Happy Australia day. The anniversary of the arrival of the British in Australia. Also this year is the 40th anniversary of the Aboriginal Embassy. And Happy Anniversary to the Egyptian revolution too… One year on and they have themselves a new government. Of course, the first things the media mentioned were A. that it’s a
moderate Islamic government and B. there will be economic repercussions if they don’t toe the line for the kleptocracy.
I’m not quite sure what we’re celebrating. Is this about patriotism? Are we “proud” of our country? Of the nation, its leaders and citizens? Are we proud of our reputation overseas? Of the direction we’re moving in as a society? What I’m seeing is a bunch of people getting pissed and distracting themselves from the issues they face every other day of the year.
As far as the citizenship ceremonies and multi-cultural celebrations, that’s fantastic. I have very fond memories of spending a day with the bike fix crew in the Carlton gardens one year and then finishing the evening with a picnic on the lawn at Fitzroy where a couple of thousand of us did a Bollywood dance lesson together. Community, music, sharing and good times. All in and all for free. That stuff I get.
Regarding the other questions, however, it’s a different story. White Australia, as every one knows, was founded as a convict settlement. We’ve never adequately addressed those influences in our culture. We’ve gone as far as saying “sorry” to the Aboriginal people, which is a great start… but the inter-generational effects of the severe trauma visited on the founders still haunts us. Violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence… For a long time our nation was marketed as “the lucky country” partially because of our resource wealth and partially because there hasn’t officially been an overt civil war or history of warfare quite as long as that of Europe, Africa or the Americas. Ours is just as brutal, but a bit shorter if you don’t count the original inhabitants’ histories.
That doesn’t mean we don’t get dragged into way too many wars though. Staying
owned by friends with Britain and the US has cost us many lives. Britain for example: In the first world war Australian troops were ordered to attack at Gallipoli. We weren’t at war with Turkey and it was an utterly ridiculous place to stage an assault… but the stupid convicts were disposable so it didn’t matter. The Brits could see that the thousand year old Ottoman empire was crumbling and they wanted the oil. There’s no way they’d let the Arabs get organised and try to represent themselves on the world stage as equals with the white aristocracy.
Then the second world war… After we’d sold “pig iron” to the Japanese for the sake of trade and the income from mining and resources, they very thoughtfully returned some of it to Darwin, while the Germans, armed by US industry, sorted out the European labour movement. We relied on people in PNG and Timor for help to defend ourselves, but as soon as the war was over turned our backs on them in favour of sucking up further to our rich european masters.
After that war Menzies spent fortunes employing Australians to develop publicly owned infrastructure. Roads, utilities, telecommunications, housing. But every Prime Minister Australia has had since Fraser has made Menzies look like a bloody communist in comparison. We’ve continued to be dragged into wars for all the wrong reasons and everything the public built and developed has been sold at a song. Iraq is the most recent and appalling example. Our then Prime Minister, John Winston Howard was aided and abetted by Rupert Murdoch as they lied to the citizens of Australia about non-existent nukes. This time it wasn’t the interests of a failing territorial empire, Iraq was a war of corporate interests.
But even if John Howard wasn’t a world class arselicker our nation is so sold out now that we would not have had a lot of choice. Sure the Howard government oversaw the introduction of religious politics with all its dog-whistling and emotional manipulation, in addition to a kind of hysterical might-is-right nationalism that sold the souls of the next generation to be cannon fodder. Sure he wouldn’t have been able to find his spine if he tried, in order to disagree with his lords and masters, all the robber barons who rule our neo-feudal global “economy”. Sure he played spiteful, schoolyard politics of resentment when he and Murdoch’s propaganda organs painted our nation’s most vulnerable members as punching bags. But even if he’d had a brain and a spine our nation was so exposed to the weather of the will of the multinationals it would have been a fight to disobey.
And after 11 years of Howard bending our nation and government into every possible position to be fucked repeatedly by the
Masters requirements of the international money market, then Rudd who was another puppet Sydney Anglican, now we have the anti-democratic thug Gillard and we are so totally vulnerable to the fluctuations of the global economy it’s not funny. Well, it sort of is. I mean, you have to laugh or you’d slit your wrists. Everything Menzies and ors built up in the interests of supporting a stable, equitable community was sold. Our currency and inflation rates are dependent on the whim of a psychopath in a suit somewhere with his itchy finger on the “sell” button. The only thing that’s kept our economy afloat for the last few decades, while the manufacturing sector has died a long, slow death, is mining and the way mining is run in this country would compete with the two-thirds world for stupidity and exploitation. We export raw materials at prices determined by the same fraud free market that demanded the sell-off of our public assets, with no secondary value adding or manufacturing.
Unless we make some serious adjustments to bring our banking sector under the authority of democratically elected representatives (and ensure that those representatives are democratic and not more corporate sock puppets) when the resource “boom” ends we’re gonna wind up in sweat shops. There are thousands of people homeless and millions dependent on welfare in this country. Millions rent houses they don’t own. Millions more live in homes that are owned by banks. And then there’s the group who technically own their homes but have so much personal debt on credit cards and other personal or car loans that as soon as the global economy hiccups, they’ll find their equity rapidly reduced to cardboard boxes.
Over the last three or four decades we’ve had this line fed to us through the mainstream media propaganda organs and their shills in the major parties, that in order to compete on the global stage Australia needs to privatise and deregulate. Exactly whom we were competing with and in whose best interest this was, was misrepresented. It has turned out to be just another race to the bottom. All the infrastructure we worked for and paid for is now in the hands of multinational parasites and the majority of the jobs and profits are no longer keeping Australians off the dole queue. We have little equity, massive debt and nothing to
cover our arses buffer our exposure to the volatility of the free market.
That leaves me unwilling to do much to celebrate Australia Day except a bit more reading and considering the lessons we might learn from being too willing to believe what’s written in the papers. There’s people running around on the streets who would be happy to sign up if the global war on terror demanded it. There’s people who honestly believe our presence in Afghanistan is about democracy rather than control of resources and implementation of the Shock Doctrine. Our concept of patriotism has been warped enough that Australia’s genuine interests are taking a back seat to those of the IMF, WTO and multinational corporations. We’re so well programmed by the media that we think we’re somehow the good guys when a cluster bomb goes off and some other poor kid in the desert gets their arms and legs blown off. We’re so owned by the corporate agenda that the mere mention of reining in global corporate influence in Australian law or politics raises the spectre of socialism as if social democracy were a threat and not the system that has seen Norway rise to having the highest per capita income in the world.
Party on, dude. Drink up. Stay on that treadmill. Kick those lazy bludger welfare recipients. Read the papers, listen to the “news”. Swallow it all down. Bend over and take it like a
slave man. Keep on consuming so Murdoch’s banker mates can buy another yacht with the interest on the credit card. Don’t dare think about standing up like the Norwegians did to get their system, or getting involved with a Union or Occupy, they’re all socialists and filthy hippies.