From #MTRsues to Workers’ Struggles in China

The Continuing Saga.

In summing up, it’s the Constitution, it’s Mabo, it’s justice, it’s law, it’s the vibe, and, uh… No, that’s it. It’s the vibe.

Oh, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Blogger Jennifer Wilson has published another letter from Melinda Tankard Reist‘s law-talking guy Ric Lucas off Colquhuon Murphy. Somewhat oddly, Lucas writes that Wilson “should reflect upon the fact that you have seriously flouted your obligation to uphold the Universal Declaration” of Human Rights by publishing allegedly defamatory comments on her blog.

I see.

Lucas adds that MTR “would much rather you came to your senses and realised that a person who wishes to be taken seriously as a social commentator, who has pretensions as a scholar of human rights with a PhD should check their facts, and not indulge in flights of libellous fancy”. By this logic, a failure on Wilson’s part to uphold and to be a ‘real’ scholar of human rights will likely mean a lengthy and hideously expensive court battle will ensue.

Like Kylie sang, we all have our cross to bear.

Elsewhere, Lucas is described as being someone “who once represented Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and former treasurer Peter Costello and their wives in a successful action against publisher Random House over false claims in a memoir by Bob Ellis”. (Bob has a blog, incidentally.)

That was in the late 1990s. Since then, Lucas has been involved in a number of other cases, including one in which a British blogger, Bruce Everiss, was sued by Evony, a US games company, in an Australian court. In March 2010 the case was dropped; Michael Thompson of Ars Technica explains why Evony is ‘the game everyone loves to hate’ here.

Reflecting on his experience blogging, Everiss wrote (May 13, 2010):

The first [problem] is that libel laws are being abused to suppress free speech by those who have things to hide. Great swathes of the internet are now censored by London libel lawyers sending out threatening letters to protect often nefarious characters. You may live in America, but this effects [sic] you, the internet is being censored for the whole world.

Our libel law was designed to protect the landed gentry from the tittle tattle of their servants. So it is incredibly difficult and expensive to defend against, no matter how truthful your words are, cases are typically over a million pounds now. And you are guilty till you prove yourself innocent, which goes right against natural justice and gives a massive advantage to those who are abusing the law. So the only option when threatened is to give in, as happens many thousands of times. We really, really don’t have free speech. Those with money control what is said about them.

Evony is itself a remarkable game, both because of the company’s quite notorious use of semi-pornographic imagery to promote it but also because of accusations of ‘goldfarming’, an industry documented by Cory Doctorow in his 2010 novel For the Win. In Doctorow’s imaginary world, the virtual workers form a virtual union called the IWWWW or Webblies. In the real world, on Friday Ralph Ruckus will be speaking @ Jura in Sydney on Contagious Strikes – Workers’ Struggles in China:

In mid-2010, a strike wave rolled through China’s factories, the most widespread and militant struggle of China’s internal migrant workers so far. The struggle shook the Chinese regime and provoked a world-wide debate: Is this the beginning of the end of the low-wage-model that stands behind China’s rise to the “factory of the world” and provides the rest of the world with cheap consumer products? The strikes continued in 2011, and together with riots and peasant uprisings they are indicators for the increasing pressure for social change in China.

This talk/discussion (including a ten-minute film) will focus on the strikes, the formation of a new working class movement in China, and the implications for social struggles around the world.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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2 Responses to From #MTRsues to Workers’ Struggles in China

  1. Aussie says:

    Politicians have no other option than to conform with something they may not necessarily agree with. If a person is not expressing honest opinion, what are they doing? Their motive cannot possibly be of importance or truth. Their intentions seem to have ‘some other importance’, not their own. What do you mean people don’t have free speech? You just have to pay for it and put it on a billboard!

  2. Aurelien says:

    Good news @ndy, Ralf will be giving the same talk in Melbourne on 22nd Feb.

    45 minute talk/45 minute open discussion as usual.

    All the details are at Melbourne Free University.

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