Australia Day parade in Melbourne is best in galaxy

Ben Hillier Nothing says “Australia Day parade” like people dressed as Storm Troopers milling about on Swanston Street in Melbourne. Not the old German ones. The Star Wars ones. One of them holds an official placard that reads: “Rebel Legion”. That’s what they call themselves and they have a spot in t...CONTINUE READING

Results and prospects from the US midterm elections: a discussion with Lance Selfa

Ben Hillier The most striking immediate takeaways from the congressional midterms, held on 6 November, were, first, the entrenched, though uneven, partisan and geographical polarisation of US politics and, second, the far right radicalisation reflected in and encouraged by president Trump and the Repu...CONTINUE READING

‘An extraordinary week even in the age of Trump’. US government escalates war on refugees

Ben Hillier The US government has dramatically escalated its war against refugees and undocumented migrants. In the week before the congressional midterm elections, president Trump deployed more than 5,000 military personnel to the country’s southern border as part of “Operation Faithful Patriot”. The...CONTINUE READING

Are the Democrats becoming the #1 party of the US establishment?

Ben Hillier Of the many happenings in the 2016 US presidential elections, one has often been overlooked: Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s extraordinary gains among upper middle and ruling class white voters. Party strategists wagered that positioning Clinton as the prime defender of the establis...CONTINUE READING

Losing Santhia, part three: exodus from Jaffna, war in the Vanni

Ben Hillier The early monsoon came heavy, leaving parts of Jaffna peninsula waterlogged. The place is a sultry, taxing fog. West of the Point Pedro-Maruthankerny Road, an inland sea overwhelms the flatlands and paddies from which islands of palmyra reach for the clouds. To the east it’s sand dunes and...CONTINUE READING

Why is parliamentary politics so volatile? 

Ben Hillier Australia is one of the most successful capitalist societies in history. An economy with 27 years of uninterrupted growth and relatively high levels of social mobility. A stable bourgeois democracy in which the military is rarely deployed to the streets and where states of emergency are ca...CONTINUE READING

Fairfax, corporate media and a question of independence

Ben Hillier Channel Nine’s imminent takeover of Fairfax media – publisher of the Australian Financial Review, Melbourne’s Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, among others – is the biggest development in Australian media in more than three decades. Under the newly announced merger, Nine will acquire Fai...CONTINUE READING

Australia continues to deport asylum seekers to a country where torture is ‘routine’ and ‘systemic’

Ben Hillier The United Nations has documented widespread torture in Sri Lanka. But the Australian government continues to deport asylum seekers to danger. UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson’s latest human rights report, released on 23 July after he visited the country last year, concludes: “Impunity i...CONTINUE READING

Losing Santhia, part two: from cubs to Tigers

Ben Hillier Along the Pannai causeway linking Jaffna peninsula with Mandaitivu and Kayts islands, egrets, black-headed ibises and Eurasian wigeons bathe in the shallows of the Palk Strait, which stretches to Tamil Nadu, India. “They have no passport or visa”, the translator says. “But they have more f...CONTINUE READING