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For better or for worse, we are much like America

It was 2016 when the then Vice President of the United States of America Joe Biden last visited Australia. On that occasion I was fortunate to hear him speak twice. Both times the sincere love he has for our country hung on every word.

Australians have always had a sort of love-hate relationship with America. Whilst we come from an English heritage, it has been the United States that has had the most influence on our maturing.

You agree, guys?

We have followed America into wars that were none of our concern yet we did so because allies help each other. We jump at their command. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

We are in many ways just like them.

We have alliances that almost guarantee our national safety. Their culture has become ours much to the detriment of our own.

Our relationship with America under Biden will grow but at the same time China will be anxious about it, wanting Australia to respect its rise as a super power. We can and must do better.

At present Australia’s politics still exists behind the Trump brand with lies and falsehoods. For example, Scott Morrison is still insisting that we would reach our Kyoto targets. This is a blatant lie that he continues to tell.

We can met them if we use the credits we were given to make sure we joined Kyoto and to use them only says that we didn’t try nearly hard enough.

Australia is the only country that has said it intends to use carryover credits for its Paris target. In any case the Kyoto credits are likely to be withdrawn before the next meeting.

If Morrison continues with his own particular brand of Trump style politics, he too might suffer the same fate as Trump.

Whether or not the Democrats win the Senate, Biden has promised that his presidency will push allies to reduce emissions.

This has major repercussions for Australia. If Morrison stands his ground then tensions could rise. More possible is that we may have to take climate change seriously. Imagine if he got himself offside with both Biden and Xi Jinping.

After four years of Trump’s daily tweets Australians could be heard “shouting enough is enough.” Well at least half of us have been shouting..

We too have become partisan in our politics. Half of us seem to like the morose shouty, “look at me,” politics of the Trumpish Morrison. The other half like the calm body politic of the sage, old Joe Biden.

We have grown up with their music be it pop, jazz or theatre. Their television is over represented on our screens. The Americanisation of Australia is all but complete.

Their sports have become second nature to us as have the artistic creations of Hollywood. We have accepted the American inclination toward scandal and sleaze. We also suffer from both political and social narcissism.

Our natural inclination for technology has seen us take up their originations at unprecedented levels. It is said in economics that if America catches a cold then we get the flu.

Its endless unwinnable wars are bankrupting it but they don’t seem to care and go on spending more on defence than the rest of the world put together.

We have also suffered from Trumpism.

The science of climate change shows that we are looking at an impending environmental disaster of catastrophic proportions, but like many of us the US refuses, as they do with evolution, to believe it. Trump believes global warming to be a hoax stemming from China. Our government believes it to be a socialist plot.

Biden intends to reverse this travesty of human comprehension.

In the US 22 million people live in poverty. Inequality in both our countries is a problem with only the left of politics willing to address it.

Since its arrival on US shores COVID-19 – besides killing in excess of 230,000 people – it has sent many thousands more into poverty says a report from Columbia University.

The right didn’t give a damn.

Trickle-down economics and de-industrialisation are responsible but the right cling to the god of capitalism, that believes that making the rich even richer will solve the problem.

Religion has a rather odd hold on the most technologically advanced country in the world but we are more circumspect and Christianity is in decline and is likely to disappear in two or three decades. Church attendance in Australia has declined from 44% in 1950 to just 16% today.

The rich citizens and the big corporations of both countries seem to have ‘boycotted’ paying tax. Corruption reigns supreme and the conservatives dodge any move that might have its party investigated.

Corruption runs rampant in both countries. Both are loath to tackle political exploitation- afraid of what may be revealed. A move to have an oversight body in Australia is being hindered by a reluctant government that faces many scandals.

President Trump faces over 1,000 law suits as soon as he leaves office. What a circus that will be.

While in Australia we don’t have periodic mass killings of children at schools, malls, movie theatres and other public places, however there are those who would soften our gun laws.

Fortunately, we don’t have the problem of police committing public executions of black people in our streets but only a fool would deny that we have an element of racism.

Like America, the reality is that we have a media that produces an avalanche of political and cultural untruths. Stories are just made up. A petition of 500,000 signatures is being presented to the Australian Parliament this week for a Royal Commission into the bias of the Murdoch press. Its bias is based on the assumption that in a declining market it is legitimate to lie and disseminate political, intellectual and cultural discourse with a perverse sensationalism, emotionalism and pathetic dishonesty to arrest this declining market.

