Emails and articles of interest are posted here by John Ray to make them more widely available
"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3
My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.
I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.
Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.
America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course
The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"
Why are Leftists always talking about hate? Because it fills their own hearts
Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left
The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left.
Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.
Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.
The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here
Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies
The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.
Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt
I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful
The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel
"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises
The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.
Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses
Among well-informed people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists hate success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.
A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.
Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.
Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.
Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.
“Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics.” -- C.J. Keyser
"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus
THE FALSIFICATION OF HISTORY HAS DONE MORE TO IMPEDE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT THAN ANY ONE THING KNOWN TO MANKIND -- ROUSSEAU
"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.
Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.
Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance
Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state – capitalism frees them.
MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate.
Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).
The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.
Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.
Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.
IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.
If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!
And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!
The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned
"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.
Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel
Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.
Conservatives, on the other hand could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.
Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists
The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.
Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable
A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931–2005: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."
The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.
"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama
The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges
The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.
The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload
A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here
Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16
People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average black adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.
Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.
Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."
R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason
Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?
The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.
Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?
Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable
I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.
As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.
Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)
First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean
It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were.
I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.
The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"
UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.
Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide
I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.
I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.
I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address
Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.
"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit
I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.
It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.
If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.
COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.
My academic background
My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here
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There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here
Mirror for "Dissecting Leftism"
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MONOGRAPH ON LEFTISM
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Fascism is Leftist
Hitler a socialist
What are Leftists
Psychology of Left
Leftism is authoritarian
James on Leftism
Irbe on Leftism
Beltt on Leftism
Pyszczynski et al.
Cautionary blogs about big Australian companies:
St. George bank
Bank of Qld.
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Tuesday, February 03, 2004
PROFESSOR Andrew Thompson and Alan Lymbery accuse me of recycling "nonsense" in my Quadrant article that holds environmental groups accountable for a malaria pandemic in Africa. In support of my argument I cite Donald Roberts, Professor of Tropical Public Health at the US Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, who refutes Rachel Carson's DDT thesis. I quote Professor Brian Greenwood of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who accused environmentalists of valuing "birds of prey in Scotland at the cost of lives of children in Africa".
In the 11 March 2000 edition of The British Medical Journal, Amir Attaran, Director of International Health Research at Harvard University's Center for International Development, lauded DDT as "one of the world's best anti-malarial tools." Attaran warned that DDT was subject to an intense "campaign to ban it, joined by 260 environmental groups". If my detractors consider Harvard to be a source of "cyberspace junk" why don't they say so specifically?
The above letter appeared in "The Australian" newspaper of Feb 3, 2004 on p. 12 but letters seem to stay up on the newspaper's site for only one day so I have reproduced it above in the view that it is of some lasting interest
Monday, February 02, 2004
How Nazis went to war in Australia
By DAVID ENGLISH
NAZIS in Queensland have not died out completely. But they have become a shadow of their former selves and exist mostly on the Internet. The swastika-wearing extremists are back in the headlines with revelations in The Sunday Mail last weekend that a National Party candidate in the state election once mixed with Australian Nazi Party members. On Friday, the Nationals disendorsed Dan Van Blarcom, running for the northern seat of Whitsunday, after publication of pictures showing him as a young man at a meeting in the ACT in 1970 dressed in Nazi uniform, swastika on his sleeve. Last weekend, Mr Van Blarcom told The Sunday Mail he was working in the 1960s as an undercover security operative for an unnamed organisation. "I was monitoring their activities," he claimed.
In Queensland in the 1960s the members of the Australian Nazi Party would strut their stuff in full public gaze, dressed in stormtrooper regalia. Their favourite haunt was Centennial Park, on the edge of the Valley in Brisbane. They would be there every Sunday in Speakers Corner, haranguing anyone who would listen or being harangued by those who did not want to listen.
These public meetings of Hitler's admirers would sometimes come to a sudden end when the communists – mostly university students – arrived tearing down the Nazi flags and kicking over the soap boxes. Like clockwork, waiting police would swoop. The communists would be arrested and the Nazis would go home to mend their torn uniforms and battered pride.
In the late 1960s concerted efforts world-wide by neo-Nazi groups to get Hitler's deputy Rudolph Hess released from Spandau prison touched off anti-Nazi demonstrations – including a large one in the Valley where 2000 anti-Nazi demonstrators surrounded a handful of Nazi sympathisers. Police had to rescue the Nazis.
Pantomime-like clashes between the Nazis and the commies went on for years until Brisbane City Council relocated Speakers Corner to Roma St. It signalled the beginning of the end of public appearances by the Nazis around Brisbane.
