October 30, 2005
They shall not be overcome
As editors and publishers of small and independent magazines in Australia, we condemn the Howard Government's draft Anti-Terrorism Bill. It plays on heightened public fears of terrorism to expand police powers into areas that are the legitimate preserve of civil society. Preventative detention orders, keeping people ignorant about the grounds of their detention and deeming anyone who publicises such detention a criminal, shoot-to-kill laws even in the absence of threat, along with tagging of suspects are unconscionable attacks on the fabric of civil society.
The proposed changes to laws relating to sedition are open to such broad interpretation that they may readily be used to stymie free and open debate. While the threat of terrorism in Australia is real, law enforcement and intelligence bodies already possess adequate powers to police it. The proposed laws are regressive and will undermine freedom as we have come to know it in Australia.
Small and independent magazines have, and will continue to play, an important role in providing forums for open discussion, debate and dissent. Our commitment to this will not be deterred by the proposed laws.
The editors of: Arena Magazine, Arena Journal, Dissent, Eureka Street, Meanjin and Overland
Posted by Willikers at 4:34 PM
October 29, 2005
Andrew Jaspan's manifesto for a dying democracy
Readers of this blog may be wondering why I continually refer to The Age newspaper and not to others. The reason is simple: It is the only major daily in Australia dedicated to fighting John Howard's trashing of the Westminster system of democracy by installing a dictatorship that will likely result in the country becoming a terrorist state with its own citizens as prey.
The editor of The Age, Andrew Jaspan, recently wrote this opinion piece, which is reprinted below. It's a kind of manifesto for a dying democracy. Jaspan has vowed to defend Australia's media from the Howard Government's attack on our basic freedoms.
What more could you ask from the editor of a newspaper?
The irony is that last year when Jaspan arrived from Scotland to take over The Age, we all screamed blue murder that an Aussie was not good enough for the job.
I don't know why Andrew Jaspan was given the job; it seemed an odd choice at the time. It certainly wasn't because someone in Fairfax thought he had the courage to stand up for a country that wasn't his.
Whatever the reason, it turns out that no journalist in Australia could possibly have had the will to do what Jaspan is doing.
Why? Anyone with the qualifications to run a newspaper has obviously been in the business for many years, with considerable assets that need a constant flow of income to maintain.
Governments such as John Howard wishes his to become, once the anti-dissent pro-terrorist laws are enshrined, routinely jail editors for their dissent, impound their assets and close down their newspapers.
An Australian editor would be a sitting duck.
That person would have to constantly think of his or her family and the families of staff members when running commentaries and editorials condemning Howard's regressive agenda. Self-censorship may not apply to me -- I live in a suburban chipboard house; ASIO can have it! --but it would apply to them in spades.
Jaspan's assets are in Scotland; ASIO can't touch them. If worse comes to worse, he can always get himself and his family out of the country under cover of darkness -- just like in the movies about people fleeing the Nazis.
Of course life in Australia will never come to the jailing of Andrew Jaspan. Or me. Or you.
As Frank Zappa once intoned, "It can't happen here!"
Anti-terrorism laws threaten media freedomFreedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of communication have always been taken as a given in Western democratic society.
by Andrew Jaspan
And yet it appears that unprecedented powers such as house arrest, the wearing of tracking devices, increased sedition offences, detention of juveniles and even shoot-to-kill provisions — plus further restrictions on the media — mean some of our basic rights are up for grabs.
As The Age said in its editorial last week, the Federal Government's draft anti-terrorism legislation "will override some of the essential rights, such as the prohibition on detention without charge, that distinguish this country from others with neither traditions nor safeguards".
According to the draft, people may not even speak about whether, why or how detainees suspected of terrorist offences are being held. The penalty? Five years' jail. Or if a journalist obtained confidential information that the federal police deemed to be in contravention of the bill, then we, too, could face five years' jail.
Anyone can be arrested, charged and held in custody until the Attorney-General makes up his mind on whether to give his consent to prosecute. If a member of my staff were
to report the whereabouts of a so-called terrorist, I could be jailed.
Various expressions now permitted in a mature democracy suddenly become criminal behaviour. An over-dramatisation? Perhaps, but the signs are ominous.
