Saturday, April 29, 2006

enough with the black uhlans already // uncommercials

For the benefit of all those folks who google the 'Black Uhlans' and find this reference, here's some links:

Chopper quizzed over missing crim [The Age, 2002]
Bikies enter fray with their Knuckles backing them up [SMH, 2002]
Bikies sue to recover clubhouse [SMH, 2002]

And here's something else Black Uhlans-related:

[Believe it or not, Powderfinger had a] month-long residency at Club ACs, a biker den in the centre of the band's hometown, Brisbane, where members of the Black Uhlans would congregate and listen to the sound of Powderfinger covering pub rock classics by the Stones, the Doors, Led Zeppelin, Steppenwolf ("Magic Carpet Ride," not "Born To Be Wild") and a few less likely numbers from Rodriguez and Neil Young. The band played Thursday through Sunday, four sets between midnight and 4am, surviving thanks to the protection and patronage of a limping gentle giant/local legend who went by the name of Klepto (a Black Uhlans leader who was known around town for having the guts to monster Maoris at the bar of New Zealand's Expo '88 stand).

"We we just these little nerdy white boys playing in this biker club where the Black Uhlans used to hang out," Fanning explains. "It was pretty rough. There were lots of fights and shit like that, and the manager got stabbed - that usual biker madness."
On the other hand, the club was happy to lend its support to the struggle to free unionist (and Trinity Grammar graduate) Craig Johnston in 2004, as well to do what it could to help put an end to racial violence in Cronulla last year, so they're obviously not completely Ken Bruce. And while Johnston was hardly the first militant to go to jail as a result of an industrial dispute, given HoWARd's ramping up of the class war with his new IR regime, he certainly won't be the last. Meaning that sooner rather than later, the Black Uhlans can be expected to again incur the wrath of the Tory press.

On a completely unrelated note, here's some uncommercials:

one of the cool things about working at an anarchist infoshop is the stuff you get sent in the mail. one example is megawordsmagazine. and while the ms.films DIY Guide to Film & Video sounds neat, when i went to the po box all i got was a lousy postcard. anyway, it's published by Parcell Press -- "100% independent and devoted to increasing access to zines and emphasizing the legitimacy of independent publishing as a creative, productive and progressive alternative arts culture". (a quick look at the dependent press is all i need to be convinced it's more than "legitimate": having independent media is vital.) i should also mention 'Practicing In The Space of the Everyday' by jason workman, an "essay which considers a type of politics that operates within the complexity of a pre existing context" by way of the Situationists, in particular [workman_js(at)hotmail(dot)com]. finally, tamara wyndham sent a copy (no.88) of her poem ('artist book'?) 'I Don't Want NONE', which I really, really... like. thanks tamara!

Friday, April 28, 2006

bye bye blogger?

i'm thinking of splitting and finding some new digs. one where racists aren't welcome. and bill gates isn't either.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Welcome comrade Alice Louise!

Clare & Leigh are proud parents to a baby girl named Alice Louise who arrived this morning at 2:43am.

Congratulations!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

bombers nosedive; magpies triumph!

COLLINGWOOD Magpies 15.16 (106) defeated Essendon BOMBERS 12.17 (89)

Pies outstanding in Anzac win; Magpies prevail over Dons; Didak's last term sets up Magpie triumph; Didak triple sinks Bombers at MCG; Collingwood prevail in ANZAC clash; Magpies' AFL win 'breaks mental barrier'.

And on ANZAC Day, props to my Irish-Australian forebears for refusing to fight in The Great War:

An Imperative, Desperate Need For Men

"In this hour of your country's peril I urge you to do your duty. There is an imperative, a desperate need for men. The men in the trenches call to you for your help ... The Empire and its allies expect you to prove yourselves worthy of their sacrifices. Every vote is needed. Do your duty and fear not - vote 'yes'."

-- Prime Minister W. M. Hughes, 20 December 1917

The differences in attitude between the opposing sides were largely class based. They represented a struggle between the Labor Party and the Conservatives, between Catholic and Protestant.

" … (it) lead to the divisions between Irish Catholics and other Australians and indeed ultimately to all Catholics and other Australians. It never really died away until the mid or late 1950s and left a scar on Australian society for decades."

Malcolm Fraser, Prime Minister 1975-1983, interviewed by Paul Kelly for TV series '100 Years: The Australian Story'

Monday, April 24, 2006

the second casualty of war

Everybody knows about the illegal occupation of Iraq by the United States armed forces; fewer know that Australia's armed forces play a supplementary role. Militarily speaking, the Australian state's contribution is negligible; politically-speaking, it offers the US Administration a further pretext to speak of a 'multinational' occupying force rather than, say... oh, I don't know... 'US imperialism'?

