Thursday, 25 July 2013

Call a Royal Commission on Boat People NOW!!!!!

Call a ROYAL COMMISSION on boat people, NOW!

Yesterday Tony Abbott called our attention to the national boat people emergency.  Kevin Rudd was equally alarming when he spoke about evil people smugglers.  Every day more Muslim ‘boat people’ swamp Australia’s borders. 

Kevin Rudd has promised that no refugees who arrive by boat will settle in Australia – these people will be sent to PNG.  Put simply, this will not work. There are too many problems to list!  First and foremost, do we really think that an influx of boat people to horde PNG will lead to anything but social incohesion and enclaves in what was otherwise a good Christian society? How is inviting a potential terrorist around to dinner helping a friend?  Next is the issue of money – why should we give people in PNG money for ‘foreign aid’ as a kickback?  This is nothing short of corruption.  Then there’s the issue of the handshake agreement between Australia and PNG.  If this doesn’t stop the boats, do we really think PNG will be taking the hundreds of people who arrive on our shores each and every single day because we have a handshake agreement? And even now the PNG opposition leader complains that the agreement had not been made in parliament.  Which brings me to Tony Abbott’s ‘solution.’

Tony Abbott has two plans – he always planned to turn the boats around, but now adds that he will put a 3 star military officer at the head of the operation.  Tony, what difference will a 3 star officer make?  You turn a boat around, they go back to Indonesia and then they get on another boat.  This doesn’t stop the boats – it just makes people smugglers richer!  It won’t work and it will anger Indonesia.  Next he uses our money to build a new building for bureaucrats and puts a military officer in charge.  Abbott’s tough talk boils down to giving people smugglers a second windfall when boats are turned back and an administrative reshuffle.   And now it turns out that the military aren’t too keen on the idea.  They don’t want to be used as props in an election campaign and who could blame them?  They also don’t want to be pulled into a civil operation, and they don’t want to have to report to some Minister of Immigration.  Since when has the Minister for Immigration had power over the military?  Let’s put it plain, immigration, even of boat people, is not a military matter.  They might be throwing out their passports, but that’s not a declaration of war.

Both of them are all talk.  Neither of their solutions will work.  What we need is a Royal Commission.  And we need it right NOW.  Nothing else will do.  Until we see a Royal Commission, we know that both parties are all tough talk – they only care about votes, not about boats.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Aphorisms in introduction of feminism

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”
An enduring thought (the sole property of truth) or a tired cliché?
If Nietzsche did the good service of killing God, has Humanity forgotten her freedom?
The popular story: ‘God has died.  In the preceding centuries humanity was fixed between Heaven and Hell.  God, above, was all that was good and good man his most cherished creature.  Satan, below, all that was wrong in the world and man his prized good.’
‘Then came a disruption – the discovery that God had been an invented, that He did not exist outside of the human imagination.’
‘From this time forward, humanity became disoriented.  What right was true, what truth was right?  What role did man play in the overwhelming expanse of being and time, no longer the sons of God? And even if God were to be found, where to look in the hundreds of billions of celestial bodies, each so enormous and yet so infinitely small?’
‘God – the author of all things – proven a piece of theatre; how will this role play be rewritten?’
This story is titled Modernity.
Nietzsche may have gone mad, but he was at least an honest enough man to inquire what the world would look like if God had been deleted from its beginnings.  Such a question, to my knowledge, has never else even been attempted.
A new breed of atheists know this story, when it is convenient, and as ever is their wont they offer a helpful formula to solve the problem.
God, it is their conviction, does not exist in first principles.  He exists only in imagination (as if Luther, Aquinas, St Paul or Jesus himself spoke nothing of the home of God in the human soul).
God is not killed but disproven by demonstrating the improbability of His omnipotence and role in the creation of the world, such as it is.  
Religion is, therefore, simply a disproved set of propositions which explain the way in which the universe came into being.  
The task then is to remove God and his authority, and build a morality from new first principles.  A new universality.  
But if these first principles are reason and logic, what ontological priorities can they claim that God cannot?  
And if truth (and politics, morality and society) can be imagined without God, why has it been imagined to look so incredibly similarly to what society looked like with God – with only the most cosmetic of changes?
Is it working from first principles to take the morality that atheists feel comfortable with, and to arrive at them by means which seek to circumvent God?  By replacing the authority of God with the assuredness of the ontological?
Can this really by justified (and what is justice but a reference to Christ?) by the minor addendum to Modernity which comports the dangers of the darkness of history and compares it with the history of Enlightenment as progress – to comport all the achievements of science cleanly from religion?
And what, of all things, can a man like Dawkins mean when he speaks of the beauty of the order of nature

The meaning is ungratifying, simple and plain.  These men lack the courage to face up to themselves after killing God.  They seek instead to demonstrate that God had never lived, but only the order that was left in his wake.  And to do this, the only trick they had left was to refer to that which can be said to exist outside the imagination.
To live without killing God, they needed to prove that the imagination has no priority.