Under the first draft of the bill, the definition of seditious intent is vague and broad. It takes in matters of the kind that, in a free and open society, any newspaper should feel free to publish, whether by way of factual reporting or opinion.
For instance, it amounts to seditious publication to publish with an intent to bring the Sovereign (note there is a capital "S" in the bill) into "hatred or contempt". Nor may one "urge disaffection" (whatever that means) against the constitution, government or either house of Parliament. So a newspaper columnist's call to scrap the monarchy might lead once again to his/her head being chopped off.
As we said in our editorial, the manner in which these changes are being handled is more reminiscent of governments of repressive regimes. It seems particularly odd that the stripping away of such freedoms emanates from a party whose whole philosophy is an emphasis on individual rights and civil liberties. The Government says "trust us". We in the media, from our own many years of experience, are sceptical. The natural tendency of governments and the bureaucracies that serve them is to muzzle.
Nobel prize-winning author J. M. Coetzee, a South African now resident in Australia, said at the weekend: "I used to think that the people who created (South Africa's) laws that effectively suspended the rule of law were moral barbarians. Now I know they were just pioneers ahead of their time."
Is this the sort of Australia we want? How low do we have to sink? We must resist these attempts at every turn.
We've already got laws that permit ASIO to detain and interrogate journalists about information they may have in their possession, in the course of their reporting, regarding terrorists and terrorist activity.
At the very least there must be some safeguards built into the bill, including qualified privilege for journalists so that any legal authority would have to be satisfied that any warrant is essential to the collection of intelligence that is vital in a terrorism offence.
In this vacuum of lack of accountability or transparency, the role of the media becomes even more critical. Unlike other countries such as the United States, where freedom of the press is enshrined in the constitution, Australia does not have that luxury. Our press freedoms are open to qualification by law-makers and officials. There is also risk of abuse by law enforcement bodies.
In addition, we face over-zealous privacy laws, growing use of suppression orders, punitive and oppressive laws that hinder professional privilege, costly and unworkable FoI laws, restrictive defamation laws. The list goes on.
The machinery of government and the bureaucracy, in conjunction with the judiciary that often turns a blind eye to notions of open justice and free speech, is grinding the media down.
We won't tolerate attempts to muzzle our effectiveness and fulfil the important societal and public policy dimension expected of us: holding people and institutions accountable without fear or favour.
It is time for those who cherish freedom of speech — including many in the legal community — to defend responsible media organisations from unwarranted attacks and intrusions on the freedom to communicate.
October 28, 2005
Howard's terror legislation: we're getting what they deserve
Insofar as the Government relies on the fear of terror in order to maintain its supremacy, it is itself a terrorist organization. - Paul Drakeford, letter to The Age.
For years, those of us who feel John Howard is the embodiment of evil have been equating his government to the totalitarian regimes of Hitler and Stalin. But David Philips, in his letter to The Age, reminds us that this Government is much closer to apartheid South Africa's destruction of the rule of law:
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock sounds increasingly like successive South African ministers of justice and law and order from the 1960s in his petulant insistence that his legislation is no threat to civil liberties because it is aimed only at the "terrorist".
I think he's right. The inward looking, xenophobic cowardice of Howard's Australia resembles the South African experience to a tee.
Nevertheless, as the days dwindle down to Melbourne Cup Day, the day the Howard Government intends to introduce and pass it's anti-dissent pro-terrorist bill in Parliament, it is easier to relate to the Germans of the early Thirties.
Read the book Defying Hitler by Sebastian Haffner for a blow by blow account of the days leading up to Hitler's takeover in 1933.
Howard is no Hitler, in that he has no plans to conquer the world, just his own people. But we the conquered are like the Germans. Many of us are helplessly outraged. Yet a majority of our fellow citizens put Howard in power and now that he is about to rub their faces in that power, they remain as unaware of the consequences of their actions as ever. Of this majority, it is certain that only a small percentage actually approve of this legislation. The rest, the silent majority, will, as usual, not know what hit them.
Another letter writer to The Age, Ken Barnes (lead letter of 28 October 2006), wonders what has happened to all the idealists. The left is dead, all forms of it having virtually disappeared from the political scene.
