Let’s be clear about one thing. Australia is no worse than other nations when it comes to cheating and corruption in the sporting arena. It becomes a story only in the fact that Australians have long been in denial about such matters. They have been happy to engage in the collective myth of ‘fair play for all’ on and off the sporting field. But like the entire modern Australian narrative, it is nothing but a well-constructed myth, airbrushing out all the nasty bits and creating instead a picture of Aussie mateship, down to earth honesty, no pretentious bullshit, and a fair go for all. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Like all European colonies, modern Australia was founded on great brutality bordering on genocide. Myth number one was that Australia was an empty land just waiting to be developed. In fact, Australia consisted of many Aboriginal nations, from coast to coast, mostly coexisting in rough harmony and displaying  levels of social and environmental cohesion of which warring Europe could only dream of. Primitive in technological terms maybe, but highly advanced in terms of their relationship to land, to property and to each other.  A system of ‘primitive communism’ might not be too far an exaggeration. All this was an affront to a European sense of its own importance so the indigenous populations were labelled as savages and were dealt with accordingly. The ugly details are there for those who wish to know them but don’t expect  Australian school history books to help in this respect.

Myth number two revolves around the concept of Aussie mateship. Australia, like all European settlements, was highly class structured, and like Europe itself, the middle and upper classes loathed the working classes, many of whom were from the most impoverished sections of the British and Irish proletariat. Any mateship that there was, emanated from the need of this desperate and criminalised workforce to stick together in the face of a heartless and ruthless ruling class. But there was more to it than that. Employing the usual divide-and-rule tactics of their political masters back in London, the Australian colonial authorities demonised the Aboriginal population and allowed the newly formed Australian white working class to treat the indigenous population with brutality and contempt. The Australian aboriginal was routinely murdered, beaten, poisoned, raped and generally enslaved. Nothing was learned or cherished of their 30,000 year history. The land was expropriated by the European settlers and the original peoples of Australia were ethnically cleansed from all arable land.

But there is still more. Myth number three is that all new-comers are welcome. Pure fiction. After the second world war there was a realisation that if European settlement was to be protected against the ‘Asian hoards from the north’, Australia’s population would need to grow rapidly. The doors were flung open but only if you were white. Australia had an official ‘White Australia’ policy that would not have been out of place in Apartheid South Africa.’ You had to be white if you want to get’ went a radical Australian folk song, and this openly racist policy was adhered to with great force.

But there is yet still more. Britain could not provide enough migrants even though the Australian government financially sponsored them over. I was one of them. A Ten Pound Pom. So it was to southern and central Europe that the government was forced to turn. Hundreds of thousands of Greeks, Italians and Yugoslavs were invited in to do the dirty work in the same way that Britain used the West Indians. But were these new arrivals treated with dignity and mateship? Not a bit of it. They were labelled as wogs and spics and a lot worse. They rapidly became second class citizens existing in between the established British and Celtic working class and the de-classed, non-citizens that were the Australian Aboriginal. So much for Aussie mateship. It never existed particularly if you were black or southern European. 

And least I forget, women, in the first two hundred of European settlement, were definitely exempted from any sense of comradely mateship and fair play.

 Some things have superficially changed over recent decades, as the cities have become more cosmopolitan, but deep down perhaps little changed. Admittedly, the second and third generation southern Europeans have become more integrated into the general populous but their second class status has been quickly  occupied by a new wave of immigrants from Vietnam and others parts of South East Asia. There was to be no Aussie mateship for these new arrivals. And as for the asylum seekers from the world’s war zones, they were to be held in inhumane conditions in grim off- shore  and desertholding centres. No ‘Aussie Fair Go’ for these desperate global citizens.

 As for the Aussie white working class, they receive and loose the usual array of crumbs from global capitalism depending on the particular stage of capitalism’s cycle of boom and bust. At the moment Australia is protected from the worse of the global recession due to China turning the country into one gigantic mine.  

 

 So there you have it in a nutshell. A national narrative suitable for the tourist industry but bearing little resemblance to the real thing. And so to sport, the so called semi- official religion of Australia. It turns out that here too, the myth of fair play is just that, a carefully constructed fairytale. Like the rest of the world, Australian sport turns out to be mired by cheating, corruption and gangsterism. The full gory details are yet to emerge but don’t expect it to be pretty. Sport has become a global commodity and no country and no sport is immune from the resultant culture of corruption. Everybody in power is trying to make a quick buck and those that dare to resist are soon marginalised. Capitalism has its own logic. The bottom line is always the profit margin. Officials and players alike get sucked into that logic. Australia, despite the silly stories it tells itself, is no exception.  Welcome back to planet Earth.

End JPK Copyright, 9/2/13

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