Category Archives: society

Book Launch – “The Secret War: A True History of Queensland’s Native Police”

by Jonathan Richards

 “The Secret War” will be launched by Henry Reynolds at the Avid Reader bookshop, Boundary St. West End (Bris) on Wednesday 19th March 2008 at 6.00 pm.

 From the publisher, University of Queensland Press….……

  Henry Reynolds describes Jonathan Richards’ controversial book, The Secret War: A True History of Queensland’s Native Police, as ‘a major contribution to Queensland and Australian historiography, and to the history of relations between colonists and indigenous people on a global scale’.

The health, housing and employment crisis facing Indigenous people today are a direct result of our white settlement history.

How did Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, from all over Queensland, end up being violently forced to leave their homelands and live in these communities?

Why were Indigenous people so terrified of the police, they allowed themselves to be herded into ‘prisons without walls’?

The release of The Secret War is timely given the new Labor Government’s official apology to the Aboriginal people.

The Secret War tells the story of organised racial violence and lawful mass murder on the Queensland frontier.

For many Indigenous people, white colonisation arrived with the armed men of the Native Police: a brutal force that operated on the 19th-century frontier, killing large numbers of Indigenous men, women and children.

Historian Jonathan Richards has spent ten years researching this contentious subject, picking his way through secrecy, misinformation and supposed ‘lost files’ to uncover and publish the truth.

In this first full-length comprehensive study of the Native Police in Queensland, he argues that they were a key part of a ‘divide and rule’ colonising tactic and that the force’s actions were given the implicit approval of the government and public servants, and that their killings were covered up.

The Queensland government, which so far has avoided blame due to an absence of direct orders to kill Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, stands responsible for the force’s deployment, techniques and ultimately for its genocidal activities.

The Secret War is an authoritative and groundbreaking contribution to our country’s white settlement history.

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Intervention hysteria, truckie prostitution and a defence of Noel Pearson

The ABC Lateline program has exposed child prostitution in some Aboriginal communities catering to passing truckies. The federal opposition leader, Brendan Nelson has called for an extension of the Northern Territory intervention into these communities.

“The Intervention” has come to mean nothing. John Howard and Mal Brough’s plan is being dismantled, although much slower that N.T. Aboriginal people would like.

“The Intervention” has come to mean an ideological, non-specific plan for urgent action. It seems the Howard/Brough plan was never much more than this, but now that a new regime is redesigning policy and programs, “the Intervention” is just an illusion of recent history, not a real policy framework.

Brendan Nelson has called for “the Intervention” in W.A. and Qld. as well as communities on trucking routes.

There is still a strong backlash, including protests, to the N.T. intervention, which has no doubt strengthened people in N.T. communities in their negotiations with the new government. However there has also been opposition to extending “the intervention” into W.A. and Qld.

I don’t know anything of the W.A. situation but I have been following Cape York politics. Brendan Nelson has called for a Cape York Intervention. Protestors have protested against the Cape York Intervention. But the trial of welfare Quarantining in Cape York has nothing to do with “the intervention”. The Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership, in particular Noel Pearson has been lobbying for a range of reforms including welfare reform for a decade, a long time before Mal Brough dreamed up the N.T. Intervention.

The Cape York trial is an Aboriginal initiative, which has been developed over a decade. It does not impose a blanket welfare quarantine as the N.T. intervention did; it is only for people who are referred to a “Family responsibilities commission” by community agencies for such things as child neglect. The communities have volunteered to be part of the trial.

The trial is certainly not unanimously embraced in the Cape, but a particular leadership, including traditional elders, has done the black business over the last ten years and now managed to get some government support for their program.

Most importantly, unlike the N.T, intervention, welfare quarantining and the Family Responsibilities commission in Cape York is part of a broader program of housing, education and economic development.

Just as John Howard, Mal Brough and now Brendan Nelson see “the intervention” as a one size fits all program for all Aboriginal communities, there has been a one size fits all opposition to “the intervention” including opposition to local Aboriginal initiatives such as the Cape York welfare quarantine trial.

Brendon Nelson’s call for “the intervention” to deal with child prostitution on trucking routes is a clear example of blaming the victim. The child prostitutes have broken no law; it is the truckies who have committed the crime, yet Nelson sees Aboriginal communities as the focus for action.

