Aussie pride in servility – we need to be servile for our self-esteem

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David Wroe, ‘PM set to follow Trump on Israel’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 16.10.18

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is considering recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in a historic change of policy that would align Australia with US President Donald Trump’s controversial shift but jar with much of the Western world and risk angering Arab and Muslim nations.

Mr Morrison will announce today that he will also initiate a review of Australia’s support for the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal and have Australia vote against Palestine’s leadership of a large United Nations voting bloc of developing nations – also both key Trump policies and top priorities of Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Jerusalem announcement is likely to reverberate around the world as Australia would become only the second country after the US to shift its position on the contentious issue that goes to the heart of the decades-long Israeli-Palestine conflict that cost hundreds of thousands of lives. …

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Australians should want a US governor not ambassador

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US President Donald Trump has yet to nominate an ambassador to Australia.

Nick O’Malley, ‘For two years Australia has been without a US ambassador, but that may not be a bad thing’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 08.09.18

‘“I’ve had it,” said Donald Trump during his now infamous first phone call with an Australian leader, then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. “I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day. Putin was a pleasant call.”

The conversation, which took place in February last year, was scheduled for an hour but lasted just 25 minutes. Today, 18 months later, the President has yet to appoint an ambassador to Australia and next month the post will have been unfilled for two years. This is the longest the post has been empty since Australia realigned its foreign policy to rely upon the United States during World War II.

The absence is not going unnoticed.

“We are all heartsick about it,” the former US ambassador to Australia, John Berry, told Fairfax Media this week.

An American source plugged into the Washington, DC, diplomatic circuit said as far as he was aware there were not even rumours of a replacement in the wings. In a statement, a spokesman for the US embassy in Canberra said simply: “We have no news to report regarding the nomination of an Ambassador to Australia.”…’

Contrary to his abject obsequiousness to Trump in person, (now ex-)statesman ‘Trumbull’ ‘got even’ by making a savage mockery of him to an audience of his fellow lickspittles back on home soil.

Why do Australians want a US ambassador when their absorption of and need for American culture to validate themselves is to such a degree that they even began pronouncing ‘Iraq’ like Bush when they blindly followed him in attacking that country?

A US governor for Australia is the way to go.

Australia, the 51st state

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The Ozzie character: big land, big spirit

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‘Dark day for Australian cricket as Steve Smith admits plan to cheat’, Chris Barrett, The Sydney Morning Herald, 25.03.18

Cape Town: A deeply ashamed (?!) Australian captain Steve Smith has admitted his team deliberately conspired to cheat on the third day of the third Test by having Cameron Bancroft use tape to illegally tamper with the ball.

While Bancroft has been charged by match referee Andy Pycroft and faces a one-Test suspension, the reputation of Smith and the Australian team is in tatters.

Smith said he would not be resigning from the captaincy but owned up to devising the plan to try and alter the condition of the ball with other senior members of the team at lunch on Saturday.

“The leadership group knew about it. We spoke about it at lunch,” Smith said. “I’m not proud of what’s happened. It’s not within the spirit of the game. My integrity, the team’s integrity, the leadership group’s integrity has come into question and rightfully so. 

Admitting his team had conspired to cheat on the third day of the third Test, an apologetic Steve Smith said he would not be resigning from the captaincy.

“I’m not naming names but the leadership group talked about it and ‘Bangers’ was around at the time. We spoke about it and thought it was a possible way to get an advantage. Obviously it didn’t work. The umpires didn’t see it change how the ball was behaving, or how it looked or anything like that. (It was) a poor choice and we’re deeply regretful for our actions.”

On a day in which South Africa strengthened their hold on the third Test – they lead by 294 runs with two days to play – controversy erupted when Bancroft was shown on television pull a small yellow item from his pocket and use it to work on the ball.

Soon after, when umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth were made aware of his actions he was seen to hide the object down the front of his underpants before walking over to them.

Asked by the officials what he had in his pocket, he then produced what appeared to be a black sunglasses cloth.

Bancroft said it was yellow tape and not sandpaper that he had taken onto the field.

“I saw an opportunity to use some tape, get some granules from rough patches on the wicket to change the ball condition. It didn’t work. The umpires didn’t change the ball,” he said.

“Once being sighted on the screen I panicked quite a lot and that resulted in me shoving it down my trousers.

“We have this yellow tape in our kit and it is connected to some padding but the sticky stuff is very sticky and I felt like it could be used to collect some stuff from the side of the pitch.”

