USA: the implosion of a global super power
For many years it was widely accepted in progressive circles that we all belonged to “one race, the human race”. That, of course, is an undisputed biological fact. Problems arose, however, when people began to deny the existence of national differences within the human race. This is an absurd proposition.
Does anyone seriously deny differences between Germans and Saudi Arabians, Turks and Chinese, Britons and Malays, Italians and Kenyans, Americans and Australians?
The first white settlers in America, aka the “New World”, in 1620 were Pilgrims fleeing religious persecution. They founded Plymouth in Massachusetts and they were followed by waves of English Puritans.
A century and a half later, Australia was founded on Sydney Cove by shiploads of convicts guarded by drunken bullies from the British army and police.
In other words, the two countries had vastly different colonial origins: one with the Bible in one hand and a gun in the other; and the other with the gun in one hand and rum in the other.
For this reason, I can’t for the life of me understand why Australians ape the social trends that periodically grip large parts of America. We ARE different from Americans and our approach is bound to reflect that difference.
For example, while shooting massacres at Americans schools have become almost commonplace, they rarely, if ever, occur in Australia. There will be very few Australians, except for far right gun nuts, who think Australians should follow the American way.
Another example: Americans go off to war halfway around the world at the drop of a hat while involvement in overseas wars tends to split Australians down the middle. American “Stars and Stripes” patriotism is incurable and insufferable while we are more sceptical and cynical and therefore, to many Americans, borderline treasonous. While we burn flags they march behind them singing The Star Spangled Banner.
Doesn’t all this suggest that Americans and Australians are fundamentally different? So why do some middle class and working class white people in Australia fall into step behind whatever America does? They used to follow the “Mother Country” with the same blind obedience but that was 50 years ago. Nowadays, pro-England sentimentality is terribly unfashionable and dying out, literally as well as metaphorically.
“America First” is a dead end
One of the “fruits” of empire is that the ruling nationality assumes superiority over all others. Thus the Romans believed they were Top Dog in their day, the British claimed civilisation’s No 1 spot when they ruled one third of the globe and, in today’s world, the Americans have turned “America First” into a religion of their own international supremacy in war, trade and commerce.
The big change in the 21st century is that people around the globe are looking at America and concluding: “Heaven help us, we don’t want to end up like that.”
So they do the next best thing. They take the “good” parts of America – movies, TV and music – and reject the “bad” – war, guns, drugs and racism.
But this is only a temporary solution to a fast-developing problem. Simply assuming the role of a “fellow traveller” who turns a blind eye to the “bad” bits of another country’s regime isn’t a strategy that will last. Not with the US or anywhere else.
Largely fictitious “special relationships” are being tested to breaking point and aspects of the old diplomacy are being dumped at a breathtaking pace. For instance, outsourcing of foreign aid to outfits like Oxfam, Save the Children and similar arms of imperial exploitation and intelligence-gathering, has fallen into disgrace and discredit. Its time is over.
Humanitarian NGOs attract burning idealists who wear their hearts on their sleeves. That’s fine until they start taking sides and their prejudices become apparent; they are more likely to support Christians than Moslems and bring the Bible bashers to the top of their queue for visas and safe passages out of refugee camps. Rescuing Christians is a great media story which attracts additional government support and lots more public donations.
New principles of trade, diplomacy, peace, environmental protection and properly benchmarked overseas aid are begging to be written.
Too many rats in Qld ranks
Two recent Labor Party Premiers of Queensland, Peter Beattie and Anna Bligh, and the former Prime Minister (“I’m Kevin from Queensland”) Rudd have all joined the ranks of Labor rats since leaving office.
Beattie shares a platform with former Liberal Premier Campbell Cameron as a presenter on Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News pay TV channel and last year moved to his birthplace, Sydney, to buy a $3 million mansion in Balmain on the Harbour.
Hoping Beattie will be banished from TV screens after the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in May (Beattie is the Games ambassador and chief spruiker), this week he became the first chairman of the new Australia Rugby League Commission. Oh dear, he’s the Prince of Media Tarts.
Ms Bligh is CEO of the Australian Bankers Association, aka the Australian Bloodsuckers’ Association, on a $1 million-a-year salary protecting the Four Pillars and other professional “wealth creators” from the royal commission into industrial scale greed in the finance sector.
Deprived of his long-held aim to become UN secretary-general, Rudd is hanging around the ABC and private think tanks like a bad smell trying to make himself “relevant”. It’s tragic to watch.
They join a long list of ALP rodents from the Sunshine State who include strike-breaking Premier William McCormack (1924-29), Premier Vince (“Mr Treachery”) Gair (1952-57), and trade union boss Sir Jack Egerton.
Last week’s announcement that former Labor Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan is to resign his seat of Lilley has sparked fears that another rattus rattus is on the way. Let’s hope not.
Swan is a cut above the other social democrats who have infested Labor politics north of the border for the past 130 years. For one thing, he still believes in the class struggle and has more than a passing acquaintance with the social and economic benefits of public ownership.
In his 2014 memoir, The Good Fight: Six Years, Two Prime Ministers and Staring Down the Great Recession, Swan described his former classmate and political ally, Rudd, as “unstable” and “vengeful”.
Swan wrote: “There were also unreported incidents that can only be described as bizarre, the result of an unstable personality, or both.”
Interestingly, Rudd did not sue for alleged defamation.
The book repeats the well-recorded examples of backstabbing when Rudd undermined Julia Gillard with constant media leaks and noted: “His treachery will not be forgotten.”
He continued: “From 2010-2013, he resembled a grand chess player using people as his pieces, playing with the fate of the great Labor Party and the labour movement, sitting above it all, orchestrating strategies that put the personal before the politics. His legacy from this is the eternal enmity of many Labor supporters. Voters soon realised that Kevin’s campaign was only selfie deep.”
Searching for a young children’s book in a major Sydney bookstore, my attention was grabbed by the title Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present and Future by New York writer Lauren Redniss.
Published by Random House, the illustrated work of non-fiction appeared to be just the ticket for the inquiring mind of a seven-year-old.
Then I turned to the opening sentence: “Now with that big hole ripped out, the cemetery is just like a rape victim.”
What a graphic start to a children’s book! I returned it to the shelf and walked out of the shop asking myself: What can Ms Redniss and the editors of Random House be thinking? I know that politics and the media have taken leave of their senses, but publishing too?
Headline of the Week
There’s no place in racing for cheats, says Gai Waterhouse.
SMH, 22 February 2018.
Horse trainer Gai Waterhouse, daughter of the late TJ Smith, is married to bookmaker Robbie Waterhouse who has served weekend detention. Their son Tom Waterhouse is alleged to have allowed Eastern Suburbs real estate guru John McGrath, also a horse owner, to pile up gambling debts of a mind-blowing $16.2 million. This week McGrath, regularly lionised in the columns of the Sydney Morning Herald, reshuffled the board of his real estate company. His key recruit was Peter Lewis, a member of the prestigious board of the ABC, the national broadcaster. Lewis worked at Kerry Stokes’s Seven Network before joining Southern Cross Media. In recent days McGrath shares have plunged to a low of 43 cents. Should an ABC board member be on the board of McGrath’s deeply troubled real estate company? Just asking …