Existential Despair is Back with a Bang
Journal of a Futurist - 10 June 2002
Lock Up Your Daughters
It took an urbane French delegate from the United Nations to spotlight the malaise afflicting a chunk of Australian citizens, myself included. Potentially lethal, he said. It stems from uncertainty over the duration of Australian Prime Ministers grip on the psyche of the nation. It is called collective depression syndrome. Louis Joinet called a media conference to reveal the UNs serious concerns over some fundamental tenets of the Howard system and lamented the cruel limbo like fate afflicting those of us trapped in fortress Oz, where the clocks wind backwards.
Thank heavens for the French, who have gifted the world with champagne, torch singers and truth bombs (their Foreign Minister described George Bushs take on world affairs as simplistic). Yes, collective depression syndrome, thanks for holding up a mirror to the nations soul.
Lest We Forget
This despair is the result of being incarcerated inside a worldview that we vaguely remember sweeping aside thirty years ago. Now its back, just like American troops are back in the east, and our boys along with them, back like censorship and cloddish attorney generals, back with military bands and teary, repetitive speeches about the Anzac spirit, back with flat media-lite and fears of the yellow peril on the high seas ready to steal our jobs & virgins , back with the drooling veneration of sport by otherwise intelligent beings, back with secret police, a compromised public service, bubblegum pop, cowed academics, a fossilised labour party, the glorification of selfishness and so much more.
Sure, many things are better, no thanks to Canberra, (the food, the feminisation of culture). Public services are in decline. Our dishwater-dull Prime Minister, (betrothed to a fervent supporter of capital punishment) is more concerned with avenging the sixties than creating the future. It is not in Australias interest to ratify the Kyoto protocol, he announced last week, which would cost us jobs and damage our industry. This is like ignoring the needs of our dying mother because we are pre-occupied with feeding the cat.
Soft Rock, Sex Bombs and housework
The Bush/Blair world is also in retreat. The glimpse I caught of the vacant eyed flag wavers in the grounds of Buckingham Palace during the broadcast of the Queens Jubilee concert, failed to inspire. Maybe because they were being confronted with a surgically enhanced Tom Jones threatening the Royals with a Sex Bomb.
This was followed by a group of singing ice cream cones who offered a tribute to Mowtown, which deserved to spark street riots in Harlem. When someone started mauling the radical chestnut, Dancing in the Street, I resumed the household vacuuming, afraid the next act might be the Rolling Stones belting out Street Fighting Man, arm in arm with Prince Charles.
I like Prince Charles. He has a heart, he believes in magic, he listens to the trees. I dont begrudge the Queen her jubilee, or the punters their Royal Doulton Woodstock. Its just that underneath it all, the show seemed a re-assertion of Victorian jingoism dressed up as glitter rock.
How about those TV images of US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in India warning their politicians against the use of weapons of mass destruction? This from a man whos made millions of dollars from his investment in weapons of mass destruction. Rumsfelds portfolio is unlikely to slump anytime soon. Politicans need to legislate a world where inventing ways to kill people is not a business, but a crime.
But for states, crimes are what other people do, rarely members of our own team.
Carry On Up the Khyber
While the Australian media is still gung ho about the Afghan war, much of the foreign media has lost its enthusiasm. Allied forces are chasing shadows, noted Londons Evening Standard. Largely a celluloid war according to the Daily Mail, scripted by public relations experts who want their taxpayers to believe the money is being well spent. In the Guardian, Madelaine Bunting sighed at the ludicrous pattern of war hype. First there is a claim of victory, then a few discordant details trickle out, then we get an admission of failure thus we now know that Tora Bora was a blunder
.. . In both the London and the New York Times, there have been sketchy inferences of Ausralian special forces killing non combatants, perhaps accidentally, but this news is falling on deaf editors.
Enough of that. I have absolutely no experience in covering war zones and can barely spell Uzbekistan. My grasp of geopolitics is fuzzy. Despite this failing, how come I am not the least bit surprised at the persistence of Palestinian suicide bombers? I mean, what would you do if your home was bulldozed, members of your family shot, brutalised, impoverished, while the blood lusting Sharon kept blaming the besieged, incompetent Arafat for not stopping militants at the same time as he was liquidating Palestinian bodyguards and police?
