The trivial pursuit of Manning Clark

Tim Lambert reports that former Courier-Mail editor and current Australian editor Chris Mitchell has attempted to flog back into life the mouldering equine carcase of the claim that Manning Clark was a recipient of the Order of Lenin award.

Friday’s Australian published an article by Peter Kelly which largely reiterates the hearsay from two mutual friends of Kelly’s and Clark’s, namely Geoffrey Fairbairn and Les Murray, which formed the original basis of Kelly’s claims in 1996, subsequently picked up and run with by Mitchell as editor of the Courier-Mail, that Clark had received the Order of Lenin. The paper reported this “disovery” with the claim that Clark was a secret member of the communist world’s elite, or words to that effect. However, despite having unfettered access to the archives of the former Soviet Union, the Courier-Mail found no evidence that the medal worn by Clark, which Murray and Fairbairn claim to have seen, was the Order of Lenin rather than one of the millions of iconographic baubles which the former Soviet leadership handed out like jellybeans to all and sundry to anyone who ever had a kind word for the USSR. The upshot of all this was a Press Council ruling which stated that:

The newspaper had too little evidence to assert that Prof Clark was awarded the Order of Lenin – rather there is much evidence to the contrary. That being so, the Press Council finds that the Courier-Mail was not justified in publishing its key assertion and the conclusions which so strongly flowed from it. The newspaper should have taken further steps to check the accuracy of its reports. While the Courier-Mail devoted much space to people challenging its assertions, the Press Council believes it should have retracted the allegations about which Prof Clark’s supporters complained.

Kelly adds virtually nothing to what he admits to be “a truncated version” of his 1996 piece, but does make the following statement:

Much has been made of the fact that the Order of Lenin was the Soviet Union’s highest decoration and therefore how could Clark, a mere historian in distant Australia, be awarded one? Actually, there were more than 400,000 awarded, so it was hardly reserved for the elite of the elite.

Kelly is apparently unaware of the dissonance between this statement and (a) the Courier-Mail’s claim that Clark was a secret member of the Communist world’s elite, and (b) the following statement (which he quotes uncritically) from Murray:

Yes. It was genuine. Many thoughts went through my mind. How could a mediocrity like Manning have one of those? That’s a high-order gong. Doesn’t he know how much blood is on it?

What could he have done to be awarded one of those by a government which had been responsible for over 40 million deaths?

Manning Clark’s supporters have understandably made an issue of the failure of Clark’s most vehement critics such as Peter Ryan and Peter Kelly to utter their claims about Clark until after he was conveniently dead and could not respond to them. I am prepared to give Kelly the benefit of the doubt and accept that he felt bound by a pledge to Fairbairn not to break his silence until after both Fairbairn and Clark. However this leaves unanswered the point which Tim Lambert rightly raises. That is, in the two decades since Mikhail Gorbachev began, and Boris Yeltsin completed, the opening up of the Soviet archives, nobody has found the slightest scrap of paper suggesting that Clark ever received the Order of Lenin. True, the Courier-Mail’s journalists were able to discover other information in the archives about Manning Clark and about the connections between the former Communist Party of the Soviet Union and sections of the Australian left (summarised by Gerard Henderson). But their ability to make such discoveries in the archives casts an even starker light on their failure to find evidence for the Order of Lenin claim.

The other question to ask is suggested, obliquely, by Les Murray’s rhetorical question about what Manning Clark “must have done” to allegedly receive the Order of Lenin. What did Manning Clark ever do for Soviet communism or for Australian-Soviet “friendship” which put him so far out in front of other prominent pro-Soviet Australians who did not receive the Order of Lenin? Whatever Mitchell, Kelly, Murray et al think about Clark, do they seriously suggest that he was a more diligent, loyal or effective friend of Soviet communism than Wilfred Burchett, or former Communist Party General Secretary Lance Sharkey? Sharkey engineered the Stalinist takeover of the CPA from more independent-minded radicals in 1930, maintained a line of unswerving devotion to Moscow throughout his 35 years in charge of the CPA, and actually spent time in jail for some of his pro-Soviet remarks. Yet neither Burchett nor Sharkey received the Order of Lenin.

What to make of the persistence of Kelly and Mitchell? Apart from stubbornness and stiff-necked pride, perhaps there is also an element of Australian anti-communism’s uneasy awareness of its own essential triviality in the great struggle against Soviet totalitarianism, and that its main contribution was not to contribute anything of substance to the aid of the plucky Sakharovs, Walesas, Havels & Co., but to provide aid and comfort for anti-communist anti-democrats closer to home, such as Bjelke-Petersen in Queensland, Suharto in Indonesia and occupied East Timor, the apartheid regime in South Africa, and anti-feminists, anti-unionists, anti-anti-racists and authoritarian obscurantists of all stripes throughout Australia. Perhaps the escalation of a Culture War adversary such as Clark into a “secret mamber of the communist world’s elite” was and is a kack-handed way for the Australian Right to stake a claim that its own role in the Cold War amounted to something more meaningful than throwing cream puffs at the Lubyanka prison.


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143 responses to “The trivial pursuit of Manning Clark”

  1. Robert Merkel

    Who the hell cares?

    Surely what matters is whether his books were any good, and if they still have something to say to contemporary readers.

  2. Robert Merkel

    Just to clarify, what I mean to say is that while it may be of some minor interest if it did happen to be the case that Manning Clark received such a medal, I don’t see what the fuss is about from the perspective of 2008.

    And I really can’t see why the Murdoch papers continue to agitate on the topic.

  3. Paul Burns

    Robert M,
    Surely you’re already aware of the pwnchant the RWDBs at the OO have for making up things to embarass the left. Though you’re right about who cares. Despite all their faults, Clark’s histories have well and truly stood the test of time.

  4. Paul Norton

    Who the hell cares?

    Surely what matters is whether his books were any good, and if they still have something to say to contemporary readers.

    This is basically what Robert Manne said in his 1997 critique of the Courier-Mail’s original furphy.

  5. Pavlov's Cat

    Top post, Paul, and a particularly persuasive point in the last paragraph. At the risk of stating the obvious I’d add that Kelly and Mitchell would see the discrediting of Clark as knocking out a central text and major edifice of the so-called cultural left, which they’d see as a major victory in the culture wars they seem determined to keep going at any cost. You have to wonder if they know what decade it is.

    I imagine this business has been dragged up out of the unspeakable depths again because of Brian Matthews’ new biography of Clark — I bet Kelly went straight to the Index and looked up ‘Order of Lenin’, and what he found would no doubt have enraged him. Here’s Matthews, bless him:

    Smith [the sports writer to whom Mitchell entrusted the initial investigation in the wake of Les Murray's claims]and Kelly … pursued, as Stuart Macintyre says, ‘all possible sources of information except one. They did not ask Dymphna Clark. … The Courier-Mail case began to wobble from the moment it saw the light of day. No Order of Lenin was found, although Dymphna pointed out that the medal in question could have been a 1970 commemorative medal marking the centenary of Lenin’s birth, thousands of which were made and issued to visitors in Russia that year. Les Murray turned out to be not so sure what he had seen on that night at David Campbell’s. The Courier-Mail‘s original certainty that Clark was a member of the communist elite became downgraded to his being an ‘agent of influence’. In the end, the whole edifice built against Clark collapsed. ..

    … Mitchell and Smith might have saved themselves a lot of trouble if they had not omitted Dymphna from their searches. When first told that Clark was suspected of being a spy, she laughed. There was not a chanc eof that, she said. Manning had eormous difficulty copig with much less tricky practical tasks. Spying would be utterly beyond his organisational capacities.

    … on 7 November 1996, the Russian Ambassador to Australia reported that there was no evidence of Clark’s ever having received the Order of Lenin or of his having functioned in any espionage capacity whatsoever. The Press Council decision survived intact against an appeal from the Courier-Mail, but no retraction was ever issued.

  6. David Rubie

    Pavlov’s Cat wrote:

    I’d add that Kelly and Mitchell would see the discrediting of Clark as knocking out a central text and major edifice of the so-called cultural left, which they’d see as a major victory in the culture wars they seem determined to keep going at any cost. You have to wonder if they know what decade it is.

    What exactly are they going to “win” by painting Clarke as an unreformed communist? Is there something special in his writing that is used as cudgel in the culture wars that Kelly et. al. need to see muted?

    I honestly don’t understand it (although having only read the condensed versions, I might be missing something). From what I could see, the central theme that Clarke was pushing (that of levellers vs. straighteners vs. enlightenment, all of which were corrupted) seems pretty universal to me.

  7. Pavlov's Cat

    Is there something special in his writing

    Like I said, I’m assuming they regard Clark (with some justification) as, in general, the founding historian of Teh Left as it was conceived of in, say, the 1960s-1990s. Certainly it was mainly Clark to whom Geoffrey Blainey was referring, and whom he specifically named in the speech in question, when he coined the term ‘black armband historian’. Clark’s name has Culture Wars fingerprints all over it from the outset.

  8. Ambigulous

    Yes, PsC

    The posthumous attack by Peter Ryan is covered on pp. 472-4, the Courier-Mail story on pp. 474-6.

    Very much footnotes.

    Still and all, Manning Clark’s book “Meeting Soviet Man” (1961) is not very impressive.

  9. Nguyen Ai Quoc

    Wilfred Burchett?

