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Retired carpenter..history buff, local and ancient..love stories of Italianate style, especially those village superstition stories..Very far left-wing.

How the West was Lost

We have to remark on what “identifies” the evidence of a “great empire” – or a “remarkable civilisation” – and when we do cite such evidence, we invariably point to the ruins of great works, great architecture, great civic constructions. In short, all those incontrovertible examples of material achievement. And sure, such civic constructs are wonderful, are useful for the transport and export of commerce and citizens. But one must ask; are these in-situ monoliths the be-all and end-all of civilisation? Is there a better measure of the achievements of humanity than mere physical ingenuity? After all, even the humble crow can adapt a kind of tool to use to its advantage.

No. As the saying goes: “Humanity does not live by bread alone” … and when the time comes when those “great empires” start to fall apart, history shows us that it is mostly unstoppable. And the end result can be as in Shelly’s “Ozymandias”:

“I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:

And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

A lonely visage indeed. And one that could be relocated to many a modern metropolis in these days of continual warfare promoted and sustained by a now apparent economic necessity. A necessity of destroy and rebuild that fosters both the mighty industrial military machine and the global finance for reconstruction industry, monsters consuming and regurgitating continuedly, almost a vital component now of superannuation investment and stock favourites on Wall Street and elsewhere.

But is there another component of measurable achievement of humanity’s civilisation? I believe there is, and it is also a “canary in the mine” measurement of decline and fall of a civilisation … and that is its art.

That’s it. Pure and simple. Whether it be of several mediums; paint/music/written/woven/dance … a combination. Whatever. If it be expression, TRUE expression of the soul of a peoples, not just a moment of revelry or decadence. If it be that moment captured of an essence of beauty of the heart of the ethnicity, what is deemed its culture … then it will strengthen and embolden those who participate in its renewal of life for the group. And this is the difficult part, and can demonstrate the decay of the tribal element of society. It cannot just be a dull repetition of a rite or custom – such are peripherals to the renewal of the soul of the tribe – there must be “new art” or new interpretations of the continual dance of life. Every tribe does it by innovation of the age-old oral/personal hand-me-down activity. By making it a “word of mouth” practice, every new generation, via its individuals, adds or subtracts just that little bit extra. It could be a personal twist to an old tale, it could be a sudden bit of improvisation to a movement of dance … whatever, because of the need for each new generation to reinterpret the old, it can’t help but introduce their own “new” to the art.

But what does this mean to us in the West? The trick of the matter is in the “ innocence of acceptance” of new art. Not meaning to just accepting anything extreme and the more extreme the better, nor that oh so obvious “bad art”, but by dropping our guard against letting our emotions rather than our intellect judge a piece … letting the music or language do the “talking”. Let the interpretive artist, who wrestles with the form, place in front of you their work and just like we judge a meal placed in front of us by the senses we trust, let the artistic works we “consume” play with our imagination and mind like gourmet food plays on our palate. Not to analyse it to oblivion, but rather just settle back and savour the moment. For that is all it need be. But a moment, a line of poetry or a riff of music, or the colour on the canvas.

And this is where the west will be lost, not through war nor depression, but rather by the slow starvation through economic deprivation of essential artistic support of our souls.  Our artistic desires have become a commodity to exchange as collateral of moneys or fame, and in doing so, we lose the innocence of creativity and we fail to stop long enough to let the renewal of our soul be recreated. It has gotten to the point where we look more to recognise the familiarity in new work, rather than originality. We seek the familiar for comfort, we do not allow the amateur into the “art market” without some sort of recognised “cred” a prize in a known competition, or some other glittering event.

A big mistake was made when the creativity juices of the west were allowed to become exclusive possessions of the commercial middle-class. This has brought much art into the world of corporate copyright, many sounds into exclusive ownership of white-collar investment. Much of the written word into the stultifying atmosphere of dead grammar, and as such, “chosen ones” are sometimes promoted as the “next big thing” when all they are is another disappointing experience. Very little that is new, that is wonderful and creative gets left in the flowering fields of free enjoyment of the masses for long. All becomes “owned” … all becomes known for “the price of everything and the value of nothing”. Such is the sacred creed of the economic class. And they are killing us and our art.

Eric Knight, the author of “Lassie Come Home” wrote a beautiful “Author’s Note” to his book of Yorkshire short stories: “Sam Small Flies Again” where he states that many of the best stories, being oral in the retelling, will die with their authors:

“When a man has little else to rely on, I think he falls back on his blood and background. And so, curiously enough, nearly all of these stories were written five and six thousand miles away from my native Yorkshire. It was mostly being homesick, I think … But you’ve got to get them down some day and have done with them. That’s the sad part. Probably the finest stories ever made up by writers weren’t put down, and died with them.” (Author’s Note to “Sam Small Flies Again” by Eric Knight).

And it is sad that so many beautiful characters too will cease to exist after their storyteller “witness” passes on. We have to recognise that the beauty in the art lies not in the commercial recognition and promotion, but in the viewers mind. Real art … that is those genuine attempts to wrest beautiful moments that encapsulate that fragile point in time and place and translate it to dance, paint, song or verse must be left not to those who would profit from such a moment, but left to the emotional innocence still living in the community and it’s imagination, or we are lost as a civilisation.

Perhaps it is already too late, for I cannot see how we can regain that innocence of what we see in those tribal cultures we like to document and gawk at as some sort of picturesque novelty. I am not talking about innocence as naive, nor gullible, but an innocence “accepting without blocking” the new, the subtle, the amazing without submitting such to analytical cynicism or commercial viability. And why not give art the chance we give sport, when we hungrily look to the next “star player” who with dexterous play rescues his team from defeat to the heights of glory?

And, of course, all new enterprises now have to be submitted to that capitalist axiom of judgement:

“ … but is there any money in it?”

A Place of One’s Own

Within everybody’s heart ,

There is that little pump.

And in the still of the night,

You can hear its tremulous thump.

 

Within everybody’s heart,

There is a little room.

Upon the wall there, a picture

Of a place we silently yearn.

 

To some it is just a fantasy,

A desire they can’t fulfill.

Some will strive to seek it…

Some have not the will.

 

And some will substitute

A lesser philosophy

To dull and blind the senses

To a love they will not see.

Accent on humour

Recently, I wrote a small cameo piece about a “cross-dresser” and the time and place he “came out” publicly in a small country town (see: “A short announcement“). I wrote it as (what I thought) a humorous piece, acting on the logic that where or whenever such an “event” happened, be it in the place chosen, for its degree of comfort and camaraderie, or in the main street in full drag, it was bound to be confronting in a pathos-bathos scenario that could occasion a few laughs from the distance of many years hence. I sent it to a younger person employed in an local government artistic/cultural occupation as an adjunct to a conversation we had on certain “local” issues. I was mistaken, at least, mistaken in the perception of what a new generation of readers finds funny. Perhaps, as has been suggested, my aged, male, working-class perception of what is or is not funny is now thoroughly dated! “It’s just not funny anymore” has been at odd times leveled accusingly at yours truly. I’ve had my own doubts before … it may be time to believe it!

Though, when one analyses the condition that creates a “moment of humour”, so that a laugh involuntarily springs from our lips, it is understood as the sudden “leap” from pathos to bathos and the swiftly altered situation thereof … like the flaying of arms and legs in a sudden “banana-slip” moment … a kind of slapstick suddenness. But something has changed. There appears to now be some hesitancy to guffaw innocently at others foolishness or mishaps. You think about it … how long since you have heard a string of good jokes? I used to hear many. One “tuned one’s ear” for the grand joke from a good joke teller. They were considered rare treasures; one “good” joke could make or break a reputation in any front-bar! You remember that “Clayton’s … the drink you have when … ” advert with what’sisname? Oh yeah, Jack Thompson. That was the accepted locale for the dispersion of male humour. I’m sure that other gender has a similar locale!

Now it’s all gone, but people are still laughing. The guffaws are still coming, but what are we now laughing at, if not socially incorrect slapstick? I think we are more inclined to seek out humour in the more perverted absurdities of life … in the increasingly bizarro-behaviours of people and situations. I think we are finding more laughs in a kind of sado-humour than we did before, and it is a worrying thing. I’m not saying certain ghastly racist/sexist jokes aren’t deserving of the dustbin of history, but there is a worrying criticism of satire that is very “over the top” censorship. There seems less inclination to humour, and more inclination to litigate such skits as one would find on “The Hampster” or “Ripping Yarns” or “Python” etc.

Yet, I have seen rise alongside such cruel treatment that one occasionally views on a channel-surf expedition of “Reality TV” an appreciation of sado-humour, where cruel or victim-selection programs are on top of the ratings! I have watched several so-called “funny home-videos” skits that seem to me to be brutal and dangerous … that one can see such moments have been deliberately staged to get the video on the show. Same with those “competitive cooking/singing ” programs etc. There can be no better display of sado-humour than one sees on such channels. Yet they are the top-rating programs. What gives!?

One can track the evolution of such sado-humour back to the days of “try-hard” Hollywood “black humour”, where the big studios tried their hand at so-called crime-comedy. I remember the hit movie “Beverly Hills Cop” was the beginning of such a genre, where it was billed as a comedy, yet I counted seven quite brutal killings in the show. (I was a “forced viewer” … been taken to the cinema against my better judgement by acquaintances who “just loved it and you will too”). I hated it. It made me wince. (I’m a sensitive bloke). I was almost going to add my set piece here that ”I’m almost a Buddhist, y’know”, but considering the behavior of those believers in Myanmar just recently, I’ll let that one through to the keeper.