To where can we turn to reverse this dismal story? Is there a rallying point for idealists that has escaped me?
One of the reasons there is no rallying point for those who can plainly see that the foundation of our nation is rotting away, is that we, like the somnolent silent majority, have all been turned into consumers. We're too busy working longer hours to catch up with our mounting work tasks (because of admin and other cutbacks) and to make enough money to buy the wondrous new time-saving technologies to which we then devote all the rest of our time. Australians continue to be prosperous to the point of total distraction.
Unfortunately, humanity is not capable of being prosperous and responsible at the same time.
It appears that Australia is going to have to endure a Pinochet-like period where people are disappeared at the paranoid whim of John Howard, Philip Ruddock and the slavering secret police of ASIO.
In sum, we the people must suffer the consequences of the wilful ignorance of they the silent majority. When has it ever been different?
October 15, 2005
Little Johnny Stalin's Anti-dissent, Pro-terror laws in full and in a nutshell
Thanks to ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, the creepy, highly secret document that can throw you and I, our wives, our mothers and our children over the age of 16 in prison over literally nothing for ever and ever Amen, is now on the internet for all gobsmacked citizens to view.
Here's the link from Stanhope's web site: Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005
Our democracy-hating ideologues in Canberra are in an uproar over the leak. And why wouldn't they be? Just look at what it says on page one:
This draft is supplied in confidence and should be given appropriate protection.
That's the prying eyes of Australia's citizens this "protection" refers to.
Download your copy today!
But before you do, read Brendan Nicholson's nutshell summation:
If arrested, it goes like this
So, you've been locked up without charge because police suspect that you have information about a terrorist attack.
You can call one member of your family and your boss (or an employee if you are the boss) to tell them you're safe — but you cannot say you are in custody. That is an offence. It could get you jailed for five years.
If you do let slip that you've been detained and your spouse tells a relative, that's a crime too. Five years for the spouse too.
These are the new terror laws, proposed by Canberra, agreed to by the premiers.
A federal police officer will monitor your calls. If you don't speak English, police must have an interpreter present.
You will be allowed to contact your lawyer — as long as a prohibited contact order has not been made against the lawyer. If that is the case, then you'll be given a list of lawyers to pick from.
You will also be allowed to seek the intervention of the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
If you are under 18 and over 16 you will be able to contact a parent or guardian.
Police may use force to take fingerprints or other identifying material from you.
They can also use force to carry out a search. If you run, and police suspect you are a terrorist, they can kill you.
It becomes a crime for an organisation to directly praise or advocate the carrying out of a terrorist act and for anyone to give money to a terrorist organisation.
And you will have committed a crime punishable by life imprisonment if you give to, or collect money on behalf of, another person and are reckless about whether they use the funds to carry out a terrorist act.
The Government says police and security agencies need the laws to stop a terrorist tipping off other members of a gang when the police are onto them.
For more detail:
Terrorist laws to lock up objectors
Terror laws put on the net
As usual, The Australian has nothing on the subject.
Posted by Willikers at 4:01 PM
October 13, 2005
John Howard's Cowardly Old World
How much does John Howard hate democracy? Let me count the ways.
Alastair Nicholson, QC, former chief justice of the Family Court, writes in The Age:
Our liberties and our democracy are under a more serious threat than that posed by terrorists as a direct result of the reaction of our leaders, the media and, in turn, the public, to that threat.
We have experienced a complete failure of political leadership on both sides of politics that has led to a lemming-like rush by the two major political parties to outdo each other in proposing more and more extreme legislation directed at combating a threat of terrorism in this country.
In the name of security, in circumstances reminiscent of the works of Joseph Heller and George Orwell, the public is prevented from knowing the evidentiary basis that justifies such powers. This is the case with new legislation and also, as US activist Scott Parkin discovered, where the powers are applied to an individual.
Driven by fear and the need to act, we run the risk of a series of overreactions in our response to terrorism. This is the very dynamic that terrorists rely upon. What they cannot achieve by military might, they seek to achieve by stimulating our fears. Indeed, it is by our own actions that we are likely to isolate and ostracise members of our community who might then become targets for terrorist recruitment. It is also by our own actions that we travel further from our ideal of what a democratic and open society based upon the rule of law should be.