Noel Pearson and others from the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership have also been accused of blaming the victim in calling for such things as welfare quarantining. However I believe such accusations do not take into account the desperation in communities such as those in the trial and the willingness to take drastic action, anything to change the way things are. In the news today elders from Aurukun are calling for their children to be taken off the community to go to boarding school because they are not safe in the community.

There is a big difference between blaming the victim and people, especially the victims of history, deciding there is something that they must do, a change that they must make happen on their own, by any means necessary.

Pearson is not blaming the victim. He, like the radical black power movement, proclaims that the white man will give you fuck-all, its no use appealing to them for salvation. This is not blaming the victim.

Even if there is a police intervention into the trucking industry to stop child prostitution, the communities on the trucking routes still must deal with questions of drugs, women’s business, poverty etc. as a community response to child/truckie prostitution, this includes changing the consciousness and behaviour of the victims. This is not blaming the victim, only a recognition that the forces of oppression still exist and the only people who can really do anything about it are the oppressed victims themselves, not the vigilance of the police or the repentance of the truckies for both will never occur.

I disagree with Noel Pearson’s plan but I am not a traditional owner of cape York. I believe there is indeed a one size fits all policy for indigenous issues – self-determination.

Self-determination relies on the capacity of local leaderships to lead. It is the process of growing leadership that is the priority for Aboriginal Australia and that will take on many different and conflicting forms in different communities. The essential issue is the social cohesion and functionality of a particular community or family to govern itself. Questions of the ideological correctness of this or that particular government policy are irrelevant.

Policy illusions of the white government such as “the intervention” or the new one “close the gap” have nothing to do with hope in Aboriginal communities. Only the re-emergence of a cohesive social order and leadership can provide hope.

Malcolm X’s notion of “by any means necessary” should be considered in weighing up the ideological correctness of such things as welfare quarantining Cape York style.

The success of failure of the Cape York trial will depend on who is in charge. What is the entrenched authority of the process? The Devil is always in the detail.

If Cape York elders, men and women are empowered, including by the power of the local police, school and hospital to enact their will in their community, then the trial will succeed. If bureaucrats and police are in charge, by way of “consultation” the whole process will fail.

Keeping control of the process, keeping it out of the control of the government, will be the test of the leadership for Noel Pearson and his associates in Cape York.

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Guest post – International Womens Day 2008 by Fiona Noble

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY MARCH 8, 2008

To Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn…
There Is A Season, Turn, Turn, Turn…
There Is A Time For Peace, Turn, Turn, Turn.

My name is Fiona Noble. I do Treaty under the Sacred Treaty Circles of Oodgeroo of the Tribe, Nunuccal, I am a mother of four children, two of which have non-Indigenous fathers and two of which have an Indigenous father.

Oodgeroo advocated “Don’t hate, educate”, and she maintained that the only healing that could come about in this country was through Treaty. Her family continue to do her law in the face of ongoing genocidal practices.

I would like to begin here with a poem Oodgeroo Nunuccal (Kath Walker) wrote for her son Denis, and which I would like to read for all my children, but especially to my son, Djindu, whom I hope will grow to be a fine warrior for peace, as are and have been his fathers.

Son of Mine (To Denis)
oodgeroo_noonuccal-bandw.jpg Oodgeroo of the tribe Noonuccal, Custodian of the land Minjerriba. 

My son, your troubled eyes search mine,
Puzzled and hurt by colour line.
Your black skin soft as velvet shine;
What can I tell you, son of mine?
I could tell you of heartbreak, hatred blind,
I could tell of crimes that shame mankind,
Of brutal wrong and deeds malign,
Of rape and murder, son of mine;
But I’ll tell instead of brave and fine
When lives of black and white entwine,
And men in brotherhood combine –
This would I tell you, son of mine.

I am writing this letter because I am deeply disturbed with where women are at in this country, not only with the continuing difficulties all women world wide experience but more importantly with the role of the western mind set white women especially continue to uphold, continue to be in denial about, and which is essentially the root of the problems western women would consider to be universal to all women.

