Peter Purves Smith, 1938
Journal of a Futurist - 29 September 2004
The Future of Freedom
Maybe its the mysterious mist blanketing this mornings landscape, or the frequency of afflictions striking friends and acquaintances. More likely its the dread of John Howard and George Bush continuing to screw up the future, long after polling day. Its also the realisation that the alternative leaders are pallid, bound to disappoint, cut from the same khaki.
People are getting smarter, but the electorate is dumbing down. Government lies and bastardry pepper the broadsheets; denied today, forgotten tomorrow. Corporate media favours the obvious: border protection, bigger guns, nastier pundits, our nation right or wrong. The web plays to a different crowd. Its a concentration camp for misfits, each one of us a Munch screamer spurting mental fluids from a laptop. Some are sick. But none so sick or dangerous as those driving the Coalition of the Killing.
It is beyond belief what is happening in our name. Last night Colin Powell admitted the insurgency in Iraq was getting worse. That is, ever more citizens rally against the occupiers. His solution? Bomb more citizens. Almost every night on SBS, you can see women and
children being dug from the Falluja rubble. In this web clip, you get a cockpit view of (what appears to be) a group of un-armed, un-warned citizens being blasted off their own streets; a war crime by any measure. The clip will not be screened on CNN. And as for the ABC news (Australia), the pounding of Iraqi cities gives way to endless drivel of roosters slaughtering the broncos. TV sports is the cowards drug. News is show biz. Terror is done by The Other, never us.
While travelling in Germany is 1938, a little known Australian painter, glimpsed a nazi rally through his hotel window and captured the atmosphere on canvas: posturing self deception, impending war. A war fought by the Allies for a noble cause. The hard won victory is today used to justify our invasion of Iraq. Yet terror has no homeland. Vicious dictator that he was, Saddam Hussein had no plan to rule the world, nor even to sleep with Al Qaeda. The successes against terror have been achieved with dogged police work by Indonesians, Pakistanis, the Saudis and not by bombing crowded homes at midnight. Each dead child gives birth to a hundred terrorists. All of those who say such casualties are the price we pay to defeat another Hitler are prisoners of the past. Often fired up with false patriotism and sadistic to boot. Donald Rumsfeld: Some prisoners were abused, thats all. I will not use the torture word.
SCOLDINGS FROM THE MEN OF IRON
These are the kind of emails I get all the time:
Richard, You are so predictable, so irrelevant. Does your knee jerk political proselytising ever become more thoughtful?? Some of us have moved forward since the 60's, and allowed our minds to be receptive to Realpolitik, regrettably you do not seem to be one of them.
No, my heart still beats. And yet Im sick of being a hopeless romantic. Part of me wants to be Realpolitik; hard headed and certain, Iron Dick, ready to biff and opponent, never apologise, be cruel to be kind, fortress Australia, its a jungle out there, lie for my cause, smoke em out
theyve govt WMDs, lets invade, the people will scatter roses, bang bang. Ooops. Never mind. Just a few foreign trouble makers. Well wipe out wedding parties and pesky Al Jazeera. That should do it. Okay, well, maybe some of the locals are a bit pissed; the dregs of the Republican Guard. Well round em up and smear their naked bodies with shit, torture their kids
And so on. When it comes down to it, Realpolitik is racism in disguise, greed by stealth, a quick trip to a quagmire. Statistics compiled by the Iraq Health Ministry, reveal that occupying forces are killing twice as many Iraqis - mostly civilians - as attacks by insurgents. A leading British diplomat says George Bush is Al Qaedas chief recruiter. Some of the best minds in Australia lawyers, diplomats, doctors and defence chiefs have signed joint statements which argue the war is wrong, illegal and counterproductive. For most Iraqis, one tyranny has been replaced with another.
Mentioning the flaws of Realpolitik upsets its fans. Look at Rupert Murdochs response (Editorial, The Australian Sept 27/04) to the group anti war statements of our professionals: Has anybody warned these folks Australians react badly to being lectured to by people who possess no relevant expertise, but a keen sense of their own importance? A fitting description of the role of a Murdoch hack.
Whats really happening in Iraq is hard to come by. (Scattered insights are flagged in HOTLINKS, on the right hand side of this homepage). others land unheralded by email, such as Baghdad Year Zero from the
BAGHDAD AT YEAR ZERO
Naomi Klein reveals it was not only the Iraqi army which Paul Bremer sacked without severance pay, (Harpers Magazine, Sept/04) but doctors, nurses, teachers, publishers and printers. Then he set out to privatise 200 state-owned companies, which produced everything from cement to paper to washing machines. A series of edicts followed, dipped in honey: the lowering of Iraq's corporate tax rate from around 40 percent to a flat 15 percent, letting foreign companies own 100 percent of Iraqi assets (outside of the natural-resource sector). Even better, investors could take 100 percent of the profits they made in Iraq out of the country; they would not be required to reinvest and they would not be taxed. You get the picture. Lots of sackings. Easy profits.
A typical snout-in-the- trough belonged to Joe Allbaugh, former Bush-Cheney campaign manager, who enthused "One well-stocked 7-Eleven could knock out thirty Iraqi stores; a Wal-Mart could take over the country." Needless to say, the dumped workers did not wile away their spare time in knitting classes. There are many in Iraq who argue, writes Klein, that Bremer's reforms were the single largest factor leading to the rise of armed resistance. Realpolitik.
It has been revealed that legal investigators from America have found widespread evidence of abuse, torture and rape throughout Iraqs 25 US-run detention centers. One investigator, Mohammed Alomari, said all everyone talks about is Abu Ghraib because of the pictures. But in these other places, there's tons of acts of torture, abuse, rape." Any assumption that torture has stopped is unfounded. Abu Ghraib is the tip of the Gulag.
What is chilling about the Purves Smith Nazi painting is its contemporary relevance. No, this does not mean that Washington is Berlin, or Rupert is Goebbels; not exactly. Its more a matching of atmospheres, an evocation of bleakness and foreboding, a flavour of bullying has anybody warned these folks - even a retreat from evolution. Howard says he would still invade Iraq today, despite what he now knows. Bush says his Mission Accomplished speech still stands. God, how our leaders lack a worthy vision for humanity in the third millennium. Same old crap: bullets, bombs and bullshit. The mist is getting thicker. I wonder if it will lift in my lifetime. END
(image from The Guardian, 22 September 04)
Excerpts from Soundtrack to War - George Gittoes