Sunday, June 21, 2020

Granville loses its MP and a true account of the mean streets of Clyde

As if there wasn't enough terrible news in the world today, Granville's state MP Julia Finn has stepped down from the NSW Shadow Cabinet over branch stacking allegations.

I am not happy. This leaves those us Granville residents without any voice at all in the NSW Labor Shadow cabinet. It is a big blow.

It's no coincidence that these allegations come at a time when powerful forces have made clear their desire to silence Granvillian voices.

I personally give no credence at all to these allegations. I've never met Julia Finn but I do know Granville. Manipulating the rules of the NSW Labor Party to inflate your local branch membership so as to gain political advantage is simply not what we do here. 

I've lived here for over a year and I've never seen any branch stacking. Either the branch stacking happens very discreetly or these are straight up lies by those whose anti-Granville agenda is well-known.

Some will say that now, at least, Julia Finn has more time to spend tending to the needs of her constituents, no longer distracted from high flying, high stakes world of the NSW Opposition's cabinet meetings. Maybe. Who knows, she might even find time to recruit actual humans to the local branch now. Anything is possible in these unprecedented times. 

Now I am Granville till I die. I have "2142" tatooed across my heart.

But... well with all the heat we've been getting with this unseemly branch stacking scandal (I've heard property prices have dropped) ... well I thought there can't be any harm in checking out the neighouring places. Just to take a look.

And so on this day I set out to do something I had never done before. I would walk eastwrds to Clyde Train Station and there, I'd cross the train lines to the northern side, and walk streets of Clyde.

This was as far as I'd ever gone before:

On the other side was unknown territory. Forget branch stacking, did they even have Labor Party branches?

I walked forward with trepidation. I had to stop half way across to gather my courage.

It was when I began my descent on the other side of the tracks that I began to grasp just why these streets had such a notorious rep:

Look I'll not deny the sign caused me pause. But it takes a bit more than the threat of entering Kelly Country to scare me. I used hangout with the Kellys' back in the day. In fact I was known as the "Fifth Kelly", like with Stu Sutcliffe and the Beatles, only I didn't die of a brain haemorrhage but was kicked out of the Kelly Gang for excessive drunkardness. Which, if you ever saw how those bastards drank, you'd know was an achievement.

Anyway, if you walk closer you can see those red splatters on the wall aren't actually exploded blood splatters at all. They are actually just leaves! Look:

So I made it. I walked a free man into that barren wasteland that lies just east of Granville and west of Auburn.

I have seen more welcoming places to be honest.

I have read that as the suburb is just industrial these days, and no one actually lives in Clyde any more. Having seen how mean Clyde's houses are, I'm not surprised.

And I don't know what Clyde is hiding, but security is out of control! This place is protected by a flying jeep driven by a ghost child!

And I don't know what they dump in this body of water, but it's called Duck River and I didn't see a single duck. It's very suspicious.

Still, you can get all your cement needs met in Clyde, so it's not all bad.

But the strangest thing I noticed about Clyde was that, while in Granville the berries on our trees are red or sometimes green, here the berries were purple.

Or yellow.

This was very unnerving. It was the strange berry colours that convinced me something was not right.

I had to get out, I moved quickly, not raising me head to notice what I can only assume were an increasingly bizarre array of colours, like brink pink or off-white with magenta spots.

Finally, I made it back onto Granville land and headed straight to safety.

At the end of the day, whatever problems Granville faces, I think I am far better here, where it is relatively safe. Plus it turns ot the Granville elctorate takes in a large chunk of Clyde anyway.

Still, a nice day.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

On Statues (Or 'Me and James Connolly')

I don't think I ever really thought about statues until I was 19.

Backpacking around Europe, I'd arrived in Dublin. Walking around the city centre, I stumbled across a statue of this proud looking bloke with a big moustache, the quote behind him declaring, "The cause of Labour is the cause of Ireland. The cause of Ireland is the cause of Labour."

I grew up in Australia. Here, the statues are what seemed to me an endlessly bland array of colonial figures.

So what THE ACTUAL FUCK was this?

I read at the statue, or maybe elsewhere in Dublin, about James Connolly being a trade unionist, socialist and republican who died in an the 1916 Easter Rising insurrection against British rule.

Seriously WTF? A statue to a trade unionist, just by itself, was totally foreign to me. I'd never seen one in Australia. I mean, trade unionists organise the downtrodden against the powers-that-be and the powers-that-be build the statues... don't they?

But this guy wasn't just a trade unionst ...but a socialist? Even more, a revolutionary who was executed for leading an insurrection against British colonial rule??? My beer-addled teenage brain was trying to figure out WHY a statue would be built to such a person.

It was obvious I knew fuck all about Irish history and politics. I had a vague idea they had grievances with the British, and I kinda liked their folk music and Guinness. Especially the Guinness.

But I never knew their grievances could run so deep that in the centre of their capital they would erect a statue to a socialist revolutionary who had died trying to overthrow British rule by force of arms.

I was shocked, coz I also quite liked English-style ale. Did I now have to choose?

The Easter Rising museum in Dublin provided a basic introduction to the 1916 rebellion Connolly helped lead. I was introduced to the profound and moving Proclamation of the Irish Republic that Connolly helped draft.