And I do confess to committing what could be called a sexist faux pas a while back when the rather well-sculptured woman who was the project manager of the small group I volunteered for, pulled a newly arrived “T” shirt from a package, and announced:

“Look, our new “T” shirts with our new slogan on them. What do you think?” And she enthusiastically held it on the front of her chest for me to see. She smiled a broad smile, I gazed keenly and blinked a couple of times in silence, not having gathered my now woolly thoughts back together..

“Well” she asked impatiently, ”what do you think?” and she jiggled a tad.

“Nice cut of cloth”. I searched for the correct words; ”lovely colour, good slogan, but …” and here I got marooned on that damn reef of male stuttering in the face of all things attractive about a woman but are not allowed to admit even when it is soooo obvious.

“But? But what?” Her brow furrowed. I girded my loins.

“But … I don’t know if that slogan ought to be just where it is … (and here I might have hurried my words a bit too fast). It might be OK for the blokes who wear them, but for the ladies … eeee (a sucking-in of breath). I don’t know: “Working Together” is a nice slogan, a bloody good slogan! Yes! Good … but placed just at that level in three inch high letters may draw too much attention to certain parts of the female anatomy and give the insensitive male opportunity to guffaw a tad.” I knew I was skating on thin ice. ”You know what I mean?” I twisted my head to one side and gave a teethy wince.

I draw the curtain of charity (as they say) on the good lady’s response and was assured the next day by the same woman that her husband, whom she consulted for an opinion that same night didn’t know what I meant “so there” … and I will confess here and now, even though it may cost me “skin” in doing so, I thought to myself. ”More the hopeless male; him!”

Indeed, the “humour” of the aged, white, building-site male may be dated beyond redemption, but the basis for such humour, ie; the “situation comedy” surely will not date. The spectator/viewer, looking on to the unfolding of a unscripted public slapstick moment, whether by accident or by self-deprecation, surely must be allowed a release of laughter at the ironic absurdity of the situation without guilt or remorse, rather than be driven to “approvingly” laugh sneeringly, cruelly, publicly, at the misfortune and hard-luck of others.

Bring back The Hampster crew, I say!

 

The party is over

As a baby-boomer heading at breakneck speed toward my seventieth birthday (though still 3 years away) I have just recently come to the heartbreaking conclusion that it is all over for me. No, not life, but “the party” … the metaphorical party that sustained me for these last forty years on a roller-coaster of self-sustaining optimism so familiar to our generation. After the breakaway from the confining social and domestic clutches of our parent’s generation with the revolution of the sixties and seventies, freedom … true freedom from suffocating social mores and mind-numbing employment was at last within our reach. We were the pioneers of a punk-generation! Now, all those who are setting the pace with this new style social direction and political aspiration I cannot seem to “connect” with or admire that greatly. And all those I did have great respect for are either now dead, dying or out of the game. I feel like the passenger left on the station and the train has departed. And I just don’t know if I give a f#ck!

The sad realisation of my plight first came home to roost a while back, when I gifted to my son, who was trying his hand at amateur DJ-ing, my complete vinyl collection of LPs – this collection was a honed down ambrosia of the gods of music of my generation, yes, from The Who “Live at Leeds” to “Zappa/Zoot Allures” … the whole box and dice of every memory of drunken orgy and piss-up to dope-smoked amnesia of the seventies and beyond. Encased in that collection was the ghost of many wild parties, boozey card nights and general Sunday laid-back idylls of beer from the keg sprayed walls to nefarious smoke-infused curtains and collars, and after receiving this holy grail of my wasted (in every sense of the word) youth, he later informed me in disappointed tone that his girlfriend’s dad had almost exactly the same records … except his were in mint condition, having taped the record after purchase and used the tape for listening and put the LPs into cold-storage. WTF!

I reflected on this piece of proffered good sense information when the opening bars of Mott The Hoople’s “The Moon Upstairs” from their “Brain Capers” album suddenly sprung to mind and that night with “the mob” lined up in front of the decibel warping speakers and “air guitaring” the complete riot in a Southern Comfort roused bliss; ”We ain’t bleeding you, we’re feeding you … but you’re too f#ckin’ slow.” And then we’d get serious and put on Floyd’s ”Ummagumma” for a bit of intellectual discourse on Marx and communism! But the thing that really hurt, was not so much that the girl’s father was of that middle-class anal-retentive professional type who knew the price of everything etc etc, but that it was obvious that my son seemed to agree with his action. I could see the drugging threat of “common sense” creeping into his psyche. Always a very dangerous thing in the developing mind of the young.

Yes, the party was over. Gen Y is not inclined to follow their baby-boomer parents stumbling gait, neither down the hard-left political road, nor in personal revolution against the corporate work ethic. Theirs is more career orientated, more “market driven”, more style and consumerism, so there was little room for prolonged partying to oblivion. Not that we couldn’t do our job then at the same time, but there was more room for “forgiveness” after a particularly hard weekend … workmates more willing to “cover” for the necessary human foible of having a good time. And there was always the “sickie” when a particularly extreme case of “industrial diarrhoea” overcame one.

And let’s face it: at least to me, work always gave me the shits. I hated it, and all that social responsibility crap that surrounded it. Every effing day off to work, come home, fall asleep, then back to the job next morning. Bloody mind-numbing slavery. Moored, like so many similar craft, in a marina of lost souls.I would see the tradesmen come to work on the train dressed in clothes suitable for public display, only to don work overalls from their locker in the factory change-room to attend their work-benches and to do the reverse each night to make their way home on the public transport, day in day out. I couldn’t stand such pointless discipline, especially after it became obvious to our generation that the whole capital-based economy was nothing but a big fat con-job … bullshit from start to finish, and we were expected to go along with the con. But be on the receiving end!

So I left it behind, hopefully for it to rot in its own stench and decay. But I see now it has been resurrected and is enjoying another moment in the sun, and, apparently being feasted as the “saviour” of a new economy: technology/driven economy of automation and sterile efficiency … ”meet the new boss…” So I have been railing against what I saw then and what I still see as the dehumanising of personal ambition and type-casting of personality … bunging square pegs into round holes. God, I hate the lot of it! And then to see those gormless dupes in this gormless government talking their set pieces like a theatrical dummy on one of those kiddies shows from the sixties. Do you remember that act; “Chris and Terry (Terry was the dummy)” on the Channel Niners? Ah, that Chris chappy was the one ought to have hooked up with Glenys O’Brien – not Ernie Sigley. Shit, I feel like starting a one person revolution.

But that’s it. We’ve almost become irrelevant, save for our voting block. The party’s over, Vishnu’s juggernaut has moved on, crushing a new generation of suckers only too willing to throw themselves under the wheels of corporate capitalism. We started work at fourteen and finished at sixty five and damn if the bastards want us to carry on until seventy while they now party! Well, they can get stuffed! And even if us boomers have cried ourselves hoarse from screaming against the machine, one can hopefully see the rising generations picking up the baton and just now starting to take their situation seriously.

Now, at least I can get back to Zappa’s “Willy the Pimp”.

A Dystopian Reality

Are you like me when awaiting an authoritative decision to be handed down (like this very recent decision by the High Court on the same-sex marriage postal survey)? I know I awaited the decision with mixed anticipation. One part of me was hoping for a positive outcome (for the High Court to block the government, while another instinct kept whispering in my ear that there was little chance that an authority with a vested interest in the same status and class as the very people and government that desired a different outcome would disappoint their fellow travelers.

Of course, I had no reason to believe there would be any kind of collusion between the judiciary and the members of the government, except a faint, nasty, nagging, instinctive premonition that we have been down this path so many times and the result seems (I say “seems”) to always end up favouring the conservative side of the ledger. And I just can’t shake that niggling feeling that there is a kind of – if not actual collusion and back-slapping; ”We’ve got you covered on this one mate” – than a almost imperceptible nod and a wink of camaraderie to each other.

Like the recent several decisions on refugees:

  • The High Court ruled the detention of the mother and daughter was lawful.
  • Pregnant asylum seeker on Nauru flown to Australia
  • Manus Island refugee dies in Brisbane hospital
  • A decision by the Commonwealth Government to send them back to …

There would appear to be an in-step cabal to back each other on matters conservative and controversial. Like the recent ruling on the SSM survey. A lay-person who has followed the preceding events leading up to the High Court challenge could be excused for thinking that there has been a miscarriage of justice. After all, those barristers who advised for the challenge would have some degree (one would presume) of insight as to the probability of success before bringing the challenge to such an expensive advocacy.

Of course, the working-class radical in me immediately jumps to the accusation of “Class privilege/Class collusion”. But then one has to be judicious on such an accusation less it start to sound more as a shrill whinge rather than accurate assessment. And it’s not to say that all judiciary emanated from the same class background, indeed some have quite humble heritage. But one has to concede both through example and personal experience, where one comes from is not always a certainty of how one will act when reaching a higher affluence lifestyle..

