NSW Election

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 25/03/2019 - 6:14pm in


coal, fear, Guns

Venting my reaction to the NSW election results.

Do You Have a Misery- or Martyr-Habit?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 20/03/2019 - 1:15am in


fear, philosophy

When fear-thought reigns, a person will make herself miserable.

The Dark Legacy of John Winston Howard

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 18/03/2019 - 12:59pm in


fear, Terrorism

In 2001, desperately behind in the polls, John Howard turned to the dark side.

Howard appealed to fear. He vilified an innocent group of people. He did it to placate a growing group of xenophobes, and as a distraction from boosting immigration rates.

In August Howard attempted to block the delivery of rescued refugees to Christmas Island by the Norwegian vessel Tampa. He portrayed the refugees as unwelcome and dangerous aliens. Soon after, I wrote

Prime Minister John Howard has set Australia on a slippery slope … he has promoted a dynamic in Australian society that, left unchecked, will deliver us into fascism.

That dynamic was left unchecked. The level of fear has had to be steadily raised by the fear mongers so as to distract people from rationally assessing the low or non-existent risk from asylum seekers.

The difference between the Port Arthur gun massacre of 1996 and Friday’s Christchurch massacre is that the deranged Port Arthur killer shot randomly at anyone he encountered whereas the Christchurch killer, an Australian, sought out a vilified immigrant minority to attack.

After Tampa came the 9-11 attacks in New York and Washington. Howard exploited those attacks to further vilify Moslems and foreigners, though the attackers were from our alleged ally Saudi Arabia.

The ‘children overboard’ affair came just before the 2001 election. Howard and co-conspirators let the misunderstanding run that refugees had thrown their children overboard when in fact the refugees’ boat was sinking and our navy was rescuing them. Propelled by this fear-mongering lie Howard fell over the line and won the election.

In 2003 Howard enthusiastically backed the US invasion of Iraq. That invasion was based on quite false intelligence, questioned at the time, and was illegal by international law. It resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents and led directly to the formation of the vicious Islamic State militia attempting to defend Islam and Middle Eastern territories from Western invasion.

The Iraq invasion and Howard’s earlier support for the typically misguided US ‘War on Terror’ also put Australia in the sights of Islamic extremists, as predicted at the time. The 2002 Bali bombings were a direct retaliation and the 2014 Lindt Cafe siege perpetrator invoked anti-Islamic rhetoric and symbols.

Through this period Coalition Ministers have overtly lied that asylum seekers are illegal. They have dog-whistled media fear-mongers and reactionaries to amplify the false claim that boat-borne refugees reaching our shores include terrorists.

Civil liberties have been steadily wound back and surveillance of the whole population greatly expanded, in the name of protecting us from the terrorists incited by the actions of Howard and his successors.

From the first Labor has been unwilling to resist the fear-mongering and as a result has been complicit either overtly or by omission.

The trend to increasing police state apparatus may have peaked last year when Peter Dutton attempted to wrest the Liberal leadership from Malcolm Turnbull. Dutton was already the most powerful minister, of the Home Affairs department, and he had implemented many police-state components. As Prime Minister he would have proceeded apace to complete the job.

Fortunately Dutton couldn’t count and came a cropper. The push of the radical Right is now in disarray and they are being challenged by moderate candidates. If we are smart, and lucky, Australia will begin a slow retreat from the brink of fascism.

John Howard set us on this path in 2001 because he had implemented the highly unpopular Goods and Services Tax and was desperate for a way to regain popularity.

He had initially cut Australia’s immigration intake but this was unpopular with big business, who wanted cheap labour. Ever the cunning politician, Howard hit upon the strategy of vilifying boat-borne refugees to distract the xenophobes while increasing immigration again to placate his sponsors.

Ever since, asylum seekers have been arriving by air and have been received and processed with no fuss from politicians and complicit media. Asylum seekers, by whatever means of transport, have never comprised more than a small fraction of immigrants. If our cities are overcrowded, services faltering and employment insecure it is not because of refugees.

Howard’s strategy was abetted by media more interested in ‘news’ than a healthy society. In particular the business model of the Murdoch media is to frighten, outrage and divide people for profit. This, and Labor’s desertion of its origins in 1983, was enough to keep Labor from resisting.

John Howard’s 2001 re-election strategy was based on deception, distortion, overt lies and an explicit appeal to fear. We are still counting the consequences of his dark legacy.

Why Do Some Poor People Vote Against their Interests?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/03/2019 - 5:32am in

If head and heart are at odds, emotion often wins out.

Haunted Arguments

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 01/01/2019 - 6:18am in


fear, Politics

Many monsters haunt our political arguments on social media. And whoever fights monsters must take care not to become a monster.

