Bob Dylan # Robert Allen Zimmerman, was born May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota, raised in nearby Hibbing and bar mitzvahed in 1954. The 1960s were Dylan’s decade – in the first five years as a New York sensation and voice of the civil rights protest movement, then as a drug-fuelled rock’n’roller and ultimately husband and father. Sean Wilentz of the New York Times writes: Dylan debuted his first obviously historical song, “With God on Our Side,” written when he was twenty-one years old, at Town Hall in April 1963.
Australian History # Australia is fortunate in having a number of outstanding historians delving into our past to discover ourselves. Divergent opinions lead to an appreciation of the complexity of our history. Honest research and appraisals can still lead to inspiring accounts. As part of the culture wars Alan Tudge, and others claim examining the past causes students to hate our country, while Stuart Macintyre claims that “submitting history to a loyalty test, debases it.
Demagogues # The definition of the word, with roots in ancient Greece, is: “ a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.” Demagogues tend to play on our basic, primordial, primal fears or “gut” instincts. They appeal to the selfish animal or savagery in us. The most effective lure is the drum beat of war. For some reason the anticipation of war fosters impressions of strength and resolution while rational debate is portrayed as a sign of weakness.
Revolts and Revolutions # Revolts against opression have been a regular occurrence since time immemorial. “When any group feels they’re disenfranchised or have lost something they really wanted, they tend to rebel. If we recognize the grievances that cause the revolution, maybe we can find the solutions.” Ruddy Roye, supported by Eyebeam’s Center for the Future of Journalism. “In revolutions everything is forgotten … The side once changed, gratitude, friendship, parentage, every tie vanishes, and all sought for is self-interest.
History of Rome # The quest for an objective and impartial account of history is often considered today as illusory, if not disingenuous. Consciously or unconsciously, it is said, these accounts are permeated with ideology and embody the world-view of the winners or of those in power. Rome was built on low lying swamps surronded by seven hills. Rome is known became known as the divine city due to the myth of Mars seducing a Vestal Virgin giving birth to Romulous and Remus who are abandoned and suckled by a wolf.
Road to Democracy # There has never been a golden age of politics, enlightened by bright and shining ideals. Politics then, as politics is now, was nasty, brutish and sure to disappoint. A soon as people began to live in the Polis (city) they had to form some sort of organisation. Politics and policy derive from the Polis. In The Shortest History of Democracy, John Keane explored its beginnings in Syria-Mesopotamia - and not Athens - to its role in fomenting revolutionary fervour in France and America.
Atrocities # Some terms are more difficult to define than others. An atrocity is in the eye of the beholder. Atrocities involve ineffable horror – unspeakable pain, in response to unconscionable acts. One man’s atrocity is another’s desperate justice. The first murder is believed Cain & Abel In the Book of Genesis, Cain and Abel are the sons of Adam and Eve. Cain is a farmer, and his younger brother Abel is a shepherd.
Human Rights # In Roman times, citizenship varied greatly. The full citizen could vote, marry freeborn persons, and practice commerce. Some citizens were not allowed to vote or hold public office, but maintained the other rights. A third type of citizen could vote and practive commerce, but could not hold office or marry freeborn women. In the late Republic, male slaves who were granted their freedom could become full citizens.
Nomads # Nomads and Agarian Cultivation Cadmus wanted to sacrifice the cow to Athena, and sent men to the spring of Aretias to fetch water, but a dragon guarding the place killed them. Cadmus then killed the dragon and, at the suggestion of Athena, sowed half of the dragon’s teeth in the ground. Up sprang armed men, and in fear, Cadmus threw a stone in their midst. Each man thought that another one had attacked him, and they all fought.
Imperialism: # Imperialism is the God given prerogative of powerful nations over their inferiors. Most emerging empires aspired to grow by colonising weaker neighbours to extend their dominant hegemony. Persians, Greek, Roman, Ottomans, Russian and many others expanded by conquest – might is right. Minoan # Minos, legendary ruler of Crete; he was the son of Zeus, the king of the gods, and of Europa, a Phoenician princess and personification of the continent of Europe.
Australia’s slide into Tyranny # Primitive societies were obsessed with fertility. Any drought, famine or pestilence was seen as a punishment from superior beings. The safety and welfare of the tribe depended on the health and life of a semi-divine or demi-god ruler. A healthy vigorous and virile king ensures natural and human productivity. A sick, maimed or impotent king brings blight and disease to the land and the people.
Canada’s slide into Tyranny # According to Robin Wright in The New Yorker, some of the trend lines for the world in 2023 are already visible; the wars and crises of 2022 will shape the challenges of the New Year. Among them, ruthless autocrats are exerting their might in ways that strain the diplomatic bandwidth, financial resources, and arms stockpiles of democracies. Democracies are also under covert attack. Incipient, insidious attacks creep up slowly.
Louis Riel # Manitoba’s origins # Issac Cowie describes Manitoba as he saw it in 1867, three years before It was incorporated as a province of the Dominion of Canada: “It was in a state of nature outside the Red River Settlement and the pickets of the posts and mission stations, as it was when it was first discovered and explored. Only nature’s highways through the webs of interlocking waterways were in use, except where the Red River carts roved complaining o’er the plains.
Digging up the Past # In 1798, French soldiers dug up the Rosetta stone. When Napoleon was defeated, the British shipped it to the British Museum. After years of research, the code was finally cracked so that now we can translate other excavations of ancient Egypt. Hilary Mantel gives us a sense of the real. She digs down beneath public history to generate something resembling the lived experience of the past.
Ideologies # ‘Ideology’ comes from the French idéologie, and was first used during the French Revolution, but didn’t become popularised until the publication of Marx and Friedrich Engels’s The German Ideology (written in 1846) and later Karl Mannheim’s Ideology and Utopia (1929). People may form “ideological predispositions”. All strongly held ideologies were effectively faith-based, as no human being could survive long without some ultimate loyalty. If that loyalty didn’t derive from traditional religion, it would find expression through secular commitments, such as nationalism, socialism, or liberalism ….
Statues – Monuments # Epic of Gilgamesh # Quests for immortality recur from one of the oldest literary sources – The Epic of Gilgamesh. Upon the death of his friend Enkidu. Gilgamesh sends up a great, torn-from-the-gut lament - a dirge - elegy: “O my friend, wild ass on the run, donkey of the uplands, panther of the wild,” may the Forest of Cedar grieve for you, and the pure Euphrates”.