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John Passant

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February 2011
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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
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Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

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Difficulty of Governing : Bertolt Brecht (1937)

Ministers are always telling the people
How difficult it is to govern.
Without the ministers
Corn would grow into the ground, not upward.
Not a lump of coal would leave the mine if
The Chancellor weren’t so clever.
Without the Minister of Propaganda
No girl would ever agree to get pregnant.
Without the Minister of War
There’d never be a war.
Indeed, whether the sun would rise in the morning
Without the Fuhrer’s permission
Is very doubtful, and if it did, it would be
In the wrong place.

It’s just as difficult, so they tell us
To run a factory. Without the owner
The walls would fall in and the machines rust, so they say.
Even if a plough could get made somewhere
It would never reach a field without the
Cunning words the factory owner writes the peasants: who
Could otherwise tell them that ploughs exist? And what
Would become of an estate without a landlord? Surely
They’d be sowing rye where they had set the potatoes.

If governing were easy
There’d be no need for such inspired minds as the Fuhrer’s.
If the worker knew how to run his machine and
The peasant could tell his field from a pastry-board
There’d be no need of a factory-owner or landlord.
It’s only because they are all so stupid
That a few are needed who are so clever.

Or could it be that
Governing is so difficult only
Because swindling and exploitation take some learning?



Comment from juanR
Time February 7, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Well, Johnno, you have done it this time. Give me “Mother Courage” next.

And how’s the damned bloody revolution in Egypt coming along, do you think they need a doses of BB common sense?

Comment from John
Time February 7, 2011 at 6:08 pm

The Egyptian Revoltion is at a cross roads. If it doesn’t push forward it is likely doomed.

Comment from RedDragon
Time February 7, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I changed the last word in the first stanza to position, it reads a lot better 🙂 I love this poem. The Egyptian revolution has already achieved so much, Egypt will never be the same again, the people are more confident than ever. The possibility of more revolutions in the Arab world and even Europe can not be discounted. Which can bring renewed life into the older revolutions. Lessons are being learned very quickly. Egypt’s economy is flat lining, they won’t even open the stock exchange. The regime cannot endure this for long. The sense of achievement in Tayrir is extraordinary. The general strike continues in Suez and militants are arguing for it to be expanded to all vital sectors of Egyptian economy. It has changed the face of the Arab world forever, it cannot go back now. To say it is doomed doesn’t give it due credit.

Comment from RedDragon
Time February 7, 2011 at 7:27 pm

To say it is doomed if it doesn’t push forward doesn’t give credit to its incredible achievements to date.

Comment from John
Time February 7, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Not really RedDragon, because to defend the gains means to push forward further. Those gains could be lost if the bourgeois elements dominate and stitch up a deal.

Comment from John
Time February 7, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I don’t disagree about the historic significance of the revolution in Egypt. But is it 1905 or 1917? The statement of the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt shows I think the way forward.

Comment from Calligula
Time February 7, 2011 at 9:40 pm

That Bert Brecht is a bit of a caution isn’t he
Is he a Queenslander, John?

Never come across a bloke who could put it so succinctly.

What I admire is the way he can wrap the whole human condition up in generalities then finishes with an imperative.

“Im ein augenblick der rustig fahn brennt” Ja?
Don’t worry, swamp German.

Forgive me, old pin. I’m assuming an interpolation of that text with the present situation.
That is, if you want us to provide the corollary?

Well, I find it here in Oz as well as overseas.
All this scratching away at keyboards might keep some happy but is doing SFA to gain ‘Abdul the tinsmith’ a seat on the deputies or whatever in Egypt nor is it progressing the ambitions of ‘Calligula the crackpot’ to premier here in God’s Own State.

Anyway, I reckon you’re getting even with me for sending you that extract from ‘The Marine’s Hymn’.
My interpretation of the situation is the facts of the situation are so pellucid by now that if some yobbo actually read and could assimilate the evidence they’d be blinded for life.

Stap me. It’s the 21st century. We have ways and means of providing the entire population with adequate and TASTY food.

We have enough evidence that something screwy is happening with weather.
Doesn’t matter if we personally believe it is God’s punishment, climate change, or a temporary glitch – the fact remains that a fair area of Oz is either waterlogged or burnt out yet again.
We know that money, as such, is a fat joke and colossal confidence trick but still cannot grasp that simple concept and throw it in the trash.
We all need to get somewhere and do something for so long every day that we never find time with our families or our tribe.
While we’re going there to do that we sit in stopped vehicles at arbitrarily placed traffic lights with popping eyes and bulging arteries pissing fuel into the stratosphere while pretending we’re enjoying the experience of a city lifestyle.
Not only do we look like idiots but we are just that.
Yet no-one ever cottons on.
Or if they do they keep quiet ‘cos they’re still making that abstract thing – money from the misery of the braindead masses.

Comment from Magpie
Time February 9, 2011 at 5:11 pm

I’ve been meaning to comment on this for a while. Trying to find something clever or witty to say.

I’ve got nothing to add. Simply brilliant.

Comment from John
Time February 9, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Yes Calligula, Brecht is brilliant. But I meant to draw n references, today. That couldn’t be the case, could it!! Not Egypt,especially. And there are absolutely no lessons for workers fighting back in Europe, and none for Australia. None. Hope you understand that.

Sorry for the sarcasm. I find it is usually beyond the wit of th secret police/Stasi who read this to understand sarcasm.

I sometimes quote his dissolve the people poem/comment too.

Comment from Calligula
Time February 9, 2011 at 7:42 pm

What say, John, I come out and admit my name is Calli?
You have me stumped again.
Clearly there are these signals and messages we need to get out in too short a time, in this too limited a format as this email.
Okay, I admit my reading Heinz Guderian while you read Bertholdt the B. leaves me short on the finer points of philosophy but at least I don’t cutely shimmer into existence on your page and ream you out with a glib one liner.

(Wait ‘til I get out the violin)

Least I try to deliver a Queensland view.
As disruptive as it may be for the flow of your pages at least there is something to read.

Meanwhile despite the fact that our backgrounds and mental hard-wiring are likely poles apart, perhaps we should admit we both sometimes get on the piss, or whatever, and muck up both the flow of our thoughts and our translation of them into our respective ‘languages’.

But in closing, relying upon Brecht, Rusting machinery.
Yeah – I’m the owner of some of that stuff.
Used to do good work. Made some of the machinery myself.
Now it stands idle, rusting away – not in Egypt or Afghanistan –
but here in Oz.

And I wonder why.

So, good Sensai, may you please explain?

Comment from Calligula
Time February 13, 2011 at 11:56 pm

Funny how intelekshuls won’t speak industry (or other practical topics) with blokes who work with their brains and their poor bloodstained hands