:: Saturday, 6 September 2003 ::
I think Former Prime Minister Paul Keating is waiting for me to die.
Otherwise, what to make of this stuff he spoke about in The Age when lauching that book attacking Windshuttle?
Let us take a closer look, then, eh? This is gonna take a while and a few posts.
The protagonists and antagonists in the debate about Australia's history and identity are surrogates in a broader political battle about Australia's future, a battle that is being fought in the pubs and on the footpaths.
For the Australian story to be a record of continuing success, it has to come to terms with our expropriation of the land, our ambivalence about who we are, and our place in the new geopolitical make-up of the region.
Okay. Paragraph 1. he is on the money about the pubs and footpaths, if by them he means everywhere from the factory floor to the butchery to the University Law Quadrangle and to the top end of town. But it is hardly a battle. It is a discourse. And it is hardly a unique discourse – it is going on everywhere from the fake Irish pubs of Italy to the footpaths of Mexico City. It is a discourse about leftwing philosophy and how lousy it is.
But paragraph 2? We have come to terms with our expropriation of land. It was expropriated. And there ain’t no one wants to go back. And we are not ambivalent about who we are. We are Australians living in the (second) greatest country on earth. And our place in the region is known. Number 1. With daylight between us and numbers 2 et al, and that won’t change no matter how much numbers 2 et al mess with their own geopolitical make-up. I mean really.
You gotta break this down ‘cos it is a code. ‘Come to terms with expropriation’ means we must apologise to the Aboriginals for the expropriation by which we come to be living here, never mind that many of the folks here, being wogs, have absolutely zip zero to apologise about and frankly if it has to be anyone it has to be the descendant so of the Irish and the English who did the expropriating, if they can be identified, to do the apologising. Otherwise drop it. It is boring.
We must become a republic because until we become a republic we cannot possibly be fully functioning human beings with a stable democracy. Noo.
And geography means more than culture so we must eschew the magna carta tradition that functions here in Oz in favour of engaging more closely with the countries of Asia with whom we share precisely no historical or cultural connection. Because they are Asians, Not Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesians, Malaysians, Taiwanese, Singaporean, Philipino. Nooo. Just little brown hardworking Asians. Aren’t they cute? Urgh. Suffocating racism.
History is always our most useful tool and guide, because knowing our past helps us to divine our future.
The question for this nation is, how do we find a pathway to a genuine security, a naturally reinforced security in Asia and not from Asia, where we are not a client state perennially searching for a strategic guarantor. Once it was the British navy. Now it's the American defence establishment.
More code, you see it? Stop with the Yank arselicking and develop a taste for sucking Asian arseholes. Vulgar, I know. But that is Keating’s sentiment. And zif we get fake security now out of our relationship with America when we could get into some real genuine security by making nice with Asia. Be a republic, piss the Yanks off and get with the Asian program. Same old Keating. Cos everyone knows we do not need to be on side with the Yanks any more. It is not like there is a war on terror or anything important going on, or any horrible murmurs from Indonesia’s number 2 sounding just like the Bali Bombers, and Mahathir’s regular slurs, meaning noises from Asia. Nooo. It is not as though now might be a good time to preserve some history and to be on the side of fighting against terror and in favour of democracy. Nooo.
Those who militantly defend the conservative orthodoxy see all change as an affront to the past, especially their view of the past - whereas knowing the past and seeing it for what it is, with all its blemishes, allows us to divine our destiny for our appointment with reality.
That appointment with reality has come. We are no longer part of some empire. We are no longer some appendage dangling off the British Isles. We are no longer protected by the British navy. While people may say we're protected by the Americans, we have to understand what reality here means.
Republic, Republic, Republic. Dump the Yanks and damn the consequences. It is not matter of whether I may say (thankyou so for letting me speak, m’lord) or do say the Yanks protect me. It is a matter of fact that we share, among other things, a common view of robust democracy as an objectively good thing and an alertness for imbecilic terrorists and an aim of preventing terrorism as well as punishing it when it does occur. And the reality is that our relationship with America might piss the terrorists off, but frankly, terrorists are imbeciles who cannot be reasoned with so who cares what they think.
As for this business of ‘all change being an affront to the past’ well, I will go out on a limb and say the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ philosophy is, in my view, a good one, so long as you stay alert for when the ‘it’ actually does break. But Keating has an ‘I am telling you it is broken’ zeal that is disconcerting. He has no argument, just a slur – in this case dangling appendage. Nice. He expects me to assume the kneeling position before his dangling appendage, yes? Cos there is no other compelling argument he can raise for a republic.
I've never understood why the John Howards and the Geoffrey Blaineys et al are defensive, so resistant to novelty and to progress. They are more than conservatives. They are reactionaries.
Conservatives accept changes. Reactionaries resist those changes. Understanding and acknowledging the past and moving on to bigger and better things is anathema to them.
Those who want to celebrate only our European past, rejoicing in its prejudices, and who want us to be exclusive and cocooned, must lose.
Good grief. This code is hardly code at all. People who are not ashamed of Captain Cook and Gould, and are not ashamed of the Black and White Minstrel Show and Coons shoes, well, they must lose the robust pub and footpath battle. They have to be battled until they are ashamed. Shame is the aim. God help us. Shamed into a republic. As if that is a reason to become one. God.
And people who think the mandatory detention of folks who turn up in Oz without the slightest authority (and having shown nothing but disrespect for our laws and for international laws concerning the movement of folks in trouble, having passed on hanging in other Asian nations on their way to our waters, and having paid a criminal to put their own lives in danger and those of their families, and who bloody well have thrown their kids into the water, just like they do in the Adriatic to the Italians) is okeedokie by them, so long as it leads to processing and a final decision in or out - well, apparently they must lose too. They must be battled in the pubs and on the footpaths until they no longer give a shit who comes here and how they get in.
Must lose. Sheesh.
And as it happens, I am one who wants to celebrate only my European past and prejudices. Natch. I am a wog. You think I am going to celebrate some Croat’s past? Nah. He can celebrate it. Good for him. I got my own thanks a lot. Jeez.
They insist on their view and the lessons they see in our history. Yet in their insistence, their proprietorialness, their derivativeness and their rancour, they reduce the flame and energy within the nation to just a smouldering incandescence.
What they effectively do is crimp and cripple our destiny. It's like suffering from some sort of political anaemia, because the energy is not there.
Well now. That certainly is blunt. I am crippling our destiny.
I am not, actually, so relax.
But do you see the code?. Historians who insist on disinterested objectivity and fact (Blainey Windshuttle) are challenging ideological history (Reynolds Macintrye Clark Clark Ryan Manne et al) and this is bad because made up history allows us to get to the shame thing all the quicker, and that will lead to a republic quicker too. And that is what we want. But these guys are slowing us down. Sapping our energy. Bugger. Who knew shoddy scholarship would ever need defending, and that defending it would take up so much time?
:: WB 4:29 pm [link+] ::