With the last of the centenary Anzac commemorations behind us, perhaps we can look more closely at the source of some current attitudes.
For nearly two decades government agencies have been quietly filling our kids’ heads with right-wing propaganda. Not only was the Australian nation allegedly forged in the crucible of Gallipoli, but our noble and gallant boys were fighting for democracy and freedom. The ‘Anzac spirit’, also born at Gallipoli, has infused every great thing we have done ever since.
The claims are fiction, one long-standing, the others rather newer.
[This was written November 2017. I was in a dark mood and needed to unload some of it. Having done that, I felt better and left it. However the dark mood has been returning. Twice now I’ve been triggered by being taken back in time, as you’ll see in this and the next post. The previous post, To Armageddon on Automatic, was on a topic long brewing that I struggled to find words for. There may be more. These are not bright times.]
Reading a collection of essays by author Rosie Scott* has taken me back to the early nineties. Those times were far from idyllic, but how much lower we have sunk since then.
That was before we turned decisively to the dark side, before we learnt to stumble through the gritty, coal-dusted moral gloom, mocked by boofhead bully politicians, conditioned to fear others and to destroy innocent lives, cloyed by Big Brother in our pockets and purses, taunted by visions of robot workers, android dreams and a baking planet. That was before the colours faded.
The tragic loss of innocent lives to terrorist acts will not stop until we admit to the folly of current policies.
Lost amid the genuine anguish, the outrage, the media frenzy, and the political posturing after each terrorist event in the West is a simple question: “Why are they so angry, these terrorists?” You don’t really have to look far for an answer.
Back in the 1960s authorities were very exercised that cells of violent hippie peacenik leftists were plotting to overthrow the Government and establish an anarchist hippie socialist dictatorship (there were no greenies yet). This would inevitably morph into communism, the dreaded embodiment of all evil.
The conspirators were a very small fringe of a very large but not very coherent movement that wanted more love, less war, less consumerism and healthier living. Oh, and some drugs and weird clothes, or no clothes. There was the odd kidnapping and a few small bombs let off, some of them doing more harm to the conspirators than to the Establishment, but the large anti-war movements did not automatically join the revolution and the whole thing fizzled. The hippies got mortgages, Ronald Reagan was elected, and Big Business resumed gobbling up the world.
There are strong echoes from 1983 in the present political situation, and not just of Bob Hawke’s displacement of Bill Hayden as Labor leader on the brink of the 1983 election. There are deeper and darker currents flowing from that coup to Australia’s present state of delusional hysteria, especially regarding refugees.
Australian society was very different in 1983. Australia was a relatively fair, tolerant and egalitarian place, even though not without blind spots. We were said, disparagingly by some, to be very easy going. We were much richer in material things, and in the time to enjoy life, than we had been at the end of World War II, and for most the memory of steady improvement was recent and clear.
When Bob Hawke and Paul Keating took over Labor, and then the government, in 1983, they also took over the free-market fundamentalist agenda of the right wing of the Liberal Party.
[I sent this to The Canberra Times Sunday (24th). Still waiting for a response, though it’s highly apposite to the local Senate race, with Zed Seselja having ousted Gary Humphries from number one on the Liberal Senate ticket, and Simon Sheikh being a vigorous Greens candidate with at least an outside chance.]
“Left wing” and the “most extreme government in Australia”, is how Jeremy Hanson chose to label the ACT’s Labor-Green Government upon winning the local Liberal leadership recently. Clearly he was singing from the current Liberal Party song sheet, which seeks to label the Greens “extremists” at every slight opportunity.
Now that local Liberal Zed Seselja is gunning for the national stage in the Senate, we should put these claims in a little perspective, and examine who is extreme and who reflects “good common-sense values”, to quote Hanson again.