Nicholson's complete article: Farewell to freedom
Kenneth Davidson, the only economist in Australia with his head properly screwed on, writes in The Age:
There is about as much evidence that the Government's proposed industrial relations changes will promote productivity growth as there was for the claim that there was evidence that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction which justified the illegal invasion of Iraq.
In democracies, immoral policies that advance the interests of the few at the expense of the many have to be buttressed by lies and obfuscation developed by authority figures, packaged by spin doctors and sold to the public.
The effect of the IR changes will be to force down real wages for a growing proportion of the workforce. The downward trend in productivity growth associated with the first wave of changes designed to push workers out of collective or award-based agreements in favour of individual workplace agreements will accelerate with the passing of the present legislation.
As counter-intuitive as it may seem to the economic rationalists, who see labour productivity as a function of individual effort rather than a co-operative process based on mutual respect and trust, there is plenty of empirical evidence that suggests productivity can be higher in enterprises with wages and conditions set by enterprise agreements negotiated by strong unions rather than individual contracts imposed on workers by employers. Proponents of the IR changes are unlikely to admit that it is profits, not productivity, that they want.
Davidson's complete article: IR changes put profit before productivity
A letter by Grant Young to The Age (quoted often on this blog because it is Australia's only remaining newspaper not under Howard's thumb) given the title "A disturbing foretaste of Mr Howard's brave new world":
Last week my wife received a phone call from Centrelink informing her that as she received a parenting payment, she was required to register with a Job Network provider. She told the caller that as she was married she did not believe that the Government proposals on welfare-to-work applied to her. The caller replied that he was aware that she was married and that she must be actively seeking work or be employed for 15 hours a week by July 1, 2006, or she would lose her parenting payment. She was given a Job Network registration number and an appointment with a job agency.
As no announcement had been made about women who are married and receiving parenting payment, she made contact with Centrelink to ask if an error had been made. She was told that no legislation was in place; however, what she had been told was correct and that Centrelink had been instructed to begin the process of contacting those who would be affected and that pamphlets would be sent at the time the legislation was announced to give further information.
Six months before this she received a similar call from Centrelink regarding a Job Network registration number - although that time without the threat of loss of benefits. Clearly the Government has had this nasty surprise in the pipeline for Australian mothers for quite some time.
Couple the above with the "Billy deal" (the example given by the Government of the unemployed person who will be expected to accept a poor-paying job with poor conditions or else find himself losing his unemployment benefits), and we begin to see the hideous nature of the Government's policy. By forcing as many people as it can possibly muster into the workforce - some by threat of loss of income, others like "Billy" who by the misfortune of unemployment can be treated as serfs - the throttling of wages becomes an easy task.
These changes are not about productivity, they are about profit; productivity is important only to business in relation to profit. If a high return can be made from low wages then the incentive to invest in technology to better production is lowered. Australian families are to be used as fodder for Australian businesses to their detriment. All this from a PM who claims to champion family values.
My family, Mr Howard, has a number of values. It values the role of the mother in the upbringing of her children and it values the worth of each human being, employed or unemployed. It is not besotted by the belief in selfishness and greed that drives so much of your party's policy. Above all, it believes in time together and the opportunity to live a moderate lifestyle free from the fear of long hours and unfair conditions.
October 12, 2005
9/11: Why the twin towers collapsed so quickly
So many more people die in natural disasters than should have because the buildings they live in were constructed by shonky businessmen only interested in cutting costs to fund whores to play with and cocaine to snort on their snazzy yachts.
What is not nearly well known enough is that the death toll from 9/11 might have been nearly halved had the twin towers been constructed properly.
Take this quote from Tower of One, by David Nason. It was published in The Weekend Australian Magazine, 10/11 September 2005. Sadly, The Australian puts little on the internet, preferring to charge a buck for articles instead of disseminating information freely.
Why did the towers collapse so quickly?
Of the 2749 killed in the towers, at least 1500 had survived the initial impact of the hijacked jetliners. They died because they could not escape the buildings before they fell.
