knopfelmacher and Jim Cairns to debate. It was through such open debate that we were able to build a broad mass movement in solidarity with the Vietnamese people.

Today, people who regard themselves as left-wing often oppose debate and are the ones saying things are ‘settled’. Indeed, this pseudo-left also throws around the epithets such as ‘denialism’. I say they do not represent a genuine left outlook and we need to revive the rebellious spirit of 1968.

‘Let a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend’ in Science as well as politics, lest the scientific establishment becomes ‘religious’.

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Are you Progressive Except for Syria? Take the handy test here!

Are you Progressive Except for Syria? Take the handy test here! Reprinted with permission of Wewritewhatwelike Written by Mary Rizzo.




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We have all already heard of the phenomenon of PEP (Progressive Except on Palestine), in which those who consider themselves progressives (liberals in the USA) or leftists are pretty liberal on every single issue except the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But, their syndrome has been pointed out and diagnosed fully. A lot of them justify this position by saying that supporting the government of Israel is a liberal position. Their problems are not our problem… they need help that we surely can’t provide.

However, there is another phenomenon far more worrisome because it involves those who are Progressive ALSO for Palestine, and that is the case of PES (Progressive Except on Syria). Those who are afflicted by this malady feel safety in numbers, because they are in fact the majority of non-Palestinian supporters of Palestine. They will actually USE the argument of Palestine as justification of their support of Assad, even though his regime has a terrible record regarding Palestinians, (as did that of his father). They will argue that support of Assad is a progressive (liberal) leftist value. Whether it’s called “selective humanitarianism” “double standards” or “hypocrisy”, it is a dangerous and insidious disease and should be cured. Here is a little test to discover if perhaps YOU are afflicted with this mental illness.

Do you perhaps suffer from PES without being aware of it? Fear no more! We’re happy to provide you a self-diagnosis test with simple YES / NO replies so that you can discover your own hypocritical stance, and hopefully, be on the path to the cure.

Did you protest or complain about the unfairness of the USA elections for any reason but believe that Assad won a landslide victory in free and fair elections?

Do you think that Assad is fighting terrorism?

Do you think that the Palestinian cause is being defended by Assad?

Do you believe that the war in Syria is all about foreign aggression “due to their national and pan-Arab stances” and is not a people’s uprising? In fact, you think the whole Arab Spring has got to be “exposed” as an imperialist, western plot.

Do you think that the Intifada in Palestine is legitimate and that the uprising in Syria is manufactured (while of course saying so having been paid guest to Assad’s presidential palace)?

Do you think that the Palestinian cause is being defended by Hezbollah even when they target and kill Palestinian refugees and ignore the growing tensions between Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and Hezbollah?

Do you condemn religiously-inspired militias such as ISIS and Al Nusra when they commit murder and use violence against civilians but have not condemned Hezbollah when it commits murder and uses violence against civilians?

Do you think that it was a good idea for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC) to shoot on the Palestinians who mourned those killed on Naksa Day 2011?

Have you called Gaza “the world’s largest open-air prison” but don’t agree with the UNHCR claim that Syria’s war “is more brutal and destructive than the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and has turned into the worst humanitarian disaster since the end of the cold war.”?

Have you endorsed or thought a No Fly Zone was a good idea for Gaza but reject it as Imperialist meddling or a bid to save Al Qaeda if it’s done in Syria?

Do you condemn the Palestinians tortured to death in Israeli prisons (since 1967, a total of 72 Palestinians have been tortured to death) but have not condemned the 200 Palestinians tortured to death in Syrian prisons since 2011? You naturally probably don’t know about the at least 2100 Syrians who were tortured to death inside these prisons.

Do the at least 10,000 bodies of prisoners in Syrian regime prisons that were ordered to be catalogued by the regime mean nothing to you since you don’t have details on what the reasons for their deaths could be?

Do you call for release of political prisoners from Israeli jails but do not call for the release of the tens of thousands of political prisoners in Syrian jails?

Have you actually asked for money to bring Gazan children to make a protest for the NFZ but think that asking for a NFZ in Syria is a bid to help Al Qaeda?