They lacked the courage or the resources to reimagine the world.

It is for this reason that the great majority of the leading new atheists are also very conservative men.  For Hitchens, the reasoning above no doubt brought about a great degree of sadness even as it did transformation.  It is a sad day when the former epitome of a man is brought down to such a level.

It has gotten to the point that converts will take a notion as imaginary as gender and attempt to define it by touch.  What is this but to belittle men and women both?
The problem, therefore, still remains.  If we are to revise our understanding based on things that exist prior to the imagination, what right have we to organise people by man and woman when the differences between man and man and woman and woman are as great as their similarities?
And what conclusions can be made that do not relate to the field of physics without “blushing”, as Plato put it?
Indeed, what notations and measurements can a physicist (or chemistry) use without so blushing?


‘How can being be determined prior to imagination?’ as even Heidegger knew not to bother to ask. (Or ‘what ontico-ontological priority can Dasein claim?’ as Heidegger did ask, in hope that inquiry would be possible.)

How can the boundaries of science be determined prior to the imagination?

How can touching things mean that, in questions of morality, one is to stand between two factions as if this stood in for morality?  
To harken back to the question of gender – how can the ability to touch genitals or the womb mean that a reasonable position is that there are men and women and that men and women’s claims must be ‘weighed’ equally and then resources and law ‘divided’ by such deliberations?
What pre-ontological priority can the concept of man or woman really hold?
This is just such an embarrassment as Plato spoke of.  
Far, far better to read the ways in which humanity has imagined men and women, and the role of men and women and to ask if, in light of the first principles of Modernity, such things should be entirely reimagined.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Blake vs. Dawkins

Hi all,

I know you're all waiting with baited breath re: the new series.

I've been asked to deliver a lecture on another topic which is consuming most of my mental energy, so I'll get back to this in a serious way after I've delivered it.  I might even post a few on the way.

Suffice to say of the Blake/Dawkins article, the skeleton runs thus:

  • Dawkins says Blake's mysticism from the same drive as a scientist
  • Dawkins says that Blake "hates and fears" science which is "a waste."
  • SIDETRACK - a bit of an old Dawkins trick going on here.  Blake is one of, if not the, greatest mystic to ever write in the English language.  Dawkins kind of dismisses him off-the-cuff, then proceeds to prove mysticism wrong but grappling with snake charmers.  But it doesn't really properly address the very advanced and thorough work produced by Blake.

  • Fact is, Blake's mysticism does not cloud his mind here.  Blake's criticisms of science run on two primary fronts his best known passages 1) the notion of Euclidean space 2) the use if scientific apparatus to represent space as ordered and in harmony.
  • Blake's criticism of science has actually been vindicated by modern science.  So it's a bit rich of Dawkins to call his poetic gift "a waste" simply because he has been critical of science.
  • More than that, what Dawkins worries about here is the three-fold notion of Truth, Beauty and Order.
  • Dawkin's complaint that poets should write with scientific input runs along the same theme.  As he puts it, there is great meaning and beauty in an ordered, causal universe (which he opposes to ad hoc mysticism).
  • This is the beauty of the Enlightenment method.  It should come as no surprise, since he mentions Locke and Newton so frequently, that he is quite wedded to these ideas of order, category, inherent structure.  And, for him, beauty is the discovery of the underlying structures.
  • But for Blake, beauty is the destruction of structure - it is striving within the imagination to discover the limits of the believable, the understandable, the liminal.  This is the truest work of a scientist - both radically subjective and striving for the universal.
  • An example of Dawkins really misunderstanding Blake, and it is Dawkin's that forms the waste here.


