Legendary scholar and activist Angela Davis’s work around issues of gender, race, class and prisons has influenced critical thought and social movements across several generations. Amy Goodman sat down with her in Washington, D.C., in October to discuss freedom struggles over the past 50 years, and where people’s movements are going next.
The mass right wing parties of Europe in the 1920s and 1930s were led by charismatic leaders who whipped up the hatreds of mobs by denouncing immigrants and ethnic and religious groups as threats to the nation and as terrorists and saboteurs.
Somehow when politicians set such a tone, in which alternative political leaders and movements are not just seen as a legitimate loyal opposition, but are depicted as criminal traitors who must be locked up, one thing that happens is that bombs start to go off, planted by members of the far Right parties.
If you don’t believe me about the connection, consider a few news articles from the 1920s and early 1930s, as the Fascists came to power in Italy and increasingly agitated in Germany:
I have been studying Australian history both in an academic setting and as a general interest for a number of years now (not including the minimum education we all received throughout primary and early secondary school – the overview of colonialism and Captain Cook, some history of Indigenous Australia and the 1850s Victorian gold rush). Thanks to second-wave feminism and the establishment of women’s history as a legitimate field of study, I can read into the nation’s past to examine the perspectives and experiences of Australian women, and these histories are only continuing to expand. What I have real difficulty in finding is any information on Australia’s queer history, not so much in the late twentieth-century when pride activism became prominent, but in our colonial and pre-colonial period. There is a lack of resources in this area, and an even greater lack of discussion in the academic and education fields.
Now, following last year’s changes to media control and diversity rules, Nine and Fairfax Media have “merged”. It seems more like a takeover, with 51.1 per cent of equity to be held by Nine. The CEO, Hugh Marks and chair of the board, another former Treasurer, in this case Liberal Peter Costello, will come from Nine. The new company will be known as NEC (Nine Entertainment Co.).
If shareholders and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission approve the transaction, the Fairfax name will be gone from the Australian media.
Two companies, with very different histories and cultures, will be forced to work together in the never-ending search for efficencies and revenue in a brutal landscape for newspapers, magazines and television.
Frank and Kerry Packer (whose 1990s attempt to gain control of John Fairfax & Sons was stymied) are no doubt dancing a jig in heaven (or in hell), as the television company they founded is on the cusp of gaining control of the press assets they envied. Rupert Murdoch remains Australia’s last media titan.
The famous – and by now overused – expression that history is written by the victors can be countered in many ways. One way is by unpacking the victors’ publications in order to expose the lies, fabrications and misrepresentations, as well as their less conscious actions.
A rereading of these open sources about the Nakba, mostly written by Israelis themselves, unlocks fresh historiographical perspectives on the big picture of that period – while declassified documents allow us to see that picture in a higher resolution.
This reprise could have been done at any moment between 1948 and today – as long as historians were willing to employ the critical lens needed for such an examination.
Fifty years ago today the streets of Paris staged a battle between 6,000 student demonstrators and 1,500 gendarmes – within days it had snowballed into civil dispute that saw 10 million French workers go on general strike and brought the economy to a virtual halt. Andreas Whittam Smith recalls the events of ‘Mai 68’
With Europe into its so-called Dark Ages, the Islamic world was entering its Golden Age.
The House of Wisdom, between the 8th and 13th centuries, attracted Muslim, Christian and Jewish scholars from throughout the known world to study and translate the tracts that had underpinned modern thought to that time into Arabic.
Every important and available book and paper known to exist was collected for translation from Greek, Latin, Persian, Indian and even Chinese sources.
By the 9th century, the House of Wisdom contained the world’s largest library, and up to 500 scholars worked feverishly on their own discoveries.
The idea that the Earth was round, its circumference measurable, was no stranger here. Physicians investigated the causes of infection. The number zero, invented as a useful concept in India, reached Baghdad somewhere around AD 770 and became a crucial element in mathematics. Without zero there would never have been a computer, let alone Google.
The pleasure of harnessing knowledge spread rapidly across Arab North Africa, through refined cities like Fez, and beyond.