Do you think Al Qaeda and ISIS are Mossad / CIA inventions?

Do you protest against the death penalty in the USA: Executions in 2014, 35, but don’t do the same for Iran: executions in 2014, Between 721 and 801 at least.

Do you think it is wrong for the US to provide Israel with armaments because it engages in war crimes but at the same time, think it is justified for Russia to provide the Syrian regime with armaments and military experts because “it’s war against NATO”?

Do you condemn Israel’s “extra judicial killing” but claim that Assad must do everything he needs to maintain power because blocking his actions in any way, even by condemning them “… could end up ousting Assad. It would mean replacing him with pro-Western stooge governance. It would eliminate another Israeli rival. It would isolate Iran. It would be disastrous for ordinary Syrians.”

Have you ever praised Assad’s government because it is secular, or “fighting the enemy of the West”: because after all, you only see the alternatives being Assad or the “Islamic Fundamentalists”?

Did you support Haniyeh and Meshaal until they started waving the Syrian revolution flag?

Do you erroneously refer to the Syrian revolution flag as the “French Mandate Flag” ignoring that even the Assad regime celebrated it as the Independence flag each “Evacuation (Independence) Day on 17 April to celebrate the resistance against the French colonialists?

Do you know the names of at least one Palestinian dissident/political writer but don’t know any Syrian ones?

Do you call the opposition to Assad “Western-backed rebels” either from a Pro-Israel or Pro-Iran standpoint?

Did you protest for Palestinian detainees and even know their names but not do the same for Palestinian detainees in Syrian’s prisons?

Do you know the name of at least one minor arrested or killed by Israel but don’t know the name of at least one minor arrested or killed by the Assad regime?

You have protested against the racist and discriminatory Apartheid Wall and checkpoints in Israel/Palestine but you have nothing much to say about Syrian military checkpoints and sniper-lined checkpoints?

Did you get angry when a US newspaper used a photo of Iraqi deaths, claiming they were Syrian, but when Palestinian supporters use Syrian ones, it’s “illustrating the suffering in Gaza”?

You have protested against Israeli use of phosphorus bombs but you have nothing much to say about the unconventional weapons use by Assad against both opposition fighters and civilians such as barrel bombs and chemical weapons?

Are you critical of the US for intervening in affairs of other countries but think it’s normal for Iran and Russia to be sending troops into Syria to help the regime?

You would never consider Palestine compromising with Israel but you believe that the opposition must compromise with the regime in Syria.

Do you condemn the Saudi monarchy and refer to them as Wahhabis, Salafis, etc., but refuse to recognise that Iran is a theocracy?

Do you think that Assad is simply doing everything he can to protect the minorities in his country?

Do you call the Israeli occupation of Palestine ethnic cleansing but do not speak out against the regime-driven massacres in Syria that are ethnically based?

Do you refer to the Assad regime, Hezbollah and Iran as the “Axis of Resistance” even when they don’t react to Israeli attacks on them?

Do you think the following two statements are both true?

a. Dissent in the United States is patriotic.
b. Protesting in Syria is an assault on the State and needs to be quelled.

Do you think the following two statements are true?
a. Pepper spraying protesters in the USA is a violation of human rights.
b. The Syrian regime has to use whatever force it deems necessary against protesters, because they protesters have violent intentions.

Do you think that Israel must be brought to the ICC for crimes against humanity but think that the Syrian regime should not?

Do you condemn the USA vetoes on the UN Security Council in favour of Israel but praise the Russian and Chinese ones in favour of Assad both to stop sanctions and to prohibit ICC investigation including three Chinese vetoes on Syria alone out of eight total vetoes in their history?

Do you think the following statements are both true?
a.Calling a U.S. citizen anti-American or un-American for being critical of the US government is ridiculous, knee-jerk, unintelligent and actually incorrect.
b.People who are critical of Assad are closet or overt imperialists and want US control over the region.

You do not believe that Russia is an imperialist state while you are certain that Syria is an anti-imperialist state defending itself against imperialist onslaught.