    Different category: may have received awards secretly, but was a secret ACP (later CPA) member, who constantly proclaimed the charade that he was politically “independent”.

    No doubt the purpose was to add some credibility to his articles and books. But the tone and content of his writings after (say) 1946 was so clearly pro-Stalin, pro-Mao, pro-DRV, pro-NLF that his political stance was hardly a mystery for those readers who were capable or reading.

  10. Paul Norton

    My point in mentioning Burchett is to pose the question of why we should credit that the Soviets would award an Order of Lenin to Manning Clark when they did not award it to Burchett, who was a far more conscious, single-minded and assiduous agent of influence (not just in Australia, but internationally in the front line of the Cold War) than Clark could ever be accused of being.

  11. Nguyen Ai Quoc

    Fair point.

    And boy, did he WORSHIP me!!

    Nguyen Ai Quoc, [nom de guerre] Ho Chi Minh

  12. FDB

    “[nom de guerre] Ho Chi Minh”

    Well DUH!

    We all knew that, and anyone who didn’t would have googled it if they wanted to know, then pretended they did all along.

    *whistles nonchalantly*

  13. Hu Flung Dung

    yeah, probably.

  14. Adrien

    flog back into life the mouldering equine carcase
    .
    Class phrasing Paul.
    .
    So what if he did get the Order of Whoever. Really! It’s gonna be interesting seeing these anti-communist types when they stop in the middle of their hysterical bleating and realize that the Sovs are ancient bloody history and no-one cares.
    .
    And history’s stuffed full of intellectuals that were less than perfect individuals. In fact I can’t think of a single one that wasn’t a misanthropic crank. Goes with the territory.

  15. Adrien

    Hey. I got the Order of Ho Chi Minh.
    .
    For establishing the first KFC Franchise in Vietnam. :)

  16. professor rat

    Maybe MC gives some insight into the deep veins of racism in Australian labor history – but I’d rather read Alan Moorehead, Robert Hughes and other more specialized writers – even fiction writers like Robert Drewe* – in preference to an Australian AJP Taylor, EH Carr, proletarian-uber-alles, sort of cod-history.

    * Author of ‘ The savage crows ‘

  17. GB

    The Berlin Wall fell over twenty years ago. There’s a world-wide economic crisis. So, of course, let’s publish pieces about the Cold War. What is it about Manning Clark that sends right-wingers nuts?….more nuts than usual, that is?

    And why aren’t they penning articles about how naive right-wing intellectuals were about Hitler? Or about how conservatives and liberals in Italy and Germany formed alliances with fascists and were crucial to their rise to power? No, it’s always woolly-minded lefties that have to be dragged over the coals again and again.

    Had I been old enough, I hope I would have sided firmly with the anti-totalitarian Left. I think people on the Left – and Right – should study and think about the horrible things that happened last century. But if you only publish articles dealing with the crimes of the Left, it’s obvious you have an agenda other than a concern for history.

  18. Posey

    I only really discovered Manning Clark a few years ago and it wasn’t through his history books, but his memoirs, which a bunch of us listened to over many nights round the camp fire in the Blue Mountains. By chance I’d found 20 plus hour audio tapes of his memoirs – made for blind people – in the Stack of my local council library. What a find.

    When I later mentioned MC to various Australian history students and academics of varying ages and politics, the universal response was non-specific, dismissive sneers. This puzzled and infuriated me, particularly as the typical sneerer was someone writing their Phd or scholarly journal piece on the history of white settlement along the Georges River area of Sydney or the import of the Aboriginal cricket team’s visit to Lord’s, in London – or other similarly momentous stuff.

    In recent weeks I’ve finally delved into the multi-volume history, prompted by the media reviews of Brian Matthews’ bio, that’ve been sitting unread on my shelves for several years now, and my very first reaction, apart from deep pleasure, has been to think: No wonder this man was so hated by the cultural Right.

    He is ferocious in his critique of the nature and impact of the early settlement and colonisation of Australia and of the characters involved. His style is novelistic; his lucid, poetic prose a joy to read. His affinity with and tender appreciation of the complex, beautiful but so very different Australian environment, and his empathetic portrayal of the frailty, courage, brutality of the British colonisers, of the lives of women, all seen through the eye of pity, as well as of rage, all make a reader, like me, want to eat him up. Which I am going to do his Xmas break. Yummy.

  19. Paul Burns

    Posey,
    You have a treat in store.

    GB @ 17,
    What is it about MC that sets off the RWDBs? Simple, really, he was a genius, up there with Gibbon, Macauley, Churchill, etc. They just can’t handle it.

  20. Ambigulous

    Well, he was a prose poet.

    I saw a little performance of an excerpt of the stage travesty based on his histories, after which Manning spoke to the audience. He held us in his palm for 30 minutes: awe-inspiring, ad lib, towering prose.

  21. Katz

    Oh, the bitterness. Les Murray quoted:

    Manning was wearing a very impressive decoration. I recognised it as the Order of Lenin. How did I know it was the Order of Lenin? Because I have always had an interest in gongs, decorations, heraldry; I recognised it straight away. I suspect he only wore it among consenting adults.

    “Manning saw me looking at it and said rather defensively, ‘It’s real, you know, not the stuff students wear. It’s a real gong.’ (In those days students used to wear medals and military badges of all descriptions.)

    “Yes. It was genuine. Many thoughts went through my mind. How could a mediocrity like Manning have one of those? That’s a high-order gong. Doesn’t he know how much blood is on it?

    “What could he have done to be awarded one of those by a government which had been responsible for over 40 million deaths?

    “After all, he was only a fifth-rate historian. Manning had been praised all over the country, particularly by Marxists. He was above criticism.”

    Shorter Murray: if Clark had been a ‘first-rate’ historian, then his achievement of the Order of Lenin would be understandable.

    As Murray acknowledges, in 1970 there was quite a vogue for wearing communist regalia. The Order of Lenin may indeed have been real. As Kelly acknowledges approximately 400,000 were awarded. Who is to say that Clark didn’t buy it at any of the myriad of op shops that proliferated around 1970, or that he acquired it in one of a dozen different ways?

    Even today there are 11 Orders of Lenin for sale on eBay.

    The most notable feature of this grim little episode is the petty spite of Les Murray.

  22. Paulus

    Hmm, I’m not quite so sanguine about MC. He is on record as saying Adolf Hitler was a “teacher of humanity”, and looking forward to the Axis conquest of the world in WW2. Even if that medal wasn’t a major Nazi decoration, he still wore it with pride, and never repudiated them …

    Oh wait, sorry, I’m getting my two Great Dictatorships confused. There was the unacceptable one — Adolf’s mob — and nobody here at LP would be wasting one second defending MC if he had ever supported them, regardless of how good his writing was. There would be no new editions of his work, and no stage versions for Ambigulous to attend.

    But fortunately MC was a supporter of the other Great Dictatorship, the acceptable one. The one whose former adherents must always be forgiven and absolved.

    That’s alright then. Carry on!

  23. Katz

    Even if that medal wasn’t a major Nazi decoration, he still wore it with pride

    How can you possibly know that?

    It is equally possible that Clark was wearing it out of a sense of irony, or lampooning a current fashion of the younger generation, or as a provocation of stuffed shirts like Les Murray.

    Perhaps one shouldn’t be surprised by evidence of the inverse relationship between confidence and understanding of historical context.

  24. Paulus

    Right, Katz. It was no doubt Clark’s “sense of irony”, or fashion style, that led him to travel to Moscow to receive a Lenin Jubilee Medal in 1970.

    He was surely just lampooning his hosts when he “delivered a panegyric on Vladimir Lenin in Russian, describing him as a “teacher of humanity” and saying Lenin’s belief that all people could be brothers would be attained when communism conquered the world”.

    The silly Russians were just too thick to appreciate Clark’s subtle sense of humour.

  25. GregM

    As Murray acknowledges, in 1970 there was quite a vogue for wearing communist regalia. The Order of Lenin may indeed have been real. As Kelly acknowledges approximately 400,000 were awarded. Who is to say that Clark didn’t buy it at any of the myriad of op shops that proliferated around 1970, or that he acquired it in one of a dozen different ways?

    All of these op shops stocked to the hilt with Orders of Lenin, no doubt. Get real.

  26. Katz

    There were no Russians in attendance, as far as I can see, when Clark dined with Murray. Perhaps you have some private information on this matter.

    One can praise Lenin without being an “agent of influence”. Indeed, Kim Philby made his career at MI6 by posing as a rabid anti-Communist. Yet he was a real spy, unlike MC.

    Arthur Calwell was a Papal Knight. Does that make him an agent of the Vatican? Does that signify that Calwell was in favour of the Spanish Inquisition?

  27. Pavlov's Cat

    Katz, Les Murray has some very strange ideas, but I don’t understand how you could possibly describe him as a ‘stuffed shirt’. He’s a genuine eccentric, not a run-of-the-mill pompous conservative.

    Paulus, I don’t know if you’ve actually read any Lenin but he did in fact have some quite useful things to say, which is more than can be said for Hitler. Besides, surely the far-left equivalent of Hitler is Stalin?

  28. Katz

    All of these op shops stocked to the hilt with Orders of Lenin, no doubt. Get real.

    Foolish fellow. Clark wore a maximum of one Order of Lenin. All that is required for my story to be equally as credible as Murray’s is that one of those shops stocked one Order of Lenin and that MC procured it in some way, either directly or indirectly.