American and Australian media are saturated with highly-paid right-wing commentators whose job it is to titillate, gossip and contaminate the airwaves and television screens with nonsensical garbage where people talk up negative possibilities.

Selling advertising comes first and it’s done in any manner it can be. Mass entertainment, both violent and sexually explicit, contaminates the cultural life of both our countries.

American reality television conspired in Trump to produce a ‘reality’ presidential candidate. “There’s no business-like show business.”

Now that the “I know more about anything” President has been defeated by Biden there is a chance of returning to the sensible centre that once made American democracy a guiding light in a world looking for freedom.

”I will make America great again,” Trump shouted from the highest pillars of the mountain of illusion.

Millions of Americans have ‘woken up’. The dream has ended. The promise that everyone can be whoever they want to be and have whatever they want, if they would just work hard, and trust in God, is dying.

American exceptionalism, the land of milk and honey belongs to a bygone era. If it ever did.

In Australia we feel powerless to have any influence in what we thought was an inclusive democracy. We are just spectators, hostages to broken systems of government. Chaos abounds and the common good has been forgotten. The political, cultural and intellectual discourse of Australia has been effectively muted by the contamination of those who would seek power for power’s sake. It must be reversed.

Conservatives have successfully stifled the intellectual exchange of ideas. Australia has a compulsory voting system and America a non-compulsory one. Neither serves the people well.

In Australia, capitalistic neoliberal ideology has won the day and we must follow America’s example and give the other mob a go.

The lack of transparency, uncontrolled capitalism, corruption and the death of truth are of themselves cause for great concern.

Sure, both societies have advanced but the price is gauged by the exploitation of the poor and middle classes.

The price we have paid for our progress is measured in wars and seductive illusions about our culture. Our quality of life has become a perception. Not ‘what is’ but what we perceive it to be.

And in our powerlessness, we listen to the voices of the absurd, to the promises of demigods and racists in the absence of ideas about how to fix our comparative democracies.

It’s called long-suffering irrationalism. We no longer have the patience or desire to soberly examine policies that effect our lives and politics has been relegated by the media to a 24/7 sideshow.

In America the voice of Trump was heard by those who cannot see that the great American dream has ended and those who have lost faith in institutionalised politics see no future.

In Australia the voice of the far right has gained a foothold because people have become dissatisfied with our institutionalised democracy. Our government produces slogans and promises repetitively until the people are conned into believing them. They deal in the illusions of social progress and prosperity. They refuse to acknowledge any reality that might concern us about the future.

The people either don’t vote or think they gain a voice by voting for extremists. Few people trust our politicians or have faith in our system of government.

We live a life of permanent malaise and think little about what makes our nation work until the next election come around. Chris Hedges spelt it out this way:

”Life is lived in an eternal present. How we got here, where we came from, what shaped us as a society, in short, the continuum of history that gives us an identity, are eradicated.”

What Australians dislike about Americans is their pomposity and self-righteousness, their know-all attitude and belief in their own self-importance, for which we have a saying: “They think their shit doesn’t stink.” Some would say that they are the only people in the world that believe their own bullshit.

Whatever happens in America (apart from frequent mass murders), usually reinvents itself in Australia. Greed is now God. Paying tax has become a sport with no rules. Narcissism is rampart and religion has more to say than it should.

How did it come to this?

It did so because we allowed ourselves to believe the lies. We fell for the mantra of hatred and fear they so delicately indoctrinated us with.

We allowed ourselves to be conned into believing that poverty is the fault of the victim but wealth comes from virtue and both are the natural order of things.

Good democracies can only deliver good government and outcomes if the electorate demands it. Unfortunately, we have forgotten just what that means.

The United States of America has cleaned up its act. So, should we.

They had their say after four years of a cringeworthy leader.


“End of an error” by Alan Moir (


My thought for the day

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  1. Andrew J. Smith

    Good read, and raises question of whether the current (and historical) situation will change in ‘Australian’ society and culture that is promoted by ‘elites’ i.e. politicians, media etc.?

