Friday, October 24, 2014

In which the pond is wildly excited by the return of a Team Australia member, for a team which is playing way above its usual form ...

(Above: and more Moir here)

As usual, there are any number of things that might catch the pond's eye, and not just the demonic, crazed figure in the Moir above.

Jolly Joe Hockey has had a wonderful victory for aesthetics and the Australian landscape.

That story's at the Graudeian here, and what a triumph it represents for the cigar-smoker, who clearly doesn't mind fucking the world in the same way he doesn't mind fucking his lungs.

And then came this:

Here you go. Ah poodle, poodle, poodle, what spurred you on?

How the papers love his mug:

Surely after politics, he'll get a job in a Batman movie? Joker, Riddler, master Poodle villain?

And then knock the pond down with the feather, who's this clown arriving late to the scene of the crime?

That's top of the digital page of The Graudian here, but what's amusing is that Murdoch only seems to have discovered what was passed earlier in the month just in time for a talk honouring Keith Murdoch.

And the reptiles reduced the now irrelevant blather to a passing post in the rotating digital splash of doom at the top of the lizard Oz ...

They couldn't even find a photo of the poor bugger:

Lachlan who? Oh that's right Lachlan """ ...

There's not much point blathering about freedom of speech and freedom of the press, not when there's fear mongering and hysteria to be doled out for the day, and not when the legislation is done and dusted and it will take an egregious example to draw attention back to it - our very own Peter Greste - and in the meantime the Abbott government will go on talking about how they're freedom fighters, and the Labor party will go on being facilitators, while actual whistle-blowers will continue to be hung, drawn and quartered...

But hey, it's not the business of the pond to save the world, or wonder why the Murdoch rags are so hell bent on their rabid ideological clash of civilisation routine ...

Is there an irony in heading off to Faux Noise to discover this very week that at least two mortar shells landed inside Baghdad's Green Zone and that at least 30 people have been killed in a wave of bombing attacks in and near Baghdad? (here).

Well you won't find any hysteria about that, because that's what happens elsewhere and it doesn't suit the narrative or the agenda.

Never mind, it's none of that which caught the pond's eye, it was this, jostling alongside the thoughts of Lachlan in the revolving faraway tree of digital Oz doom:

Or if you will, with photo:

The pond, dedicated as it is to loons, felt a tremendous surge of relief and excitement.

The last the pond had heard of Tanveer Ahmed was way back when:

That was in the Oz on the 11th September 2012, and thanks to the full to overflowing intertubes, you can still see the story at Media Watch, as Foolish plagiarism in the digital age ...

And now he's been rehabilitated and might continue to turn up, like many a bent penny, in the Oz, and how symbolic that his first piece should demonstrate once again that patriotism is the first refuge of the scoundrel and the foolish.

Now before we get proceedings under way, let the pond make an admission.

Way back when, the pond refused to stand for God Save the Queen in the picture theatres when they played a foreign anthem for a foreign Queen, sporting a foreign flag in the corner of what was supposed to be an Australian flag ...

It was a confused sort of patriotism, no doubt about it, in that it seemed to the pond that the days of honouring colonial relics had passed, and Australia might stand on its own without the sneers and condescension of British tossers ...

And then came Tony Abbott and knights and dames ...

But it makes Tanveer Ahmed's opening remarks all the more to the point, and all the more poignant:

Indeed, indeed. So much nonsense, and in such a short, compressed space.

How shocking, how deluded, what a strange notion, that Britain could be shaped afresh, and that suddenly there'd be Islamics from remote parts of the empire jabbering away about this and that right in the heart of empire.

What an astonishing and disturbing trend ...

Yes, the kool aid and the fellow travelling and the forelock tugging runs deep in this one.

How deep?

Well further along, Ahmeed mangles Orwell:

Orwell made a clear distinction between nationalism and patriotism. 
He qualified nationalism as “the worst enemy of peace”, the belief one’s country was sup­erior to others while patriotism was an attachment to and admiration of a nation’s way of life and “of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally”.

Uh huh. But if anyone takes the time to wander through that piece by Orwell - available here and now somewhat dated and quaint - it will be seen that Orwell places the sort of cheap, flag-waving, T-shirt wearing nonsense beloved of Ahmed in the 'nationalist' turf:

Obsession. As nearly as possible, no nationalist ever thinks, talks, or writes about anything except the superiority of his own power unit. It is difficult if not impossible for any nationalist to conceal his allegiance. The smallest slur upon his own unit, or any implied praise of a rival organization, fills him with uneasiness which he can relieve only by making some sharp retort. If the chosen unit is an actual country, such as Ireland or India, he will generally claim superiority for it not only in military power and political virtue, but in art, literature, sport, structure of the language, the physical beauty of the inhabitants, and perhaps even in climate, scenery and cooking. He will show great sensitiveness about such things as the correct display of flags, relative size of headlines and the order in which different countries are named. Nomenclature plays a very important part in nationalist thought. Countries which have won their independence or gone through a nationalist revolution usually change their names, and any country or other unit round which strong feelings revolve is likely to have several names, each of them carrying a different implication. The two sides of the Spanish Civil War had between them nine or ten names expressing different degrees of love and hatred. Some of these names (e. g. ‘Patriots’ for Franco-supporters, or ‘Loyalists’ for Government-supporters) were frankly question-begging, and there was no single one of the which the two rival factions could have agreed to use. All nationalists consider it a duty to spread their own language to the detriment of rival languages, and among English-speakers this struggle reappears in subtler forms as a struggle between dialects. Anglophobe-Americans will refuse to use a slang phrase if they know it to be of British origin, and the conflict between Latinizers and Germanizers often has nationalists motives behind it. Scottish nationalists insist on the superiority of Lowland Scots, and socialists whose nationalism takes the form of class hatred tirade against the B.B.C. accent and even the often gives the impression of being tinged by belief in symphatetic magic — a belief which probably comes out in the widespread custom of burning political enemies in effigy, or using pictures of them as targets in shooting galleries.

Indeed. Some might even wear T-shirts saying love it or leave it. And we all know what that means and who it applies to ...

You see in his definition of patriotism, Orwell added an important caveat:

By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.

No wish to force on other people.

But that's exactly what a T-shirt saying 'love it or leave it' means and does.

Give yourself over to the kool aid, warts and all, swallow the Murdochian and Abottian cant, or piss off ...

Orwell offered a few other insights along the way:

Instability. The intensity with which they are held does not prevent nationalist loyalties from being transferable. To begin with, as I have pointed out already, they can be and often are fastened up on some foreign country. One quite commonly finds that great national leaders, or the founders of nationalist movements, do not even belong to the country they have glorified. Sometimes they are outright foreigners, or more often they come from peripheral areas where nationality is doubtful. Examples are Stalin, Hitler, Napoleon, de Valera, Disraeli, Poincare, Beaverbrook. The Pan-German movement was in part the creation of an Englishman, Houston Chamberlain. For the past fifty or a hundred years, transferred nationalism has been a common phenomenon among literary intellectuals. With Lafcadio Hearne the transference was to Japan, with Carlyle and many others of his time to Germany, and in our own age it is usually to Russia. But the peculiarly interesting fact is that re-transference is also possible. A country or other unit which has been worshipped for years may suddenly become detestable, and some other object of affection may take its place with almost no interval. In the first version of H. G. Wells's Outline of History, and others of his writings about that time, one finds the United States praised almost as extravagantly as Russia is praised by Communists today: yet within a few years this uncritical admiration had turned into hostility. The bigoted Communist who changes in a space of weeks, or even days, into an equally bigoted Trotskyist is a common spectacle. In continental Europe Fascist movements were largely recruited from among Communists, and the opposite process may well happen within the next few years. What remains constant in the nationalist is his state of mind: the object of his feelings is changeable, and may be imaginary. 
But for an intellectual, transference has an important function which I have already mentioned shortly in connection with Chesterton. It makes it possible for him to be much more nationalistic — more vulgar, more silly, more malignant, more dishonest — that he could ever be on behalf of his native country, or any unit of which he had real knowledge. When one sees the slavish or boastful rubbish that is written about Stalin, the Red Army, etc. by fairly intelligent and sensitive people, one realises that this is only possible because some kind of dislocation has taken place. In societies such as ours, it is unusual for anyone describable as an intellectual to feel a very deep attachment to his own country. Public opinion — that is, the section of public opinion of which he as an intellectual is aware — will not allow him to do so. Most of the people surrounding him are sceptical and disaffected, and he may adopt the same attitude from imitativeness or sheer cowardice: in that case he will have abandoned the form of nationalism that lies nearest to hand without getting any closer to a genuinely internationalist outlook. He still feels the need for a Fatherland, and it is natural to look for one somewhere abroad. Having found it, he can wallow unrestrainedly in exactly those emotions from which he believes that he has emancipated himself. God, the King, the Empire, the Union Jack — all the overthrown idols can reappear under different names, and because they are not recognised for what they are they can be worshipped with a good conscience. Transferred nationalism, like the use of scapegoats, is a way of attaining salvation without altering one's conduct.

Indeed, indeed. But that's enough of breaching Godwin's Law by extensively quoting from Orwell, as if - hallowed be his name - that was all that's needed to make a point (Orwellian 1984, Orwellian 1984, did we mention Orwellian 1984, there you go, debate done and dusted).

