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.

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.