Tuesday, May 15, 2007

No time for games - nestaquin

During the cold and wet winter of 1971, Sir Donald Bradman and newly appointed Australian cricket captain Ian Chappell held an extraordinary and historic press conference in Adelaide. The meeting was held to communicate to the world that Australian cricket was withdrawing its invitation to South Africa for the coming summer’s tour.

The reasons given were simple and from the heart. Chappell, Bradman and many of their contemporaries were appalled by apartheid. They were frustrated in particular with the Australian Government’s refusal to impose trade sanctions on the racist regime. The government had been lobbied and pressured by cricketers for near on a decade.

The movement was led coherently by Richie Benaud who returned from his first tour of South Africa in 1958 disturbed by what he had witnessed. Bradman in his prepared speech said “The feeble government reaction to this abhorrent regime is despicable. Cricket is the face of this young nation and not for the first time we will stand as one and try by whatever means possible to make a difference”.

It took a further six years before the rest of the Commonwealth fell into line. At the CHOGM conference at Gleneagles in 1977 it was finally agreed that the nations involved would discourage sporting ties with the apartheid regime as part of a wider campaign against racism. Australia and the Caribbean nations wanted an outright ban but the other Commonwealth countries led by Great Britain and supported curiously by many African members were more comfortable with the weak and malleable verb, discourage.

Seventeen years passed but eventually the hideous apartheid regime was toppled. It took longer than a quarter century to achieve but eventually the compassionate stone that Benaud through into the geopolitical pond generated a wave that swamped and defeated the inhumanity of European supremacism in South Africa.

You would think that after such a long struggle lessons would have been learned, not only by the citizens of the Southern continent but by members of all nations.

Apparently not.

Just a fortnight ago, at the same time that the victorious Australian cricket team returned with the gleaming golden World Cup trophy, the United Nations allowed Zimbabwe to be elected to head the UN's commission on Sustainable Development.

Two days later Zimbabwean opposition leader Sekai Holland arrived at Sydney’s Kingsford-Smith airport in a wheelchair to be treated for injuries sustained in a brutal police beating.

She was scathing in her attack on the Mugabe regime and lifted her shirt to show the dark purple bruising that several untreated broken ribs had caused. She also was nursing a broken wrist and leg. Fortunately for the 63 year old grandmother, her Australian husband with the help of the Foreign Affairs Department were able to aid her getaway in an air ambulance whilst under house arrest in Harare. It has been reported that Zimbabwean President Mugabe was furious at Sekai’s escape.

With the World Cup back on the dry, red earth of the Australian continent and the players in the news, it was inevitable that the media would again ask questions about Australia’s next Zimbabwean tour. It didn’t take long. In the very first public presentation of the glistening trophy a reporter asked Ricky Ponting if he was comfortable about touring Zimbabwe in September for three one day internationals. Punter in his best diplomatic performance to date emphatically said, “No, I am not comfortable.” and the celebrating green and gold throng fell silent and under a cloudless sky a sombre tone descended. Ricky ever perceptive, noticed this, flashed his mischievous grin and retorted, ‘On second thoughts mate I’d rather play golf’. The crowd began talking and laughing again but the issue of Zimbabwe and Australian collective cricketing morality was not easily dismissed.

The future consequence of Australia’s finest filling Mugabe’s pockets with gold quickly became a major concern. The players were badgered about their views and Matthew Hayden’s thoughts were typical. He said that when Australia last visited Zimbabwe in 2004 he thought about boycotting, like Stuart MacGill. "I was seriously considering my position this time, as to whether I would go if the tour went ahead.”

"I considered not going last time but went in the end. I now regret it. This time I was considering it a lot more heavily. I think this time it could have been a case of once bitten, twice shy. While I felt our safety was compromised a bit, I just felt compromised in general. The whole tour became a farce."

With the players concerns now well known the spotlight turned to Cricket Australia, the governing body of Australian cricket. Under pressure the CEO James Sutherland threw up his arms in despair at being continually questioned about the morality of touring Zimbabwe.

“We are not a political organisation. That doesn't for one moment suggest that we don't operate oblivious to issues that are going on in those parts of the world, but we don't have a mandate to be making decisions on those grounds.’

