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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Brushtail Graphics

Work, Family, Nation
Gillard and Abbott race to the bottom

2 August 2010

This, surely, is the most depressing election in living memory, I thought, as I sat in the Brushtail Café, trying to warm myself with a long black and scratching through the papers.

On the mainstream side it’s a ghastly choice between  a gibbering obscurantist clown who’d introduce a theocracy if he got half a chance and a smooth-talking, dog-whistling, Labor-faker. Both are foreign policy reactionaries and slavish supporters of the US alliance and the Zionist project.

Gillard and Abbott are political opportunists of the modern, trained-for-politics, variety. Abbott was one of those who, while still a student, had real trouble deciding which of the two mainstream parties he’d join. With his ultra-conservative  Catholic views, he’d have been quite at home in the NSW Right, but the coin must have fallen the other way up. Gillard started on the Young Labor student “left”, and made her name fighting genuine campus left-wingers. With the politics she’s ended up with, she might as well have joined the Young Libs.

As much as Gillard claims she doesn’t want to see Howard’s anti-worker laws return, Labor’s “Fair Work” industrial relations regime ain’t much different to Howard’s WorkChoices and Gillard has taken great delight in cracking down on industry-wide bargaining and Fair Work virtually outlaws low-paid workers from taking industrial action.

Nor, after Gillard’s record on education, can we expect many teachers  – traditionally an ALP demographic – from voting Labor. In fact the whole working intelligencia is likely to vote Greens 1 and if Labor gets back, it will be on Green preferences. 

On the other side of the fake divide, not a few Liberals must be terrified that Abbott could become Prime Minister. If there’s any good to come out of the Rudd assassination it’s that we actually don’t live in a presidential system and that the PM can be disposed of in the blink of an eye.  If the Gods are kind to us, Rudd’s demise will set a precedent and the Libs will quickly knife Abbott in favour of somebody half-rational like Joe Hockey or even Malcolm Turnbull. We should be so lucky.

As for Gillard, well, the best comment might be an anonymous image currently circulating by email. It looked oddly familiar so I had recourse to Professor Google’s image search facility and confirmed that it’s based on a Second World War poster issued by the French collaborationist Vichy regime. Gillard’s face has been substituted for Marshall Petain’s. Across the bottom a group of young people stride forward with banners aloft. In the original they’re French flags, but the Gillard version has a couple of young men in military uniform carrying big US and Israeli flags while a boy scout in short pants waves a very much smaller Australian flag. “Australian! We are partners in the New World Order” the slogan reads.

It wasn’t so much this, but the slogan “Work, Family, Nation” at the top that made me hoot with laughter. This was the mantra  of Marshall Petain’s regime – their counter to the famously subversive “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”, of the French republics. I laughed because, when I’d listened to Gillard’s acceptance speech – a farrago of lies and hollow corporatist slogans – I’d spontaneously wondered whether she was channeling Petain or maybe, even worse,  the addled old Marshall’s vile prime minister, Pierre Laval.

Like Gillard, Laval had started off on the left but moved to the right. He was elected to parliament in 1903 as a Socialist but he slide over to the conservative right after the First World War. The joke was that this wasn’t surprising as Laval reads the same from the left or the right. Laval was a career politician who evolved as a master of the deft political work-around, of the realpolitik solution that always seemed to favour the powerful. It was as foreign minister that he first came to international attention when, together with Britain’s Conservative foreign minister Samuel Hoare, he tried to broker a deal that virtually rubber-stamped Mussolini’s brutal conquest of Ethiopia. Public outrage forced both men’s resignation so  Laval went back to building a media empire and after the Nazi defeat of France in 1940 he became head of the puppet Vichy government. 

By 1942 Laval was little more than an agent of the Nazis. He acquiesced in the deportation of the Jews, sent hundreds of thousands of young Frenchmen to work in German factories and headed up the brutal pro-Nazi militia, the Milice. He was arrested in1945, and shot after a perfunctory trial.