    Please try to be relevant.

  29. Katz

    A “stuffed shirt” is “someone who is inflexible, a fuddy-duddy, or consumed with an unjustified opinion of great self-importance”.

    Here is Les Murray applying moral censoriousness from a position of ignorance about Clark’s actual motivations and then presuming to make a global judgment of Clark’s worth based on that assessment.

    Check … check … check. Classic symptoms of a stuffed shirt.

  30. John Ryan

    Yes but the story was not true,the press council could find no validation for it,so some one is making up porkies my moneys on the OZs editor

  31. Paulus

    Katz, I was just quoting from the article in the Australian which Paul Norton linked to above. That is the source of my reference to the Lenin Jubilee Medal. No one seems to dispute that he received that particular minor gong in Moscow in 1970; the question is whether he was also awarded the somewhat more prestigious Order of Lenin.
    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,24756835-7583,00.html

    As for the Philby comparison … look, I’m not saying that Clark was some Soviet James Bond. He probably never did anything to directly benefit the USSR. There is no evidence of anything criminal (unlike Philby).

    I’m just saying that people should keep Clark’s declared political affiliations in mind when they assess his legacy, and not cut him any more slack than they would a former Nazi fanboy.

    As for Calwell being an agent of the Vatican … yeah, quite probably! Papists are even more insidious than the commies were. :)

  32. Pavlov's Cat

    Perhaps I misread the article, Katz, but I thought it seemed pretty clear that Murray actually knew Clark and had formed a view about him, as one does of people one knows.

    All of your criteria for stuffed shirtedness are wildly subjective, so I hardly think you can tick them off quite so indelibly. I taught his (Murray’s not Clark’s) poetry for years, have read a lot of his essays, and have heard him speak and read several times; I even met him at a writers’ festival once and had a couple of nice conversations with him. From this evidence I have formed the view that he’s intermittently inflexible about some things, but I think you and I must have different ideas about what a fuddy-duddy is. His opinion of his own importance is something I wouldn’t presume to guess at, but he is one of two or three great living poets in English (NB this is the view of his peers — Seamus Heaney and others), however weird his political ideas may be: in his own field he is regarded as pretty damned important, so ‘unjustified’ probably isn’t justified either.

    Personally I think it’s likely that Murray and Clark would have disliked each other instinctively. They were too alike in some ways and too different in others.

  33. Paulus

    Paulus, I don’t know if you’ve actually read any Lenin but he did in fact have some quite useful things to say, which is more than can be said for Hitler. Besides, surely the far-left equivalent of Hitler is Stalin?

    “Quite useful”, PC? What a strange thing to say. Useful to whom, exactly? Still useful in the modern world?

    If you had said Marx, I might agree with you, but not Lenin. The only good word people seem to have for Lenin these days — even among the left — is that he was less murderous than his successor. Which is rather faint praise.

    Oh, and I was careful to phrase my initial post with reference to the two ‘Great Dictatorships’ — ie the regimes in their totality. You’re right: Lenin and Hitler aren’t directly comparable.

    But by accepting that trinket in 1970, Clark was implicitly validating and honouring the Soviet system in its totality, from Lenin onwards. Any person with sensible political judgement and a sound moral compass should have thought twice about that.

  34. steve at the pub

    I have to agree with Paulus. Anybody with morals would have had only contempt for the Soviet Union.

  35. Jack Hackett

    While I believe that MC had many redeeming features he like many a culture warrior has been deified and demonised in equal measures by the right and left.

    If he did accept an Order of Lenin he is a traitor.

    If instead he flashed a badge from the Ekka he was being mischievous.

    A recent article in Quadrant or ********, lest I induce apoplexy in the believers provides two first hand accounts that it probably was an Order of Lenin.

    To his credit he didn’t advertise the fact.

    He was a witty, useful historian, willing to challenge the anglocentric view of Australia.

    He will engender forever more in political and historical discourse, controversy, love and hatred.

    Me. I think he was a product of his times, promoted beyond his abilities and unable to handle his fame, a good commentator and a modest historian, with wit and a way with words.

    The world was a better place for his life and writing.

    JAck Hackett

  36. Mark

    I think what’s most significant about this (and there’s not a lot that is) is being replayed on this thread – everything about someone’s life and work is being reduced to an opinion on “Great Dictatorships”. It’s more than possible to pick out numerous quotes from all sorts of people (including Menzies) in the 30s saying nice things about Hitler or Mussolini. It tells us nothing much useful, other than that the boundaries of respectable opinion were different. Similarly, all sorts of people had attitudes of varying degrees of support and interest in the Soviet Union.

    To suggest that all that is important about Clark’s oeuvre and persona is reducible to this is risible. Even by Cold War standards, this is a pathetic assessment of things. The “left or right both gave rise to dictatorships in the 20th century and a calculus of death can decide between them” theme is cynical, ahistorical and fundamentally repulsive.

    It’s now some sort of pointless game, aided and abetted by the unethical behaviour of various people who knew Clark in life and are jumping on a bandwagon which was available. None of this stuff adds anything to our stock of knowledge or fosters any sort of political debate that would be in any way productive in 2008. To me, the revival of this rubbish is a sure instance of the culture wars’ steady decline into absolute irrelevance.

  37. Pavlov's Cat

    Godwin’s Law kicked in at #22. As I understand the rules, whoever’s disagreeing with Paulus won.

    Ambi @ #20, I thought that musical had its merits. The caning it got from at least one critic was an effusion of personal spite against one of the writers. What about the four-part-harmony ‘Sons of the South’? Surely you were moved by that!

    Mark, apropros your comment, there’s a nice conversation here, from 2003, between Michael Cathcart and Don Watson on the subject of Clark that illustrates precisely the point you’re making. Among other things.

  38. Mark

    Thanks, Dr Cat – Don Watson is always good value, and that’s exactly the sort of thing that is a very good tonic to the “ZOMG! He once said something nice about Lenin! Therefore all lefties are teh evil!” stuff – reinserting him both into his lived experience and into the history of a different Australia. The fact that particular history has been elided is probably one of the many tragedies of the culture wars nonsense.

  39. Paulus

    It’s more than possible to pick out numerous quotes from all sorts of people (including Menzies) in the 30s saying nice things about Hitler or Mussolini.

    Yes, but not too many in the 50s, though. Once the nature of fascist crimes had been made evident, their ideological supporters in the West decamped very hastily.

    By the 1970s, the nature of Soviet crimes was also evident, and yet some people still cheerfully donned their medals and praised the founder of the Soviet state.

    Anyway, this is a distraction from your main point, which is that this issue is not “productive” (a rather managerialist term to use).

    But why this is worthwhile is that it’s interesting to explore the mind-set of prominent intellectuals. Did they flirt with things that we now consider repulsive? If so, why? It’s not necessarily to condemn them, but to help understand what it was about communism (or about those intellectuals) that could keep them dancing the tango for so long.

    For a hypothetical example, Naomi Wolf has a point of view on the relationship between Milton Friedman and General Pinochet. Now, if it transpired that Friedman had been secretly awarded a medal by Pinochet, which he wore with pride at private functions, that would be quite interesting. It’d be worthy of an article or two, wouldn’t it?

  40. Lefty E

    Of course, try to bring up AWBs and DFATs corrupt, traitorous, sanction-busting collaboration with Saddam Hussein’s regime over wheat, and these same turkeys will tell you its old news. Unlike teh critical new issue over Clark in 1970, over which they already thoroughly embarassed themselves, back in 96.

    Jeez , I once got an Iron Cross for attending a BBQ in Kingaroy. Doesn’t make me a Nationals supporter.

  41. Mark

    Paulus, if you want to explore the mindset of prominent intellectuals (and it’s not a bad thing to do at all), you should be understanding them in the context of their time for a start, and secondly reading stuff that actually does that – cf. the Watson link. There’s a new biography of Clark out and some of his letters have been published this year – I’m sure perusing those would do far more to promote that understanding than debating the silly “Order of Lenin” campaign.

  42. Lefty E

    Ive always been puzzled. When you read Clark, he’s a bit gloomy about Oz history, perhaps, certainly none of yer flag-waving nonsense – but its hardly what Id call radical. What’s the big deal, RWDBs?

    Try some of the radical nationalist historians – they’ll get right up yer nose. Ian Turner, McQueen of a certain vintage, Gollan, Searle. Make up stuff about those guys!

  43. Darryl Rosin

    “You have to wonder if they know what decade it is.”

    Liz (Tina Fey): ‘Have you been drinking wine out of that thermos all day?!”
    Rosemary (Carrie Fisher): ‘Oh, come on Liz! It’s the nineties!’

    “Rosemary’s Baby” (’30 Rock’ season 2)

    (bonus advice from the tee-vee – Jack (Alec Baldwin): ‘Never go with a hippie to a second location’)

  44. Nickws

    Good post, Paul, but surely you as an old ex-eurocommunist can see the folly in trying to factcheck people still engaged in the Cold War battles of the ’50s.
    Kelly’s article is obviously a brilliant little piece of ressentiment, it’s obviously hearsay, it wouldn’t stand up in a court of law–and it set my BS detector off bigtime. Why? Because the staunchly anti-communist Kelly isn’t just smearing Clark. If we take him at his word he’s also implicating his own behaviour as part of a cover up.