He then promptly put the problem neatly in the foyer of the ICC’s offices in Dubai.

“If we do not tour, the ICC under current contracts in relation to the Future Tours Programme, have the authority to levy a fine of 2.4 million dollars onto Cricket Australia that would be paid indirectly to the Zimbabwean Cricket Union.”

Whilst Malcolm Speed and his cronies prepared their abysmal response to the moral challenge that confronted them, private talks between Cricket Australia and the Federal government were taking place. Initially the Prime Minister announced that the Treasury would pay the fine but had second thoughts when reminded that the cash would have little chance of filtering through to Zimbabwe cricket and would only enhance the regime’s bank balance.

In an election year with his government hanging on by its fingernails, the Machiavellian mind of the Prime Minister soon turned this moral dilemma to his political advantage.

Government lawyers were dispatched to Dubai to find a loophole. They reported back that indeed there was a loophole in the process that allows an exemption for any team banned from touring by their sovereign government, a clause that was necessitated by India and Pakistan's stand-off during the 1980s and 1990s.

Last weekend the Australian Prime Minister traveled without entourage to seek counsel from Ricky Ponting on this sordid affair. While Ricky’s gorgeous wife Rhianna prepared a sumptuous seafood lunch, the PM and Punter discussed the repercussions of not abiding by the ICC’s amoral agenda. On national television the next morning the Prime Minister announced that with Ricky Ponting’s blessing, during the next parliamentary session, legislation will be introduced prohibiting Australian cricketers from playing against Zimbabwe in September.

This sets what may become a dangerous precedent but in light of the ICC’s refusal to forfeit the fine the Australian people were left with little choice. If the cricketers toured, Mugabe pockets the funds. If they do not tour the ICC would effectively act as Mugabe’s agent and he still gets the cash. In legislating against the tour Mugabe gets nothing except more international condemnation and the besieged Australian government can pretend it has a moral conscience.

The populace now expect the Australian Government to also pass legislation in regards to trade sanctions and humanitarian aid distribution in Zimbabwe. The opposition have already stated that they will enact such legislation if given office later this year.

In an election year the government has little choice but to follow suit.

Of course Australia’s refusal to tour Zimbabwe will make little difference in the short term to the citizens of that country. But once again the Australian cricketing community has had to make a stand because the leaders of more powerful nations will not. History indicates that this small protest is the belated beginning of the end for Mugabe and his sycophantic minions.

Robert Mugabe is a cunning calculated dictator, and is it not time that the international community stopped allowing this thuggish tyrant to play us off, nation against nation, culture against culture, until the core of the issue - Mugabe's loathsome regime - is lost in the bickering?

The oft-misunderstood Ponting at today’s press conference stated, “I understand that no government in the world has a perfect record on human rights but Zimbabwe at the moment is beyond the pale. As far as this situation is concerned, I'm comfortable that the Australian government has taken the responsibility for making international affairs decisions on behalf of the country. As captain of Australia I've never had a problem playing against international cricketers from Zimbabwe. Hopefully the board can arrange for us to play them at a neutral venue.”

It took 40 years for Benaud’s dream of equal rights for all to be enacted in South Africa. I pray as do many of my compatriots, that it takes a lot less time to emancipate the dispossessed people of it’s northern neighbour.


Ebren said...

I don't know enough about the situation, but I'm pretty sure England refused to play in Zimbabwe during the last world cup. Which was responsible for our elimination as the ICC docked us points, or gave them the game, or something. Mouth or Mimi would be better on this one - but I remember that being the straw I was clutching at the time.

Surely England can't be leading the moral field here. That would just be plain odd.

nesta said...

In fact eb England were the last team to tour Zimbabwe about 18 months ago.
I seem to remember much hand wringing at the time but they still toured and gave Mugabe a much needed propaganda boost.

Hopefully they'll find some backbone before the next tour.

Ebren said...

That sounds reassuringly more like the ECB. I hate to think of them, or any UK sporting authority, being in the right. It just feels wrong.

nesta said...


As much as I'd like to bag the ECB it wasn't their fault. You could blame the ICC for their gutless stance or you could sink the boot into your Government who still does business with Mugabe.

I think the cricketers are put into a most unfortunate position. Ponting and the Rollers didn't want to go and thankfully the government stepped in and solved the problem.

