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The black history of November 11s
Blue Collar Bohemian

20 November 2005

The portentious date of November 11 has passed us again, 125 years after the hanging of Ned Kelly, 87 years after the bogus Armistice of 1918, and 30 years on from the dismissal of the Whitlam Labor government.

All these 11/11s symbolise defeats for the progressive people of their eras. The Kelly struggle was against property and state power, and the corrupt police force terrorising the poor. The slaughtered and maimed youth of World War I spent four years and three months fighting and dying in the mud and snow for the inbred and worthless royal families of Europe. The survivors were betrayed by the nations they fought for, and the bogus armistice, because the imperial powers kept on fighting the Russian Revolution for years after WWI. And they kept on killing Arabs in Iraq from the air (Churchill wanted to gas the Marsh Arabs), and pushed Greeks and Turks all over Asia Minor and the Balkans. The new nations painfully contrived from the ashes of the Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman empires represented ethnic and religious rivalries long suppressed.

And at the Versailles Treaty conference vengeful fuckwits like Clemenceau, Lloyd George and of course Australia's own Billy Hughes planted the seeds of WWII, by creating social conditions in Germany that would throw up opportunities Hitler and the Nazis grabbed with both hands. Hughes further distinguished himself by telling the Japanese (who had been our allies in WWI) that they were subhuman, convincing them that the only way they could avoid being conquered by the West would be to have their own empire, inflicting fathomless misery on the Chinese, Manchurians and Koreans in their ''co-prosperity sphere''. When Japan's military government later joined the Fascist Axis the die was cast for the next war being a global conflagration, which it duly was.

Everywhere, the troops returning from WWI, fed up with war and seething at the politicians who sent them to fight, were organising in opposition to the destitution and unemployment that greeted them, only to be attacked by police in the ''Lands fit for Heroes''. And the 1918 flu epidemic killed more than the war.

John Maynard Keynes actually predicted the consequences of the settlement forced on Germany in 1919, but was ignored. The war debt crippled the world economy for years, and the social impact of countless maimed and traumatised war veterans, and the grieving families of the slain, changed both the demographic and emotional characteristics of Australia for years to come. Those countless war memorials in parks, workplaces and town halls, bear mute witness to the devastation wrought by the impact of 60,000 Australian deaths and many more injured.

Moving to 11/11 1975, the Whitlam dismissal was the culmination of efforts by the ''natural rulers'' to break the Labor seizure of the Treasury benches in 1972 by stacking the Senate with hostile replacements for ALP senators deceased or resigned, then constantly forcing elections by refusing to pass legislation. November 11 saw the toadying drunk playing a Gilbert & Sullivan governor-general character sack the government after the Senate blocked the budget … just because they could.

The Nation's Prefect, Malcolm Fraser, announced that sport would replace politics on the front pages of the newspapers and the press barons obliged. The populace duly voted for sport, and the next Labor government in 1983, wary of falling foul of the power elite, buckled at every opportunity when purported ALP policy conflicted with vested interests and corporate greed.

Setting about its self-appointed task – without electoral endorsement – of asset-stripping the nation to the benefit of the global corporate caste, it came as no surprise when, in 1996, the electorate decided to replace a superficially progressive right-wing governing party with one that had all the trappings of real conservatism, along with a bunch of campaign promises best described as deliberate, premeditated lies cynically designed to mislead voters.

The downward spiral of civil society into a cesspit of fear, moral panic and authoritarian despotism under the Howard Government has exploited ignorance to wedge and polarise the voting public. Blatant lying has become the normal political discourse from Howard and his ministers. With the creation of a police security state to attack all opposition to the government's agenda, we will be watching with trepidation what calumnies future November 11s may bring.