Consider Thorsten Veblen:

“As has already been indicated, the distinction between exploit and drudgery is an invidious distinction between employments. Those employments which are to be classed as exploit are worthy, honourable, noble; other employments, which do not contain this element of exploit, and especially those which imply subservience or submission, are unworthy, debasing, ignoble. The concept of dignity, worth, or honour, as applied either to persons or conduct, is of first-rate consequence in the development of classes and of class distinctions, and it is therefore necessary to say something of its derivation and meaning. Its psychological ground may be indicated in outline as follows.

As a matter of selective necessity, man is an agent. He is, in his own apprehension, a centre of unfolding impulsive activity—”teleological” activity [Teleology is a reason or explanation for something in function of its end, purpose or goal]. He is an agent seeking in every act the accomplishment of some concrete, objective, impersonal end. By force of his being such an agent he is possessed of a taste for effective work, and a distaste for futile effort. He has a sense of the merit of serviceability or efficiency and of the demerit of futility, waste, or incapacity. This aptitude or propensity may be called the instinct of workmanship. Wherever the circumstances or traditions of life lead to an habitual comparison of one person with another in point of efficiency, the instinct of workmanship works out in an emulative or invidious comparison of persons. The extent to which this result follows depends in some considerable degree on the temperament of the population. In any community where such an invidious comparison of persons is habitually made, visible success becomes an end sought for its own utility as a basis of esteem. Esteem is gained and dispraise is avoided by putting one’s efficiency in evidence.“ (Thorsten Veblen; “Theory of the Leisure Class).

Armed with a certain prejudice against the class that appears to hold all the best cards of law and authority, one can be excused for harbouring a feeling of being “hard done by” in the realm of justice and equality. After all, it just appears logical that those who possess all that a society values in regard to position, wealth and power, would do their damn best to cultivate a favourable advantage to keep them … and form a network of like-minded fellows in the various departments of social control to maintain that advantage.

The dystopian connection here is the feeling of disconnectedness between our nurtured sense of what constitutes social “fair play” and the “impartial rule of law”, where the latter seems to too frequently fall solidly over the other side of the fence of upper-middle class solidarity.

Perhaps it is just me, and I have spent more than a little time analysing my prejudices, but then I also have this instinctive faith, brought about by many years’ experience in trusting my intuition on matters subjective. And, as you can read above, by falling back on past authors so much more wise and informed on such subjects than myself.

And on such a note, I will give another author well versed in the mechanics of class politics to have the last word on an “independent judiciary”:

“From this incident there is to be noted that which was mentioned above, that it is useful and necessary for a Republic with its laws to provide a means of venting that ire which is generally conceived against a citizen, for if these ordinary means do not exist, they will have recourse to extraordinary ones, and without doubt these produce much worse effects that do the others. For ordinarily when a citizen is oppressed, even if he has received an injustice, little or no disorder ensues in the Republic, because its execution is done by neither private nor foreign forces which are those that ruin public liberty, but is done by public force and arrangement which have their own particular limits, and do not transcend to things that ruin the Republic … for the accusing of a powerful one before eight judges in a Republic is not enough; it is necessary that the judges be many because the few always judge in favour of the few.” (Niccolo Machiavelli: “The Discourses of Titus Livius”).

So you can ”judge” for yourselves.

The simple and the simple-minded.

Why oh why do some people try and sell you the most simple-minded solution to complex problems and then are shocked when you fail to come around to their way of seeing things? Be it refugees, climate change, economics and even religious rights to discriminate and slander.

It really pisses me off when I am confronted personally with a most gormless request to “see things my way” from an obviously “too lazy to make in-depth inquiries into a situation” person. Yet they are offended when confronted with my dismissive or cynical response to their foolish solution. Is this the future of topical discussion, where every citizen thinks themselves so certain of their opinion (usually fed to them from an obvious source), so they can go off half-cocked and then when shown evidence of their mistake (and fair enough, we all make mistakes) instead of giving (unseen in public even) a nod of agreeance and move on, they continue to hurl insult upon mistake and just get louder and more obnoxious until you have to tell them to get … you know what?

I can recall a moment back in my Darwin days in the 1970s, when I was a young man, waiting on the early-morning footpath for my scheduled pick-up to get to the job, feeling like there were at least half a dozen better pubs to be having a drink in at that very moment (there was no such thing as a right time to drink back then in Darwin!) when I was approached by a middle-aged man chewing casually on a short length of spear-grass. He stopped about two feet in front of me – a tad into my personal space – stared intently into my eyes for a longer than usual moment, then removing the stalk of grass slowly from his lips, he addressed me as such …

“Jesus is coming back.”

That was it. No “excuse me, but … ” No “can I have your attention for a bit?” Or even a “can I give you the heads up on this … ?” Nope, just the above unasked statement presumably for my future reference and elucidation.

Well, then, like now, I was no slouch with an appropriate retort. After that statement, he placed the stalk of speargrass back between his lips and continued to stare at me. I waited for the settled moment, then looking dead-pan into HIS eyes I replied …

“Well, he’s going to be f#cked if he tries to come up the Stuart Highway … it’s flooded in half a dozen places.”

With this reply, the man continued to stare deeply at me in silence, and I at him until he seemed to accept the logical truth “OF THE MOMENT” in my statement, decided there was nothing more to be gained in further conversation with such a philistine atheist, grunted, lowered his eyes, and moved on.

Now THAT was a person who could accept he made a mistake and got over it. But I have had arguments on this site and on Twitter where there is no resolution, just endless come-backs that descend into deeper and deeper insanity. There is a saying that when two dogs fight, the loser concedes territory and slinks away, but when two humans fight, the loser goes away and plots revenge. You’d think a logical, reasoned explanation would at least make one pause for thought before going to the next step of bumbling idiocy. It makes one wonder on the complex intrigues that bedevil the thought patterns of the simple and the simple-minded. What can one say?

Here is a proverb/parable (this is a true story, btw):

Proverb: “The dog runs a little, so too does the hare run a little.”

Parable: Angelo Pescari “had a woman on the sly”. His wife knew that, but he didn’t know she knew. ‘Til one evening she sent the kids over to her sisters and sat down with her husband for a “talk”.

“A what!!” Angelo jumped up in mock surprise.

“Sit down and stop the theatrics,” she spoke calmly.

“Who told you that?” he continued to bluff “The things you think”. He continued in vain seeking to regain his ground. But she knew and now he was sprung.

“Settle down … I’m not going to leave or divorce you or go into hysterics over it, see, I’m perfectly calm. All I’m asking is that you finish the affair and we go back to normal. Husband and wife. Agreed?”

After some more talking and seeing the futility of trying to proclaim his innocence, Angelo Pescari sighingly agreed to his wife’s request.

“Yes,” he said. He would terminate the affair immediately. But he didn’t! He continued seeing the woman after work sometimes and of course his wife found out again.

He arrived home late from “work” one evening as his wife was setting the dinner. She glanced wickedly at him.

“So, a hard day at work, eh?” she smiled.

“Why … yes … yes,” he hesitatingly answered.

“And a hard afternoon on the mistress?” She smiled wickedly again, he just stood there in dumbness. “Well” she continued, “you can have your little coquette – your lover – but then so too will I have mine. But the difference is, you see … I-don’t-even-have-to-leave-the-house!”

Angelo stood there open-mouthed and dumbfounded. His wife served the dinner. Nine months later she gave birth to a lovely, healthy boy. They didn’t separate or divorce but raised the child same as their others.

There are some people who just never learn.

Pax Romana, Pax Britannia, Pax Americana.

The Pax Romana (Roman Peace) was a period of relative peace and stability across the Roman Empire which lasted for over 200 years, beginning with the reign of Augustus (27 BCE – 14 CE).

Edward Gibbon, author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is sometimes credited with the idea of the Pax Romana. He writes:

[Notwithstanding the propensity of mankind to exalt the past and to depreciate the present, the tranquil and prosperous state of the empire was warmly felt and honestly confessed by the provincials as well as Romans. ‘They acknowledged that the true principles of the social life, laws, agriculture, and science, which had been first invented by the wisdom of Athens, were now firmly established by the power of Rome, under whose auspicious influence the fiercest barbarians were united by an equal government and common language. They affirm that, with the improvement of arts, the human species was visibly multiplied. They celebrate the increasing splendor of the cities, the beautiful face of the country, cultivated and adorned like an immense garden; and the long festival of peace, which was enjoyed by so many nations, forgetful of their ancient animosities, and delivered from the apprehension of future danger].”

I think the above passage gives ample example of the delusion embraced by the historians of that era for what was believed to be “civilisation under rule of law”. Strange as it is when a contradictory passage in “The Agricola” by that other great Roman historian, Tacitus has been roundly exampled as a salutary lesson of how not to rule a people (“Calgacus to his troops”).

(That speech could serve to explain both the below latter-day attempts at conquest, so I will not enlarge on this point lest the article become a discourse of great length).

Pax Britannica (Latin for “British Peace”, modelled after Pax Romana) was the period of relative peace in Europe (1815–1914) during which the British Empire became the global hegemonic power and adopted the role of a global police force.

Pax Americana (Latin for “American Peace”, modelled after Pax Romana and Pax Britannica) is a term applied to the concept of relative peace in the Western Hemisphere and later the world as a result of the preponderance of power enjoyed by the United States beginning around the middle of the 20th century.