Why is the US (and Australia) ideologically clinging to last century’s energy sources and technology? How dumb are we?
USA & Australia = Dumb and Dumber a History of Energy transformation live (OD)
PRECEDENT IN HISTORY
Not so 50 years ago this month, when the elastic-sided boot was on the other foot and the then leader of the Country Party (later re-named National Party), John McEwen, made it public he would not continue in Coalition with the Liberals if one William McMahon became its leader.
Prime Minister Harold Holt had drowned in the surf, but heir apparent McMahon was seen as too much of a free-trader – a neo-con – while McEwen, the farmer, was hard in favour of tariff protection and campaigned against “dumping” of overseas produced goods at low prices in Australia. He thought of McMahon, morally, as a poor kind of man — as a chronic leaker of Government business to journalists.
We also heard, in grubby whispers, he was influenced by the rumours about McMahon being gay, a story famously junked in that vernacular exclamation from McMahon’s wife Sonia:
“Bill’s not a homo!”
The National Party in those days were all for “conservative values”, no exemptions for sexual licence of any kind, even for party leaders.
Students often get only a superficial view of the atrocity that built the country, a new study finds.
This is a gross whitewashing of history, clearly aimed at erasing from the record Israel’s well-documented and systematic ethnic cleansing of the majority Palestinian population whose presence on the land stood in the way of the Zionist goal of creating a “Jewish state.”
In fact, in the months before Israel’s “independence” was declared on 15 May, and before any Arab armies had intervened, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine was already well under way.
The Zionist leadership finalized its “Plan Dalet” to expel Palestinians in March 1948. Palestinians from the cities of Haifa and Jaffa, and dozens of villages, had already been expelled before 15 May. The notorious massacre by Zionist forces in the village of Deir Yassin took place on 9 April, and by early May it is estimated that up to 250,000 Palestinians had already fled or been forced from their homes.
By the end of Israel’s so-called “War of Independence,” some 750,000 Palestinians out of 1.2 million had been displaced and more than 500 cities, towns and villages had been destroyed or depopulated.
Accurately reporting this chronology would make it impossible to sustain Israeli myths about 1948, or to obscure events, as The New York Times does, as mere violence by “both sides.In article on Jerusalem, New York Times falsifies history of 1948, 1967 | The Electronic Intifada
In our early 19th century single-sex prisons the only bond strong enough to withstand the inducements to inform on your fellows, and the punishments meted out to surly inmates, was romantic love.This is why prison officials went to such extreme lengths to separate same-sex convict couples by relocating them to prisons hundreds of kilometres apart.Their fears were real. Same-sex bonds were at the centre of prison rebellions like the flash mob at the Cascades Female Factory or the Ring on Norfolk Island.
The “meaning” of the Vietnam War is no different from the meaning of the genocidal campaign against the Native Americans, the colonial massacres in the Philippines, the atomic bombings of Japan, the levelling of every city in North Korea. The aim was described by Colonel Edward Lansdale, the famous CIA man on whom Graham Greene based his central character in The Quiet American.Quoting Robert Taber’s The War of the Flea, Lansdale said: “There is only one means of defeating an insurgent people who will not surrender, and that is extermination. There is only one way to control a territory that harbours resistance, and that is to turn it into a desert.”
Let’s start with a history lesson. Lieutenant James Cook did not “discover” what became known as Australia, or as it then was in the logbooks of early Dutch mariners – Terra Australis Incognita (the unknown southern land).
Strongmen are rewriting the past to suit their ends, but democracies aren’t immune either, writes Guardian columnist Natalie Nougayrède
A new photography project is confronting the violent reality of colonialism in a remote Indigenous community in Cape York.
White-washing the history of the West will not make the Western civilisation great again.
For Chinese Americans, the Muslim ban is a reminder of decades of discrimination under the Chinese Exclusion Act.
America sees conflicts shaded in black or white and avoids all complex and nuanced ambiguities.
