May 27, 2003


Thomas Keneally, apparently urging a free and open society, writes:

We hope for a cultural future that matches that of which Mahatma Gandhi prescribed in a prescient foreshadowing of the role of global access by satellite and internet: "I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible."

Bizarrely, Keneally’s preceding words in this piece mostly argue for exactly the opposite. He doesn’t want the cultures of all lands blown around his house; he wants to maintain market barriers, lest regional cultures be undermined. Hey, Tom; if it weren’t for globalisation of communications, you’d have never heard of Gandhi. And why are you tainting our local culture with the words of an outsider?

Posted by Tim Blair at May 27, 2003 02:15 AM

Keneally writes: "Many commentators during the present Australian tour of the West Indies have regretted that American baseball and basketball, perfectly fine games but driven as commodities by the same market forces the gurus so love, are taking the West Indian young away from good old cricket."

Stick to writing "fictition", Tommy boy. Basketball was invented by a Canadian, James Naismith. And the West Indians didn't invent cricket - the British imperialist scumbags introduced it to them.

Posted by: Alex Robson at May 27, 2003 at 09:03 AM

Isn't the subtext here a deep distrust of people's preferences . . . Mr. Keneally obviously thinks he knows what's good for people, and he thinks that (a) it's possible to manipulate the market to force people into consuming it, and (b) that's a good thing.

Is it not this simple: if there is Australian writing that Australians want to read, they'll buy it? Is a $5 difference in the cover price between an Australian written book and one of those terrible "mass-market" imports really going to prevent the relatively affluent people who are the ones that actually buy books from buying the books they want to read?

The real threat to Australian consumers from a free trade agreement is that it will likely force on us the egregious extension on copyright recently passed by the Congress: a deeply anti-market, anti-consumer policy that the U.S. is now busily trying to export to its trading partners.

If Mr. Keneally really wanted to do Australian consumers a favour, he'd jump up and down about that. Maybe he likes the idea.

Posted by: Mork at May 27, 2003 at 11:17 AM

now that's just plain silly. i'm pretty sure i didn't need a fax machine to find out about mahatma gandhi. furthermore to that, gandhi himself was inspired by 19th century peaceniks like tolstoy and thoreau, who wrote and were widely disseminated well prior to anything resembling the "globalisation of communications".

and keneally is not arguing for the exact opposite of a gandhian future. recall that gandhi was very much a fan of self-sufficiency, his wheel representing his desire to make his own clothing rather than buy it from the british. wanting the cultures of all lands blowing around you from all sides is not the same thing as wanting the consumer and agricultural goods from mostly rich industrial countries blowing around you from all sides. it's just slightly lazy to conflate "culture" with "products".

Posted by: adam at May 27, 2003 at 12:24 PM

My culture celebrates the division of labor, adam. Don't mock my culture, you snobby-ass cultural elitist.

Oh, and Mork is right about the copyright extension. It's a threat to all consumers.

Posted by: Dylan at May 27, 2003 at 01:55 PM

Thomas Keneally can be a nasty little prick. Someone with so much hatred for the British and Australians shouldn't lecture us about tolerance. Transnationalist institutions will save the scolding classes from the great unwashed and their unfortunate opinions and voting habits.

Posted by: JoeJr at May 27, 2003 at 06:20 PM

Basically Tom is asking that the prospects of thousands of Australian farming families be diminished in order to further the so-called interests of a few hundred smug writers.

This is tantamount to ordinary internet users being forced to pay a subsidy to a group of smug writers known as bloggers. I'd love it, and I'm sure Tim would to but internet users would give us the finger.

Posted by: Scott Wickstein at May 28, 2003 at 03:54 AM

Oh really Keneally you are a feely for loot,
But really freely doodle with facts,
an ouvre written in factions for sale, plights to be told, lusts unsolved.
Oh really kenneally who let you loose should be shot

Posted by: d at May 29, 2003 at 10:33 AM