What provokes a convict spirit and fills it with the desire for revenge?

Another Aussie, any Aussie, who refuses to ‘know their place.’

‘I see an independent spirit in your eyes. Go away or I will crush it.’

The same disease – ‘tall poppy syndrome’: ‘I’m on my knees looking up. I will ensure that you kneel, not stand, beside me.’

The origins of this lie in the underbelly of a developing English capitalism in the 18th century – authoritarian, exploitative, brutal.

Edward Backhouse ‘A chain gang, convicts going to work near Sidney [sic], New South Wales’, etching, 1843, National Library of Australia. Text below image: ‘You may save or print this image for research and study. If you wish to use it for any other purposes, you must declare your Intention to Publish.’

Edward Backhouse ‘A chain gang, convicts going to work near Sidney [sic], New South Wales’, etching, 1843, National Library of Australia. Text below image: ‘You may save or print this image for research and study. If you wish to use it for any other purposes, you must declare your Intention to Publish.’

Branding of a convict during transportation to Australia in the 19th century.

Branding of a convict during transportation to Australia in the 19th century.

‘Salt bath’ torture of a convict after being flogged, during transportation to Australia in the 19th century.

‘Salt bath’ torture of a convict after being flogged, during transportation to Australia in the 19th century.


A convict ploughing team breaking up ground at a farm at Port Arthur, Tasmania, 1926

A convict ploughing team breaking up ground at a farm at Port Arthur, Tasmania, 1926







Aboriginal prisoners on Rottnest Island, 1920s

Aboriginal prisoners on Rottnest Island, Western Australia, 1920s

An Aboriginal chain gang, c. 1900, going to work at Wyndham, Wester Australia. The guard is on the extreme right.

An Aboriginal chain gang, c. 1900, going to work at Wyndham, Western Australia. The guard is on the extreme right.


Images from top: 1st/2nd/3rd/4th/5th/6th

Australian culture: authoritarian, racist, increasingly mean

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The racism directed at Adam Goodes is fuelled by and masks a broader issue – a pervasive, internalised authoritarianism that functions through a wide range of concepts such as ‘laid-back’, ‘easy-going’, ‘decent’, ‘tolerant’, ‘one of the boys’, ‘ordinary’ and ‘nice’.

Fail to bow down to or question any of these and trouble instantly heads your way – whatever your skin colour.

The unrelenting viciousness targeted at Goodes is because he defiantlygives it back’ to his tormentors, to those who know their place. It is all about place.

What went forth as racism has been returned with interest as ‘up yours’ to the ‘laid-back’, ‘easy-going’ minions of provincial domination.

In ‘giving it back’ to them, all the more provocatively because he is indigenous and at the top of his field, he is holding up a mirror before them, pointing out their servility and meanness of spirit, lack of spirit – drawing their hatred. He is reminding them of who they are.

Goodes has committed the greatest offence to Australian culture and broken its cardinal rule – he displays non-conformist spirit – the quality that should be most valued in a society.

If he retires from the AFL the ‘laid-back’, ‘easy-going’ minions will have got rid of that mirror and can sit down again in their seats and go back to the sleep their masters and all authoritarians wish on them.


1. Megan Levy, ’Swans star Adam Goodes always plays the victim: Alan Jones’, The Sydney Morning Herald 29.07.15

Radio shock jock Alan Jones has delivered a scathing assessment of Sydney Swans star Adam Goodes on national television, saying the champion footballer always “plays the victim” and needs to change his behaviour if he wants crowds to stop booing him at AFL games.

The 2GB presenter claimed crowds were reacting negatively to the 35-year-old because they simply didn’t like his behaviour, including his “spear throwing and the running in and doing a war dance and so on and provoking people”.

Jones insisted crowds had not forgotten when Goodes “humiliated” a 13-year-old girl who was in the crowd of an AFL match in 2013. The teenager was escorted from the MCG after calling Goodes an ape. She later apologised and claimed she did not know the word was a racist slur.