    He told me he had seen Clark wearing the Order of Lenin and swore me to secrecy… I rang Fairbairn the next morning and he confirmed what he had told me. He reminded me that I had given my word that it was confidential. I kept my word until Fairbairn and Clark were dead… I believe his [Clark's 'Order of Lenin'] was conferred on him in secret by the Soviet ambassador at the Soviet embassy in Canberra

    Which really should make him feel guilty, shouldn’t it? Peter Kelly should feel guilty for both he and his best friend’s dodgy behaviour in participating in a cover up. But there’s nowt remorse in this article, and I’m betting his ’96 articles aren’t full of Whittaker Chambers-esque acts of self-flagellation either, because nobody’s going to feel guilty for participating in a fantasy

    “While historians privately criticised his history, they were not game to do so for fear of reprisal. The Marxists had been, and still are, running much of Australian culture: the universities, the media and the literary establishment. I often used to drop around to David Campbell’s place and sometimes worked on his farm. I was out of work at the time because (former Council for Aboriginal Affairs chairman H.C.) ‘Nugget’ Coombs had promised me funding to compile an anthology of Aboriginal poetry, then disavowed the promise when I moved to Canberra to begin work on it”

    This, this is the money shot. Culture War central.
    Instead of concluding, “What the fuck does Nugget Coombs or the Aborigines have to do with secret ‘agents of influence’? I’ll not quote this”, the fearless Red Hunter decides to just chuck the kitchen sink in. Hell, we’re lucky he didn’t include both his and Murray’s complete enemies lists.
    (I like the implication that the ‘Marxists who run everything prevent me from getting the truth out’–nothing explains every little action like a paranoid worldview does. Very elegant. Very tidy)

  45. Nickws

    Lefty E @ 42

    What’s the big deal, RWDBs?

    I don’t think it’s about history teachers per se, it’s really about grabbing the low hanging fruit. Consider the intelligentsia celebrities from when Chris Mitchell was a spotty youth–Gough, Russel Braddon, Patrick White, all had distinguished war records and weren’t Reds (okay, Braddon was once a communist, and was even persecuted by the ALP state government in NSW because of it, but he survived Hells Pass.)
    Donald Horne always laughed at us rubes and our foolish ‘ideologies’.
    Clark–Bingo!
    Manning was forever stuck in the era of the benign Uncle Joe shepherding the glorious Soviet people through the Great Patriotic War. And he was the original weirdo-the-beardo.
    That beard alone is worth a hategasm in today’s Oz op-ed page.

  46. Katz

    All of your criteria for stuffed shirtedness are wildly subjective

    They aren’t my criteria.

    If they are “wildly subjective” (as opposed I suppose to “tamely subjective”) then they are the subjectivism of others.

    Perhaps just this once, in relation to his dealings with Manning Clark, the “wildly” fun-loving, flexible, urbane, and intuitive Les Murray forewent lifelong habits.

    Yet just this once Les Murray did exhibit some of the attributes of a “stuffed shirt”.

  47. Ambigulous

    PC, about the musical: I saw only an excerpt. Brief, no orchestra, like a rehearsal, only a few actors. My post was to contrast that rather poor extract with “live” Manning in full flight.

    I’m not concerned with the spite and bile of critics, though if the stage play was in any way similar to the Pram Factory style circa 1972, I could understand that critics might be …… severely critical.

  48. Katz

    Ive always been puzzled. When you read Clark, he’s a bit gloomy about Oz history, perhaps, certainly none of yer flag-waving nonsense – but its hardly what Id call radical. What’s the big deal, RWDBs?

    Interesting question, LE.

    One tentative answer is that MC was “one of us”. Son of an Anglican cleryman, student at Melbourne Grammar School, teacher at Geelong Grammar School, Clark witnessed the ruling classes in their undies, engaged in the furtive rituals of class creation.

    Like Burgess, Philby, Maclean, Clark cops special abuse not for being a “traitor”, but for rejecting much of what was sacred to the ruling classes.

  49. Paul Norton

    As an “old ex-eurocommunist” (though I will dispute the ‘old’ bit) one thing I learned was that perhaps the only really efficient and productive branch of the Soviet economy was the one responsible for producing baubles of various kinds bearing Lenin’s portrait. Many such bits of flotsam and jetsam, awarded to the old eurocommunist party and its members pre-1968 when it was still a more or less pro-Soviet party, could be found gathering dust and tarnish in CPA offices around the country in the 1980s. It is most likely that Clark had collected one such trinket on one of his visits to the Soviet embassy in the 1950s to give the ambassador English lessons, and liked to take the piss out of visitors who didn’t know better by claiming it was an Order of Lenin.

    As to, in Robert Manne’s words, “the only Manning Clark question that really matters, the value of his work and thought”, on the positive side his main contribution was to present Australia’s history as something interesting, important, and worth reading and arguing about. This is a major positive.

    That said – and ironically, given the Culture War skirmish we’ve been discussing – I have to say that in my view Clark’s History of Australia is not informed by anything resembling any kind of historical materialist framework for researching and analysing Australian history, neither the vulgar deterministic approach which he might have been expected to adopt had he really been in or around the CPA when he began this particular work, nor the kind of insightful, non-deterministic and creative use of the historical materialist method by serious New Left and eurocommunist historians like E. P. Thompson, Perry Anderson and Eric Hobsbawm, nor a more profoundly materialist interpretation of history – in terms of geography and/or ecology rather than economics – a la David Harvey or Jared Diamond. True enough, in places Clark used bits of Marxist-sounding phraseology, but these were formulated in such a way as to expose his lack of a serious grasp of Marxism.

  50. Paul Burns

    What was “wrong” with MC’s dark vision of Oz history was that before he came along we had these courageous explorers, (though Leichhardt was a bit of a goose but he wasn’t English), Governors dressed in colourful costumes, most of them of noble bearing and sentiment, a couple of very eccentric poets, but that was okay because they were poets, and not a black in sight except Bennelong and Jacxkie-Jackie.
    Then historians like Clark and Russel Ward and the various radical nationalists/feminists/etc came along and the above ido;s had feet of clay, and we had those pesky people around that had mostly been written out of our history like Aborigines, women, Asians, a whole heap of ancestors suffering from the convict stain (ie they were bisexual), etc, etc. And there was all this horrible violence, massacres, capitalist greed etc, etc. I’m sure you get the picture.
    Oh, and it turned out Captain James Cook had a really foul temper.

  51. Paul Norton

    A fair point, Paul B. I am reminded of something Gerard Henderson said on the occasion of Frank Hardy’s death. After a column which covered Hardy’s life, work and political stances, Henderson concluded with words to the effect that, whilst Hardy might have done some good things for Aborigines, of the big issues of the 20th century he was wrong. This comment encapsulated what was fundamentally wrong with Australian liberal anti-communism of the sort preached by Henderson and formerly by Manne; it did not comprehend that for someone born and living in Australia, whose political practice was rooted in Australia and its immediate region, recognising the plight and supporting the rights of Aborigines was a much bigger issue in the 20th century than throwing rhetorical cream puffs at the Berlin Wall. Ditto for East Timor, the Franklin Dam, the rights of women and queers in Australia, the Bjelke-Petersen regime, etc.

  52. Liam

    if it transpired that Friedman had been secretly awarded a medal by Pinochet, which he wore with pride at private functions, that would be quite interesting. It’d be worthy of an article or two, wouldn’t it?

    Certainly, and here I agree with you Paulus. If there’s stronger than secondhand gossip to suggest that CHMC got the Order it’d be very interesting—and interesting because political relationships are always more complicated than positions of I-support-unquestioningly-everything-ever. However, secondhand gossip is all there is: note that the Courier Mail seems even to have sent someone to the Soviet Archives and turned up nothing.
    I’ve been reading (in snatches, from my partner’s work bookpile) Fitzpatrick’s Political Tourists. The short story—also available in the format of a takeaway moral for liberal anticommmunists—is that a small but interesting number of people, including a Premier of Tasmania, went to the Soviet Union on tours throughout the life of the Union and emphatically did not fall in line behind the COMINTERN or its successors. They were Communists, anti-Communists, political naifs, and eccentrics. From everything we know about Manning Clark it’s safe to say he probably fit all of those categories.
    Disclosure: I’ve got one of the brass 1970 Lenin Jubilee medals in a drawer, picked up as a gift for me at a market years ago for a couple of dollars. I might wear it to the LP drinks, I’ll see if I’m in the mood to endorse uncritically the entire contradictory policy history of the Soviet Union.

  53. Paul Burns

    Paul N @ 51,
    It would naturally escape Henderson that Commies were at the forefront of the peace movement, feminism, Aboriginal rights, early environmentalism, anti-colonialism/imperialism (by anyone not just the Brits and the Yanks), anti-fascism, and so on. Practically any cause that advanced the cause of human decency, in fact. (And one or two that didn’t, including support for the various crimes against humanity committed o/s, notably in the former Soviet Union, etc.) They weren’t perfect by any means, but they were far ahead of the pack when compared to the predecessors of the RWDBs.

  54. Mark

    I might wear it to the LP drinks, I’ll see if I’m in the mood to endorse uncritically the entire contradictory policy history of the Soviet Union.

    Does anyone who’s awarded the Order of Australia “endorse uncritically the entire contradictory policy history of the Commonwealth of Australia”, I wonder?

