Whither Australia? (And New Zealand, the UK and, indeed, the rest of the world!)

I recently came across this bit of prose.

“The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.”

It is from a very short story called “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. The full text, which seems to be in the public domain, can be found here.

https://view.officeapps.live.com/op/view.aspx?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cabarrus.k12.nc.us%2Fcms%2Flib09%2FNC01910456%2FCentricity%2FDomain%2F4127%2F2081%2520SS%2520Harrison%2520Bergeron.doc&wdOrigin=BROWSELINK

A little more research took me to this film, here: https://youtu.be/XBcpuBRUdNs I think it is worth watching.

Having followed some of what has been going on in Australia and, to be fair, France as well as one or two other countries, I cannot help feeling that our antipodean friends are well down the road to a Vonnegutian dystopia. By contrast, Zimbabwe, for now at least, seems the be the epitome of sanity and adherence to human rights.

What say others?

15 thoughts on “Whither Australia? (And New Zealand, the UK and, indeed, the rest of the world!)”

  1. I read the link – went to look at the youtube link and realised that it was far too long. So, I am replying – probably in ignorance – but feeling I know more than enough to make the following comment:

    We all see other countries with very limited knowledge about what that country is really like. Clearly you don’t really know Australia any more than I know much about Zimbabwe

    As far as I’m concerned Australia is just fine. It certainly tries to help those less able to make something of their lives, but does not impose restrictions on those who don’t need help in the way that the short extract would imply.

    My view of Zimbabwe? Well let’s just leave it at I’d sooner live here than there!

  2. Yup, that was a doozy, alright.

    I’ve long been an avid consumer of science fiction and have observed over the years that many seriously good ideas are hidden in that genre. I can’t say, though, that I’ve ever read that short story by Kurt Vonnegut – until now. Yes, I admit it: I read the entire story and then went on to watch the movie.

    I can’t/won’t speak for Australia or, for that matter, for any nations other than my own although, to me, the matter of “human rights” in Zimbabwe may merit further study. It does, however, seem to me that the world in general, what with all this “wokery” and “cancel culture” and so on, is already on a slippery slope that, if followed, leads inexorably downward to Vonnegut’s world of universal “equality.”

    Not that any of it matters a great deal to me. Serious illness in my family keeps my focus elsewhere. With any luck, I myself will be dead by then. I’ve already taken the metal band off my head and dumped the bag of lead shot that others (not I) have hung round my neck.

    Now bring on those ballerinas!

  3. Hello Boadicea, I certainly understand your misgivings about Zimbabwe. They are well placed. I suppose my reference to it in comparison to Australia, was mostly ironic, in that Australia has reputation for being a liberal democracy while Zimbabwe certainly does not. That Australia appears, to the rest of the world at least, to have become something of a totalitarian state, where freedom of movement, association and protest have been removed for largely bogus reasons is shocking; not to mention the nanny state and culture of dobbing that persists in that country.

    I have been to Australia several times and even lived there for a short while. As you know from my last visit, I was very complimentary about the country. There is much to like and admire about the place and the people who live there. And that is what makes it doubly disappointing; that it has taken the route that it has. More so given that each of the states and their leaders seem to be competing with each other to impose ever more draconian restrictions. This is not a parochial or individual characteristic but a national one.

    There is a book that I read at the height of the dotcom boom when I was in corporate finance in the City. It was called “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” by Charles Mackay. Was worth reading then and even more so now. It contains a famous quote that I believe is particularly apt at this point.
    “Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.”

    Another favourite quote at the moment comes from Julius Caesar. “Cowards die many times before their deaths/ The valiant never taste of death but once.”

    I realise that the mass suicide of lemmings is a myth but I cannot help believing that the vast majority of people around the world, not just Australia, are behaving in a suicidal way, if not literally, then in terms of their rights and freedoms. The vaccine passport is evil.

    As for Zimbabwe, I quite understand that it would not appeal to many people; most people even. But I grew up here and it is my home and I love it and would never willingly leave it. There is much that is wrong about it, most of which is well known. But there is a great deal that is right and few people who have never been here can know or appreciate the goodness of this country. Though you might be surprised by the number of people who visit here, from all over the world and absolutely fall in love with it.

    I will leave it at that other than to add one more quote:

    “It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

  4. Hi Sipu!

    It took me a very long time to realise that one of your favourite occupations is to be controversial – even to the point of not always believing 100% in what you are saying… (smiley thing!)

    However, this is my take on what’s happening here at the moment.

