ANZAC – the ideology in overdrive of a servile capitalist class

‘Popular illustration of Anzac troops after the fighting at Gallipoli’ (Wikipedia). Lenin simply and correctly described the first world war as that fought over the re-division of the world into areas of exploitation.

https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/strength-of-australian-anti-war-sentiment/13313746

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How an authoritarian culture controls and exploits ‘decency’

What comprises ‘decency’ and what are its costs?

A convict culture

‘Landing of Convicts at Botany Bay’ from Watkin Tench’s ‘A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay’, 1789

The fundamental social structure in Australia today is basically the same as what was disgorged from the first fleet in 1788 and after onto the shores of Botany Bay – the mass and their guards (‘experts’, ‘authorities’, those with power…school prefects…). A scabrous, thoroughly-connected crust of brittle ‘decency’ on a ‘decent’ society, before which the mass is to defer, and willingly defers, unquestioningly.

Before the Puritan colonists embarked for Boston, John Winthrop gave a lecture in which he said that they shall be ‘as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us’ (words aped by Ben Chifley – of the American titled ‘Labor Party’ – near the end of his term as Prime Minister in 1949).

Vision (and its abuses) has always been at the heart of American culture. In a now ever-more deeply fractured country, it is still there in parts, such as NASA.

National vision now lies with the Chinese – they know their time to lead the world is coming, just as the Americans knew their time to lead was near in the nineteenth century.

I heard ex-Prime Minister Keating’s speech writer Don Watson say on Late Night Live some years ago that Captain Arthur Phillip gave a speech when he landed (I don’t know how Watson knew this, since I understand there was no written record of this speech) which included the words ‘Men are not to go into the women’s tents at night’.

Whether Phillip said these words or not, they are entirely plausible, exemplifying the vast gulf between vision (the same vision Jorn Utzon had before he was driven from these shores never to return) and its necessity for a healthy society and authoritarian ‘practicality’.

Australians have shown vision – federation and the Snowy Mountains scheme are examples of it – but, as Donald Horne wrote in his ironically titled The Lucky Country (a title deliberately misunderstood by the bulk of Australians), they are, in general, deeply suspicious of it. It threatens their drive to acquisition, mortgage payments and holidays in Thailand.

Horne exemplified this dichotomous world view between America and Australia when he paraphrased a diary entry by the socialite Mrs. Marcel Dekyvere – chairman of the Black and White Ball Committee (in 1964) in response to Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech in 1963 – ‘We must all keep our dreams, even if sometimes they don’t come true. Don’t you agree?’

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To anyone who reads this post – particularly any Australian – and thinks it unjustified: read this post and view the video with it.

Reply to John

Hi John,

Two points to illustrate the sickness and the degree of sickness at the heart of Australian culture:
i) ‘Australia Day’ is held on Jan. 26. That was the date in 1788 when the British claimed and stole 1/2 the continent from Australia’s indigenous (a crime they have never properly compensated the first Australians for, not even coming to a treaty with them as they did with the Maoris) and, at the same time, established a penal colony with the 1st lot of convicts. When (white) Australians celebrate this date, that is what they celebrate – and the majority (of whites) couldn’t care less – its a fun day.
ii) The Australian de facto national anthem is ‘Waltzing Matilda’. That song ‘celebrates’ prostitution (‘waltzing Matilda’), product placement (Billy Tea), theft, cowardice and suicide. Again, white Ozzies couldn’t care less – its a catchy tune over which they get all teary-eyed (it was sung at the 2000 Olympics). 

To get a better sense of how utterly sick this song is, compare it with the inspiring John Brown’s Body from the US Civil War.

What I am most critical about regarding Australian culture (which, for a number of reasons, I call convict culture) is not only its servility but the degree of it. Australians go out of their way to display it. First to the British, then, after their defeat at Singapore in WW2 by the Japanese (the thought of such military defeat has always terrified white Australians – consider the relentless racist tripe towards the Chinese with which the Australian media is daily awash) to the new dominant white, English-speaking, English derivative power, the US – now in decline. 

I could give you countless examples of this servility, many of which I have posted on over the years on my blog, as well as quoting the thoughts of intelligent and principled Australians on this subject (e.g. Donald Horne who wrote The Lucky Country [too true, cobber – we’re lucky alright!]).

The dominant white Australians still see themselves as a white outpost at the arse-end of the world, with billions – yes, gulp!, billions – of faceless Asians just to the north, just waiting to take ‘our‘ land from us (haven’t I read that before?) and the fear this perception causes is a key driver of their servility.

