Straw dogs were used as ceremonial objects in ancient China.
In one translation Chapter 5 of the Tao Te Ching begins with the lines; “Heaven and Earth are heartless/treating creatures like straw dogs”.
Su Zhe‘s commentary on this verse explains:
“Heaven and Earth are not partial. They do not kill living things out of cruelty or give them birth out of kindness. We do the same when we make straw dogs to use in sacrifices. We dress them up and put them on the altar, but not because we love them. And when the ceremony is over, we throw them into the street, but not because we hate them.” (Wikipedia).
Last week saw the first of the Manus Island/Nauru refugees transferred to America as part of a re-settlement deal with the USA:
“Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has taken aim at the first group of refugees to leave Australia’s offshore detention centres for resettlement in the United States.
Sydney radio host Ray Hadley put to the minister during a regular interview on Thursday that a photograph of the group published by News Corp this week looked like a fashion show on a catwalk in Paris or New York.
“Somebody once said to me the world’s biggest collection of Armani jeans and handbags was up on Nauru waiting for people to collect it when they depart,” Mr Dutton told 2GB radio.
More than 50 refugees this week left offshore detention on Manus Island and Nauru for a new life in the US.” (SBS news report 28 /9 /17).
“Straw Dogs” was a film released in 1971:
“The plot of ( the film) Straw Dogs is fairly simple. A young couple moves to a rural English town and rents a house. David Sumner, an American, is an astrophysicist with a grant to do research. His wife, Amy, is English, originally from the town where they now live. In the opening shots, they run into one of her old flames, a handsome, hulking man who dwarfs and plainly intimidates David, played by Dustin Hoffman at his squirrelly, brittle best. Amy, played with a teasing sultriness by Susan George (who delivers by far the film’s best performance), only half-heartedly resists her old boyfriend.
The Sumners, we find out soon enough, have a bad marriage, with nothing much in common other than sex and a sort of teasing affection. Moreover, David is apolitical and apathetic. He has come to get away from the violence rampant in the States, and he pretends to be proud of not taking a stand or getting involved. When one of the villagers asks him if he saw any of the urban rioting or campus violence, he quips, “Only between commercials … No one laughs.” (Wikipedia review).
The Female Eunuch is a 1970 book by Germane Greer that became an international bestseller and an important text in the feminist movement. Greer’s thesis is that the “traditional” suburban, consumerist, nuclear family represses women sexually, and that this devitalises them, rendering them eunuchs. The book was published in London in October 1970. It received a mixed reception, but by March 1971, it had nearly sold out its second printing. It has been translated into eleven languages. (Wikipedia).
There was also dissenting critique about the intentions of the Straw Dogs film:
“The late film critic Robin Wood once smartly described Straw Dogs as being about a man who was determined to “defend a home that doesn’t really exist.” (When David is driving Niles back to the village after the carnage, Niles tells him, “I don’t know my way home.” David answers, as the movie concludes, “That’s okay, I don’t either.”) Wood went on to say that “the film is a reminder that the violence is not in the action but in them.” By ‘them,’ Wood was referring to those he called the “moralistic critics” who attacked the film, perhaps like Pauline Kael who famously called Straw Dogs “the first American film that is a fascist work of art.” While fascist is a word that continues to get thrown around rather sloppily even today, Kael was referring specifically to the sexual fascism inherent in the material. What she saw was the macho imperative. Kael abhorred the idea of violence making a man out of the pacifist; she hated that Peckinpah held David up to ridicule until he finally proved that – deep down – his animal cunning made him once again sexually appealing to his wife. She also despised the fact that a major artist (whose work she generally loved) had done nothing more than present a view of violence and rape no more sophisticated than what was commonly voiced in bars by male drunks.”
The Miles Franklin Award in 1971 went to Australian author David Ireland for his book: The Unknown Industrial Prisoner.
In 1978 a film version was planned, to be produced by Richard Mason and directed by Arch Nicholson, with Ken Cameron also working on it. Funding was from Film Australia. However the (LNP) Minister for Home Affairs Bob Ellicott cancelled the film on the grounds it was uncommercial, a rare instance of political interference in the Australian film industry.
“In his ‘preface’ which comes near the end of this extraordinary novel David Ireland says:
‘It has been my aim to take apart, then build up piece by piece this mosaic of one kind of human life … to remind my present age of its industrial adolescence.’
“Piece by piece, David Ireland portrays a kind of life which is lived at an oil refinery in Sydney – from its highest tower from which one of the workers plunges to death, to the secret hide-out in the mangroves where the men refresh themselves with such ladies as the Sandpiper and Never on Sundays. He takes apart this vast industrial complex and its multitudinous characters, then reassembles it into a mosaic fiery and macabre, whose crazy patterns are lit with grim humour.
“The huge structure becomes an image, at once amusing and appalling, of the whole industrial society in which modern man is trapped.” (Wikipedia review)
The dangers of allowing a government of autocratic or fascist intent to frame policy toward its ideology was warned against more than a century ago:
“From (Julius) Caesar’s time, as the sequel will show and (Edward) Gibbon has shown a long time ago, the Roman system had only an external coherence and received only mechanical extension, while internally even with him utterly withered and dead. If in the early stages of the autocracy and above all in Caesar’s own soul the hopeful dream of a combination of a free popular development and absolute rule was still cherished, the government of the highly gifted emperors of the Julian house soon taught men in a terrible form how far it was possible to hold fire and water in the same vessel.” (Theodor Mommsen: History of Rome).
Where is the oversight to control the excesses of bad governance?
(Pauline Kael has a very good critique of “A Clockwork Orange” from 1972. You may find it both an excellent extra read to this article by Pauline Kael).