Wednesday, January 26, 2011


“Man proceeds in a fog. But when he looks back to judge people of the past, he sees no fog on their path. From his present, which was their far-away future, their path looks perfectly clear to him, good visibility all the way. Looking back he sees the path, he sees the people proceeding, he sees their mistakes, but not the fog.”
Image – A few years later and not quite as shipshape as Matthew Flinders, RN would have kept the original, an alleged replica of his command, ‘HMS Investigator’ complete with ‘Trim’ the ship’s cat, visits our humble port.
‘Alleged’ because she’s figged out more like his ‘HMS Lady Nelson’ – a vessel Flinders rejected as ‘unsuitable for purpose’.
Taut rigging and nicely raked masts, though.
Is that Union flag missing the Cross of St Patrick?

The editorial meeting discussed early age ‘conditioning’ and mental hardwiring; whether it is possible for entire generations to be completely fooled by a confidence trick perpetuated by official control over, say, education and the media.
Inge, Lady Friday chaired the meeting and set the agenda beginning with her recall of schooldays carefully segregated into various seasons and subjects.
All a fair old monologue.

She maintained, despite being the beneficiary of a good non-government education, that much of what should have been her free time was spent in private tutorials providing her information in flat contradiction with the government mandated syllabus.
With certain subjects she enjoyed, maths, history and civics, she insisted the difference was often astoundingly conflicting – enough to play mayhem with her exam results up to and including reading humanities at uni.

When queried about what she meant by ‘seasons’ she said she wasn’t too fond of organized team sport and was required to play this ‘character building’ game in summer and another sort in winter while her requests to set up individual achievement sports like gliding, archery and rifle target shooting were strenuously denied.
Well, that set the scene.

Klaus spoke next with some pearls of wisdom about regimes present and past.

Grinning like the junkyard dog he started with –
“Ah, so you believe that they tried to condition you at school “?
“Well, they did that to the Hitler Youth and to Baden Powell’s Boy Scouts – and I’m sure they’re still doing the same to kids now here, in North Korea, Israel and the USA – so what makes you think that you should miss out on your share of disinformation and conditioning?”

“Consider the USA; would you believe press reports from the states that Elvis is still alive and slinging hamburger in some sleazy dive?
Yet enough Americans believe it and many more support their right to believe that crap and worse.
Now you tell me who wired them up that way and why they would bother?”

“Are you saying we are so stupid that we’d fall for stuff like that” – demanded Arthur.

“Oh go look at yourself Arthur; you’re the bloke who never steps on the joins in the concrete path.
Who put that idea in your head then – and when – or is it some tribal memory?”

“No, what I mean”, says Klaus, “is that some myths just happen out of the blue while others happen and are perpetuated for a reason.
Take Elvis. Without the myth being perpetuated Gracelands would become a crumbling ruin and so would many bank accounts.”

“So when does a myth become a colossal lie?” Inge asks Klaus.

“Well, let’s look at a couple of situations written as fact in our official histories that have been exposed as myths by guests of Phillip Adams on his LNL radio show.
One has to do with the Nazi concentration camps and the small point that they were not dedicated death camps. The guest author is not a holocaust denier by any means but felt motivated to correct huge factual errors to do with that sorry time.”
Now that one was last night.
On his first show of the year his guest was Professor Alan Frost of Latrobe U., a specialist in Australian history.
Prof. Frost wished to advise that his research has disclosed a mass of original documents dealing with the first settlement of Australia, not as a penal colony but rather as an adjunct to Empire involving military facilities and ultimately materiel support for other outpasts of Empire”.

“That’s all well and fine;” says Calligula “but as you know I’ve been writing to John Passant recently about the same subject. Must be Australia Day causing it all”
“But why don’t we do some mythbusting ourselves?”

Let’s start with Joseph Banks. Who was he –
  • Of the gentry
  • Wealthy
  • Well educated
  • A Mason
  • A man of multi-disciplinary science, a polymath
  • A mentor of applied science, especially military materiel applications
  • An industry stakeholder in military procurement
  • Fellow of the Royal Society
  • An advisor to court
  • Ditto to the Admiralty
  • A mentor of discovery

Much more could be said about him; say, his willingness to share the risk of the odd voyage of discovery by embarking himself, the fact that a disproportionate number of his friends and colleagues were involved with interesting activities like military technology and espionage, and that so many schemes he was involved with, apparently beginning as private ventures, concluded successfully as part and parcel of Empire.

Now if that doesn’t describe the world’s all time most successful and influential spy master – then nothing would.

It would be extremely doubtful whether such an intelligent, well informed and self-interested person would lend support to converting New Holland into  a mere penal colony at the outrageous cost of 100 pounds per convict (Alan Frost’s research).

It is unreasonable to pretend that New Holland was the only bit of spare real estate available to the Brits at that time for the establishment of a convict colony.

A really cynical reader of history could readily conclude that if all England needed to do was rid herself of some unwanted unruly population then all that would be necessary would be to pre-empt the next Continental skirmish or ship them off to Ireland.

The true story – The “Great Game”
Britain did not accidentally forge an Empire.
As is so often declaimed these days the Great Game whirls around oil and energy resources.
In the days of Farmer George enough oil came from whales and energy from coal whereas the great game was played over sources of cordage, timber, leather, cloth, saltpetre, sulphur and tar necessary to keep the great ships at sea and ports to replenish them.
A modern Naval strategist is as perfectly aware of the concept of Naval Chokepoints as would Evan Nepean’s advisors.
Britian had made a conscious decision to embark on an incremental campaign of Imperialist expansion.
Naturally enough the Royal Navy had to be the vehicle of that campaign and was fortunate enough to possess human resources skillful and audacious enough to best utilize the limited available materiel resources.
In short men like Joseph Banks and Evan Nepean worked in close collaboration with heroes like James Cook, William Bligh, Matthew Flinders and George Bass in order to establish a military presence and series of naval stations (strategic naval chokepoints) guarding Imperial interests in Southern/South East Asia, the Western Pacific, the Southern and Indian Oceans.
Not a bad job at all, done on the cheap with an ad-hoc flotilla of merchant built vessels and a motley crew of convicts.

But it is Australia day today and instead of the bleeding obvious we have to proceed with the same old myth that keeps us all in our allotted mediocre place.

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