Tuesday, November 30, 2004

On the subject of Eureka

Bloggers Darp and Mark Bahnisch have made some pretty big calls about Eureka and its contemporary social meaning. Gerard Henderson had a crack at it as well in the SMH, and Andrew Leigh made the blog/book/opinion-article trifecta for his effort. Personally I could care less about the Eureka mythology in Australian history. It doesn't do it for me, lefty as I am. There is one thing I'd like to get straight though.

It's about the definition of what is and what is not multicultural.

The Eureka stockade was not multicultural. Australia at the time was not a multicultural place. In 1854 there was no such thing as multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is an ideology specific to the late twentieth century designed to deal with the problem of difference within the nation-state. Just because something involves people from more than one nationality, race or ethnicity does not make it multicultural. Multiculturalism also entails a set of specific assumptions about what should and shouldn't happen within the State.

When Australian activists, academics and social workers pinched the word from the Canadians in the late 1960s, and when Al Grassby had the Immigration Department adopt it in 1973, there were few people who really knew what it meant. There are still very very few.

It is true that there were representatives of 19 different nationalities at the Eureka stockade. There are perfectly good words for this: multinational, multiracial, polyethnic, and so on. Multiculturalism is something quite specific and different.

I wish Darp every luck, however, in his battle against the PYL pointyheads.

NOLS memoir: intro

Alex White of Psephological Catechism laid down the challenge to me, that I should set my student political memoir down. I follow this challenge, by encouraging others, with longer and more interesting stories than mine, to do the same. In fifteen years those people who pass for student politicians will simply not believe the stories their predecessors tell: we must give them some evidence.

This Ballarat conference just may be the last proper conference of the National Union of Students. It will certainly be the last as we know it—the huge, lumbering and stinky, frightening and fascinating, sleepless beast which lives to devour the souls of willing victims. It has been a surreal and strange experience to have even attended two, as I have. For those of you who have attended four or more (I've heard stories of some individuals cracking seven!) there's no excuse for you not to put down your memories to paper or blog.

As this is my blog I get to decide how to write the story, what to leave in and what to leave out. With no space restrictions on text on blogger I also get to use as much bandwidth as I please without having to edit for length. Readers need some concessions, though, so in the next week or so I will be submitting to you a serialised version of my history with the National Organisation of Labor Students. All the cynicism. All the ideals. Most of the dirt. Some of the hard details (at least as many as I can remember). None of the boring meeting procedural bits.

Stand by, comrades and others.
Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Not back

Oh, and I come back from four days away and all of my comments--innocently entrusted to haloscan--appear to have vanished. Ta to all of you who've previously left a comment. If you can still see them, leave a comment. Wait a minute... no, don't do that. I won't know if you have or not.


Oh, I'm counting the days until I can get of my arse to fix myself up a wordpress or moveable-type blog. Until then you can contact me by email--I'm just about to update my blogger profile with email details.

See how trusting I am?


Right, I'm back from Ballarat with a spiffy conference bag, a lanyard name badge and a hearty exhaustion of Eurekaria (Eureka kitsch, stockade hyperbole and blue-and-white flag ear cheese).

I think I did OK in the paper I gave. I'm quite exhausted now.

Can I get an extension on this blog entry?

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

My view of unique page views

I'm with Alex White, sticking it to the powers that be of the bloggariat (my word). To quote:

There are people however who are keenly aware. Some of the right-wing blogs realise that page views and unique visitors are the life-blood of blogs. They link to each other regularly and systematically to increase their overall stats. There is no similar tactic amongst the left bloggers...

I agree with you, Alex, but how sad is this? We're just recycling the same old people from the same old IP addresses to make ourselves feel better. Meanwhile, the Right blog just to piss us off and because they know their peeps are in power and secure. D'ya think that Tim Blair obsesses over unique page hits? (Look mum, no link).

This may be about the most cynical blog post since I started this. I hope to be a bit more upbeat when I get back from Melbourne/Ballarat on Monday. Yes, kids, I'm giving my first ever conference paper. More news when I get back.