In any case, despite massive public opposition to this, the current phase of the 15-year-old war between the U.S. and Iraq, the war has -- to this point -- proved to be relatively clear sailing for the HoWARd Government. But just a few days ago, Jacob Kovco had the unfortunate privilege of becoming the first Australian soldier to die in Iraq. To be precise, "The 25-year-old father of two was today [April 22] named as Australia's first fatal casualty in the Iraq conflict"; his death appears to have been accidental (he shot himself while cleaning a pistol).

And while HoWARd refuses to say 'sorry' for committing Australian soldiers -- on a fraudulent basis -- to the illegal occupation, The Age reports that he did manage to 'offer... his condolences to Private Kovko's family. "We have people at the present time in many parts of the world and we especially feel for the family of that young soldier who died so tragically and accidentally in Baghdad over the weekend," Mr HoWARd said during a public address in Nowra, on the NSW south coast. "We feel especially for his grieving widow and his two young children and his parents."'

A staunch advocate of death and destruction, HoWARd today [April 24] refuses to concede that the war has been a disaster. And, technically speaking, he's correct. For the corporate sector -- notably Halliburton -- the war has been a massive windfall. For the men, women and children of Iraq, on the other hand...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

into my arms, oh bored, into my arms // what is to be undone?

I stumbled across the following passage, taken from an otherwise unremarkable resignation letter written by a small group of Trotskyists, and thought it deserved some sort of a reply. That -- and reading a post by a soon-to-be-unemployed blogger -- gives me all the excuse I need (I hope) to take another jaundiced (yet also strangely joyous) look at the student movement. Anyway, here's the passage:

The bunkered, sectarian approach of the 1980s IS and of Socialist Alternative today makes it impossible for a [socialist] group to take seriously these [political/social] openings [for building the party]. Nowhere is this so clear as in the student movement. The graduation or withdrawal from activity of a whole layer of old leaders of the independent left has left a hole[?]. That gap poses problems but also opportunities for socialists. [But] instead of a patient and comradely approach seeking to win sections of the independent left [to the party and its political program], the SA leadership has sought to antagonise and terrorise them [!] into accepting SA's positions. This has only served to drive some [students] into the arms of a handful of anarcho-sectarians among the independent left. We cannot continue to allow this to go on without actively resisting it.
Pffft. Bring it on 'Marc N', 'Shannon P', 'Tony B', 'Belgin K', 'Trudy McQ' and 'Sophie B'! I love a good argument. (Although careening from pretended ignorance to panic at the presence of anarchists on campus [eeek!] doesn't exactly inspire confidence in your critical faculties...)

In any case, how, precisely, is this disastrous eventuality to be avoided? (Whatever we make of the (alleged) fact that a number of regiments of today's greatly diminished Red (Student) Army have 'gone over' to the enemy / are cuddling into the arms of 'anarcho-sectarians', 'socialists' in Australia have never really been in a position to go Kronstadt ...) For the authors of the letter, the answer to this, and no doubt many other questions, lies in continued allegiance to 'revolutionary Marxism' and building the revolutionary party.

Same old shit.

Still, a belated recognition "that despite the forms, there is no democracy in SA"; that in reality, it's an "authoritarian sect" in which the leadership -- by means of an ill-conceived "hyperorganisation" ("a detailed control of many areas of members' political activity and lives") -- seeks to dominate its followers, is, at least, a step in the right direction. And further consideration of the fact that, for some reason, the (current) SA leadership "have not felt the need to learn any new tricks [as] the old ones have worked perfectly" could even function as a stepping stone to a broader critique of authoritarian socialism. And even if this isn't a radical critique of everything a la Mr. Marx, it could, at least, display some awareness of the anti-authoritarian implications of communist praxis. But I won't hold my breath, any more than I expect Australian workers -- if not students -- to not realise, concretely, the lessons of recent French struggles against the CPE.

Speaking of students, there was another National Day of Prayer Against VSU a few weeks ago (April 12). Obviously impressed by the success of previous such prayer gatherings, 800 students in Sydney, 300 students in Melbourne and 150 students in Perth marched and chanted. In another alarming display of religious intolerance, police in Sydney arrested 26 and charged four.

Next: No compromise in defence of compromise

Saturday, April 22, 2006

damn i'm a slack bastard

yeah yeah.

i've been meaning to piss and moan about a few things this week... just haven't had the energy. so here's a truncated version of my recent concerns; one which also constitutes an excuse to be done with all those other entries i've saved drafts of for later publication. fuck 'em.

1) hoWARd on the wheat scandal: "what's a wheat board?"

2) here's a list of pop groups beginning with the letter 'a', all of whom sit on my shelves (that is, when they're not on tour or in the studio): A.C. African Head Charge Anti-Flag Archers of Loaf Area-7 Asian Dub Foundation Assück Atari Teenage Riot At the Drive-In Attila the Stockbroker

3) Go and see a band and it's another fucking bore
Another bunch of jerks are shitting on the poor...


