Saturday, April 05, 2003

good ole wogblog

I see that the conservative Wogblog (April 3, 2003) has been dishing out the trash again to lefty Oz webloggers (public opinion and She sells sanctuary to keep the cultural wars going in Australia. The cultural wars have been flagging a bit with the failure of the conservative Iraqi war wedge.

The responses to the trashing can be found here and here. I want to come at it from a different perspective.

I would take the cultural fight more seriously if conservative ethnics, such as the proudly Italian Wogblog, broadened their historical perspective of being under attack by the institutionalised racism of Anglo Americans, and started acknowledging the racism within ethnic communities towards Anglo-Australians, Aborigines Arabs, Muslims and Asians. Reverse racism is the phenomena.

Those subject to white racism are not necessarily pure or free from racism----ie., defining a particular cultural group (eg., Arabs) in a negative way.

Of course, just raising this means being charged with being anti-migrant and anti-ethnic.

But white Australians are not the bearers/repository of all cultural evil, whilst the non-white migrants or aborigines are the bearers/repository of all cultural goodness. Social reality is more complex than the dualism of a defensive, communal multiculturalism makes out.

Its about time the question mark was placed over wog as in wog culture in Australia. This is a good start. What is taken to be wog culture has its roots in the European immigrants who came to Australia after WW2. Since they came from agricultural areas and small towns, rather than the big cities, they were peasants, culturally, religiously and socially. It is this deeply conservative and patriarchal culture that informs wog culture; and it is one that is at odds with urban cosmopolitan culture of liberal Australia.

Friday, April 04, 2003

new OZ weblogs

I came across this one by Ian McMillan in Sydney courtesy of Tim Dunlop. And this one has some good photos of graffiti in Newtown Sydney. Weblogging in Australia is going great guns.
Pioneer History

I collapsed last night. Running 3 weblogs, holding down a job, doing renovations to the 1890s cottage and shifting to a new electronic townhouse in the city (Sturt Street) took its toll. After visiting the chiropractor to fix a twisted, painful back and walking the dogs in the Adelaide Parklands I barely had enough energy to do a transport run down to Victor Harbor, grab a pizza at the Beachside Cafe along Franklin Parade, open a bottle of red and eat my dinner. I was asleep in the armchair before Taggart on our ABC had ended.

This morning, after doing the morning shopping, we sat on the outside tables at the Barvarian Coffee shop near the causeway to Granite Island in the sun. It was a glorious sunny day with a cool sea breeze and I was thinking about returning to the Corrong National Park to take some photos in late autumn.

The three stately poles of the Margaret Worth Sculpture, On Occupied, which had been officially opened last week, looked magnificent against the backdrop of the bright blue sky. It referrred to the 1802 encounter between Mathew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin and the encounter with the local Aboriginal nation

As I was reading the Sorry Statement from the Victor Harbor Council (no link) and looking after the poodles whilst Suzanne was ordering coffee. A Grand Pioneer Parade of people, costumes and machinery from the 19th century cruised past. It was Heritage Week in Victor Harbor. What was presented was pioneer history for tourists. There was no sign of the destructive relationship between the Ngarrindjeri people and British colonists in the Grand Parade; or any indication why the Ngarrindjeri people were now living at at ex-mission settlement at Point McLeay.

That was Saturday morning coffee. I needed the time out.

Whilst sitting there relaxing I saw very few blue jeans, coke cans or baseball caps: those symbols of the US version of the good life. Maybe culture does not triump politics and economics after all.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Remembering

Recall one of the Howard Government 's reasons for going to war with Iraq once the weapons of mass destruction reason failed to get traction. The Iraqi regime gouged the eyes of children, cut out the tongues of opponents, shredded human beings in shredding machines and killed a million of its citizens. This human rights record is probably quite accurate and it would be a good reason for human beings to flee from state terror and seek asylum elsewhere.

Yet this is the same government which blocked the aslyum seekers from entering Australia and, at the time of the last federal election, implied that these people fleeing from hell were terrorists.

We do not want these sort of people here was the refrain.And it won the election on this hard line of national security

This is a government that has no sympathy for human suffering. It is one that condemns itself by its own words.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

a little myth

The server was down last night but I was too tired to write anyway. I fell asleep watching the 7.30 Report at the end of the interview with Anthony Cordesman. This morning is another day.

There is an article here by Janet Daley, a columnist with The Daily Telegraph London.

Not the Australian one where we find Piers Ackerman holding forth on the way that the term neo-conservative has been used by the ABC's instant experts as if it explains everything. He says, 'Typically, such usage by Four Corners' reporters explains nothing and exposes only the ignorant bias of the national broadcaster's flagship program.'.

Janet is writing about the duty of journalists during war being clear: avoid any hint of treacherous behaviour like talking to the Iraqi state run media. What caught my eye was this paragraph:

"Well, it's easier for members of the commentariat like me: we are paid to give our opinions, the more heated and idiosyncratic the better. In print journalism, partisanship is acceptable. But what about the broadcasters who just report and analyse? When does duty to their supposed impartiality become self-indulgent professional vanity?"

