The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

The One Day of the Year – Lest We Forget

The heroic televisual tale of World War II Labor Prime Minster John Curtin drew together some more threads of my childhood memories, from a time when ‘during the war’ and ‘back in the depression’ still inhabited the stories my parents, family and friends discussed after a few beers (for the men) and Sherries (for the ladies).

As ANZAC Day dawns on the morrow, I thought it was worth gathering some wool and drawing some parallels between then and now. My Dad would have expected no less. I suspect he voted Labor all his life – he certainly was a card-carrying member and a shop steward for the last decade of his working life. He had no time for the likes of Bruce Ruxton and the conservative RSL. On Anzac Day he would attend the March through the main streets of Hobart to the cenotaph on the Domain for the service and speeches. Us kids would watch it on the TV. Afterwards, Dad and his old comrades would spend the afternoon at official reunions and come home legless and full of song. The One Day of the Year. He couldn’t abide any conservative pomposity at these events and often spoke critically of General Blamey’s time as Commanding Officer of the Second Australian Imperial Force.

Our family adopted a widowed English gentlewoman who regaled my sister and me with all manner of wondrous tales from the Old Country. Prewar times of being an extra in British films, of sheltering under the kitchen table as the bombs of The Blitz rained on London. How she and her son had made a living out of making and selling some basic cosmetic creams from the kitchen, which grew into Coty International. She was one of the few adults I ever knew who talked to you as an equal and who I would visit off my own bat as a school-aged teenager.

School Anzac day observations were sombre, funereal affairs, brought to life with evocative sound scapes from ABC Radio for Schools. My mate and I always wanted to go to the dawn service down the hill on the Esplanade. We only woke up in time on one occasion, and even then we were late. We celebrated with toast and rum-laced coffee in the local RSL clubrooms in the chill gray morning light with the old diggers

Television brought us reruns of all the great US and British war movies. Everyone had War Comics in their collection. At age eleven, we were still discussing whether we would be in the Army, the Navy or the Airforce when the next war came. It seemed as natural and as inevitable as growing up. When you grow up, you fight in a war.

Of course, the next war did come with Vietnam. But as an adolescent with an interest in current affairs, it wasn’t the same war my parents experienced. Politicans frightened the citizens with the domino theory of communist takeover, using it as a pretence for keeping the ANZUS treaty alive through our troop commitment in Vietnam. My Dad would expound on the Gulf of Tonkin incident – the WMD of Vietnam – it never really happened, but it sufficed to start a war fuelled by the interests of US oil and military industrial corporations. My father’s expositions of the politics of world made it inevitable that I have a sceptical attitude to war as a solution to the problems of mankind – especially those engaged in on behalf of our great and powerful allies, supposedly in return for them coming to our aid should we ever need it. Yeah, like Britain saved us in Singapore.

The War fought by Curtin was indeed heroic, as our beloved leader John Howard is always keen to remind us, no doubt hoping that some of its heroism, honour and glory will rub off on him and atone for his sins against Australian values. It sickens me the way Howard has so skilfully hijacked our war heritage and turned it into a jingoistic backdrop for our present ill-conceived and disastrous invasion of Iraq in support of the neo-con war on terror. I do not wish to publicly honour the Flag or the National Anthem while Howard abuses it in such a base, exploitive way for nefarious ends against our national interest.

The portrayal of the events leading to Curtin defying our British masters and declaring war on Japan in our own right was very powerful and dramatic. It is terrifying to contemplate living through such a scenario. To face the prospect of being the Australian Prime Minister who surrendered to the invading Japanese Military, of building up an army and infrastructure to fight a war on our own doorstep, no longer able to rely on outside assistance. To his credit Curtain drove a hard bargain with Washington to establish the Pacific War head office in Sydney. The US helped save our bacon, for which we will always be grateful. However our gratitude does not oblige Australia to support its flawed foreign policies, especially when they are against our own interests, simply to support the alliance. Oh, and maybe some wheat and oil deals. May as well throw in a ‘free trade’ agreement and you got a deal. Sold!

How would we fare in the face of another invasion? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a RW nut job. It doesn’t seem remotely feasible under the present circumstances. But who can say the same in 20 years? 30 years? 50 years? Who knows what might happen in a future time when Australia seeks to conserve sufficient reserves of its mineral and energy abundance during the ravages of climate change and Peak Oil against hostile corporate and state forces?