An investigation into the collapse by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), conducted by more than 200 technical experts and contractors working for the agency, has largely answered that question. The buildings featured inadequate spray-on fireproofing; steel supports around the perimeter of the structures gave way in the intense heat, while the escape routes -- elevators and stairwells - were protected by little more than plasterboard that was ripped apart by the impact of the planes. This meant that those on the floors above where the planes hit were prevented from escaping, while for those below, the stairwells were too narrow to facilitate a speedy evacuation, especially with heavily laden firefighters coming the other way.
The corporate governments of George W. Bush and John Howard are good at paying lip service to the fallen and the destitute while formulating every last policy to enhance the profits of ethics-free business.
October 11, 2005
The Weather Underground: America's last warriors
Last night I had privilege of watching the 2002 documentary The Weather Underground. Directors Sam Green and Bill Siegal have put together the story of a 1960s breakaway movement of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) who called themselves the Weathermen, and who decided that it was time to meet violence with violence. Formed by their outrage against the Vietnam war and the systematic assassination of Black Panther leaders by the government, they bombed the shit out of banks, police stations, a National Guard headquarters, and the San Francisco Hall of Justice, to name a few. In some five years, they were responsible for 25 bombings -- each planned, intentionally, to insure that not one human being was hurt. They were responsible for uncovering the FBI's illegal COINTELPRO programs to repress political dissent, and for helping Timothy Leary to break out of prison.
Towards the end of the documentary, Mark Rudd, a core member of the Weathermen, says: "Americans are taught from a very early age that all violence which is not sanctioned by the government is either criminal or carried out by the mentally ill."
Think about this. Americans (as well as the rest of us) are taught that all forms of violence are criminal behaviour by a government that practices violence every minute of every day somewhere in the world.
There is something more sinister to this than "Do as I say, not as I do." It's like a father murdering a child's mother and then telling the child that to enact retributive violence upon the father amounts to criminality. And we are the children.
It is of course true that violence is to be avoided at just about all costs. In a sane world, violence would be a rare aberration. In the aberrant world we inhabit, the only time violence is condoned is when a government invades another country or when it is invaded.
But when it's our own government that invades our civil rights, we stand by in disbelief, refusing to take up arms against it. We have been Pavloved into paralysis.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not condoning violence. (I wouldn't dare.) But this conditioning from birth by the powers that be, in which we are told that we may only fight fire with hot air has insured that we remain impotent.
Here was Richard Nixon (in the doco) telling his cheering audience: "Violence in America today is not caused by the war, it's not caused by repression. There is no romantic ideal involved. Let's recognise these people for what they are. They're not romantic revolutionaries. They're the same thugs and hoodlums that have always plagued the good people."
Aren't governments clever?
Of course, the "good people" Nixon was referring to was the "silent majority," that group of larvals whose heads have always been most comfortable stuck well into the suffocating sand of ignorance.
The Weather Underground was the closest America has come to rising up against its two-faced murderous empire. Had they existed in Soviet Russia or Hitler's Germany, they would have been seen as heroes by the US Government. It's doubtful such a group -- they were revolutionaries, not terrorists -- will ever form again. The governments of today will only fall when everything falls.
An interesting side note: Interviewed at the time the doco was made, all the men in the group said they were unhappy with the violence they caused, while the women, in one form or other, said they would do it all over again.
Interesting. Does this mean that once men expend their genital-driven lust for violence they become effeminate tool-handling shed-dwellers, while women know exactly what is worth fighting for and would never hesitate to fight for it again and again?
I found this documentary at the local Video Ezy. You should too.
Posted by Willikers at 4:25 PM
October 8, 2005
John Howard's Father of the Year
The "Bali 9" were the gits who got busted for heroin in Indonesia last April because the Australian Federal Police tipped off the authorities there so they could all get the death sentence instead of waiting for them to return to Australia where they would receive prison sentences.
Now it turns out that the father of one of them, Lee Rush, squealed to the AFP, telling them his son was going to Indonesia to commit drug offences, and would they please dissuade him from being a bad boy.
Of course, the AFP did no such thing. Indeed, Scott Rush and another of the accused, Renae Lawrence, are taking action in the Federal Court, claiming the AFP acted illegally when it gave assistance to the Indonesian police that led to their arrests.