“You know, the man is always a victim,” Jones railed on Channel Seven’s Sunrise on Wednesday morning.

“Then he became Australian of the Year and tells us that we’re all racists. Every time he speaks, Australia is a racist nation.

“I mean, there are 71 Indigenous players. They are in rugby league, they are in rugby union. They are everywhere. They’re playing tennis, and people don’t boo them. They’re booing Adam Goodes because they don’t like him and they don’t like his behaviour.”

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Jones had been asked for his opinion after it was revealed Goodes was considering retiring due to the negative influence the booing at games was starting to have on his teammates.

Goodes copped another torrent of abuse from a hostile away crowd on Sunday during the Swans’ match against West Coast at Domain Stadium. One person in the crowd allegedly yelled at Goodes to “get back to the zoo”.

Goodes’ teammate Lewis Jetta performed an Indigenous war dance and threw an imaginary spear at a section of the West Coast crowd in support of his friend.

Jones said the talk of retirement was “typical Adam Goodes”.Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 2.11.26 pm

“They [the booing crowds] just don’t like the fellow. And Adam Goodes can fix all this by changing his behaviour. But what’s he say today? ‘Oh, I’m going to leave. I may have to resign. I can’t hack it.’

“Ask the little 13-year-old girl how she handled that. She was paraded over the national media as a person who really had to apologise. She wrote a letter and apologised. I mean, the poor little thing, 13 years of age, disabled mother. I mean, give me a break.

“The bloke’s a rich Australian athlete. He humiliated a 13-year-old girl who didn’t even know what she was saying, and the public haven’t forgotten it. Someone’s got to ask the question: why are they booing Adam Goodes and not the other 70 Indigenous AFL players? Adam Goodes can fix this by changing his behaviour. He again today plays the victim.”

Sunrise co-presenter David Koch said crowds had a right to boo or applaud players, but not when it crossed the line into racial abuse.

He said the crowd member’s zoo insult was racist and ridiculous.

“He wouldn’t say that to a white man. He wouldn’t say to a white guy get back to the zoo,” Koch said.

Goodes did not train on Tuesday and has been given two days off.

Swans coach John Longmire said there was no expectation on Goodes, a dual Brownlow medallist, to declare his availability for the round 18 match against Adelaide at the SCG on Saturday.


2. Tim Dick, ‘Australia can show the US a thing or two in the lock-up stakes’, The Sydney Morning Herald 29.07.15

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Barack Obama, with his mojo replenished, is set on fixing the American tragedy of black over-incarceration. When he’s done warming up, he should try the big league, Australia.

“The bottom line is that in too many places, black boys and black men, Latino boys and Latino men experience being treated differently under the law,” he told the NAACP in Philadelphia this month.

“A growing body of research shows that people of colour are more likely to be stopped, frisked, questioned, charged, detained. African Americans are more likely to be arrested. They are more likely to be sentenced to more time for the same crime.”

Are they what. Black men are far more likely to be imprisoned: the rate for black men is about six times that for white men, according to a Pew Research Centre study in 2013, a serious cause for legitimate rage.

If only Australia had it so good.

The US might be the home of mass incarceration – and it is, with 5 per cent of the world’s people, it has a quarter of the world’s inmates – but America has nothing on Australia in its enthusiasm for disproportionately locking up black people.

On this side of the Pacific, achieving a black imprisonment rate six times that for whites would be a good news story, a moment to cherish, to celebrate.

Indigenous Australians are imprisoned at a rate 13 times that of other Australians, according to figures collated by the Productivity Commission.

That’s not 13 per cent higher, or twice as high, but 13 times the rate, 1300 per cent of the rate for the rest of the population.

At any one time, over 2 per cent of the Indigenous population is locked up, which doesn’t remotely compare with the figure for the rest of us.

The effect of that proportion of people out of one group over time is almost unfathomable, the disruption to the prisoners’ lives, their futures, their families.