Earlier this year millionaire property developer John Lydon signed over the rights to the Sex Pistols back catalogue to Universal Music Publishing Group, which is now hawking it to companies for use in advertising. This surprised the naive:

Sex Pistols sell out
The Age
March 10, 2006

Surely not. Surely, if there was one band that would never, ever, sell out it would be the Sex Pistols.

Not the gods of punk! Not those spitting, sneering rebels who called for anarchy, mocked the Queen, raised a middle digit to everything establishment, and ridiculed the greed of record companies.

But it appears so.

[AAP]
Pistols put high price on anarchy
The Australian
March 06, 2006
Adam Sherwin

THE threat of anarchy in Britain appears to have been replaced by the certainty of capitalism. The Sex Pistols have been rebranded for business after signing a deal to use their hits to promote luxury brands.

Thirty years afer the British punk pioneers screamed defiance at the establishment, the surviving members will cash in with a multi-million-pound deal partnering blue-chip corporations as advertisers seek an association with rebellion.
Great rock 'n' roll swindle as ageing Pistols go corporate
March 04, 2006
Adam Sherwin

'We believe the band will want to maximise the income we can generate'

THE threat of anarchy in the UK appears to have been replaced by the certainty of capitalism. The Sex Pistols have been rebranded for business after signing a deal to use their hits as a vehicle to promote luxury brands.

Thirty years after the punk pioneers screamed defiance at the Establishment, the surviving members will cash in with a multimillion-pound deal partnering blue-chip corporations as advertisers seek an association with “rebellion”.

[The Times]
"When, in 1976, punk first spewed itself across the nation's headlines with the message 'do it yourself', we, who in various ways and for many years had been doing just that, naively believed that Messrs. Rotten, Strummer etc. etc. meant it. At last we weren't alone...

By [1977] we had realised that our fellow punks, The Pistols, The Clash and all the other muso-puppets weren't doing it at all. They may like to think that they ripped off the majors, but it was Joe Public who'd been ripped. They helped no-one but themselves, started another facile fashion, brought a new lease of life to London's trendy Kings Road and claimed they'd started a revolution.

Same old story.

We were on our own again..."

4) Just when I thought that corporate dominance of sport couldn't get any greater (= worse)...
Pies on McDonalds' menu
Paul Gough
01 March, 2006

Collingwood has added another $1 million plus to its ever-growing coffers thanks to a three year sponsorship deal with McDonalds.

The deal - which will see the Magpies run extra football clinics in conjunction with the family restaurant chain as well as support the Ronald McDonald House charities - will also involve McDonalds sponsoring Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse - who will wear the golden arches emblem on his apparel this season...

McGuire said the new deal was about more than just money.

"This partnership will enable Collingwood to make a real difference to the lives of young people," he said.

"It provides the resources we need to drive a range of new junior football activities and events for thousands of children around Victoria..."
Stephen Mayne points out that not everybody -- not least the British courts, in addition to millions of parents around the world -- agrees that McDonalds is 'great' for kids (or animals, workers and the environment for that matter):
Eddie Everywhere's McDonalds conflict
Stephen Mayne
08 March, 2006

As keen students of Eddie McGuire's vast conflicts of interest over the years, we couldn't help but notice the amazing Media Watch story... about Ronald McDonald gate-crashing a Hi-5 spot on Channel Nine's Mornings with Kerry-Anne...

Ronald McDonald gate-crashed the Hi-5 segment, prompting their executive producer Helena Harris to tell Media Watch:

"We were deeply distressed that Ronald McDonald was put anywhere near Hi-5. Hi-5 has no association with junk food. We do not want to be seen in print or on TV together. We did all we could to prevent the situation... Our creative director was waving at them (Hi 5 cast members) to get away from him."

Now this is a pretty serious allegation that deserves an answer. As CEO of Channel Nine, did Eddie direct that Ronald McDonald get favourable publicity on Channel Nine after agreeing to kick millions into his football club? Given the horrors of multinationals targeting children outlined on Four Corners... Hi-5 has every right to be angry, as it damaged their fit and healthy image.
And as for me... as an anarchist vegetarian Collingwood supporter... I'm ANGRY too!

See also:
:: Mclibel - Two Worlds Collide (2 DVD Special Edition)
The story of "The postman and the gardener who took on McDonald's. And won."
:: McDonald's Workers' Resistance
:: Remember remember the 16th of October: Worldwide Day of Action Against McDonalds

Sunday, April 16, 2006

discipline & punish

I've been neglecting the student right. Here it is. (Or parts of it.) Counter-protesting. (Or planning to.) A 'national day of action' on April 11 in protest at the impending introduction of VSU. Peter Campbell, eat ya heart out.

Young Libs are blocking streets with block letters
The Sydney Morning Herald
April 13, 2006

..."Dear Liberal Student," came the instructions from Timothy Andrews, federal secretary of the Australian Liberal Students' Federation. "This will be a great opportunity for us to annoy the left, show the media that many students DO support VSU, and, most importantly, have a great time."