It now means that Ausralia will be one of the few countries on Earth who won't do business with Mugabe. The Australian cricket team with enormous public support were the catalyst for that and good on them for making a stand against oppression.

They continue to prove themselves champions both on and off the field.

Ebren said...

Kate Hoey, former sports minister, has called for Tony Blair to call for a general sports boycott and agree with John Howard. She is making the announcement on BBC news 24 now.

That said - she also signed the motion to let people take alcohol into test grounds and represents the constituency with the Oval in it.

"I think the foreign office would like to do this," she told BBC News 24.

nesta said...

Kate Hoey obviously hangs at The Corner like the rest of us. How else could she keep her finger on the pulse of the nation.

She sent me an email last night enquiring about the T-Shirts. I had no idea who she was. She wanted to wear one at today's press conference! Alas I told her she'd have to wait like the rest of us but she was free to enter the the logo competition if she wanted.

zeph said...

Nesta, thanks for this, it's an important subject and we should keep the debate to the fore.

As we said in the earlier dicussion re Andy Bull's and MotM's pieces, the problem with sanctions is that they hit the ordinary people. So Zimbabwe's cricketers, and cricket audiences, will lose out. This is not to say that a boycott shouldn't happen, it's just a sad side-effect.

file said...


should have just told her to get f'acked

really great article, so well written, setting out such a broad context and revisionist to boot!

I learnt a lot from this and will never think of cuddly Richie Benaud in the same way again. I fully support the bigger lesson too that sport may tread in areas that others fear to tread

it's a moldy old story but at least there's some bleach at the end of the tunnel, go Oz!

file said...

that's a good point zeph but global awareness is necessary, just look at the Zapatistas again now, if there is no international condemnation or pressure then there is unlikely to be any change for the people, even though, as you say, they are the ones that will suffer,

suffer from inaction/suffer from change and hope, I know which I would choose

nesta said...


THe research I have done shows that the people are in such a poor state - starving - that attending a cricket match is a ludicrous notion.

Zimbabwe's best players are in exile and haven't been paid for the last two years. I am angry that for three matches at the World cup Mugabe (not the cricketers or the people) pocketed $14 million US.

The people of Zimbabwe won't be worse off because Australia doesn't tour. Howver Mugabe's regime will be around $5 million US dollars lighter. And that in my opinion is good.

Zimbabwean cricket and society are in a bad way because of Mugabe and his henchman. No one else needs to take the blame. Companies and governments that support his regime should also be targeted and shamed for their involvement.

And file, Richie Benaud is one of the most remarkable citizens that Australia has ever produced. His Jewish grandfather fled French oppression around the turn of the last century and we are all better for offering him refuge.

In Hobart (pop. 200,000) in the last 8 years we've taken in 5000 Sudanese refugees and they have also brightened up our lives. Bound to be some good cricketers amongst their offspring too.

They formed their own football club and have won the local premiership 4 of the last 5 years.

They've lived through horrific times and crimes and are so grateful for refuge. It's such a heartwarming story and I think I'll write about the South Hobart Lions for next psueds report. THanks mate.

Margin said...

Ebren was spot on about the last world cup. England's cricketers refused to play games in Zimbabwe and thus were eliminated because of our loss of points.

More importantly though, this abdication of moral responsibility by Australian and other national cricket is sickening.

Far from take a stand, the Australian side has simply been banned by its government from doing something immoral for money.

And people like Kate Hoey want to protect English cricket from it's selfish self as well.

All of which must stand as a tragic indictment must it not? Does it not mean we live in a world where government does the morality and people watch the dollars?

If it is legal it must therefore be moral. And thus I need never discern right from wrong again.

I’m disgusted by the ban. Sport in the past could exercise moral influence. Now it can’t.


nesta said...


I'm surprised by your arguments. Did you read the article I wrote? Perhaps I didn't explain it clearly.

The cricketers were not comfortable in touring Zimbabwe.

THey made it clear that the suffering of the Zimbaabwean people at their own government's hands was the reason. They also did not want to become puppets for Mugabe propaganda.

If they did not tour the ICC would have fined the Australian Cricket board around 5 million bucks all up and handed it to the Mugabe regime.

Sekai Holland's beating and rescue added fuel to the fires.