It’s not as if this is a new problem, but it’s a rapidly deteriorating one. In 2000, the Indigenous imprisonment rate was merely 8 times as high. Those where the golden days.

So not only do we jail Indigenous people at a far higher rate than even the US imprisons black men, we’re speeding things up, putting a greater proportion away. We’re increasing this most self-defeating of gaps.

A particular point of Australian difference is our ability to do it harsher for children. For young people, who are meant to be locked up only as an absolute last resort, Indigenous children are jailed at a rate 24 times that of other children.

When Obama turns his attention to a justice system that seems anything but colour blind, the world listens. When Mick Gooda, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner, late last year proved Aboriginal incarceration to be every bit the catastrophe he labelled it, Australia scarcely rolled its eyes. Most didn’t even notice.

His figures put the difference in rates at 15 times, and found the reoffending rate for children in detention – 58 per cent within 10 years – was higher than the proportion of children who stayed at school until year 12.

“We do better at keeping Aboriginal people in prison than in school,” Mr Gooda told the ABC.

If most of us continue to ignore this catastrophe, as the country seems determined to do, we will deepen this social disaster.

Every year it gets worse, or merely stays the same, or only marginally improves, is another year squandering the potential of an enormous fraction of the Indigenous population and wasting hundreds of millions across the country on unnecessary incarceration.

The Productivity Commission called out four major factors contributing to this shameful reality – education, drugs, child neglect and employment. We need to fix all of them, but surely education is the low-hanging fruit.

Cutting education reforms, like the short-lived Gonski package, is one way to perpetuate the catastrophe. The absence of opportunity leads, for far too many, to the absence of anything but a life hurt by crime – as both victim and perpetrator.

Americans, even Republicans, are starting to realise the folly of the perpetually tougher on crime vortex, and the extraordinary bill it leaves the state and the communities it hits. In many states, cold economics is forcing reform that has much wider payoffs than merely to state treasuries. For the first time in 40 years, Obama noted, last year both the crime rate and the imprisonment rate actually fell.


Why Hegel was superior to Kant, and Marx to him

René Magritte, Les Idées Claires, oil on canvas, 1955

René Magritte, Les Idées Claires, oil on canvas, 1955

‘Kant failed to see…(that) the being of something is found in its appearances, not in the thing considered (artificially) in so far as it does not appear! For Hegel, we are not cut off from the reality of things – appearances give us that reality.’

Glenn Alexander Magee, The Hegel Dictionary, Continuum, London, 2010, 120


A man that looks on glasse

On it may stay his eye,

Or if he pleaseth, through it passe

And then the heav’n espie1


Routeburn Track, New Zealand

Routeburn Track, New Zealand



1. George Herbert, in W.K.C.Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy, Vol. 2, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1996, 464. Lenin wrote ‘From living perception to abstract thought, and from this to practice, – such is the dialectical path of the cognition of truth, of the cognition of objective reality. Kant disparages knowledge in order to make way for faith: Hegel exalts knowledge, asserting that knowledge is knowledge of God. The materialist exalts the knowledge of matter, of nature…’ Lenin, Collected Works, Vol., 38 (Philosophical Notebooks), Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1976, 171 

René Magritte, Les Idées Claires

Form and content – 3

Newnes NSW

Newnes NSW

Newnes NSW

Newnes NSW

Newnes NSW

Newnes NSW

Newnes NSW

Newnes NSW




Form and content – 2

'All that is solid melts into air...'