Centennial Park was the scene of many a good rumble between the forces of the far Right and Left in the 1960s. Back then John Ray, a student at the University of Queensland, used to watch it all unfold. Ray, now a retired university lecturer, last week recalled the scene in Centennial Park. "It was my regular Sunday entertainment. "A mate of mine, Alec Barnes, who became quite a famous amateur photographer, first got me into it. "We'd go down to the park. He'd capture it all on film and I'd do verbal battle with the Nazis."
Ray was not a creature of the Left. In fact he was from the Right and knew many of the Nazis on first-name terms. There weren't, however, all that many names to remember. Looking back, Ray reckons it was a miracle there was any semblance of a party at all. "Most of them couldn't stand being in the same place together. There weren't all that many genuine meetings in the real sense of the word . . . most meetings I remember were staged for filming purposes," says Ray.
Ray never belonged to the Nazi Party. He had good reason to take in everything that was said and done. Ray reported regularly to Queensland's then-special branch – the organisation within the police force that kept watch on so-called subversives. "And they paid me for it," says Ray.
According to Ray the special branch was largely made up of Democratic Labor Party sympathisers, policemen who despised the communists. The exception was Don Lane, known affectionately as Shady Lane. Lane later became a minister in the Bjelke-Petersen National Party government and subsequently was jailed in the wake of the Fitzgerald corruption commission. Ray says Lane was seen as "a leftie" in the very right-wing special branch.
He says it is difficult to accurately remember back 30 years or more but some names of those closely associated with the Nazi Party do spring to mind. "There was one bloke called Chris who was a leading light and another called Doug who looked a bit like Charles Manson. There was also a curious fellow called Bondu who was Bangladeshi – and even though the Nazis promoted white supremacy they accepted Bondu as a brown European!"
Perhaps one of the most publicly identifiable Nazis was a tough-looking shaven-head character Ross "The Skull" May. May, who almost always appeared in a stormtrooper's uniform, turned up often at rallies in Brisbane and Sydney and was not averse to intimidating left-wing protesters. In the early 1970s he was sent to jail for bashing a journalist. As the 1980s rolled on, May and fellow Nazi Robert Cameron formed the National Front. The Skull was last publicly prominent in 1999 when he appeared at a protest meeting organised by the Greens in Sydney, protesting over a development project.
The old Nazi Party had many members who were memorable. John Ray recalls one young man named Martyn Harper whom he believed was an active member of the Nazi Party. "That's news to me," an emphatic Martyn Harper told The Sunday Mail last week. Harper, a chiropractor at Ipswich, said: "John needs to get his facts straight. I never was a member of the Nazi Party."
Martyn Harper readily admits he took a deal of interest in the Nazis. But he says he also closely followed the anarchists and to a lesser extent the socialists. "I was interested in every facet of politics in Australia. I remember once in the Domain in Sydney getting up and publicly spruiking in favour of the Muslims."
One thing Martyn Harper and John Ray both agree on is the assessment that the Nazis never were a party in the real sense of the word. Says Harper: "There was a book written in the early '70s called something like Everyone Wants to be The Fuehrer and that pretty much summed up the Nazis in Queensland – so many splinter groups." By the mid 1990s – apart from some graffiti attacks on Jewish properties – the Nazis had virtually vanished. There were a number of vicious racially based physical attacks on Aborigines and Asians in the mid 1990s but they were probably the work of "Romper Stomper" skinheads rather than any of the old-style Nazis
Dr Andrew Bonnell of Queensland University's history department – who specialises in studying the evolution of right-wing political groups in Australia and Europe – says the tendency for "splits" in the ranks has prevented any significant development of a Nazi Party in Australia. Says Dr Bonnell: "By the 1970s, most right wingers in Australia realised there was little likely political success to be gained by going around in Nazi drag." Dr Bonnell says present-day Nazis in Queensland at least seem reluctant to make public appearances – preferring instead to push their views under the cloak of anonymity offered by the Internet.
Certainly the Internet is home to an increasing number of rabid Right organisations. "It's a bit hard to say how much of it is hard-core Nazism or how much of it is adolescents letting off steam," he says. Splinter neo-Nazi groups like "Stormfront" and "White Ayrian Resistance" had websites which advocated patently Nazi notions. But it was unlikely the websites represented any more than a handful of people in Australia, Dr Bonnell said. He says most of the real Nazis and their sympathisers are dead or so old they don't matter.
Security agencies seem to have little beyond passing interest in the Nazis these days. A Queensland police spokesman told The Sunday Mail that the Nazi Party was regarded as posing a very low threat to anyone. Even Jewish organisations which watch the activities of racist, right-wing pseudo-political groups say activity by the Nazi Party seems to have dropped off. As Martyn Harper put it last week: "I think it'd be best for everyone if all the Nazis just passed away."
The above article appeared in the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" on Feb 1, 2004 but articles there do not stay up for long. The article is reproduced with original graphics here
Sunday, February 01, 2004
Conspiracies so vast
Conspiracy theory was born in the Age of Enlightenment and has metastasized in the Age of the Internet. Why won't it go away?