The Shames Of Anger

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/12/2018 - 9:53am in

I’ve written before, here on this blog, about the pleasures of anger, of holding on to grudges–the two are, of course, inter-related, for very often it is the pleasure of experiencing anger that allows us to retain a long-held grudge. These ‘pleasures,’ such as they are, have a role to play in the economy of our lives, it is why we experience them as such–they ‘work for us’ somehow or the other, which is why we seek them out and retain them. But they do not come for free, not without their own incurred costs, ones we are willing to pay; the devastating and melancholic shames associated with the expression of anger and the retention of grudges. The shame of anger is experienced most directly when the effects of our anger are visible: the hurt of a partner or friend we have tongue-lashed or driven out of our lives, the fear and sadness and confusion of a child who has encountered our furious loss of self-control, the sometimes irrevocable damage done to relationships, romantic or familial.

These are powerful reminders of our lack of virtue; haunting indicators of how far we need to go in asserting mastery over ourselves. We are reminded violence comes in many forms, and is expressed and experienced in a rich and uncomfortable diversity; we are reminded too, by way of introspective contact with our own hurts and unresolved resentments that the injuries we bear and nurse are not always visible; the effects of the ‘blows’ we have landed through our anger are only partially visible to us–there is more to this landscape of fear and hurt than we can ever possibly know; much of it remains unaccounted for. We are reminded of the humanity and vulnerability of others when we remember and relive the effects of others’ anger being visited on us. That fear, that panic, that urge to flee– we induce those feelings in others through our thoughts and deeds; they experience the same painful affects we do. (Allied with the shame engendered by such thoughts is yet another variant: we might seek forgiveness for our anger, beg to be forgiven, and yet we do not move forward, unwilling to descend from our perches–for we are reluctant to admit guilt, to encounter another shame that our selves might send our way, that of having ‘backed down.’ In this kind of situation at least, masculinity has a great deal to answer for.)

The shames of anger remind us of why anger is considered corrosive–these signposts in our minds that we are not ‘quite together,’ that we are disordered, are powerful covert agents, inhibiting us, consuming our psychic energies in consoling ourselves, in providing ourselves palliative diversions and distractions. It becomes yet another component of our ongoing dissatisfaction with ourselves, yet another reminder that for all the blame we may send the world’s way, we always find the finger pointing back at us.

Why Do Ever Fearful Conservatives Ignore Climate Threat?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 05/12/2018 - 3:54am in

A great deal of evidence suggests that conservatives are more attuned to threat than liberals are. Yet, they seem impervious to the risks of climate change.

Climbing And The Persistent, If Irrational, Fear Of Falling

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 29/11/2018 - 8:55am in


Psychology, fear

A curious experience in roped climbing (whether on auto-belay, top-roped climbing, or following a leader on a multi-pitch route) is the presence of instinctive fears that should have no rational basis for persistence. Like the fear of falling, for instance.  There you are, tied in with your faithful figure-eight knot into your climbing harness, which is snug around your waist, connected to your belayer who is clipped and locked into the belay loop. The knots are good, the gear works, your belayer has you; you cannot fall. And yet, as you step out to make a move that requires some balance, or that might not offer the best grip, you experience a sudden sickening sensation; you are afraid; you become aware of the number of feet you are off the ground; you feel your palms grow sweaty, your heart starts to beat a bit faster. You are in trouble.

You aren’t. But you feel it anyway. Old habits and instincts die hard. I’ve always been terrified by heights, by the sickening vertigo and nausea they induced in me. Overcoming that fear was one of the reasons for my taking up climbing a couple of years ago; I hoped that ‘controlled exposure’ to heights would help me become more familiar with these fears; I would never ‘master’ them but I could learn to work in their presence; perhaps working through some task or problem at hand even while I was afflicted by them. The good news is that these expectations have been borne out by my experiences. Very often, over the last couple of years, I have found myself in places (precarious belay ledges) and situations (negotiating narrow exposed traverses) that would previously have terrified me in incapacitating ways. But the fears are always there, anchored in instincts and reflexes that have hardened over the years.

And so, even when I’m indoors, inside a comfortable climbing gym, tied and clipped in, with nowhere to go in the case of a slip but slowly, smoothly down, riding a rope all the way, when my body senses, even if for only for a micro-instant, that slight absence of security or solidity that signals the earth opening up under my feet, I retreat (or rather, am forced back) to an older me. This particular instinctive reaction will, of course, become familiar in its own way; I will learn to anticipate it, welcome it, live with it. As I never fail to notice during my indoor climbing sessions, when I start climbing for the day, such reactions are at their most visceral, and are attenuated as I continue to climb. Some of the intensity of my instinctive responses then will be tempered, by greater experience; as my body learns that these falls do not end in anything more bothersome than some swinging through air, or a painful bump against an exposed hold (I’m not counting falls taken by lead climbers which can result in serious injuries.)

Of course, by the time I get to that stage, I will have discovered newer fears to work through. And hopefully, improved my climbing.

How Not to Fall Apart When the World Is

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 13/11/2018 - 10:26am in


empathy, fear, Politics

An extremely scary thing happened to me that should be a warning to all of us who are repelled by the outbreak of all the recent mounting hate and violence. I realized that...

How Fear Leads to Anger

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 10/11/2018 - 2:20am in

Emotions cause other emotions—such as when people’s fears make them angry at those deemed responsible for making them afraid.