My reading of history informs me that the only moment when an imperial power declares for a “Pax” (a peace) is when it has either thoroughly conquered by arms the territory it wants to exploit. Or having reached a situation where it becomes too expensive in either man-power or materially to continue with a conquest by arms, it sues for a peace which leaves it not only in charge of annexed territory, but in a favourable position to continue to exercise divide and rule of the peoples within those territories. But with the subtle trick of instituting a system of governance and laws most favourable to itself, it conjures the image of “civilised debate on the floor of the house”, where the imperial power still holds all the best cards of convenience and argument to obtain an end result that is most favourable for itself and/or its vested interests. Let us not deceive ourselves that the Parliament is anything more than a re-location of force-by-arms from the field to the floor of the House, and in an environment most suited to those who consider themselves “born to rule”.

So it was with the “Pax Romana”, when Caesar Augustus set about to withdraw from the high-cost of attack in far-flung lands and set up a defensive line of forts and borders – usually on the nearside of a large river or mountain range – that it could secure and control by regulated customs crossings both persons and taxable imports.

Likewise the “Pax Britannia” (as many of us baby-boomers who were indoctrinated with the imperial British histories in our school years would know). The “red parts” on the atlas denoted “rule by British law” but in reality, those colonies of South Africa, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India (to name the major ones) were ruled with the iron fist of search out and destroy all opposition both real or imagined, using their own constructs of “rule of law” to justify the action and then plead that the local natives “never had it so good” under such a benign jurisdiction of “Pax”.

The more recent “Pax Americana” of post war years (both 1st and 2nd) gave opportunity to exploit to the maximum those countries not centrally governed or secure in that governance so that the American corporations could play the role of coloniser under the guise of “open for business” to the smaller nations of South America and the Mexican peninsula, corrupting and if need be, sending in the troops to “protect their business interests and to restore peace and order” and other spurious excuses.

The Indigenous peoples here in Australia are just these last few decades coming to terms with their most cruel suppression, after an attempt of total crushing of both the spirit and flesh of many generations since colonisation, disguised and lied about under the same old ideology of “Pax” – a kind of “Pax Australiana” – where the ruling class has taken the liberty, along with the land to exploit without redress the minerals, the natural environment and the indigenous peoples themselves.

The lie of a confected history was constructed and spoon-fed to many generations of white school-children, so that the line between “what was good for them” and “what they as a conquered race deserved” was blended together until it justified the “authorised” systematic white-washing of culture, class and history.

It failed …

… like the Romanisation of Britain failed after 400 years of occupation. The only remaining certainty from that experience was an indelible hatred by the British of ever being conquered again; a force so powerful, it gave strength against the fury and onslaught of the war machine of Nazi Germany in the 2nd WW.

The same sentiments were felt by the early American colonies about “taxation without representation” when the settlers in that Eastern American colony revolted against imperial rule, strangely though to evolve into a cruel coloniser and imperial power itself later over the Native American and the nations south of its own borders. The fruit never falls far from the tree.

The lessons learned from these histories ought to be more salubrious in this century, when all this information is available to any number of literate people. But sorrowfully, we again see a new age of “colonisation” taking place: A market-driven colonisation not of territory, but of demographics; of entire suburbs, cities and regional centres, where a steady stream of libertarian propaganda that reassures the citizens that they “ought to feel comfortable in their own skin”. And with such a banal slogan from such a rodent Prime Minister, one can hear an echo of self-perceived disadvantage from those most comfortable in their own community skin feeling threatened of having to fair-share that privilege with their neighbours or, heaven forbid, the Indigenous peoples who owned the land in the first place. Not that they would suffer any disadvantage in doing so, but would perhaps have to suffer a self-indulgent “indignity” of witnessing an oppressed people being delivered a long overdue justice that they do not believe was earned.

The histories of these lies, these “Pax Colonisation” actions that have delivered riches and privilege to the few and heart-breaking debt and dispossession to the many, need to be re-interpreted, re-written, the false doctrines sifted from the true-grit, the propaganda and lies from the struggles and declarations of injustice. It needs to be done so we can move as a nation joined rather than divided into a more balanced, equitable future for all.

 

Start-ups for innovation and fun!

There is definitely something weird going on in the world of what constitutes work and “work”. If that sounds confusing, consider this: My computer went haywire a couple of weeks ago. First my email wouldn’t open or shut down, then the whole kit and caboodle locked up. I ask you, how can an electronic device lock up? I believe “crashed” is the common terminology. So I took it to the computer guy … our regular computer repair IT expert.

“I might not be doing this sort of work much longer,” he gaily announced, his eyes bright with an enthusiasm he was dying to share.

“Oh, and why’s that?” I anxiously asked (out here in the sticks, our mobile broadband does regular funny things to our computers and I have to consult him for advice).

“I’m kicking off a start-up in alcohol distillery sales”.

“Industrial alcohol?”

“No, drinking … you know; whiskey, gin, that sort of thing. Here’s my brand and logo.”

He showed me this garish label with an elk as it’s centre piece. I was quite shocked, as I have never seen this quiet spoken young-ish family-man as anything other than a computer person.

“I didn’t know you were into distilling,” I remarked.

“Oh, I’m not. I just buy from the distiller, bottle and place my label on the product. I’m going to export to China!” he enthused.

“CHINA! Geez, isn’t that a risky market to crack?” Again, I was amazed at his adventuring.

“Yes, well, thankfully, I am connecting up with a partner who knows how to get into the market there. He already has an import licence and warehouse in China.” I must have looked doubtful. “He has contacts who have a steady supply route bringing stuff across the Vietnam/Chinese border.”

Now, I have been around this old world for a few years and I have heard some awful bullshit in that time … and not just a few “get-rich-quick” schemes in my travels, but by jingo, with these high-risk start-ups kicking off in the Gen-Y’s generation, I reckon I have heard it all!

The “Start-up”: Where once you were employed to actually do a job, now you “start-up” an employment prospect where you become the job!

My soon to be redundant computer repair man went on to describe how there were opportunities galore in the new China market.

“Donkey meat and skins! We have tons of feral donkeys up north, and we don’t eat donkeys or their skins.” And he raised a knowledgeable finger, “but the Chinese do!”

Well f#ck me sideways! I had to look up that one for myself, and sure enough.

Maybe this is not news to many of you, but hey, I live a quiet life out there in splendid isolation in the Mallee, and I have never thought of the humble donkey as much more than a lumping animal that once carried the Virgin Mary and her child around Bethlehem and that is why, I was assured by those Sister of Mercy nuns, there was the black cross on its back. And why would they lie to me?

But I tell you what, I’m going to have to re-think my old-school idea of “work”. Now I’m not against the entrepreneurial spirit of ”Have a go!” I have often said to my kids that’s how the world goes around … ”hakuna matata” and all that; the circle of life. And I have to confess, that when I first was old enough to appreciate a good idea when I saw it, I had to give a low whistle of respect to those founding fathers of the three Abrahamic Religions when they promised their parishioners gauranteed eternal life in Heaven, or as many virgins as you could handle on any given day for little more than a tithe and a lifetimes obsequience … and …  money-back guarantee if it’s not for you when you get there. Now THAT was a start-up of some note.

But there is a very, very clever practicality behind the idea of the start-up, promoted as part of Turnbull’s “innovative and agile” concept of employment … an act almost of genius. It works like this:

First, you register yourself as a start-up company that is of a labour intensive nature – to legitimise it as “start-up status” – you create an app to contact and allocate daily jobs for your employees. The government then gives you a grant or low interest loan to kick it off, then, armed with your business plan, you apply for a number of interns @ $4/hour where the government pays you $1000 up front and

In the final stage of the program employers will be eligible for a “Youth Bonus wage subsidy” between $6,500 and $10,000, depending on the young person’s job readiness. Businesses will be able to employ young job seekers either directly, through labour hire arrangements, or combined with an apprenticeship or traineeship.

… with these, you subcontract them out in your business, say, a cleaning enterprise with a govvey contract (that you got by undercutting the opposition with your now cheap labour) – at market cost per intern – while they “learn on the job”, and when the allotted time is up for the internship, you transfer their employment contract to “casual permanent” to fulfil you part of the intern agreement. But you rarely if ever give them work, except, perhaps, to help train the next batch of interns. I know this is only an over-view and there may be a few gaps, but I think you get the idea. Almost genius … hakuna matata! The government pays you to kick off the start-up, pays you for the interns, then eventually pays the now redundant trained interns the dole because they are unemployed and they then get a job as an intern. The circle of life. No worries.

As you can see, there is room in the LNP master-plan for agile and innovative entrepreneurs. The LNP … they know what they’re doing.

The Dromenom Labyrinth and other curios

(A weekend reflection)

Jeesus I’ve been roped into some bizarre things by some very strange ladies God bless their souls and tantric postures! But a bloke gets swept away by that feminine mystique and enthusiasm for the strange, spiritual and bizarre … and crikey! … I ask you other chaps; who are we to deny them, hmm?

Take the time I was “encouraged” to be a part of this “Dromenom Labyrinth Circle” gathering. Just what is a Dromenom anyway?

