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Sunday, January 06, 2013

A History Talks issue 3,Vol 1 by John Tognolini

 
Inspired by The History Channel's The People Speak. I’ve decided to make a regular weekly selection of quotations. This series was inspired by the production of The American The People Speak. Quotes are the primary sources of history. They are the flesh and blood of history. The selection below are from my own research. My quotes are not just on Australia but are from all over the world.

John Tognolini 6-1-2013


"We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other, and fight to defend our rights and liberties"
– Oath taken by 500 miners on the Eureka goldfield, November 30, 1854

"The source of pauperism will be settled in Victoria by any quill-driver, who has the pluck to write the history of public-houses in town, and sly-grog shops sellers on the gold-fields."
"‘Your licence, mate,’ was the peremptory question from a six foot fellow in blue shirt, thick boots, the face of a ruffian armed with a carbine and a fixed bayonet. The old ‘all right’ being exchanged, I lost sight of that specimen of brutedom and his similars, called as I learned, ‘traps’ and ‘troopers’.
Inveterate murderers, audacious burglars, bloodthirsty bushrangers, were the ruling triumvirate, the scour of old Europe, called vandemonians, in this bullock-drivers’ land."
Raffaello Carboni 1820-1875
The Eureka Stockade Melbourne 1963

"At Melbourne, in a long veranda giving on a grass plot, where laughing jack-asses laugh very horribly, sit wool kings, premiers and breeders of horses after their kin"d. The older men talk of the Eureka Stockade, and the younger men talk of the ‘shearing wars’ in North Queensland, while the traveller moves timidly among them wondering what under the world every third word means."
Rudyard Kipling 1865-1936,

On the Melbourne Club, Letters of Travel (1892-1913) Kipling stayed at Melbourne Club in November 1891.

"By and by there was a result; and I think it may be called the finest thing in Australian history. It was a revolution-small in size,but great politically; it was a strike for liberty, a struggle for a principle, a stand against injustice and oppression. It was the Barons and John over again; it was Hampeden and Ship-Money; it was Concord and Lexington; small beginnings, all of them, but all of them great results, all of them epoch making.
It was another instance of a victory by a lost battle. It adds an honourable page to history; the people know it and proud of it. They keep green the memory of the men who fell at Eureka Stockade, and Peter Lalor and his monument."

Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens] 1835-1910 Following the Equator 1897

"Lalor used to say that however rash and foolhardy his had been, it was one of which any honourable man might be proud. The mass-vote of later generations has been in overwhelming agreement."
Alan Geoffrey Serle 1922- The Golden Age 1963

[In November 1938 Port Kembla wharfies/dockers declined loading up 23,000 tons of pig-iron for Japan. There action was in solidarity with the Chinese who had been invaded and occupied by Japan. but were forced to by legislation drafted by the commonwealth/federal attorney general Robert Gordon Menzies. Darwin was bombed by Japan in 1942 and Menzies was nick named Pig Iron Bob.]
"I believe that the mount Kembla with the sturdy but peaceful and altogether disinterested attitude of the men concerned, will find a place in our history alongside the Eureka Stockade, with its more violent resistance of a less settled time, as a noble stand against executive Dictarship and against an attack on Australian Democracy."
Sir Isaac Issacs 1855-1948, first Australian to become governor-general, Australian Democracy and Our Colonial System 1939
On Law
 
The law doth punish man or woman
That steals the goose from off the common,
But lets the greater felon loose,
That steals the common from the goose.
Anonymous

What are laws but the expression of some class which has power over the rest of the community?
Thomas Babington Macauly, Baron Macaulay, 1830

The love of justice in most men is nothing more than the fear of suffering injustice.
Francois, Due de La Rochefoucauld, Maxims, (1665)

Justice is like a train that's nearly always late.
Yevgeny Yevtushenko, A Precious Autobiography (1963)

The only way to make the mass of mankind see the beauty of justice is by showing them in pretty plain terms the consequence of injustice.
Sydney Smith, quoted in Roads to Ruin, by E.S.Turner, (1950)

In any civilised society, a police force is a necessary evil, but some members of it are more evil than necessary.
Ken Buckley, President, Council of Civil Liberties, Sydney Morning Herald, 8 March 1969.

"I would like to know what business an honest man would have in the Police as it is an old saying it takes a rogue to catch a rogue..."
Ned Kelly, 'Jerilderie Letter', 1879, in Overland, No 84, 1981

"The law, in all its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges."
Anatole France, The Red Lily, (1894)
"I have never seen a situation so dismal that a policeman couldn’t make it worse."
Brendan Behan

"To the right wing “law and order” is often just a code phrase, meaning “get the niggers”.To the left wing it often means political oppression."
Gore Vidal 1925-2012

"The law isn’t justice. It’s a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may also turn up in the answer."
Raymond Chandler 1888-1959, The Long Goodbye, (1953)
The Media

“Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper.”
George Orwell
On World War Two
“The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on.”
“Sure there's a catch," Doc Daneeka replied. "Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn't really crazy."

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed.” 
Joseph Heller 1923-1999, Catch 22
 
They who are in folly or mere greed.
Enslaved by religion, market, laws.
Borrow our language now and bid.
Us to speak in freedom’s cause.
 It is the logic of our times.
No subject for immortal verse-
That we who live by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse
C.Day Lewis  1904-1972 Where Are The War Poets?
"World War II is not simply and purely a 'good war.' It was accompanied by too many atrocities on our side – too many bombings of civilian populations. There were too many betrayals of the principles for which the war was supposed to have been fought.