Adopted by the Nazi Party in the 1930s, Hitler’s infamous “sieg heil” (meaning “hail victory”) salute was mandatory for all German citizens as a demonstration of loyalty to the Führer, his party, and his nation. August Landmesser, the lone German refusing to raise a stiff right arm amid Hitler’s presence at a 1936 rally, had been a loyal Nazi. Landmesser joined the Nazi Party in 1931 and began to work his way up the ranks of what would become the only legal political affiliation in the country.
History suggests there are certain criteria that allow insurgents and revolutionaries, even ones with histories of brutal behavior, to engage with the United States.
By Alan Lester | (The Conversation) | – – The recent debacle of David Cameron’s filmed condemnation of Nigerian and …
THE GAMILARAAY 500?
Before Major Nunn set out on his evil killing spree in my sacred Gamilaraay lands. He was given orders by the governor of the time to get rid of the black problem in the Gamilaraay Nation.
Over several weeks as he was heading up Mt Kaputar he heard loud roars and thought it was thunder.
When he kept looking up he could see all these flickering lights and thought it was lighting and then the sky turning dark, which he thought were rain clouds.
When he and his men had reached the top of Mt Kaputar and looked out over the land he could not believe what lay before him.
The loud roar that he thought was thunder was the Gamilaraay 500 + who where being led as always by our brave Gamilaraay woman banging on there shields and possum skin drums.
He and his men could also see that the flickering lights that they thought was lightning was the many fires still burning through the night.
What he thought were rain clouds was nothing more than the 500 + proud strong Gamilaraay warriors and our woman dancing and all singing in unison the mighty fighting dance with dust flying high over their heads.
After witnessing this Major Nunn and his men took off back to Singleton.
Then several weeks had passed and our mob began thinking that this evil man was not coming back into our sacred lands.
So the Gamilaraay 500 + had all dispersed and went back to their clan areas.
But then this evil man came back several months later with more troopers and committed genocide on our then small band of unsuspecting proud brave warriors, beautiful strong woman and children and this is what is now known as Slaughterhouse Creek
This article is Part II of Alastair Crooke’s historical analysis of the roots of ISIS and its impact on the future of the Middle East. Read Part I here.
BEIRUT — ISIS is indeed a veritable time bomb inserted into the heart of the Middle East. But its destructive power is not as commonly understood. It is not with the “March of the Beheaders”; it is not with the killings; the seizure of towns and villages; the harshest of “justice” — terrible though they are — that its true explosive power lies. It is yet more potent than its exponential pull on young Muslims, its huge arsenal of weapons and its hundreds of millions of dollars.
Its real potential for destruction lies elsewhere — in the implosion of Saudi Arabia as a foundation stone of the modern Middle East. We should understand that there is really almost nothing that the West can now do about it but sit and watch.
The clue to its truly explosive potential, as Saudi scholar Fouad Ibrahim has pointed out (but which has passed, almost wholly overlooked, or its significance has gone unnoticed), is ISIS’ deliberate and intentional use in its doctrine — of the language of Abd-al Wahhab, the 18th century founder, together with Ibn Saud, of Wahhabism and the Saudi project:
Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the first “prince of the faithful” in the Islamic State of Iraq, in 2006 formulated, for instance, the principles of his prospective state … Among its goals is disseminating monotheism “which is the purpose [for which humans were created] and [for which purpose they must be called] to Islam…” This language replicates exactly Abd-al Wahhab’s formulation. And, not surprisingly, the latter’s writings and Wahhabi commentaries on his works are widely distributed in the areas under ISIS’ control and are made the subject of study sessions. Baghdadi subsequently was to note approvingly, “a generation of young men [have been] trained based on the forgotten doctrine of loyalty and disavowal.”
And what is this “forgotten” tradition of “loyalty and disavowal?” It is Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrine that belief in a sole (for him an anthropomorphic) God — who was alone worthy of worship — was in itself insufficient to render man or woman a Muslim?
