For pity is the virtue of the law

Image: Lady Justice – William Cho/Creative Commons

For pity is the virtue of the law, 

And none but tyrants use it cruelly.

Shakespeare, Timon of Athens

Alcibiades, 3.5.10

Once upon a time a political leader said: “No one is above the law in this country…There is a process to be followed.”

I choose here to forego the naming of that leader. My interest lies in the discussion of significances.

“Which law are you talking about?” you may ask. Is obedience to every law a moral duty? 

Well this post has some tests for you.

1.The German Enabling Law 1933

On the 23 March 1933, Hitler introduced the Enabling Law to the Reichstag. This law gave Hitler the right to rule by decree rather than by laws passed through the Reichstag and the president. It was a legitimate enactment of its time, duly passed by the German parliament.

The Law: Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich: To Remedy the Distress of the People and the Reich

Der Reichstag hat das folgende Gesetz beschlossen, das mit Zustimmung des Reichsrats hiermit verkündet wird, nachdem festgestellt ist, daß die Erfordernisse verfassungsändernder Gesetzgebung erfüllt sind:

The Reichstag has enacted the following law, which is hereby proclaimed with the assent of the Reichsrat, it having been established that the requirements for a constitutional amendment have been fulfilled:

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enabling_Act_of_1933 6/11/19

Many people disobeyed this law. Tortured people. Dead people.

Here are some famous words from Pastor Martin Niemöller, appropriate for us at this point in time:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

So where would we stand with this law if it were passed today?

Or what about this example?

2. The Carlsbad Decrees

An attack on university and school free-thinking, the Carlsbad Decrees were a set of laws passed by the German Confederation in 1819. The Decrees were motivated by fear of insurrection. The French Revolution of 1789 and the Napoleonic Wars  were stark memories in August,1819. So Klemens, Prince von Metternich and his political colleagues aggressively decided to punish dissent and so guard against a repetition of 1789.

Germany as a unified, single nation did not exist at this time. It was instead a military style confederation including Austria, Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, Mecklenburg, Hanover, Württemberg, Nassau, Baden, Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, and electoral Hesse. Metternich, Austria’s foreign minister, was the dominating force of the group.

It is important now to look at the provisions of the Decrees, you know, laws no one is to be above. Metternich et al. proposed these decrees: (1) that the Diet of the German Confederation (Bund) implement censorship of all periodical publications; (2) that the Burschenschaften or nationalist student clubs, be broken up and schools and universities placed under constant surveillance for dissent; and (3) that a powerful inquisitorial commission be set up at Mainz, to detect and remove conspirators. The decrees were agreed upon by the representatives of the German states on September 20, 1819.

They crushed dissent for many, many years. In 1848 revolution was partly successful in reducing the effect of the the Decrees. At least Metternich resigned and went into exile.

Now comes the vital question. Is obedience to such laws today a moral duty? That is a thought for all of us.

Now here is a third example.

3.The Butler Act: the law against the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools

It is forbidden…to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals…

An Act…prohibiting the teaching of the Evolution Theory in all the Universities, Normals and all other public schools in Tennessee, which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, and to provide penalties for the violations thereof.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butler_Act 7/11/19

One high school science teacher in Tennessee famously defied the Butler Law. John Scopes was indicted in May 1925 for teaching Darwinian science. He was convicted and fined insignificantly at a trial that gave us Inherit the Wind, a notable 1960 Stanley Kramer film and a 1955 play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee.

Source Film: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inherit_the_Wind_(1960_film) 7/11/19

Source Play: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inherit_the_Wind_(play) 7/11/19

Source Scopes Monkey Trial: https://www.bbvaopenmind.com/en/science/bioscience/butler-act-the-law-that-outlawed-evolution/ 6/11/19

So what would you have done if you were in John Scopes’ shoes?

Let us move on. Here is another law for us to think about.

4. Australian Conscription Law 1964

The National Service Act 1964, passed on 24 November, required 20 year old males, if selected, to serve in the Army for a period of twenty four months of continuous service (reduced to eighteen months in 1971), followed by three years in the Reserve. The Defence Act was amended in May 1965 to provide that CMF (Citizen Military Forces) and conscripts could serve overseas. Over 63,000 men were conscripted and over 19,000 served in Vietnam. 15,381 conscripted national servicemen served from 1965 to 1972, sustaining 202 killed and 1,279 wounded.

Source 1: https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/vietnam-moratoriums 7/11/19

Source 2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_history_of_Australia_during_the_Vietnam_War 8/11/19

A young teacher named William White was a great influence on me not only in my position as a teacher but for me as an active demonstrator against the ignominy of Australia’s participation in the invasion of Vietnam.

His Words:

First, I am standing against killing – the taking of human life… Morality, to me, is based on the respect for life. I respect people, I respect their feelings, I respect their property and I respect their equality, on the basic conscientious assumption that they have, as I have, the unquestionable right to live.

Secondly, I am standing against the war itself as a national and international policy. As war, by definition, has always incorporated killing, I would have been opposed to any war on this basis.

On the third front I am opposed to a state’s right to conscript a person, I believe very strongly in democracy and democratic ideals—and I believe that it is in the area of the State’s right over the life of the individual that the difference lies between totalitarian and democratic government. My opposition to conscription, of course, is intensified greatly when the conscription is for military purposes. In fact the National Service Act is the embodiment of what I consider to be morally wrong and, no matter what the consequences, I will never fulfil the terms of the act.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_White_(conscientious_objector) 7/11/19

There are some more words on the Vietnam war worthy of note. Inspiring words.

They belong to a time when political speakers dared to proclaim ideals instead of simply meeting requirements of focus groups. This is some of a speech by the Leader of the Opposition in November 1966, Arthur Calwell:

My fellow Australians. There are many issues in this election which you must consider carefully and well before election day.

I shall state the policy of the Labor Party in regard to most of them tonight, and I will deal with the remainder during the course of the very short campaign of less than three weeks which the Government has allowed.

The most important issue in this campaign is Conscription, the conscription of a section of our twenty year old youths, against their wishes and their wills, to kill or be killed in the undeclared, civil war in Vietnam and the threatened extension of conscription to all twenty year olds and other age groups to increase our unwarranted and unnecessary commitment.

We can prevent all this happening by defeating the menace on next Saturday fortnight.

The Menzies Government made the first blunder over Vietnam nearly two years ago. It blundered equally badly over Suez in 1958. The Holt Government is determined to increase the extent of the Vietnam blunder.

So unimpressed are our men of military age, about the need to fight in the war in Vietnam, that none of them will volunteer. No one can deny this fact; not even our own bellicose Prime Minister.

The Government, having failed to attract volunteers, has resorted to conscription to maintain our army. It asks for your endorsement. I hope you will refuse it most emphatically.