  55. Paulus

    Disclosure: I’ve got one of the brass 1970 Lenin Jubilee medals in a drawer, picked up as a gift for me at a market years ago for a couple of dollars. I might wear it to the LP drinks …

    You should do that, Liam. And Lefty E should definitely wear the Iron Cross he mentioned yesterday.

    In fact, it should be a requirement at the LP drinks that every attendee wear some type of medal. Those who do not have any historic military regalia in their closet (shame on them!) could pin to their lapel some sort of alternative, like John Howard’s ‘Alert But Not Alarmed’ fridge magnet.

    Hey, it would be an easy way for new people to recognise the LP crowd at the bar!

  56. Liam

    Done, Paulus. Jo, others, I’ll be wearing this.

  57. Paul Burns

    If I was in one of the capital citiesand could come to the LP piss-up, I’d be wearing a badge that read “Unfuck the World”.

  58. Ambigulous

    What? Liam, you have a MILITARY medal.

    What military service(s) did you perform, to earn the gratitude of the USSR?? Explain your nefarious past immediately.

  59. Adrien

    Paulus – But fortunately MC was a supporter of the other Great Dictatorship, the acceptable one. The one whose former adherents must always be forgiven and absolved.
    .
    Do they? I’ve met a fair few pro-Sov types in my life. Likewise Trotskyites who for some reason think Castro’s better. Or Mao. I’ve never agreed with ‘em. There is however a difference between communists and Nazis. One of intent and disposition despite the undeniable similarities between the States they adhered to. You could even say the Nazis are morally better because less hypocritical.
    .
    There are differences between Communists and Nazis at least in the West. History shows this clearly. That said the romanticiziation of Communists is largely incorrect. Their goal may have had some noble ring to them but their disregard for fair trials, the rule of law, government by elected mandate, human rights and the rest of the apparatus of ‘bourgeois’ liberalism shows them up, at the very least, as profoundly in error.
    .
    However to play the other card, writers such as Evelyn Waugh were notably pro-fascist. Do we then burn his books?
    .
    Now, if it transpired that Friedman had been secretly awarded a medal by Pinochet, which he wore with pride at private functions, that would be quite interesting.
    .
    Friedman did go to Chile and did write articles supporting the regime. True it was Friedmanite enthusiasts who pressured Pinochet into stepping down eventually but the disregard for political liberty in pursuit of economic liberty does stain the story of neoliberalism somewhat. Interestingly people today try to rewrite history to suit themselves. They rationalize what Pinochet did. It seems murdering people is okay if left-wing.
    .
    But that doesn’t put Friedman in the Box of Untouchable Intellectuals. Interestingly enough this rewriting of history reminds me of something. I forget what.
    .
    Any person with sensible political judgement and a sound moral compass should have thought twice about that.
    .
    One would think so. But that’s bullshit. Morality is simply herd instinct shaped by leadership. Morality is what whoever’s in charge thinks it is. The Nazis thought they were moral. Witch-burners, show-trial judges, the perpetrators of genocide in the New World – all of them moral. The red plague rid you for learning me your mores.
    .
    In the midst of this plague of commie baiting the Right conveniently forget that many of them appeased if not supported Hitler. Many of them forget also that they thought that such as Orwell acted in bad taste and faith writing such books as Animal Farm. Then apparatchniks such as Norman Poderhertz take quotes selectively out of context to ‘prove’ that Orwell was a neoconservative.
    .
    The mentality of the Party Drone is not particular to any ideology they all have them. It’s in the nature of the species unfortunately. This demonizing of Manning Clark has nothing to do with his supposed receival of the Order of Vlad and everything to do with the fact that certain persons, psychologically ideal fodder for totalitarian mentalities, are trying to rewrite history to say we didn’t fuck the Aboriginal people – end of story.
    .
    That’s Orwellian.

  60. Adrien

    In fact, it should be a requirement at the LP drinks that every attendee wear some type of medal.
    .
    Indeed. I could wear the medal my dad received from this man. Someone who expressed admiration for Hitler and was part of a military coup (or was it nationalist revolution) in his country. But um married to a feminist and won the Nobel Peace Prize (a bit meaningless I know) for making peace with which country.
    .
    Strange how complex actual history is as opposed to the Apparatchnik Book of Absolute Good and Evil.
    .
    I’m not wearing that medal. It’s bloody ugly.

  61. Liam

    Adrien, seriously. Alluding to Orwell is really clever when you’re fourteen. You certainly don’t need four paragraphs to do it, it’s passé. Even Castro’s doing the talk show format these days.

    You could even say the Nazis are morally better because less hypocritical.

    The full quote is: “Dude, at least it’s an ethos”.

  62. jo

    I ‘spose we could learn this by Sunday, but it does go on a bit in the middle.

    http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=qhOT15pYcc4&feature=related

    …something something, die capitalist running dog.

  63. Pavlov's Cat

    The clossest I can come to regalia is a pair of earrings in the form of road signs saying ‘Wrong Way, Go Back’, but I think the time for them may have passed. I do however own several cat brooches, one of which I shall wear to any grogblog requiring one to identify oneself.

  64. Pavlov's Cat

    Um, ‘closest’.

    Stupid keyboard.

  65. Mark

    I may shortly adopt the practice of wearing a tudor bonnet to grogblogs! Speaking of regalia… ;)

  66. Liam

    ‘Wrong Way, Go Back’, but I think the time for them may have passed.

    Shame, shame, shame.
    Jo, magnificent. Above us, only sky?

  67. Adrien

    Liam seriously.
    .
    Orwell hit it on the head. And he’s a key figure in this debate: a revolutionary socialist, who took a bullet fighting the fascists Carlists and wrote two of the most devastating critiques of Communism at the precise time when it wasn’t considered polite and was most necessary.
    .
    And most people interested in politics are still good religious fanatics party members. The majority of people on this blog and others are still under the assinine impression that one side or other of the political fence constitutes the ‘good’ guys. If 75% of the population were critical swinging voters with no loyalties to a party you’d see a massive improvement in governance. But no. Romantic codswallop has you all believing that [insert party name] are the Way, the Truth and the Light. See the creatures for what they fucking are for a change ‘ey?
    .
    Anyway your patronage doesn’t do anything to provide rebuttal to what I said. Nor is it even particularly witty. I might be juvenile but when I’m snide I do it well. :)

  68. GB

    Liam, Orwell is never passe. Have you read collections of his essays and reviews? He’s someone I come back to again and again over the years and always find something new. I’d encourage everone to read him regularly.

    There’s a cottage industry of right-wingers obsessed with Manning Clark. The Order of Lenin thing is only the tip of the iceberg – don’t get them started on Ned Kelly.

    It’s useful to remember just how naive intellectuals were last century. But I hope this generation doesn’t get too smug – we have our own mistakes to make.

    The thing is, the Left has thoroughly learned from those mistakes. The same can’t be said for what used to be called centre-Right. That’s where the real danger lies today – parties like the Liberal Party moving closer to the far-Right and adopting big chunks of Hansonism (a world-wide trend). I don’t worry about the Left, but I do worry about the Right.

  69. jo

    such a soggy tune – this song however was Top of the Pops, for a whole year at least the year Lennon was born – just a few hundred klms east but.

    http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=4EktYo4JZbM&feature=related

  70. Adrien

    GB – The thing is, the Left has thoroughly learned from those mistakes.
    .
    I don’t know about that old bean. We won’t get fooled again?
    .
    Oh yes we will, and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again
    .
    (Stoopdfknmnkys)

  71. adrian

    I think it’s pretty passé to label someone passé, particularly when they are apart from anything else such a brilliant writer.
    However, to be fair to Liam, but only this once, he did say that alluding to Orwell was passé, not Orwell himself. I think.

  72. Liam

    Adrien:
    - If Orwell is a key figure in this debate, what exactly is it he has to contribute to the question of whether or not Manning Clark was a Soviet agent apart from being a name for you to drop? I mean, you can at least do the rest of your job and cite Koestler and anyone else you can find in your year 11 modern history reader.
    - The Requetés were at Teruel and in reserve in the Republican push in Aragón but I wonder how you know one of them shot Orwell? Can you cite a source, or did you conduct interviews? Can you name the gunman? How did he feel about shooting someone not considered polite? Did he have a secret Order of Lenin in his tunic pocket?
    - When you’re snide you don’t need to flag it with emoticons.

  73. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    jo: First link is good. However, if you are going to give us a song brimming with Nazi iconography, at least provide one with a danceable beat.

  74. Posey

    Don’t mind Liam, Adrien. He’s just jealous. And I never know through gritted teeth he is manfully trying to say. A dose of Orwell and a soupcon of any sort of philosophy or passion about anything would do him good.

  75. Adrien

    I wonder how you know one of them shot Orwell?
    .
    Um because he was in this thing called ‘a war’. And the people who were on the other side were the ‘not-the-commies’. I wasn’t being snide then. Now I am.
    .
    No-one can name the gunman not even the gunman. What that little excursion into Civil War trivia has to do with anything, I shouldn’t wonder. You started this crapola with a perfectly meaningless aside on what is blatantly pertinent. If you want to get into a pissing contest with me be prepared to be more soaked than a porn star in a water sports video.
    .
    Orwell’s relevance has to do with the fact that he articulated quite well the political tactic of besmirching political enemies by associating them the inherently nefarious even tho’ this has nothing to do with the meat of matters relevant. I could cite Milan Kundera who illustrates that this the result of an interpersonal psychological dynamic if you like.