The Australian populace were not too happy about this turn of events. (MORALITY)

Cricket Australia in collusion with the government found a solution.

The government HAD to legislate to exploit the loophole in the ICC's conttracts. (DEMOCRACY)

Final result. No money to Mugabe.

Just what is it you are trying to say?

Margin said...


You confuse money with morality.

When Australia's cricketers declared they would not play in South Africa, they did nothing or little to harm the wealth of that regime. As such was it an empty gesture? No - it was a powerful moral statement that (with only little exaggeration) sent shockwaves through South Africa and those nations that had taken no action previously.

That act of solidarity emboldened local opposition, and emboldened those in countries like Australia and the UK who campaigned all the more for their governments to do something.

Had Australia done so it would have been a moral act. It might have inspired similar acts. And it might have emboldened those who oppose Mugabe all over the world. Instead, because they didn’t want to end up out of pocket, all this means is that some cricket won’t take place. Nothing more. Nothing less.

A few million is nothing to mugabe. Pretending the contrivance was to stop him getting money he doesn’t need is crazy. It muddies the waters of what should have been a bold moral gesture.

And isn’t that sickening? Australia’s modern cricketers have betrayed the spirit of their predecessors by declaring that if the money blows the wrong way they will do the wrong thing.

Oh – and while this sounds like a terrible knock at Australia – I consider the English campaigners to ‘ban’ England going to Zimbabwe no better.

It all just lets men off the moral duty to do what is right instead of what is profitable.

Margin said...



don't get me wrong - I appreciate that most Australians probably don't want the tour to happen - and probably most cricketers too. That is certainly the case here in England.

I just feel that an opportunity has been missed to take a moral stance. By doing things through a ban so as to secure the money they suggest that if the money went the other way the cricketers would have done the wrong thing and played.

I was also sickened when England last toured Zimbabwe - and some people wanted a 'ban' then. But that desire to blame governments glossed over cricket's abdication of moral responsibility.

I wasn't sickened by the lack of a ban - I was sickened that people though we should need one. Cricketers are human beings and should act according to good consciences. (same goes for other sports, and don’t get me started on Beijing 2008).

Lee said...


Before I move on to the subject matter, that is a quite brilliant piece of writing of which you should be duly proud. I know I would be...

Re the ECB, and the last tour in 2004. The marketing chairman Des Wilson resigned on principle after the board rejected his proposal of "refusing as a moral stance". A number of others left at the same time, notably chaiman Tim Lamb, but for more boring reasons.

Amazingly, with no-one being able to make a decision about this and people leaving left right and centre, they still managed to make a very decisive decision to sell English cricket to Rupert Murdoch for shitloads of cash. Funny that.

file said...

go margin!

really well said, but it doesn't change the fact that the Aussie cricketers made a noise and if one person doesn't stand up sure as f'ack others won't

but everything you say is right, the playing fields have changed since Das Kapital and the new dynamics of popular communication, international paranoia and potential for action mean that we have to redifine short-term objectives, strategies and descriptors of effect/success

in the end anyone can only do what is doable and the ozzie players (for whatever reason) did something, non?


nesta said...


I understand what you are saying but I think you are making mountain out of a molehill in this instance.

There is no argument that the current Australian government used this process in an election year so it could take the moral high ground.

The cricketers shouldn't be blamed for that.

The tour isn't till September and if the government didn't become involved the team would not have gone. That's been well known in Australian cricket circles for two years. stuart MacGill set the example and eveyone was happy to follow his lead next time. Fine or no fine.

They never had the chance to prove it because the government became involved, uninvited at first.

Once it was released that a fine would be imposed the PM booked a press conference without thinking and said that he (the taxpayers) would fit the bill.

He was then informed that Mugabe would get the money and being a politician turned it to his advantage.

Also after witnessing Sekai Holland's state after her beating the Australian people DEMANDED that not one cent goes to Mugabe. The people weren't manipulated into this stance. It was the natural occurence of seeing the results of a grandmother battered and bruised by police truncheons pleading with Australians to not support Mugabe in any way.

I'm reasonably sure the Board didn't want to pay either and they found a way not too. Good luck to them I say. In all an intelligent strategy. Contrived or not. Why give money to a brutal dictator if you don't have to?