..."THE RULES. Due to the large media presence, and the nature of what we shall be doing, please keep in mind the following things:

1) DO NOT attempt to provoke any violence or aggression from the left. We are going to annoy them enough by being there.

2) DO NOT make any comments which may be construed as personally offensive. We attack policy, not the person.

3) FOLLOW ALL INSTRUCTIONS given by ANY member of the Liberal student executive without question. This is vital, particularly if there is the possibility for a confrontation to occur.

4) MOST IMPORTANTLY, NO ONE is to speak to any members of the media whatsoever … If any member of a Liberal club is found speaking to the media, they shall be IMMEDIATELY expelled … Furthermore, if they are a member of the Young Liberals, they may face disciplinary action up to, and possibly including, expulsion from the Liberal Party."

There followed, of course, in the finest of university traditions, free drinks on the club.

The missive was signed: "Yours in liberalism."
The police signed their repressive with 24 arrests.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

gramsci is dead...

...and i didn't even realise he was unwell!

(boom boom)

Richard J.F. Day has written a very interesting book, called, funnily enough, Gramsci Is Dead: Anarchist Currents in the Newest Social Movements (Between the Lines / Pluto Press, Toronto / London, 2005).

From the blurb:

GRAMSCI'S CONCEPT OF hegemony casts a long shadow over radical political theory. Yet how far has this theory got us? Is it still central to feminism, anti-capitalism, anti-racism, anarchism, and other radical social movements today?

Richard Day shows how most contemporary movements attempt to develop new forms of self-organization that can run parallel-or as alternatives-to existing forms. They follow a logic of affinity rather than hegemony.

From Hegel's concept of recognition, through theories of hegemony and affinity, to Hardt and Negri's reflections on Empire, Day translates academia's theoretical and philosophical concerns to the politics of the street.
A review by Roger Farr of Gramsci the Norwegian Blue is available here, while A Canadian Lefty in Occupied Land writes their thoughts on the matter of the ideological legacy of dead parrots here and Chris Carlsson adds further ornithological insight here; and, finally, some Sketchy Thoughts on the subject of affinity versus hegemony may also be found here. As for my own sketchy thoughts... well, I'm only up to page 106, but I think that an alternative sub-title could be 'Anarchism for Marxist Dummies'... but maybe that's just me? Anyway, I'm gonna write a (more) serious review when I finish the damn thing... next year or next week, who knows?

Friday, April 14, 2006

so what?

Approximately 2000 years after a Jewish carpenter was nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be if people were nice to each other for a change (RIP Douglas Adams), I thought it was time to do an update...

december 2005

the timur/fdb gig is yet to happen (but definitely will!);
luke connors of the fascist psychotic youth league has left the group;
dr. james saleam remains at the helm of the fascist australia first party;
my review of the tyranny of structurelessness remains unwritten;

january 2006

some peeps got arrested for the racist shootings on australia day;
david innes remains a leading scumfronter (whose radio broadcasts may be found in the oed under 'stupid bigot');
andrew sanders is still a very naughty boy whose mummy has to keep him on a short leash;
an anonymous reader reckons i got it all wrong over neo-nazi axe murderer dane sweetman, but unfortunately lacks the courage to explain how or why;
irate communiqués from australia's political dinosaurs of the left remain unsent;
peter campbell now employs the pseudonym 'victor whitelaw'... thus allowing him to WRITE even MORE BIZARRELY in the THIRD PERSON;
alleged muslim terrorists remain languishing in gaol (although having been joined recently by two more persons from melbourne);
the socialist alliance continues to teeter on the brink of disintegration;

february 2006

nobody else cares much for writing about pissarro (although i still plan on visiting the exhibition with a mate some time before it closes);
paul reynolds remains too much of a snob to reply;
orthodox communists remain too chickenshit to defend their putrid ideology;
a poster on scumfront reckons neo-nazi colin campbell is in trouble with the law;

march 2006

no-one wants to talk about vsu or the student movement and;
the stolenwealth games is now over and was judged by organisers to be a success (and the energy with which the black gst pursued the campaign will hopefully continue, as continue it must if there's to be land rights, justice and something approximating 'reconciliation')...

