E-newsletter no. 20, 5 November 2014

ISSN:2202-5561 ©

New on Honest History website: https://honesthistory.net.au

  • Does arms spending lead to war? we ask questions about the links over fifty years between Australian spending on arms imports and our commitments to wars
  • Honest History is a cause, not a cult: we publish Peter Stanley’s Eldershaw lecture, including musings about military-social history, Anzackery and commercialisation
  • ACOSS reports on Australian poverty: despite our history of more than twenty years of growth there are more and more people living below the poverty line
  • Anzac Treasures: our book review considers the Australian War Memorial’s polished ploughing of a well-worn furrow (at $69.99 a copy but where is the money going?)
  • Schools, teachers and students during the Great War: new Department of Veterans’ Affairs lesson materials strike a nice balance though DVA’s martial productions still prevail
  • Curriculum review (Donnelly-Wiltshire) report: our comments on the review report plus a highlights reel on the history curriculum supplementary material
  • Drilling down in Gippsland: Phil Cashen introduces his blog on how the Great War hit home in the Shire of Alberton
  • Teaching children about war: thoughtful remarks from the Australian War Memorial; is Anzac a danger to children? Minister on children’s obligations; David Turnoy again on imprinting
  • Leslie Jauncey observes FDR and reports back to Australia; more on King O’Malley and banking
  • 7 November: 1st anniversary of launch of Honest History website; donate to keep us going!
  • Honest History launch in Sydney with Thomas Keneally, 14 November
  • Honest History committee changes

Centenary Watch

More Anzac Centenary Local Grants announced; Albany re-enactment speeches; ANZAC letters stolen; World Socialist Web Site reviews a war movie; Discovering Anzacs at the Archives; Love and Sorrow in Melbourne; Gallipoli Centenary Peace Campaign; No Glory in War in Britain; Poppies no more; Twistory on Twitter


Questions from a worker who reads. ‘Who built Thebes of the seven gates? In the books you will find the name of kings. Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock? And Babylon, many times demolished. Who raised it up so many times? In what houses of gold-glittering Lima did the builders live? Where, the evening that the Great Wall of China was finished did the masons go? Great Rome is full of triumphal arches. Who erected them? Over whom did the Caesars triumph? Had Byzantium, much praised in song, only palaces for its inhabitants? Even in fabled Atlantis the night the ocean engulfed it the drowning still bawled for their slaves.’ Bertolt Brecht, 1935

Novel politics. ‘Federation and everything it encompassed, like workers’ rights, the welfare safety net and suffrage, and not the criminal Gallipoli landings, constituted the birth of Australian nationhood. Yeah, I’ve always had a thing about 1 January 1901 and why the Founding Fathers – after years of bush pioneering and forging governance out of the wretched, miserable Pommy penal colonies that were filled with political prisoners – were much more important than the King and Country cannon-fodder Anzacs’: Daniel Slattery, fictional Labor Leader, in Challenge, by Paul Daley

Whitlam back from China 1971. ‘The foreign policy of this country [Australia] is in ruins; the foundations on which it rested for more than twenty years have crumbled. Yet we pass on with scarcely a tremor of alarm or a gesture of remorse. There is no acknowledgement from the government which has presided over this collapse that it might have been in error; no outcry from an outraged public; no demand for re-examination from an informed free press.’ Gough Whitlam speaking after his return from China, 1971: Towards a New Australia: Under a Labor Government, published 1972, p.1

Bishop remembered. ‘He was “disturbed” by what he called the Anzac myth, “revitalised with a new and wrong emphasis, and at a time when successive Australian Governments have felt a need to rekindle a commitment to war as a means of responding to current world situations, not always wisely”. He added his voice to those calling for the centenary of Gallipoli next year “to be the last time we celebrate Anzac Day, and the time when we lay to rest the Anzac myth".’ Late Anglican Bishop of Gippsland, John McIntyre, preaching shortly before his death earlier this year: Melbourne Anglican, July 2014

Missing from the story. ‘The fact that none of these [Ballarat 1854] women’s names is as familiar to us as that of Peter Lalor points to the inherent gender bias of Australian nationalism. In fact, men and women from many lands stood together beneath a new flag. The flag bore the symbol of the constellation that located and united them in their new home — the Southern Cross. That flag was almost certainly sewn by the women of Ballarat.’ Clare Wright, author of The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka

Unhappy High Commissioner. ‘If I stayed in Scotland … I should have been able to heckle my member on questions of Imperial policy and vote for or against him on that ground. I went to Australia. I have been Prime Minister. But all the time I have had no say whatever. Now that can’t go on. There must be some change.’ Andrew Fisher, interviewed in The Times, 31 January 1916, quoted by Neville Meaney, p. 47

They also serve.‘I wanted to talk about the damage war does through generations … It doesn’t stop at the people who actually fought. It affects children and the children of the children. I’m afraid the guys get excited about a war and they forget about that sometimes.’ Sheila Hancock, actor/author (Miss Carter’s War)

American cousin. ‘As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.’ HL Mencken