E-newsletter no. 23, 3 March 2015

ISSN: 2202-5561 (c)

New on the site

  • Defining Moments lets people decide on our national stories (plural): National Museum of Australia
  • Is this ‘our story’? Another look at the Australian War Memorial’s refurbished galleries and what lies beneath
  • Words in the trenches: Guardian Australia‘s Paul Daley reviews Amanda Laugesen’s Furphies and Whizz-bangs
  • Who’s building the Joint Strike Fighter in Australia? Honest History Factsheet
  • Gallipoli on television is a long haul: Peter Stanley reviews the fading Channel 9 series
  • Why does Honest History do television and film reviews?
  • Honest History goes to school: a History Extension symposium in Glebe
  • Anzac Christmas at St Paul’s Melbourne: Steve Dyer writes
  • Australian women in the early 1980s: Humphrey McQueen archive
  • Sydney gets some world history 1939: LC Jauncey writes

Centenary Watch

Anzac Centenary Arts Fund; Anzacunbadgery; Premier State; DVA grant for peace; Australian War Memorial Shop, parties and gargoyles; conscientious objectors in London; peace chorus in April; Gippsland stories


Fear factor. ‘[Poltical fear is] a political tool, an instrument of elite rule or insurgent advance created and sustained by political leaders or activists who stand to gain something from it, whether because fear helps them pursue a specific political goal or because it reflects or lends support to their moral and political beliefs – or both.’ Robin Corey, Fear: the History of a Political Idea (2004) quoted in Carmen Lawrence, Fear and Politics (2006)

Invented meaning. ‘The war’s staggering human cost demanded a new sense of national destiny, one designed to ensure that lives had been sacrificed for appropriately lofty ends. So much suffering had to have transcendent purpose, a “sacred significance”…’ Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (2008)

Important questions. ‘”Will it work?” “Will it stick?” “Will it help more than it hurts?” “If not, what?” Our hope is for more such questioning.’ Richard Neustadt & Ernest R. May, Thinking in Time: the Uses of History for Decision-Makers (1986)

Electoral nous. ‘There are three things that will guarantee votes in an election: favors, hope, and personal attachment. You must work to give these incentives to the right people.’ Cicero, How to Win an Election: an Ancient Guide for Modern Politicians (64 BC) translated Philip Freeman (2012)

More nous. ‘The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.’ (HL Mencken)

Shifting focus. ‘A good society is one characterised by a collective concern with social justice and a capacity to act in pursuit of that objective. That this case even has to be made is symptomatic of the pervasive influence of neoliberalism during the last two decades, subordinating the concern with economic inequality to narrower concerns with economic efficiency and growth, and casting doubt on the capacity of the state to act in pursuit of common goals.’ Frank Stilwell & Kirrily Jordan, Who Gets What? Analysing Economic Inequality in Australia (2007)

Parsimony. The Commonwealth Bank has donated $2 million to the Anzac Centenary Public Fund. This is 0.02 per cent of the bank’s 2014 profit.

Count your blessings. ‘The Australian banking industry is the most concentrated in the world and also the most profitable. In fact the “big four” Australian banks make up four of the eight most profitable banks in the world. The big banks have conceded that they are not highly competitive but have argued that their market power provides benefits in the form of “financial stability”.’ Australia Institute

Death cult. ‘Whatever cult of the fallen was invented afterwards to invoke the Australian people’s perpetual care for the Anzacs in death, their neglect of them in life was starkly revealed in the plunge into war in July-August 1914. Constantly confronted, as Australians may be, with a pantheon of heroes, it is loyalty to those in the pantheon that should inspire them to think critically about the nation’s descent into war – in the past, in the present, and in the future’. Douglas Newton, Hell-bent: Australia’s Leap into the Great War (2014)

Numbers. Australian military deaths in the Boer War 1899-1902: 606; Boer civilian deaths, mostly women and children in concentration camps, 27 927, plus an unknown number of black Africans.

What’s On around Australia

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