"Yes, World War II had a strong moral aspect to it – the defeat of fascism. But I deeply resent the way the so-called good war has been used to cast its glow over all the immoral wars we have fought in the past fifty years: in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan. I certainly don't want our government to use the triumphal excitement surrounding World War II to cover up the horrors now taking place in Iraq.

"I don't want to honor military heroism – that conceals too much death and suffering. I want to honor those who all these years have opposed the horror of war."
Howard Zinn 1922-2010 Dissent at the War Memorial By Howard ZinnThe War On Terror

"Well, I think Australia should now grow up and stop being a junior ally, either to Britain - for years it was a junior ally to Britain. Australian Prime Ministers just mimicked the British. Now, they're doing the same as far as the United States is concerned and this is a country now which has lots and lots of young people from many different cultures and nationalities and it should just realise which part of the world it's in and settle down to it. Now, as far as the United States is concerned, you know, it's tempting to agree with you and say there are all these disasters happening. The American economy is on the decline. The war in Iraq has gone bad, the war in Afghanistan is getting even worse, and this is the end of America. It's not as simple as that. It isn't the end of America and it isn't the end of the American military industrial complex and America remains the world's most powerful militarised state, with a military budget that is 10 times more than the six countries after it put together and one just has to be aware of that. It's been written off before and it's also a world hegemony now with no rivals. You know, the notion that China is a serious military, political rival to the states is nonsense. It's an economic rival. That's absolutely true. The European Union isn't a rival so where is the treat to American hegemony coming from? I think it's overrated, this threat, and what will change the United States is not going to be defeats abroad, but what will change the United States is if there are movements of its own people within that country. That is what will bring about organic change so I hate to disappoint you. I wish I could agree with you but I can't."
On History

The importance of history to me was reinforced by the answer given from veteran journalist and film maker, John Pilger, to a question I asked him, on Friday March 7 2008. At a public meeting in Katoomba, in the Blue Mountains West of Sydney, at Australian acting icon, Jack Thompson’s when he owned the Gearin’s Hotel. John Tognolini

I asked him, “John you mentioned with Rudd, going through our Blair period, we are now. I remember in your book New Rulers of The World, how Blair modelled himself on Keating. I also remember at the Sydney Writers Festival, when Blair was elected a number of years ago now, you saying we were going through our Hawke/Keating period in Britain. It seems to recycle. I’m saying this as a history teacher and I’ve used your work on East Timor and many other things including Vietnam. A lot of [other] history teachers have as well.

How important is that struggle of memory? That you’ve really put forward.

Just seeing your film The War on Democracy, it took me back as someone who did solidarity with people of Chile, the people of El Salvador and of Nicaragua, and seeing people from Chile, who were in tears, who lived through it.

The whole thing to me, I’m looking at now, is let’s get rid of that history. It’s like journalism. The point you’ve made is that you can’t work as a journalist in Australia because Murdoch controls so much of the media here. He controls twenty five per cent of the world’s media. You talk about grass roots. How important do you see that struggle of history and memory? Because to me that’s what history is memory.

John’s answer was, “ Absolutely, for those people at the back, the gentleman who asked is a history teacher and boiling it down, he asked how important is memory in our understanding of events and acting on them.

Well it’s absolutely critical. Today it is more important than ever because as Time magazine once said, “We live in a time of eternal present.” Well they’d like to think we live in a time of eternal present. We don’t off course and all of us have memories, individual, collective but it is our political, even cultural memory, intellectual memory if you like, that is assaulted constantly.

We are asked to support wars abroad while the memory of the previous war that Australia has been involved in, time after time of any nation of its age in its modern era. We are asked to support these wars without understanding how the previous wars were begun. The idea of understanding Vietnam. How we got into Vietnam. How we were conned into Vietnam. How when we got into Vietnam it was a rather ignominious sacrifice of our own troops as well as of course the Vietnamese, because unknown to the Australian public, we  were doing some very, very dirty work for the Americans in Black Teams working for the CIA and so on and so forth. I mentioned earlier Australians being left by Rudd in the Green Zone, the Australian SAS. The same thing.

The Australian SAS was actually in Iraq. That’s been pretty well established if you read some of Tony Kevans’s work on this before the March invasion in 2003. Now that’s the extinguishing of memory. Because, if we understood, what a monstrous time Vietnam was. If we decode it, we strip away its clichés. If we take away the language of power, then we restore our own memory.

So it’s the old Orwellian thing. If we don’t understand the past, we will never understand the present and the future paraphrasing basically it was common sense. So much of the media is geared to preventing us understanding the past and drawing lessons from it.

On the positive side, I have to say that I’ve never known a time when public awareness about something going on. About insecurity, about wrongs happening in the world. I don’t think it has ever been as high as it has been today. So we mustn’t and I’m speaking for myself become obsessed with the media being this impenetrable obstacle to us finding out. It isn’t.

We’ve got a meeting like this tonight in Katoomba. There are plenty of books in the bookshop. The internet is full of some interesting journalism. We have people like yourself teaching and others but its drawing all this together. It’s never acting alone. It’s always acting together and sharing this information and that’s how you reclaim memory in my experience. It’s drawing in people with the experience of the past and describing the lessons we might draw then for the present and the future. All this is in a way all about intellectual and political direct action and that is where
politics in my view should be. It is about direct action. That direct action can happen against ALP just as it happens against the Coalition. It can be direct action against the media. Why should the media not be a target for direct action? ....





 


 

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