Conscription is immoral, it is unjust and it is a violation of human rights. It must and will be defeated.

Source: https://electionspeeches.moadoph.gov.au/speeches/1966-arthur-calwell 6/11/19

So time now has passed. Knowing what we know today, in a time slip back to 1967, where would you stand with this law?

All right, I confess. Here is a picture of me today wearing my 1970s “moratorium” badge.

Yes it’s me, royciebaby.

Now time for scrutiny of another law.

5. South Africa’s Apartheid Law 1948

This system was called apartheid. Suddenly, a white person and a black person could not marry. Black and white people could not share a table in a restaurant, or even sit together on a bus, and black children and white children were forced to go to different schools.

Source: https://www.ool.co.uk/blog/imprisonment-nelson-mandela/ 7/11/19

What do you think? Would you be above or below this law?

Perhaps Nelson Mandela’s words give the best guidance we can find:

I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.

Nelson Mandela

Source: https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/367338.Nelson_Mandela 7/11/19

After eighteen years of confinement on Robben Island, working at hard labour and being allowed but one visitor every six months, Mandela was finally freed and became South Africa’s first black president.

_______________________

Yet another law draws our attention.

6.The Unlawful Oaths Act 1797

This obscure Act has a weird place in British trade union history. Its use challenges us law abiding citizens.

Really! It is linked despicably to the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

Who were these historic figures?

They were six farm labourers from the village of Tolpuddle who were convicted in 1834 of swearing unlawful oaths and transported to Australia for six years. That conviction is now recognised as a virtual miscarriage of justice. 

The injustice is linked to the British fear of trade unions. Fear has long been a useful propaganda tool of those who fashion harsh laws.

In 1799 and 1800, the Combination Acts (anti trade union laws) had forbidden “combining” or organising to gain better working conditions, and were laws created partly because of political fear generated by the French Revolution. In 1824, the Combination Acts were repealed due to their unpopularity and replaced with the Combinations of Workmen Act of 1825. This law legalised trade unions but severely controlled their activities.

In 1833, six poorly paid labourers from Tolpuddle, a village seven miles north east of Dorchester on the River Trent, formed the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers to agitate for relief from pathetic low wages. Current wages were seven shillings a week and reduction to six shillings was imminent. Their aim was ten shillings.

William Lamb, Second Viscount Melbourne, Home Secretary at the time, was particularly hostile towards trade unions, and seems to have seen the six villagers from Tolpuddle as convenient scapegoats to inhibit future combinations. So George Loveless, a Methodist preacher and the  leader, his brother James, James Hammett, James Brine, Thomas Standfield and Thomas’s son John, were relentlessly pursued by officers of the law.

The Workmen Act of 1825 made prosecution difficult. So the prosecutors turned to an archaic naval law designed to prevent mutiny: the Unlawful Oaths Act of 1797. This did the job as the six men had sworn an oath to protect the Friendly Society, so the humble labourers were successfully sentenced to transportation for six years in the Australian colony.

Transportation to Australia was a very harsh punishment. The voyage was dangerous and convict life was a cruel imposition. There was strong popular agitation in England in support of the Martyrs. A thousand fold petition was lodged with parliament.

After three years of this popular support, the men were allowed to return home with pardons and with heroic status – 1837-1839.


Source 1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tolpuddle_Martyrs 8/11/19

Source 2: https://www.tolpuddlemartyrs.org.uk/welcome 8/11/19

So what do you think? The Unlawful Oaths Act of 1797 – a law to be obeyed in all circumstances? Had anyone the right to be above this law?

_______________________________________

Perhaps now this is a good place to share some philosophical points of view.

Here is the first.

If we acknowledge that the rule of law IS important, let us say the alternative to chaos, what then are the desired characteristics of any law passed?

For strong advice I recommend a visit to Australia’s Magna Carta Institute .

Here from me are some of the characteristics of the good law, based on my visit to the Magna Carta Institute.

  • The legislature, executive and judiciary must be separate.
  • Open and transparent laws must be made by elected representatives of the majority of the population.
  • Criticism of the law and administration will be free and open through assembly without fear.
  • No one is above the law if it is applied openly and free of fear.
  • The law is to be known and available to all so all can comply.
  • There will be no torture and fair government litigant rules must apply.
  • The legal system will be independent, impartial, open and transparent and deliver a just and prompt trial.
  • All accused are presumed innocent until guilt is proven, and may remain silent without incrimination.
  • No one can be prosecuted, civilly or criminally, for any crime not part of the law at the time of committal.
  • No one is subject adversely to a retrospective change of the law.

Now we come to a second philosophical point. It relates to a saying that is a standard part of legal studies:

Lex iniusta non est lex (An unjust law is no law at all)

Saint Augustine’s famous maxim calls out to us in the light of the laws we have discussed in this post. I leave it to you to decide.

So here I stand, thinking about the realities of the rule of law.

Maybe times will arise in the future when we feel duty bound to defy convention.

Let us hope that the consequences of our actions, whatever they may be, will lead to happier lives and peace of mind.

This?

Image: Creative Commons https://www.africmil.org/tag/unicef/ 9/11/19

Or This?

Image: Creative Commons  https://thenounproject.com/term/injustice/89997/

royciebaby

Let us shut our eyes and talk about the weather…

Image Source: Creative Commons: unsplash.com

Once upon a time there was a Weatherman. He was a friendly fellow, unimposing but trustworthy. People listened to his words with respect and planned their future accordingly.

Like warmth in winter or a cool breeze in summer he was always a welcome part of any day. His persona reached out to people as part of a traditional way of life. His was a trusted voice of the seasons.

Then suddenly things changed. In the twinkling of a bloodshot eye this scion of a reputable family all at once lost his reputation. He became a blackguard, a villain, a malefactor, a gangster without a gun. 

With frightening speed respect turned into disdain. Savage words molested him.

Lies were said to leave his mouth like fleas in a medieval plague. His judgement was seen as contaminated by myth and non sequiturs. He was anti social, confirmed by the masses as a destroyer of jobs.

Who were the Weatherman’s assassins?

You may be wondering about the precise causes of this sweeping change in the Weatherman’s destiny. Well, that change has a lot to do with shadowy forces dedicated to maligning science. Look – I’ll show you.

They cooked the science to make this thing look as if the science was settled, when all the time of course we knew it was not.

United States Senator Jim Inhoffe,

I’ve instinctively known this from the get-go, from 20 years ago! The whole thing is made up, and the reason I know it is because liberals are behind it! When they’re pushing something, folks, it’s always bogus. 

Rush Hudson Limbaugh

Ah the poor Weatherman! Such a dutiful soul he was. Intent on service. Careful in his ways. Meticulous. Always pleased to be an active source of information. 