Oh, you can all visit my blog over and over again, shutting down and restarting your browser each time, if you'd like to make me feel a bit better about myself. Ya stooges.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Conference paper finished, world peace breaks out

I've just finished the first draft of the paper that I am giving at the Eureka 150 Democracy Conference in Ballarat on Friday. Here are the first two paragraphs to show you how interesting it is:

This paper is concerned with some of the ways that scholars and historians have understood the ideological approaches to immigration in the twentieth century. We are familiar with the ideas—-White Australia, assimilation, integration, multiculturalism. These are terms that describe ideological approaches to difference within the nation-state. They are common to many other nations, in particular Canada, the United States, Britain and some European nations, but it is in the Australian context that I will be arguing in this paper. The multicultural phenomenon here has been a peculiarly Australian solution to the problem of difference, inspired in part by radically egalitarian ideals.

If, as James Jupp has written, Australian history can only be understood as the history of immigration, then it must be an essential task for all of us to understand the ideas behind that history of immigration. The society we share has been shaped by past conceptions of immigration and the imagined identities of immigrants. We all of us have ideas about what is best, necessary, or advisable in Australia, and have some idea of what shape our Australian multiculturalism should take to fit in with this vision. These ideas of multiculturalism are at their simplest level, political ones concerning the rights and responsibilities of Australian citizens and residents, the role of the State as an influence in individual and community life, and the imagined character of a shared nation-state.

When I get the final draft finished I'll distribute it amongst those who ask for a copy. Feel free to comment in the form. Thanks to those of you who've kept in contact with me through my monk-like seclusion. And now, to leave the house for a beer!

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Trackback now up and running

Sierra Oscar, this is Commentariat. We now have trackback pings operative, over. It seems to have done away with all previous comments. But then there weren't that many anyway, over. This is Commentariat over and out.

I curse the grogbloggers

Shame, grogbloggers.

Shame on you for organising and conducting a night of introspection. Shame on you for building and carrying out an orgy of self-congratulation.

You expect to be taken seriously as a medium, but you exclude from your ranks all those who are not able to come out on a particular night. You make your organising of networking a once-off rather than a regular exercise of power sharing. You expect to be listened-to but you rely on vicariously won freedoms to go drinking. Sure it's fair to say that it's just a night of innocent socialising, but on what are the rest of us to blog for the next week? How can the rest of us compete with your scandalous images and titillating stories?

How can we compete with your grogblogging antics and innuendo? Shall I be forced to rely on the stories of my own drinking? For your own sakes I beg you to spare yourselves from this tedium.

This shame is collective, and I do not hesitate to curse you as a group of attendees. May you continually be thwarted by right-wing tools who blog on the temperance principles. May the label of élite always fall upon you. May your feed aggregators never aggregate, and may your html tags never point in the right place.

May the old-guard, corporate-corrupted, heavily-waged, mainstream media always find more subscribers than you do. May crikey.com always beat you to the juicy gossip. May you always beat around the fringes of shallow socialite play with that halfwit Leo Schofield and whats-her-name-who-edits-Cosmo-and-writes-tedious-pointless-columns. That's right, Mia Freedman, that's her name. I curse you. May Piers Ackerman and Miranda Devine always have the last word.

Shame grogbloggers, shame.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Spanish racist football taunts?

SBS' The World Game reports on the racist chants of Spanish fans against English players at an international game at Alcalá de Henares. By SBS' account the FEF--the Spanish football peak body--apologised.

On the other hand, having a quick look at the Spanish news shows a different story. Their account has the FEF saying that the English officials did not complain to them on the night, and that they undertood the Madrid crowd's behaviour to have been "correcto, normal y educado": proper, normal and well-behaved.

Spanish speaking readers can have a look for themselves here.

Perhaps this is a version of 'let's believe nothing happened'?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Ok, there's three things I have to get off my chest before I go back to writing my conference paper.

Damn! How dumb does John Anderson look?

Damn! Darren Lehman is such an excuse for a human being. Apparently he's mentally ready for the next test against NZ. How do they know, did they do a CAT scan? Poke him? Whack little rubber hammers on his knees?

Damn! How ugly is that freestats advertisement on the right sidebar? A minute ago it was advertising internet degrees--talk about insulting. I'm going to have to do something about that. Perhaps delete it.