The society we see around us, the matrix in which we exist and often feel oppressed by, that which stems back to the Roman Empire, is based on a culture of man-made law as opposed to natural /God’s law, greed, self engrandisment, false idols, violence, and a lack of respect and understanding for spirit and country.

I am writing today to urge non-Indigenous women in this country to get real about who they are in this country, to be responsible for what has happened and what is continuing to happen. I urge all non-indigenous women who want to stop the Northern Territory Intervention, who want to see the social and economic conditions of Indigenous people improve, I urge you, to stop seeing your selves as saviours – you aren’t.

You are in fact the ones who need saving. Non-Indigenous people in this country are ‘rubbish people’ – no law, no dreaming. The only way this can be rectified is to acknowledge Aboriginal sovereignty, and to do Treaty, and I mean ‘do’ Treaty, not wait for it to come and get dropped in your lap. “Faith without action is blasphemy”!

I would like to express to you briefly my own experiences. I grew up on military bases around Australia and when I became an adult, I chose to put all my energy into ‘fighting for peace’ but as yet I have been unsuccessful in tearing down the military industrial complex. Then through my peace activities I became involved with women’s rights and issues. I worked in women’s refuges for many years, did anti-military actions with Women for Survival, helped set up Women Behind Bars ( Bris.) etc, etc .

The problem was, unfortunately I mistook feminism for women’s business which I have only in recent years come to fully appreciate. Through my activities with the peace and women’s movements I also became acutely aware of the prison industry. My reason for being then became to ‘raze the prisons’ to the ground – another unsuccessful mission I set for myself.

After many years of feeling like I was hitting my head against a brick wall, where nothing seemed to have changed and in fact, where things had even gotten worse – in my ego state – I became disillusioned. There didn’t seem to be any sisterhood in the sisterhood, the anarchists, with whom I ran with, either went turn- cote or became manic depressives, etc. etc. The point is – what I had been doing, was exactly that – hitting my head against a brick wall and then wondering why it hurt. We can all have ‘issues’ dear to us, things we want to change, but they will remain just that -‘ issues’- until we address the root problem, and that is our lack of spirit and connectedness to country.

Once you do acknowledge who’s land you are on, once you acknowledge you know nothing about this country, once you bow down, chuck away everything you think you know and realise that most of what you think you know is utter crap, then you can begin to learn.

I have heard comments from white fella’s who say they know about spirit and country because they can ‘intuit’ it, they can go into someone else’s country sit under a tree or whatever and ‘intuit’ Baiame and the rainbow serpent moving – just like that! We are all spirit and we all seek spirit but it doesn’t mean we know it, own it, control it. One woman said to me about such individuals – People like that are like leaves blowing in the wind, blowing around and around, eventually blowing right away. She said she’d rather be connected to the tree.

In 1998 through my prison activities, I met the father of my two youngest children. He was stolen from his Pitjanjatjara family in S.A. when he was three and grew up in institutions. I was on a huge learning curve. He used to say to me “Chuck away my political ism-schisms” or, similarly, as my other husband says “You have to come to this like a child”. And so I am passing on to you what I see is essential for non-indigenous people to do before they can effect any real change – whether it be for the environment, the military, domestic violence, whatever. We need to get the proper authorities and disciplines right firstly, with the restoration of elders in council – blood lines back to territory. We truly need to seek truth and spiritual oneness.

Australia has the highest youth suicide rate in the world, and that’s white fella’s. “Why is this so?” you might ask.The lack of spirit, respect, the ongoing lies and thievery, and the belief in white superiority, which everybody seems to want to deny, is taking its effect. You can’t commit genocide, and expect no consequences.

My family is currently in a state of total chaos at the moment because of the factors I have just mentioned. The two fathers of my non- Indigenous children, in their arrogance and ignorance, are committing genocide on my family as we speak.

Knowing full well the failure of the white police and judicial systems to address anything, knowing full well that police kill blackfellas in jail – they have decided to use the police and the state and my two daughters to ‘divide and conquer’ once again. They may say they are against the invasion of the Northern Territory but fail to see that their own actions give testimony to such genocidal practices. What they are doing is as the rest of white Australia is doing – pointing the finger at blackfella’s to divert attention away from their own insidious behaviour. They like the rest of white Australia don’t seem to want peace.

