Ozzies find their meaning and worth in acting for their masters

Australia, the 51st state

Jennifer Duke, ‘Huawei executive hits out at Turnbull’ The Sydney Morning Herald 14.03.19

‘A senior Australian Huawei executive has hit back at former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull for urging the UK to ban the Chinese telecommunications equipment giant for its future mobile networks.

Last week, Mr Turnbull told prominent British MPs at a London think tank event that a recent hack of Australian political parties proved agile responses were need to counter growing cyber threats and urged them not to allow companies like Huawei to participate in building the ultra-fast 5G mobile networks.

The Australian government imposed a ban on Huawei’s involvement in 5G in August on security grounds, shortly before Mr Turnbull was replaced as prime minister by Scott Morrison.

In a lengthy response provided to this masthead before publication on the Huawei website, the telco’s director of corporate affairs, Jeremy Mitchell, under the title “Australia pays for Malcolm’s 5G muddle”, criticised the former PM for swallowing “hook, line and sinker” a “myth” there was bigger security risk in a 5G network.

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The Mongolian Octopus: his grip on Australia 1886

He said the “myth was born after [Mr Turnbull’s] visit to the US in February 2018” and said Huawei knew “more about 5G networks than any agency would, or could”.

Mr Mitchell argued Huawei was willing to share information and work with governments to ensure privacy and security but”[u]nfortunately, under Mr Turnbull’s watch this didn’t happen”.

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“Now that Huawei is excluded from the Australian 5G mix, telco operators will be paying around 30 per cent more for the second-best technology,” he said.

…Mr Turnbull was approached for comment.’

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Ex- prime minister Julia Gillard, The Sydney Morning Herald n.d.

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Australia Day 2016 – a servile, shame-based culture

Cringe on the beach

Whoever made this image has a feeling for dialectics.

A castle on the beach (white Australia’s holy of holies), topped by the white Australian flag, itself topped by the flag of its parent nation and first master.

A vertical red strip from the cross of England’s patron saint balances on a white Antipodean star. The emphatic rays of the former drown those twinkling from the latter.

A block of monochrome certainty, a fortress sans entrance floats on a pale yellow expanse, equally uncertain.

The ideal sands of laid-back, nature-loving egalitarianism? Or indistinguishable hovering hordes eyeing paradise at the arse-end of the earth?

The castle, clearly a symbol in its simplified starkness appears to utterly contrast with its ground, yet it is built from it. Moisture maintains its fragile form.

What appears most certain is threatened, even in its building, with uncertainty and destruction.

Will it be kicked down and disappear, or will the next tide (of whom? from where?) wash it away?

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Image: The Sydney Morning Herald 26.01.16

Shame and the need to shame – a nation of little spirits

In the mid-1990s, Ansett painted a Waltzing Matilda mural on the side of one of its Boeing 737-300s

In the mid-1990s, Ansett painted a Waltzing Matilda mural on the side of one of its Boeing 737-300s

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Email sent to Phillip Adams 02.12.04

Dear Mr. Adams,

I listened to your interview of Peter Conrad a couple of weeks ago with interest. I particularly appreciated not only his dismissal of ‘Gerald’ Henderson, but the way in which he did it, making it perfectly clear that for Conrad, Henderson’s sufficient descriptor is ‘pompous non-entity’ – and I would add, ‘in a provincial pond’. That Henderson should be given regular airings in the Herald and particularly on the ABC’s Radio National is sad evidence for the second part of my assertion.

I have also read the text of Conrad’s first three Boyer lectures. And they are, as I expected from an academic in the humanities, very frustrating. They barely move beyond a cascading display of learning, a preening of feathers, facilitated by a telling of tales, through the soft-focus of history. Charming and informative anecdotes follow upon each other. Bitterness – yes, material to work with – yes, but Conrad has so far given no indication of engaging with the depth of meaning and content that exists in the subject. His lectures sketch an interesting stream leading to our provincial pond, but the exposure and analysis of the destructiveness of the pond and how that destructiveness functions runs very weakly.

Nothing that Conrad has said so far can explain, e.g., the depth of cultural sickness in this country as displayed in that part of the closing ceremony of the 2000 Olympics when a song ‘celebrating’ the suicide by drowning of a failed petty thief, as he ran from authority, was sung by ‘candlelight’ by a packed stadium – as a hymn. Contrast this song with that of ‘John Brown’s Body’, a song of the U.S. Civil War which justifiably celebrates the courage of a man who stood against both authority and prejudice in the defence of black rights and was hung.

