Sir F. Chook, Inventor of Leopard Oil

Likeness captured upon a daguerrotype machine in Japan, July 1891


Wherein the Author reflects upon certain topical & personal issues of the Day.

Why I’ll Be Voting For The Greens

Penned upon the 17th of November, 2006

When the election comes on the 25th of November, I’ll be voting for the Greens. You should too. Putting Greens in parliament will mean more than just how state money is spent for the next three years. It will show that Australia is taking a step forward in our national identity and in finding our place on the international stage and in our environment. It will help introduce a new yardstick into our political culture: a means of making decisions, not just based on their immediate cost or benefit for one or another group, but how they affect the health of our society and our world, and those of our children, and our children’s children.

Australia’s national culture was shaped by the Western European colonists who participated in and followed Federation. Although our identity has since been shaped by our unique experiences and geography, the influence of European ideas is still very strong today. This is visible in very practical forms, such as our farming of predominantly European products; and also in more abstract forms, in the way we live and interact and how we think about things like science and our surroundings.

Some of these traditions and philosophies were extremely beneficial in their original context; others created problems which we have inherited. Either way, it’s becoming very clear that it’s time for a new way of doing things, one more appropriate to the Australian situation. The Western mindset has long been one of ‘nature’ versus ‘culture’; nature was unpredictable and dangerous, and it was up to our use of reason, industry and science to protect us from it and secure us a comfortable way of life.

This worldview did not go unchallenged. The Romantics of the nineteenth century were among the first to decry the new system of industry for creating great cities in which people were set adrift, cut off from the world around them and living only to work under cruel, exploitative conditions and manage a materially sufficient, but empty, survival. Far from ‘freeing’ people from nature, this individualist mindset left them vulnerable to nature’s darker side, disease and violence, while removing some of nature’s own protections, such as a natural limit on resource use, and a place in a self-supporting community.

Of this problem, the pantheist poet William Blake wrote “[…]cruel works Of many Wheels I view, wheel without wheel, with cogs tyrannic Moving by compulsion each other, not as those in Eden, which, Wheel within wheel, in freedom revolve in harmony and peace,” comparing the unhappy denizens of the industrial order to cogs, forced into place and to work against each other, rather than moving freely in harmony as in his vision of a better world.

While many Australians have been able to enjoy a comfortable existence, it becomes ever more clear that our inheritance of this worldview is clashing with the reality of our life, to our detriment. We weather through a legendary drought on the world’s driest continent, but continue to invest so much of our economy in water-thirsty agriculture like wheat and cotton. We also continue to rely on polluting, non-renewable fossil fuels for more than 90% of our energy needs, despite this coming right back to hurt us in the form of yet worse climate change. This European mindset has also led us to woefully under-represent our indigenous population in the national voice. Other countries have made great steps in recognising that the needs of the native population must be adressed as well as those of the colonial population – why can’t we?

We sorely need to update our worldview and see what science and the wise have both long been telling us: that meeting the needs of the environment and the needs of humanity is not a choice, but the same thing. We are all part of the same ecosystem, and the health of our society, our economy and our children all depend on the health of our planet. We must also see that the same applies within our community: if we accept a system that benefits the fortunate while leaving others out in the cold, we leave ourselves in a society which is partly dead.

In short, we need to develop a way of living that is suitable to Australia; a way of living which utilises native plants and animals, which involves industry that can provide for us without poisoning our air, our water, our land and our food. We need a way of living which uses science and technology to live in harmony with nature, instead of against it, including the mass use of small water collection, assessment of sustainability and social impacts for business and government planning, widespread public transport and modern, clean energy. Also, we European Australians need a way of living which overcomes our sense of entitlement and acknowledges the plight, both material and cultural, of indigenous Australians, and lets them take their due leadership role in securing their future and our future together as a nation. And we all need a way of living which provides accessible, quality public health care and education for our generations to come, and which gives people the freedom to grow and express themselves as is best for them, while being part of a community which provides the same for others.