Do you think that Erdogan is seeking to dominate politics in the region in an attempt to restore what was once the Ottoman Empire or even think the US is trying to establish an Islamic State but support Iranian domination and the Shi’a Crescent?

Have you signed petitions against companies such as Soda Stream and Coca-cola but not against weapons provider, the Russian monopoly Rosoboronexport or even the western companies providing the Syrian and Iranian regimes with surveillance equipment that they use against dissidents and opposition?

Do you call innocent victims killed by American drones or victims of war crimes but consider the Syrians and Palestinians killed by Syrian bombs and chemical weapons collateral damage?

Do you reject the USA/UK “War on Terror” but believe that Assad has a right to use whatever means possible to kill whoever he considers as a terrorist in Syria and that Syria is a sovereign nation fighting Al Qaeda?

Have you mentioned the Blockade on Gaza in conversations and know it is illegal and a crime against humanity but don’t feel the same about the Blockade on Yarmouk?

Do you respond to criticism of Assad by pointing out USA human rights violations?

You know the name of USA civilians killed by cops or vigilantes, but you don’t know the name of a single Syrian victim of torture in the Assad prisons.

You have protested for the closure of Gitmo, but you don’t raise your voice or even one eyebrow over the Syrian Torture Archipelago in which “The systematic patterns of ill-treatment and torture [in the 27 detention facilities run by Syrian Intelligence] that Human Rights Watch documented clearly point to a state policy of torture and ill-treatment and therefore constitute a crime against humanity.” Moreover, you don’t want to notice that Syria’s government has been cooperating with the CIA extensively in renditions and the torture programme.

You think that Israel should not have nuclear capacity but that Iran should have nuclear capacity. Extra points if you support Non-Proliferation. Super extra points if you participated in any No Nukes events in the West or signed any such petitions, super extra and mega extra points if you are against nuclear power.

You believe that the Palestinian struggle is about human rights but the Syrian protests were sectarian and religious-oriented, driven by people who wanted to overthrow and overtake power illegitimately if not in fact manufactured by the West?

Do you believe it’s normal for the Syrian constitution to be amended every time that it serves the Assad family but the US Constitution is sacred and especially no amendments should be made to limit gun possession whether you detest the US government or think it should basically call all the shots around the world?

Do you think that Jews protesting the Israel government are noble people who are fighting for human rights and justice while any Syrian protesting the Assad regime are in cahoots with the Israeli government.

Do you believe that, “We must not in any way call for the removal of President Assad unless he commits acts of terror against us. Assad’s government has committed no such act, thus rendering it criminal for foreign governments to undermine the Syrian regime. You either stand for national sovereignty, or against it. The choice is yours.” While at the same time have supported efforts from the liberals or conservatives to have Obama impeached?

Do you believe that foreign countries helping the Palestinians militarily to win against Israel is legitimate but helping Syrians win against Assad is meddling and think that “any further intervention in Syria would be for U.S. interests, like weakening an ally of Iran, and would encourage Assad’s allies to step up their armament shipments. The carnage would continue, and perhaps increase.”?

Do you reject claims that the involvement of Iran and Russia in favour of Assad is meddling?

Do you think that the entire Syrian war is for the purpose of the US weakening Syria so that it can pursue its own interests in the region but ignore the fact that Russia has enormous interests in Syria that are far more evident?

Have you ever found yourself denying Assad had chemical weapons but also applauding the Syrian regime’s decision to hand them over to Russia as a strong gesture towards peace?

How many questions did you answer YES to?

Between 1 and 5? You are headed towards selective humanitarianism, or even are afflicted with Western Privilege Syndrome!

Between 6 and 10? You are dangerously using double standards and believe that human rights aren’t something universal, but allow your ideological or dogmatic prejudices to influence your ethical judgement!

Over 10? You are a dyed in the wool Hypocrite! Maybe you should avoid “current events” altogether, you have no understanding of what human rights and justice mean, you should wash your mouth out before you ever speak about human rights for Palestinians or anyone.