When one speaks of ‘Australia’ rhyming with ‘failure’ one speaks, essentially, not of what others have done to us and have told us about ourselves, but of what we have done and continue to do to ourselves and to each other. Although progress has been made and is being made, particularly as a result of immigration, Australian culture has shame and therefore the need to shame – this is where ‘tall poppy syndrome’, ‘nation of knockers’ come in – at its heart and coursing through its veins.

Our culture is built around the ‘celebration’ of (‘nobility’ in the face of) loss, failure and defeat. You are one of the very few people I have heard raise this and show interest in examples: Burke and Wills, Kelly, Breaker Morant, Dad and Dave, the heroes of Paterson and Lawson, Lasseter, Phar Lap, Les Darcy, Haines and Whitlam. Roy and HG’s savagely titled ‘The Dream’ (as Doyle said ‘If it rises above a blade of grass, cut it down.), the ABC’s Australian Story…

And in particular, Gallipoli. In 1990, when the inevitable letters from Private Jones to his mother began appearing in the papers, ex-pat Phillip Knightley argued that if we, as Australians, are going to ‘celebrate’ our involvement in the First World War (the first capitalist world war over areas of exploitation), rather than celebrating a defeat experienced on behalf of a dominant power, we should celebrate the victories of the Australian troops, e.g. on the Western Front. The ABC’s Richard Glover responded with a most bizarre article in the Sydney Morning Herald ‘Bruce Ruxton is right: we should embrace the legends of defeat’, (SMH 20.04.90 – I emailed him about this) arguing that we celebrate Gallipoli, as with our other failures, precisely because it was a defeat.

What is the sickness that runs through the above? More than that they focus on defeats and failures, it is that these are made a cause for celebration. The message in these ‘celebrations’ is the dark side of the myth of Australian egalitarianism, a myth cultivated in affluence and sunlight – the cultural imperatives ‘Thou shalt be laid back!’ and ‘Thus far and no further!’ Dream to (or worse) go beyond the cultural limits and you will be broken.

And the cultural limits are those of capital (I understand the words of Waltzing Matilda were shaped by the requirements of advertising) – you can dream, but only the small dreams of consumption – 1/4 acre block, $60,000 + p.a., 2 and 1/2 kids etc. The celebration of defeat is still not the fundamental issue, it is the celebration of a lesson. Will Conrad address this basic issue of shame as a means of class control. I doubt it increasingly as his lectures progress. He is too much the comfortable gentleman.

On the global stage we relate shame-based – both servile to a dominant power – first England, now the US (cultural imperialism only partially explains our dilemma) – and bullying in our region (Asia and the Pacific). That the ‘Deputy sheriff’ won’t sign a non-aggression pact with ASEAN is entirely consistent. What is not licked should be kicked. Our need for approval has led us into a closeness of relationship with the US as a result of which, I believe, serious consequences for this country are yet to happen.

The same need for approval (this time, awarded by ourselves) has been used by the government to cover its purpose for ‘going to the aid of’ the East Timorese – after 25 years of silence by Liberal and Labor governments and the deaths of 400,000. What else could explain such sickening, back-slapping hypocrisy, so many white, beaming faces, such an absence of geopolitical and economic analysis? The on-going corporate attempt to rape this poorest nation, even as it was declared a nation is the clearest pointer to the reality of Australia’s ‘rescue’ of East Timor.

Our self-loathing lies at the heart of the kicking Hanson got, and continues to get, even after she departed from politics. That those competing to sink the boot into Hanson the hardest were, without exception, the ‘educated’ middle-classes indicates how deeply shame and self-loathing run in our culture. Hanson was a test of how successfully we have dealt with our shame and the need to shame – and we failed that test – spectacularly. Her treatment by our ‘intelligentsia’ shows how deep and powerfully the current I write about flows. It is to her credit that Kingston showed Hanson some understanding.

That this nation has failed the test of national confidence, both internally and internationally is proven by Howard. He is in no way an aberration. He has risen from the heart of our culture and understands its meanness, shame and therefore the need to shame, intimately and instinctively. He has exploited this with absolute consistency to win four elections in a row. There could never be a clearer pointer, despite all assertions to the opposite, to how little this country has progressed in dealing with its cringe than this man and his government. Even Bush bases his meanness and aggression on his perception of the greatness of his nation, on its ‘right’ to impose itself on the world.

The greater one’s perceived capacity to achieve intellectual excellence and particularly one’s commitment to intellectual excellence, the greater the determination in our society that you should be broken, the more subtle, insidious and poisonous will be the range of devices employed against you – by family and friends. Ian Thorpe, recognising this, has assiduously (and successfully) cultivated a persona that bows to this Australian viciousness.