Shoot straight you bastards

We've all been reading about this US Marine who is looking to be in a lot of trouble. He might perhaps consider the fate of Lt. Harry Morant, who was court-martialled and executed during the Boer War for having shot Boer prisoners. Lord Kitchener's orders were for prisoners to be shot, and both sides were fighting a messy, informal war. There was a huge public outcry against the sentence in Australia.

There's nothing more tedious than dredging up historical example to provide evidence for contemporary political argument. This is certainly not the point of studying history. Sometimes, however, parallels are too obvious not to point out.

An amateur military history site gives some detail about Morant here. If you're really that interested consider getting the 1980 movie from the video shop.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Crazy protest stories

Where you lead, Darp, others follow. Darp's posts on the Loopy Left have been both amusing and depressing. The stories of insensitivity, offence and sheer madness should be compulsory reading for everyone considering membership of a political party or group.

My own story of protest craziness is luckily one I am far too young to have seen directly. In 1964 a group of Sydney University students participating in the now defunct Commem Day festivities went to protest the United States' treatment of African-Americans. They gathered in Wynyard Park, followed by police.

Parts of the protest apparently were made up of genuinely concerned students, as well as the politically motivated, the curious, and the bearded. There were, however, also students in blackface, play-acting being intimidated by other students in KKK gear. The police finally moved in when they put up a cross on the grass and set fire to it.

Look it up for yourself. Honi Soit, May 15, 1964, p1.

Monday, November 15, 2004


Who on earth is David Hawker? I suppose this is the 'anyone but Bruce or Bronwyn' pick. Ah well.

Ari writes to say that the Speaker should be a non-Parliamentarian. I agree.

My pick would be Kamahl. I know he fundraises for the Liberals, I know that he's a conservative, I know he potters about the lower North Shore in a gold-coloured Rolls Royce. It's just that I'd really like to hear him say 'The member for Jaga Jaga will retract that comment', or suchlike parliamentary parlance, in that tenor of his.


I'm so sucked in

I am strongly considering cursing Melblefty for this link, to which I have been wholly sucked in.

Consider for yourself the United Socialist States of Commentariat:

The United Socialist States of Commentariat is a tiny, environmentally stunning nation, notable for its complete lack of prisons. Its compassionate, intelligent population of 5 million are fiercely patriotic and enjoy great social equality; they tend to view other, more capitalist countries as somewhat immoral and corrupt.

The government -- a sprawling, bureaucracy-choked, socially-minded morass -- devotes most of its attentions to Social Welfare, with areas such as Defence and Religion & Spirituality receiving almost no funds by comparison. The average income tax rate is 47%, but much higher for the wealthy. Private enterprise is illegal, but for those in the know there is a slick and highly efficient black market in Information Technology.

Crime is totally unknown. Commentariat's national animal is the kitten, which frolics freely in the nation's many lush forests, and its currency is the dollar.

If I hadn't just made it up I'd be moving there.

*Update*: I have just been admitted to the UN.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Well that settles the argument doesn't it

He didn't like the tutorial or the lecturer. He probably didn't get very good marks. But instead of writing off the course as a poor experience for all concerned he gets on the internet and gives the lecturer a bollocking in a circular email to all the other students--and now, the rest of the planet. Well that's a way to settle an argument.

I was very upset with what had transipred during the tutorial. So I did what any responsible and upstanding student would do: I emailed everyone enrolled in the subject a warning that Wheatrcroft was a Stalin apologist. This went down like a queer movie festival in Saudi Arabia. It appeared I had misjudged the character of the student body who responded angrily to my undermining of Wheaty. Never to mind, Wheatcroft wouldn't be too upset beccuase he was about to go travelling for a couple of weeks. Try and guess where..... Give up? Moscow of course. I'm sure it has lost a lot of its charm in the last 15 years, but Wheaty deserved a little break.

As an ex-tutor myself this kind of thing is terrifying. I'd hardly be appropriate for me to pan the stupider students in my class on the internet (as much as it would be satisfying and probably quite funny). But we have to remain constantly on guard in case of attacks by lone gunmen like this crazy man.

I'm not sure whether accusing someone of being a 'Stalin apologist' is defamatory. I know I'd take it pretty personally. Marcel, a word to the wise. This is a real person you're defaming.