Electing the Greens will show that we recognise this need, that we can see what we need to do to create a world we, and our descendants, can live and grow in. Otherwise, we may survive, but we cannot truly live as humans and achieve all we have the potential to do. After the election, the Greens may be able to implement some great policies at both local and state levels: you can read all about them at the Victorian Greens and at the Australian Greens websites. Beyond that, the Greens are just the party to help lead us into the new millennium and into thinking long term for Australia and the world. I hope you’ll join be and become a part of that. See you at the voting booths,

Your faithful editor,

I live not in myself, but I become
Portion of that around me; and to me
High mountains are a feeling, but the hum
Of human cities torture: I can see
Nothing to loathe in nature, save to be
A link reluctant in a fleshly chain,
Class’d among creatures, when the soul can flee,
And with the sky, the peak, the heaving plain
Of ocean, or the stars, mingle, and not in vain.
Are not the mountains, waves, and skies, a part
Of me and of my soul, as I of them?
Is not the love of these deep in my heart
With a pure passion? should I not contemn
All objects, if compared with these? and stem
A tide of suffering, rather than forego
Such feelings for the hard and worldly phlegm
Of those whose eyes are only turn’d below,
Gazing upon the ground, with thoughts which dare not glow?
– Lord Byron

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Commentary upon “Why I’ll Be Voting For The Greens”

  1. Charles was heard to remark,

    Upon the 24th of November, 2006 at 6:54 pm,

    geez – and ur educated? – get grip on reality mate, find urself a cave and live in ur utopia – I’ll give u a hammer and sickle to work with.

  2. Sir Frederick Chook was heard to remark,

    Upon the 25th of November, 2006 at 1:12 am,

    Communism is actually the opposite of what I’m talking about, in some ways. Marxism subjugated all local concerns – people’s rights and quality of life, the environment, even its own principles – to the goal of an idealised, Western, industrial… well, utopia! I’m talking about looking at our local concerns – the sort of climate we have, what problems and areas that could be improved exist in our health and well-being, what cultures exist here and how they are different or similar – and judging the way forward based on that.

    And I’ll leave the cave for the dinosaurs, cheers, I’m fond of comfy beds and computers and hair-care products and all those lovely things. I like them even better when they’re powered by clean energy and don’t create a lot of pollution or landfill!

  3. Capt. Z.W Wolfenburg-Kross was heard to remark,

    Upon the 4th of December, 2006 at 6:41 pm,

    Ur! God-King of Trelzongaand!

    Kneel before his might!

  4. Charles was heard to remark,

    Upon the 13th of December, 2006 at 5:30 pm,

    hmm. Green policy(or is it Faith?), Energy….

    Everyone should have solar panels.
    Everyone should recycle.
    Everyone should ride bikes and grow beards.

    -see a pattern developing?

    ‘Everyone should’ – the typical rantings of the upper echelons of society that believe – everyone should!

    PS to create a solar panel it takes approx 20years of sun light to bring the energy requirements in that created the solar panel, and recycling practically most items actually takes 2wice or more energy to reproduce the item than if it were manufatured from raw material.

    -oh and if you ever want to go bush walking again , I would recomend not voting for the GREENS!

  5. Sir Frederick Chook was heard to remark,

    Upon the 13th of December, 2006 at 5:53 pm,

    In a democracy, EVERY party uses ‘everyone should’ rhetoric – if they didn’t prescribe behaviour, they wouldn’t have policies, and if they didn’t at least claim that their prescriptions applied to everybody, they wouldn’t be democratic. Labor think everyone should have unionised conditions in their workplace. Liberals think everyone should enjoy a prosperous market economy. Conservative elements in both parties think everyone should learn a flattering version of Australia’s history, wave the flag and obey their parents.

    Your second paragraph is a little hard to read, but I’ll do my best to follow it. Reducing our ecological footprint was never going to be easy – only recycling or only using one form of renewable energy will never be enough because, as you point out, the problems feed off each other. It will take serious investment in every possible ecological practice to really address the problem – even going further than changing how things are made and addressing how we use those things. Perhaps we could start making consumer products to actually last, instead of planned obsolescence being such a part of life?

    Also, a quick glance at the Greens’ website reveals that none of the four federally-elected Greens are bearded – possibly because three of them are female.