White, too, saw this nastiness and destructiveness – and to disguise the hurt of one who both loved and loathed what he saw and experienced, specialised in paying that nastiness back in kind. I don’t think he ever rose above that fundamental tension.

Australia will always be a servile nation until the shame – and the need to shame – that lie at its heart are named, focussed on and rooted out.

Phil Stanfield

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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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It’s safe to come back Jørn, we’ve changed!

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N.S.W. Premier Gladys Berejiklian has instructed the Sydney Opera House to allow its sails to be lit up with colours, numbers and a trophy to promote next Saturday’s Everest horse race.

“This is one of the biggest events of the year. Why not put it on the biggest billboard Sydney has?” Prime Minister Morrison said.

“I come from a tourism background, these events generate massive opportunities for the state, for the city.”

From this

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‘Amazing clouds, brilliant moonlight, and the fabulous Sydney Opera House make a spectacular trifecta (sic).’ Photo: Australian Broadcasting Corporation website

to this

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‘The Racing NSW advertisement will be beamed onto the Opera House from Tuesday.’

Come back Jørn! Now we understand what ‘big picture’ means and how important vision is to culture! Honest!

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Best we forget: the war for white Australia, 1914-1918

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(Prime Minister) Billy Hughes addresses the troops. (Caption) ‘The Hon William Hughes stayed true to his belief in the White Australia Policy.’

‘Did the fear of Japan send us to war in 1914?’, ABC, Late Night Live, 02.08.18

‘Tensions were high between Australia and Britain after they signed a military alliance with Japan.

Australia was not happy because Britain was selling naval warships to the country they perceived as their biggest threat.

Britain was not happy with the young Australian nation insisting on legislation to guarantee a white Australia which was offensive to Japan.

Australia was adamant about keeping Australia white, and were (sic) willing to do whatever it took to keep it that way.’

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World War One enlistment poster

‘In the half-century preceding the Great War there was a dramatic shift in the mindset of Australia’s political leaders, from a profound sense of safety in the Empire’s embrace to a deep anxiety about abandonment by Britain.

Collective memory now recalls a rallying to the cause in 1914, a total identification with British interests and the need to defeat Germany. But there is an underside to this story: the belief that the newly federated nation’s security, and its race purity, must be bought with blood.

Before the war Commonwealth governments were concerned not with enemies in Europe but with perils in the Pacific. Fearful of an “awakening Asia” and worried by opposition to the White Australia policy, they prepared for defence against Japan—only to find themselves fighting for the Empire on the other side of the world. Prime Minister Billy Hughes spoke of this paradox in 1916, urging his countrymen: “I bid you go and fight for white Australia in France.”

In this vital and illuminating book, Peter Cochrane examines how the racial preoccupations that shaped Australia’s preparation for and commitment to the war have been lost to popular memory.’

(from the Text Publishing page)

Peter Cochrane, Best We Forget: The War for White Australia, 1914-1918, Text Publishing

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Big land, big heart, big spirit

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Patrick Hatch, ‘Supermarket backs down on plastic bags’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 02.08.18

Coles has hoisted a white flag in the face of angry shoppers aggrieved by having to pay 15c for a “reusable” bag and has promised to give them away for free until customers get used to bringing their own.

The supermarket chain’s decision has raised the ire of environmental campaigners who say it is a return to the “bad old days” where plastic bags were used once and then discarded.

Coles and Woolworths removed thin “single-use” plastic bags from their checkouts nationwide in July and late June, respectively, as a growing number of state governments ban the environmentally damaging items.

But offering only thicker, “reusable” plastic bags for 15c each has elicited howls of outrage and led to a series of backflips – including giving the reusable bags away for free for a short period of time while customers adapted to the changes – to quell the outcry.

The uses of plastic bags

In the latest backflip, a Coles spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that the supermarket would give the 15c bags away for free, until shoppers had “become accustomed to bringing their own bags”.

“When Coles phased out single-use plastic bags on 1 July…some customers told us they needed more time to make the transition to reusable bags,” she said.

“Many customers bringing bags from home are still finding themselves short a bag or two, so we are offering complimentary reusable Better Bags to help them complete their shopping.”