Monday, November 08, 2004

PhD from prison

Craig Minogue is doing a PhD, apparently, and the Police Association are quite rightly annoyed. I wonder if they realise how alienating from society it is to be doing postgraduate study?

Blog Wars: The Phantom Menace

Truly there are few places more bizarre than the politics of the fringe.

This is a principle that usually applies off the internet. It applies to the kinds of leather-clad pointyheads who gather with their motorcycles to imbibe spiritous liquors and critique multiculturalism. Also, to certain ex-fish-and-chip-shop operators turned television ballroom dancers.

Generally the truly wierd aspects of the internet keep themselves willingly segregated from the rest of us. Flame wars and repellent anonymous political battles are not uncommon. But how can anyone explain the Miranda Airey-Branson affair? A Melbourne Uni tiny tory with a blog that thirty years ago would have been confiscated at the border? A scandal apparently involving the AEC? Stalking? Really quite nasty stuff involving LiveJournals being hacked and the spamming of a member of the Victorian Parliament?

And what are we to make of Andrew Bolt sticking up for the honour of this bunch?

I for one refuse to believe, with the unfortunate exception of Andrew Bolt, that these people exist. I've met a few extremely right-wing student politicians and they've all been quite strange, but none this strange.

No, someone's going to have to show me some pretty good evidence of the existence of Miranda Airey-Branson before I take her out of my 'too unsubstantiated and whacky to believe exists' mental category. For now she's staying there, with Michael Jackson, Senator Ross Lightfoot, Marcel White and HRH Prince Leopold.

Truly I tell you there are few things more bizarre than the politics of the fringe.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Johnny Warren

Let's stop and think of someone who led his life inspirationally.

Johnny Warren not only played football, not only organised much of the growth of Australian soccer, not only supported the growth of the 'world game' in the Australian media, not only wrote about it--and gave us a book title to aspire to.

He challenged the dominance of rugby league, rugby union, and Aussie rules in Australia. Thank you, Johnny Warren.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The times will suit us

I'm the first to admit my ignorance of how American politics works. I don't understand it and there's little to be gained by non-Americans blogging themselves hoarse about that event. Nothing more tedious.

So consider something quite different entirely--Bob Carr's election last year as NSW Premier, again.

In 2003 a right wing incumbent defeated a totally hopeless opposition with little in the way of an agenda for the next four years. NSW Labor is stacked with the biggest heap of time-servers, time-wasters and ignorant products of the stafferocracy ever produced. They're undemocratic, arrogant, vicious and self-absorbed. (To my friends working in the belly of the beast: prove me wrong!)

Has the world ended? No.

Progressive politics continue regardless of who holds the majority of seats. People go on meeting each other, discussing, planning, arguing, and working out their plans to make the world better. The left (and I don't mean the organised faction in Parliament) remain powerful despite our temporary electoral losses--it's a power that comes through our ability to survive. Where there are still people who believe in things as simple as social justice, the right to work and a decent wage, and the backwardness of thinking of society as a collection of individuals, there'll be hope for a better future. Whichever party takes the seats, if there are still believers there will still be power.

You've got to respect any ideological tendency that keeps on existing despite the best and most organised efforts to discredit it and stamp it out.

I've still got my worn-once Bob Carr and Labor Securing NSW's Future t-shirt in my leftover election shit drawer. I hope that it'll be my memento of the bad old reactionary days of the early 2000s, when it's once more fashionable to be left.

The times will suit us.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Don't mention the...

No, I'm not going to mention it.

But this is the best call on all of the states that passed anti-gay marriage amendments yesterday.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

My picks for the real contest today

At this stage this, I think is how I'll be going:

$5 win on Mummify,
$5 place on Elvstroem.

Readers are advised also of my own form:

1999: won $0
2000: won $0
2001: won $70!
2002: won $0
2003: won $0

Monday, November 01, 2004


Yeah, you've heard the news. Now read between the lines.

Mr Kalugin says that thanks to its man on the inside, the KGB was aware of "practically all steps taken or planned by ASIO against Soviet targets in Australia".

Comrades, we have discovered secret Australian plans to infiltrate agents into Gould's bookshop, and to thoroughly read, but not buy, all of the pamphlets on the Resistance tables in King Street Newtown! The audacity of these capitalists!