How sad the tempest of scorn has made him! Self harm is in his mind. Reputations can be so vulnerable, especially when they interfere with large scale business planning. Words can be takeover bids. Here are some more examples.

Nobody can argue that there isn’t climate change. The climate’s been changing since time immemorial.

Do I believe there is global warming? No, I believe it’s all a load of bullshit. But it’s amazing the way the whole fucking eco-warriors and the media have changed. It used to be global warming, but now, when global temperatures haven’t risen in the past 12 years, they say ‘climate change’.

Well, hang on, we’ve had an ice age. We’ve also had a couple of very hot spells during the Middle Ages, so nobody can deny climate change. But there’s absolutely no link between man-made carbon, which contributes less than 2% of total carbon emissions [and climate change].

Michael O’Leary, Boss of Ryanair in 2010

“Listen to me,” says another seer with language queer, “climate change science is absolute crap.”

Reference: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-10/tony-abbott-climate-claims-dont-add-up/9034204 9/10/19

Another dignitary flaunts a lump of coal didactically in a very public place – a devious alliance.

Image Source: https://10daily.com.au/news/politics/a180903atv/scott-morrison-on-that-time-he-carted-coal-into-parliament-20180903 22/10/19

Then there is a voice from on high – very high – piercing the air with such nonsense a brain seems missing:

I believe that there’s a change in weather, and I think it changes both ways…Don’t forget it used to be called global warming. That wasn’t working. Then it was called climate change. Now it’s actually called extreme weather, because with extreme weather, you can’t miss.

No need to write the name

History is not spared by some as a tool of scepticism.

Carbon pricing harkens back to the idea, you know, that Massachusetts had to deal with, the witchcraft trials. The idea that witches change the weather. Now they’re claiming SUVs and our coal plants are changing the weather

Marc Morano

Source: https://www.desmogblog.com/marc-morano 22/10/19

The efficient market hypothesis underlies much climate scepticism.

When economies get richer they not only make people wealthier, they generally provide immense environmental benefits. And so if you actually believe, if someone actually believes that global warming is a crisis that must be addressed…I think it would be much better to free up the economy and get rid of the EPA rules and a lot of the Department of Energy programs and let the economy boom forward.

Myron Ebell

Source: https://www.businessinsider.com.au/trump-epa-climate-science-myron-ebell-2016-11?r=US&IR=T 22/10/19

What are these people whose words I quote, these sellers of doubt?

Why, they are intruders consciously maligning reality with a purpose. They have a mission statement to retain and promote destructive, established industries.. They tempt lawmakers with the profits from self interest.

What do they do to me?

They shake me. They conjure outbursts from me. They revive words I have found in my past, and they cause me to implode mentally.

Like this, with George Orwell and 1984:

The heresy of heresies was common sense.

war is peace

freedom is slavery

ignorance is strength

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

They re-link me to the Worldly Goods of the Everyman I once studied at university …

Everyman: Yet in my mind a thing there is;

All my life I have loved riches;

If that my good now help me might,

He would make my heart full light.

I will speak to him in this distress. –

Where art thou, my Goods and riches?

Goods:  Who calleth me? Everyman? What hast thou hast!

I lie here in corners, trussed and piled so high,

And in chest I am locked so fast,

Also sacked in bags, thou mayst see with thine eye,

I cannot stir; in packs low I lie.

What would ye have, lightly me say?

Everyman: Come hither, Goods, in all the hast thou may,

For of counsel I must desire thee.

Goods: Sir, and ye in the world have trouble or adversity,

That can I help you to remedy shortly.

Everyman: It is another disease that grieveth me;

In this world it is not, I tell thee so.

I am sent for another way to go,

To give a straight account general

Before the highest Jupiter of all;

And all my life I have had joy and pleasure in thee.

Therefore I pray thee go with me,

For, peradventure, thou mayst before God Almighty

My reckoning help to clean and purify;

For it is said ever among,

That money maketh all right that is wrong.

Goods: Nay, Everyman, I sing another song,

I follow no man in such voyages;

For and I went with thee

Thou shouldst fare much the worse for me;

For because on me thou did set thy hand,

Thy reckoning I have made blotted and blind,

That thine account thou cannot make truly;

And that hast thou for the love of me.

Everyman: That would grieve me full sore,

When I should come to that fearful answer.

Up, let us go thither together.

Goods: Nay, not so, I am, to brittle, I may not endure;

I will follow no man one foot, be ye sure.

Everyman: Alas, I have thee loved, and had great pleasure

All my life-days on good and treasure.

Goods: That is to thy damnation without lesing,

For my love is contrary to the love everlasting.

But if thou had loved moderately during,

As, to the poor give part of me,

Then shouldst thou not in this dolour be,

Nor in this great sorrow care.

Everyman: Lo, now was I deceived or was I ware,

And all may wyte* my spending time. *blame

Goods: What, weenest thou that I am thine?

Everyman: I had wend so.

Goods: Nay, Everyman, say no;

As for a while I was lent thee,

A season thou hast had me in prosperity;

My condition is man’s soul to kill;

If I save one, a thousand I do spill;

Weenest thou that I will follow thee?

Nay, from this world, not verrily.

Everyman: I had wend otherwise.

Goods: Therefore to thy soul Good is a thief;

For when thou art dead, this is my guise

Another to deceive in the same wise

As I have done thee, and all to his soul’s reprief.

Everyman: O false Good, cursed thou be!

Thou traitor to God, that hast deceived me,

And caught me in thy snare.

Goods: Marry, thou brought thyself in care,

Whereof I am glad,

I must needs laugh, I cannot be sad.

Everyman: Ah, Good, thou hast had long my heartly love;

I gave thee that which should be the Lord’s above.

But wilt thou not go with me in deed?

I pray thee truth to say.

Goods:  No, so God me speed,

Therefore farewell, and have good day.

Do you get what I mean? The speakers I criticise, like Everyman, are obsessed with worldly goods! We must not let crass loyalty to what we own destroy the world.

The effect on me of those climate deniers is cataclysmic. So the brilliant Edgar Allan Poe’s words come back and haunt me thus…

From that chamber, and from that mansion, I fled aghast. The storm was still abroad in all its wrath as I found myself crossing the old causeway. Suddenly there shot along the path a wild light, and I turned to see whence a gleam so unusual could have issued; for the vast house and its shadows were alone behind me. The radiance was that of the full, setting, and blood-red moon which now shone vividly through that once barely-discernible fissure of which I have before spoken as extending from the roof of the building, in a zig-zag direction, to the base. While I gazed, this fissure rapidly widened –there came a fierce breath of the whirlwind –the entire orb of the satellite burst at once upon my sight –my brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder –there was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters –and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the “HOUSE OF USHER.”