They do not seek healing but ego gratification. They as white, wealthy, academics see them selves as superior to me and my family because they are white and they think they are men, and they think they know better. Like the Government is doing – they say sorry, and kick you in the guts again. And it’s not good enough.

The military invasion of the N.T. is in no ones interest except white Autsralia. I didn’t see activists running to the N.T. to stop the invasion. I saw people run to Shoalwater Bay for the military exercises – everywhere but the N.T.

. I was in Canberra for the convergence to ‘stop the N.T. Intervention . People from the N.T. weren’t there to hear “sorry, now off you go back home”. They want it stopped. This intervention is extending into other states. Whitefellas are now starting to experience some of the tactics of the oppressive regime. As James Baldwin said “if they come for me at night, they’ll be coming for you in the morning”.

So finally, I would just like to reiterate the need for non-Indigenous women to stop focusing on how right they are, to stop blaming everyone else for their problems, to stop being so self righteous and judgemental.

Put your right to be an individual aside for five minutes, and start listening to the Indigenous women and men in the communities.

There are those who do things for mammon and ego and there are those who do things for spirit. Who are you? There are those who will judge others and accuse others. Ask yourself, what are their motivations and what are your own?

Please prioritise in your lives redressing the ongoing genocide. Support the move for Sovereignty; support a Treaty process; support international condemnation of this Australian govt. and the culture of genocide.

If you are interested in doing Treaty and supporting the move toward Sovereignty, you can obtain further information by contacting me on 0402541548

email – moongalba1@yahoo.com.au.

Or you can support the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra, which is desperately seeking support to drive Sovereignty, Treaty, and “Stop the Intervention”.

Peace, prosperity and healing,

Fiona Noble (Sacred Treaty Circles of Oodgeroo, Custodian of the Land Minjerribah)

Useful Readings….

Oodgeroo’s works

Germaine Greer – White Fella Jump Up,

Henry Reynolds – Law of the Land

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The Carers Alliance – election message

The following message is from Robert Gow, Qld Campaign Manager of the Carers Alliance. The Carers Alliance are running candidates for the senate around Australia
more info – http://www.qld.carers.org.au/

Hello all,
Many thanks for the support you have all given, the election draws near
 and we are getting many contacts from carers who are desperately
 seeking a better deal.

Carers are asking questions, like:
Why will Indonesian Orang-utans receive several thousand dollars each
 over 4 years when Australian Carers will only receive an average of
 $15.38 each per annum for the next 5 years according to the government’s
 promises.

Carers days are numbered at the rate of interest that governments are
 showing. Will they join the ranks of endangered species though sheer
 neglect by government?

Have you seen our You Tube Video?
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZHkrgNlk9w

When you visit it please click on the favorite’s link. This will
 promote the clip and therefore the issue onto the political agenda and may
 gain us some more much needed press before Saturday.

Over the last two weeks we have published stories of difficulties that
 Carers are having with Centrelink. Many other carers have contacted us
 regarding their problems with the same body. There have been three
 overriding themes emerge:
• The officiousness and inflexibility of Centrelink staff
• The rudeness and flippancy of Ministerial staffers, and
• The non-responsiveness to issues raised by carers with Ministers,
 Shadow Ministers and local Federal members (not even the courtesy of a
 reply)

It has become clear that carers are a home grown endangered species.
  We are a finite resource – we will not live forever. We cannot continue
 to be exploited as a perceived cost effective alternative to a
 properly funded community support system. Governments are consigning carers
 and our sons, daughters, family members who require support and
 assistance, to the scrap heap.

Many of the 2.6 million Australian Carers and the other people that
 they influence (estimated to exceed 6.5 million) will ask “How do I make
 my vote ensure a future for our carers if neither party is serious about
 the issue?”

There is only one option; send a carer to Canberra and force government
 to take notice. A vote for the Carers Alliance Party is the only
 course of action for voters that want to influence the next government to
 make critical changes before carers are extinct in our population.