  6. Charles was heard to remark,

    Upon the 13th of December, 2006 at 6:13 pm,

    -no Bob Brown’s not bearded – but sure looks the part (the typical Vegan X-hippie)

    -Why should I even bother typing on this computer , maybe if it ‘we’ made it last longer ‘we’d’ still be on ‘our’ commodore 64’s – and what would have Japan done in all their spare time? – and what would the Chinese do, if they didn’t manufacture mostly useless items that we buy and fund their development with. -If you want environmental policy for the future, why not bang your head upon the lions den (no! not the US – as I am presuming you would make the typical knee jerk comentry under your breath like every other halfwit intelligentsia)

    -about democracy : well as usual the obvious question is, how come the silent majority that vote for the future and health of the country are considered, A. Brainwashed, B. following Tradition(farthers foot steps) C. too stupid to know otherwise…

    consider that : the majority think your stupid for voting for a party that would put detriment to your otherwise precious environment

    PS (I bet ya you have never even been Bush walking outside of a National Park)

    PPS – nice website

  7. Sir Frederick Chook was heard to remark,

    Upon the 13th of December, 2006 at 6:34 pm,

    Or we could make computers that can keep up with technological progress without needing to be tossed out and replaced so often – and we could make the cases less wastefully large for when we do need to dispose of them. Have you ever seen consumer items from a hundred years ago? Clothes, lightbulbs, you name it – it was built to last, to be the only one you ever needed to buy. More expensive up front, certainly, but you saved in the long run, and if the government got serious about reducing landfill it could subsidise better-quality, lower-waste goods.

    As for the rest of your post, you presume a lot – and when you presume, you make a pres out of u and me. If I can’t think of anything to rebutt with I’m perfectly happy to admit it instead of making derogatory speculation about your person – surely you can do the same for me.

    I never suggested the majority of the population are stupid, brainwashed or anything else of the sort. They have their reasons for holding their opinions, I have my reasons for holding mine. What we really need is to try to understand each other’s motives and values, or else our own will suffer.

    Oh, and I lived in the country all my life – on a farm, in fact – and only recently moved to the city. Both are home to me, and the amazing part is not how different but how similar the two apparent opposite environments are.

  8. mopgoblin was heard to remark,

    Upon the 16th of December, 2006 at 9:35 pm,

    Computers are actually a bit of an exception, since they generally become obsolete in a matter of years. While, say, a well-maintained washing machine should still do an adequate job of washing your clothes regardless of its age, a computer usually has to keep up with the ever-increasing demands of new software. It’s actually fairly easy to replace a lot of the components in most machines, so gradual upgrades can go some way towards extending the lifetime of a machine, but most people wouldn’t want to try it themselves. However, actually upgrading a component (by rebuilding it) would not usually be feasible for anyone – user or manufacturer – so there’s not much that can be done about all those obsolete components (other than reducing the demands for upgrades in the first place, which also won’t happen in the foreseeable future).

    Regarding computer case size, I’ve found smaller cases are significantly more difficult to work with when replacing components. I believe the size of the case isn’t the major problem with old computers, either – there are various unpleasant chemicals that can escape from some components if not properly disposed of.

    Regarding other consumer goods, I agree that they’re generally less durable than they used to be, even in relatively recent times. Most of the appliances and electronic goods my parents bought twenty (or more) years ago are still running well, while about half of those bought since then have either failed completely or gradually became unusable. I’m also a bit suspicious of the number of these new low-energy bulbs that have failed well before the supposed average lifetime.

    I’m not entirely sure why this general drop in the quality of goods has happened, really. I can see that making long-lasting goods wouldn’t always be the most profitable strategy for an industry as a whole (particularly if birth rates are decreasing, since the growth in the size of the market would also decrease), but in a competitive market one would expect the higher-quality brands to win out – this doesn’t seem to have happened, which suggests to me that either there’s some serious flaw with capitalism, or at least with our implementations of capitalism and the related aspects of society. No one can fix all of the problems, of course, but (at least here in New Zealand) the Greens seem to have the best policies on many issues.

Further remarks are not permitted.