“One set comes from the Gnostic tradition of the Chartres School, and the other from Sufi beliefs.” (Wikipedia). Well, there you go! And I had in mind ‘Greeks bearing gifts’.

Many years ago I was “involved” with a lady who was deeply immersed in the psychic (hey! I don’t make these things up, you know)! And so I was taken on the trip with the Full Monty (what’s that Groucho Marx ‘aside’: “I was in love once and I got the “business!”). I still have a couple of pics stashed somewhere with myself and a couple of the faithful holding sticks with some loosely tied chook or crow feathers on them as a kind of symbolic “connection” to “our” spiritual ancestors. And why not? My grandfather did breed chooks after all, and granny had her turkeys! But it was at one of those weekend workshops where people go back into their past lives and discover their tribal roots (marvelous how many Native American Indian princes there are in the Anglo-Saxon gene pool). Of course, one wouldn’t like to discover a spiritual ancestor who was, say, an Outer Mongolian prince … the image of “horde”, “massacre” and Genghis Khan springs to mind. The same with those Germanic types: Attila and all that! No … no … safer to wander the ancient forests of Seattle with, and pardon my ignorance in these matters, Pocahontas or Running Bear on ‘the shores of Gichigoomie’ (spelling ?). After all, all they did was hunt buffalo and make jokes about two dogs!

But I had to give that relationship away when it got to joining in spontaneous public performances of full-moon circle-dancing on the suburban beaches. I mean, fair go eh? There’s only so far a young bloke can be expected travel for some things. (sometimes the journeying ISN’T better, etc, etc). And don’t get me wrong. I’m a great believer in the spiritual myself. Why, I’m almost a Buddhist, y’ know?

There was this moment at one of the monthly meetings of “The Dromenom Circle”, where we were all expected to bring some example from our day-jobs that would show the spiritual connection between our everyday working life and our inner soul. As you know, I was in the building trade – heavy then, full on! I thought of Ron th’ brickie … my mind went blank on spiritual connection somewhere between sweating and swearing. After all, the “thing” in building for the tradie, is the finishing of the product. Or as James Joyce said to his portrait painter (wtte); “Don’t worry about the spirit of the thing, just get the tie right!”

So then I made models of three different wooden joints as an example of the advance of human vanity from the ancient Egyptians with a heavy-beam “scarf-joint” for spanning the rooves of temples, to an early concealed “fox-joint mortise and tenon” used in high-class chair manufacturing, to the creme-della-creme; “three way concealed dovetail” joint for use in the corners of display cabinets. I thought they were symbolic of the innate desire in humans to conceal the structure of a thing, yet contain the strength of construction of a thing … that sort of stuff. I know, I know … getting a tad philosophical for a chippy, but that’s the kind of bloke I was. Jeez! … they took some time and effort to make, especially the three-way-dovetail. But then, in spite of the work slaving over them, you see they were a little too “industrial” to be given much more than a curious glance, a wrinkled nose. Nothing spiritual in the actual working structure of things (isn’t it ironic how a lack of understanding of a thing swiftly precedes a lack of further interest in a thing?), so much more in the facile facade. The evil grin of the gargoyle gets more attention than the corbel supporting it.

So that was my experience with labyrinths. I walked them, I talked them, I did a lot of listening about them … them and Joseph Campbell on mythology. Jeez, he put out a lot of books and tapes. Cheerful bugger … that’s it; Cosmology. There’s a science there somewhere, I’m sure of it, though I’m buggered if I know. One can only travel so far down someone else’s road and then it seems that while they are spiritually walking a “field of wild-flowers and buttercups”, all  you are seeing is brambles and thorns. There comes a time to walk another path. Perhaps a road less traveled.

But I do recall that “parting moment” that severed the relationship – preceded by my unstoppable, lip-pinched, spittle-flecked guffaw.

I was “encouraged” to take part in that “circle-dance” in the first moon cycle on the beach at Henley Beach. We were sitting on the sand there at the bottom of the steps of the jetty, waiting for “Marcie” who at that moment appeared at the top of the steps.

“Oh look!” one person whispered, “She isn’t wearing her glasses. You know, she’s been taking that potion to strengthen her vision and she has been seeing “Joyce” about ‘overcoming with her mind’ so she can stop using her glasses”.

Indeed, there she was, head poised staring straight ahead, hand on the rail stepping elegantly with pointed toe straight toward us measured step by step with all the grace of a queen. We sat there staring in silence, in awe. Then at the foot of the steps, while staring dead straight at us, she suddenly threw a leftie and started to walk away up the beach. Yes … yes … blind as a bat!

”Marcie, Marcie” we called.

And that was about when I got “The Look”.

AWAKE! To a new day.

Are you full to the gills of the endless bullshit and denial from the right-wing nut jobs and the cynical swinging voters about the continual arguing on such subjects as economic rationalism and the trickle-down effect, climate change denial – or as it is now called “climate change shifting of the goal posts”, Indigenous treaty/land rights/history/culture wars, etc etc by a right-wing politically useless class that no longer has any contribution to make to further discussion into this century?

And then there is the renewable energy question, or rather, non-question, as only an absolute cretinous imbecile could work up an argument AGAINST free fuel for an eternity. And also let’s not mention the wha, wha … NBN!

Well, I’m here to give you the good oil: There really is no longer a need to take the slightest heed of those troglodytes of the right of politics. They are an anachronistic excuse, just a dying fish out of water floundering around and drowning in their own wasted space. Time to leave them behind.

Back a post or two, I mentioned that I was intending to block from my Twitter stream every direct right-wing news or information source or commentator. Well, I did … except for Lyonheljm, and he just told me to get f#cked, so I will keep him to annoy when required, after all, no-one can really take HIM seriously. But the rest I have and will and I do not miss any news from the action of doing that. The likes of Divine, Bolt, Kenny or Albrechtsen and the others have no positive or constructive message to give, nothing intelligent to add to the conversation. And with Social Media now becoming THE major broadcasting source of ALL world news and views, I can do without helping to relay right-wing sourced news and views. I would suggest we all do the same, for without the circulation of hard-copy newspapers, and then being cut from much access to social media, companies like News Ltd wiill be further restricted from an audience.

But we must do more than this. We must curb the cynicism toward soft-progressive politics in place of more radical politics and get this lefty cab off the rank. And once we are “on the road” and freewheeling, we can push for more radical policy. Because we are still a long way from winning the next election, and you can bet London to that brick the Murdoch crawlers will be sifting through that chest of 8×10 glossys and the dirt-filing cabinet to come down on any one of the left politicians, be they Green, Labor or a sympathetic cross-bencher.

Jay Wetherill in SA and Daniel Andrews in Vic, and now Mark McGowan of West Australia are setting a good example by taking on the energy market and pedaling their states into the future for fair and equitable delivery of policy – at least as much as they can be expected in this nation of quite conservative thinking. SA’s energy policy has to be the way to go, along with the bank tax and I would hope this will lead to more radical thinking along the lines of public transport and water resources protection. I will note that Federal Labor has thankfully moved a tad further to the left and is adopting a more radical stance on many policies. I trust they will go one further and finally address that open wound of asylum seekers if they win government. But they are in a good position now with the electorate who have had enough of this wastrel, useless LNP.

Now for that new day! I believe we need to talk up more State (federal/state government) controlled utilities, restoring the Murray/Darling Basin plan, restoring a government bank, government energy supplies, and a host of other necessities that are now outsourced or sold off to an incompetent private sector. We need to talk up the need for a more equitable tax system and restore proper funding to our schools, universities and health sector. There is so much to be done and I don’t believe we need to waste any further time on arguing with RWNJs about their fear and loathing. Their stupidity will not change and will only delay the implementation of much-needed policy.

I think if we can direct our optimism and energy and enthusiasm toward those policies and ideals that most move us – and make the debate for those ideals the centre of our discussions – there will be so much more impetus and energy pushing those good policies forward, rather than wasting our energy and spirit on those hopeless, depressing beings on the dark side.

Because the right-wing of politics is now no more than a dead-weight, without a life-force to sustain it, has become likened to the futile supporting in a sea of ideas, the inert body of a drowned companion. A hopeless, risky and thankless task and we have to let go of trying in vain to carry this corpse of lost hope any further. Let them as a collective go, let the cadaver sink into the sediment of history as fertiliser for a future of grand ideas. Further, as another metaphor; we have carried their unresponsive corpse for far too long, we have tried in vain to keep nurtured the body of bi-partisan politics for the good of social cohesion, heavens knows how long and wearily we have tried, but now is the time to switch off the life-support of an already dead body-politic, and do no more than stand away as its corrupt and evil spirit is spent into the trash-can of history.

We, of the progressive side of politics have work … much work to do. There is a world of nature that needs our undivided attention, and the hard yards of environmental resuscitation will have to go on uninterrupted by any more delays and foolishness. The social contract between the many ethnicities and cultural beliefs needs also a load of hard work, but the foundations are there, we have many of us already given our word to the reunification of the nation, those good and decent intentions cannot and will not be in vain.

Let us awake … to a new day!

What is History?

After listening to the hysterical comments this last week or so concerning “good” or “bad” history, I thought that I would add to the conversation with my own experience, and perhaps throw a little light on just what is “history”.