‘All that is solid melts into air…’

Form and content7

Form and content8Form and content9






Newnes NSW

Newnes NSW


Form and content – 1

Form and content1

Form and content2

Form and content3

Form and content4

Form and content5


Art and social life: the Russian Revolution and the creative power of idealism 8

Konstantin Yuon, ‘A New Planet,’ 1921. Tempera on cardboard, The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Konstantin Yuon, ‘A New Planet,’ 1921. Tempera on cardboard, The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

‘…it is not difficult to see that ours is a birth-time and a period of transition to a new era. Spirit has broken with the world it has hitherto inhabited and imagined, and is of a mind to submerge it in the past, and in the labour of its own transformation. Spirit is indeed never at rest but always engaged in moving forward. But just as the first breath drawn by a child after its long, quiet nourishment breaks the gradualness of merely quantitative growth – there is a qualitative leap, and the child is born – so likewise the Spirit in its formation matures slowly and quietly into its new shape, dissolving bit by bit the structure of its previous world, whose tottering state is only hinted at by isolated symptoms. The frivolity and boredom which unsettle the established order, the vague foreboding of something unknown, these are the heralds of approaching change. The gradual crumbling that left unaltered the face of the whole is cut short by a sunburst which, in one flash, illuminates the features of the new world.’

G.W.F.Hegel, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, Trans., A.V.Miller, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1977, 6-7


In beginnings and in ends,

artists, let your faith be strong.

Know where hell and heaven await us.

It is your gift to measure all you see

with dispassionate eyes.

Let your gaze be firm and clear.

Rub out the incidental details

and you’ll see the splendour of the world.

Find out where the light shines

and you’ll know where lies the dark.

Let all that’s sacred in the world,

and all that’s wicked, pass in unhurried flow

through the fire of your heart and the cool of

your mind.

Alexander Blok, from the poem ‘Retribution’

Art of the October Revolution, Compiler, Mikhail Guerman, Trans., W.Freeman, D.Saunders, C.Binns, Aurora Art Publishers, Leningrad, 1986


Comment on Yanis Varoufakis

Yanis Varoufakis in academia

Hi Phillip,

Plato didn’t do too well when he ventured from the academy into the real world.

Varoufakis has done much worse.

He strode onto the EU stage and won the spotlight by standing up to the Germans, technocrats and assorted agents of capital.

He told them how it is.

He boasted to you of the number of votes he had been given by his people.

He has ridden the crest of the wave of world-famous Greek democracy and spoke of the resounding ‘No!’ referendum vote as though it were the realisation of a beautiful dream – the Greeks at their best.

Romantic nostalgia for all to hear.

But as soon as it became no longer an adventure on the grandest scale, no longer possible to put off the reality, compromise and slog of teamwork politics internally and the difficulty of dealing with domination, greed and vengefulness from capitalist nations externally, he resigned the central position of leadership entrusted to him in magnificent style – the cause lay with everyone else.

He abandoned his radiant chariot mid-firmament and left Tsipras et al to carry the can into a rapidly worsening situation of world-historical importance.

The Greeks are now in very serious trouble yet Varoufakis has had his great moment, standing before the billowing flag of white and blue, Parthenon floating in soft-focus behind that, all in the Byronic manner.

You asked him if he will stay in politics and he replied ‘Of course’ but the Delphi oracle has spoken to me – she whispered that now he has taught the world the difference between Cynic and cynicism, it will be much sooner than later that academia embraces Varoufakis again.

He is a masterclass on himself.

Phil Stanfield


Yanis Varoufakis

Cusanus, Buhle and Hegel

Plotinus (204/5-270), Anonymous, white marble, Ostiense Museum, Ostia Antica, Rome

Plotinus (204/5-270), Anonymous, white marble, Ostiense Museum, Ostia Antica, Rome

That Hegel knew of Cusanus and in detail via Johann Gottlieb Buhle’s Geschichte der neuern Philosophie is as certain as the denial by academics that he had this knowledge (see my earlier posts ‘Mysticism: the pornography of academic philosophers – Nicholas of Cusa and Hegel’ and ‘Hegel, mystic’ ).

What obviously warrants questioning is why Hegel never even named Cusanus1 and why this detailed knowledge of Cusanus by Hegel, who cited Buhle’s history, has ‘gone without notice’ by those who have otherwise pored over his every word.