The opener, a recent addition to the side, said he was not ordered by Smith and other players to use the tape improperly.

“I don’t think in this particular case it was that way,” Bancroft said. “I was in the vicinity of the area when the leadership group were discussing it. I’ll be honest with you, I was obviously nervous about it because with hundreds of cameras around that’s always the risk, isn’t it? I sit before you today and I’m not proud of what’s happened today.”

As umpires were alerted on Saturday, Australian coach Darren Lehmann had been shown on the broadcast on the team balcony talking into a walkie-talkie. Substitute Peter Handscomb, also with a radio in hand in the players’ dugout, then raced onto the field to talk to Bancroft, who quickly trousered the tape.

Smith, however, said that Lehmann and the Australian coaches had not been involved in cooking up the plan.

He said he would not be standing aside but with Cricket Australia chairman David Peever in Cape Town and other heavyweights at CA unlikely to be pleased, there is expected to be more fallout from the disgraceful episode.

“It’s the middle of the night back in Australia, so we’ve just been made aware by the match referee and all that. I’m sure that will come,” Smith said.

“I won’t be considering stepping down. I still think I’m the right the person for the job.

“Obviously, today was a big mistake on my behalf and on the leadership group’s behalf as well. But I take responsibility as the captain. I need to take control of the ship but this is certainly something I’m not proud of and something that I can hope learn from and come back strong from. I am embarrassed to be sitting here talking about this.

Smith was adamant that it was the first time Australia had used such tactics to cheat.

“You can ask questions as much as you like but I can promise you this is the first time it’s happened and I think I’ve made it clear, we’re regrettable and we’ll move on from this,” he said.

“Hopefully we’ll learn something from it. I’m embarrassed, I know the boys in the shed are embarrassed as well, and I feel for Cam as well. It’s not what we want to see in the game, it’s not what the Australian cricket team’s about, and being the leader of the team I’m incredibly sorry for trying to bring the game into disrepute the way we did today.”

Bancfroft was also very apologetic about what transpired on Saturday. Ball tampering results in a level two charge under ICC rules and the penalty can be as high as four demerit points, which would automatically lead to him being suspended from the fourth Test in Johannesburg next week.

“Like the captain said, I’m not proud of what’s happened and I have to live with the consequences and the damage to my own reputation that comes with. I’ll do my best to move forward and play cricket,” Bancroft said.

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Check the slo-mo, close-up video of ‘Bangers’ with his hands moving adroitly in his pants! This should be included in the how-to manual for every magician and pick-pocket. Check the look on his face! A thousand words couldn’t compare! All I saw on Smith’s face (‘Smithy’ to ‘is mates) – under the worn ‘baggy green’ – when he was interviewed was anger at having been caught out, not a shred of justified shame.

It was ‘Bangers’ face that spelt ‘guilt’ and showed the awareness that he had destroyed his career in allowing himself to be used by Smith. Real mateship.

Smith’s response was every bit as bad as what he “ ’n the boys” cooked up – ‘Today was a big mistake’ (Isn’t that a bit harsh?), ‘I’m not naming names’ (Wow! Smith’s lips are sealed while he lets Bancroft take the fall for his idea! Now there’s a true leader! A dinky-di, ridgy-didge cobber! I want him on my team!), ‘our integrity has come into question’ (are you sure of this? By whom? Convince me. Psychiatry has a term for this distancing.), ‘I’m not resigning, I’m the right person for the job’, (then we can finally forget about Australian cricket?).

Add this to the behaviour over decades (decades in which they have always had the support and belief of the dominant white majority) of this symbol of Ozzie ‘fairness’, this national ‘icon’, as Turnbull said today – this pack of highly-paid bullies and clowns, relentless masters of that vicious and cowardly Ozzie disease ‘the sledge’ – squealing when it is done back to them, and who have always been loudest in pointing the finger and claiming the high moral ground.

What does this say about what it is to be Australian?

26.03.18

The ideologues are busy at work papering over this display of Ozzie nastiness on the global stage: Tracey Holmes, ABC journalist, processed in her ‘News Analysis’ today ‘I do feel for you Steve…’ There’ll be a lot more of this to come.

The country impatient for its future and the fearful lucky country

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Ross Gittins, ‘China thinks big, while Australia waits for luck to strike’The Sydney Morning Herald, 03.08.16

Sorry if I sound wide-eyed, but I was mightily impressed when I visited China as a guest of the Australia-China Relations Institute. Obviously, we were directed to the best rather than the worst but, even allowing for that, it was still impressive. Those guys are going places.