So fucking what!
Well I've been to Asia
And I've been to South America
I've been to Europe too
So what, so what
Well I've been here
And I've been there
And I've been every fucking where
So what, so what
So what, so what you boring little cunt
Well who cares, who cares what you do
Who cares, who cares about you
You, you, you...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

the (international) sweatshop conspiracy

ok, so i went + saw the (international) noise conspiracy play at the the corner hotel on sunday.

they kicked arse... so i really wasn't all that disappointed that they'd not responded to my email requesting that barricade have a stall at their gig.

anyway, as well as numerous pots of beer, i also bought a t-shirt.

the t-shirt was manufactured by honduran workers employed by a company called gildan activewear.

gildan activewear employs sweatshop labour.

other companies manufacture no-sweat products:

nosweatstuff
stayhuman
unbranded

but it appears that dennis, inge, lars + ludwig prefer the former.

oh well.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

i know i'm not alone in thinking this film is great

Michael Franti - Live At The Nova
Tuesday April 11 @ 7.00pm

The I Know I'm Not Alone screening with a performance by Michael Franti sold out. But ha! I was there [thanks Eleven!]. Anyway, the film's great -- it even features an Iraqi rock band called Black Scorpion and some Palestinian hip-hoppers! Oh, and Franti's performance was also... great.

Go see it!

This film came out of my frustration with watching the nightly news and hearing generals, politicians and pundits, explaining the political and economic cost of the war in the Middle East, without ever mentioning the human cost. I wanted to hear about the war by the people affected by it most: doctors, nurses, poets, artists, soldiers and my personal favorite, musicians. So I bought some plane tickets and headed to Iraq, Israel and the occupied territories of Palestine. I was joined on the trip by several friends who wanted to see the war first hand as well: two human rights lawyers, my manager, a drum tech, a retired U.S. Army captain and a beauty salon owner (just for good measure).
See Also: A Family in Baghdad

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

WAI! Kulila! Hey Listen Up!

WAI! Kulila! Hey Listen Up!

World First online Pitjantjatjara language course now taking enrolments!

Sign up now at ngapartji.org and pass this msg on to all your friends, family and workmates!

It is with much excitement that the team of Ngapartji Ngapartji would like to invite you to enrol in the first ever intake for our online language course!

Taking its name from the Pitjantjatjara concept of reciprocity and exchange, Ngapartji Ngapartji - I Give You Something, You Give Me Something - is a long term inter-generational language arts project based in and around Alice Springs.

Members of the Pitjantjatjara community invite you to learn their language - which is one of the world’s oldest - through online stories, songs, animations and short films before seeing one of Australia’s deadliest new theatre works in Melbourne International Arts Festival later this year.

Pitjantjatjara is one of the many varieties of the 'Western Desert’ languages spoken by around 3,000 people across the North Western parts of South Australia and adjacent areas of W.A and N.T. In light of the global trend in language loss, by engaging with the course and raising the awareness of the status of indigenous languages in Australia you are also directly supporting their maintenance and survival.

The course is in 26 parts - and we’ll be building it as you are taking it – made by young Pitjantjatjara people, their families and elders with support of BighART Arts Mentors.

Enrolment fees cover the entire 26 part language course, a ticket to the live stage production premiering in October, a special edition copy of the Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara dictionary from Institute of Aboriginal Development Press and go directly to supporting the project’s community development processes on the ground.

The show, by Writer/Director Scott Rankin, Spinifex man and principle performer Trevor Jamieson and the creative team of Big hART, reaches across time to tell the stories of Trevor’s family experience. Performed in Pitjantjatjara and English the show explores the impact of the cold war on the Spinifex Nation. Your tutors and members of the Pitjantjatjara community complete the ensemble cast of the touring production.

In the true spirit of the meaning of Ngapartji Ngapartji - I Give You Something, You Give Me Something – you are invited to exchange the time to hear deeply and clearly this personal experience of contemporary Australian life while keeping this beautiful language alive.

Courses for Perth audiences open in August and for Sydney audiences in November!

Monday, April 10, 2006

HoWARd's South Park "pals"

Howard's South Park pals
Young voters have flocked to the Prime Minister as the good times continue to roll, writes Caroline Overington
The Australian
February 27, 2006
This is bullshit. So is this: "Before John Howard, the notion that young people leaned to the left was largely unchallenged..."

You see, I was a young person "before John Howard". (And hey, I know it's been ten years, but before that whiny little accountant took over, remember that 'we' had thirteen years of Hawke-Keating rule!) And the funny thing is, throughout that period I received the exact same message from media outlets: 'young people' are politically apathetic. The lesson? That if you're young, and you want to change society, you're in a tiny, marginalised, minority.

And that's Overington's basic -- and quite crude -- message; one apparently gleaned from reading the entrails of previous federal elections (a comparative analysis of the elections of 1972 and 2004 in particular). A highly tendentious argument, to say the least. To begin with, if young people have stopped voting for Labor as frequently as they did in the past, this does not, in and of itself, constitute evidence of any radical shift in political perspective. Secondly, the 'irony' -- a technical term generally denoting the surprise liberals feel when the obvious cynicism of the authorities is exposed, again -- is that Howard's policies have been largely antagonistic to the interests of young people. Despite this, Overington feels comfortable declaring that: "...Howard has, over the past 10 years, been utterly transformed in the eyes of the young. To the horror of many baby boomers, Howard's new constituency, the "young fogies", adore him the way their parents loved to smoke dope."