One day, quite possibly long in the future, when the majority of Australia’s population is non-white Asian in origin, this country will find the confidence to get off its knees and get its own flag and Australia Day – and flush Waltzing Matilda into the sewer where it belongs.

Certainly, visit Australia and the first Australians – they would welcome you and would enlighten you regarding their experience and struggles for justice.

The state of politics in Australia today

Salvador Allende’s last speech, La Moneda Palace, 11.09.73

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Ex- Labor (note the American spelling of the name of Australia’s oldest political party) leader Shorten: ‘We must be an opposition that stands for something. We must be a party of Labor that stands for the real world concerns of working men and women.’

The lucky country – all you could want

Albert Tucker, The Lucky Country, 1964

Ben Groundwater, ‘Australian expats: Some Australians don’t want to come home and I don’t blame them’

Right now, there are still tens of thousands of Australians trying to get home from other countries. These are people based overseas who were told to shelter in place if they felt safe all the way back in March 2020, who have since decided that they would like to come home and yet are still waiting in a never-ending queue to return to Australia.

It’s shocking that they’re having to wait; though, at least to many of us, the idea that they’re trying to get home at least makes sense. Who wouldn’t want to come back to Australia right now? This country has handled the coronavirus pandemic more successfully than almost any other on the planet – at least, if you count success in terms of pure case numbers.

So yes, obviously if you lived in the USA or in the UK, in mainland Europe or in the sub-continent, you would be desperate to return home right now. That’s not news.

What is news, however, and what is far more interesting to me, is that for all the Australians trying to get home right now, there are many, many more who aren’t. Plenty of people have assessed the situation, seen the success Australia has had in controlling case numbers and keeping life relatively normal and still thought: nup. Not for me.

Last week, UK-based Australian journalist Kate Guest wrote a fascinating story in the Guardian about just that, about Australian expats who have elected not to return home during the pandemic, who have decided to stick it out in their new homes in France, in England, in Uganda, in Thailand. They’ve stayed for careers, they’ve stayed for family, and they’ve stayed because they just don’t like a lot of the things that current-day Australia represents, even when it’s largely virus-free.

And I have to say that so much of what was said by those expats rings true to me. I say this, too, as someone who did decide to come home to Australia as soon as the pandemic began, leaving my base in continental Europe, and as someone who – despite fancying myself as some sort of high-flying citizen of the world – does plan to call Australia home for the long-term future.

There’s a lot that I love about this place, and that suits me perfectly. But… Australia is not perfect. And that’s news. It’s also something that’s so much easier to see when you spend some time living in another country.

First problem: the anger that a simple statement like the one above will inevitably provoke. Australians are a brittle bunch, hypersensitive to any criticism, quick to shout down any dissent, quick to tell those who complain that if they don’t like it, they should leave.

We pride ourselves on our freedom of speech here, on the fact you can say anything you want – that is, unless you say the wrong thing, particularly if you’re black or Muslim, and then you will be mercilessly chased down and forced into hiding.

Still, that’s probably only a small part of what is keeping many expats from returning – though Australia’s shift to the political right is mentioned in Guest’s story. There’s talk of climate change in there, and our embarrassing lack of political will to do anything about it, plus our treatment of refugees that much of the rest of the world thinks is appalling.

Those things are important to me. But what’s also important is lifestyle, which, again, Australians tend to think we have the best of with our sun and surf and laidback attitude – but that’s all a matter of perspective.

If you want to live a socially connected life, a life of face-to-face contact with family and friends and even strangers, in a socially connected city with a dynamic culture and a strong sense of history and identity, then I’m sorry, but Australia is probably not for you.

Here we value space over social life, the desire for our personal quarter-acre trumping any chance of having a café and a bar and a few shops on every city block, the sort of places where people can congregate and socialise multiple times daily. Australians cities are designed to sprawl, so we can all have our castles, so we can all dig holes.

Australia isn’t particularly culturally rich. It’s just not. It’s lovely and it’s safe and it’s stable, and it’s the ideal place to have a family and live out your later years. But consider life in Spain, in Italy, in Japan, in India, in Vietnam, in Brazil, and there’s just no comparison.

Culture oozes from the pores of those countries, rites and traditions, festivals and carnivals, music, art, theatre, food that you’re surrounded by at every moment. Australia can’t compete with that.