Blake is just as petty about Newton, Locke and Voltaire.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Mistanding at the limits of knowledge

At those reaches of knowledge which people find most liminal, there is almost guaranteed to be some opposition. Most of the opposition is passive aggressive – dismissed as boffins, philosophers live in a world detached from reality that could have no effect on anything in our day to day lives (tell that the Freud or Marx!).  Artists at the avante guard are considered equally wasteful of public funds, irrelevant, suspicious, and misguided or an outlet for the pretentious aspirations of the ‘elites’ to feel intellectually superior.  Science, like philosophy and art, is accepted where-ever it is ubiquitous but held under suspicion where-ever it is brought into clear focus.  Just ask a scientist whose work considers the consequences of anthropogenic climate change.   The term ‘rhetoric’ is now used exclusive in a pejorative sense outside of universities.  Often meaning either simply the words or set of words that a politician repeats, and always linked to politics, rhetoric is considered a close relative to a lie.  Then there is theology. Today, theology is rarely even considered a valid form of knowledge.  Only legacy universities teach it. 

There we have it, the five pillars of Renaissance education – art, science (& mathematics), philosophy, rhetoric and theology – still regarded with deep suspicion by the populace.  All have played extensive, and important, lead roles in the formation of Western language, culture, laws and institutions.  In short, those limits to how we behave – perhaps even what we are able to image – have been set by these five pillars – with language and its history of monotheistic expression at its base.  Remove any one of these fertile areas of study and our conscience, expression, infrastructure and society would be literally unrecognisable to us today (like the white colonialists who signed an Aboriginal man’s name as ‘little no-body’).

Yet none are considered particularly relevant or trustworthy by those without further education in them.   And it’s not only the lazy or uneducated who hold these reaches of knowledge under suspicion.  There is a famous division at universities between arts and science students: scientists believing arts students are lazy and unable to accept clean logic and objectivity.   Arts students complain that science students have no sound understanding of the ways in which politics, language or culture affect every aspect of understanding (including scientific understanding).

This divide is often a case of jumping to conclusions about what we don’t know based on what we already do.  Take Dawkin’s The God Delusion, in which he makes (quasi)scientific observations and then tries to apply them to theology, history, culture and politics.  The problem is that, while he knows a hell of a lot about evolutionary biology, honest inspection and reflection leads to a great deal of suspicion on his conclusions regarding the other topics mentioned.  He misreads the Bible, misrepresents what many people understand as a monotheistic God, misrepresents political movements and groups and misunderstands history.  I say these as plain matters of fact.  Considering a little more research might have cleared much of this up, many of his detractors argue that he doesn’t live up to his own standards of research.  Some find these misnomers evidence of deliberate misrepresentation.

Another researcher receiving a prestigious Australian scientific prize says that he hopes that one day, when energy is available freely and all provisions are met, science will replace ideology and the world will live in peace.  His inability to recognise this as ideology in and of itself almost masks his inability to recognise that science itself is inherently ideological. 

Yet sociologists and political scientists mistrust of hard numbers is a source of constant frustration to those working in the hard sciences. It has been contended that Thatcher recognised the threat of climate change before most of the politically progressive world because of her background in chemistry – she knows that ideology cannot change the facts.  What, after all, can a medical researcher do with Susan Sontag’s incredible analysis of aids as a metaphor? 

The point of all this?  I’m not sure.  But it is something I’m very interested in and there are some questions I’d like answered.   My methodology is going to be based on case studies where-ever possible. First, what are the merits of the subject/object dialectic?  Second, are art and science incompatible?   Third, is mathematics capable of being in itself, outside of language?  Fourth, have the ideological bases of the sciences shifted greatly from Empirical Reason and Logic, and all the terribly dangerous consequences of Enlightenment thought?  And finally, I will ask whether theology, arts, science, philosophy or rhetoric best express the disorder of things.

It’s something that over the coming period of time I’m hoping to do a bit of reading and writing on.  My first post on this, which is ‘coming soon,’ will be on the poetry of science.  It will ask why so many scientists and science philosophers complain about the lack of poets writing from a position of scientific understanding – and why do they all pick on WH Auden when complaining about it?  

In doing so, I will look at the letters of RP Feynman and some pre-God Delusion work by Richard Dawkins, as well as the poetry of Auden, Blake and Calvino.  

More to come.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Christianity and family values

Edits to come....

Christianity and Family Values

Christians often claim that family values are at the centre of both the Christian faith and social cohesion.  They may be right – but they should be careful what they wish for.  That's because Jesus' idea of what family meant was radically different to the 'nuclear family' concept that is held up an an ideal today.

Remember the royal wedding?   The Archbishop of Canterbury's sermon spoke of the importance of love, compassion, togetherness and dedication to God and one-another.  The Queen listened approvingly.  The congregation sang the unofficial English national anthem, the opening lines to William Blake's Jerusalem.  All this to send the strong, persuasive message that family was the foundation of England, that authority's first and last causes were family. That authority for a nation based on such values, values so innately Christian, must come from family itself.  