By Darrin M. McMahon
HOWARD DEAN SPECULATES on National Public Radio that George W. Bush may have been warned of 9/11 "ahead of time by the Saudis." University professors imply with an air of sophistication that the war in Iraq was a plot to fill contracts for Halliburton. Radio shock-jocks rant against the machinations of the United Nations and the "New World Order." And the conservative pundit Ann Coulter makes the rounds of the talk shows with a book, "Treason," built on the claim that the vilification of Joseph McCarthy was the "greatest Orwellian fraud of our time." The man who warned famously of a "great conspiracy" of communists, it seems, was himself the victim of a plot by "liberals" to blacken his good name.
Hillary Clinton may have given up her talk about the "vast right-wing conspiracy." But there are plenty of others on both sides of the political divide anxious to continue the conversation. In today's popular culture and even the elite media, plots lurk behind every door.
Nor is the anxiety confined to the United States. Last month, the British government opened official inquests into the deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed, fueling ongoing speculation that the couple was murdered in a secret plot. In France and Germany, books by the once-mainstream political analyst Thierry Meyssan ("L'Effroyable Imposture" -- The Big Lie) and the former Social-Democratic cabinet minister Andreas von Bulow ("Die CIA und der 11 September") have climbed bestseller lists with their shocking revelations that 9/11 was a plot by rogue elements within the US government. Uncle Sam, they claim, framed Osama. Meanwhile, major media outlets throughout the Islamic world charge that Israel, or an international Jewish cabal, were behind the World Trade Center attacks and countless other nefarious deeds.
It is tempting just to laugh at these views, dismissing them as the ranting of a lunatic fringe or the naive cynicism of the overeducated. But they are simply too prevalent to be ignored. The clearing house www.conspiracy-net.com, one of the many websites devoted to the subject, boasts over "one thousand searchable conspiracies," from child abductions in Nigeria to the invention of AIDS in CIA laboratories to the real motivations behind President Bush's proposed mission to Mars.
Are we living in a golden age of conspiracy theory? And if so, what stands behind this apparent upsurge in global anxiety? Fortunately, no shortage of observers has turned their attention to such questions. As Syracuse University political scientist Michael Barkun writes in "A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America" (California), the latest in a recent spate of academic studies on the subject, "obsessive concern with the magnitude of hidden evil powers" is just what one might expect in a turn-of-the-millennium culture "rife with apocalyptic anxiety."
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Conspiracies have been around for as long as there have been people to plot. Yet the courtly coups and palace intrigues that animate the pages of Machiavelli's "The Prince" were very different from the more generalized theories of conspiracy that first began to circulate, ironically, in that crucible of modernity known as the Age of Reason. The 18th-century Enlightenment saw the emergence of vague, shadowy rumors of international machinations, lurid accounts of the collusion of Freemasons, Jesuits, or radical philosophers, ghastly tales of plots hatched in cells throughout the world to infiltrate governments, topple kings, eradicate religion, and corrupt morals and beliefs.
Whereas the older plots were usually localized (and often genuine), reflecting a face-to-face world in which public life was controlled by the actions of powerful individuals, the newer variants tended to be open-ended and elusive in their aims. Titillating, consoling, and disturbing all at once, these were accounts well-suited to the newly expanding print culture of the 18th century, which brought together formerly isolated groups into virtual communities of opinion now sharing the same newspapers, novels, placards, and pamphlets. The new conspiracies also traveled well by word of mouth -- thriving among the 18th century's rapidly growing populations, in which distrust was fueled by the anonymity of urban environments and insecurity heightened by mobility, dislocation, and bewildering socioeconomic change.
In many cases these new tales were entirely fictitious, like the rumors that consumed Paris in the 1750s that servants of the crown were snatching vagrant children to provide baths of blood for King Louis XV. In other instances they were more immediately plausible, as with the widespread conspiracy rhetoric among American colonists, who drew on decades of distrust of Georgian kings and colonial agents.
In still other cases, conspiracy theories metastasized from an original germ of truth. Fears of the Illuminati, for example, still invoked to this day, were originally fed by the discovery in the 1780s of an actual conspiracy led by a Bavarian professor at the University of Ingolstadt, Adam Weishaupt. His brotherhood of "enlightened ones," the Society of the Illuminati, aimed to infiltrate established Masonic lodges throughout Europe with the goal of disseminating republican and anticlerical beliefs. The conspiracy was discovered long before it could have any real effect. But this did nothing to stem the alarm that spread in its wake.