Instead, fortified by Orwell, let's return to Ahmed:

While Islamic terrorism is attractive to a very small proportion of the population, it highlights a weakness of liberal democracies in their lukewarm, sometimes conflicted promotion of a collective identity. 
The gap for Islamists is filled by the fierce transnational identity that the Islamic notion of the ummah can build, a piety so strong they are prepared to sacrifice their lives. Macabre, evil and disgusting the actions may be, but the intensity of belief is in stark contrast to the relative apathy of mild-mannered secular atheists. 
 French philosopher Michel Onfray said in an interview last year on the topic of the decline of the West: “Who is ready to die for the values of the West or the values of the Enlightenment?” Onfray questions the will of Westerners to fight for anything, believing we have been numbed by consumerism in a secular age that creates no attachment to God and country. 

Weak, relative apathy, mild-mannered secular atheists, get ready to die, numbed by consumerism, required an attachment to God and country?

Didn't they feed that horseshit to anyone who would listen during two world wars?

Fuck that tedious shit. And if necessary fuck Ahmed.

Ah, you say, that seems a trifle strong a reaction.

But yes, the last thing the pond wants is to suffer in silence while a French philosopher who espouses hedonism and anarchism and atheism is shoved down the throat like corn down the throat of a goose as a god and country lover (yes, he is typically weird and strange and French, and an atheist to boot, and you can Greg Hunt him here).

But do go on with the jingoism (in the Orwellian sense of the word). So let's jump from this:

The strong patriotism of the US that integrates its extremely diverse population so successfully may explain why so few American-Muslims, as a proportion of the population, have gone to fight in Syria, compared with many thousands from Europe. The several hundred estimated to have travelled from Australia, as a percentage of our Muslim population, are many multiples greater than in America. 

To this:

While an Australian republic is traditionally derided in conservative circles, there is a direct correlation with Tony Abbott’s Team Australia rhetoric and the intensification of patriotism a republic is likely to promote. It holds promise as a key plank in fostering a greater collective identity. Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane championed a greater patriotism for the Left in his 2009 book Reclaiming Patriotism: Nation-Building for Australian Progressives. The reaction to a harmless T-shirt promoting love of country suggests the task has a considerable way to go.

Say what? We need a republic to foster a greater collective identity so Islamics will stay at home like they do in the United States, and a harmless T-shirt is a way of promoting love of country, and sssh don't mention the actual implications of said T-shirt, and who it targets and why?

And Team Australia is a patriotic cry for a republic?

Can we have a side order of dames and knights with that?

Not a clue, and not a clue as to the actual meaning of the texts and the writers and the philosophers quoted from ...

Never mind, thanks to the reptiles, the pond could shortly have a new weekly distraction, a joyous example of fuzzy logic and fuzzy thinking and rabid neocon fundamentalism of the barking mad kind.

In the meantime, here's some further reading ...


  1. Hi Dorothy,

    “Who is ready to die for the values of the West or the values of the Enlightenment?”

    What twaddle? The whole point of holding the values of the enlightenment dear and believing in reason and rational scientific thought is in order to oppose the very ideologies that demand this sort of stupid self sacrifice. I for one don't want to die for these values but I'm quite happy to see their opponents cark it, because that 's how we win.


  2. One would think that a psychiatrist would have some insight into the well-known human tendency to project one's own feelings and motivations onto others. So when Tanveer, says that the Left "spurn" these ideas, it seems to me that this flawed judgement must come from his own inherent tendency to be irrational and emotional; he imagines that everyone is like him and just goes around 'spurning' ideas that they do not like.

    He certainly fails to provide any evidence of his delusion that the Left "spurn" these ideas.

    I identify as left - but not Left - and I certainly don't spurn the ideas that psychologists have about authority, loyalty and sanctity; a good parent needs to use all these values to raise adults rather than spoiled little wanna be patriarchs.

    But the reality is that all the reasoned arguments I have read, the evidence from history and psychology, show that these particular human ideals have, and continue to lead to, racism, homophobia and sexism.

    More twaddle, twaddle to the max.

  3. Dear Tanveer,

    Why don't stupid people know they're stupid? Analyse that!

    1. Here is your answer:

  4. Patriotism and Nationalism are simply variations on the primitive cult of Tribalism.

    The notion that "the sporting team that represents the geograhical area of my homeplace is supurior to your sporting team" is exactly the same thing but on a smaller scale.

    Once upon a time as cave-dwellers we need to band together for mutual survival but in todays world it's a dangerous practice.

    The Team Australia vs Team Islam preliminary bout is almost underway now, with both sides trash-talking and muscling up to each other.

    The Team Australia vs Team Asia bout seems to have been cancelled after a very big build up 10 years ago.


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