What were they thinking?: As this journal was being uploaded, news came through that a 15 year old Afghani villager Sayyid Ahmad Sanef spotted what he thought was one of the yellow food packets. He picked it up to take a look. It blew his head off.
Journal of a Futurist - 23 November 2001
For Truth, Lies, Paranoia, Cruelty & the Truth that can't be Silenced.
Counting the collapse of borders in the wake of globalisation is a familiar riff in my public talks on How to be a Futurist: wholesale/retail, mind/body, leftwing/rightwing, man/woman, fact/fiction, space/place, child/adult
and so on. It was panic over the perceived porosity of Australia's borders that perverted this country's recent election. The footage of our Prime Minister's tub thumping boast - "we will decide who enters this country" - is still a feature of the nightly news. The induced paranoia handed him another term in office.
Several times during the campaign, John Howard and his ministers issued judgements on the character of boatpeople based on incidents which never happened. They threw their children overboard - "I don't want such people here". This claim turned out to be false. Was Howard apologetic? No, he grasped another "proof" of undesirability. They held their children out the window! - "I don't want such people here." That was to alert our gunboat to their presence on a besieged & sinking craft
. And so it went on, this shameless demonisation, the lying, the belligerence. It looks set to continue for another three years. One can't help but ask, how does such low life end up in high office?
The question also occurs when the Whitehouse swings into action. More lies, more brutality, more surveillance, more roundups, shrinkage of freedoms, promotion of torture, kangaroo courts and the on-camera guffawings of leaders as they press for the on-sight death of the Devil they suckled. Osama's head on a plate will sure shut him up. One truth that can't be silenced is this. The American war machine is murdering innocent people. Post war re-construction will not bring the children back from the dead. Even the Taliban have rights. However brutal these former US allies have been to their own citizens, Taliban troops did not attack the World Trade Centre. Night after night, as we watch wounded children carted off to hovels bereft of food, water, heating, pain-killers, while George Bush extols his people's "goodness", don't you get the sense that something fishy is afoot? Something removed from public gaze, something secret, even shameful. Surely not. The land of free speech and investigative journalism. Crash go the studios of Al Jazeera tv, the only independent media in Arabia
oooops. It seems the smart bomb has a mind of its own. The latest suppression of free speech is the military tribunals, with their secret hearings, summary executions, a ambience of fear. What is the Whitehouse so afraid of? Why can't we hear what the enemy has to say? Who will it incriminate?
Philosophers East and West say that life is an illusion, the images created by flickering campfire shadows on a cave wall . It's a metaphor that makes more sense the older you get. The media is the instrument of transmitting these shadows. We watch, hypnotised and ill informed. Some of the best minds in the West are party to maintaining the illusion that what you see is all there is.
The cause of all today's problems. The elites, the chattering classes, the ostentatiously virtuous. A reflection on the election.
In victory, so bad tempered. The majority of high profile, high paid opinion makers in Australia are politically conservative. Not only are they delighted with the return of the Coalition Government of John Howard, they are gloating over the political defeat of their ideological enemies, who they categorise as "elites". Another put-down, in vogue in seventies London, is "the chattering classes". Okay, that's me - guilty as charged, but what's the crime? It's odd to be condemned for swapping opinions by those who ram their own dead views down our throat week after week. Is it because we do it for free? While they, the toilers in the houses of ill repute, trade their souls for gold.
As for being part of an "elite", this is laughable. A bunch of noisy, confused, ism-damaged, broke misfits who mean to do good, kind of, and often screw up - a castigated "elite" so far removed from the levers of power - yes, we voted Green - that we'll be buried in re-cycled cardboard on the edge of a nuclear dump mourned by the tax office. Hic, pass the cask wine.
And now another label meant to put us in our place, applied by a father & daughter echo-twin, with a flourish that implies they think it's clever - "the ostentatiously virtuous". Sorry, dummies, the label is self contradictory - virtue never advertises. However, it does make sense the other way around, and fits you well - the ostentatiously vile.
With columnists like these, no wonder the truth is hard to find.
Thank heavens for cyberspace. On the matter of the war, our mainstream media are curling up and singing the Star Spangled Banner. What's really happening? Funny you should ask - check out this mysterious website, which acts as a clearing house for alternative views, many of which will keep you awake at night: www.whatreallyhappened.com.
Even on local issues, our media are wetter than asylum seekers. How come the press failed to hire a helicopter to get a shot of the humans huddled aboard the Tampa? Why was it left to a bird-watcher to capture images of the miserable wretches capsized off Ashmore Reef. Happily I acknowledge the re-production of this image in the Sydney Morning Herald, along with the fine report by Andrew Stafford. (As a result, future field trips to Ashmnore Reef have now been banned).
Love or hate John Pilger, it is strange that his recent big gun UK Mirror pieces have been ignored in Australia. No matter, go find them on www.johnpilger.com. Prize winning best selling author of The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy, has published two major essays on Afghanistan, highly researched, powerful and sickening. Yet not a single major magazine in the US has picked up the rights. Nor in Australia - where our mags need all space they can get for the ostentatiously vile to repeat the same things they said the day before.
An extratct from Arundhati Roy:
"The International Coalition Against Terror is a largely cabal of the richest countries in the world. Between them, they manufacture and sell almost all of the world's weapons, they possess the largest stockpile of\ weapons of mass destruction - chemical, biological and nuclear. They have fought the most wars, account for most of the genocide, subjection, ethnic cleansing and human rights violations in modern history, and have sponsored, armed and financed untold numbers of dictators and despots. Between them, they have worshipped, almost deified, the cult of violence and war. For all its appalling sins, the Taliban just isn't in the same league. In America, the arms industry, the oil industry, the major media networks, and, indeed, US foreign policy, are all controlled by the same
business combines. Therefore, it would be foolish to expect this talk of guns and oil and defence deals to get any real play in the media".