LETTERS News Weekly
, August 18, 2012
The good, the true and the beautiful
Brian J. Coman’s “mordant reflection” on culture and modernity (News Weekly, August 4, 2012) is a timely reminder that we are in danger of forgetting the essential meaning of the word “culture”. May I add a footnote in support of Dr Coman’s views?
Latin cultura, being an action noun, denotes the act of cultivating, with agriculture as its appropriate model. Under pagan and Christian influences it came to evoke an ongoing labour: the cultivation of the good, the true, the beautiful. Its fruits included the trans-historical community of well-furnished minds.
Now, instead of such constant tillage, we are raising a generation more used to heedless, disconnected “grabs” from the latest technology than to the consecutive, laborious pursuit of knowledge.
Our universities, in the words of some of their spokesmen, are promoted more and more in industrial and marketing terms. They are in fact complicit in a betrayal of our Western European origins, history, traditions, languages.
Any absolutes or ideals we may seek are lost in the corrosive relativism of “cultural studies”, ominously so called.
Unions and superannuation
Martin O’Connell (Letters, News Weekly, July 21) missed a great opportunity to tell us all how good the industry super funds really are.
He could have told us that they pay no commissions or make any donations to the ALP or unions, and that would have set readers minds at ease. He mentions he was a director of a union super fund. Did he receive remuneration?
He also mentions shareholders — who are they? The relevant union?
Maybe if the returns are so good, they may accept investments from self-managed super funds (that’s me ).
I also support union super funds — but only if I know that all is clean and there are no “rip-offs” going on.
I spent 41 years in general insurance and, as a broker in the latter part of that time, I also sold super policies; so I think I have seen all the rip-offs there are.
I saw plenty of instances where the new member lost the first one or two years’ contributions as “fees and charges”, and of course the first premiums were supposed to be the longest investment by the member.
Wagga Wagga, NSW
Australia at war
In response to Hal Colebatch’s letter (News Weekly, August 4), I do not wish to do more than correct a major historical error.
He claims that the Japanese lost “about 50 aircraft” when Vice-Admiral Chuichi Nagumo sortied into the Indian Ocean on March 26, 1942 with his First Carrier Striking Force. He says, “This weakened [the Japanese Navy], perhaps decisively, for the Battle of Midway.”
I have searched every World War II history source that I can access on this topic and have found no reference to Japanese aircraft losses exceeding 16 (from an original total of no fewer than 270). This small aircraft loss would not have significantly affected the operational capability of the Nagumo carrier force.
The historical fact is that Japanese carrier action in the Indian Ocean in March-April 1942 had no relevance for the Battle of Midway (June 4-6, 1942), as Dr Colebatch claims.
The Japanese carrier line-up at Midway was missing two of its powerful fleet carriers, Zuikaku and Shokaku; but their absence at Midway was caused by carrier damage and aircraft losses sustained in the Battle of the Coral Sea (May 7-8, 1942).
Glen Waverley, Vic.
Max Hastings’ recent study, All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945, reviewed by Bill James (News Weekly, August 4), unfortunately appears to repeat one of Australian history’s most pernicious myths.
When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, communist sabotage of Australian war industries, such as coal-fields and on waterfronts, and warship repairs and maintenance, did indeed decrease. However, the instance of industrial strikes actually increased, apart from a period in 1942. Details are given in the various Commonwealth Year Books.
Several people close to Prime Minister John Curtin, including his successor Ben Chifley, claimed it was these strikes that killed Curtin. Sir Robert Menzies’ war prime ministership has been frequently criticised, but he deserves great credit for dealing with the strikes as effectively as he did.
Australia’s war effort, as far as left-dominated unions were concerned, remained virtually treasonous. It took almost as long — in some cases longer — to build a 850-ton corvette-minesweeper in Australia as to build a 35,000-ton aircraft-carrier in America. War production in many Australian industries, compared to that of, say, Canada, was lamentable, both before and after 1941.
These facts have been virtually suppressed by Australia’s corrupt academic history industry. I have spoken to several military-historical groups on this subject, giving facts and figures, and found they are almost completely unknown.
It is hard to know why these post-1941 strikes occurred. Two possible explanations are (1) that the communist unions’ Soviet masters had no real interest in the Pacific War apart from hindering America, or (2) that the strikers were not communists at all, but part of the left-wing of the Labor movement, possibly with some Trotskyite influence.
Hal G.P. Colebatch,