STRAWS IN THE WIND: by Max TeichmannNews Weekly
Quadrant reaches 50 / Grassroots journalism / And another flies over the cuckoo's nest / Howard, Beazley and friends - the next 12 months
, September 30, 2006
Quadrant reaches 50
Sometime early in October, Quadrant
magazine will be celebrating its 50th anniversary. A remarkable achievement, when little magazines fall like autumn leaves or else subsist, for the great part, on government handouts.Quadrant
was founded in the Cold War, and was a key opponent here in the long fight against Communism - a fight far from over. It has had some very distinguished editors and retains a general literacy and intellectual standard which other organs of opinion should consider emulating ... rather than dully abusing Quadrant's
various editors and contributors, and any opinions other than their own.
's dinner, in Sydney, is being addressed by the Prime Minister, John Howard, who has always been sympathetic to its approach and to its philosophy.
It should be a successful and significant occasion, especially as, defying the general trend of tireless repetition of the follies, vanities and illusions of yesteryear, Quadrant
keeps breaking new ground and throwing open its columns to many different voices, and accents - such as yours truly.
To change the subject, those who are suffocated by the bland nonsense or frenetic opining of our dailies, might look at our suburban newspapers. They are actually about real people and identifiable communities.
I get the impression that a lot of their writers work like dogs and get paid pennies, but show a dedication and energy which our CBD sufferers from night starvation might copy. After all, they copy everything else.
In one suburban paper I've read, one girl wrote no fewer than five pieces, on different events, in a week. And very interesting they were. I know what she does with her spare time - she has none. Congratulations young journos!
I've been dis-enjoying a period of enforced inactivity for medical reasons, so have been reading these little weeklies. Some are rotten - but some are good. And another flies over the cuckoo's nest
The situation in some of our caring, respite and nursing homes - psychologically as against medically - does not survive moral examination.
Which is why the media and the New Class public intellectuals stick to kerosene baths and the dreaded economic rationalists. Every second "social analyst" is compromised, and/or will be compromised in what is a new culture of psychic euthanasia of older relatives.
I have been encountering populations of desperate, though perfectly rational, inmates - at the outset of their permanent stays - who cannot escape.
Their loved ones have manoeuvred them into a place where they must remain. Every second one talks of leaving - escaping - but their options are closed.
The more intelligent, or sensitive, they are, the worse for them. These places cannot invent intellectual or genuine social stimulation - so those with imaginations and intact memories are sentenced to spells of semi-solitary confinement, which last until their body, or their reason, gives up.
This is the sixties and seventies generations' version of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Some of these people have had extraordinary lives, and it is distressing to see the false, empty faces of their rarely-visiting progeny, who quite often have got their hands on the parental loot - products of a lifetime's work. They turn up occasionally, and reluctantly ... if not insolently.
It is a harrowing spectacle. The parents are - have been made
- dependent upon progeny who they know
, in their hearts, are undependable. But all the parental weapons of independence have been broken or locked away.
Which is why our governments are trying to keep older people in their own places at any cost, for they now realise what awaits our sentient elderly.
Longevity - made possible by medicine, and still the elixir of the me-generation, in the place of human bonding and the care of others - has become a curse instead of the blessing it should be.
I hope to go into these grave questions later, in detail: for we will find ourselves in the areas of morality, religious duties and psychopathology. Howard, Beazley and friends - the next 12 months
State Liberal parties in Queensland and Western Australia have just put on pitiful performances. The state Liberals in Victoria and New South Wales have outside chances. South Australia is really a Labor state.
The membership of the Liberals is now almost indistinguishable from the New Classes in Labor. The Greens and Democrats are just fig leaves to cover the greed and ambitions of the new bourgeoisie.
Howard will not have the easy run assumed by most people. Things only have to go wrong in Afghanistan and Iraq, with big Australian casualties, and the election would turn right around.
Kim Beazley is playing softly-softly, with others making the bold and provocative statements. Unity, long absent, is the sine qua non
of the ALP making a strong showing.
John Howard is not another Peter Beattie who regularly says it's yet another tight election when he's already streets ahead.
When I say "Labor people must close ranks behind Kim", I mean that I've been hearing the sort of things that I heard about Bill Hayden in the run-up to the 1983 election. Yes, Kim is a nice man; but he'll lose and then we'll run Bill Shorten - the designer candidate.
Does this mean Kim is to be cast in the role of Hayden, with Bill Shorten a born-again Hawke? Certainly, the kind of corporate backing building up, and the rasping sounds of media spruikers clearing their throats before starting to intone, "It's Time" ... for a leadership change, and a true marriage of capital and labour.
Kim has disadvantages. He is not a liar, a hypocrite or abusive. He is patriotic, and well educated. 'Nuff said.
Finally, I think Bill Hayden just might have won the 1980 election, but for some strangely fortuitous interventions from his NSW comrades in those crucial closing weeks.
Let us hope that Beazley doesn't cop some brotherly kidney punches, if he looks like winning next year.- Max Teichmann.