    In future changing demographics should lead to a more realistic Australian narrative reflecting the diverse society we are. This is opposed to the sepia tinted rear view mirror reflection of the dominant culture, now, receding into the past…

  2. josephus

    In so many ways the USA seeps into what was our culture racist though it partly still is.
    I note the way some young people, like, sort of speak, like, full of non signifiers. Women adopt USA rising intonation these days, too. seeking approval from, ,like, males all too often.
    They paint their faces, like, poor little Ophelias. They wear, like, high heels, teetering about.
    So.much, like, for feminism.
    Halloween, humbug. Santa in the snow, culture cringe a la Coca-Cola that clothed st Nicholas in red.
    What mindless commercialism, led as we are by a failed marketing salesman with lunatic beliefs.

  3. leefe

    “We have alliances that almost guarantee our national safety.”

    Anyone who imagines the US would actually step in and help if, for instance, China invaded us is living in LaLa Land.

    “Fortunately, we don’t have the problem of police committing public executions of black people in our streets … ”

    Not often, no – they are just gaoled for trivialities and killed or left to die without recourse.

    Education and a biased near-monopoly MSM are the main factors. And the issues with both these can be traced back to the Lying Rodent himself, LJH, who removed the restrictions on media ownership.

  4. John Lord

    Leefe. 1 Alliances do have commitments and obligations.

    2 I should expanded to include deaths in custody.

    3 I think it was Keating who opened up the media landscape that allowed Murdoch to expand.

  5. Phil

    Yes it’s good to see Trumpism rejected, but it would be premature to draw any conclusions about the extent of real change given Trump garnered 47% of the popular vote…..that’s a substantial block of dissatisfied people. Biden leads a centre-right party.

    The left took a bow when the Democrats evicted Sanders. The UK left ditto with Corbyn. Yes the tone of the presidency will change but the US remains as the worlds preeminent neoliberal plutocracy. Biden will continue on the path to war with China and if that eventuates, Australia will have no choice but to grant the US its ‘right of access’ to our soil as a launchpad for what the US military-industrial complex has been lusting after since its violation of Iraq.

    Yes, nice to say bye bye to Trump, but Biden, in my view is simply the choice just over half American voters made when they had no other.

  6. wam

    BIBS AND BOBS, as usual lord.
    Yes we are white racist sexist, god fearing immigrants who disregard the original owners of the land. But people of our age may remember the septics as you describe whilst the young believe the TV believe the films believe the media and the language whilst australian tv, films and language suffer in silence. Remember in 1951 ANZUS was a NON-binding treaty(we back the septic and they will consider backing us and the kiwis)and it became AxxUS in 1986???
    Church attendance has dropped? Unless you consider private church schools who have daily indoctrination about a male god who thinks women are for breeding purposes.
    If you forget they and public schools get $20/24 thousand for an indoctrinator.
    As for tax, kerry packer got it right during the goanna years “I pay whatever tax I am required to pay under the law, not a penny more, not a penny less…”
    As often the case you have a great thought but simple lies achieve that and propaganda
    “One such categorization classifies propaganda as white, gray, or black according to the degree to which the sponsor conceals or acknowledges its involvement.”
    and a 400 year old:
    The Sacred Congregation de Propaganda Fide, whose official title is “sacra congregatio christiano nomini propagando” is the department of the pontifical administration charged with the spread of Catholicism and with the regulation of ecclesiastical affairs in non-Catholic countries

    Happy NAIDOC week.
    Did you watch Unaarrimin, lord???

  7. wam

    Not shiny like Tipungwuti or Kantilla??

  8. Kronomex

    Agh! John, why do you keep using photos with Skidmark Scotty and The Donald that cry out to me to allow my mind to head South and conjure up images and thoughts that almost always distract me from making comments that are relevant to your post?

    Anyway, when you have right wing parties (not mentioning any names but will say one has the word liberal in it) that are almost absolutely beholden to big business for their survival and a slavish adoration of people like The Trump with an unhealthy amount of wacko Yank style religion permeating parliament things will not get better. Will it change at the next election? I suspect not, the RWNJ’s in charge will find ways to suck the unwashed masses (not apologising) into keeping them in for another term and once back in they’ll go back to ignoring them once again except to find new ways to demonise them for being the little inconsequential peons they are.