And so on, one fatuous observation after another, each intended to reinforce in the reader's mind the idea that the image middle-aged neo-cons have of young people is not merely the product of their own phantastic projections but one solidly based in reality. Further, it's an image of 'young people' that relies on a very limited conception of what constitutes 'politics' and, moreover, completely fails to acknowledge the existence of inter-generational political community.

Top Ten Reasons to Reject Overington's Analysis

The evidence Overington provides to support her thesis 'that young Australians worship HoWARd the way their parents once loved to smoke dope' is flimsy, not only because of its overall scarcity, but also because of the interpretation she gives it (although 'spin' is a more accurate term than interpretation). A failure to acknowledge counter-evidence, to clarify terms, and an over-reliance on the views of non-'experts' is not the main flaw in her argument, however, which in reality is responding to a much narrower question: 'Why don't young people vote ALP as much as they used to?' Having deserted Labor in the 2001 election:
In October 2004 -- the election that would give the Coalition historic control of both chambers -- the "young fogies" of generations X and Y again deserted Labor. Clive Bean of the Queensland University of Technology, one of the principal investigators in the Australian Election Study of voting behaviour conducted after each poll, told The Australian in 2005 that it might have been the first time more young people voted Liberal than Labor...
Especially young men between the ages of 25-30, 62% of whom, according to the survey, voted Liberal. As political philosopher Bart Simpson puts it: "We need another Vietnam to thin out their ranks a little."

1) South Park "Conservatives"
"I hate conservatives, but I really fucking hate liberals." -- Matt Stone
The rise of conservative youth under Howard mirrors a similar movement in the US, where blogger Andrew Sullivan coined the term "South Park Republicans" in 2001 to describe young iconoclasts who "see through the cant and the piety of the Left and cannot help giggling". The term comes from the anti-establishment television cartoon series South Park whose heroes are four, foul-mouthed fourth-graders who gleefully lampoon the sacred values of the Left.

In his US bestseller South Park Conservatives, Brian C. Anderson says the program is "the number-one example of the new anti-liberalism". He notes that the show's single black person is called Token. Anderson describes how the show lampoons the boomers, who championed individual happiness over familial responsibility and promoted no-fault divorce.
Well fuck me. Has Overington actually watched a single episode of South Park? (Even chill'un know that it's Chef, not 'Token'.) Like, whatever. The point is: Anderson's book, like many others by ostensible 'conservatives' [sic], is in reality a corporate-sponsored sideshow; an ineptly constructed broadside from a neoconservative institution that was interrogated at the time of its launch in the US and declared to be, in the end, a damp squib.

An obvious question occurs to me at this point, which is: Why take such fucking obvious boosterism seriously? Well, according to Overington "In Australia recent studies have shown Australian young people reacting against the liberal-progressive values of their parents in much the same way."

Uh-huh.

2) The World According to Clemenger BBDO
Clemenger BBDO's 2005 survey Tomorrow's Parents Today found that young people were significantly more conservative than their parents. They were more likely to volunteer, to give to charity and to go to church. They were also more likely to marry, and there is already evidence that they plan to have their children earlier.
That's what Overington reckons. But as Nigel Bowen points out: "There is only one problem. It’s not true. Not that anyone’s about to let ­reality get in the way of a good myth." Indeed.

3) Ian Has An Opinion
Ian Manning of National Economics: "You do get the feeling that forgoing worldly ambition for the sake of having kids is gradually coming back into favour. In the past, people have said, 'Oh, I can't have a baby yet, I've got to pursue my career'. But maybe it's become socially acceptable to say, 'No, I'd rather have a family'."
Feelings... nothing more than... feelings... and not much thought. Thus the reader is presumably expected to take the conflict young people naturally feel regarding their financial situation versus their desire to have children as evidence of an incipient neo-conservative political revolution. A not-terribly convincing argument... but an issue which may well preoccupy the middle class audience Overington addresses in The Australian (or their parents).

4) Youth for Democracy?

The Democrats' 2005 youth poll, based on a survey that is distributed to secondary schools, TAFE, universities, youth, and church and community groups across Australia, found that 64 per cent of students viewed family as the most important issue in their lives, ahead of health, education and money. Compared with earlier polls, there was a substantial drop in the number who had tried marijuana (from 43 to 33 per cent in 10 years) and much less support for the decriminalisation of drugs. Young people were also increasingly backing the Howard Government's policy of mandatory detention for asylum-seekers, with support rising from 41 per cent in 2002 to 58 per cent in 2005.
Interesting. Yes, of the nine choices given respondents (between the ages of 15-20), 'family' came first in 64 per cent of cases. This suggests to me that young people care for their families; although it could be interpreted as meaning that young people love Howard, especially if, like Overington, one regards him as 'the Father of the Nation'. In other news, 30, not 33, per cent of young people reported having smoked marijuana and 35 per cent of young people support its decriminalisation (a drop of one per cent since the last poll): these are mild discrepancies. However, a major distortion relates to the last figure: 60 per cent of respondents OPPOSE mandatory detention of asylum seekers; an INCREASE of 18 per cent from the last poll (2004).