Without support Carers will become an extinct sub-species of the
 Australian community. Most are at breaking point and many are desperately
 beyond. At current rates of neglect many of the 2.6 million carers will
 join the ranks of those who need care. It will become a vicious circle
 and where does that leave the country?

Once again, please forward this to your mailing list and request that
 they do the same.
Don’t forget to visit the web site, http://www.qld.carers.org.au. We
 have had over 80,000 hits this month alone.

so many thanks,
Robert Gow,
Qld Campaign Manager
Carers Alliance

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“Unlikely Travellers” voted best documentary at IF awards

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Congratulations to Michael Noonan and John Hart and for their film “Unlikely Travellers” winning the Inside Film (IF)  award for best Australian  documentary.

“Unlikely Travellers” will be screened on the ABC over the next three weeks beiginning Monday November 19 at 8pm.  more details here. 

Here is my review of the launch of Unlikely Travellers in August –   movie review

UPDATE – While Unlikely Travellers is now recieving the acknowledgement and praise that it deserves, the controversy and condemnation is continuing at Irish Indymedia – here  and at the Courier Mail – here 

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The Progressive Spirituality movement.

This post was inspired by the recent ABC Compass program on the Uniting Church in Australia, “The Uniting Church” highlighting a divergence of opinion within the church between conservative Christian traditionalists and a new movement emerging called “progressive spirituality” (P.S.).  P.S. is challenging traditional Christianity at its core by questioning key doctrinal concepts such as the virgin birth, the physical resurrection of Jesus and the church’s rejection of homosexuality.

I don’t believe the Compass program did justice to the ideas of either faction in this schism and seemed more interested in highlighting the existence of conflict within a church that calls itself “uniting”.

The Compass program did touch on what I consider to be a major issue which did not appear to be aimed at either side of the debate, and then dissapointingly did not return to it.  The Uniting Church’s modus operandi in its mission to the poor, oppressed and marginalised is a bureaucratic/welfare mode by way of welfare institutions. “But this work has become more professionalised, congregations have become less directly involved” according to Compass. I shall return to this issue.

The P.S. Movement is not confined to the Uniting Church. it has members and curious followers from all Christian denominations, it struggles with the word “Christian” as it excludes other faiths. However despite welcoming invitations to members of other faiths the movement is dominated by Christians or ex-Christians. The P.S. Movement is infinitely diverse, it cannot be pigeonholed as a particular tradition, philosophy or theology. It actively challenges preconceptions of religion and spirituality and as such is incapable of articulating a party line. It is indeed a post-modernist movement that sees respect for difference as part of the essence of their movement.

The P.S. Movement seems to have defined itself by way of adherence to the writings of radical theologians such as Bishop John Shelby Spong who recently visited Australia and invigorated this movement.

The movement holds scholarship in very high regard and its main spokespeople have been academic theologians which has its blessings and its curses.

Amongst the blessings of a theologian lead movement is a direct connection to the tradition and knowledge of ancient scriptures such as the bible and gnostic gospels. The cultural illusions that have been the substance of modern Christendom are stripped away with great authority and scholastic accuracy. This deconstruction of traditional Christianity has opened the gates to authentic spiritual experience without the constraints of artificial and outdated modes enshrined as holy and eternal. The scholars have assisted in liberating the captive Christian mind.

However the curse of scholastic spiritual leadership is the same as of academia in general in that the root or base experience of all (or most) knowledge is the written word.

I wonder if literacy itself is an obstacle to spiritual reality?

I am no anti-intellectulaist. However I am concerned that spiritual experience and knowledge is contained when it is a product of a book (or website). This would perhaps be my major criticism of traditional Christianity, in that it has demanded that the book, the bible, be the only source of knowledge of god.

Very few of the main characters of the bible got their wisdom through books, that was predominantly the domain of the often despised religious authorities. The new testament church taught spirituality by way of active engagement and participation in the Jesus community, through the oral tradition of story telling and through engagement in ritual such as baptism – bathing in the waters of a healing sacred site. Spirituality was a historical reality that people – all of them, body and all,  participated in, not an idea or a thought or anything contained in text including holy scripture..

