Counterpoint by Mark Nicol – Stop press! The fourth estate – service or farce?

| January 4, 2021

Cover-page, The Australian, 4/12/2020. It hits the weekend imbiber of smashed avocado, toast and connoisseur caffeine with an intellectual pulp especially poignant. Op-shot: Posing despondent, a black Mornington Island matriarch, five suffering children. (Yes – not two, three, or four, but a full five to please Frydenberg’s expansionist population quota.) Ah! A truly heart wrenching toast cruncher.

Mercifully, this brittle emotional fare is leavened by buttery good news for the middle-class crew. “Great housing dream lives on. Revival of the great Australian dreamtime is underway.” Hey, wasn’t that staked upon lands seized from those indigeni? So are we making way, or is the white expansionist agenda still on?

A little crisp socio-economic commentary to balance that heavy caffeine hit? “Backpackers paid just $3 per hour.” Could’ve told you that, 30 years ago. I’ve done the fruit picking gig. It’s piece work. Unless you work, mighty fast, you won’t crack the minimum wage. But are our veteran toast munchers and Gen-2D prepared to pay double for fruit? Or see Australia’s fruit industry collapse? Revelation! In the globalized reality, our foreign competitors pay pickers a pittance.

“Revolt to trigger retreat on drug laws.” Bloody slap on the wrist courts. Who’s to blame? Gen-2D. They say no, not us, we’re enlightened social liberalists. And, ourselves? We’re just causal party indulgers, not lowly addicts. We don’t have meth-addicts in our hood, not creeping across our manicured green lawns, not invading our civil enclosed patios.

May as well spread this insipid green slush, trudge through the rest of this algae. “Downgrade sees Barrier Reef listed as ‘critical’.” Ah – when Labor and their jelly-backboned-friends get in, they’ll summons a full cosmetic fix for that.

Cosmetics, cosmetics, cosmetics! Should put it all on Estée Lauder’s advertising tab, and enclose, in this sorry rag’s plastic wrapper, one appenda Bulimic’s Daily Enema – to help flush the whole lot down. Well – there’s always Phillip Adams.

The Printing Revolution

The earliest printing presses, developed in late-1st millennium AD China, aroused no great cultural commotion either. The technology was mainly a medium facilitating mass dissemination of fodder cultural wares, in a conservative, ritualistic society.

But when Johannes Gutenberg developed a more refined, metal printing mechanism, in Germany circa 1450, and proceeded to freely, unauthorizedly publish 180 copies of the Christian Bible? In this instance, the printing press did indeed become a vehicle for revolutionary cultural foment.

Gutenberg’s printing press reached Italy in 1465, France in 1470, Spain in 1473, and England in 1476. In a Western culture bursting with resentment over Roman theocratic despotism, sudden access to free speech ignited the Reformation wave of revolt. Rome reacted to the first tremor, in 1501, Pope Alexander VI vowing to excommunicate anyone printing manuscripts without Church approval.

But in the 1520s John Calvin, Martin Luther spread their incendiary Reformation pamphlets anyway. In 1543 Copernicus published “On the Revolution of the Spheres”, a heliocentric science directly confuting Christian creationist bunk. The first official newspaper, Reflection, appeared in Strasbourg, 1605.

The whole of the subsequent Enlightenment fervour, iconoclastic cosmological, volitional philosophies, then the revolution that bore the Modern Liberal State, owe an indelible debt to the printing press and those breakaways that pressed new thinking.

Modern Times

Circa 2021, and the collective human corporation, (largely unawares), faces a far more critical existential dilemma. We’re talking possible geoecological/geomilitary apocalypse here, not just mass service under a despotic social compact. Not to worry, we have such luminaries as Waleed Aly, Lisa Wilkinson, and Pete Helliar, (not sure which one is the hired clown here), to explicate, lead us in solution to this crisis.

But perhaps ethno-cultural apologia, facilitation, feminist forays, and general clowning with the daily drivel are more important matters than cutting to any bottom line analysis, vision for the salvation of life on Earth.

You’d think the great Left/Right divide cleaving press presentation today, the general mindset schism, was the concoction of some grand conspiratorial farce. But, descend far enough into the foetid pool of populist politics and you’ll see how, as standard course, rhetoric trounces reason, histrionics trumps sincerity, how the whole theater demands villains, heroes.

Too bad that Left heroes are Right villains, and vice versa. Given any intelligent oversight and command, the Left v Right fight should have been rationally, amicably solved in Western culture a hundred years ago.

Bottom line? It is just as possible for an underling to be a parasite as an overlord. The opposite to the Autocratic State? The Welfare State. Get over it. There are more important things to get on with.

Re ideological cleavage of the press, I admire the ascendant thinking of former ABC journalist Barrie Cassidy, who compered Insiders, a weekly review of affairs political. The Australian, 12/12/2020: Cassidy, asked about a review of alleged ABC Left-wing bias, the call to balance Leftists with Rightists on ABC discussion panels, said this: “They need to simply be told that when they are on-air, they need to be objective.”