Drug couriers too stupid to stay the hell out of Indonesia, federal police encouraging the death penalty, and a parent who is now potentially responsible for nine deaths - all caught up in the web of dishonour preached by Australia's chief role model, John Howard. For ten years he has preached the doctrine of exclusion, of dobbing, of lying, of cheating, of stonewalling, of resorting to any and every foul means to achieve his heinous ends. And Australians have heard the message loud and clear.
Now we have parents turning in their children. This wouldn't be the first time a parent felt his or her offspring would be better off dead than breaking the law. Soon, the Stalinist/Nazi ideal of having children turn in their parents will be realised. The Howard Youth (a.k.a Young Liberals) are already working toward that goal.
And on the terrorism front, former Melbourne Police Commissioner Kel Glare has advised people who work in high rise buildings to buy parachutes in case of a terrorist attack and they have to jump.
Little Johnny's dream: make everyone so paranoid they'll build underground shelters at the bottom of the garden, once they've evicted the fairies. And while they're at it, they'd be wise to peer over the fence to the left, the right and behind, for any sign of nonconformity from the neighbours; if they dob 'em all in, they'll rest a lot easier at night. Except for the other members of the family -- mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, the family dog -- each looking increasingly like an agent of USAma bin Laden. That accomplished, Our Dear Leader can stay in power for the rest of his unnatural life.
Posted by Willikers at 11:53 AM
October 7, 2005
Vanstone chants Howard Govt mantra: I didn't do it
It is a 'shameful episode' in the history of immigration in Australia. The management of Solon was 'catastrophic'. The unlawful removal of one of our citizens is 'almost unthinkable'. - The Comrie Report
How can Amanda Vanstone live with herself? The same way the rest of Howard's Henchmen do. By denying responsibility for all crimes against humanity committed under their watch. Accountability? Sounds like something the ABC would do.
What Howard's Henchmen all have in common is this: Their mothers and fathers forgot to teach them the difference between right and wrong. They have, each one, grown up without a conscience.
Like their mentor, John Howard, each Henchman has learned the vile art of filibustering. In interview after interview, year after year, they never allow an even remotely uncomfortable question to finish before they've interrupted to continue the party line, which is to blame whatever crime they have committed on someone else, usually some poor shmuck in their department. Better yet, the problem must lie with the way the ABC reports it, or if not, it's the Labor Party's fault. Never mind that Labor has been out of office nearly ten years. Their relentless, robotic denial is nothing less than psychopathic. If a friend or a family member behaved like this, professional help would be sought.
Just listen to Vanstone contemptuously dodge and weave when interviewed by Mark Colvin on PM:
Listen also to this short Lateline report, specifically for the cold-blooded dismissal -- "No, not at all" -- given by Philip Ruddock, the minister who is directly responsible for the Solon catastrophe, when asked if he should take responsibility for the case.
Finally, The Australian newspaper is about to replace the Melbourne Herald-Sun as Australia's entry in the worldwide competition to name the New Pravda. Hardly a word about The Comrie Report.
October 6, 2005
Orwell rides again. And again and again ...
Like an old woman in a film about the early days of tyranny, we furtively reach out to close the shutters on freedom of speech, movement and thought in John Howard's relaxed and comfortable police state.
In a timely reminder of what we can expect if Howard continues to trample civil rights in the name of protecting them, Doug Steley has sent along the following excerpt from George Orwell's 1984. Like the citizens not yet subjected to a visit by the firemen in Francois Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451, we should take our copy from its hiding place and read it again and again. (The film version, made in 1984, gets better with every viewing, and, if you've never heard it, the Eurythmics album, 1984 - for the love of big brother, has several powerful, chilling tracks.)
The Ministry of Truth -- Minitrue, in Newspeak -- was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
The Ministry of Truth contained, it was said, three thousand rooms above ground level, and corresponding ramifications below. Scattered about London there were just three other buildings of similar appearance and size. So completely did they dwarf the surrounding architecture that from the roof of Victory Mansions you could see all four of them simultaneously. They were the homes of the four Ministries between which the entire apparatus of government was divided. The Ministry of Truth, which concerned itself with news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts. The Ministry of Peace, which concerned itself with war. The Ministry of Love, which maintained law and order. And the Ministry of Plenty, which was responsible for economic affairs. Their names, in Newspeak: Minitrue, Minipax, Miniluv, and Miniplenty.