The sceptics can also make me visit Creative Commons…

Source: Creative Commons https://glacierhub.org/author/kristin-hogue/ 18/10/19

Or cause me to seek out better opinions…

The Margaret Thatcher speech at the Second World Climate Conference on Tuesday November 6, 1990 comes to mind here. It is a view so nobly different from her later stand. No iron from her. Maybe irony.

But the threat to our world comes not only from tyrants and their tanks. It can be more insidious though less visible. The danger of global warming is as yet unseen, but real enough for us to make changes and sacrifices, so that we do not live at the expense of future generations.

Our ability to come together to stop or limit damage to the world’s environment will be perhaps the greatest test of how far we can act as a world community. No-one should under-estimate the imagination that will be required, nor the scientific effort, nor the unprecedented co-operation we shall have to show. We shall need statesmanship of a rare order. It’s because we know that, that we are here today.

[MAN AND NATURE: OUT OF BALANCE]

For two centuries, since the Age of the Enlightenment, we assumed that whatever the advance of science, whatever the economic development, whatever the increase in human numbers, the world would go on much the same. That was progress. And that was what we wanted.

Now we know that this is no longer true.

We have become more and more aware of the growing imbalance between our species and other species, between population and resources, between humankind and the natural order of which we are part.

In recent years, we have been playing with the conditions of the life we know on the surface of our planet. We have cared too little for our seas, our forests and our land. We have treated the air and the oceans like a dustbin. We have come to realise that man’s activities and numbers threaten to upset the biological balance which we have taken for granted and on which human life depends.

We must remember our duty to Nature before it is too late. That duty is constant. It is never completed. It lives on as we breathe. It endures as we eat and sleep, work and rest, as we are born and as we pass away. The duty to Nature will remain long after our own endeavours have brought peace to the Middle East. It will weigh on our shoulders for as long as we wish to dwell on a living and thriving planet, and hand it on to our children and theirs. 

Source: https://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/108237 9/10/19

Now here is Margaret Thatcher with a different voice:

So in a speech to scientists in 1990 I observed: whatever international action we agree upon to deal with environmental problems, we must enable all our economies to grow and develop because without growth you cannot generate the wealth required to pay for the protection of the environment.

Wow! What a reversal by the Baroness. Why was this so?

Consequences?

Source: Creative Commons https://glacierhub.org/author/kristin-hogue/ 18/10/19

Forgive my ramblings though if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. But to end, I must try to be compos mentis.

Here’s To The Weatherman

Poor lad. The jumbo jet pilot trusts him with his life. The coal baron mangles him with contempt.

Closing Words

An unbelieved truth can hurt a man much more than a lie. It takes great courage to back truth unacceptable to our times. There’s a punishment for it, and it’s usually crucifixion. 

John Steinbeck, East of Eden

As to the weather – just relax. Everything’s fine.

Image: Creative Commons Jeff Atwood June 4, 2009

royciebaby

My Latest Book

Dear Friends, sorry to have been away for a while. I have just published this book with Amazon: An Advanced Survival Guide For Dishonest Political Bastards. I started the book with a review by a fictitious senior lecturer from Sydney University writing (fictitiously) in The Sydney Morning Herald.

I thought the “review” might be readable on my web site so here it is. This second book is a sequel to one published in 2005 without the “Advanced.” The new book will be available in e-form and paperback in a few days. Thanks for your visit.

Critical Review

Dr Adrian Arbiter’s Critique*

Royce Levi, in his Advanced Survival Guide, has provided an ironic historical satire about political behaviour in the modern world. To do this the writer adopts an assumed right wing persona and proceeds to praise devotedly “approved” historical figures as ideal role models. These models of political behaviour are certainly not angels. To the mocking writer they are.

They notably include moguls Joseph Pulitzer, Randolph Hearst and Edward Bernays as well as Australia’s highly successful John Howard and another prime minister Harold Holt. History is the key: political mores are linked to past events in both peace and war. The order in the House is actually organised disorder tied to political agendas.

There is a touch of parody in the writing. The so-called “advice” consistently reeks of extreme, ruthless, political gamesmanship. Big tongue in big cheek.

The how to do it subject matter is presented in roughly historical order, with a pointed warning at the head of Chapter1. There we are told that “Every House of Government is a theatre of pretence where myths and legends are acted out in the masks and costumes of  false reality.” 

We meet first Joseph Pulitzer, “giant of influence,” and “power broker extraordinaire.” His media magic, involving “stunts, exposés, ‘Crusades,’ innovative illustrations, and sensationalism,” is portrayed as a source of immense power. Note the difference between a democrat and a plutocrat: people power versus rich power. We meet the powerful Greek word: kratos: ‘power.’ The Pulitzer Prize, still ranking as one of the highest social achievements, is even today still an indication of Pulitzer’s power.

Then we find Randolph Hearst, via what is known as the Yellow Press, providing us with more strategies of political power. Newsman Hearst is presented as a powerful role model closely linked to success in politics. “His papers attacked President McKinley, even suggesting he be removed from office by force. In 1901, at the height of the Hearst abuse, McKinley was assassinated.”

The Advanced Survival Guide also delves into the life of the omnipotent Edward Bernays. Much is made of this man’s importance, his extensive impact on generations of humanity. “It was Bernays’ vast personal influence, his mind control of the masses, that determined so much of the shape of the twentieth century. “

It is in the mind games of politics that Bernays is declared indispensable. The man’s own words provide the evidence: “…we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons … who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” This is golden guidance for politicians who are au fait with mind control populism.

Attention to the main figures above is far from the complete story. The text abounds in allusions to other mind play, ranging from Plato and his cave (see Chapter 12 p. 42 ) to Nixon’s “silent majority.” The text is the author’s personal journey, rich in its variety and often surprising. One of the surprises is the array of Des Carts axioms such as “as fit as a diddle,” scattered throughout the text. Approval from the French philosopher René Descartes seems unlikely.

Extensive referencing is another feature of the book. Sources are meticulously recorded. One can assume that because this is a “guide,” the author’s intent is to encourage in the probationary politicians expansive and rigorous reading. Web sites as well as specific texts are thus referenced.

The Epilogue is a puzzle. At first sight it seems to be an off-topic collection of irrelevancies. Maybe, we are told, the supplement comes via social media from a recently retired prime minister. At the beginning and end of the Epilogue however, there are significant editorial notes. They point out that politicians are dealers in off-topic subjects. “Skill with talking to fill out time is standard political practice. At the extreme level is the American filibuster, but far more common is the long-winded beside-the-point speech in defence of disastrous policies.” 