He or she could be no true believer, unless additionally, he or she actively denied (and destroyed) any other subject of worship. The list of such potential subjects of idolatrous worship, which al-Wahhab condemned as idolatry, was so extensive that almost all Muslims were at risk of falling under his definition of “unbelievers.” They therefore faced a choice: Either they convert to al-Wahhab’s vision of Islam — or be killed, and their wives, their children and physical property taken as the spoils of jihad. Even to express doubts about this doctrine, al-Wahhab said, should occasion execution.
The point Fuad Ibrahim is making, I believe, is not merely to reemphasize the extreme reductionism of al-Wahhab’s vision, but to hint at something entirely different: That through its intentional adoption of this Wahhabist language, ISIS is knowingly lighting the fuse to a bigger regional explosion — one that has a very real possibility of being ignited, and if it should succeed, will change the Middle East decisively.
For it was precisely this idealistic, puritan, proselytizing formulation by al-Wahhab that was “father” to the entire Saudi “project” (one that was violently suppressed by the Ottomans in 1818, but spectacularly resurrected in the 1920s, to become the Saudi Kingdom that we know today). But since its renaissance in the 1920s, the Saudi project has always carried within it, the “gene” of its own self-destruction.
THE SAUDI TAIL HAS WAGGED BRITAIN AND U.S. IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Paradoxically, it was a maverick British official, who helped embed the gene into the new state. The British official attached to Aziz, was one Harry St. John Philby (the father of the MI6 officer who spied for the Soviet KGB, Kim Philby). He was to become King Abd al-Aziz’s close adviser, having resigned as a British official, and was until his death, a key member of the Ruler’s Court. He, like Lawrence of Arabia, was an Arabist. He was also a convert to Wahhabi Islam and known as Sheikh Abdullah.
St. John Philby was a man on the make: he had determined to make his friend, Abd al-Aziz, the ruler of Arabia. Indeed, it is clear that in furthering this ambition he was not acting on official instructions. When, for example, he encouraged King Aziz to expand in northern Nejd, he was ordered to desist. But (as American author, Stephen Schwartz notes), Aziz was well aware that Britain had pledged repeatedly that the defeat of the Ottomans would produce an Arab state, and this no doubt, encouraged Philby and Aziz to aspire to the latter becoming its new ruler.
It is not clear exactly what passed between Philby and the Ruler (the details seem somehow to have been suppressed), but it would appear that Philby’s vision was not confined to state-building in the conventional way, but rather was one of transforming the wider Islamic ummah (or community of believers) into a Wahhabist instrument that would entrench the al-Saud as Arabia’s leaders. And for this to happen, Aziz needed to win British acquiescence (and much later, American endorsement). “This was the gambit that Abd al-Aziz made his own, with advice from Philby,” notes Schwartz.
BRITISH GODFATHER OF SAUDI ARABIA
In a sense, Philby may be said to be “godfather” to this momentous pact by which the Saudi leadership would use its clout to “manage” Sunni Islam on behalf of western objectives (containing socialism, Ba’athism, Nasserism, Soviet influence, Iran, etc.) — and in return, the West would acquiesce to Saudi Arabia’s soft-power Wahhabisation of the Islamic ummah (with its concomitant destruction of Islam’s intellectual traditions and diversity and its sowing of deep divisions within the Muslim world).
As a result — from then until now — British and American policy has been bound to Saudi aims (as tightly as to their own ones), and has been heavily dependent on Saudi Arabia for direction in pursuing its course in the Middle East.
In political and financial terms, the Saud-Philby strategy has been an astonishing success (if taken on its own, cynical, self-serving terms). But it was always rooted in British and American intellectual obtuseness: the refusal to see the dangerous “gene” within the Wahhabist project, its latent potential to mutate, at any time, back into its original a bloody, puritan strain. In any event, this has just happened: ISIS is it.
Winning western endorsement (and continued western endorsement), however, required a change of mode: the “project” had to change from being an armed, proselytizing Islamic vanguard movement into something resembling statecraft. This was never going to be easy because of the inherent contradictions involved (puritan morality versus realpolitik and money) — and as time has progressed, the problems of accommodating the “modernity” that statehood requires, has caused “the gene” to become more active, rather than become more inert.