Christians – Protestant and Catholic traditions inclusive – are rarely able to agree on anything  politically.  One thing that nearly every Christian lobby group agrees on, though, is the importance of family values.  Indeed, they are quite within reason to state that family values are deeply embedded in Christian belief, and that these beliefs have formed the 'bedrock' of our society.  However, they are wrong if they think that such a position can be justified through appeals to the gospel. 

In a recent article in the New York Times, Stephanie Coontz claimed to identify a “radical antifamily ideology [which] permeates Christ's teaching” and that “the early Christian tradition often set faith and family against each other.”   She could hardly be more wrong – Christ was radically pro-family.  Christ spoke frequently on the importance of being the sons of God, referred to God as Father and t commanded his followers to go forth and multiply.  St Paul also uses the analogy of the family to describe the human relationship to God.

But that doesn't make the Christian family values lobby right, either.  Christ sent his own family away, claiming they had no more right to access him than any others.  He commanded his disciples to leave their families and follow him.  He never started a family of his own, and was recorded as saying you must hate your family to follow him.  This message is so distressing that of the many books that have 'rewritten' the Bible in every day language, none of them have been able to bring themselves to use the word “hate” - preferring instead to say things like 'you must love me more than your family.'

Lest the 'new atheist' crowd start self-congratulating on the inherent contradictions of scripture, let me state my contention (they have a much juicier morsel coming their way).  Christ was radically pro-family, but he redefined family to align with his religio-political objectives.  These objectives were a wholesale rejection of the authority of law – which St Paul would later refer to as a curse that Christ has freed humanity from – and likewise of the authority of the family.

No longer was your first duty to your family – that bastion of wealth and power as best exhibited by the Great Patrician Abraham and the monarchical dynasty founded by King David. Part of the reason Jesus called Himself the King of the Jews was to supplant the dynastic model of authority with the model of a family based on fidelity to father God.

            As William Blake put it so astutely, as he so often does:
            Was Jesus gentle, or did He
            Give any marks of gentility?
            When twelve years old He ran away
            And left His parents in dismay,
            When after three days' sorrow found
            Loud as Sinai's trumpet sound:
            'No earthly parents I confess -
            My Heavenly Father's business!
            Ye understand not what I say
            And, angry, force me to obey,
            Obedience is a duty then,
            And favours gains with God and men.         

Fidelity to Father God means absolute service and Love to the whole of Humanity.  This is a model of equality and family so radical that even the Greens wouldn't touch it.  It is a model of authority that is also manifested in his utter disdain towards the local law of the Pharisees, and his belief that money was alien (“give to Caesar what is Caesar's”), corrupting (eg, the rich young ruler) and even “the root of all evil.”  With the one exception of his rage at the money changers at the temple, his attitude towards these two most traditional structures of power was to openly disregard it.  Many of the ensuing confrontations with Pharisees memorably show his general attitude of contempt towards their authority.  However, none serve to illuminate both his disregard for religious and familial authority better than the very foundation of the claim of Christ's divinity and membership of the Godhead, the tenth chapter of the Gospel According to St John, verses 36-39 – Jesus response to the charge of blasphemy for calling himself the son of God:

            “do you say unto him whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world, 'you are blaspheming' because I said 'I am the Son of God?;  If I am not doing the works of my father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though toy do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.

Now, let me turn my attention to any New Atheists in attendance.  I mentioned there was a juicy morsel coming your way, and here it is:

Jesus did not believe in the authority of law and chose to disregard it.  Moreover, Christ demanded that people disrupt their families at great personal cost in order to follow him and pursue unintuitive, difficult religious ideals that many will not relate to.  Many of his followers then left their own families to join cult-like communities of believers after his death and reported resurrection.  

But here's the rub:  That doesn't get you out of asking yourself some tough questions about family and equality.  Even if you dismiss Christ's high standards of loving our neighbours as ourselves, and doing to others as we would have them do unto us, there are still questions about equality.  Does equality mean providing for your own family before providing for others?  If not, doesn't this help to perpetuate a global class structure that holds generations of people to poverty, or underemployment, or low standards of education?  With massive overpopulation eating up the world's resources at an ever growing rate, is it even ethical to have a family?