One never, ever doubted that Barrie Cassidy, Kerry O’Brien were passionate about social and political affairs, were determined to expose injustices, short-fallings – wherever. But, from that passed calibre of journalist, we, the public, were never subject to subjective ideological rhetoric passed off as objective news presentation.

To the opposite, now, we have the daily fare of The Project, The Drum and Sky News, good old SBS waged in its ideological/legal battle with Alan Jones. Hilarious fare.

Flashback 2011, when it was conceived that Internet access, some rise of populist power in the Northern Africa/Middle East hotspot would surely eventuate in a ‘mass democratic outbreak’ reminiscent of our aforementioned Western passage. Not to happen, never was going to happen.

Feasible outbreaks from despotic regimens require the existence of a considerable moral intelligentsia, able to analytically, physically deconstruct the institutions of despotism. In the Western passage, this meant deconstructing the intellectual and moral validity of theology/theocracy, of autocracy/monarchy.

The minds of the Arab Spring were, are not intellectually, morally outfitted to make this jump. They are thus lumped with dumb subscription to a damned ideological/political culture. Too bad.

Meanwhile our comfortable clones in the West, addled toast munchers, the precocious indolents that are Gen-2D, they act in weird unison, demanding nothing less than untainted intellectual, moral titillation from the press. The toasties masticate on The Australian. Gen-2D perceives anything, on paper, as utter waste and filth … hm?

But, on one point, alone, are these diametric parties wholly agreed:

Pray, do not place before us any frame of logic, moral causality, that contains more than just one byte. We sit, comfortably. We have framed our perspicacious opines, already. In consequence, all of our laboured bites are saved – for daily delectables.


A perfect complement to a brie omelette, so long as it conforms to a nice culinary cut.
O but we do have some real movers, shakers clothed in news-presenter garb, though not one that would or could prosecute a logical, decent solution to our pressing geoecological, geopolitical crises.

Still, for perverse entertainment we cannot overlook that talking head quietly promoting Ancient World theocratic values in dispensation to the secular, liberal, modernist culture affording him ironic safe hospice. The trick, as with any sleight of hand, is the blank face.

But the Golden Gob for social informant, par excellence, must go to Julian Assange, for summonsing a sincerity and responsibility in fact finding, news dissemination, and public service hitherto unparalleled.

In defence of our Truth Messiah it has been said “the first tenet of journalism is truth”. Veracious. Yet it is also truth that, in a geopolitical environs manifesting constant Ancient World imperialistic threats, Modern Liberal Nation-States are compelled, for reasons of intact survival, to run covert espionage, militaristic operations. Yes, this is a basic existential truth, not to be confused with the palatability of that green slush on your toast, the cosmetic palatability of pacifist moral posturing.

Then along comes archangel, Julian, exposing all of the Wicked West’s operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, exposing all operatives concerned to ‘clear and present danger’. Of the Afghan assistants involved the archangel said:

“Well they’re informants, so if they get killed they’ve got it coming. They deserve it.”

When should the hacker be hacked?

Care, sincerity, and responsibility might be other values imperative for the agent of truth. And perspicacity, vision beyond the conveniently simplistic paradigm. We can, thus, only lament the passing pedigree of Messrs. Cassidy and O’Brien.

The Internet, that vociferous dumb buzz of the bazaar is driving this, and the amoral profiteers who care not.


Captain Black Jack perishes with HMS Erde!  The Australian, P9, 31/12/2020: “Shrinking population, economic hot water.”

Our sovereign vessel HMS Erde, rechristened GS Lollipop by the transglobal cabal Rupert the non-Red Reindeer & The Bulldozer Council of Australia, has capsized, taking all onboard with it, in deep water somewhere off the coast of Terror Australis.

The newly appointed mercantilist clone and Capitan, Black Jack, may be held responsible for this tragedy, apparently taking on a cargo of 10 billion anthropogenes plus 2 of any other species left, (as provisions). This, in a vessel but 30 cubits by 5, and now pejoratively named the DGAF Ark.

The vessel was evidently taking water already when, produced via the extrusions of a magnificent commercial press, Captain Black was presented his medal of service for micro-economies of vision, literati in service, and monumental dispensation to, (perhaps make that of) humanity.

When strung, the one-tonne gold ingot, fashioned as a metaphor for human virility, plummeted, shattered the hull of the HMS Erde, and, still on the rubber neck of Black Jack, (no gambler on the human destiny), now resides with one of his prescient prophecies.

To wit, we will always remember that eloquent analytical poesy, that apt descriptor for all who would not subscribe to his We Will Walk 10 Billion Souls mantra: “bottom-feeding social media whackos”.

Not for El Capitan, but for the 9,999,999,999 other souls who perished, via their commercial conscription on New Year’s Eve 2020, the end was a piquantly picturesque affair. Having consumed vast volumes of piscine and potatoes neatly wrappered in the Weekend Age, a special final treat, the print from that massive garland of floating sepia seeped silently into the deep dark blue.

Alone at 20,000 leagues beneath, the cadaver of Black Jack is now, bit by bit, consumed by a hitherto undiscovered and lone surviving species of bottom feeder.

How sad.

I mean … the waste of that beautiful gold ingot.