    Having spent many years of my life becoming an ‘expert’ on my own particular interest, I have respect for those who have spent many years of their lives investigating viruses, etc… and none whatsoever for those who come out with crackpot ideas based on total ignorance.

    I don’t think that Covid is a hoax, bogus, just another version of the annual ‘flu, or part of a conspiracy by Bill Gates, Governments around the world determined to ‘Reset the World’ etc, etc. None of that makes any sense to me whatsoever. But I do wonder about the mentality of those who seem to believe that so many countries around the world would demolish their economies for a fictitious reason.

    I’ve also looked at the effects of this pandemic around the world and have no wish to see such death rates here in Oz.

    I don’t feel that I, in Queensland, am living in a totalitarian State.

    Yes there are limitations on what I can do. But I don’t find them at all onerous.

    I can’t travel overseas – unless I go for four months. One of my son-in-law’s rellies is going to the U.K. in the next few weeks on that understanding. She’ll probably have to quarantine when she returns. That’s simply the price of trying to keep the number of deaths here in Queensland to under the seven deaths we have had so far here. It’s called having a social conscience.

    Yes, I have to wear a mask in Brisbane – but nowhere else. I’ve just returned from a trip into rural Queensland and didn’t have to do that. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure why we still have to do that – but it really isn’t that much of a problem.

    Yes, I have to check into every venue I visit – how hard is that – if it helps to contain the spread here and allows me to live a normal life?

    And, just by the way, my grandson is moving from SA to Qld tomorrow – with no hassle.

    As for what ‘s happening in Victoria and NSW – which is what is hitting the World headlines – that’s their problem. As far as I’m concerned, many people in those States have refused to follow sensible guidelines and are reaping what they have sowed – and I’m sad for those people who have tried to do the right thing. You should remember that the World News doesn’t show how the rest of us here are living – quite happily.

    Yes, I have problems with the way the vaccine roll-out has been done here. But, that’s another question. But, as far as relinquishing my rights – I don’t have any problem whatsoever – because I don’t think I have – what has been asked of me is in the best interests of others – including me.

  5. Hello Cog. Thanks for your comment. I must admit I was slightly hesitant about watching the movie, but I am glad I did. The story reminds me of Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’ which I have little doubt that you have read. If not you should.

    Given your more pressing family concerns, I understand your somewhat relaxed attitude towards the dystopian world towards which we appear to be heading. My own life has not been without great sadness. Since the arrival of Covid in March 2020, I have lost 2 siblings, my oldest sister who died last year and, my wonderful brother and greatest friend who died only 8 weeks ago. I have also lost 4 former school mates, from the same year as me. Several other friends have died along the way. Not one of these people died from Covid. There has been cancer, heart disease, cerebral malaria, road accidents and good old, old age. In fact, while I know of people who are alleged to have died of the virus, I do not know of a single person who I would actually recognise by face that has died with Covid, let alone of Covid.

    The utter contempt that I have for the vast majority of world leaders whether they be in politics, medicine, media, tech etc. is palpable. People like Johnson, Biden, Pelosi, Zuckerberg, Fauci, Berejiklian, Macron, Gates, Dorsey and everybody at the BBC, CNN, NY Times et al. Evil people doing evil things. My disdain for the vast majority of people who seem so willing to accept their lies and adhere to their diktats is almost as strong.

    You alluded briefly to the human rights record of Zimbabwe. I confess that I abhor the term, human rights (I much prefer to talk about human freedoms), given the breadth of conditions to which it is applied. In my book, there are very few things that people have a ‘human right’ to, self-defence being one of them. Most of those things that others claim as their right come at the expense of someone else. Education, for example has to be paid for by the taxpayer. It might be sensible to educate the population, but it is not an individual’s right to be educated at the expense of someone else. Why should I pay for someone else’s welfare. I consent to being taxed and for my taxes to be used to pay for another’s education. It may be the law, but do not confuse that with a human right. But that is a discussion for another day.

    What I want to make reference to is the perception of freedom versus actuality. The rule of law in this country is certainly not well adhered to. Corruption is rife. Property ownership is tenuous. The economy is shot and much of the press serves as a mouthpiece for the ruling party. However, despite all that, there are immense freedoms here. Because this country is so diverse in terms of being completely uncivilized at one end of the social scale and actually fairly civilized at the other, thanks to colonialism, there is no serious attempt to have a one-size-fits-all adherence to the laws. It is just not practical to expect a peasant living in a grass hut who feeds himself by growing a few mealies, to follow the same rules that apply to FinTech executive who lives in a mansion and is surrounded by the latest technology. And vice versa. Within that range there is plenty of scope for flexibility. Yes there a rules and laws, but for the most part, they are not strictly enforced. If I lived in Australia or the US, or the UK, and carried on as I do here, I would probably be in prison. But I am no criminal. Let me give you an example.