My contention in my thesis will be that Hegel was, like Cusanus, a Christian Neoplatonist – obviously a mystic (Cusanus’s priesthood overt, Hegel’s concealed), that for Hegel to acknowledge his profound debt to Cusanus, to Proclus (noted by Feuerbach) and particularly to the genius Plotinus would have exposed his philosophy for the mysticism it is (noted by Marx) and forever ‘condemned’ his most determined claim to the mastery of ‘reason’ – a claim central to the justification of both Western patriarchy and particularly, Western supremacism.2

The suppression of the knowledge of the profound, living influence of mysticism on Western culture by those in positions to be the upholders of that culture (see William Franke’s two volume anthology On What Cannot Be Said) – a most gross failure of social and intellectual responsibility – is on the back of an ideologically driven lie which, with the exponential development of science (our knowledge of the world) post-Marx, is increasingly an impediment to the structuring, development and application of that knowledge for the benefit of all humanity.

Generations of time-serving academics in particular should be held to account for their complicity in this – even as those now, with a more attuned weather-eye, shamelessly, carefully update their post-modernism, post-pomo hymnals.

Instant experts on what they never dared to touch previously – even though it was all around them.

Below, in no particular order, are 60 of my working-points I have identified in relation to Cusanus and Hegel which I am exploring and will be writing about in my thesis.

  • both were Christian Neoplatonists
  • the philosophies of both are very complex
  • the two ‘reasons’ (what Hegel referred to as Verstand and Vernunft)
  • on God: God is the beginning and end of all things/God as a creative force/God is not transcendent but immanent
  • how God can be known
  • oneness/otherness?
  • the universe is an ensemble of relational constructs
  • many of their key terms are used without clear definition
  • the mysticism of both is intellectual
  • the systems of both were an attempt to address a perceived challenge to unity
  • both used devices: metaphor, paradox etc.
  • the triune Trinity
  • the world and everything in it is an image of the divine source
  • both their enquiries tie philosophy to Christian faith
  • both of them applied mathematical concepts to metaphysical subjects
  • subject/object: the unity of knower/knowing/known, seer/seeing/seen
  • Christ become man is the link between God and world
  • God is a logical concept
  • what knowledge is/all knowledge is ‘speculative’
  • the philosophies of both are inaccessible for the non-scholarly
  • their position on the syllogism/formal logic
  • circles
  • freedom
  • negation/negation of negation
  • for both, Being (God) is primary to being and non-being
  • for both, philosophy is theology
  • both sought to reconstruct the grounds of philosophy and theology and the relationship between them
  • both stressed the active role man plays in the formation of his history and culture
  • both thought their philosophies represented a break from previous philosophy
  • both believed man was estranged from God
  • self-knowledge is at the core of man’s experience
  • man’s creativity is social
  • God cannot be predicated
  • on the intellect, the object of desire
  • the world originates in (divine) Reason
  • on the relation between being and not-being
  • our ‘minds’ are models of ‘the mind’ of God – what his ‘mind’ does is replicated by ours conceptually
  • God is the greatest activity in the greatest stillness
  • on a and not-a
  • on order
  • on modality
  • on beginning and end
  • same concepts:

– absolute

– being and nothing

– coincidence (coincidentia oppositorum)

– contraction

– contradiction

– emanation and return (from the One to the many and return)

– enfolding/unfolding

– finite/infinite

– modes of apprehending

– magnitude (maximum/minimum)

– rational ground

– posse

  • modes of being
  • Plotinus’ sculptor
  • truth/Absolute Truth
  • humanism
  • their society
  • the starting point in the creation of their philosophical systems
  • Cusa was far more philosophical than either Eckhart or Böhme
  • science for both
  • their metaphysical understanding of the world
  • the eye that sees its other etc.
  • the importance of ‘community’ in their philosophies
  • their views on language
  • on sense experience
  • the world is change
  • Catholicism
  • nature
  • their method