Most people know what history is as an identification piece, without knowing how it is brought to the attention of the general public. I say ”brought to the attention of”, because it is of no surprise to learn that most people do not go out of their way to seek history, lest it be about their own personal situation, eg genealogy.

History can be little more than a series of disconnected events that have to be brought together with rhetorical flourish that attracts the cultured mind to find common connectivity to a known outcome, and then to “join the dots” for that “Aha!” moment … when the incandescent flare flashes and all is revealed.

What cements the “reality” of those events as a “true history” is the evidence of the outcome of those rhetorical flourishes connected to a chain of seemingly unconnected events; what I would call the logical truth. Logical, that is, after the final outcome. The Ohhh! moment.

For instance, when the imperial colonisers decided that the land mass we know of as Australia could be “legally” claimed as “Terra Nullius”, they based their understanding of “unoccupied land” as that which was not farmed or worked in an agricultural way. A false history was deliberately created (they knew it was bullshit) to justify claiming that which was already “owned” by tribal societies who “worked” the land in a nomadic cyclic way in a seasonal cycle of traversing, harvesting, letting fallow and returning at a later season or year to re-harvest. (I have posted on this subject before: An Advanced Society).

In “Why Terra Nullius? Anthropology and Property Law in Early Australia” Stuart Banner writes that:

“The absence of Aboriginal farms was crucial, because the British were heirs to a long tradition of thought associating the development of property rights with a society’s passage through specific stages of civilization. Greek and Roman writers were unanimous in holding that property was a man-made institution.

“There is,” Cicero declared, “no such thing as private ownership established by nature.” They agreed that there had once been a time, long ago, when property was unknown, when, as Seneca put it, “the bounties of nature lay open to all, for men’s indiscriminate use.”

They knew of far-off primitive peoples like the Scythians, who lacked property even while the Greek and Roman civilizations were at their peak.

And they agreed that it was the invention of agriculture that gave rise to property rights in land. The reason the Scythians and other primitive tribes did not divide up the land they occupied, the classical writers believed, was that they were nomads who had never learned to cultivate the land. The Scythians “have no fixed boundaries,” observed the second-century writer Justin, because “they do not engage in agriculture…. Instead they pasture their cattle and sheep throughout the year and live a nomadic life in the desolate wilds.” It was only when “Ceres first taught men to plough the land,” Virgil explained, that land was first divided. When there were “[n]o ploughshares to break up the landscape,” Ovid agreed, there were “no surveyors [p]egging out the boundaries of estates.”…”

(We can now see why Roman history became “wedded” to the British imperial colonising designs).

So in effect, the Imperial British Crown invented their own version of history, and having once crossed this line, they had little choice but to declare: therefore, Captain James Cook “discovered this land”… this was neither logical, nor truthful.

Really, it was only going to be a matter of time before that little bit of bullshit was outed.

I have witnessed first hand how a “history” can be created..

It goes like this:

Ziedel’s secret carburetor

I was asking for a bit of background knowledge about a long deceased relative of mine from the local aged mechanic, Peter Pohl. He and his off-sider Vern run the only workshop in the district and have done so for near on fifty or sixty years! I don’t know, neither does anyone else … not even them!

“Name doesn’t ring any bells,” Peter frowned.

“He was a very inventive sort of chap … in the line of mechanical things,” I assisted.

“Oh, there were a lot of them about in them days,” Peter opined, “a lot of them. There was Pastor Ziedel, for instance. HE was a sort of genius. Do you know, he invented a carburetor that could halve petrol consumption in a motor? But the thing was, he was dammed clever how he done it.” And here Peter tapped the side of his nose.

“How so?” I asked.

“Well, you know he didn’t want anybody to find out how he done it, so he got those little jets and needles and seats and whatnot made in different places by different chaps so no-one person could put them all together. Oh … he was cunning alright.”

“So did you get to see how it looked?” I pushed on. Peter stopped, pulled up and looked at me in wide-eyed wonder.

“No! Of course not, it was a secret! Hell, he wouldn’t let anyone see how he done it … why, if he went to any motor event, he’d take that carburetor off and put the old one on so nobody could pinch his design. Oh, he was cunning … old Pastor Ziedel.”

“But if no one saw it, how do you know it worked?”

There was a pause in the response, which told me that this cynical line of reasoning had never before been broached, then;

“Whhyy … of course it worked, you ask anybody who knew of it. He had it on his old Holden for years … of course it worked … and dammed good too!”

“Well, I imagine some one saw it after he passed away. Was it in his estate when they went through his effects?”

“No, not that I ever heard. I suppose his son threw it out with a lot of other stuff.”

“What!” I exclaimed “I would have thought it would be a very valuable item.”

“Maybe, but because the old man was so secretive about it, I don’t suppose the sons would have known what it was if’n they came across it.”

And that is the wonderful way history is created!

We have a VERY serious problem

We have a very serious problem. A quite dangerous precedent happening with the deliberate covering-up of political damaging information by the mainstream media (MSM). This, combined with a never-ending onslaught by the Murdoch journalists to attempt to divide the community on ethnic, demographic, religious and personal life-style preference lines is slowly corrupting our community. We are already a divided nation on ethnic and religious lines, driven sometimes to fatal fever-pitch by right-wing shock-jocks feeding the Murdoch media hate-machine.

A study of past societies will easily demonstrate that a nation divided cannot stand, but it is also well documented that while leadership could be corrupt, if the people living under that tyranny are in the majority – united and acting with their core decency intact – that nation can rise above such corruption. This is the case now in Australia, I believe we, as a people, have a core decency that can rise above this corrupt government and once again restore the respect and honesty to governance that is required.

But … if this current condition of giving the Murdoch media a free rein to spread its vile base of division and hate continually through our community – the eventual result of such cancer could tip the scales so that if the majority of the citizens is persuaded to go along with the corruption promoted and practiced by this government and its vested interests – there will be little hope for long-term peace and equality in our community.

At this moment it is without doubt that it is the Murdoch media (above all other MSM outlets) which is concentrating its vitriol on the most vulnerable. The recent admission of the once Prime Minister Tony Abbott, to laying drunk in the building while a vote on the rescuing of the economy of our nation was being debated on the floor of the House demonstrates how inept and unsuitable for the office of Prime Minister that man was. Yet this most important and political dynamite information, while being well-known (and suspected along with other salacious hints of behaviour) in the Press Gallery circles and “insiders” of government, it was not delivered to the Australian people by those self-appointed guardians of democracy; The Fourth Estate, until just recently. Sure, the rumours did fly, but were not corroborated. In fact, I would go so far as to claim these facts – along with a host of other totally outrageous behaviour actions, including the rumoured flirtations with his Chief of Staff (that was a most gross insult to his marriage partner) – in itself ought to have disqualified him from holding any office above janitor for Alan Jones’s private dunny!

What has been happening is the deliberate and conspiratorial collusion – by mainly the Murdoch media and its employees – to have foisted upon our nation so that vested interests could lobby such a government to damage, destroy or implement policy disadvantageous to the national interests so as to facilitate an open-house, free-market, winner take all economy most suitable for the 1% and the devil take the hindermost.

This is now reached its most dangerous stage. The politicising of overseeing authorities, the castration of the office of Solicitor General, the corruption of the ACCC, the implementation of a ruthless ABCC to hit upon union activity, the strange and inconsistent behaviour of the policing and security agencies, the complicit behaviour of a certain magistrate in a recent TURC Royal Commission … and the list goes on. We have a serious situation in place that will warrant intense investigation as one of the first order if Labor gain office at the next election.

There will have to be some sort of investigative tribunal put in place to look into the connections between those vested interest institutions like the banks, the business council, energy suppliers, the above government authorities and the mainstream media (particularly those arrogant mouthpieces in the Murdoch media, who, while sheltering under the protective umbrella of their Australian passports seem only too willing to sell the interests of our/their nation out to an overseas national who is their paymaster – an act of treason if ever there was one, and a behaviour that should deserve the most stringent account before a court of law!)

There will have to be oversight of the MSM, particularly in regards to the Canberra Press Gallery. This “institution”, acting now as little more than a cabal of vested interests and lobby groups will have to be stripped of its press-status and admission to the the House Press Gallery and a complete review done on each and every member. They have shown past reluctance in the integrity of their responsibility of “frank and fearless” reporting of those representing our democracy, and if they cannot be relied upon to tell the truth or report the details relevant to our making a decision on who is to future govern the nation, then they do not deserve the privilege or right of entry to the heart of the Parliament.

I, in my own tin-pot way will be exercising my right from this day by serially blocking all MSM journalists from my Twitter stream that I do not feel have come up to a decent standard of honest reporting on the politics and politicians of the day. And that will certainly be every Murdoch journalist without exception. And I acknowledge it may not seem much of an action, perhaps even laughable in some quarters, but I am also aware, as should we all, that in this moment of history, Social Media is the major source of outlet for the distribution of information and disinformation … and by blocking them, I am protesting against the spread through my followers and their followers of the most vital distribution outlet of the Murdoch media.

They can go screw themselves!

 

Last Post on an Origami Government

The object of origami is to take a piece of paper and with dexterous folding, you produce a facsimile of a “real-life” object. Of course, the folding of paper gives an angular abstract of the desired image, but that is good enough, as the imagination does the rest. Such also is the dream of LNP/IPA society.