Coles said the free bags were an “interim measure to help customers transition to reusable bags”. …

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The deputy sheriff – pride in servility, racist and myopic

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The Mongolian Octopus: his grip on Australia 1886

Bob Carr, ‘Loose lips on China have cost Australia dearly’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 24.05.18

‘…Australia’s flamboyant rhetorical shift against China predated Malcolm Turnbull’s introduction of anti-foreign influence legislation last December. Earlier in 2017, Julie Bishop, in a speech in Singapore, disputed China’s right to leadership because it was not a democracy. Tom Switzer noted in The Sydney Morning Herald this was the first time since Billy McMahon that we were elevating differences over China’s system of government as an issue in the bilateral relationship. Up till then under Coalition and Labor governments we’d set them to one side.

In June last year, the Prime Minister was calling for a bigger US military commitment in our region. It was Australia saying it wants a military build-up in Asia; effectively, to contain China. Hugh White identified this as going further than that of any other US ally, including Japan. And the US ignored it anyway.

Defending Chinese students in Australia from the baseless claims that they were promoting Communist Party policy on our campuses would have been an ideal opportunity for one of our leaders to have toned down the anti-China panic that took off in mid-2017 and introduce some nuance.

When the Prime Minister introduced his foreign interference legislation on December 7, he could have stuck to the departmental script and said it was aimed at no country in particular but simply protected Australian sovereignty. Instead, he parodied a line of Chairman Mao’s delivered in 1949 and rendered it as, “the Australian people stand up”.

What should have been a cool-headed speech became an entirely unnecessary taunting of a country which we have a valuable relationship.

No other US ally – not Japan or any of the Europeans – has thought it necessary to abandon diplomatic practice in the conduct of its China relationship. Nor have US partners like India or Singapore.

Early this year, the Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister seemed to be trying to rein things in. Then there was a new stridency let loose by colleagues. Then deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce said of China, “any state that has the capacity to overrun you is always a greater threat”. A junior minister, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, took aim at China’s aid program in the Pacific. Differences on aid could easily have been listed as a matter for dialogue not a public skirmish.

You can’t say to the Chinese “Oh, that’s only Barnaby” or “Fierravanti-Wells is only a junior minister”. It’s easy to imagine the nationalist outrage if senior Chinese leaders had directed such rhetoric at Australia. We wouldn’t accept comparable insults from any international partner. In foreign relations words are bullets. …

Bob Carr is director of the Australia-China Relations Institute, University of Technology Sydney, a former NSW premier and former foreign affairs minister. His memoir, Run for Your Life, will be published next month.’

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The difference between what is best in U.S. culture and the culture of the U.S.’s fearful, servile client state

As with their post (twice) on Hypatia the mystic and Neoplatonist, it is again to NASA’s credit that they put the above video on their website (also for a second time). I recommend the text below the video on that page, particularly the link ‘no one can know the future’ which leads to the abstract for the article ‘Searching the Internet for evidence of time travellers’.

No science website of the Australian government would dare to display, discuss and encourage such expressions of eagerness for intellectual creativity and the future. In Australia we march forward facing backwards, gagging on our ‘laid-back’, authoritarian, consumerist ‘decency’.

I post this on the day there has been yet another round of navel-gazing and spin in the media about why education in Australia continues to fall behind that in other developed nations.

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Cry me a river

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‘Cry me a river: tears of the clowns grate like sandpaper’, Patrick Smith, The Weekend Australian, March 31-April 1, 2018

‘Watch the so-called leaders of this nation and you will see only this: a group of gluttonous men and women who flip and flop, not on principles but the search for power. Vanity and self-importance. Two days in the news.

All this is creating a very ordinary nation. Timid, without vision but prepared to get what they want with no consideration of the ramifications. That is the Australian cricket team; perfectly shaded representatives of modern Australia.’

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A.A. Phillips, The Cultural Cringe, Melbourne University Press, 2006

2 ‘a disease of the Australian mind…the Cringe Direct or the Cringe Inverted.’

61 ‘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.’

62 ‘The Australian temperament is essentially pragmatic – a quality which is sometimes mistaken for materialism. 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 Andre 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.’

From the Notes

1 ‘It is perhaps relevant to quote here the opinion of Professor A.G. Mitchell of the Sydney University that Australians are the only Anglo-Saxon community which is ashamed of having its own way of pronouncing the English language.’

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

56 Horne paraphrased the diary entry of Mrs. Marcel Dekyvere, chairman 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.

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.

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

Horne went on to add: ‘What one does witness in Australia is…”the institutionalisation of mediocrity”…established rhetoricians and ideology makers’

146 In certain senses, Australia is a province of two external powers (the UK and the US).

177 ‘if intellectuals wish to walk down the corridors of power in Australia they must leave their intellectuality at home. As in business, to pretend to some stupidity is safest.’

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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