In a hurry. I was struck by how fast-moving the place is – in several senses. We argue interminably about getting a high-speed rail link, while the Chinese just get on with it.

We took the bullet train from Beijing to its nearest port, Tianjin, 140 kilometres away. So smooth you didn’t really notice how fast it was going.

The government-run China Daily announced while we were there the plan to have 30,000 kilometres of high-speed track built by 2020. You could be sceptical – except they already have 19,000 kilometres installed. …

Of course, we tell ourselves, any technology they use has come from foreigners, sometimes without proper recompense.

Don’t be so sure. We visited Shenzhen which, until 36 years ago, was a fishing village just across the water from Hong Kong, before someone made it a special economic zone. …

Today it’s a city of 10 million, with income per person of about $29,000 a year. It has maintained 45 per cent of its area as parks and forest by the simple expedient of having housing go up rather than out. …

China is big; we think of ourselves as small. China is confident, impatiently pushing towards a better future; we are fearful, waiting for more luck to turn up.

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Donald Horne, The Lucky Country – Australia in the  Sixties, Angus and Robertson, 1965 (first published in 1964)

14 ‘Australians love a “battler”, an underdog who is fighting the top dog, although their veneration for him is likely to pass if he comes out from under. At work – among the unambitious – the feeling for underdogs runs very strong.’

18 ‘Australians like people to be ordinary…To be different is considered an affectation.’

18-19 Horne believes that Australians embody ‘a complex of resentments against difference…It is only when a difference stares them in the face that ordinary Australians become truculent; and then only in a personal way.’

26-27 ‘This cynicism beneath purpose feeds our notorious philistinism…This deeply inlaid scepticism is a genuine philosophy of life, a national style determining individual and group actions. Its influence can be detected throughout Australian society. It may be the most pervasive single influence operating on Australians.’

27 ‘What (Australians) find it difficult to do is to imagine the new for themselves.’

32 ‘The passion for egalitarianism may combine with the passion for scepticism to hide and often frustrate talent.’

32 ‘Much energy is wasted in pretending to be stupid. To appear ordinary, just like everybody else, is sometimes a necessary condition for success in Australia.’

56 Horne paraphrased the diary entry of Mrs. Marcel Dekyvere, chairperson of the Black and White Ball Committee (in 1964) in response to a sermon titled “I Have a Dream” ’ – ‘We must all keep our dreams, even if sometimes they don’t come true. Don’t you agree?’ (Martin Luther King gave his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech on 28.08.1963)

76 ‘On 27 December 1941, John Curtin made the single most significant statement ever made by an Australian Prime Minister: “Without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America”.’

83 Australians are suspicious of all idealism: ‘ “What’s in it for him?” ’

88 ‘In the past Australia has also displayed the other side of provincialism: the boastfulness and arrogance of the liberated province, parading its very provincialism as if it were homegrown.’

101 ‘Despite its internal democracy, Australia plays an aristocratic role in the society of Asia – rich, self-centred, frivolous, blind’

107 The words ‘White Australia Policy’ were removed from the Labor Party platform in 1965.

112 ‘if Australia is to play a more forceful role in Asia the change must be dramatic enough to impress Asians that it is a change. It would seem a comparatively simple method to enter into migration agreements with Asian countries that might meet any of their own fears and that would set up clear public standards of assimilability – of language, education and working capacity…My own view is that the future holds dramatic possibilities for Australia which may necessarily include racial change, that this is Australia’s ‘destiny’. It is going to happen one way or the other. It is a task that will be undertaken either by Australians, or by someone else.’

121 ‘Not that Australia has ever spent much on research and development anyway…This indifference to research and development goes beyond the question of foreign ownership.’

The Big Merino, Goulburn

The Big Merino, Goulburn

130 ‘Several generations of Australians were taught to venerate not lions or eagles or other aggressive symbols of nationalism; they were taught to venerate sheep.’

136 ‘the things modern Australians are really interested in – getting homes, raising their children, going on holidays.’

190 Against the justification that ‘we are only a small nation’:

Horne, quoting Irving Kristol’s review of the first edition of The Lucky Country, emphasised the importance of leadership that could enable a people to create ‘better than they know’ and of appreciating their creation, without which that people would not only be far poorer in their self-definition but would be blissfully unaware of their poverty. Leadership enables the discernment of a promise and a potentiality that becomes integral to their way of life.