Apart from the entertainment value of many of the Epilogue’s items, the author seems to be deliberately having fun with sayings. He provides his own defence: “Political methodology depends, indeed thrives on glib-tongued, fluent irrelevancies that hide ill-timed, unsuitable or inconvenient reality.” The variety makes interesting reading.

We discover via the narrative of this text, a new political term: in-for-a-structure. “It refers to the very common practice of selling off state property or services and then using the funds to build tall buildings. This creates the illusion (or is it delusion?) of creative power. As the writer puts it, “No negatives. Do it. Sell off the family jewels and look masterly.”

The tone of the writing seems to deserve my final words – words about its jocular spirit. Humour and satire have long been linked to each other. Lemuel Gulliver’s (Jonathan Swift’s) adventures are one of the best examples of this. 

Mock heroic urgings abound in the text. An example: “Your task is to use Bernays on the reasoning-impaired masses and, through them, win the power and the glory O so ready and waiting for YOU…We use ’em! Confuse ’em! Enthuse ’em! Advance triumphant you partisan know-it-alls. Go! Go! Go! Fool the fools.” 

With those words from the text I leave you to your own reading.  Adrian Arbiter.

___________________________________

  • Dr Adrian Arbiter is a fictitious Senior Lecturer in Politics at Sydney University writing in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Trust Me I’m A Politician

(An essay revised in January 2019)

Politics is in the air just now. When is it not?

A typical piece of advice from the Survival Guide For Dishonest Political Bastards

I’ve been thinking of all the votes I’ve cast during my 85 years. Suddenly I found myself hunting up this list of dubious political statements, possibly to help my fellow voters make better judgements. So there we are. Look what I’ve found.

WORDS THAT LINGER – AND FINGER

If you are going to lie, you go to jail for the lie rather than the crime. So believe me, don’t ever lie. Richard Nixon April, 1973 advice to a colleague

No way will the GST be part of our policy. Never ever; it’s dead. John Howard in 1995, one year before he was elected and a little later introduced the GST.

I don’t want in Australia people who would throw their own children into the sea. I don’t. There’s something for me incompatible between somebody who claims to be a refugee and somebody who would throw their own child into the sea. It offends the natural instincts of protection and delivering security and safety to your children. John Howard, 2001.

A number of people that jumped overboard and have had to be rescued, and more disturbingly a number of children have been thrown overboard. I regard these as some of the most disturbing practices that I have come across in the time that I have been involved in public life, clearly planned and premeditated. I imagine the sorts of children who would be thrown would be those who could be readily lifted and tossed without any objection from them. Minister Philip Ruddock, 2001.

Fiction Proven Stranger Than Truth!

But I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I’m going to say this again. I did not have sexual relations with that woman. Miss Lewenski. I never told anybody to lie. Not a single time. Never. These allegations are false. And I’m going to go back to work for the American people. Thank you. President Bill Clinton, 26 January, 1998.

Hussein … spends his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies. Madeline Albright, Nov. 10, 1999 Clinton Secretary of State.

The takeover of South Vietnam would be a direct military threat to Australia and all the countries of South and South-East Asia. It must be seen as a part of a thrust by Communist China between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. R G Menzies, 1965. Really!

It is good contextual information; it can’t be used as league tables. Julia Gillard in March, 2017 on the NAPLAN test.

The nineteenth century American Party, also known as the Know- Nothing Party because members were forbidden to reveal its details, has echoes in our present world.

The Know-Nothing Platform 1856 

(1) Repeal of all Naturalisation Laws.

(2) None but Americans for office.

(3) A pure American Common School system.

(4) War to the hilt on political Romanism.

(5) Opposition to the formation of Military Companies, composed of Foreigners.

(6) The advocacy of a sound, healthy and safe Nationality.

(7) Hostility to all Papal influences, when brought to bear against the Republic.

(8) American Constitutions & American sentiments.

(9) More stringent & effective Emigration Laws.

(10) The amplest protection to Protestant Interests.

(11) The doctrines of the revered Washington.

(12) The sending back of all foreign paupers.

(13) Formation of societies to protect American interests.

(14) Eternal enmity to all those who attempt to carry out the principles of a foreign Church or State.

(15) Our Country, our whole Country, and nothing but our Country.

(16) Finally – American Laws, and American legislation; and death to all foreign influences, whether in high places or low!

Source:  11/12/2017.

Whole Document SourceThe Duke University Special Collections Library: 11/12/2017.

South Vietnam would become a Communist State, and the lives and security of millions who have resisted Communism would be in jeopardy.

The impact of our complete withdrawal, as proposed by the Labor Party, would be felt throughout South-East Asia. We, too, would come under threat. Harold Holt, 1966 – election speech.

In the actions we have now taken we are not concerned to stop Egypt, but to stop war. None the less, it is a fact that there is no Middle Eastern problem at present which could not have been settled or bettered but for the hostile and irresponsible policies of Egypt in recent years, and there is no hope of a general settlement of the many outstanding problems in that area so long as Egyptian propaganda and policy continues its present line of violence. Anthony Eden, 31 October 1956 justifying the disastrous Suez invasion.

Are there not other alternatives than sending our armies to chew barbed wire in Flanders? I have it in me to be a successful soldier. I can visualise great movements and combinations. Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, 1914 aged 40, just before he initiated the disaster of Gallipoli.

*****

To end on a lighter note I conclude this little exposé with a reference to political words of a different kind: creative abuse. I have found no better exponent than

Paul Keating.

Peter Costello was “all tip and no iceberg”, Andrew Peacock an “intellectual rust-bucket”, and Wilson “Iron Bar” Tuckey a “stupid, foul-mouthed grub”. He famously called his 1993 opponent John Hewson, “a feral abacus” with a performance “like being flogged with warm lettuce”, and in saying to him “I want to do you slowly”, delivered a taunt that still echoes in the dark corridors of the Australian political imagination. Keating may have lost the election to Howard in 1996 but one suspects that Keating’s special brand of spoken bastardry will endure beyond any memory of Howard’s words. What, after all, do a majority of votes matter, when your opponent has described you to history as a “mangy maggot”, “the old desiccated coconut”, “araldited to the seat” and a “dead carcass, swinging in the breeze”?

As to the ethics of this, you can decide. Source

So there you have it; just my little collection of political dalliances with the truth, garnished with some Keating sauce. I hope I haven’t given you indigestion. R.

_________________________________________

Some years ago I tried to do something about all of this deception. I wrote the little book below. It was the subject of two interviews on the ABC and raised a laugh there and at other places.

Bastards Cover

It was fun to write. Greg Gaul is a masterly cartoonist who caught my ideas so cleverly.

One of many cartoons in the book

I have also given it to some political friends with a waiver saying they did not need it. If you want a copy, there are still some left. The price is $12.50 AU author signed and posted free anywhere in the world. If you want it, just press the PayPal button.