Fanned by the terrible upheavals of the French Revolution, tales of the Illuminati flourished, taking their place alongside the dastardly accounts of "Monied Interests," Masons, Jacobins, Rosicrucians, Jesuits, and Jews. When the President of Yale, Timothy Dwight, preached a sermon before alarmed undergraduates in 1797, warning of the machinations of the Illuminati conspiracy in the New World, he was merely adding an early Yankee voice to what would soon become a full-blown national panic. The American Bavarian Illuminati scare of 1798-1800 swept up the likes of Alexander Hamilton, and brought the country to the brink of civil war.
Dwight and Hamilton were in good company. From Voltaire and Rousseau to David Hume and Edmund Burke, some of the century's finest minds were ready to countenance conspiracies of one form or another. That fact makes it difficult to dismiss the Enlightenment's fascination with these dark developments as simply irrational aberrations. On the contrary, as the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon S. Wood has argued, Enlightenment conspiracy theories may have represented a transitional step on the way to a more nuanced and "scientific" understanding of the world.
For an age in the process of demystifying Nature, to attribute cause and effect to magic or Fate, the Devil or the hidden hand of Providence was no longer sufficient. Searching for rational patterns to explain the laws of humanity as they explained the laws of the natural world, Enlightenment observers ran up against the complexity and contingency of human affairs.
Large-scale phenomena like the transition to capitalism, or the American or French Revolutions, did not readily lend themselves to simple patterns. Conspiracy was a way to ascribe order to the seemingly chaotic, make an irrational world appear rational without ascribing agency to nonhuman forces. Conspiracy, in short, was comforting, even if that comfort could have dark consequences.
* * * * *
Might such insights hold a clue to understanding the fascination with conspiracies in our own time? The work of a number of contemporary scholars would seem to suggest as much. Peter Knight, a professor of American Studies at the University of Manchester, who has written widely on conspiracy culture, points out that today's conspiracy language is "often a form of popular sociology, a way for people to talk about cause, agency, blame, and structure" in a bafflingly complex world. Globalization in particular "breaks the [perceived] connection between cause and effect" by multiplying the array of economic and social forces acting on our lives. Conspiracy theories piece these connections together, expressing a psychologically reassuring "reason, a structure, a force behind events."
The tremendous increase in access to information (and disinformation) generated by the Internet also bears comparison to the Enlightenment's knowledge revolution and its attendant creation of virtual communities and disembodied publics. In the same way that conspiracy theories united 18th-century audiences in shared fascination and horror, conspiracy theories today are an integral part of the entertainment industry, providing a mysterious and tantalizing twist on the daily spin. At the same time they feed on a post-Watergate distrust of elites that has close analogues with Enlightened suspicion of authorities of all kinds -- be they clerics, aristocrats, intellectuals, or kings.
In "A Culture of Conspiracy," Michael Barkun points to another important factor: the end of the Cold War. Until 1989, he observes, we lived in a "neat, dichotomized moral universe" with a clearly defined enemy. Much as the secularizing forces of the Enlightenment made it more difficult to see the world as the exclusive battleground between God and Satan, the demise of communism has infinitely expanded the field of potential plotters. Where we once saw only commies and capitalist pigs, we now see a more varied and complex array of enemies.
Which is not to suggest that our modern fascination with conspiracies is indicative of newly enlightened times. On the contrary, conspiracy theories are often used as cover for the worst sort of scapegoating and demonization.
David Cook, an assistant professor of religious studies at Rice University, points out that many of the modern conspiracy theories that have flourished in the Middle East since the 18th century tap into even older sources -- such as medieval accounts of the Jewish Blood Libel, the insidious anti-Semitic myth that the blood of Gentiles is used in the preparation of Passover matzos. Barkun notes a similar trend in Western conspiracy rhetoric, especially in America, where themes from the Protestant millennial tradition are often fused with contemporary actors and events to create lurid dramas of the coming Apocalypse and the reign of the Anti-Christ.
Some postmodernist critics argue that contemporary conspiracy obsession is in fact symptomatic of the bankruptcy of reason. Political theorists like Jodi Dean, author of "Aliens in America," a study of contemporary UFO conspiracy theories, and several of the contributors to the recent essay collection "Transparency and Conspiracy: Ethnographies of Suspicion in the New World Order" (Duke), tend to adopt this line. They argue that attempts to disprove conspiracy theories are just efforts to impose dominant ideological views on those defined as "backward," "irrational," or "superstitious." In this "replay of the Enlightenment with a vengeance," observe two of the contributors to "Transparency and Conspiracy," hegemonic reason once again seeks to crowd out all competing perspectives.
Many will conclude that such claims throw out the baby with the bath water, while forgetting that bathtubs can all too easily be filled with blood -- in fact as well as in fiction. That the latter sometimes bleed together is clear. But that we should continue to seek to distinguish them in our accounts of the workings of the world is as vital and unfinished a task today as it was in the 18th century. Call it, if you like, a conspiracy of truth.
(Darrin M. McMahon is an associate professor of European history at Florida State University. Source)