Planning, costing, promoting and selling of such a phony dream also has that “angular-edge” appearance of origami, and you have to ask;”Is it real, or are these sharp, flat lines of “Agile Politics” a sculptor’s fantasy?” Like a child in anticipation, with all the anticipatory hand gestures of the impatient to get a touch of the object, Malcolm Turnbull draws pictorial images of what he imagines the finished product will look like. And not having competent command of those Aussie vernacular words adequate for even the most simplistic description, he stutters, stumbles and finishes with the fumbling tongue smacking of: “Look! Look! It’s like this …”. Like a child, really. Like a little child.

Of course, his dream of “Corporate Democracy”, like his “Origami Government” is nothing more than that old nightmare of Fascism. The angular creases in the plan being the “lines in the sand” where “shit happens” … shit like union decapitation … democratic protest debased … social media curtailed and the social welfare net ripped to shreds! In a democracy guided by “bottom-line” considerations, any emotive considerations for retaining loyal employment will not be considered, blind obedience to “profit consideration” will reign and as in the land of the blind, the one-eyed (in every sense of the word!) entrepreneur and speculator will be king.

Consider the personality type of our new rulers; “Disciplined, methodical, tough-love, tougher-hate and control”. All the best characteristics of the budding tyrant, and a tyrant’s dynastic reign. There are numerous contemporary examples.

But I blame history, or rather, a lack of understanding of it. Because the positioning of this government and it’s “lay-down misere” political business plan is the standard blueprint of many authoritarian governments shown throughout history.

I have to agree this time with Machiavelli in his “Discourses of Titus Livius” when he describes:

“… when I see, on the other hand, the works of greatest virtu which Historians indicate have been accomplished by ancient Kingdoms and Republics, by Kings, Captains, Citizens, Lawgivers, and others who have worked themselves hard for their country, to be more readily admired than imitated, or rather so much neglected by everyone in every respect that no sign of that ancient virtu remains, I cannot otherwise than wonder and at the same time be sad: and so much more when I see in the civil differences that arise between Citizens, or in the maladies which men incur, they always have recourses to those judgments or to those remedies that have been judged or instituted by the ancients.”

That there are set-pieces of both legislation and policy that once put in place will force the people to change their behaviour to be obligated by those laws to obey them, and like the set rules of origami, guided by realistic logic and exactness, a fold MUST be committed in a certain place, at a certain angle with a certain intent, or all is wronged and the model a failure. The deliberate manipulation of our history, our laws, our language and our mores by this economic rationalist philosophy has but one intent, one direction and one ideal: TOTAL CONTROL.

Again to Machiavelli:

“ … from not having a real understanding of history, and from not drawing that [real] sense from its reading, or benefiting from the spirit which is contained in it. whence it arises that they who read take infinitely more pleasure in knowing the variety of incidents that are contained in them, without ever thinking of imitating them, believing the imitation not only difficult, but impossible: as if heaven, the sun, the elements, and men should have changed the order of their motions and power, from what they were anciently.”

Time may have moved on, but not the mind-set nor behaviour of humanity within any given condition. Which is why we still gasp at moments of drama in a Shakespearean play, why we still absorb with interest the romance story of Antony and Cleopatra, why an ancient religious doctrine can insinuate itself so deep into the puerile imagination of humanity so it will kill, maim and destroy down through history and still, in this age hold sway over a nation’s heart.

Our human condition captures us on that “carousel of time” we are mesmerised by rather than acutely aware of the repeating absurdities of our own behaviour, each generation believing they are inventing a “brand new wheel”.

Of course, having come this far on a well-worn track, it is of little effort to imagine where it may lead to from here. As with any “T-junction” we have two choices:

A : The same-old same-old; a mad dog-eat-dog scramble for wealth, position and power.

B : Equitable socialism with thorough regulation of speculation enterprises.

History shows perfect examples of the end result of “A”, while the relatively “new” ideology of socialism has yet to be tried WIDESPREAD on a democratically elected society. It is not untried and where it has been sincerely used (I’m thinking of certain Scandinavian States), one has to admit it has less dramatic social upheaval than that capitalist love child, laissez faire.

“In each of us there is that twist,

That in the end will come to this.

No matter the culture, the mother, the art,

Each to each,

Heart to heart.

My hair be silver,

My eyes still shine,

Each part of me is a part of thine,

I am the Earth, the trees, the vine,

Drink of me, heart sublime!”

A short announcement …

Here … this may warm the cockles of your heart! And considering the topic of the day at the moment, it is quite relevant. It happened a long time ago here in this town near where I live now. I know of the family, but best not name them as I believe the “situation” is still sensitive. They have a long memory, these small town residents!

A short announcement.

As well aware as we are these days of those “Great Moments in History” where an event is celebrated on canvas, like, say, George Washington crossing the Delaware or Captain James Cook bearing up proudly on the bow of the Endeavor’s whaler boat as he broaches the sandy shore of Botany Bay, or even our own Colonel Light on Montefiore Hill with his determined arm outstretched pointing to the possible location of the future precinct of Adelaide (and how right he was!) … I’d like to draw your attention to those little moments in history enacted in those little places way off the beaten track that one must acknowledge, do deliver their own great moments within their own little worlds. Less, perhaps, “momentous” than “of the moment”!

Such an event happened on the evening of the 2nd of June 1953 – on The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth 2nd – at the Sedan Hotel front bar, where was gathered a regular small group of loyal local blokes, many bearing the Germanic names of that peoples that had been enemies in two wars of recent memory … but wishing to scotch any rumours of disloyalty to The Crown, the publican of the hotel called for silence with the ringing of a spoon on the rim of a schooner glass and proposed a toast to “Her Majesty The Queen”. THAT is the orthodox version of events. I have it on good authority, though I will not vouch for its exactness of detail, that another short announcement accompanied that toast that created a certain amount of “discussion” within that small community.

It went like this:

I doubt it goes without some knowledge in these small country towns, that certain individuals practice habits that are, shall we say, of a different complexion than the mainstream. Most accomplish these little peccadilloes in the secrecy and privacy of their own homes – by themselves and good luck to them – but of course there is a price to pay for all that secrecy. There is the paranoia that if discovered, the general consensus of “the mob” will excoriate and damn the individual in question to exile or worse. Such “difference” is a heavy burden to carry, particularly if one is working every day, shoulder to shoulder with his fellows in the fields. It wears on a chap!

Such a burden had for several years weighed heavily upon one such chap among that gathering that evening in the front bar of The Sedan Hotel (we shall not name names!). He had come to the decision a week or so before that he would share this burden with his fellows and take the consequences … whatever … he would “own” his idiosyncrasy. He had chosen that particular evening and he had steeled himself for the occasion with rehearsed lines and solemn mood to deliver to best advantage that which he wished to say. The fact that the publican had chosen – with his unfortunate royal toast to the newly coroneted queen – the very apex of that moment, the very inhale of breath so to speak, was inconvenient, but not a deterrence. He decided to press ahead.

The silence was heeded, the glasses were charged, the toast was made: “To the Queen!”..”Hear, Hear!” The schooners were just touched to eager, wetted lips when he made his own small announcement:

“I like wearing women’s clothes. I always have.”

There was a short brevity of spluttering chaos in the group.

I would not like to claim that he said it “gaily”, but rather, in a quiet, solemn voice. Soft, but determined. You know, there are some hesitations in the general hubbub of public gatherings where silence can follow momentous announcements. (I’m thinking of Julius Caesar about to cross the Rubicon and he says quietly; “Jacta alia est” (the die is cast). The legions, I suspect, fell silent. Or Horatio Nelson with his famous telescope to the blind eye: “I really do not see the signal”. There are others … there are others). Such a silence followed this announcement in the front bar of The Sedan Hotel. A full ten seconds silence. An eyewitness noted the ticking of a clock (two rooms away) for a full ten tocks. That record, I hasten to add, still stands! I suspect the shock of this fellow navvy, this rough-handed roustabout, whom they were more used to see in moleskins and blucher-boots, informing them of his preference for women’s petticoats and finery threw some small confusion into their male minds. It wasn’t long, however, “till the boat rightened itself”, the wave of confusion subsided and he was confronted with wide-eyed “enthusiasm”. Needless to say, his first suspicions of the possibility of estrangement, alienation and blind anger were quite sufficiently full-filled!

 

The “Perception of Excellence”

An interesting thing came to my attention over the last weekend. I was assisting my partner at an equestrian event where she competed in several classes with her two horses. She is a good rider, and I have been her strapper for around a dozen years, so both herself and even more so, myself, have been able to assess the standard of rider opposition and judging levels over those years.

Of course, as everybody who rides horses knows, it can all come down to “the horse on the day”. But there are consistencies expected and they are the judging criteria that make or break the ride. These criteria would be the ones handed down from eons ago using a set of standards of excellence for each level of competition. These standards were evolved from centuries of cavalry manoeuvres required to keep a squadron of horses manageable in a battle situation. I hardly need tell you what sort of discipline THAT would require! Of course, such “hard core” training has been eased somewhat to accommodate the use of sporting horses in a social day out.

But … a strange realisation came to me this past weekend. My partner had competed in two events of the same level competency, with the same horse, same people competitors and with myself observing. As I have said, I have been watching these competitions for around a dozen years and I am not deluded enough to “guild the lily” on my partners behalf, so I was surprised when in those two events she came second-last in one and second place in the other! … with little discernible difference in performance in both rides … BUT two different judges.