    Today we had to move a whole bunch of kitchen equipment. We simply got a couple of workers to carry the deepfreeze and put in the back of a pickup truck (a ute for those in Aus). While they clambered in the back, sitting on the edge and sans any form of protection, we drove the several kilometres to our destination. Now in case you think that this is something that white folk inflict on their indigenous brethren, you are deeply mistaken. Travelling in the back of an open truck is commonplace for all races. But can you imagine doing that in other parts of the world where ‘human rights’ are protected with such vigour.

    Likewise, at our destination, some work had to be done on a steel table. The casual ‘artisan’ brought along his welding kit and plugged to the two loose wires into a socket, held there with a twig, and began to build the table.

    The point I am trying to make is that in this part of the world, we are able to just get on and do things without having to worry too much about ‘elf and safety’. Having said that, accidents do happen, but in the scheme of things, people would rather a laissez faire approach to one that involves a million safety checks before you can wipe your arse.

    It is not just the locals who break the rules. Foreign diplomats and other ex-pats do as well. The laws were created with a 1st World civilization in mind. Zimbabwe is not 1st World.

    Nor is it just the more affluent who have freedoms. Despite the perceived hardships suffered by this country’s poor, I would certainly argue that there are more smiling faces in this country than in other more civilized places that I have visited. The vast majority of people are happy to subsist, They want a roof over their heads, food in their stomach, a reasonable sex life, and to be able to sit in the sun and talk bollocks. And that they do in abundance.

    Life is by no means perfect here, but it is no word of lie that we frequently say to each other that despite the nonsense, we are extremely fortunate to be living here, especially at a time like this when the rest of the world appears to have gone mad. It is not for everybody and I get that, But I would rather have more human freedoms and fewer human rights.

    Anyway, good to chat and my best to Christina and you.

  6. “Whither Australia”?

    Recognize, continental Australia, your largely vacant unutilized central landmass. Deploy that vast area to make a substantial contribution to global COOLING!

    How? See my largely ignored comments – Christopher-Dorset excepted – re emergency culture of algal biocharcoal – attached to the previous posting from Bearsy.

  7. PS: The same BBC is today flagging up its recent feature from last August entitled “A simple guide to climate change”.

    It arrives at five main geographical conclusions towards the end, ones which I’ve screen-grabbed and enumerated , but then decided to list in reverse order (guess why?)

    #############

    Matt McGrath explains why we should care about climate change.
    The effects vary around the world:

    1. Australia is likely to suffer extremes of heat and drought.
    2. In North America, worsening drought conditions are likely to hit the western US, while other areas will probably see increased rainfall and more intense storms.
    3. Many African nations are likely to suffer drought and food shortages.
    4. Low-lying island nations in areas such as the Pacific region could disappear under rising seas.
    5. The UK will be vulnerable to flooding caused by extreme rainfall.

    #############

  8. ‘Recognize, continental Australia, your largely vacant unutilized central landmass. Deploy that vast area to make a substantial contribution to global COOLING!’

    The centre of Australia is vacant and unutilised because it’s uninhabitable. I don’t know if you’ve ever flown over it – I have… miles upon miles of dried out and totally uninhabitable land. Fascinating, because one can clearly see that at one time there were great rivers – all now dried up and empty – no water there for many thousands of years.

    Tell North Africa to deploy the Sahara desert to make a substantial contribution to global COOLING.
    or the Chinese and Mongolians to deploy the Gobi desert make a substantial contribution to global COOLING.
    or tell every other country with vast acres of uninhabitable land to make a substantial contribution to global COOLING.

    I’m more than a little tired of people looking at the size of this continent and demanding the impossible.

    Sure let’s allow millions of displaced refugees in: ‘let them drink sand’.

    Sure, condemn us for culling camels, brumbies, feral pigs and goats, etc – because we have the space to let them breed. I’ve seen the damage they do to this very fragile environment… damage that can take over 30 years to mend.

    Certainly we are not doing enough to cut our emissions – there are incentives for buying solar panels, but none for changing to electric vehicles. And we are not willing to throw thousands out of work by shutting our coal mines down… will you in the U.K. pay for them? I don’t think so – and I don’t blame you. We certainly do need to find other ways of making a buck or two. But, like the rest of the world we have sold out to China – and that will take time to remedy.