Okay, so lets close todays upload with another critical email from a reader who took exception to my hasty reply to her initial attack, (see the May 24 journal, below, Refugee Blues & wild accusations.)
Brett Ruth Strikes Back
Dear Richard, I am honoured to discover you placed my message at the top of your "Bone Pickers" award. I absolutely reject your accusation I want to prevent you from making "future comment". It is important your ideas are exposed and debated in a free and open forum so the world can make its own judgement, unfortunately, you do not seem to practice the same view of "free speech" with your "no reply necessary" response. My experience of people with your view of the world, is when they can not deal with robust criticism they revert to personal abuse. Certainly describing a critic as a "nutter" which you did places you squarely in this category. For the record I stand by my view your anti-Americanism verges on racist but am prepared to admit you do not understand the link between this an anti-semitism. If you spent time in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East you might modify your Left Wing Latte Provincialism. You casually dismiss the link between Islamic extremism and Neo Nazis as paranoia, have you checked out any Neo Nazi web sites lately? I doubt it. I suppose it does not suit your argument so you simply ignore it and accuse anyone who disagrees with you of mental illness, hence your description of me and others who disagree with you as a "nutters" and "paranoid". Richard your side of politics has a long history of treating dissenters as mentally ill. How many lives were destroyed by the Soviets using the same tactic? To the substantive "nutter" stuff and your American military industrial oil complex theory. Let me guess you were abducted by aliens who let you in on the whole dirty little secret. This so-called critique of US foreign policy is real X file stuff. You would have us believe the US government is such a well oiled machine it can manipulate the whole of Central Asia to achieve it aims. Any body who has anything to do with the US government knows what a load of crap that is. After the WTC attack you would think the yanks would take every step possible to prevent terrorists getting visa's. If this was true how is it possible the so called great Satan granted Mohammed Atta one of the suicide pilots a student visa in December 2001, 3months after the event. What a fine example of manipulation and control! I suppose soon you will be telling everyone the "yanks did it to themselves" so they can have cheaper oil. Of course the most delusional part of your article was the notion the Taliban could be convinced to co-operate to catch Bin Laden, this has to get the Molder Scully award for errant nonsense. Richard I have no doubt the Israel has behaved brutally by our standards and yes if there is to be any settlement they need to get of the Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem. Take a step back and think about the history of the last 50 years and put yourself in their position. Since their inception they been attacked on three separate occasions, Arab leaders have openly declared there desire to push Israel into the sea. And despite what you might think a significant number of people in the region want to finish the job Hitler started whatever the cost in blood and lives. I wonder if you would turn the other cheek if your family had been murdered by a suicide bomber? The real is issue is the appalling quality of leadership the Palestinian people have had to suffer all these years. A leadership which has as a tactic deliberately created a strategic environment that has forced ordinary Israeli's it the hands of their own extremists. The clear purpose being to force international intervention. This is a leadership prepared to sacrifice its own children in the most cynical way possible. Any Palestinian who can get out has got out of this environment, if you speak with Palestinians the last thing they want is to expose their children to the corrupt and insidious culture perpetuated by the current leadership. Before these troubles it was possible for a building laborer from Palestine working in Israel to earn $700US per week. As a direct result of the current PLO leadership no matter what happens in the so called peace process this opportunity will never return for these people. What is happening to the Palestinian people is a crime that is far more complex than you rigid neo-Marxist analysis can ever understand. It is a form of cultural self immolation, Israel is no innocent party in this process but ultimate responsibility for the problem rest with the corrupt and morally incompetent leadership of the PLO. And your absolutely simplistic Chomsykite view of the world does nothing but encourage the real "nutters" on both sides. Richard I do not want to silence or smear you and am happy to engage in open debate. I think your views are wrong and you ought to be forced through debate to have a good look at yourself and your provincial view of the world.
PS Will you have the guts to put my reply up in your bone pickers award? Brett Ruth.
Mmm, Ill think about that. Bye everyone.