The commentariat are no different to the webloggers. There is no pretence that they are informing, providing news, or being objective. They just have a bigger media platform than their webloggers for their partisan opinions. And they are paid to be over the top and outrageous. It sell copy.

It is the broadcasters who just 'report and analyze' ---but not interpret. Their loyalty is to objectivity which requires them to maintain critical distance from all the interested parties.

Its myth that broadcasters are objective and do not interpret? Thats what they do. Interpret the news. However, interpretation is bias and thats not being objective. Its a myth being recycled here. Interpretation goes all the way down.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

All in a days work

I did manage to see the piece of Oz bloggers on the ABC's 7.30 Report. I was painting the roof of the porch at the time and was trying to listen to Kerry O'Brien. I heard something about the coalition military forces trying to convince Iraqi civilians that they're liberators rather than conquerors.

Then Suzanne my partner called me in. Everybody looked the part. Such a diverse bunch of public intellectuals. But no Tim Blair? Then I went back to painting for an hour or so and I mulled it all over while high on the paint fumes.

The phrase 'they're individuals seated at their computers day and night, unpaid and devoted to keeping themselves and their fellows better informed' did capture some of the phenomenon. John Quiggin's remark that,

"I think what's been published in the Australian weblogs is as good, or better, as what's been published in the opinion papers of the major newspapers"

was very apt. But this insight did not connect the writing on the weblog to other kinds of writing --to the literary institution; nor did it explore the weblogging writing as a new kind of writing. And the programme missed exploring the relationship between 'better informed' , opinion, citizenship and democracy.

The programme missed the diversity of the writing because it viewed weblogging through the eyes of the media. Bloggers will never supersede the mainstream media nor are they parasites on the media. But the insight of James Morrow that,

"The blogs are really kind of the front line.They're like a new wire service of volunteer reporters and rewriters and commentators, who are all out there getting news out to other people and each other.."

only captures one dimension of weblogging. It is the perspective of a journalist weblogger and was reinforced by Gareth Parker's comment that instant feedback is provided bya lot of the bloggers. Yet webloggers make no pretence to be objective and balanced in the way the media say they are. Weblogs are very partisan--- but then so are some of the US television networks on the war. They see themselves (eg. Fox) as an arm of the US military. 'Rewriting' and 'commentating' captures some of it but it misses the polemics.

This weblog, for instance, makes no pretence to be news or provide news. It is an online cultural criticism that situates itself in opposition to the culture industry. It is cultural criticism with a very personal voice.

MIck O'Donnell did mention 'critique' when he said that James Morrow 'delivers a neo-conservative critique of the latest - [news] from the ABC, the American media - all of his pet hates, like the coverage of the deaths of US soldiers., But there was no exploration of the role of 'critique' in Australian society; or how a weblogger does it differently from a neo-conservative journalist in the tabloid media.

Nothing about the role of neo-conservatism in the culture wars or their attack on the liberal media. This sort of weblogging has nothing to do with being "umpires of the net, blowing the whistle on media complacency." It is a political critique of the role of liberal media in a democracy. What is the purpose of this critique? Once again no mention of democracy.

What was most disappointing was the failure to explore the whole relationship between weblogging, poetics and politics briefly mentioned by Gianna. A pity. Because there is a lot of good creative writing being produced by webloggers.

The programme was too centred on the weblogging/journalism relationship and whether or not webloggers woud free themselves from their dependence on mainstream media. But it was a long way ahead of, and far more informative than, the material on weblogging presented on Radio National Summer Show earlier this year. That limited weblogging to social gossip, personal diaries and voyeurism.
A dream
I finished the day's painting around 8.30pm; then fell sleep on the couch whilst having a bit of a relax.I woke up with a start. I had been dreaming. Dreaming that I was having dinner in a Kurdish restaurant with Chemical Ali. Thats all I remember.

Oh, I do remember another bit. The waiter was from Amnesty International. He called Chemical Ali Ali Hassan al-Majid. They seemed to know one another from somewhere.

More fragements of the dream return. The food was late because the cook kept on burning the Turkish flag.

And the juke box played an old Chuck Berry song called The Promised Land.

However,
Chemical Ali would have nothing of it. All he wanted to hear was Johnny B. Goode, which he played over and over again.
Iraqi Photos
I cannot read Italian so I don't know what is on this website. But I can read the photos.

Why do Australians want to kill these people in order to pay a premium on a security insurance policy with the US?

Monday, March 31, 2003

Where is the support for Turkey
I have been scanning the Australian news looking for Howard, Downer and Hill giving a doorstop to express their strong support for Turkey resolute and courageous stand in the war. As a read it Turkey has acted by sending its troops to establish a defensive ring inside Iraq to prevent the influx of refugees from the war.