Christians and New Atheists alike are most likely to reject Christ's view of a family as sons and daughters of God for the same reason.  It sets too high a standard – it is too radically ethical, and it scares them. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

On Photography

A pumice stone
early morning lover's kiss.
Whiskers will themselves into a field of
being. Diurnal cleanliness. Remember
Ever-present, latent.
Weakly hidden -
pantomime surprise which misplaced the pantomime.

But why write in ideas on images?

Sleeptalk is not intentional
Forgiveness, then, should be essential
For the sounds on predawn breath
Might else lead to my loneliness.

The photograph is a thieving youth.
Our dignity so puffed up it blistered;
Now bursts its sickened puss.
The photograph is the youth's fence.

May the eyes of day never dawn
Vespers take me
The sun may enclose me with her flares
If night to day I do compare.

Monday, 16 May 2011

BHP are digging up our mineral wealth.

BHP are digging up our mineral wealth and Aussies deserve their fair share of it. 

Australia's mineral wealth belongs to all Australians.  Yet it is the big miners who take the money and put some of it into tax havens.  Good for investors, sure, but is it good for all Australians?  Not by a long shot.  Unless we ensure that there is a direct link between what is being dug up from the ground and the profits it makes, we are simply pandering to the greed of miners at the expense of the Australian people.  BHP don't like paying the tax and you can understand it.  But do not be fooled into thinking it will cost jobs and kill the company.  In the first half of 2011, BHP has reported a net profit growth of 71.5%.

It is argued that taxing the mining companies will push up the cost of living for anyone who pays electricity bills.  This is true, but it is only true because for too long successive Australian governments have skewed our tax system and infrastructure towards big mining.  It has now become apparent just how costly this is for ordinary Australians. 

Because of the increasing costs of building community infrastructure in the deserts of Western Australia and Queensland, those of use who live in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide (that's most of us) lose out federal funding.  Yet every time a new mine is opened in a town with a settled population of around 200 and a mobile population of thousands, someone has to fund a new ring road for semi-trailers. New schools are built and sometimes a railway.  The government have to fund GP clinics because it is otherwise impossible to coax doctors out into the middle of nowhere.  The local council must build parks, childcare services and other amenities.  All this infrastructure is usually in use for less than twenty years. In the case of Nickel mines in Beaconsfield and Ravensthorpe the infrastructure was used for less than five years because the Nickel price fell through the floor.  But it doesn't cost any less to build.  For these reasons, the government has been forced to take hundreds of millions in GST revenue from New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia to put into Queensland and Western Australia.  Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu was right to complain that Victorians should feel let down.  After all, the logic for building the ring road and upgrading the Princes to Geelong was that it would build economic ties between these two ports, help to deal with population pressure in Melbourne while stimulating the local Geelong economy.  Building ring roads and railways to mines have none of these long term effects. 

Another way it affects most Australians is by spoiling employment growth in any sector that is not related to mining and transport.  A mechanic just out of his apprenticeship can earn $58 an hour in the Pilbara, whereas according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the national average is between $12 and $18.  A mechanic in Sydney will pay his best few mechanics as much as he can afford to keep them on.  This cuts down the small business' margins and makes it almost impossible for them to employ more mechanics.  As their newly qualified apprentices struggle to find work, they are lost to the mining communities in WA.  What is Tony Abbott's response to this?  Move to Western Australia.  But we can't all move our lives to dig from the ground.  Moreover, BHP is Australia's largest company and as such will do fine without so many taxation concessions.  

Given the pressure that mining puts on business growth in our major cities, governments ponder the challenges of a patchwork economy.  How does Australia transition from an economy dependant on transport and oil (already fat on highways and lean on rail) to move raw mining goods sold overseas to an economy that plays to our strong education base? Australia is well placed to build an economy based on knowledge services such as accounting, engineering, consultancy, education, entertainment and the arts and medical expertise.  It has the requisite knowledge, although the high Australian dollar makes this a difficult business plan to execute at present.  Likewise, Australia is well positioned to manufacture high end, high return products like electronics, medical equipment and pharmaceutical goods.  There is no reason why Australia should not be able produce a company like Siemens to help manufacture clean energy.  Instead, infrastructure, tax structures and trade conditions that would help develop these industries have been sacrificed to the needs of big miners. A tax wont go all the way to addressing this, but it will help. 