Survival Guide

Tongue in cheek advice to would be politicians to ensure their survival in the present day political climate.

A$12.50

Thanks for your company here,

royciebaby.

A Different History

How Nincompoops Destroyed

The Roman Empire  

New Research Reveals A Distorted History

The Roman Empire is not what it used to be. In fact, it doesn’t exist anymore. Why is this so? The answer: because idiots destroyed it.

Exceptionalism in Rome Was Based Merely On Symbols. 

Ancient Romans were constantly urged to make Rome great. One idolised symbol used in this process: the fasces. This was an imperial token of power carried by lictors in front of magistrates. It was a bundle of sticks including an axe with its handle visible, indicating uncontrolled power over life and death. A lictor was a Roman CIA type who was a bodyguard. He had absolute power. Absolute power corrupts as the loot will lie.

Non Compos Mentis Roman Economists Wrought Decay With False Prophesies.

Expand or die was the cry. The numbskull Roman reasoners fostered the corporate greed of patrician families and ignored all social service needs of the poor. Ruthless Roman creditors had free reign with massive interest and power over debtors. Political life was thus dominated by the patrician nerd 1% – the greedy corporate clans promoting a truly decadent social agenda. Empty-headed Emperors minted their own coins stamped with their own beautified images and used them as mere propaganda tools. The aim was to lift the rulers’ fictitious status and highlight their wealth and importance. The ancient Roman economy was thus often unstable. Airhead Emperors also funded attention-getting imperial projects such as public building works, or fostered costly wars whose dead heroes were lavishly praised to encourage more young men to die bravely when needed.

Roman Money Was The Route Of All Evil.

For no deity is held in such reverence amongst us as Wealth; though as yet, O baneful money, thou hast no temple of thine own; not yet have we reared altars to Money in like manner as we worship Peace and Honour, Victory and Virtue  ― Juvenal, The Sixteen Satires

Take for instance Marcus Licinius Crassus (Born c. 115 BCE—died 53 BCE). He was a real estate agent of great wealth who inherited grandly from his father. He spoke blandly in small, unprovable epithets, and had a sex scandal in his CV. A key source of his wealth and power was his entrepreneurialism – much copied in his time. Also an ability to wage war we now know was part of his earning capacity as well as his political influence. In 60 BCE Crassus formed a powerful Trust with Pompey and Caesar to create the powerful corporation FTI (First Triumvirate Inc.) Crassus entered this expansive coalition mainly to promote passing of laws helpful to his investment deals in Asia. It was seizure of power by a corporate cabal. To cap all his self interest the fool eventually got himself killed in a battle.

“What’s infamy matter if you keep your fortune?” ― Juvenal, The Sixteen Satires


A Wall Did Not Stop The Fall.

The Emperor simpleton Hadrian ordered in Britain a wall in 117 C E. It took three Roman Legions — or 15,000 men — six years to complete. 300 years later, in 410 CE, the Romans were gone. Today what’s left of the wall anachronism is a tourist site. In knucklehead Hadrian’s day the pretentious divider was 73 miles long, three meters wide and six plus meters high. All you needed to do however, to make it useless, was walk 74 miles.

Greedy Fools Built Vast Stadiums For Profit Plus Spectacle. 

Airhead patrician corporations built them for conspicuous glory. They gathered popular teams of money-motivated, death-defying gladiators to fight for that glory. The violence raged accompanied by wild cheering in these giant arenas. The bonehead developers got money from huge passing parades of spectators. In the contests, losing was death and disgrace. Winning was fame and riches. The word arena derives from the Roman word for sand – the sand that was strewn in the fighting places to soak up the blood.  The Colosseum held up to 80,000 rapt Romans. Now, like other similar buildings, it is constantly empty.

Ancient Media Moguls Moulded Rome Towards An Ancient Doom.

Powerful morons helped the ancient society crumble as they manipulated and controlled public minds. For example, the Acta Senatus or minutes of the Senate meetings were kept in public libraries but could be examined by citizens other than Senators only with special permission. Indeed one dunderhead Emperor, Augustus, declared them “classified” and unavailable to the general, mind-dead public. This effectively kept the truth from the masses. A brainless head of state thus promoted social ignorance and ultimate decay.

Jackass Roman Industrialists Polluted Water, Air And Soil. 

This happened especially with the aqueduct construction industry. Jobs with the greedy building moguls were scarce and wages were low, in particular with waste-disposal services. For buildings not linked to a drainage system, a lowly paid worker had to collect waste in clay pots and later sell the pots to farmers. Many plebeians were thus virtual slaves, helping other real slaves to do dirty work.  Obviously age did not weary many of these workers.

Declamatory Dunces Of Ancient Rome Worshipped Coal.

Roman priests used to burn Britain’s coal using the extra heat to honour Minerva, their beloved goddess of wisdom and military triumph. Shady later social conmen continued the worship of coal for financial reasons. The crumbling effect on civilisations has been the same.

Idiot War Mongers Caused The Decline And Fall Of Rome.

Normally a narcissistic male, each halfwit Emperor waged un-winnable wars that deprived the nation of its youth and denarii. Typically the moron believed he was always right. He promptly put to death any critic and spoke in short, easily remembered sentences like,  “I came; I saw; I conquered” to stay within the population’s attention span.

Coda: Words Of A Sane General

Modern wisdom that echoes down the ages

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people…This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower on April 16, 1953

Author’s Note: Any comparisons with crumbling civilisations other than Rome should be taken with a grain of saltpeter.  Royciebaby


Proverbs Beyond Repair

Dear Reader

Been away for a while because I fell down an escalator. Glad to be back.

Here’s a little piece I wrote with one usable hand. Will be fit again soon.

PROVERBS BEYOND REPAIR

A TOTAL MISCELLANY

CONTRIVED BY

Royce Levi

 

Where the loon sits there sit I
Under the moon
And a blighted sky
The words I hear
Are a twisted notion writhing in air
With appropriate commotion

 

Once upon a commotion a principle was born: Pay the Rich To Feed the Poor. The result was jobs for the snobs.

Pump A. Nickel was not a snob. He was a human rhetorician smitten with an itch that turned into a twitch. The twitch occurred in his funeral orations after every three sentences. Poor soul. That twitch sapped his strength.

O so tired was Pumpy! Sleep it is a blessed thing beloved from post to post. He dozed off unwillingly while sheltering in a coffin and was buried in the dead centre. Look before you sleep.

“If at first you don’t exceed, buy, buy, buy again,” said the Right Honourable Pierre Terpsichore-a-Stare. Prime ministers dance vulnerable dances. Dance for your daddy my little laddie you shall have a penny when the vote comes in.