If you Google “Methods of training for horse riding”, you will come up with a plethora of individual styles, from “Rough-riding” to ‘Touch-therapy’ for horses. I won’t go into it. For my real purpose for this missive is to discuss “Perceptions versus Standards of excellence”. Sufficient to say that along with the creeping in of many and various breeds of horses, some quite unsuitable for the competitions they are entered into, along with the many and varied styles of training and riding of competition horses, has come softly, slowly, with generational change, the “sympathetic” assessment of horsemanship graded down from a set “standard of excellence” to more of a “perception of excellence” so that while both the horse and rider may be exhibiting those moments of the criteria sought for; “in-the-frame” composition (what gives the equestrian horse that perfect style of trot or canter etc), they both have not been brought there by setting the solid/correct foundations traditional in horsemanship to create that “frame”, but have been “confected” to behave “as if” it has been trained thoroughly in horsemanship skills via the use of advantageous breeding to create artificial “composition” (appearance), saddlery and bridle gear. THIS confected, cosmetic “perception of excellence” has permeated through many branches and skills of our society, demeaning excellence in manufacture, science and medicine to management to politics. It has damaged our society and left it vulnerable to persuasive propaganda that shifts opinions and sways decisions on little more than a created false-reality/instant gratification.

Self-esteem is now everything in our society. No-one is a loser – “there are many ways of skinning a cat” – but in some things, near enough is NOT good enough. And you can’t get always away with a “fake it till you make it” philosophy. In my trade in building, structure is everything and it is too late and too dangerous to get wisdom in hindsight. There ARE standards of excellence. In lens-polishing, for instance, a milli-point or two from perfect would be disastrous. As in any demanding profession, there ARE set standards of excellence that MUST be adhered to for quality to be achieved. We cannot let these slip, yet that is exactly what has happened in our politics – and in our parliament – and the judges of those standards have foolishly let themselves be persuaded that it was THEY who had “got it right” when they allowed the outrageous destruction of House Procedures to slide into the mire of LNP corruption that is the present government.

Like those sympathies that have corrupted the set standards of excellence in many skills, the MSM Press Gallery journalists were spoon-fed – in small increments over a long period of time – the perception that Labor were incompetent, even though they had moved swiftly to alleviate the hardships of the GFC. the collapse of Financial Advisers Securities, moved on Climate Change legislation, tried to apply regional refugee solutions, the NDIS, Gonski, the NBN. broadband – and all the rest – but somehow, all the Press Gallery could see was “leadership, leadership, leadership”. Why? because the moguls who owned them told them so. The LNP press releases told them nothing more. Their own egos sought to be the “first with the latest”. In short, they reported Labor as a lost cause because of a mistake with their “perception of excellence” and reported the Abbott opposition as the best thing since sliced bread, in spite of his many quite glaring and ghastly failings. Because of their failure to report with the “standard of excellence” which was once the cornerstone of their job-skill, their stupidity and gullibility is now written in Australian history and witnessed in this current fiasco of LNP governance.

This dangerous twisting awry of what is required to make an action “standard best practice” to accepting an action as “perceived best practice” has leeched into the electorate and allowed the lie of the “motherhood statement” to be accepted as a near-enough “perception of done-deed” so that with the LNP “200 policies costed and ready to go” and the “We will bring the ‘out-of-control’ budget back in the black by 2016” were embraced as actual policy promised and delivered. Or should I say: “Perceived as delivered”?

The electorate, by allowing its “self-esteem” to be stroked and massaged in this way, has given away democracy for the price of a couple of “magic beans”. Someone is going to have to tell them that fairy-tales do not come true, or that magic does not happen, or that God does not save little children from drowning, and economic rationalism is not going to deliver them a better standard of living. But with this whole-hearted and deluded embracing of a perception of excellence, it is going to be a bloody difficult job!

Democracy … So?

So, we’ve got democracy. OK, I can live with that. “Of, By and For the people” … sounds alright to me. And there’s the Westminster System of Parliament. That’s sweet; everything above board and regulated. And if not, we have that other essential arm of democratic governance, the Fourth Estate to fearlessly report and expose any Machiavellian plots to undermine … oh, hang on, now we’re drifting into a kind of fantasy. Let’s go back a couple of steps and look at this thing more closely.

Firstly, the so-called Fourth Estate – the mainstream media (MSM) – is not reporting on the activities of the LNP government. It is framing the propaganda spin for the government and thereby being a political player in the LNP scheme of politics. With the control and influence of the vast majority of MSM being owned by one mogul who is an avowed supporter (at this moment) of the right-wing of politics, there is little or no room to move for any progressive or left-wing movements to get coverage in the main media suppliers to the public. Indeed, there is so much false and obfuscated reporting that deliberately works against the Labor Party and other minor parties in a most un-democratic way that is being used as a reference point for other media outlets to use … even the national broadcaster. This is a complete loss of any oversight of our democracy by an independent body.

And then we have the LNP members themselves. I had to go back to an old Crikey survey to find some numbers on the LNP front bench:

State schools may have had good reason to worry. A Crikey survey has found that 82% of Tony Abbott’s cabinet went to private schools, with annual fees as high as $32,000 in 2013. This compares with the general public, where 35% of students attended private schools in 2012, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics … The Crikey survey found that 14 out of 17 cabinet ministers were privately educated. Two ministers were excluded from the survey; Nigel Scullion and Mathias Cormann refused to tell us where they were educated (in Cormann’s case, it was in his native Belgium). The majority come from religious schools, some in the Roman Catholic tradition, such as St Ignatius Riverview in Sydney (Abbott and Joyce). Anglican institutions like The Peninsula School, Mount Eliza are represented (Environment Minister Greg Hunt), while others come from non-denominational independent schools, such as Brisbane Grammar (Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane). Some, like Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, went to Sydney’s elite Greater Public Schools group.

If this is the case as it stands in the Turnbull government (and I can’t see it changing much) then how is this representative of the general population? And doubtless that this has been the percentage “norm” in many LNP governments then it would seem our “democracy” and government is an act of ownership of the “Greater Private Schools” system, or in other words, a racket!

In 2016, the share of national student enrollment at the affiliation level showed that the Government share increased from 65.2% in 2015 to 65.4% in 2016. This was balanced by the Catholic share of enrollment dropping to 20.2%, down from 20.4% in 2015. The Independent enrollment share remained steady at 14.4% (abs.gov.au/ausstats … ).

So by that we have governance by and for the interest of a minority percentage of the population. This elite cabal of religious / private school indoctrination of ideals would give direction to the type of political outcomes we have been suffering under for much of the LNP time in governance. This is not a democratic ideal of for the people, but rather, to the people. For how could a minister who had swanned through their younger years with all the privileges of class and paved ways of higher education have feelings for the greater majority who have and will struggle through the hard-rows of school, work, finances. Of course they wouldn’t hold close to their hearts the vague unfulfilling notions of the poor and unemployed. Those of the more wealthy suburbs would naturally seek to even make more easier the paths of their own. How would we expect otherwise?

If the percentage of ministers that draw up legislation and propose policy are consistently from a minority demographic bringing governance with their own or vested interests upon the greater majority for no reason other than to enrich those of the same class as themselves. This is not a democracy, it is an “Authority”.

Then we come to Parliamentary Procedure and rule of law, both civil and constitutional. The latest outrages against Parliamentary Procedure with the “dual citizenship” fiasco and the recent “contempt of court” outrage along with numerous rorts and allowances grabs etc – too many really to list! – YET as far as I can ascertain, there have been no charges laid or investigations done by our policing agents or bodies. Why is this so? Why is there no authority overseeing those “close to the wind illegalities” committed by the LNP members? Could it be because, as written above, there is an unwritten acknowledgement of “confederacy of kind” between those of a certain class and education elite that gives a kind of “automatic Lebensraum” … room to move and to allow leeway for a change of direction? A sort of convenient forgiveness.

In a recent post, I wrote of when Norm Gallagher was goaled for contempt of court with no offer of a contrite apology given. Yet the recent same charge to three members of the LNP government allowed an escape clause with a rather disingenuous apology. Why? Because if the charge was rightfully upheld, it would have brought down the LNP Government. This was seen as an impossibility for that class of society. They were born to rule and it was “not cricket” for it to be brought down by some of their own! So a convenient “out” was given, publicised and promoted by the fourth estate urged by those three minister’s colleagues and accepted by the judiciary. The “balance” was restored.

But this is not democracy in any shape or form. No, this is a corruption of the name and system. We have for many years been deluded into thinking we are living under a democracy, but it is in reality a “confederacy of elite collegial conspiracy” … not so much an oligarchy, nor an authoritarian government, but with a combination of those three ingredients; MSM, Private/Religious Education Groups, and Legal Authority. We have a new order of “Triumvirate”.

I would urge the Australian Labor Party – if or when they gain office – to this time not do a Kevin (OH! Seven) and leave those LNP sleepers in their positions of authority or power, but to go through the entire higher order of governance, bureaucracy and media like a dose of salts to purge the rot that has permeated through the whole of the system, not just to secure their own governance, but to restore respect and honesty to our democracy.

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