Sunday, July 25, 2010

Astray liars, let us rejoice

It's hardly very patriotic to base a discussion on the topic by citing overseas sources; particularly, perhaps, the US of America.

Apart from some airkzist-ent-ya l'st angst surrounding the loss of the southern cross tattoo to our local version of the redneck, we are prone to celebrating our national day with a good less saluting and genuflecting to the flag as some. We're the country who mumble through the second verse of our national anthem because none of our sports stars knows the words. There's a smattering of bigotry but it doesn't necessarily speak in one national language; our prejudices spread through region and demographic as they do elsewhere, but our riots are fewer and calls for secession an historical oddity. I don't worry about Australia having an excessive nationalist bent or an overblown patriotic fervour. I'm bloody grateful in a way that we don't.

Having a paucity of patriot principles with which to govern us, hasn't stopped us from excelling in a range of disciplines. One could argue for the benefits of a superior climate, but the mad mix of floods and droughts, cyclones and tornadoes, shows that we can triumph in adverse conditions. Go far enough inland and there's all the proof you need. And there are countries with rainforests who experience a lower standard of living and less economic nous.

Capitalism co-exists with a national health plan and not even our conservatives persist with the idea of abandoning Medicare the way they once did with Medibank. We may not pull off some of the people power advances our neighbour New Zealand have, but we offer welfare without the need to have saved the insurance. And that hasn't damaged our economy, nor meant we are unable to participate and contribute to the more right wing favoured causes like our Middle East incursions and 'boat people' policy.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pater rot

A 'patriot' is deeply paranoid, a misanthrope at heart, with an enemies list and a capacity to take whatever means expedient. At least, this is according to a right wing blogger I've conversed with. What makes me say this? Well Richard Nixon could be fairly described in this way and my ruddy necked adversary defended the dead scoundrel by saying he was a patriot.

What's wrong with the above paragraph? Well, there's a few things actually. Though if the stiff stern style of patriot are presented as a fallacy, it's their own damn fault.
But, yes, even if Nixon was all those things, that doesn't mean this is a feature of all patriots, or an inevitable consequence of their fervour. To suggest otherwise is to fall into the same trap of stereotyping that our political foes employ.

What it does demonstrate is that ruthless behaviour is so often part and parcel of power; that one need not be possessed of all the facts, or always have the best interests of the American people at heart, to have dominion over them and, to a certain extent, their destiny.

After all, if we are to frame patriotism in any meaningful way, it is in the sure sense that we have a common interest in our nationalism and a belief in preserving our values at a social or community level. Taken too far, this ignores what is really best for us.

Without any strong sense of patriotism, our love and devotion restricts itself to the family or clan level, or it barely manifests itself at all.

Cheering for your team, backing your writers, championing your thespians.. patriotism has its positive traits. But when it comes to an uncritical level of support, one is almost asking to be led astray.

It is the patriotic many who fuel the elite few by aiding and abetting their enterprise. The most Machiavellian tosser, fucking his country over, is dependent on dupes for a living. So an admiration for the finest qualities we retain and an appreciation for the natural beauty and outstanding weather we have, is probably enough. That and the occasional social ritual.

The patriotic gesture brooks no argument once a predetermined understanding of acceptable conduct is agreed to by a cabal that would not have you in its ranks.

All this really points to is that is supremely popular of being manipulated in ways that, say, saving the whales or reducing the methane emissions in livestock is not. These are defined activities. You measure them and read the instrument, you don't get to 'form an opinion' since your job is to report, not interpret; to act, not  expostulate. However misguided or frivolous, these ideals are at least not pretending to be other than what they are. But anything from reducing taxes to committing the kind of atrocities we judge our enemies for can, and has, stood in for patriotism. It has been invoked for the very cause that is guaranteed to ruin those who place most faith in it as a means to salvation.

Privileging it over other verities like honesty and kindness and you've got all kinds of trouble.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Relative Terms

The second time I've been published in the free afternoon paper. Don't know if you can actually read it, though I have blown it up. I keep reading of sentences for paedo-priests, killers, sadists, and ne'er-do-wells who ALL got lighter sentences than Schapelle. And to think, Indonesia used to be a place to hang out and smoke dope - apparently.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Only Women Lead

Well that's clearly not true but while we're on a roll.. Yes, my manager and director are only acting in their positions at work. But in the political sphere, while our local state member is reasonably blokey, it's uncertain how long he'll stay on. In the federal seat of Macquarie, which is having its boundaries redistributed, the highly accomplished Bob Debus is retiring and both the Liberal and Labor candidates are female, as is the Greens candidate.

Thursday, July 01, 2010


Not forgetting the overall ruler, the Queen of Australia, who has a 'divine' right that precedes the other landmark appointments by half a century or more.