Dancing got the better of Terpsichore. Depression set in. A person is known by the corporation he keeps. A profit is not recognised in his own land. True. Pierre Terpsichore-a-Stare is voted out of office at the next election.

Is the climate really changing? Ask a silly question and you get a silly answer. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool that to speak and remove all doubt. Duty is in the eye of the beholder. Old King Coal was a merry old soul and a merry old soul was he. Anthracite! He’s got the hole world in his hands. Dig me grey-beard loon? Yes. Cheats ever prosper if they have a lobbyist.

“Grime doesn’t pay,” said the scientist. “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” said the sceptic. “It never rains but it pours,” said the weatherman. “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good,” said the denier. The wise owl said, “Let the punishment fit the grime.” It did. A dirty society gets its just deserts.

Tree 13

I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as arboriculture. Money makes the world go round. Money doesn’t grow on trees so cut them down for profit. The unkindest cut of all. How green was my valley is what the chain saw. I’ll drink to that. Absinth makes the heart grow fonder. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die in drought induced wildfires or destructive floods. A load of scrap.

Political axiom: Don’t put all your eggs in the one bastard. The Senate has rejected another bill. East is east, and west is west and never the bandwagons shall meet. Still, it’s better to have shoved and lost than never to have shoved at all. A friend in greed is a friend in need. All’s well that bends well. An eye for an eye and a truth for the booth.

Border protection. All you need is hate. All’s fair in love and war. Banners maketh the man. Old soldiers never die, only young ones. Do undo others as they you would undo. Do as I say, not as I do. War kills babies; a poor workman always blames his tools so don’t throw the bathwater out with the babies.

Any sport in a storm. CEOs of cricket need to agonise young men to keep the sponsors happy. And many a mickle makes the Chief’s muckle. One good term deserves another. The road to Hell is paved with free to air intentions. Money is the route of all evil. Slime goes by so slowly and slime can mean so much advertising. A nerd in the hand is worth two in the bush. That my friends is a woebegone conclusion.

images

Pay up, pay up and play the game.

Tea Break From The Cricket

Poems Through A Glass Starkly

News

  A Word On The Yellow Press

That picture above of the Yellow Kid is linked to the reason we have the current term “Yellow Press.” The cartoon character was the creation of Richard Fenton Outcault who was working in the 1890s in the United States for the extremely racist media mogul Joseph Pulitzer and his New York World. Outcault with his narrative cartoon style is generally regarded as the beginner of newspaper comics.

The Kid was an overtly shallow and uneducated character and spoke in a kind of  uneducated and “immigrant” language. One key aim: denigration. Pulitzer would have been pleased with the colour yellow as he had an intense hatred of Chinese, especially the mid-nineteenth century gold seekers. The head of the Kid was shaved, a common sight in that age of head lice, and he wore a nightshirt that was an inheritance from a sister and on which were written strange, attention getting statements that many thousands of readers took delight in.

Now the story of the Yellow Kid or, to give him his appointed name Mickey Dugan, has a quite startling relevance to our contemporary lives. His adventures were set in a New York Slum – Hogan’s Alley – in a time of widespread poverty and vast social and racial tension. These exploits captured the interest of a multitude. Newspapers largely without real news suddenly were beginning to make a profit – a big profit. Two pennies bought Mickey; to Hell with thinking about worldly matters!

The Yellow Kid was very significantly a distraction from vital news. He sold newspapers and helped change Pulitzer’s insignificant rag into a goldmine of 300,000 circulation. Arm in arm with rape and murder and scandal and war the Kid helped set a news-media pattern that still exists all around us today. The task for Pulitzer and Hearst was not to educate with true, important information but rather to present news selectively and fill the gaps with non sequiturs. That meant attract attention in your market in any way you can.

So today, when chosen samples of worthless and sensational trivialities seize our time and create a vast ignorance of reality, the  name”Yellow Press” is relevant. Mickey Dugan and his world live on.

Randolf Hearst saw the yellow light and stole Outcault from Pulitzer with a higher salary. The Yellow Kid remained the property of Pulitzer (verified by court decision) but another colour achieved similar objectives. But the diversion from reality continued. Other distractions like Buster Brown flourished.

Here is Buster.Buster_Brown_alone_mod_color-1

Attribution: Publisher: New York Herald. Date: May 4, 1902. Artist: Richard F. Outcault.

In contrast to the Yellow Kid, Buster Brown was good looking. Buster Keaton at the time was a child actor so the name was popular. The character was drawn first for Pulitzer but when Outcault transferred to Hearst the character went too as another circulation booster for Pulitzer’s former protege and then his rival. Buster appeared for both magnates but a court decision forbade the use of the name by Hearst. Hearst created many more circulation boosting comic figures. Let us not be too hard on the comics as a distraction. They often entertain after all. It’s non stop murder, rape, scandal and violence including war subject matter that need a line to be drawn. The saddest line of all is always a Siegfried line. What have the media done recently to stop wars?

_________________________________________

An Examination of Testing 

It’s testing time in the madhouse

As the beasties seek to see

If the alphas, gammas or deltas

Deserve a right to be

But the testers have delusions

That illusions must be inclusions

So that all they ever find at best

Is who can do their test

No data on morality in this ordeal hiatus

Just an empty number that proclaims your evil status

Sweet alpha we cannot kiss today for I’m an epsilon

I failed their test and can you guess I am now fit to be spat upon?

So all we humble guinea pigs must make a contribution

While flaws and lies imposed on us have a normal distribution

Someone should write a poem now to expose this dark stupidity

Reliable yes to sort the sheep but what about the validity?

Attribution. Cartoon Source: http://www.thelandscapeoflearning.com/2012/09/please-climb-that-tree.html Date of Visit: 16 October, 2017

_________________________________________

 

 Ad Ventures In The Gloom

Whoops we diddle and take ‘em down

Fiddle the riddle and kindle the middle

Bash the rash and fake the cash

All for the sake of a sale O

Beguile the smile and sell off the Nile

Export the nought to feed the rort

Flog the log till we’re all agog

All for the sake of a sale O

Enchant the egg to fall off the wall

Invent a rent for the incident

Conjure the wise to standardise

All for the sake of a sale O

Walk like a noodle to feed the fake

Peddle a medal to market the rash

Rat the fink so the price will sink

All for the sake of a sale O

Hoodwink the horde but smile the while

Hoax the folks and delude the fool

Inveigle the bagel to feed the greed

All for the sake of a sale O

Outwit the weather and say it’s fine

Pull a fast one on the last one

Cock-a-doodle let us canoodle

All for the sake of a sale O

17 October 2017

images

Attribution: Source Creative Commons; precise origin unknown.

a150_a4

Attribution: Source Creative Commons. Link: https://unclestinky.wordpress.com/category/pop-culture-stench/page/2/ Date: 17/8/2017

After the break, more cricket.