    But like I have little sympathy for women who scream about ‘women’s rights’ in the Western World but don’t have the guts to face the Taliban and other regimes that really do repress women – I don’t have much time for people who pick on a country of some 25m+ when no country is doing anything about the biggest contaminator on earth: China.

    I’m very curious as to how we use our ‘largely vacant unutilized central landmass’ to ‘Deploy that vast area to make a substantial contribution to global COOLING.’

    What technology do you know that I haven’t heard of that can cool the world down?

    And that’s a very serious question.

  9. “What technology do you know that I haven’t heard of that can cool the world down?”

    I didn’t address the new-fangled technology in detail, Boadicea. But I did flag it up with the references to algae culture, combined with subsequent charring to make biocharcoal (thereby converting atmospheric CO2 back to elemental carbon).

    Take a peep at present proposed remedies. You’ll find frequent reference to the need to place a halt on deforestation.

    Re-afforestation? Yes, plant more trees, wherever there’s suitable conditions re rainfall, piped-water, nutrients etc. But you’ll find no mention of Australia in that context – for the reasons you cite.

    But – there’s no reasons that I can think of for being unable to culture green, photosynthetic algae in the otherwise hostile environment of central Australia – plus similar parts of the planet elsewhere , given favourable temperature, sunlight etc- locking in atmospheric CO2, subsequently converted with applied heat to chemically inert soil-incorporated biocharcoal.

    Sure, it requires initial inputs of water, mineral salts, timber for container-troughs etc. But there’s plenty of scope for recycling those raw materials.

    Just say if more detail is required… I’ve tried to keep my message brief thus far…

    Central Australia is especially relevant. Why? Because it’s otherwise unutilized, read a huge chunk of wasted territory, while still being relatively accessible, notwithstanding the overland distances involved.

  10. Ha, Colin, I am as likely to believe the BBC as I am to believe the pronouncements of the ZANU-PF government here in Zimbabwe or the Johnson government in the UK. The British Bullshi*ing Corporation has lost all the respect I once had for it. That does not mean to say I do not believe that global warming may be happening, emphasis on may, or that it is a threat to our way of life; I simply do not know, nor do I imagine that most activists really know. But I am entirely confident that the movement has become politicised and monetised to such an extent that I give little credibility to anybody other than the most dispassionate commentators. Having watched that piece, nothing was shown or said there to convince me that it was a balanced production. The BBC does not do balance.

    A couple of years ago, a big song and dance was made in the international media about the fact that the Zambesi river was drying up. Dramatic photographs and videos along with a bs narrative described the Victoria Falls as having almost stopped flowing. Guess what, that happens every year in November/December and by May the water flow is back at its peak.
    https://www.lusakatimes.com/2020/02/20/sky-news-is-spreading-absurd-news-over-dry-vic-falls-peter-jones/

    Whether or not GW exists and whether or not it is man-made and whether or not there is anything we can actually do about it short of eliminating 90% of humanity and whether or not China will cooperate, one thing I have learned in my not so short, life is that humans can adapt to situations, far more readily than they are given credit for. After all, people live in the Sahara and people live in Greenland. Zimbabwe is a petri dish when it comes to people reinventing themselves according to an ever changing environment. I am not talking about evolution but single generations.

    Humanity has undergone a population ‘flush’ over the last 1,000 years. That happens in nature. There are far too many people on earth and so a collapse in numbers is inevitable. And what does that really matter, seeing as there is no God or greater meaning to life? Everybody dies at some point. The main thing is to try and avoid a drawn-out and painful death. As one watches the ‘rewoking’ of history following feminism, LGBT, Climate change, BLM movements etc. one realises that human achievements do not mount to a hill of beans. Future generations do not give a toss about past generations. Whether the past is represented by statues in Afghanistan, Bristol or Richmond VA or by music, dance, literature, culture or recorded history. New generations appear to want to destroy that past. So, quite frankly, why should current generations give a toss about future ones. They too will do as they see fit. I am sure that our ancestors would be pretty disappointed with what we have done to the world they fought to build for us and I have no doubt that we would be disappointed by what the following generations will do to it when they get to run things.