There’s also the psyche of Australians. We fancy ourselves as devil-may-care larrikins but really we’re slavish rule-followers, meekly accepting draconian laws, grudgingly paying whopping fines for the smallest infractions because we love our safe, orderly society, we like to know what’s going to happen today, we like to be sure everyone will stick to the rules.

There’s a blokey, boofhead culture in Australia that I don’t always love, and that I can see would discourage many expats from coming back. Check out the ads on commercial TV here: Australians are far more comfortable with the beer-drinking everyman than they are with any other characteristic trope.

And yet – here I am. I have the astonishing and unearned privilege of being able to choose where in the world I would like to live, and I’ve chosen Australia.

However, plenty of people have not, even in the worst global crisis to affect many of us in our lifetimes. Still, they stay away. And that, to me, is news.

Capitalism, white supremacism, pride in servility and the ‘laid-back’ de-poo-tee sheriff

A 1908 postcard welcoming the ‘Great White Fleet’ to Australia

Emma Shortis, ‘There’s a lot of blame to go around for the chaos in the Capitol, but some belongs to Australia’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 08.01.21

Australians woke on Thursday to an unfolding coup attempt in the United States. One by one, leaders from across the world condemned what was happening in the US Capitol and called for peace. From Ireland, to Greece, even Boris Johnson in Britain, governments expressed their horror and dismay.

Our own government took a little longer to react. We shouldn’t pretend we don’t know why.

There is a lot of blame to go around for what is unfolding in the United States. Aided and abetted by extremists in the White House and in Congress, and white supremacists across the nation, Trump is orchestrating nothing short of an attempted authoritarian takeover of what we have been taught to believe is the greatest democracy on earth and the guardian of peace in our world.

But some of that blame also lies here, with us.

The Australian government’s relationship with Donald Trump got off to a rocky start. But once Scott Morrison assumed the leadership, Australia went all in with the man trying to steal the presidency.

In September 2019, Morrison told President Trump that “Australia will never be accused of indifference in our friendship to the United States”. He was right.

Morrison made those remarks at a rare state dinner hosted in his honour in Washington, DC. He was one of very few world leaders to receive such a prestigious invitation from the President. It came to him when it did because the Trump administration, with so few friends in the world, knew that the Australian Prime Minister would provide the President and his administration with valuable international credibility and support, and the photo op that he wanted. And that is what he got.

Australia’s former ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, was widely praised for his diplomatic skill in facilitating the invitation and for how close he had managed to get to Trump. And while Hockey played golf with the President, Australian parliamentarians gleefully wore MAGA hats and appeared on conservative television, expressing their unqualified support for the white supremacist in the White House and spreading his misleading theories. There was no rebuke from their leader.

The links between the Australian government and our right-wing media ecosystem are clear. While Sky News monetised and spread American conspiracy theories, Hockey went on Australian radio to say that Biden’s margin in Washington DC, for example, was “hard to believe”, and MP George Christensen posted on Facebook about “Democrat vote fraud”.

Elsewhere, leaders from across the world called on Donald Trump to concede defeat and ensure a peaceful transition of power. Asked to comment, Scott Morrison said only that American democracy was “great” and dismissed calls for him to say something meaningful as “divisive”. Called on at the time to condemn members of his own government for spouting conspiracies, he said nothing.

A few weeks later, Morrison was awarded a Legion of Merit for his trouble. The Prime Minister was “honoured” to receive the award that recognised how he had “strengthened the partnership between the United States and Australia”.

Australians cannot avoid the truth of our complicity. Morrison’s warm friendship with the President, our conservative media ecosystem’s promulgation of American conspiracy theories and giving a platform to US white supremacists – all of it helped Trump and the fascism he encouraged and unleashed. That can’t just be put back in the box.

Yesterday, Trump supporters flew Confederate flags in the Capitol. Even during the Civil War, that symbol of white supremacy didn’t make it to Washington, DC. But it has been held up, in similar fashion, by Australian soldiers serving alongside Americans in Afghanistan.

Australians are told that having such a close relationship with the United States is essential to the maintenance of our national security. But what kind of security is this? And what damage has it done to our relationship with the incoming Biden administration? There was never any security or strategic justification for the closeness of the Trump administration and our own government. The only reason for it was ideological.

It is only through an honest reckoning with that ideological closeness, and with our complicity in Trumpism, that Australians might be able to re-consider our place in the world. We did not have a binary choice between subservience to an anti-democratic white supremacist and abandoning the alliance. There were – and still are – other options.

Once, an American President assured us that the United States only wanted to make “the world safe for democracy”. Perhaps we should try to think about making our world safe from America.