R.

On Teaching and “Productivity”

Some Recent Thoughts

One click  on “TEACHING” below will give you access to the thoughts, and to a poem I wrote soon after I retired in 2004 from a teaching post in a Sydney high school.

TEACHING

Regarding that poem, education ministers and administrators should remember that the students below the test mean are half our future.

***

There are some challenges for teachers with that failing group of students that objective attainments tests do nothing for. The test psychosis in the minds of political administrators just now is courting disaster. I am not saying we don’t need tests. Test teach retest reteach has got to be part of every teacher’s program. What I am against is the tyranny of haloed attainments tests over everything else.
All my best wishes to the teachers of today. I am compassionate and proud that I understand ( to a large extent) what huge sacrifices you make and what difficulties you face.
         Royce

Further to this matter of words

How can we do justice to the importance of words?

We speak. We listen. We write. We read. In all my teaching years I have tried to tell my students that with these deeds we can change the world.

There was a Chinese saying I often shared with those students:

I hear what you say but I see what you do.

Now this leads me towards one human category of power, politics. Politicians’ words and actions have had a vast influence on my life down the years into my eighth decade. They have inspired me, disgusted me, helped me, hurt me, led me to war, brought me brief peace, dismissed me and often flowed from kneeling figures begging for my vote.

Now have you noticed how frequently honourable members use the expression “the bottom line”? It’s an expression taken from profit and loss accounting and I believe it came into first real use c. 1967. I was alive then but, as with so many other things, it was not part of my detailed understanding. But oh my! Do I notice it now?

So many things are “monetised,” to use the YouTube category. Money is the route of all weasels. Education is not vital. The real problem is can we afford it? Same for health, including research. As for climate. Well. Old King Coal was a merry old sole (sic).

And all those weasel words are of extreme importance if you are into shady deals. We now know, for example, the terminology used by the gods of the Watergate affair. Some interesting examples: “correct endeavour,” “correctly impede,” “correct motive,” “political containment.” Each of these we can now recognise in the context of Watergate as a euphemism disguising culpable behaviour.

Another discovery from that time is the presidential coaching of accused staff for survival in the courtroom. These were some of those words: “I don’t remember;” “I can’t recall;” “do not volunteer anything;” “deal only with established facts.”

Two other expressions come into mind as well: “classified” and “business confidentiality.” I have seen “classified” countless times in my lifetime. One example will do. Information on the Phoenix Program was classified during the Vietnam War. We now know that this secretive scheme was responsible for the massacre of at least 20,000 Vietnamese civilians during that war.

What of business confidentiality? I have no real evidence here. Therefore it would be wrong of me to make unsubstantiated claims. But I feel justified in making the following comment. In the light of human misdemeanours documented throughout history, is it not reasonable to ask for something more than a label “business confidentiality” when  misbehaviour could be possible?

I feel pretty sure that some of my readers will know more clearly what I mean and even have access to tangible evidence to set the truth free . . . Ah me! Despite my advanced maturity, my glass is still half full. I just wish proof would be easier to find. Life would be far better if we could trust the powerful.

To end this little sharing of ideas,  I strongly urge you to follow this link. It has helped me better understand the bright and dark side of words. You may find it interesting.

R.

Words are crucial; so study and protect them.

Words.

Loaded pistols said Sartre. Powerful drugs said Kipling.

Yes, the true meanings of words seem to vary in these recent times.  So-called “truth” constantly needs further investigation. This little piece of fiction plays around with that idea.

Dr Yorec VeilPhoto on 22-09-2016 at 7.45 AM

Doctor Veil is a former citizen of Elysium, in the Land Of Two Rivers. Born in hard times within a country where university study was mostly no more than a poverty stricken dream, he broke free of pauperdom by winning scholarships. His rise in Academia was rapid and distinguished, leading him to several teaching posts and awards.

Sadly his former university was destroyed in the Iraq invasion of 2003. Fortunately for mankind he survived and is now a distinguished staff member at Hope University in Brazil. His works and philosophy are now part of a broad canvas.

His most recent missives follow.

***

Snake Oil Sales 1Snake Oil Sales 2Snake Oil Sales 3Snake Oil Sales 4.jpg

Now Some Non-fiction From Me

Recommended Source: Don Watson weaselwords.com.au.

Weasel words are the words of the powerful, the treacherous and the unfaithful, spies, assassins and thieves. . . To speak the words the powerful speak is to obey them, or at least to give up all outward signs of freedom. Don Watson (205 p.1)

I want to share with you some weasel examples. Maybe it will help to explain my contempt.

Once, when applying for a job teaching English to migrants, I asked a CEO if there was a predominant approach to the teaching of essay writing. I needed to know if genre writing was used as well as or instead of traditional methods.

The reply was very brief: world’s best practice. Now what did that answer do for me, a professional seeking to do his job well? Did it mean: “I want to test you not me so I will tell you nothing” ? Did it mean: “I am ignorant actually, so I will use this high sounding language of emptiness to cover my tracks”? Or was that CEO simply under the influence  of Edward Bernays, trying to control me with  Bernaysian manufactured consent ?

You decide. As for me, I did not get that job and went to teach in a university where it was a little harder to cover up the truth. Not always impossible though.

When leaders fire weasel words at us we have a problem. Don Watson sums up weasel power pretty well regarding President Bush, The Younger, and Prime Minister Howard.

Our two leaders have sucked the meaning out of the words . . . They are shells of words: words from which life has gone, facsimiles, frauds, corpses. (loc.cit.)

These shells of words bring power to such rulers. The effect of this power on war and peace is disastrous and on our society catastrophic.

Look what such people have done to the proverbs I learnt as a child. Weasel words below for sale: half price.

Look before you cut and run.

He who hesitates is decruited.

All that glitters is not an accounting irregularity.

A miss is as good as change management.

Fortune favours critical success factors.

Manners maketh the self actualiser.

While there’s life there’s a mission statement.

Actions speak louder than the chattering classes.

Call a spade an action plan.

Give credit where credit is clear evidence.

A picture is worth a thousand absolutely collaborative events.

A change is as good as a capability gap.

A friend in need is a circle of strength.

A pot calling the kettle non-core.

Every dog has its global bulge bracket pedigree.

Two heads are better than a Client Infrastructure Representative (CIR).

What the eye doesn’t see the heart doesn’t disconnect.

Silence is bulletproof.

What you eat today walks and buys-in tomorrow.

As you sow, so shall you drill down.

And pop goes the weasel.

 

Principal Reference: Watson, Don. 2005. Watson’s Dictionary of Weasel Words. Sydney. Random House.