I should point out, I wasn't a stranger to such revolutionary documents and their role on mass struggles. I had been to South Africa in the immediate aftermath of the end of Apartheid, when Mandela was first elected president, and the ANC's Freedom Charter was everywhere. It has a lot in common with the Proclamation, but is even more detailed in its radicalism.

But still... to walk through some European nation, which culturally seemed not a million miles from my own (alcohol abuse especially) and see a statue of a revolutionary socialist was gobsmacking.

In truth, as I now know, the statues I grew up with were not actually bland colonial figures at all. They were psychpathic mass murdering white supremicist colonial figures. Which, say what you will, isn't bland.

That's the great magic trick of Australian history. It presents itself as paint-drying levels of boring. Nothing happened, bar a gold rush, the Eureka Stockade, Ned Kelly and then 100 years later a prime minister got sacked.

That was about all we learned at school and predictably every single student was convinced there was nothing more boring in the Known Universe than "Australian History".

It is a clever trick to use dire boredom to distract from a huge decades-long, multi-faceted Frontier War and ongoing genocide. Most students never looked too closely coz we were too busy yawning.

Australia's statues tell a story that is fascinating, if monstrous. They are monuments to the true nature of this nation. They repesent figures associated with the violent and bloody dispossession of the First Australians.

What struck me about the Connolly statue was this was commemorating a figure who died rebelling against the British Empire, and the statues where I was from were all of representatives of that Empire.

That the Irish state that emerged from the 1919-21 War of Independence against British rule bore no resemblence to Connoly's vision was not really the point. That statue told me, in literally concrete form, that a different and better world had been fought and died for, and that this struggle was important enough to commemorate for future generations.

Statues are visual depictions of what values your society holds. What moral compass guides your society? What principles does it hold to?

So when I see people in Britain upset at the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol had been dumped in the sea... I think this says an enormous amount about them and their society.

As it does about those who want to "save" the statue of pro-slavery general Robert E. Lee in Virginia in the US.

As it does about those upset at the fall of a statue in Belgium to King Leopold II  -- the butcher of the Congo.

 As it does about the snowflakes up in arms about some grafitti on statues of James Cook in this country.

And on Ireland, it's not that they never had statues to figures representing colonial power. For many years, right up until 1966, Dublin was not just home to statues of republican heroes like Connolly... but also "Nelson's Pillar", a homage to British admiral Horatio Nelson.

It towered over Dublin until one night in1966, it was blown up by a splinter group of the Irish Republican Army.

That statue was just granite. Here are seminal Irish folk group The Dubliners singing a jaunty little tune about the incident.

Monday, June 08, 2020

These clips of J. Cole and Janelle Monae might give some clue to why the US has exploded

I don't really get what is happening in the United State right now.

I simply cannot see what in the US's history of genocidal dispossession of its original inhabitants, wealth built by slaves, violent suppression of post-slavery Black people to keep them second class, violence unleashed on super-exploited workers fighting to improve their conditions with anti-union terror common place, growing imperial machinery to use violence to impose your interests the world over as a bloodstained super-power, a campaign  of disruption and murderous violence against Black radicals, the collapse of post-war prosperity and extreme rise in inequality and general suffering as the top 1% grow exponentially richer all the while the judicial system imposing extreme violence against non-whites, also often the poorest, grows too, and the out-of-control system wrecks havoc on the planet causing worsening extreme weather that disproportionately affects the poorest everywhere including the US where it is an opportunity to ethnic cleanse Black areas in the name of "gentrification", worsening persecution against migrants whose cheap labour underpins the entire economy, and the undemocratic, corporate-owned electoral system blocking any sort genuinely pro-people movement to express itself institutionally all the while people's living conditions keep worsening and there isn't even basic universal health care, then a deadly pandemic breaks out and the government does fucking nothing to help its people with the virus killing Black people disproportionately and yet more deadly violence against Black people could give us any sort of clue this explosion was coming.

Talk about blind-sided.

Still I guess it hasn't entirely come from nowhere. These two songs from the US I have found myself listening to, one after the other, when thinking about US state violence against its people, espeically the ones with black skin.

The first involves heartbreak, the second defiant fury, The second follows the first.

The first is by rapper J. Cole, performed on Late Night With David Letterman in 2014, in the aftermath of Eric Garner's murder (among many others). The second is by neo-soul singer Janelle Monae and everyone else from her own record company Wondaland.

'All we want do is take these chains off'

'Say their name...'


In unrelated news, Black people are shot dead with impunity by police in Australia too. Aboriginal country singer Kev Carmody produced this haunting yet matter-of-fact tale of the cold-blooded murder of Aboriginal man David Gundy. And unrelated to this tale is the outbreak of Black LIves Matter protests in Long Bay prison today.

Terrorists dressed in uniform
Under the protection of their law
Terrorise blacks in dawns of fear
They come smashin' through your door
You're not safe out there on freedom street
You're not safe inside the "can"
For their shotguns and their stunt gas
They're licenced to drop you where you stand

Check out Warrioirs of the Aboriginal Resistance on Facebook.