Overington can't even get the facts straight.

5) Nelson: you've never had it so good
You've never had it so good
The favourite phrase of those who've always had it better
You never had so much is the cry
Of those who've always had much more, much more than you & I


According to Overington:
Former Education Minister Brendan Nelson, who dealt [contemptuously] every day with young Australians, is not surprised. He points to some of the obvious factors: the economy has boomed under Howard; there are plenty of new jobs, especially for young people; interest rates have stayed low; school retention rates have increased; and there are more opportunities for travel. Young people, in particular, have never had it so good.
Speaking of the completely fucking obvious, is it any wonder Nelson lauds his Government to the skies? Honestly, one might as well ask an unemployed textile worker if they think that the reason production has moved offshore is 'cos it's more profitable.

6) Rock on Roxon, Roll Over ALP Left

Apparently, one of the main measures of political conservatism among young people is the failure of the ALP to attract young voters. (Yeah I agree: there's a few missing premises there!) Thus Overington embarks on an analysis of the alleged flaws in the ALP's 2004 federal election campaign. That one of the most obvious "faults" -- the Victorian ALP's preference for Family First over The Greens -- is overlooked by Overington is perhaps not a surprise. Neither is her bland claim that:
While Howard has been promoting the benefits of a healthy economy, Labor has been diverted by issues such as the republic, the symbolism of Aboriginal reconciliation and opposition to the war in Iraq, which may be important to some young people but are low on their list of priorities.
Alternatively, perhaps it's the lukewarm nature of the ALP's support for 'republicanism', 'reconciliation' and tepid -- in reality, barely existent -- opposition to the war that young people find unattractive. In fact, one equally obvious explanation for a decline in the ALP's youth vote is its fundamental commitment to neoliberalism, a commitment it shares with the Coalition, and for which there exists not the slightest hope of re-assessment, despite neoliberalism's massive unpopularity among the Australian public. Of course, such an argument, not being ideologically serviceable, doesn't exist in the mind of The Australian.

7) The Republic...

...and the ALP.
In 1998, after Howard decided he would not support the Yes vote in the constitutional referendum for a republic, Labor decided to embarrass him by supporting the Yes vote. It provided backing to young republican stars, such as Jason Yat-Sen Li and the lipstick princess, Poppy King, and to the movement that adopted youth oriented slogans such as Give an Australian the Head Job and which distributed condoms marked Rooting for a Republic, in the hope they would appeal to young people. In the end, only 46.5 per cent of voters voted Yes to a republic and there was scant evidence that young people backed it more firmly than others.
Where to begin? First, I've no idea if ALP support for a 'Yes' vote in the 1998 referendum was prompted by Howard's support for a 'No' vote; I doubt it. Secondly, the status of Li and King as 'young republican stars' is problematic; further, the fact that a young lawyer and a young capitalist support 'republicanism' [sic] is hardly likely to politically galvanise the youth... is it? In any case, anyone who bothers to make even a cursory examination of the referendum in question knows that the 'republican' vote was split, with one important strain rejecting the vapid model presented to the public for approval. Crucially, Howard, by controlling appointments to the farcical process known as the Constitutional Convention, helped to ensure that it was this model -- one in which the Australian head of state would be appointed by Parliament rather than directly elected by the Australian people -- which was presented to the Australian public.

No wonder Australian youth have fallen head-over-heels for Howard!

8) The ALP hearts the war on Iraq...

...and Overington is an appallingly bad polemicist. "Labor saw a chance to win back the young vote when Howard backed the US-led war in Iraq" opines Overington. A slight flaw in her argument is the fact that, apart from a few meaningless noises from the party's (largely mythical) 'rank and file', the ALP also supports the war on Iraq! In fact, regardless of overwhelming (but useless) public opposition, in terms of both domestic and foreign policy, the ALP and the Coalition are reading from the same page... and the publisher's in Washington. (Incidentally, the "[m]ore than 25,000 students [who] took part in the Books not Bombs protest[s]" did so as part of a network controlled by the DSP: hardly friends of the ALP!).

9) Where have all the people singing where have all the flowers gone gone?