1. I think the following words by Hegel refer to Cusanus: ‘In the Middle Ages, for example, there were plenty of naïve chroniclers, but they were monks rather than statesmen. Admittedly, there were learned bishops among them who had been at the centre of affairs and were familiar with the business of state, and who [were therefore] themselves statesmen…’ G.W.F.Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, Introduction: Reason in History, Trans., H.B.Nisbet, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1984, 15

2. G.W.F.Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy 1825-6 Volume I: Introduction and Oriental Philosophy, Together With the Introductions from the Other Series of These Lectures, Trans. Robert F.Brown and J.M.Stewart, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2009

‘No philosophy in the proper sense, however, can be found (in the Oriental world).’ 89

‘In the West we are on the proper soil of philosophy…One epoch is Greek philosophy and the other is Germanic philosophy, or philosophy within Christendom as related to the Germanic nations…’ 91

‘Oriental philosophy remains impoverished, arid, and just a matter for the understanding. For this reason we find, on the part of Orientals, only reflections, only arid understanding, a completely external enumeration of elements, something utterly deplorable, empty, pedantic, and devoid of spirit, an elaboration of logic similar to the old Wolffian logic. It is the same with Oriental ceremonies.
This is the general character of Oriental religious representations and philosophy. There is, as in their cultus, on their one hand an immersion in devotion, in substance, and so the pedantic detail of the cultus – a vast array of the most tasteless ceremonies and religious activities – and on the other hand, the sublimity and boundlessness in which everything perishes.
There are two Oriental peoples whom I wish to mention, the Chinese and the Indians.’ 106

‘On the whole we have only two periods in the history of philosophy, namely, Greek philosophy and Germanic philosophy, together with their dissemination to other peoples. …Insofar as the European peoples belong to the world of thought, we can call them “Germanic peoples.”’ 232


G.W.F.Hegel, Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature, Part Two of the Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences (1830), Trans., A.V.Miller, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2007

‘the Old World exhibits the perfect diremption into three parts, one of which, Africa, the compact metal, the lunar principle, is rigid through heat, a land where man’s inner life is dull and torpid – the inarticulate spirit which has not awakened into consciousness; the second part is Asia, characterised by Bacchanalian extravagance and cometary eccentricity, the centre of unrestrained spontaneous production, formlessly generative and unable to become master of its centre. But the third part, Europe, forms the consciousness, the rational part, of the earth, the balance of rivers and valleys and mountains – whose centre is Germany. The division of the world into continents is therefore not contingent, not a convenience; on the contrary, the differences are essential.’ 285


G.W.F.Hegel, Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind, Part Three of the Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences (1830), Trans., William Wallace, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2003

‘Negroes are to be regarded as a race of children…They are sold, and let themselves be sold, without any reflection on the rights or wrongs of the matter. …They cannot be denied a capacity for education; not only have they, here and there, adopted Christianity with the greatest gratitude and spoken movingly of the freedom they have acquired through Christianity after a long spiritual servitude, but in Haiti they have even formed a State on Christian principles.’ 42-43

‘The Mongols, on the other hand, rise above this childish naïveté; they reveal as their characteristic feature a restless mobility which comes to no fixed result and impels them to spread like monstrous locust swarms over other countries and then to sink back again into the thoughtless indifference and dull inertia which preceded this outburst.’ 43

‘the Chinese…have no compunction in exposing or simply destroying their infants. It is in the Caucasian race that mind first attains to absolute unity with itself. …and in doing so creates world-history.’ 44

‘The principle of the European mind is, therefore, self-conscious Reason which is confident that for it there can be no insuperable barrier and which therefore takes an interest in everything in order to become present to itself therein. …In Europe, therefore, there prevails this infinite thirst for knowledge which is alien to other races. …the European mind…subdues the outer world to its ends with an energy which has ensured for it the mastery of the world.’ 45