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The Australian academic’s understanding of vision

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A testudo formation of dotted ‘is’, crossed ‘ts’ and referencing to the hilt, standard bearer at the rear – inching forward, together.

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Why Utzon fled from Australia and would never return

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This morning I listened to two presenters on a Sydney radio station talking about the naming of houses. They began the discussion with ‘Emoh ruo’ and invited their audience to call in with their own examples.

One gave that of the reverse lettering of a person’s name. Another said her home was named ‘St. Anne’s’ after the boarding school she had gone to in England. Another explained that his house had been named by a police officer some time ago and that he, too, was in the police force.

All of these callers were treated with respect and interest was shown in their stories.

Then a woman rang in and said with obvious feeling ‘I call my house “Wildfire”‘. She explained that she looked after wild animals.

The presenters, unprepared for this display of emotion and imagination – of idealism – mumbled words of compliment even as they looked for a way to ‘cut her down to size‘ (an Australian expression) – which one of them found in literally two seconds.

Delivering poison in a gel of innocence, he quietly and smoothly, without a sense of humour (thereby revealing his intent) said ‘That sounds like the favourite in the fourth’. He ended the call with those words.

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Murder, theft, cultural cringe and tall poppies

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Frances Letters, ‘The truth behind Aboriginal massacres and the laid-back Aussie image’, The Sydney Morning Herald 07.07.17

Down the road when I was growing up in 1950s Armidale there lived a community of Aborigines. In shelters built of corrugated iron scraps and nailed-up potato sacks. At the dump. I barely noticed them. But one thing we were told. They were not warlike. Unlike the Maori, who at least had earned respect as fearsome warriors, Aborigines hadn’t fought for their land. They’d just let us take it away. Candy from a baby. Of Aboriginal attacks on early settlers we heard little. Of frontier battles we heard far less. And of massacres of Aborigines we heard nothing at all.

Not one word. I was 19 before I stumbled on the truth. I heard it in a way that shocked me to the bone.

One afternoon in 1964 I was drinking coffee in the University of New England cafeteria with a bunch of young men from well-to-do grazing properties. They were rowdy and effortlessly good-natured. In those days Australia still rode on the sheep’s back; they took for granted that they were the natural aristocrats of the campus, and of the nation. We were laughing a lot that day. The conversation had turned to our old family eccentrics; we’d been vying to cap each other’s wacky stories.

Then, a wealthy landowner’s son took a turn. Sunday afternoons had been the fun time for his family, he announced. Presumably after church, and a good heavy Sunday dinner. His grandfather would go hunting on horseback with dogs and a posse of mates. Whooping. All armed with whips and guns. The quarry was Aborigines. They would be chased through the bush, cornered, then shot. Or driven over a mighty precipice to their death. Stunned silence fell around the table. The brutal declaration, so breezy and lighthearted, so shockingly new to my ears, threw us completely. I stared down into my coffee. Someone guffawed uneasily.

I’ve often wondered why the young man blurted out those words. I remember he laughed as he spoke. Was it bravado to cover shame?

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The chilling thing was that, despite our shock, in the end the social niceties prevailed. We would ignore the indelicate faux pas. Besides, how many others among those young grandsons of squatters sitting around the table had similar dark secrets walled up behind their homestead facades?

In the end someone came to the rescue with another jolly tale about a madcap grandad. Gratefully we joined in the laughter. Then one by one we gathered up our books, excused ourselves, and, polite to the end, slipped away to our classes…

So at last the unspeakable had been spoken. It is being spoken again this week – more loudly, more widely – as Professor Lyndall Ryan’s research documents for us the extent of the massacres of Aboriginal people in the colonial era. Some academics put the death toll from attacks on Aborigines at more than 30,000 from 1788 to the 1940s. Henry Reynolds talks of “the forgotten war of conquest”. Aborigines, of course, never forgot. For them the murders, with the dispossession and despair that followed, must have been a daily thundercloud casting its shadow into every corner. A thundercloud that in some silent way has darkened life for the rest of us too.

Like children after an old, long-concealed family tragedy, we’ve all been left subtly bruised by the history we’ve repressed. I’m not the only Australian to sense that the brash, cocksure, sun-bronzed Aussie image we love – so easygoing, so delightfully laid-back – also comes with a paradoxical hint of dryness, emptiness, blustering adolescent uncertainty, in our national psyche.

