From under the linoleum
Old newspapers show Mussolini's imperialism looked a lot like today's

I sat on the floor and picked through the tragedy of the country we now call Ethiopia laid out on the yellowing pages. It was eerily reminiscent of the current Iraq adventure.

A tale for our times
The December 1934 assassination of Sergei Kirov

Seventy years on, the killing of Sergei Kirov casts an eerie light on the events of 11 September 2001, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the “war on Terror” and the state-sponsored hysteria surrounding the shadowy figures of Osama bin Ladin and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Ninety-three years of bombing the Arabs
It was the Italians, hell-bent on acquiring an African empire, who got the ball rolling. In 1911 the Libyan Arab tribes opposed an Italian invasion. Their civilians were the first people in the world to be bombed from the air.

Dispossessed all over again
After spending nearly two months in the West Bank the pull towards my village was growing stronger, especially after being detained twice and threatened with deportation … an Australian Palestinian returns to her ancestral home.

The tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
Australia slides further into the Iraq quagmire
Cabinet documents recently released under the 50-year rule show that, in 1954, Liberal (conservative) Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, and key figures in his Cabinet were extremely gloomy about the prospects for success in an American war against nationalists in Indochina. But eventually they went to the Vietnam War anyway.

Bombing King David
One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist

Some historians date the beginning of modern terrorism from the 1946 bombing by Zionist terrorists of the British military HQ in Jerusalem.

Don’t loiter near the exit
Military debacle and economic decline haunt the Bush regime

When I was just a young possum in the school cadet corps there was a hoary old war story that we all knew. It was almost certainly apocryphal, but it ruefully expressed a nasty historic truth about the US role in the demise of the British Empire.


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With justice for all and malice towards none

The Prime Minister
The Hon. John Howard, MP
Parliament House
Canberra 2600

28 March 99

Dear John,

Just thought I'd take time off from watching the Balkan war on TV to drop you a line about the draft preamble to the constitution. Les Murray is saying that it's all your fault -- the embarrassing guff about mateship and that patronising evasion about the Aborigines and their culture.

Well, maybe, but I don't believe a word of it, John. I know Murray's mob and they will always get you into trouble. Look at poor old Manning Clarke. After he was dead, Murray reckoned Clarke used to turn up at dinner parties wearing the Order of Lenin. The story was bullshit of course -- it was just a cheap muck-metal gong the Russkis handed out to everybody who attended some international conference of historians years ago -- but that's what you get from going to the same parties as the redneck intelligentsia.

The draft preamble sounds like a rotten compromise stitched together by Paddy McGuinness after a particularly trying meeting of the Quadrant editorial Board when the monarchists had fallen out with the Bog Irish republicans and the redneck poets and the old-style screaming queens.

What's this weird hokum about "achievement". It says that the democratic and federal system of government will exist under law to "protect all Australians in an equal dignity which may never be infringed by prejudice or fashion or ideology nor invoked against achievement". It reads like some petulant poet defending his Australia Council grant in the Riverview Hotel after a long afternoon on the red. Ah yes, I understand what's going on now. The elitist politically-correct black lesbian-marxist-deconstructionist mafia are trying to roll me on the committee. Fuck them. Cheers and laughter from the mob at the bar. Stagger out onto Birchgrove Road. Fall over.

And I'm sure that bit isn't your bit, John, 'cos I remember it in Murray's early hand-written draft commissioned by the Herald. And anyway, the idea of "equal dignity" is a nonsense. You can't guarantee Australians equal dignity -- just for a start, some of them are politicians.

The ideology of this mob is a raging mass of inchoate fears, sentimental bullshit, dumb mythology and old grudges. There are many dank shadows and stagnant pools and they like it that way. Most of them defended that trashy anti-semitic novel by Helen Demidenko/Darville and even honoured it with various awards. And when anybody with decent instincts weighed in against One Nation they defended Pauline Hanson in their sly way, and said that criticising her vigorously was something like censorship.

That is what they mean by "Free to be proud of their country and heritage", John.

The Old Australia, the Australia of respectable little black brick houses on Homer Street, Earlwood, with squalidly neat buffalo grass lawns and one hydrangea in the corner and a narrow concrete path down to the Hills Hoist in the back yard is as dead as Bob Menzies, John. It was always a rosy myth and it died years ago with a lot of other myths like Terra Nullius and Hard Workin' White Men. That Australia was both good and bad and it was also narrow and backward and boring -- a cheap bit of nation-building that most Anglos don't mourn much. Why hang about with the few who do?

It's an aside, but let me tell you about my experience on the polling booths today. I was handing out for the Greens (who else would a marsupial hand out for) and there was a funny little red-headed taxi driver with verbal diarrhoea handing out for One Nation. He spent an hour explaining the international Jewish-Marxist-Bankers' conspiracy to the jerk from the Non-Custodial Parents' Party, who was a pretty receptive audience. There's a whole subculture of these nutters out there. They mutter about discrimination in favour of women and the superiority of Christianity and White Anglo-Saxon Culture and the right to carry automatic weapons and drive their 4WDs everywhere and whenever they're given a verbal flogging they whinge about freedom of speech and the conspiracy of the elites.

It's a right wing victim culture and its intellectual champions defend it in a coded language and hope they can lean on it and harness it and control its worst excesses.

Why hang out with a bunch of wilful losers, John? Why not be seen with a mainstream Churchillian conservative like that nice Gerard Henderson? I know he comes across as a pseudo left liberal cultural Catholic these days but he is measured and it would reflect well on you. The other mob are a desperate choice for desperate times.

Yours in Struggle

Nick B. Possum

• • •

INCLUDED in Whispers from the mean streets -- Best of 1999

FREE downloadable PDF booklet.