Even Abd al-Aziz himself faced an allergic reaction: in the form of a serious rebellion from his own Wahhabi militia, the Saudi Ikhwan. When the expansion of control by the Ikhwan reached the border of territories controlled by Britain, Abd al-Aziz tried to restrain his militia (Philby was urging him to seek British patronage), but the Ikwhan, already critical of his use of modern technology (the telephone, telegraph and the machine gun), “were outraged by the abandonment of jihad for reasons of worldly realpolitik … They refused to lay down their weapons; and instead rebelled against their king … After a series of bloody clashes, they were crushed in 1929. Ikhwan members who had remained loyal, were later absorbed into the [Saudi] National Guard.”
King Aziz’s son and heir, Saud, faced a different form of reaction (less bloody, but more effective). Aziz’s son was deposed from the throne by the religious establishment — in favor of his brother Faisal — because of his ostentatious and extravagant conduct. His lavish, ostentatious style, offended the religious establishment who expected the “Imam of Muslims,” to pursue a pious, proselytizing lifestyle.
King Faisal, Saud’s successor, in his turn, was shot by his nephew in 1975, who had appeared at Court ostensibly to make his oath of allegiance, but who instead, pulled out a pistol and shot the king in his head. The nephew had been perturbed by the encroachment of western beliefs and innovation into Wahhabi society, to the detriment of the original ideals of the Wahhabist project.
SEIZING THE GRAND MOSQUE IN 1979
Far more serious, however, was the revived Ikhwan of Juhayman al-Otaybi, which culminated in the seizure of the Grand Mosque by some 400-500 armed men and women in 1979. Juhayman was from the influential Otaybi tribe from the Nejd, which had led and been a principal element in the original Ikhwan of the 1920s.
Juhayman and his followers, many of whom came from the Medina seminary, had the tacit support, amongst other clerics, of Sheikh Abdel-Aziz Bin Baz, the former Mufti of Saudi Arabia. Juhayman stated that Sheikh Bin Baz never objected to his Ikhwan teachings (which were also critical of ulema laxity towards “disbelief”), but that bin Baz had blamed him mostly for harking on that “the ruling al-Saud dynasty had lost its legitimacy because it was corrupt, ostentatious and had destroyed Saudi culture by an aggressive policy of westernisation.”
Significantly, Juhayman’s followers preached their Ikhwani message in a number of mosques in Saudi Arabia initially without being arrested, but when Juhayman and a number of the Ikhwan finally were held for questioning in 1978. Members of the ulema (including bin Baz) cross-examined them for heresy, but then ordered their release because they saw them as being no more than traditionalists harkening back to the Ikhwan— like Juhayman grandfather — and therefore not a threat.
Even when the mosque seizure was defeated and over, a certain level of forbearance by the ulema for the rebels remained. When the government asked for a fatwa allowing for armed force to be used in the mosque, the language of bin Baz and other senior ulema was curiously restrained. The scholars did not declare Juhayman and his followers non-Muslims, despite their violation of the sanctity of the Grand Mosque, but only termed them al-jamaah al-musallahah (the armed group).
The group that Juhayman led was far from marginalized from important sources of power and wealth. In a sense, it swam in friendly, receptive waters. Juhayman’s grandfather had been one of the leaders of the the original Ikhwan, and after the rebellion against Abdel Aziz, many of his grandfather’s comrades in arms were absorbed into the National Guard — indeed Juhayman himself had served within the Guard — thus Juhayman was able to obtain weapons and military expertise from sympathizers in the National Guard, and the necessary arms and food to sustain the siege were pre-positioned, and hidden, within the Grand Mosque. Juhayman was also able to call on wealthy individuals to fund the enterprise.
ISIS VS. WESTERNIZED SAUDIS
The point of rehearsing this history is to underline how uneasy the Saudi leadership must be at the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Previous Ikhwani manifestations were suppressed — but these all occurred inside the kingdom.
ISIS however, is a neo-Ikhwani rejectionist protest that is taking place outside the kingdom — and which, moreover, follows the Juhayman dissidence in its trenchant criticism of the al-Saud ruling family.