This is something Canberra understands well. And Turkey knows a thing or two about Islamic terrorists. Haven't they suffered like Australia from refugees? So where is Canberra's support for a fellow anti-refugee soul mate trying to stop a flood of asylum seekers?

I haven't seen anything in the media? Have I missed it? Or did the above ministers duck their heads?

Shouldn't we misunderstood manly nation states band together and affirm our loyalty?

Oh, such support would mean going against the US line that we should be angry with Turkey because they refused to allow their sovereign territory to be used to launch a northern front, even though they were offered huge bribes. And we cannot criticize the US cos that would be seen as dissent from a loyal and trusted friend of the US.?

Oh dear. What is the world coming to.
Early morning thoughts

Because the job of renovating the electronic cottage is so boring and tedious I have time to think about the worlds around me and what I've been reading (currently, Ghassam Hage, Against Paranoid Nationalism.)

What I thought about yesterday was that those conservatives in power in Canberra who love a good war do offer us hope.

Well, it is hope of a sort. It is something like this.

If I am possessed of the Australian character, then I have the capacity for upward mobility even though I am at the bottom of the heap. Even though my life is one of scrapping the barrel, I not not need equality and the good life handed to me on a plate. I have the capacity to hope for a better life. Unlike Aborigines and ethnic communities in the big cities, I, as a white person have the capacity to get myself out of this hole I'm in, get myself a better job, a better lifestyle and more consumer goods.

Australian society offers me opportunities to make a life for myself and so create and give social significance to my life and so be recognized as a worthy human being living in a decent society.

Does that get it?

What I see as I walk the streets to the Parklands with the poodles is social death: the neo-liberal economics of the past two decades has produced unemployment, poverty, neglect, homelessness, wounded bodies sleeping on park benches or church doorways. Third world conditions have been created within the boundaries of the nation in our cities. A world of the rejects of global capitalism is now in existence, and there is no acceptance of these marginals in our public spaces. It is a world marked by a lack of social hope. The poor, especially those with dark skins, have to be moved on from public spaces, and they are left to defend for themselves. The excluded are seen as potential criminals.

As are whole ethnic communities. Increased penal sanctions is the answer. The media I glance at and the conservative law and order local councilors and state politicians who knock on my door at election time encourage me to make a causal link between criminality, poverty and ethnic identity.

That is what I see daily. A world without hope. And the small business that I pass in Hutt Street as I walk to the parklands? Well they are just hanging on, doing the best they can. There is a sense of entrapment in the air. Hope is scarce as they realise that they too are becoming marginalised. They are unsure what to do about their new life condition of struggle street. They are fearful, wary, insecure and worried.

And me? Well I have given up hope of social advancing. I'm stuck in marginality too. I'm struggling with seeing myself a no-hoper as I endeavour to persevere in my own being. I'm in search of a national cuddle, though I don't expect to find it.

And the big solution to re-connecting to social hope? The conservatives in Canberra say we gotta defend the nation and the Australian way of life from the refugees and the terrorists coming from the Middle East.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Anti-Americanism

This is the charge often used against the critics of the war.

When so is used it means an irrational aversion to the United States, an opposition to its core values and to the dynamism of its economy and culture. It refuses to acknowledge a distinction between disagreeing US foreign policy in the Middle East as a super-power and affirming the people, democratic culture of the US and the utopian idea of a national America as a land of freedom: the American dream.

In the culture wars waged by conservatives in Australia anti-Americanism stands for 1960s-style radicalism, which is held to undermine Australian traditional culture and values. Left-wing criticism of the US in Australia, which once affirmed Australian cultural diference, is held to be anti-American in its very core. It is a hatred of the American people and and culture per se.

The charge of the anti-Americanism of the Australian left when it is lumped in with the anti-Americanism of Old Europe---we are all against the Iraqi war-- pretty much amounts to the term being used as a political weapon.

That move fails to acknowlege that Australians do not share the European belief of cultural superiority over the US which holds that the US has no real culture'; or that the Europeans see US as a neophyte in international politics and in need of diplomatic guidance by wise European hands.

The anti--Americanism of the Australian left has its roots in the emergence of the US as a major power, the way that it has used that power to further its national interest and a criticism of the idealised of images of America. The cultural criticism decodes both the myth of America and American paranoid nationalism.

The field of power relations is the key because they give rise to the tension between dependence and independence in Australia's relationship with the US, a feeling of resentment at the limitations on Australia's autonomy as a nation state by that relationship, and the ongoing internationalisation of American mass culture. What arouses antagonism is the way the US governments uses their power to establish optimium conditions for US companies, often at he expense of Australian concerns and interests.
Alternative voices

There is a great post on motherhood and the duties of citizenship in a war situation here. Do take time to read this post by a weblog that is of very high quality.

The post raises the issue: when should mothers with young children go off to fight in a just war. How old should the children be? It raises the issue in response to photos of mothers in the New York Times going off to war.