[First published in BWD magazine, autumn 2021, Braidwood NSW.]
The word Gallipoli evokes one of our most potent cultural stories, but in truth it is not one story but many. There are stories of sacrifice and national identity, but there are also stories of folly and destruction, and stories overlooked. We all, presumably, want to honour the fallen but there are those who, wittingly or otherwise, exploit the stories for other purposes. Can we have a conversation about these stories? Can we talk about which stories to keep, whether some might be corrected or discarded and others picked up? Continue reading →
I was inspired by an early episode of Redfern Now, the one in which the scholarship kid at the posh school refuses to sing the AAF words because they insult his people. There are so many things wrong with those words. You can go through and pick at ‘boundless plains’ and ‘girt’, but for me it’s the whole tone and package.
[This was drafted around the time of the delayed budget in October 2020. Too much was happening and I suppose the world moved on before I could submit it anywhere.]
The budget frenzy does not just highlight the familiar, toxic social and political priorities of this Government and much of the Parliament, it prompts deeper probing into common assumptions, perceptions and framing. What kind of society is desirable? What kind of society is feasible? How could we create it?
The budget is an opportunity to spell out, again, how misguided are some standard economic precepts. It reveals how profoundly awry are our conception of an economy and a society, our operating assumptions on human nature and our place in the world, and the aspirations we fall miserably short of.
[Published at Independent Australia 17 April 19. While the political class held its breath for the official beginning of the coming Federal election campaign, I reflected on a policy platform that would actually make a difference, and give us some hope of surviving the coming decades without civil strife and collapse.]
Let us acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet and pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging.
In fact let us acknowledge that this modern nation of Australia occupies a land never ceded by its original inhabitants. We are belatedly realising the ancestors of our First Peoples forged sophisticated cultures that fostered the health of the land and provided generously to support diverse lifestyles including villages, cropping and farming of various kinds. They lived as part of the great fabric of life, and at peace with each other. We have many lessons to learn from them. Let us return to them the power to heal their own lives and communities. Let us take up their most generous invitation, in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, to walk together into the future.
[Couldn’t get any takers for this. Too long, not newsworthy, and The Monthly doesn’t contemplate responses, being in the business of glitterary packaging of its generally substantive pieces.]
The feature article in the September issue of The Monthly, The Fountain of Youth by Ceridwen Dovey, describes Professor David Sinclair of Harvard and UNSW and his biotechnological research into ageing mechanisms and how they might be slowed, stopped or even reversed.
The topic raises profound issues, but unfortunately Dovey’s account is more paean than critical evaluation. There are multiple and diverse concerns, and they are aggravated by academic competitiveness, a not-uncommon technocratic narrowness, the power of global finance, and the potent interaction of those forces.
[This was written ten days ago and I thought it was dead and gone. But lo, my reliable Independent Australia eventually got around to it. By the way it’s worth seeing the video of George Lakoff there, if you have 35 minutes to spare. He elaborates the ‘strict father’ and ‘nurturing parent’ world views that lie behind ‘conservative’ and ‘progressive’ attitudes.]
The ABC is pandering more and more flagrantly to the Far Right.
Monday 3rd of September was a good night for the Far Right on the ABC. There was a 45-minute exclusive platform for Steve Bannon, alt-Right champion and Trump booster, in an interview on the Four Corners program. Later Q&A, which regularly includes at least one Far Right panel member, had three out of five, including – spare us – radio shock jock Alan Jones, as if he needs another megaphone.
This while the ABC is re-running a version of “It’s your ABC” featuring nostalgic clips of the Bananas in Pajamas and the lovely Noni of Playschool. Only it’s not our ABC any more. It has been the Liberal Party’s ABC for some time.
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.
Australia can choose not to be ‘big’ if it wants. Both our material income and our quality of life would benefit.
It’s good that the ABC’s Four Corners has provoked a debate on immigration, and it’s good that it avoided racist, xenophobic or xenophilic claims, but still so many of the arguments presented are ill-informed or self-serving.
[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.