Why the cultural cringe? The tall poppy suspicions? The strange timidity that has us creeping under the wing of one great and powerful friend or another? Our nation was built on a silent quicksand of wrongs. Aborigines; convicts; White Australia. We’re yet to crawl completely out; yet to turn into fully mature, proper grown-ups. But things are changing. Despite sneers at the “black armband view of history”, most of us now admit that terrible deeds were done, then hidden. Government apologies have elated almost everyone. And where now are those shrill massacre denials?

One truth, though, is still wincingly hard to face: that most Australians owe our comfortable living first and foremost to the fact that Aborigines used to own the precious land, and now we do. None of us is guilty of those old wrongs: but we have benefited prodigiously from them.

Unknowingly – and reluctant to probe too deeply – we’ve all lived well and thrived on the proceeds of crime.

Now, far too late, it really is time to get out those black armbands. And above all, to listen.

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Aussie kulcha, convict kulcha

Trump humiliates Turnbull (Spicer repeatedly called him ‘Trumbull’) in their first phone conversation. So what does Turnbull do?

He goes into parliament and, from behind parliamentary privilege, tears strips off Labor (note the American spelling of the name of Australia’s oldest political party) opposition leader Shorten. The Australian media, stung by Turnbull’s humiliation – their humiliation – make him out to be a big man. Wow! Can’t Mal dish it out!

Then Turnbull goes to the US and meets Trump (who keeps him waiting – the meeting was already to have been as short as ‘decently’ possible – mutter, mutter). Turnbull’s obsequiousness towards him is truly repulsive – his comments through a frozen mouthful of teeth facing the cameras, his body almost climbing out of his chair as he leans towards Trump (who clearly couldn’t have cared less), his hand thrust out desperately for the approving touch of great power (see second video). This time Turnbull degrades himself.

Now, with the scoreboard at 2-0 (one of those an own goal), he bides his time, waiting for a good excuse, then goes for Trump (full steam ahead lads!) behind his back, in ‘fun’ mode – true Ozzie style (‘Maate! Only jokin’!’). Remember, this is the leader of Australia publicly mocking the leader of another nation.

Listen to all the Aussies lapping up his performance in the second video (you’d swear it was canned laughter dubbed onto the Ozzie Oscars) – before they all fall back into line to lick the arse of the next American after ‘Harry’ Harris and ‘Send in the drones’ Obama only too willing to use their land and federal parliament from which to threaten China (the Ozzie media’s recently been awash with another round of dark, dire warnings about those scheming Chinese).

Yet again, what does this say of the attitude of the US capitalist class to Australians?

And much more importantly, what does it say of Australians?

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The story of Australia

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‘Pit bull’ PM Turnbull gives to opposition leader Shorten what he couldn’t give to Trump after Trump humiliated him – as Turnbull, in their first conversation, tried to dump Australia’s responsibility for refugees incarcerated on Manus and Naru islands (many having escaped the destruction participated in by Australians) on the Americans – both Liberal and Labor (note the American spelling) governments having tried every dishonest and racist scam in the book to do so everywhere else.

Turnbull is representative of the Australian bourgeoisie – lickspittles on the global stage, big, tough, heroes oozing ‘decency’ on their playground – and on both they expect and manipulate the Australian people to follow them.

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The Lucky Country

Art Walk Map, Sydney 2014

Art Walk Map, Sydney 2014

Servile internationally, bullying in the region:

‘The swing between submission and assertiveness has lost its extremism, but the final conquest of the colonial problem has not yet been achieved…We are still not quite sure whether to be proud or ashamed of ourselves.’

The spiritual littleness in not embracing the uncertainty of vision and the new:

‘In truth the Australian does not ignore spiritual values provided they are plain, direct and assessable. His limitation lies in an obstinate bondage to the positive, a preference for the sum with an answer verifiable in the back pages of the book. He turns aside, scornfully and yet timidly, from the glories and terrors of the incertitudes, from the exaltations of the mysteries. Such a conception as André Gide’s Return of the Prodigal is scarcely imaginable as the product of an Australian mind. Consequently we escape that cooling and thinning of humanity which afflicts the Gide type, but we cannot achieve Gide’s kind of depth and reverberation. Yet the incertitudes and the mysteries, the excitement of the sum which never comes out, are the food and wine of the artist, whatever his country…Only when the contour-smoothing erosions of time have reconciled us to the acceptance of mystery will the colonial dilemma be finally solved.’

The Cultural Cringe, A.A. Phillips, Melbourne University Press, 2006 (first published in 1950), 61-62

Part one/to be continued…

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