According to Overington, carefully staged events such as anti-war protests by Books Not Bombs (and others) and the Sorry Day march for Aboriginal reconciliation across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in May 2000 were "aberrations to a general trend, in Australia and most other Western nations since the end of the Cold War, away from student and youth activism." Wishful thinking on Overington's part perhaps? Certainly no evidence is presented to support this claim; not even a reference to another right wing ideologue with whom Overington could reach smug agreement. Still, one might consider the possibility that the reason Sorry Day and anti-war protest is not dominated by young people is because sentiment against the war and for 'reconciliation' draws widespread support from across the political, religious and generational spectrum.
The Palm Sunday peace marches, which once were dominated by young people, are essentially dead and even protests against voluntary student unionism in 2005 attracted nothing like the crowds of protesters that once routinely gathered on university campuses.
And against which one might argue that the Palm Sunday rally has been displaced by the May Day rally; or that the 'new' social movements of the 1960s and 1970s have become institutionalised, and that what we are witnessing is the end of one 'cycle of struggle' and the beginnings of another; or that it's the decline of the labour movement and social democratic thinking generally that has resulted in a reduction of public protest in the West; or that resistance to neoliberalism takes many different forms, and that what we are witnessing is merely the stunted recognition of such changes by ideologues...

Of course, to consider such perspectives, one probably wouldn't want to be clouded by thoughts of love for John Howard.

10) Survival versus Life

Assuming her thesis regarding increased political conservatism among and reduced public protest by young people is correct, in a minor though crucial concession to (material) reality, Overington notes that "[i]n part, that's because young people do not have time to paint slogans on to protest signs. They work an average of 20 hours a week, on top of full-time or part-time study, and they leave university with HECS debts worth $30,000 or more." Or as Spinal Tap sang all the way back in 1965: Gimme Some Money. In other words, one of the effects of neoliberalism is not only to erode individuals' will to struggle but also their capacity to do so. Part of this imposition is cultural. For example, the conclusion to Overington's reactionary polemic:
Since the collapse of communism, young people are less likely to adopt the Marxist view that capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction. To them the fruit of capitalism is new cars, plasma TVs and trips overseas. They have grown up in an age of prosperity in which the welfare state appears redundant. A vibrant economy has emboldened young people to create small businesses of their own.

These factors have meant that Howard -- straight-laced, conservative Howard -- has been responsible for something that smells suspiciously like teen spirit. He has encouraged the young to rebel.
But not to think, obviously, and in that sense -- as well as many others -- Howard and Overington are two of a kind.

[Extract from The Howard Factor - A Decade That Changed the Nation edited by Nick Cater and published on Aboriginal land some time prior to WWIII by Melbourne University Press.]

COLLINGWOOD 18.11 (119) def. Hawthorn 12.12 (84)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

WA police say "You're under arrest!"; Billing and van Tongeren say "Huh?"

Yeah, so Jack's back. In jail. So too is Matthew Billing.

And this time I really don't think they'll be getting bailed.

In other ANM-related news, Ben Weerheym remains guilty of vandalising a war widows' 'retirement village', and seems also to be guilty of celebrating the birth of a new chicken. (He's hearing fat ladies singing.)

Assistant Police Commissioner John McRoberts says police are now investigating the pair's activities since going to ground.

"Well that will certainly form the focus of the investigation into their whereabouts and what they've been doing over the last six weeks," he said.

"And of course if there is evidence to suggest that they had been assisted by a third party then no doubt we will pursue that."

VSU cont.

In the last few months, a number of articles have appeared in the corporate press regarding the impact of VSU on student life and activism. Here's a sample (including one from the Green Left Weakly):

VSU: the job and service cuts begin
Ed Ascroft
Green Left Weakly
March 29, 2006

"The federal government’s propaganda about its “voluntary student unionism” (VSU) legislation, rushed through parliament on December 12, emphasised “choice”. But already, universities are feeling the impact of this “voluntary” law in cuts to jobs and services."

Uni radio back on the air
Kara Phillips
The Advertiser
March 23, 2006

"AUSTRALIA'S longest running student radio broadcaster - cut last year because of the Federal Government's controversial voluntary student unionism - has been resurrected."

$2m funds cut as uni axes union
Lisa Macnamara
The Australian
March 11, 2006

"A VICTORIAN university has dumped its student union and withdrawn almost $2 million in funding after political infighting left thousands of students without services at the start of the academic year."

Fees rise, services cut for uni students
Erin O'Dwyer
The Sydney Morning Herald
March 5, 2006

"UNIVERSITY student unions are scaling back services and imposing fee rises in preparation for voluntary student unionism (VSU)."

Unis wield axe as new rules loom
Adam Morton
The Age
February 28, 2006

"VICTORIA'S universities are preparing for voluntary student unionism by axing about 40 staff, with another 100 jobs expected to follow once the laws take effect in July."
So much for the effects of VSU. Also surfacing recently have been a number of articles not only purporting to explain apparent student apathy in the face of attacks upon 'their' student unions but disengagement from political activism and struggle more generally. Thus according to some, 'Howard's South Park pals' are 'Mild in the streets' while 'Beer and fun clubs flourish'. Such mythologies need to be addressed in more detail. (And writing is easy. All you need to do is to open up a vein and bleed.)