This is the deep schism we see today in Saudi Arabia, between the modernizing current of which King Abdullah is a part, and the “Juhayman” orientation of which bin Laden, and the Saudi supporters of ISIS and the Saudi religious establishment are a part. It is also a schism that exists within the Saudi royal family itself.
According to the Saudi-owned Al-Hayat newspaper, in July 2014 “an opinion poll of Saudis [was] released on social networking sites, claiming that 92 percent of the target group believes that ‘IS conforms to the values of Islam and Islamic law.'” The leading Saudi commentator, Jamal Khashoggi, recently warned of ISIS’ Saudi supporters who “watch from the shadows.”
There are angry youths with a skewed mentality and understanding of life and sharia, and they are canceling a heritage of centuries and the supposed gains of a modernization that hasn’t been completed. They turned into rebels, emirs and a caliph invading a vast area of our land. They are hijacking our children’s minds and canceling borders. They reject all rules and legislations, throwing it [a]way … for their vision of politics, governance, life, society and economy. [For] the citizens of the self-declared “commander of the faithful,” or Caliph, you have no other choice … They don’t care if you stand out among your people and if you are an educated man, or a lecturer, or a tribe leader, or a religious leader, or an active politician or even a judge … You must obey the commander of the faithful and pledge the oath of allegiance to him. When their policies are questioned, Abu Obedia al-Jazrawi yells, saying: “Shut up. Our reference is the book and the Sunnah and that’s it.”
“What did we do wrong?” Khashoggi asks. With 3,000-4,000 Saudi fighters in the Islamic State today, he advises of the need to “look inward to explain ISIS’ rise”. Maybe it is time, he says, to admit “our political mistakes,” to “correct the mistakes of our predecessors.”
MODERNIZING KING THE MOST VULNERABLE
The present Saudi king, Abdullah, paradoxically is all the more vulnerable precisely because he has been a modernizer. The King has curbed the influence of the religious institutions and the religious police — and importantly has permitted the four Sunni schools of jurisprudence to be used, by those who adhere to them (al-Wahhab, by contrast, objected to all other schools of jurisprudence other than his own).
It is even possible too for Shiite residents of eastern Saudi Arabia to invoke Ja’afri jurisprudence and to turn to Ja’afari Shiite clerics for rulings. (In clear contrast, al-Wahhab held a particular animosity towards the Shiite and held them to be apostates. As recently as the 1990s, clerics such as bin Baz — the former Mufti — and Abdullah Jibrin reiterated the customary view that the Shiite were infidels).
Some contemporary Saudi ulema would regard such reforms as constituting almost a provocation against Wahhabist doctrines, or at the very least, another example of westernization. ISIS, for example, regards any who seek jurisdiction other than that offered by the Islamic State itself to be guilty of disbelief — since all such “other” jurisdictions embody innovation or “borrowings” from other cultures in its view.
The key political question is whether the simple fact of ISIS’ successes, and the full manifestation (flowering) of all the original pieties and vanguardism of the archetypal impulse, will stimulate and activate the dissenter ‘gene’ — within the Saudi kingdom.
If it does, and Saudi Arabia is engulfed by the ISIS fervor, the Gulf will never be the same again. Saudi Arabia will deconstruct and the Middle East will be unrecognizable.
In short, this is the nature of the time bomb tossed into the Middle East. The ISIS allusions to Abd al-Wahhab and Juhayman (whose dissident writings are circulated within ISIS) present a powerful provocation: they hold up a mirror to Saudi society that seems to reflect back to them an image of “purity” lost and early beliefs and certainties displaced by shows of wealth and indulgence.
This is the ISIS “bomb” hurled into Saudi society. King Abdullah — and his reforms — are popular, and perhaps he can contain a new outbreak of Ikwhani dissidence. But will that option remain a possibility after his death?
And here is the difficulty with evolving U.S. policy, which seems to be one of “leading from behind” again — and looking to Sunni states and communities to coalesce in the fight against ISIS (as in Iraq with the Awakening Councils).