Western industrialised society, not just the church has made literature the basis of our entire educational system from preschool to PhD. However literacy – the monotonous, one dimensional experience of shape recognition on a piece of paper or computer screen that triggers memory of pre-existing concepts in our mind by way of chemical and electrical impulses does not get to the truth of the matter.

Learning through literacy is a secondary, represented reality instead of a direct engagement with the subject being studied.

Spirituality is not an ideology but a lifestyle and the consciousness that grows from that, a holistic connection of physical and mental and of ourselves to everything else. Spiritual wisdom is the experience of living a holistic lifestyle, not a rational justification or idea that has been read in a book.

The greatest spiritual tradition this continent has ever known is Aboriginal culture. This is of course relevant to this P.S. Movement and indeed all Australians. However knowledge of this tradition cannot be gained through reading books but only by direct engagement with Aboriginal people, culture and sociology.

I believe that spirituality is a non-rational, subconscious reality on a dimension different from literacy and the experience of reading. Spirituality is multi dimensional and holistic but literacy is not holistic and just a simple exercise of our visual senses impacting on our intellectual capacity.

We all learn of spirituality and the depth of human experience when we encounter death. Our understandings of life that flow from the grieving process can barely be articulated in text and cannot be taught to another through text, yet the spirituality of life and death is the most profound of all. The funeral of a loved one is an intensely spiritual experience, whatever religion or ideology. It is this reality without language, from grief to joy to dialogue with the devil in the desert, that we find and share and teach spirit. Life, death and spirituality are all “lived” experiences not book-learned ones.

And this is where I return to bureaucratic/welfare modes of mission or engagement in the world. Can the P.S. movement incorporate service to the poor within a spiritual framework? Can this mission itself be a generator of spiritual experience for them?

The poor and marginalised’s direct experience of the church, by way of welfare agencies is of an empty structure while the congregations are having their own spiritual experiences and journeys somewhere else, in church on Sunday, social groups or theological colleges.

 I do not believed detached welfarism is the model of engagement with the community that occurred in the historical church of the bible.

I have seen nothing (yet) in my searchings to suggest that the P.S. Movement has a vision for any other modes of engagement with the poor other than managing, or in other ways engaging bureaucratically with, welfare or social justice agencies – the traditional church model.

This I believe is the challenge of the P.S. Movement, to explore a spirituality, lived experience and social engagement that is not so much outside the theology of the traditional church but  actively and intentionally outside of the culture of the traditional church.

I believe that the P.S. Movement could develop, on the one hand as a distillation of mainstream, secular consciousness and morality and engage with society on that level. On the other hand it could embrace a spirituality similar to the radical Christian community movement of the 1970’s which emphasised an alternative communal lifestyle (of different sorts) and real and active connection to the poor. This movement existed within traditional theology but lived a holistic spirit that had little to do with the institutional church and its Sunday services.

Can a new, liberated spirituality of the Progressive Spirituality movement get beyond a theological/academic tradition and evolve into a lived, daily experience and social reality that is accessible and relevant to those in need as well as church members?

 The emerging awareness that we have to relate to the Earth differently, for theological or ecological reasons, provides another reason to re-engineer the culture and lifestyle of the church, for its own sake and to have some positive relevance to the wider society.

 More info –

http://www.progressivereligion.org.au/ Centre for Progressive Religious Thought

 http://commondreams.org.au/ “Common Dreams”

http://www.progressivespirituality.net/index.htm Progressive Spirituality Network – Brisbane

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Filed under australia, justice, philosophy, psychology, society, spirituality, Uncategorized

Political addiction and the 2007 election ( Revenge of the Pseph)

“Well may you say God Save the Queen, but nothing will save the governor General”

gough-on-steps.jpg

I just had to say that on remembrance day. Every time I visit Canberra I have to stand at the front of the old parliament house and recite this mantra. Today is a holy day for political junkies.

I find election night television coverage to be a highlight of my viewing year. Every now and then I like to sit in the TAB and make a few bets, there is something mesmerizing about studying the numbers on the screen and trying to make sense of them followed by an exhilarating or disappointing climax as the race is called. I get the same petty buzz on election nights.

My name is John and I am a political junkie.

My craving for more and more is profoundly dissatisfied by this Federal election. I feel I am being subjected to involuntary cold turkey and being denied access to any solid political hits.