  9. Wam

    John wrote that he didn’t notice Aborigines in Melbourne till the shiny black Africans arrived. It has escaped most southern Australians that shiny blacks had been in Australia for thousands of years. Kantilla played in south Australia 60 years ago when lord was playing and he was a Tiwi like Anthony MacDonald Tipungwuti as shiny a black as any African.

  10. DrakeN

    Likewise, wam, our ‘education’ system has been very careful to avoid upsetting people by including an accurate history of the atrocities imposed on the indigenous peoples of Australia and of the high levels of social, communal and agricultural activities existing prior to British invasion.
    There have been some changes forced on the curriculum of recent years, but it is always subsumed in the common conciousness of the unworthiness of our original inhabitants and their successors.
    There is so much that modern Australian society chooses to ignore about the facts of the country – past and present.

  11. Ross

    We are nothing like Americans. If you think differently, go live and work in America for a year.
    Going there on holiday is one thing, living there is entirely different, the cultural difference is huge.
    If you do you will begin to understand why assimilation is so hard for some here.
    In Australia we like it when people run up the national flag outside their house; it shows where the wankers are. In America it’s the exact opposite.

  12. Geoffrey Lawrence

    Decent account… except claiming how lucky we are that police don’t routinely kill Aboriginal people in Oz. Check the stats and fit that, fair and square, in your analysis

  13. Harry Williams

    “Fortunately, we don’t have the problem of police committing public executions of black people in our streets but only a fool would deny that we have an element of racism”. Your correct. The executions are not public. They just take them back to the local lockup and belt shit out of them.

    “Sure, both societies have advanced but the price is gauged by the exploitation of the poor and middle classes”. Talk about Americanisation. What ever happened to working class?

    “Alliances do have commitments and obligations”. If you believe this then you had better clear your fireplace to allow Santa easy access to you house. I was a young adult when Indonesia invaded West New Guinea, The government of the day were scared that the Indonesians were going to crossover into the then Australian controlled Eastern half. I remember the Yank ambassador at the time saying publicly that the ANZUS treaty could not be invoked in this instance. They washed their hands of the treaty possibly because they were trying to woo Indonesia away from Communist influences. The US will not aid Australia as long as the invaders do not threaten McDonalds or Coca Cola.

  14. John Lord

    Wam. Can you point me to where I wrote that. I didn’t and you should retract it.

  15. Kronomex

    Wam November 11, 2020 at 11:51 am

    You’re seeing things that don’t exist in what John wrote and now you have given him the taint of being racist with your unpleasant and unfounded comment. That’s a pretty low thing even for you and I think an apology should be forthcoming.

  16. wam

    Perhaps it was in the ‘african ban’ era of a few years ago??
    You wrote ‘I don’t remember seeing Aborigines in melbourne’ not sure if it was when you were growing up or in the 50s.
    wow, john I was under the impression that you remembered writing that? do you keep a record?
    To not see Aborigines was the usual observation in the cities they were there but invisible.(or something like that was in my reply)
    Have you no memory of writing/thinking that???
    It stuck with me because you added “shiny black” and again there were no shiny black in melb till the Africans came because, except for Kantilla, Australian shiny were up here.
    I have kept some emails back to 2013 but my search is not able to refine to ‘shiny black’ and I tried some but the website cannot be reached at my level.
    psKronomex, old idiots can give nobody the taint and if you think all Australians are not racist about Aborigines then good luck. I see the ‘invisible’ racism that got rid of a champion footballer, reinforced every day.
    We were all brought up to accept racist views of the Australian Aborigine that transcends the world view of racism.
    Look at the kerfuffle about ‘young’
    Look at the rabbott ‘before 1788 there was nothing but bush’
    Look at the Borroloola christians who believe their ancestors cannot go to heaven because they didn’t know jesus
    ps did you see
    Unaarrimin, (Johnny Mullagh)???

  17. Kronomex

    wam November 11, 2020 at 7:46 pm.

    What in fornicates sake does that reply at the above time have to do with John’s piece “For better or for worse, we are much like America.”? I thought your comment at 11.51 AM was pretty low but now you’ve starting digging a trench. I would suggest you quit making any further comments on this matter before you make yourself look even more unpleasant and foolish.

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