It is a strategy that seems highly implausible. Who would want to insert themselves into this sensitive intra-Saudi rift? And would concerted Sunni attacks on ISIS make King Abdullah’s situation better, or might it inflame and anger domestic Saudi dissidence even further? So whom precisely does ISIS threaten? It could not be clearer. It does not directly threaten the West (though westerners should remain wary, and not tread on this particular scorpion).
The Saudi Ikhwani history is plain: As Ibn Saud and Abd al-Wahhab made it such in the 18th century; and as the Saudi Ikhwan made it such in the 20th century. ISIS’ real target must be the Hijaz — the seizure of Mecca and Medina — and the legitimacy that this will confer on ISIS as the new Emirs of Arabia.
Tony Abbott is Prime Minister of Australia. It is one of those things that you know is true but remains incomprehensible. Like the concept of infinity. It’s hard to get your head around.
In most jobs you need to satisfy key criteria to even get an interview. To get a managerial position you must have experience and proven expertise. Along the way your success in meeting key performance indicators will be assessed.
Leaders should be people who inspire others, they should be role models and protectors, they should listen and empower, they should have good people skills and be able to negotiate, they should be trustworthy and able to explain the reasons for their decisions.
Or you can just agree to say climate change is crap, and become the leader of the nation.
But how did Tony even become a contender?
He attended a Catholic boys school where he bemoaned the fact that he was never chosen for the First XV rugby team. Apparently this was not due to a lack of talent but to selectors who did not recognise Tony’s ability.
Tony then went on to study economics/law at Sydney University (for free) even though he never worked in either field and described economics as a boring “dismal science”.
Tony was active in student politics, eventually becoming an unpopular leader of the Student Representative Council.
“During my term, despite my objections, the SRC, continued to give money to feminist, environmental and anti-nuclear groups. I never managed to have the feminist and homosexuals’ slogans on the SRC walls painted over nor to open the ‘Womens’ Room’ to men, nor to make the SRC more accountable by ending compulsory SRC fees.”
Contacts within the Jesuit network secured a Rhodes scholarship for Tony to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford even though he had campaigned fiercely against the Philosophy and Political Economy courses at Sydney University describing them as a waste of resources and a hotbed of Marxist feminists.
The selectors for the Oxford rugby team also failed to appreciate Tony’s talent, dropping him after one game and suggesting that his ability had been overstated.
When he returned to Australia, Tony entered the seminary to train for the priesthood but quickly became disillusioned with a church who had “lost its way” in his opinion.
“Looking back, it seems that I was seeking a spiritual and human excellence to which the Church is no longer sure she aspires. My feeble attempts to recall her to her duty — as I saw it — betrayed a fathomless disappointment at the collapse of a cherished ideal.
In addition, a “cooperative” style of management ran counter to the Church’s age-old hierarchical structure.
The more they played up lay ministry and ecumenism and played down the unique role of the priest in the one true Church, the more the struggle seemed pointless and the more I wanted to participate in worldly activities which were much more to my taste.
l felt “had” by a seminary that so stressed ”empathy” with sinners and “dialogue” with the Church’s enemies that the priesthood seemed to have lost its point.”
Of his time at St Patrick’s seminary, vice-rector Fr Bill Wright wrote of Tony that many found him “just too formidable to talk to unless to agree; overbearing and opiniated”.
“Tony is inclined to score points, to skate over or hold back any reservations he might have about his case.”
Tony had been writing the occasional article for the Catholic Weekly and, when he left the seminary, he began writing for the Packer-owned Bulletin where, interestingly, he instigated strike action over the sacking of photographers.
“When I was at the Bulletin, ACP management one day, quite unilaterally, decided to sack the entire photographic department ….we were all shocked, stunned, dismayed, appalled, flabbergasted – when management just came in and said they were sacking the photographic department. So we immediately had a stop work meeting. There were various appropriately angry speeches made and I moved the resolution to go on strike, which was carried, as far as I can recall, unanimously, and we went on strike for a couple of days.”
