For weeks they kept saying we were dangerous agitators, all because we wanted to expel the stench of death from our city. And to tell the truth about the APEC killers dining in the Sydney Opera House, the ones who claim that dropping bombs is a recipe for peace. We came not in hatred, but as witnesses to history. Tabloid morons said the marchers didn’t know what they were protesting about, and yet the ignorance was entirely theirs. Neither rain nor threats kept us away.
The march was peaceful, but the atmosphere was edgy. The NSW police had promised violence, and thus were disconcerted by jocularity and placards of Gandhi. We made it to Hyde Park and then came orders from a secret source. Leaping from a convoy of white buses, Ninja shock troops surrounded the park and blocked the exits. The mood darkened. Helicopters whirred. Snipers squatted on rooftops. Rumours swept the crowd. The footpath became packed with puzzled protesters pouring from the park, unable to cross the road, any road. “This is a trap”, I thought, as the water cannon rolled up Elizabeth Street. We had exercised our freedom to assemble, but we were now denied our freedom to disassemble.
It felt scary. Grandmothers jabbed fingers at the faces in the thick blue line. Larrikins led cheer squads mocking the cops. I said to several officers, “this is false imprisonment”. Perhaps we should rush the line, I muttered, and a wiser voice replied, “That’s just what they want”. Of course. It’s what they had spent the last three weeks trying to incite. Why? To discredit the legitimacy of those who know what’s really going on, and who are loud and clear in their contempt for the killers in the Opera House.
This is a black moment in Sydney’s history, when the aphrodisiac of power curdles the brains of policemen and lets politicians think they are potentates. When our adventure in Iraq has descended to such a level of criminality, that all the perpetrators have left between self hate and facing a war crimes prosecution, is to keep lying until they are blue in the face. But Hyde Park was filled with people who know the truth, and that’s why the powers that be are so paranoid. Finally the police line broke, and we wended our way home.
SAD SEVENTH BIRTHDAY
In August 2001, I launched www.richardneville.com with the aim of bringing futures thinking to a wider audience, having just returned from a conference in Minneapolis, where I mingled with wacky inventors and cloned bulls. “Smart dreamers float through the gilded ballrooms, muttering about space-food, third dimensional pixels and micro credit”, I ranted, “visions were painted of enhanced humans with the eyesight of an eagle, the sonar prowess of a bat, the speed of a gazelle”. A few weeks later planes struck the World Trade Centre and the “free world” set its sights on revenge.
On 1 October 2001, I asked, ‘Who would have thought that in a globalising world at the dawn of a new millennium, we would see such a resurgence of jingoism? Who would have thought that in the aftermath of the recent mass murders in Washington and New York, surely to be understood as a hideous crime against humanity; who would have thought we would hear from on high, such utterances as … evil barbarians, dead or alive, smoke ‘em out, you’re with us or against us, infinite justice and … that the sole cause of the cruel attack is because the US shines as the world’s beacon of freedom and opportunity?
They call it a war against terrorism, but it’s more like a war against history. It’s a war against education and illumination, a war against seeing the world as a whole, a war against seeing the world as a system. How odd to be galloping through a new millennium, while saddled with the values of the Old Testament. Why so quick to pursue the agenda of war? Within 24 hours of the attacks, a CNN anchor is wearing a superbly tailored khaki jacket, complete with epaulettes. Tabloid fascists dismiss cautionary voices as “appeasers”. Their solution? Give Force a Chance.
Justice must come to the perpetrators, so long as it really is justice, and not just the worlds biggest lynch mob”.
But it was not to be. Our ongoing intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan is basically a process of mass murder, dressed up as “reconstruction”. Imperial forces were slaughtering “ragheads” at the dawn of the 20th century, and are still slaughtering them now, from the safe distance of cockpits and remote US bases, like Pine Gap. But history is expunged from public consciousness. According to Condoleezza Rice a few days ago on Australia’s ABC TV, America was “sitting innocently on a day in September, a beautiful Tuesday morning…” when barbarians struck. That’s it. End of story. An act of motiveless malignity. This is what passes as analysis in today’s White House. No reference to Blowback, term first used in March 1954 in a CIA report on the unlawful 1953 operation to overthrow the President of Ian and control the oil. The CIA's fears that there could be blowback from its malicious interference in the affairs of Iran were justified, but that’s another story, but not one understood by Condoleezza Rice. As Chalmers Johnson puts it, “The suicidal assassins of September 11, 2001, did not "attack America," as our political leaders and the news media like to maintain; they attacked American foreign policy”.
Perhaps the war against terrorism is working in the way its proponents intended. While it has multiplied the number of terrorists, it has also enhanced the power of the state. Politicians are authoritarian by nature and bullies at heart, so to them, helicopters, pomp, and heightened security are turn-ons. Armaments inflate their self importance. But who are these wretched outsiders who mock them? Scribblers, satirists, shady types. Quick as a flash, laws are enacted to curb tongues and civil liberties. “All for our own good”, say the lickspittles. But today I saw this sign at Sydney airport: “To make a joke during security procedures is a criminal offence”. The war against humour has begun.
(Apart from the "grannie" and the image of US forces treating hospital patients in Falluja, the above photos were provided by Jack Carnegie