I'm not saying that mining is a bad thing that hurts us all.  I'm simply saying that given the pressure it puts on our tax dollars, it needs to contribute more to the federal government's budget bottom line – no matter which major party finds itself in power.  The balance is currently out of whack but when Rudd tried to fix it, it cost him his job.  Australians need to be more awake to the logic of the mining tax instead of allowing themselves to be scared of cost of living increases which are in large part driven by the rising cost of oil.  It's true that the tax will contribute to them, but in the long term it will help drive them down and make the whole of Australia more properous.  After all, with the rise of the Indian, Chinese, Indonesian and Brazilian economies also dependant on oil for transport (and, in China's case, the communist government's relentless economic stimulus), petrol prices will only continue to rise.

Abbott has made ground by running the line that Labour spending is out of control and the mining tax is a quick political fix.  For the good of the Liberal party he is right to do so, but from the perspective of the good of all Australians he's got it wrong.  He has caved into the massive political pressure exerted from the mining lobby and the IPA – John Roskam's far right 'think tank'  funded by mining and oil concerns.  We should not allow investment into Australia's future infrastructure to be dominated by a mining fiefdom. 

The reason for this is not simply economic, it is social and environmental.  I will leave a discussion of the consequences of taxation on the Australian environment to someone more qualified.  But I will quickly make an argument for Australia's mineral wealth to be more evenly distributed through an appeal to history. 

This point is ideologically based.  But it is the ideology that after all forms the logic of economics in a capital trade based economic system, and is therefore entirely reasonable in the context of economic argumentation: the mineral wealth of the Australian nation belongs to all Australians, not just BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata.

In the time leading up to the 1850s, Australia's colonial administration was dominated by landed aristocracies.  Those squatters who managed to survive had bought up the land already cleared by those who had failed around them and moved back into Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide  (Paul Carter's analysis of the spatial dimensions of this process is brilliant if occasionally cumbersome, if you're interested in a good read – Paul Carter, The Road to Botany Bay).   The original  opportunities afforded to freed convicts to build wealth and social status had disappeared in the space of only sixty years. Now convicts were used by successful squatters for cheap labour and were otherwise considered such a nuisance that colonial governments were asking England to stop sending them. 

It is clear that some convicts at least had wanted to come to Australia.  Some Irishwomen who were convicted of petty crimes howled openly in the docks when they were not sentenced to deportation.  But this dream was over, the petty criminals were treated with a mixture of contempt and derision by squatters and the colonial administration which they influenced alike.  Money for building colonial infrastructure such as roads and schools was diverted to cattle and sheep stations.  This arrangement maintained the money, education, privilege and power of the wealthy with scant regard for anyone else.  In short, it created a class system.  

Then, on 15 May 1851, the Sydney Morning Herald announced that gold had been found.  Convicts and failed squatters rushed to the New South Welsh goldfields.  In August, people had moved to Ballarat.  According to Manning Clark, Melbourne and Geelong was empty of men until December of the same year, when some had failed to find their fortune or the fortitude to continue looking for it.  The wealth which this gold afforded to individual diggers was the turn of luck which helped to break the squatter's economic and ideological strangle-hold on power. 

During the gold rush there was debate about the future make up of colonial constitutions for legislative assemblies.  The large landowners wanted “a conservative one – a British... not a Yankee constitution” which would guarantee their position and interests in a British House of Lords arrangement of inherited powers.  New South Welsh liberals and Republicans – vocal and large in number – wanted a truly democratic system which safeguarded the weight of each man's vote equally.  They didn't get it.

When they were denied it in Victoria, the government tried to move in on miner's profits to safeguard the landed interest against the economic clout of gold money.  Diggers were treated as one and the same thing as convicts (especially those without proper licenses). Those who struck it rich were derided and scorned for shopping on Collins Street when they had no prior land or education. Government taxes on individual diggers sought to buoy up the power of the established rich.  It famously ended in the Eureka stockade – an event which ran deep into the hearts and minds of that generation and the next, and helped to ensure that our federal system of government instilled the right of each man to have an equal vote.  Women, as history tells us, would have to wait. 

Now, it could be argued that the Eureka Stockade is a poor example to bring up in favour of taxing miners.  But the fact is that the situation is currently similar, only in reverse.  Where once the land owners were an Aristocracy in all but name (and they wanted to change even that), now it is the interests of major mining corporations that subverts the legitimate power and potential for social mobility for the majority of Australians.  Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer are the new Wentworth.   And where the gold mining tax was in the interests of a few land owners because it dampened the potential for economic growth for everyone else, the gold mines took Australia's mineral wealth and shared it to any individual with the industry to get it. Similarly, the Mining Super Profits Tax takes the mineral wealth of Australia and shares it with us all.