I am bored silly with the present election campaign. I agree with Mark Latham’s analysis that this election is a Seinfeld election – all about nothing. Senator Andrew Bartlett makes similar observations on his blog “Empty vessels and hollow men”.  

Kevin Rudd and the ALP have been running fast in all directions to avoid any argument with John Howard and the incumbent government and the substance of all media coverage has been meaningless visits to shopping centres, workplaces, schools and old peoples homes. The media hunts for bloopers and mishaps. When they get such a spontaneous distraction they feature that as the lead story.

When John Howard and Kevin Rudd met for a televised debate the headlines were not interested in any political issues but focused on the sensation of “The Worm”, the perception of the audience. The only exciting news presented about the election to date has been the almost daily release of opinion polls and the endless speculation about the size of the swing to the ALP.

Unfortunately much of the election commentary on the blogosphere has been similarly shallow, often just commenting on the media pulp but more and more  engaging in the esoteric art of psephology (the statistical study of elections).  

Independent psephylitics have been raised to a higher pedestal than political commentators.   The ABC’s Antony Green, the unchallenged Lord of the Psephs, has emerged as the most authoritative election analyst on the web and on the T.V. Journalists of the ilk of Laurie Oakes or Paul Bongiorno who have dominated past election coverage with their inside leaks, policy juxtapositions and eagerness to find or create political conflicts have been sidelined by Lord Antony’s speculative number crunching.

Politics has been reduced to the level of a cricket match. We, the people, sit in the grandstands cheering for one side or the other and watching the scoreboard.  However we will be quickly evicted if we wander on to the pitch. The thing that makes the 2007 election different to other cricket matches is that the ALP is content to bowl under-arm for the whole test. The government is swinging wildly trying to make contact with the ball but it rolls so slow and so low they cant do anything with it.

It is easy to be cynical about politicians detachment from the real world, about their minimal contact with their constituents who have no real power or voice in parliamentary business. Consent is given to these removed politicians once every three (or six) years by way of a cross in a box next to their name on a ballot paper which is the only political engagement required of a “responsible citizen”. It is similarly easy to be cynical about the expansive gulf between policy principles discussed in parliament and the real working (or not working) of government policies and public service delivery in the real lives of real people on the ground.

The only knowledge we have of the exercise of political power comes from a severely refracted, minimalised and biased mass media, not necessarily biased within the parliamentary spectrum but intensely biased in the construction of notions of society, citizenship and politics. The mass media, as our only common cultural experience as a nation defines our notions of “normal”, “reasonable” and “desirable”. The media is biased in favour of a growth/consumerist economy and sociology. Alternative perspectives of the world and the perspectives from on the ground in real peoples lives are simply not represented in the cultural parameters of mass media product.

So, through a combination of detached and alienating parliamentary political process and a one dimensional mass media, mainstream political discussion and activity is simply engagement in this clumsy illusion.

This mass adherence to illusion is a matter of consciousness. It is what we flawed humans do, we adopt or create illusions and then cling to them as if it was absolute reality.

The shallow, mechanical nature of the 2007 election is actively dumbing down the Australian population – and our consciousness, our understandings of what politics is and what is our role in it. We are more and more accepting our position as a passive market rather than an active body-politic.

Public opinion, as expressed through surveys, petitions, political campaigns and focus group research is not used as a basis for democratic policy development but as data that influences the advertising campaigns for undemocratic, unrepresentative policies devised by small elites detached from any public control or even input.

Politics and ideas have been reduced to conversation and “public opinion” (whatever that is). The concept of an idea metamorphosing into action and history is a notion that is not even considered by us ordinary people except within our privatised existence at work or within the fence lines of our home.

It does not matter if our politics is Green, revolutionary socialist, christian, feminist, libertarian or anything else if we engage in politics as simply conversation, ideas detached from existential reality and material history, then our politics is an illusion with no connection to the exercise of power. The adoption of alternative political illusions is not alternative to political illusion itself which, as I mentioned, is a matter of consciousness not ideology.

On matters of consciousness, Jiddu Krishnamerti had something to say on the matter…. “The core of the teachings”

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