    Manning Clark is being attacked because a. He’s a good historian and b. He demonstrates that Australia fucked the Aborigines right up. Because his enemies can’t fault him there they fault him by trying to advocate the Order of Vlad thing. And it’s a big fat, so what! It’s classic Ingsoc: Associate Goldstein with Evil and have Goldstein utter stuff about freedom and rights. So then instead of thinking about what Goldstein’s saying you’ll simply dismiss all talk of it as evil because Goldstein said it.
    .
    Get it? Or are you still too dumb?
    .
    anyone else you can find in your year 11 modern history reader.
    .
    At least I got that far. How are Dick, Jane and Spot these days? One day you’ll get to the end all by yourself. :)

  76. jo

    sorry Down & Out, it wasn’t the video. “Bombs on England” was a huge hit in Germany in 39/40 – every man and his german shepherd was whistling it as real bombs were likewise.

    “Luftwaffe March Bomben Auf England” composed by Norbert Schultze. This music played constantly in Germany in the summer of 1940. According to Adolf Galland it was played on the loudspeakers at the railway stations.

    It goes without saying that once everyone with talent had left the Fatherland or doomed to a terrible end, the Allies had the all the toons:

    http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=xovmaG9S0sQ&feature=related

    ….and also that I’ve derailed this thread long enough.

  77. GB

    The Who was right!

    Adrian, I actually know a Chavista. But I don’t think there’s much risk of Aussie Lefties following the Bolivarian Revolution, do you? If I were to ask most of my mates about Chavez, I think I’d either get a blank stare or a smirk. I do think it’s much more likely that the Liberal Party will continue to form an alliance with Hansonism. That strikes me as a much more realistic fear. I worry that they’ll do something even more extreme than the Tampa episode in the future.

    Not getting mixed up with Third-Worldism is one of the lessons from the last century that the discriminating leftie should remember.

    You might want to read the American Dissent magazine – they’re usually good on this stuff.

  78. Pavlov's Cat

    Don’t mind Liam, Adrien. He’s just jealous.

    Oh, please.

  79. Kim

    Liam hatin’ and Adrien lovin’ – anyone would think it was jinmaro with another sockpuppet!

  80. Pavlov's Cat

    Oh, noes.

  81. Liam

    prepared to be more soaked than a porn star in a water sports video

    Frankly that’s more sexist than I’d have credited you, Adrien, at least, to type out loud. Now on to your substantive points.

    Um because he was in this thing called ‘a war’. And the people who were on the other side were the ‘not-the-commies’. I wasn’t being snide then. Now I am.

    No, you claimed he was shot fighting Carlists at #67. Orwell had no opinion I know about on the Wars of Succession that I’m aware of and he went to fight Fascists, not Carlists. Neither have you reason to imply that he was shot by a Carlist he was fighting, apart from a desire to make things up to seem smarter—either way you are wrong on basic matters of fact.

    Orwell’s relevance has to do with the fact that he articulated quite well the political tactic of besmirching political enemies by associating them the inherently nefarious even tho’ this has nothing to do with the meat of matters relevant. I could cite Milan Kundera

    So yes, Orwell didn’t like argumentum ad hominem. Nor do I. Kundera has little to say about it, there’s no need to crack your reader volume.

    It’s classic Ingsoc: Associate Goldstein with Evil and have Goldstein utter stuff about freedom and rights.

    There’s little about freedom or rights in the History of Australia, Manning Clark was an historian not a philosopher or political scientist. Some of us have read him, I suggest you do.
    On to you Posey-maro:

    And I never know through gritted teeth he is manfully trying to say.

    That’s Shakespeare that is.

  82. She's lost that lovin feeling

    Well speaking of tragi-comedy and the nature of lovin’, but I could have done without Jinmaro’s declaration that Malcolm Turnbull was sex on a stick. I was very queasy after reading that.

  83. Now it's gone, gone, gone

    Sex on a stick he may or may not be, but as preferred PMs go he’s trailing 66-19.

    Heh.

  84. Nickws

    Posey @ 18 said:

    When I later mentioned MC to various Australian history students and academics of varying ages and politics, the universal response was non-specific, dismissive sneers. This puzzled and infuriated me, particularly as the typical sneerer was someone writing their Phd or scholarly journal piece on the history of white settlement along the Georges River area of Sydney or the import of the Aboriginal cricket team’s visit to Lord’s, in London – or other similarly momentous stuff

    This can’t be true, important intellectuals and writers might fall out of fashion but they never get treated like dirt, with utter contempt. The world of ideas doesn’t work like that…

    Liam @ 81:

    There’s little about freedom or rights in the History of Australia, Manning Clark was an historian not a philosopher or political scientist

    Oh. Oh dear.

    Okay. “Some of us have read him, I suggest you do.”

    Funny, I’ve read MC, and my major complaint with him is that he’s basically an unreconstructed Langite, an ultra-nationalist. A bit of an old socialist who pretends to reject chauvinism while really just sprouting a different version of ‘my country right or wrong’.
    Perhaps I’m only imagining my disagreement with his work over basic freedom, rights, philosophy and political science.
    Damn you false consciousness!

  85. Liam

    John Dunmore, I presume, Nickws, not the Big Fella?

    Damn you false consciousness!

    As a self-identifying punisher and straightener, I dissemble that remark.

  86. Then According To The Manning Clark Who Showed His Outstretched Arm To Space

    Don’t look now, but this thread is in imminent danger of an infestation of prog rock nerds.

    “We’ll listen to that now. Ooh, look out!”

  87. See? There? A Manning Clark Is Born, And They Pronounce Him Fit To Fight

    Watchit JPZ, LOLcats are on the upgrade.

  88. At Paranoia's Poison Door -- 21st Century Schizoid Manning Clark

    Btw, how do you pronounce LOLcats in real life? Is it “loll-cats” or “L-O-L cats”?

    And what about LOLCat’s-foot-iron-claw?

  89. Manning Clark of Constant Sorrow

    I say loll. But I don’t think there’s a rule or anything.

  90. Lucky Manning Clark

    Emerson says “loll”-cats, Lake says “el-oh-el”-cats, and Palmer says “laugh-out-loud“-cats.

    I’m with Keith, though Mr. Palmer has a good link.

  91. What A Manning Clark, What A Manning Clark, What A Manning Clark, What A Mighty Good Manning Clark

    Just checking how stupid WordPress will let me be.

    Fairly stupid, it seems.

  92. I'm Your Manning Clark

    So, who else has Leonard Cohen tickets?

    *gloats*

  93. Tales From Topographic Clarks

    “So, do you like Manning Clark?”
    “What? I’m sure he’s quite capable of travelling under his own steam.”
    “What about Kipling then? Do you like Rudyard Kipling?”
    “I think his wife is better placed to answer that question.”

    Thank you, thank you. Try the veal. It’ll be here all week.

  94. Manning Clark On Manning Clark

    I see you like dick, Nabs.

    And I thought you were so butch.

  95. Thy song, Manning Clark, is strong

    Alternatively;
    Q. “Do you like Kipling?”
    A. “I don’t know, I’ve never Kippled.”

  96. He's Just Manning Around

    “I see you like dick, Nabs.”

    Dick who?

  97. Another Toy That Helped Destroy The Elder Race of Manning Clark

    TOM: Do you like Kipling?
    VIV: I don’t know. I’ve never kippled.

    or, to get sort of po-mo…

    PAT: Do you like Kipling?
    MIKE: Screw Kipling. Let him buy his own pint.
    PAT: I think maybe we’re so drunk, we’ve staggered into the wrong joke.
    MIKE: Faith, an’ ‘twouldn’t be the first time.
    PAT: Aye, tis manny a good man’s been the punchline o’ th’ wrong joke.
    MIKE: Faith, d’ye think I should’ve said DiMaggio?