The Ministry of Love was the really frightening one. There were no windows in it at all. Winston had never been inside the Ministry of Love, nor within half a kilometre of it. It was a place impossible to enter except on official business, and then only by penetrating through a maze of barbed-wire entanglements, steel doors, and hidden machine-gun nests. Even the streets leading up to its outer barriers were roamed by gorilla-faced guards in black uniforms, armed with jointed truncheons.
Orwell wrote 1984 in the aftermath WWII, when England and Europe were destitute. The setting is one of pervasive greyness and desolation. Update the gloom of then to the present boom time with all its fun distractions and every sentence and paragraph continues to resonate as if it were written yesterday. The Orwellian state is not dependant on abject poverty; all it needs is a population permanently out to lunch.
(It just occurred to me: Philip Ruddock is John Howard's O'Brien. In Orwell's book, Winston Smith thought of O'Brien as an ally at first, just as Ruddock used to be thought of as a wet in the Liberal Party. But O'Brien turned out to be the 'supervisor" of Room 101, and Ruddock would like to turn the entire country into Room 101.)
A few other important works to help understand the direction John Howard is taking us:
The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, on the insidiously manufactured charges for deportation to, and life in, Stalin's concentration camps.
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli, the little primer on politics that has been routinely misunderstood by grasping politicians in much the same way that fundamentalist Christians misunderstand the Bible.
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, the book that pretty well defines the vanity, folly and expedient gullibility of most people.
A Man by Oriana Fallaci, is, among other things, an account of the heroic survival under torture of Alexandros Panagoulis at the hands of the Greek Junta led by the dictator George Papadopoulos (1967-1974). If Alekos could do it, so can we.
Any book or documentary on the Nazis. Better yet, visit a Holocaust Museum if there is one near you, and talk to the few remaining survivors who act as voluntary tour guides and who have almost all written books on the perils of staying alive and sane in a country gone mad. You can see in the early tableaux a frightening similarity to the Australia you're standing in. Recall the recent fascist outburts of the Young Liberals, the standover tactics of Bill Heffernan, the shrill denunciations of Sophie Panopoulis, the thuggish, Brown Shirt behaviour of Wilson Tuckey, ad nauseam.
PS: It might be a good idea to compile a list of books John Howard would like to burn. Send me any titles you can think of, with a brief description.
Posted by Willikers at 1:52 PM
October 5, 2005
Deputy Sheriff Magoo notches four more on his toy six shooter
In terms of Aussie deaths outside Iraq, Chicken Hawk Johnny is doing splendidly. The two Bali bombings -- direct results of his fealty to George W. Bush and the US war machine -- have netted him 92 reasons to introduce the police state his reactionary fear of everything that moves so desperately craves.
If only he could incite some home-grown terrorism -- and, let's face it, he's doing his level best with those anti-terrorist laws -- then he'd have a really super reason to shut down, not just this or that suburb, but the whole gol-dang, gosh-darned, dad-blamed, con-sarned country. (Remember, we don't use adjectives like "bloody" any more. We're Amerikans now.)
On the other hand, he's not doing so well in Iraq. In fact, the six gun in his other holster has no notches at all. It just sits there, drooping listlessly against his chaps, the ones made out of imitation pinto pony hide that Janette gave him for his last birthday.
Just look at these stats:
Coalition of the Willing Casualties as of 5 October 2005
US - 1941
UK - 96
Other - 102
Australia - 0
Of course these figures pale into insignificance when you count the number of Iraqi civilians killed by military intervention. Some say it's more than 100,000. But, as of 5 October, the web site Iraq Body Count lists the dead at a minimum of 26,323 and a maximum of 29,653.
I'm afraid The Littlest Tyrant is going to have to get off his puffy, purulent behind and send more troops if he's going to have any chance of catching up to the bull-goose loonies in Washington and London. Must be kinda hard to look Tony Blair in the eyes: 96 to nothing … come on, Johnny! As for looking Georgie in the Cyclops … but that always makes him come over all creamy and trembly. He knows he can do no wrong in Georgie's squinty little eye.
