Phoney secrets and scares about foreign powers

Mar 15, 2024
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One thing is certain about espionage agencies. They are not averse to creating alarm in order to give the impression they are protecting us from threats by ideological fanatics internally or by hostile foreign powers. There is always a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy about their pronouncements and the most recent panic about an unidentified former member of parliament is typical. They expect us to be naive enough to believe their inventions and to feel grateful for them.

While we are expected to be impressed when the spooks whisper ‘China’, a report on the same day that preparations are underway for a possible visit by England’s King seems to have been accepted without any alarm at all.

On the one hand, those who are gullible enough to accept ASIO’s line might be happy asking who the traitorous MP might have been. Meanwhile, every parliamentarian comes under suspicion and this reduces yet further the already low esteem and trust in which the public holds ‘politicians’. On the other, no-one – certainly no-one in the mainstream media – seems to see the irony in the juxtaposition of the two reports.

Given the Australian government’s sycophantic position regarding King Charles – and indeed in the broader context of our loss of sovereignty to our so-called AUKUS ‘allies’ – I find the acceptance of this foreign power’s influence much more alarming than any games being played by spies over China.

In a democracy, we should have no secrets. The appalling treatment of Julian Assange is an abandonment of our commitment to democratic rights and values. Our prime minister and foreign minister might talk about shared values with Britain and the USA, but neither country has open government. Espionage agencies and secret police do not solve problems – they create them.

Jenny Hocking’s meticulous research suggests that ASIO, MI5, the CIA and certainly the British Monarchy were all implicated in the fall of the Whitlam Government in 1975. Rafeef Ziadah in her inspiring poem ‘Shades of Anger’ reminds us that these patronising institutions took it upon themselves to justify coups against Allende and Lumumba.

Whenever federal and state governments host foreign powers, such as at the Olympics or CHOGM, ‘preparations’ almost certainly include making the streets safe for the dictators and plutocrats who visit. This means increased surveillance of anyone likely to plan disruptions or demonstrations, harassment of activists and removal of people who sleep on the streets. These visits make Australia into a much less free country.

I do not recognise Charles as my king and feel shame and disgust when the likes of our prime minister rush to declare him king of Australia. The monarchy rests on a class system which entails gross inequality. England’s head of state symbolises the invasion which spurred the genocide of Indigenous Australians, the exile of thousands of convicts – many of whom were the victims of the stresses of industrialisation – the deaths of over a million Irish people through starvation and the creation of a similar number of famine refugees. You would be correct in thinking that I take this issue personally.

We will never be a truly democratic society while we fawn before people of privilege. When we stop this hypocritical posturing about spies and secrets, and when we become a republic, then we might become a truly open society.

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