Tony only lasted about a year before he was writing to wealthy contacts looking for a job. Through the Jesuit network, he got one managing a concrete plant and very quickly found himself causing a total shutdown through his inept handling of employees.
In a 2001 interview with Workers Online Tony explained what happened. Interestingly, some time between me quoting the article in August and now, it has been removed. I guess we now know what all those people employed to trawl social media are being paid to do – erase history. It is happening to an increasing number of links but it is too late, the information is out there.
“I got to the plant in the morning, marched up and down the line of trucks like a Prussian army officer, telling owner-drivers who had been in the industry for longer than I had been alive, that that truck was too dirty, and that truck was filthy, and that truck had a leaking valve and had to be fixed.
Naturally enough, this wasn’t very popular, and I had been there a couple of months, and a phone call came through one morning from the quarry manager, saying that there was going to be a strike starting at midday.”
Tony then took it upon himself to take delivery and run the conveyer belt on his own.
“A phone call came through at 5.30 the next morning from the senior plant operator saying: “Did you turn the conveyor belt on yesterday?”. I said “Yeh”. He says “Right – nothing moves – this plant’s black – like to see you get yourself out of this little fix Sonny Boy!”
I thought that there’s really only one thing to do, and that’s to beg. So I got over there and I said to the senior plant operator. I said: “Stan I’m sorry. I’m new in this industry. I appreciate that I’ve been a bit of a so-and-so, but you’ve made your point and I will try to be different.”
He said to me: “It’s out of my hands. It’s in the hands of the union organiser.” So I said, who’s the union organiser and what’s his number? I rang him and I sort of begged and pleaded. I said, well, look why don’t we put the old final warning. That if I ever do this again, I’ll be run out of the industry. And there was silence on the end of the phone, and after about ten seconds he said: “I’m putting you on a final warning mate, if this ever happens again you will be run out of the industry.”
Abbott soon quit the job as it wasn’t paying enough money and accepted a position with The Australian as a journalist. When they went on strike over pay and conditions, Tony was by now campaigning on the side of management, arguing in front of six to seven hundred people at the lower Trades Hall in Sussex Street that they shouldn’t go on strike. His speech did not meet with a particularly warm reception and the strikes went ahead.
He continued writing at The Australian until John Howard recommended him for a position as the then Federal Liberal leader John Hewson’s press secretary. Tony was responsible for the infamous line in a Hewson speech saying you could tell the rental houses in a street.
Is it any wonder that Hockey thinks that “poor people don’t drive” and Pyne thinks that “women don’t take expensive degrees”?
In 1994 Tony was gifted the safe Liberal seat of Warringah in a by-election and has been skating ever since.
He has changed his mind on innumerable things, lied and contradicted himself countless times, and then denied lying, even changing his words and removing online links.
He is a man whose convictions are dictated to him by polls and focus groups in marginal seats and by marketing teams. Peta Credlin has increasingly centralized control failing to learn the Rudd lesson.
Tony learns his script but does not bother reading actual reports, relying on others to just tell him what to say. His Star Chamber silence dissent, pay hacks to produce reports saying what they want to hear, refuse to release any that may be critical or negative, while arrogantly and blatantly rewarding their political donors.
Tony is not a leader by any stretch of the imagination.
It is not the Labor Party who is stopping this from being a decent government.
Darren Lockyer, the Pope, Tony Abbott and a school boy were all on the same plane when the engine failed and started to plummet towards the Earth.
They all realised that there was four of them and only three parachutes.
Darren Lockyer got up and said, “I am a sporting superstar and must live so that I can please my fans and continue my career to beat the Kiwis and the Poms in the tri-nations series.”
So he grabbed a parachute and jumped out of the plane.
Then Tony Abbott got up and said, “I am the smartest Prime Minister Australia has ever had and I need to live to continue to govern the nation.”
So he grabbed a parachute and jumped out of the plane.
Then the Pope said to the school boy, “I am old and have lived my life so you should take the last parachute instead of me.”
The school boy replied, “No, it’s okay, the worlds smartest Prime Minister took my school bag so there’s one for each of us!”