Nope, more troops on the ground is the answer. Your son, my son, everyone's son but his own... After all, he is the Master and Commander of Australia Inc. (No more Pty Ltd. We're Amerikans now.) The more of our kids fighting over there for Halliburton the better the chances for fresh kills. Then he can stick out his pus-filled lower lip and drone on and on to Mr and Mrs Scared Shitless in that barely conscious, Nembutal-popping voice of his that the only way to protect them is to take away the civil rights they don't even know they have.
Of course, all these deaths and all this misery could have been avoided in the first place by implementing an inquiry into why 9/11 happened. But that's not how it works on this planet of patriarchal blood lust.
Posted by Willikers at 1:45 PM
October 4, 2005
Butthead and Double Butthead
Thanks to Richard M. for suggesting the resemblance between Butthead and Brendan Nelson, Australian Educaation Minister for Rich Fuckwits. For more "uncanny" resemblances, see:
Shier and Mr Toad, from Zippy the Pinhead
Finally, you don't need a picture of the real Mr Magoo to see the resemblance here:
scroll down to "Deputy Sheriff Magoo wants you!
Posted by Willikers at 11:15 AM
October 1, 2005
Heil Howard: The Pied Piper from Hell
Tuesday, 27 September 2005, was the day the state premiers and territory chief ministers of Australia signed off on John Howard's anti-terrorist laws. In effect, they were agreeing to the premise that to fight global terrorism's assault on the civil liberties and legal safeguards we cherish, it was necessary to abandon these same civil liberties and legal safeguards.
This decision has the same underlying totalitarian ideology as employed by the Howard Government when it invaded Iraq to save Iraqis from Saddam Hussein, yet threw asylum seekers escaping Hussein's Iraq into concentration camps as potential terrorists.
How did Australia come to this?
Last October, a self-serving, frightened and supine population re-elected John Howard yet again. In so doing they were saying to him:
We are unable to accept the responsibility of living in a democracy. We know you understand because you keep telling us how much you understand our pain at the petrol pump, at housing prices, at university fees for our kids. But honestly, John, it's just too hard paying attention to what is right and what is wrong.
We hear that our election-time pressies have come from the money you took away from hospitals, universities, the poor, those awful single mothers and bludging cripples and the like. But heck (we used to say "hell," but we're clean-cut Americans now, thanks to ten years of your glorious collaboration with our protectors over there), we don't really care where the loot comes from as long as it comes.
We know we sound like children, but that's the way you want it, isn't it, Uncle John? It's so much easier being a child in this awful world where grownups like yourself have to make big decisions, like whether we'll live or die tomorrow because you keep trying to make the world a safer, more competitive place for someone or other. You're such a nice man.
So John, we're happy to turn a blind eye to all that social destruction people who pay attention to things keep rabbiting on about, because you've made us secure, relaxed and comfortable as we go about our daily surveillance of everything and everyone.
And with that the people tore up the social contract which only ten years before had been the envy of the free world. And how easy it was. They had chosen a leader who, with their distracted consent, managed to chuck in the bin all those centuries of blood, sweat, tears, dedication and heroics.
Let us then all praise Our Dear Leader and Noble Benefactor, John W. Howard (or face arrest), as he sees fit to giveth and taketh away.
What does John giveth?
He giveth us choice.
He giveth us flexibility.
He giveth us security.
What does John taketh away?
He taketh away our rights.
He taketh away our dignity.
He taketh away our liberty.
From this moment I urge whoever reads this to indicate the reality of Australia under John Howard by raising your arm, as did his ideological predecessors, and softly but firmly utter the appropriate salute: Heil Howard. Do this everywhere you go. Most people will not notice, for Australians are generally unaware of anything beyond their own needs and wants. If they do notice, they may ask you what you are doing, for most Australians have no idea what happened the day before yesterday. Some, who do know what you are doing, may ask why, for most Australians love to pass the time in congenial banter.
Spread the word, even if it makes you feel foolish. Remember: you live in a dictatorship. Make others aware of this.