‘Let’s disengage from China…slowly and carefully.’

The only people blind to their pride in servility and loud-mouthed hypocrisy are Australians themselves

Utopia, 2013. Director, John Pilger

Jonathan Kearsley and Eryk Bagshaw, ’Why keep silent?: China to target Australia’s human  rights record’ The Sydney Morning Herald, 20.11.20

China’s foreign ministry plans to target Australia’s human rights record on Indigenous affairs and aged care as it ramps up its dispute with the Morrison government.

The escalation follows a sharp rejection of China’s threats by Prime Minister Scott Morrison who on Thursday said Australia would not compromise on national security or freedom of speech after the Chinese embassy released a list of 14 grievances with Australia that threatens up to $20 billion in trade.

Mr Morrison said Australia would never compromise its national interests or hand over its laws to any other country.

“We make our laws and our rules and pursue our relationships in our interests and we stand up with other countries, whether it be on human rights issues or things that are occurring around the world, including in China,” he said.

The embassy’s list blamed the deteriorating relationship between the two countries on the Morrison government’s decision to ban Huawei, fund “anti-China” research at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, block 10 Chinese foreign investment deals, and lead the call for an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19, among other disputes.

China accounts for up to 40 per cent of Australia’s exports and one in 13 Australian jobs.

After handing over the list to Nine News, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on Tuesday and warning China was “angry”, a Chinese embassy official said China would use “international bodies to talk up about Indigenous Australians and treatment in aged care”.

The Prime Minister says he will not back down over an explosive dossier listing Beijing’s problems with Australia

After handing over the list to Nine News, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on Tuesday and warning China was “angry”, a Chinese embassy official said China would use “international bodies to talk up about Indigenous Australians and treatment in aged care”.

“Why keep silent?,” the official said.

China has detained up to 1 million Uighur Muslims in re-education camps. It has been condemned by dozens of countries for its human rights record in Xinjiang and its crackdown in Hong Kong. Human Rights Watch has accused China of systemic human rights abuse and labelled it “an exporter of human rights violations”.

Utopia

Australia has faced criticism for its record on Indigenous human rights. The Australian government’s Closing the Gap report found Indigenous Australians face shorter life expectancy, higher rates of infant mortality, poorer health outcomes and lower levels of education and employment.

Indigenous people represent 2 per cent of the total population but 27 per cent of the nation’s total full-time adult prisoner population.

The Aged Care Royal Commission found Australia’s aged care system failed to meet the needs of its older citizens after reports of abuse and neglect across the system.

“The Royal Commission into aged care quality and safety has provided evidence of human rights abuses within residential aged care in Australia,” Sarah Russell, the director of advocacy group Aged Care Matters, said.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar, Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck were contacted for comment.

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said as a liberal democracy, Australia is open and transparent and expects our human rights record to be scrutinised accordingly.

“Australia raises its human rights concerns about other countries respectfully and constructively,” he said.

“The Australian Government has serious concerns about a range of human rights issues in China. We have consistently raised our concerns, including at ministerial level, both directly with China and in multilateral forums, and will continue to do so.”

The Chinese embassy official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to speak publicly, also said China may withdraw Confucius Institutes from Australian universities if proposed laws pass this year which would give the federal government power to tear up international agreements.

Responding to the reports on Thursday on Twitter, the White House’s National Security Council said: “Beijing is upset Australia took steps to expose and thwart Chinese espionage and to protect Aussie sovereignty.”

“Their “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy is backfiring; more and more nations worldwide have Australia’s back.”

In a joint statement on Thursday, foreign ministers from Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand ratcheted up diplomatic pressure on Hong Kong after opposition candidates were disqualified from the territory’s Legislative Council by Beijing for breaches of new national security laws.

“We urge the Chinese central authorities to reconsider their actions against Hong Kong’s elected legislature and immediately reinstate the Legislative Council members,” the Five Eyes statement said.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham on Thursday repeated his calls for Beijing to open its lines of communication.

“We value the relationship, we want to and are open to having the dialogue to work through issues,” he said.

“We would urge that dialogue to happen and not through anonymous drops of documents but instead through actually sitting down and talking.”

Christopher Boyce on America’s use of Australians

https://philipstanfield.com/2018/06/13/foreign-meddling-in-australias-affairs/

Servile Australia – the ‘perfectly behaved alliance partner’

U.S. spy base at Pine Gap

https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/pine-gap-peace-crimes/12674824