  98. Adrien

    Liam – Frankly that’s more sexist than I’d have credited you, Adrien, at least, to type out loud.
    .
    I wasn’t being sexist, you were. And homophobic. I was citing that great classic Outdoor Dickin’ III: The Water Sports Bonanza and BBQ: The Caeser Salad is Simply Super. C’mon you know you wanted to be there :) .
    .
    he went to fight Fascists, not Carlists.
    .
    As Hobsbawm has made clear. One of the errors of his generation is to confuse the Spanish Carlists with the wider fascist movement. There were of course meetings of the mind but Spain was an anomaly in the history of European politics. It was cut off from the principle stream of history. The radical left were anarchists mainly. The reactionary right were Carlists mainly. The fascist reaction to the Enlightenment wasn’t necessary because it never took hold. In Spain the aristos and the Church won. And as is traditional in Iberian politics: the liberals got fucked over both ways.
    .
    That was the point I was making. No-one knows which individual shot Orwell not even that individual. He was probably some poor schmo dragged into the fight by his Lordship Philip y Bastardo Max. Subtlety much?
    .
    So yes, Orwell didn’t like argumentum ad hominem. Nor do I.
    .
    But you have an open door policy on pedantic bollocks don’t you?
    .
    There’s little about freedom or rights in the History of Australia, Manning Clark was an historian not a philosopher or political scientist. Some of us have read him, I suggest you do.
    .
    My comment on the totalitarian tactics of cultural reactionaries to Manning Clark had nothing to do with some broad overview of the history of democracy in this country. It was more about the rhetorical stratagems of the present time. This is obvious to anyone who knows how to read.
    .
    Not much interested in Oz history sorry. It’s boring and unimportant. :)

  99. Adrien

    GB – I actually know a Chavista.
    .
    Yeah I met one from venzuala. Pretty enthusiastic. Thought Chavez would have to go eventually. Didn’t seem to realize they fix it so they don’t. He tried. He failed – just.
    .
    But I don’t think there’s much risk of Aussie Lefties following the Bolivarian Revolution
    .
    Well I am. I’ve got a horse, a sword and a sash I won’t be crowned like that sell-out Bonaparte.
    .
    I do think it’s much more likely that the Liberal Party will continue to form an alliance with Hansonism. That strikes me as a much more realistic fear. I worry that they’ll do something even more extreme than the Tampa episode in the future.
    .
    Yes I wonder. When the economy hits the fan next year I expect to see a lot more Bogan Fascist T-shirts out there. I’m not kidding I’ve seen ‘em. if the Libs go there some of them will cross the floor. Or maybe form an actual liberal party.
    .
    Not getting mixed up with Third-Worldism is one of the lessons from the last century that the discriminating leftie should remember.
    .
    Indeed. Some don’t. But so what? They’re Trots and Trots are irrelevant. :)

  100. first we take Manning Clark, then we take Berlin

    I’ve got Leonard Cohen tickets too. Me too.

  101. Adrien

    P Cat – Oh, please.
    .
    You’re welcome. :)

  102. Thy song, Manning Clark, is strong

    I wasn’t being sexist, you were. And homophobic.

    This is the “I know you are, you said you are, but what am I” tactic? Pathetic, and bizarre.

    As Hobsbawm has made clear. One of the errors of his generation is to confuse the Spanish Carlists with the wider fascist movement. There were of course meetings of the mind but Spain was an anomaly in the history of European politics. It was cut off from the principle stream of history. The radical left were anarchists mainly. The reactionary right were Carlists mainly. The fascist reaction to the Enlightenment wasn’t necessary because it never took hold. In Spain the aristos and the Church won. And as is traditional in Iberian politics: the liberals got fucked over both ways.

    Adrien, every single sentence in this paragraph contains a glaring error of fact. I’ll leave it to you to catch them all, like little Pokemons of failure.

    My comment on the totalitarian tactics of cultural reactionaries to Manning Clark had nothing to do with some broad overview of the history of democracy in this country. It was more about the rhetorical stratagems of the present time.

    No, you argued upthread that attacks on Manning Clark were about rewriting the general history of Aboriginal dispossession out of history. This is, obviously, an historical and general argument.

    Not much interested in Oz history sorry.

    Evidently.

  103. me haz Leonard Cohen tickets and it's 4 in the morning the end of December.

    And I would like to gloat but it’s at the Entertainmenr Centre and 13 rows from the front. Maybe zee binoculars would come in handy.

  104. Adrien

    This is the “I know you are, you said you are, but what am I” tactic?
    .
    No. This is the take the piss out of the self-righteous pronouncement of bigotry for which there’s no evidence tactic.
    .
    Adrien, every single sentence in this paragraph contains a glaring error of fact.
    .
    Name one. Or shall I go and get my copy of The Age of Extremes and type the relevant fucking paragraph out? You can take it up with Eric then. Good luck there old bean. A bit of advice, learn to read properly first. Apparently he’s quite sharp for old codger.
    .
    This is, obviously, an historical and general argument.
    .
    It’s not an historical argument it’s an argument about present disputes about history. Get it? No?
    .
    When they were handing out subtlety were you out the back lighting your farts for laughs? The Oz history thing was a joke. I haven’t actually made any comments about Oz history except to say that we fucked over the Aboriginal people.
    .
    Are you disputing this? Well I never took you for a Windschuttlian revisionist. :)

  105. Liam

    Name one

    Let’s go.
    The Carlists were a minority regional faction in the Spanish reactionary Right even before the outbreak of the war in 1936; afterwards they were even more strongly marginalised.
    The Spanish Left were not ever “mainly” anarchist.
    Hobsbawm was understandably interested in Spanish left politics but did not argue any of the things you claim. As a Marxist he would be unlikely to argue that anywhere was cut off from “streams” of history.
    The entire history of politics in Spain in the nineteenth century was a struggle of Enlightenment ideals and constitutionalism against traditionalism.
    Franco’s dictatorship was not pro-aristocratic and not at all monarchist.
    That’s for starters.

    It’s not an historical argument it’s an argument about present disputes about history

    Quoted without comment.

    Are you disputing this?

    No, Cornholio, I am not threatening you, nor am I disputing the fact that you made comments about “fucking over the Aboriginal people” as central to the question of Manning Clark’s Order of Lenin. We agree that you have made an historical argument, and that you are ignorant of, and uninterested in, Australian history.
    Your arguments are internally inconsistent, tedious, and trite. You’re a bore.

  106. Do not choose a coward's explanation that hides behind the cause and the effect.

    Q. How do you like Dickens?
    A. Dickens what?

  107. Adrien

    We agree that you have made an historical argument,
    .
    No we don’t. I haven’t. Learn to read.
    .
    You’re a bore.
    .
    Um, well, I just (smirk) think that (chortle) you (fuckit)
    .
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    .
    You’re arguing that I’m a bore and yet you’re pursuing this pedantic, trivial I-have-no-idea-what utter nonsense. I don’t even know what your beef is.
    .
    Hobsbawm was understandably interested in Spanish left politics but did not argue any of the things you claim.
    .
    Okay. I’m going for coffee and shit but I’ll be getting out the Age of Anxiety and giving you the blast when I get back. You can then get your own copy and eat it or whatever it is you do with books.
    .
    Ta ta!

  108. 'Scuse me, while I heat this pie.

    I’m going for coffee and shit but I’ll be getting out the Age of Anxiety and giving you the blast when I get back.

    Oh goody – duelling banjos references. I think it’s traditional at this juncture in the stoush to pull up the couch, put the beer on ice and warm up the party pies.

    N.B. points _will_ be awarded for snarking en limerick.

    As you were.

  109. The minor fall, the major lift

    Oh God, Fyodor, don’t say that. You know Adrien can’t scan.

    *Runs away*

  110. I went to a Leonard Cohen gig on the night of my 17th birthday!

    Good concert it was too!

  111. Taking Tiger Mountain By Stratego

    In the days of the Generalissimo,
    Spaniards weren’t just taking the pissimo.
    Both sides went to the mat
    –They could rock it like dat–
    But can A. and L. rock it like thissimo?

  112. Adrien

    P Cat – You know Adrien can’t scan.
    .
    I scan fine. It’s ye cannae count.

  113. Adrien

    Okay Liam – Hobsbawm was understandably interested in Spanish left politics but did not argue any of the things you claim.
    .
    He didn’t distinguish Franco et al from the fascists categorically?

    Old fashioned authoritarians or conservatives …General Francisco Franco of Spain – has no particular ideological agenda, other than anti-communism and the prejudices traditional to their class. They might find themselves allied to Hitler Germany and other fascist movements in their own countries, but only because in the inter-war conjuncture, the ‘natural’ alliance was of all sectors of the political right.

    The Age of Extremes
    p 115
    .
    Okay he didn’t.

    In fact, and contrary to the beliefs of this author’s generation, the Spanish Civil War was not the first phase of the Second World War, and the victory of General Franco who, as we have seen, cannot even be described as a fascist, had not significant global consequences. It merely kep Spain (and Portugal_ isolated from the rest of world history for another thirty years.

    pp 156-7
    .
    Well that can’t be right. After all Liam said: As a Marxist he would be unlikely to argue that anywhere was cut off from “streams” of history. And Liam knows that a union is a union is a union. The Comrades are never wrong.
    .
    Oh but wait there’s more:

    Spain was a peripheral part of Europe, and its history had been persistently out of phase with the rest of the continent from which it was divided by the wall of the Pyrenees… Since the early nineteenth century its affairs had been of no real concern to European governments

    Must be a misprint.
    .
    But he must back up Liam on the fascist/Carlist thing. Surely:

    …the domestic politics of that notoriously anomalous and self-contained country became the symbol of a global struggle in the 1930s. Tey raised the fundamental political issues of the time: one the one side, democracy and social revolution. Spain being the only country in Europe where it was ready to erupt; on the other, a uniquely uncompromising camp of counter-revolution or reaction inspired by the Catholic Church which rejected everything that had happened since Martin Luther…

    p. 157
    .
    Oh that’s the stuff comrades. Eric’s got this anti-feminist, aristo-anarchist swine trying to tell us how clever he is on the run. Now…

    …neither the parties of Muscovite communism nor those inspired by fascism were of serious significance there before the Civil War, for Spain went its own eccentric way both on the anarchist ultra-Left and on the Carlist ultra-Right

    D’oh!!!
    .
    The agents of Goldstein have been at work. Call in double shifts at the Ministry of Truth. Delete minitrue doubleplusquick unrefs whatericsaid replace refs duckspeak – Quack!

