E-Newsletter No. 18, 2 September 2014

ISSN:2202-5561 ©

Not just a newsletter, also a website; these are new

Loyalty long ago and honesty today: Pamela Burton on claims that Dr John Burton was a spy

Pioneering writing on the Frontier Wars: Humphrey McQueen (1973, 1977 and 1981)

Blokes and coves and coots: Amanda Laugesen on Great War slang

Commemoration in Australia and Britain: Ben Wellings compares

Questioning Anzac: Jon Atkins on a community alternative in Sydney

War why and how: Neville Buch on how the Great War began and how it was fought

Jauncey, King O’Malley and Andrew Fisher take the train to Albert Park; plus more on Beatrice

Other recent posts: wartime spin, The War that Changed Us, brass on Iraq, nation-shaping before Gallipoli, inequality

Hermes and Eirene: two new websites address history and peace

More tweaks to our website

Honest History launches in four cities

Brisbane (29 September, RSVP), Adelaide (9 October, RSVP), Melbourne (13 October, RSVP), Sydney (14 November)

Centenary Watch

Local Grants; travelling exhibitions; Fremantle lays it on; Canadians cry ‘enough’; Trotskyists watch Aotearoa New Zealand


Soldier’s faith? ‘[T]he faith is true and adorable which leads a soldier to throw away his life in obedience to a blindly accepted duty, in a cause which he little understands, in a plan of campaign of which he has little notion, under tactics of which he does not see the use.’ (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr, 1895)

Fear sells. ‘Politicians and media populists are expert at the manipulation of fears to exercise control and ratchet up their approval ratings. And we are conditioned to respond. Fear sells – and it gets governments elected.’ (Carmen Lawrence, 2006)

Cultural heritage. ‘Middle-class Australia’s shallow, derivative culture has in part been a consequence of the wilful and continuing denial of its debt to the Aborigines, and its refusal to think about the nightmare on which the Australian dream has depended.’ (Judith Brett, 1992)

Defining moment. ‘The arrival of the first fleet was the defining moment in the history of this continent. Let me repeat that: it was the defining moment in the history of this continent. It was the moment this continent became part of the modern world. It determined our language, our law and our fundamental values. Yes, it did dispossess and for a long time marginalise Indigenous people. As Noel Pearson frequently reminds us, modern Australia has an important Indigenous and multicultural character. Still it’s British settlement that has most profoundly shaped the country that we are.’ (Tony Abbott, 2014)

Lessons in the sand. The Australian Army has commenced ‘a significant study of Army’s institutional lessons of the past 15 years … Learning from operational experience and encoding in the force the key elements of those lessons is a core function for any professional military organisation.’ 

Advice to Western Australians. ‘Perhaps you will be content with a moderate and humdrum success, but I hope not. I hope that the more adventurous and enterprising spirits among you will be inspired by a golden vision of a possible future, and will be content to take the risks involved in aiming at a great success rather than acquiesce in the comfortable certainty of a modest competence.’ (Bertrand Russell, 1950)

Muscular patriotism. ‘Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades.’ (George Orwell, review of Mein Kampf, 1940)

Ever thus? The young reporter in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962; directed by John Ford, screenplay by James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck) hears the truth about the death of the outlaw Liberty Valance. Nevertheless, the reporter decides to destroy his notes. ‘This is the West’, he says. ‘When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.’ In Australia in 2014, despite conclusive mythbusting about Simpson and his donkey, the Centenary Suburbs RSL Sub-Branch in the electorate of Oxley, west of Brisbane, has received a grant of $45 000 from the Commonwealth to install a statue of Simpson and donkey at the Centenary Suburbs War Memorial Gardens in leafy Mt Ommaney.

What’s on

Wheeler Institute, Melbourne, Indigenous writing awards, 3 September; Melbourne Uni: Writing the Pacific, re-writing Australia, 12 September; History Week, Sydney, 6-13 September, Quakers exhibition; Balmain Institute, Sydney, Downsizing Anzac, 25 September; National Motor Museum, Adelaide, motoring icons exhibition; Independent Scholars’ Association of Australia conference, Canberra, 9-10 October.