Ironically, the nation most likely to constitute such a threat is China, a nation to which we are delivering the booty as fast as we can dig it up, chop it down and ship it out, in return for supplying most of the consumer goods in our economy. We are running down our national resources – intellectual property, agricultural capacity, and manufacturing capability. If we ever had a real ding-dong war with a northern neighbour, we’d be relying on imported vehicles and equipment – except they come from… Doh! Let’s hope our great and powerful allies will come to our rescue. Anyone remember how to make a car? An aeroplane?

I’m not for one minute suggesting that we become a defensive military fortress, but surely it is in our interests to sustain a degree of primary capacity in our economy, protected from the ravages of private equity corporate raiders and shonky free-marketeers? Oh yeah, but that would mean taxes and government policy geared toward the national interest, not the narrow profit-driven interests of Howard’s neo-con free-market wannabes! Sacrifice everything for The Economy. It’s the only moral thing to do!

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. Lest we forget.

And let’s not forget that single-handedly, John Winston Howard has done more to undermine the Australian values that my parent’s generation believed in and fought for than any other person, and it’s time to vote him out, for the sake of the future of Australia.

It’s interesting to note that in Australian history it has been conservative parties that have gotten us involved in wars protecting the interests of the rich and powerful of other nations. It has always fallen on the Labor Party to get us out of the resulting mess. Fisher and Billy Hughes in WWI, Curtin in WWII, Whitlam in Vietnam. It’s time for Kevin Rudd to get us out of the War on Terror.

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Filed under: Australian values, Big Picture, Media, Politics

5 Responses

  1. […] More at The Dog’s Bollocks. […]

  2. Slim, we Missing Linked this over at Troppo, and it’s started a blue. It’d be handy if you swung by and invited people to continue their stoushing at your place.

  3. slim says:

    Helen alerted me this Anzac Day post was included in this week’s Missing Link at Club Troppo and was causing some argument in the comments thread. Out of respect for the work of Helen and others in compiling the Missing Link, it would be better for related argy bargy and general chest-thumping to continue over here.

    CL is off shooting from hip again – no doubt resulting from skimming the post by ‘this dead roo person’ (Slim’s the name), half-reading it and projecting his left-wing hating prejudices on it.

    “his nauseating insistence that he’ll be having nothing further to do with ANZAC Day whilesoever Howard remains at large”

    Um.. I actually said “I do not wish to publicly honour the Flag or the National Anthem while Howard abuses it in such a base, exploitive way for nefarious ends against our national interest.”

    I always observe Anzac Day in my own way. I just don’t want to subscribe to Howard’s particular play on it. To suggest that Howard doesn’t use the whole Aussie Anzac digger imagery to his advantage is dishonest. Didn’t he drop in to Iraq one Anzac Day for a photo-op with the soldiers. And what the hell was the Anzac Day flier sent out from my local Federal Liberal member’s office? To point this out is politicising Anzac Day? Duh! Your point is? When it’s politicised it’s politicised.

    Howard has been destroying Australian values – a fair go is gone unless your white and wealthy, dog-whistling racism, fostering fear and division, core and non-core promises, lies and obfuscation, dismantling parliamentary and public service processes, etc, etc.

    “Of course ousting Saddam Hussein was in the finest traditions of Australian military history. That case is closed, except in the minds of the Lord Haw Haws of the Western left – whose opposition to the War on Terrorism (excepting the Good War in Afghanistan) is driven by that treacherous neurosis which has occasioned their electoral loss of the Anglophone world.”

    This is laughable. Where’s the evidence? What fine Australian military tradition has there been to engage in illegal war and invasion? The bungled Iraq and Afghanistan invasions are about OIL – the other rationalisations are crap, pure and simple.

    While there are a few diehard rightwing keyboard kommandos like CL claiming otherwise, the wheels are rapidly falling off the great neo-con wet dream of controlling the Middle East and securing its oil supplies. To continue to argue that the Iraq invasion was necessary and justifed in the face of the unmitigated disaster that has followed is lunacy.

  4. […] while Catallaxy – like Club Troppo in the last edition of Missing Link – decides to quote Slim over at the Dog’sBollocks and let the stoush […]

  5. […] while Catallaxy – like Club Troppo in the last edition of Missing Link – decided to quote Slim over at the Dog’s Bollocks and let the stoush […]

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The Dog’s Bollocks

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The Dog's Bollocks: "Bollocks" is one of my favourite words, and this is now one of my favourite blogs and I've only been reading it for five minutes. – John Surname

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