November 2003 #1

Three Things in Three Weeks

It seems we live in a world of smoke and mirrors at a time when truth and power appear to be miles apart.

Three issues that have arisen in the couple of weeks point towards the ideological fallacies that are perpetrated in the attempt to screen from us the dire realities that thousands and millions live under.

The first is the ongoing war in Iraq. But we can't call it that, so I'll call it the occupation. But no, we can call it that either. So what can we call it? I choose to name it for what the current imperial quest in the Middle East is. A war of imperialist occupation. Donald Rumsfeld seems to have forgotten that his President said in May the war was over, or maybe he is actually speaking truth to power when he said, after the latest mass death of US soldiers, "in a long hard war, we're going to have tragic days, as this is".

Every now and again truth and power do collide. However, what Rumsfeld and the rest of the US administration, along with our own government, refuse to acknowledge, is 1) that they lied to us about their motives for invading a sovereign country; 2) the overwhelming tragedy they have created not only for the Iraqi people, but also for the troops they have put in danger, and; 3) that they have no exit strategy.

All this adds up to a shocking mess as soldiers die needlessly and for no other cause than the quest for oil and hegemony. The US is not our friend. George Bush said in our House of Parliament that he loves free speech. His Orwellian interpretation of free speech has been adopted by our own government as they attempt to remove more of our civil liberties just like the US Senate has done in the States.

Truth and power and free speech do not sit well in our current social climate of fear, xenophobia and racism.

The second issue is the ongoing treatment of those who come to our shores seeking succour. The abomination that is our so called Minister for Immigration, Amanda Vanstone - a women who has managed to set back the cause of feminism by decades and who makes Philip Ruddock's stint as Minister for Inhuman Treatment look like the Teddy Bear's Picnic, has come out swinging. No doubt she sees this latest arrival of so called 'boat people' as her opportunity to prove that she is really a woman with balls. After all, I guess it is possible she really is a bloke and wants to prove it to everyone. It takes all my energy to prevent me from throwing my shoe through the TV when she comes on.

If truth is what she wants to expose, then why has the boat been quarantined and a no fly zone placed around it? Why is it that millions of dollars can be mobilised, and scores of immigration officials shipped north when all there appears to be is a few men on a boat? Why was it that her colleague, Defence Minister, Robert Hill - by the way have you noticed that they've upped his medication. He used to be vague at best, nonsensical at worst, but now he is just not there at all - didn't know that at least two of the boat people had come ashore! The look on his face when his military advisor said that people had actually landed on the beach almost convinced me that he was, in fact, almost awake.

If Amanda wants truth - and we know how this government has lied its way through this term beginning with the children overboard lie and continuing on to the Iraq lie and now the latest lies - it is up to us to force her and her colleagues to be honest with us. If we don't how can any of us hold our heads up and be 'proud' Aussies?

The third issue revolves around the visit by Hanan Ashwari. I happened to be in Sydney the week her name was released as the winner of the Sydney Peace Prize. It took me a few days to work out why the Mayor of Sydney, Lucy Turnbull, didn't want to present the prize as is tradition. Its because she is the wife of political wanna be, Malcolm Turnbull. Turnbull is trying to get Liberal preselection in a seat that is overpopulated by Zionists - the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. Its there that the rich Zionist lobby have their stronghold and poor old Malcolm and Lucy don't want to put off side a group that is rabidly opposed to anyone who even hints at asking "is it really right what we are doing to the Palestinians"?

This group is fuelled up with cash and unleashed one of the most vitriolic attacks on a women, who at worst can be termed a Palestinian moderate, and provided the basis for racist, personal attacks on her.

Even in yesterday mornings news, Mark Liebler, head of one of the most fundamentalist Jewish organisations in this country, refused to concede that Hanan has continuously called for a cessation of civilian killings by both sides. While he talks about suicide bombers - and rightly so, Hanan Ashwari dares to ask, who supplies the Apache helicopter gunships that have killed hundreds of Palestinian civilians?

Truth is not something the Zionists are comfortable with. They do not represent the truth that is embodied in the Jewish religion any more than do fundamentalist Christians or Muslims in theirs. What Liebler didn't talk about, and refuses to admit, is the growing weariness of the Jewish people. They are sick of the hate, fatigued with the ongoing war and have few tears left to mourn their own, let alone those who are referred to by the Zionists as "dogs", "terrorists" and "unpeople". What Liebler didn't say, but which Ashwari pointed to in her address, was that peace will require compromise on both sides and that while power hides truth there can be no peace. What Ashwari and many others like Mustapha Baghouti say, but Liebler and the other powerful Zionists don't, is that while the Israeli government is supported by quislings afraid of upsetting a few rich men, there will be no peace. Her 'grace under fire' should inspire us all. She was able to maintain her composure and demonstrate that the hate of the Zionists is what is really driving the 'peace process' off the rails.

These three issues are presented to us in the corporate news and commentary as being unrelated and unconnected. Yet there is theme running through them that is undeniable.

David Barsamian, the founder of Alternative Radio, was out here recently and he reminded me of Orwell's 1984. I've been re reading it over the last year or so - taking a leisurely stroll though Orwell's imagination if you like. In this work Orwell describes the conditions under which his characters live. One of these conditions is the imposition of what is termed "thoughtcrime".

Thoughtcrime was the act of thinking beyond what the orthodoxy of the  permitted language allowed. The proposition being that the language (Newspeak) was being constantly recreated to ensure that the perpetual lie of the perpetual war (that was not being fought anyway) was maintained and thus used as a lever to keep the population under control. By ensuring that the language was controlled, so that it meant whatever Big Brother (the rulers) wanted it to mean, created a situation where even a slip of the tongue could result in being taken away by the Thought Police to be vaporised. Truth, in Oceania, was whatever Big Brother wanted it to be and the Memory Hole served the purpose of erasing any material truth in the quest for more power and control. 

Lies, power and truth seem to be at the heart of the current social crisis we are in. We know that when politicians tell us they are doing something for our own good what they really mean is they are doing whatever to protect the powerful. We know when they say to us 'we believe in free speech' they really mean free to lie and obfuscate. We know when they say "we speak the truth" they lie to us. However, the problem with looking at the situation in this way is that it disempowers us. It says they do something to us. Yet it is us who do something to them. We give them the power to oppress us. We give them the chance to lie, cheat and enrich themselves while we tch tch about how bad it all is. In effect we have helped them create the situation that allows them to oppress us. I mean, would we really admit we have given our masters a rod to beat our backs with? And then let them get away with it!

Very soon it will be our chance to use the system again to elect those we want to rule over us. The question is, will we choose people with integrity and whose allegiance is to their communities or will we, once more, elect those whose allegiance is to the party and their own self interest? If we want to see those who will speak truth to power in the halls of government, we will have to engage with those who put themselves up as aspiring to be our representatives and test their integrity before we vote them in.

If we really want to break the chains of oppression, fear and deceit, we will need to recapture our own destiny and take back control of the common wealth and put it to good use, to the benefit of us all.