    One thing that everybody would do well to appreciate is the consequences of exponential growth. When you understand that, then you understand that there is no simple way out of the mess that we are in. At some point the world’s population is going to have to be controlled. That could come naturally as in a ‘genuine’ pandemic, or famine or other natural disaster or it can come through man made intervention such as war, political control as in the dystopian world of Harrison Bergeron, or sterilisation which is probably what is happening now with the vaccine rollout. Well, it may not actually be happening, but it serves as a trial run. But let me assure you, the good folk of Africa are breeding rapidly and show no signs of stopping. They need somewhere to live and where they go, they will take their behaviours with them and a concern for global warming will not be one of them.

    Ok, that is my rant for now.

  11. I’m not sure that there is much of a difference any more. Well, there are. Zimbabwe seems to be far less micromanaged. Australia and New Zealand have been chasing an illusion. A disease, once endemic, will always be endemic. Smallpox is remarkable only because it is the exception. It’s an exception that might not always stay an exception. After all, Bubonic Plague was once a localised disease that very quickly killed much of the world’s population. It would be no small irony if an isolated population somewhere in the Americas would be contacted and smallpox once again ravage the global population.

    The world has become a mighty strange place. Two years ago I would never have imagined the UK, Australia to behave the way they have. France… To an extent. The French state has always been heavy-handed, much like the French people have long been Bolshie. The relative compliance of Italians has come as a shock. They’re not generally known for being overly obedient. At this point, I no longer feel safe going to Australia, New Zealand or Canada. All three I liked quite a bit in the past, but now? Not so much. Even the UK makes me nervous. That so many people would fall into line without questioning the blatantly contradictory shocks me.

    So far, there seems to only be one major Western country that hasn’t utterly lost the plot: Sweden. Travelling in Sweden earlier this year, it was refreshing to be in a country where people behaved normally. There were cautions taken, but it wasn’t this angst-ridden, paranoid country that was either at or beyond the brink of collective nervous breakdown. It’s not like the US which, as always, politicises everything and the two tribes have their knives drawn. It’s not like Germany, the UK where people became so timid that they wouldn’t be within 10 feet of anyone outside. It’s telling how Sweden was attacked for so long for not being as dictatorial. That Sweden didn’t do worse than the most Draconian countries was ignored. When Sweden outperformed the most Draconian countries, it was once again ignored. Looking from the outside, countries like Australia and New Zealand have no real lessons. Denying that an endemic disease is endemic and pretending that it can go away was foolhardy. The Dutch government’s admission that their embrace of Draconian lock-up policies was based on politics, not science, was at least refreshingly honest. People “wanted” to feel safe, even if they weren’t and “health officers” wanted to feel relevant, even if they weren’t.

    I’m not sure if there is much of a difference any more. It’s very difficult to leave Australia and New Zealand. It’s possible, but permission is required and getting back can be problematic to say the least. Will there be any flights? Will there be space in a glorified prison, paid at the incarcerated person’s expense? No guarantee. Will Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania take their residents back or will it be dumped on New South Wales? The cavalier attitude that so many people have — who cares if families are separated for months, years? Who cares if parents can’t visit their dying children in hospital because they’re on the wrong side of a border? Has sickened me… So what has been achieved? Precious little and at a huge expense. Yet I’m supposed to believe this is enlightened and humane… I’d rather take the honestly corrupt and brutal, not the snakes hiding behind a smiling veneer.

  12. I tend to agree with at least 95% of what you say as regards the BBC, Sipu.

    How best to sum up what’s happened over decades?

    I have no instant answers. It’s seems to be the result of some kind of progressive, cumulative degrading -cum- corruption, the result of the BBC trying to please too many political forces over too prolonged a time – seeing itself as a televised version of the United Nations. Yes, steadily personal mission-driven Lib-Lab oriented top-level management for the most part.

    So yes. Time for the BBC to be un-invented. Time for it to be re-invented, more in tune with the modern (increasingly no-nonsense hard-headed) age.

    But let’s not be too quick to dismiss anything and everything that emerges from the presently woke-entrenched now gutter-located BBC. Some, albeit a few, of its reporters still try to sum up the modern world – notably as regards the cumulative effect, year after year, decade after decade, of cumulative global warming.

    We owe it to our children and grandchildren to try and halt – better still – reverse the process!

    Anyway, I’ve said all I wish to say on the subject of global warming (and my own suggestion for reversing the process via centrally- Oz-based light/CO2-entrapping algal/biocharcoal synthesis).

    I shall now take another lengthy break from the site – though maybe months this time, rather than years… Have other matters to attend to…

    TTFN….

  13. 18 days ago I posted here
    Nowt’s appeared since
    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!
    To kill a site stone dead
    One merely states what’s in one’s head 😦

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