  114. Adrien

    And before you say it, yes Carlist refers to an ultra-conservative peasant movement sourced mainly from Navarre, not ideologically representative of the Royalist forces. (Nothing is.)
    .
    As Antony Beevor writes:

    During the preparation for the coup, the military plotters had not concerned themselves greatly over the exact form of government which their pronunciamiento would herald… The substance was clear to all: centralized authoritarian rule. The form, however, was not clear, although the possibilities included Falangism, Carlism, a restoration of the Alfonsine monarchy and a republican dictatorship

    As it turned out the Carlists withered as the century progressed. However, like the anarchists on the left, their predominance in the politics of Spain illustrates well the Iberian idiosyncraticity. Both sides were a melange of various groups impacted by the proxy forces of ideological conflict on the world stage. The mere existence of ‘Neo-Trotskyite’ militias like that of the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista testifies to this.
    .
    Rather a lot of words expended because Liam hasn’t the wit to understand that ‘fascist Carlist’ is not making a claim about the specific political opinions and orientation of an anonymous soldier on the Royalist side of a civil war.
    .
    Maybe I should send him a bill.

  115. Gimme, Gimme Gimme a Manning after midnight

    There’s a Cohen concert? And whats all this guff about Spain?

  116. It's A Wide Open Road To Surfdom

    Forget Leonard Cohen, go see the Triffids instead.

  117. Well Red Pony

    Don’t worry about that, Surf, its already in my …Calenture etc hoho (*honk / lookout! / SMASH….. tinkle/ owwww*)
    I blogged about the Triffids only recently, as it happens!: http://bitemylatte.blogspot.com/2008/11/triffids-reverie.html

  118. Liam

    Yes, you’re quite right in agreeing with me. In Age of Extremes Hobsbawm says little or nothing about the Spanish left being made up mainly of anarchists, because it wasn’t.

    Hobsbawm was understandably interested in Spanish left politics but did not argue any of the things you claim.
    .
    He didn’t distinguish Franco et al from the fascists categorically?

    Franco was on the political right. Not the Left, the Right. Driving side, wanking hand. Easy to get wrong if you’re overstimulated and undereducated.
    On Spain’s exceptionalism you claimed Hobsbawm said:

    Spain was an anomaly in the history of European politics. It was cut off from the principle stream of history.

    Ask a Marxist historian what constitutes a principal stream of history and they won’t list major power diplomacy amongst its rivulets. I’ll give you a hint: it’s got to do with capital and class formation.

    As it turned out the Carlists withered as the century progressed.

    Yes, as I told you. You’ll please note that the politics of the Church in Spain traditionally come from its own Roman institutions, not its supporters in Bourbon lineage fights. Carlist ≠ Traditionalist.

    fascist Carlist’ is not making a claim about the specific political opinions and orientation of an anonymous soldier on the Royalist side of a civil war.

    Yes, as I told you, though if you’d done your reading you’d know that the term “Royalist” is almost never used. “Monarchist” is more accurate; that applies to the supporters of more than one line of succession.

    yes Carlist refers to an ultra-conservative peasant movement sourced mainly from Navarre

    Yes, as I told you.
    Ring the bell sucka, school’s in.

    However, like the anarchists on the left, their predominance in the politics of Spain illustrates well the Iberian idiosyncraticity. Both sides were a melange of various groups impacted by the proxy forces of ideological conflict on the world stage.

    Now here we’re getting into the meat of your ignorance. The supposed Iberian ungovernability—led by the Passions, fed by the Great Powers—was a fifty years old myth fuelled by the victorious Nationalists as an argument against elections in the post-1945 era. General Franco argued strongly and successfully to the British and the Americans that Spaniards would only vote for Communists if given the freedom; that myth of Spanish political difference kept the dictatorship secure in the crucial years after the War.
    Adrien, you’re up your own Memory Hole in thinking you’re expert at spotting extremist opinions and bigotries. If you can’t spot the most important one in a hundred years of Spanish repression you really ought to indulge in a little self-criticism.
    Most crucial argument last:

    You know Adrien can’t scan.

    She’s right you know. You can’t count syllables.

  119. Liam

    And as a second bite of the comments field cherry, I side with JPZ on Cohen’s worth as songwriter-poet. As a lyricist he makes a great jazz vocalist.
    Hallelujah/to ya/do ya/fool ya? Come on.
    Even Ringo in his Submarine was profounder.

  120. There's a dead salmon frozen in a waterfall

    idiosyncraticity

    Great album.

    Even Ringo in his Submarine was profounder.

    Submarines do that. That’s their porpoise.

  121. Liam
    idiosyncraticity

    Great album.

    Rubbish, it’s the same one they’ve been putting out for twenty years. Haven’t done an original thing since Rattle & Hum, IMO—as I’ll tell Bono next time I meet him.
    By the way Adrien, here’s one I missed:

    Both sides were a melange of various groups impacted by the proxy forces of ideological conflict on the world stage. The mere existence of ‘Neo-Trotskyite’ militias like that of the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista testifies to this.

    Epic, epic interpretation fail.
    POUM split from Trotsky’s Fourth International and he denounced them over and over again. The COMINTERN-aligned PCE hated them, the PSOE distrusted them, and the European Popular Front parties pretended not to see them. The existence of POUM as an organised Party and militia unique to Republican Spain is evidence against the importance of other countries’ influence.

  122. Nickws

    In my aside about the kinds of people Chris Mitchell* hates @ 45 I confused the wartime experiences of Russell Braddon with the postwar experiences of Russell Ward.
    I just thought to myself, “fuck it, at least I know when I’ve screwed-up whilst in rant mode–I should make things right.”
    *Chris Mitchell, right? Did something unpleasant just happen and is he in anyway to blame?

  123. Liam

    Nickws, I’m sure both are on Mitchell’s List of Eternal Grudge, cross-referenced with entries in Gerard Henderson’s file. I wouldn’t worry.

  124. King of Spain

    “Submarines do that. That’s their porpoise.”

    Deep, man.

  125. Old Dirty Bastard

    Deep, man.

    Jacques Cousteau couldn’t get that low.

  126. Eddie Murphy Taught Me That Back In The House

    “There’s a dead salmon frozen in a waterfall”

    Manning Clark, Sting’s gotta work on his biologeez. Or maybe the metaphor’s deliberately idiosyncratinacious?

  127. Old Dirty Bastard

    maybe the metaphor’s deliberately idiosyncratinacious?

    Nah, the salmon’s just raw. Oooh baby, I like it raw.

  128. Le Groghard

    Jacques Cousteau couldn’t get that low.

    Au contraire, confrère: M. Cousteau était toujours dans l’eau.

  129. L'Odour Toilette

    “M. Cousteau était toujours dans l’eau.”

    Throw him a line, he’s floundering.

  130. The minor fall, the major lift

    Zeese bilingual puns, zey are, ‘ow you say, of the fromage.

  131. Little Jim

    Throw him a line, he’s floundering.

    He’s fallen in the water…

  132. Pavlov's Cat

    Le oops.

  133. O Sole Mio

    Stick to bass, Efdeebee.

  134. Lord Jim

    He’s fallen in the water…

    You’re gonna need a bigger quote.

  135. Officer Crabtree

    ‘ow you say, of the fromage

    I admit, his Franch cod be butter.

  136. Hommage à Fromage

    PC, we’re just limburgering up.

  137. Nickws

    Liam–Adrien is partly relying on quotes from Antony Beevor’s The Battle for Spain to support his argument against you on this thread.
    But here’s the thing–Beevor, at the beginning of his Berlin: The Downfall 1945, aka, The Fall Of Berlin 1945, relies on the bogus reminiscences of ‘Guy Sajer’ to set the scene for the Red Army invasion of East Prussia. Totally false.
    You see where I’m going, don’t you?
    Beevor’s account of the brutality of Marshal Rokossovsky’s troops in Germany>>flawed>>therefore Beevor’s account of the influence of the Carlists on Franco>>flawed>>therefore Adrien’s analysis of Carlists, Francoists, Anarchists and Stalinists in the Spanish Civil War (not to mention Orwell and his bullet wound)>> FLAWED.
    Ergo, you win.
    You win every part of this argument.
    And you get to mock Adrien for his use of rubbish sources.
    Please, don’t thank me. Make a donation to homeless kiddies at Christmas in my name, and just bask in the sun for the many hours over the weeks to come that you would otherwise be forced to waste in order to prove you mastery of this subject.

  138. Cause She's The Cheese, And I'm The Macaroni

    You’re gonna need a bigger quote.

    Win.

    we’re just limburgering up

    This is going rapidly downhill.

  139. Liam

    I didn’t know that, Nickws.

    You see where I’m going, don’t you?

    Oh yeah baby. Windschuttle primary source legitimacy battle, ROUND ONE FIGHT

  140. richard Franchis Beurreton

    I admit, his Franch cod be butter.

    Whereas Hakey’s just flakey.

  141. Cheeses Crisis!

    -What my 4y.o. nephew thought I said when he threw a frisbee point-blank into my cods.

  142. Nickws

    Windschuttle primary source legitimacy battle, ROUND ONE FIGHT

    Eww, Windschuttle.
    Weak, damp squib.
    This is what your inevitable triumph should look like.
    And these guys were only arguing about two sources (neither of which were primary).

  143. Paul Norton

    OK kids, I’m off line and away from Brisbane for the next several days, so you’ll now need to find another thread for your off-topic exchanges.