THe money would have not come from the players pockets but from the development fund for grassroots cricket. That is the kids.

If members of British parliament (even if they are wannabes) are calling for similar bans well that proves that the action in Australia is causing a few ripples on the other side of the Earth. It may come to nothing but for the time being at least the spotlight is on Zombabwe and that can only help.

Call Ricky and the boys hypocrits if you like but most Downunder are proud of their stance. Call us ignorant fools but Australia will not support Mugabe for as long as he lives. There won't just be a sporting ban but a trade embargo and intense scrutiny concerning humanitarian aid. The decision's been made and it all began three years ago because of the experiences learnt on the last tour and Stuart MacGill's moral stance..

I haven't written of South Africa's support of Mugabe but there is a sordid and sad tale there.

THanks Lee. I'll write for your site exclusively on Australian cricket if you pay enough. Make an offer Pounds convert well into Aussie dollars. I may even have a few ideas to help you generate a bit more through the till.

Here's where to contact me


Margin said...


That being the case, then the blame here lies with the Australian government. Assuming the players were set to boycott on moral grounds anyway.

Sadly I fear you read too much into Kate Hoey's call for government action. She is a sadly all too typical back bench agitator who calls for such things lightly to raise her own profile and rarely (possible never) has any impact.

But had the Australian government stayed out of matters, then the Cricketers could have made a real stand by refusing to play ("and to hell with the consequences").

That would have been a stand few cricketers elsewhere could ignore.

After all - a ban leads to calls for further bans - at best. And it does so amid scepticism given the financial motive.

A moral stand leads to calls on other people to prove their morality. And that is a more powerful force.

Margin said...


people can only do what is possible, but they should do the most that is possible - and sadly the australian government got in the way and undermined that in this instance.

nesta said...


The current Australian government are depiclable mongrels. There time is up and they know it so they are clutching at any and every opportunity to put themselves in a good light.

The Aussie cricketers will forfeit some pay for theiir stance as the prizemoney from the Zimbabwean tour is now forfeit.

As for the opposition groups the reports in Australia from Morgan (sorry surname eludes me) the oft-bashed opposition leader have been positive. He is grateful for the stance shown. Also Sekai Holland is an opposition leader and it was her escape and arrival in Sydney that brought this issue to light in May instead of July.

The players deserved a bit of time off after the World Cup to enjoy themselves and then prepare for the big announcement. Sadly the F'ACKing politicians got involved and stole their thunder.

I'm interested. What's the beef with the Beijing Olympcs?

I travelled to China with friends last year that sought refuge after Tianamen Square and they were impressed with the progress that had been made. Both in development of infrastructure and moral attitudes.

If we judge every country by morality they'd need to hold the Olympics in Antarctica!

file said...

but margin, didn't the only people who could do anything at all ('cos the govt. sure as heck weren't going to anything)do as much as they could?

isn't that commendable?

even tho the real heroes's of this story, as nesta points, out are Benaud, Bradman, Chappell et al

nesta said...

I think I understand what Mrgin's point is.

If the Govt would of stayed out of it then he implies that the ban would have had a greater effect on other players.

I briefly mentioned that in the article when I wrote "This sets a dangerous precedent'.

I think Margin is of the opinion that now cricketers will not have to make a moral decision in the future because they can fallback on the government to make it for them. I don't totally agree because in this case circumstances and events combined in a unique way.

The coming election, Sekai Holland's arrival in Australia, and the national tour of the world cup all conspired to F'ACK up well laid plans.

Malcolm Speed knew of the withdrawal of this tour 18 months ago just after England were in ZIM. Apparently he tried to get the fine waived but met heavy resistance from the Indian members of the ICC. I'm informed they need Zimbabwe's vote to get what they require.

I often wonder why it is always left to Australians to make the stand against oppression when cricket is involved. (We wouldn't tour Pakistan in 2002 but played them in Sharjah).

England being the wealthiest nation in the cricketing family and a member of the UN's big 5 should be leading the charge against inequality and injustice. They have the power to make things change. Instead it's left to the sons and daughters of the people they forcibly exiled and dumped on the other side of the Earth to make the bold challenge.

Why is that?

file said...


well I think I get it

but the govt. didn't stay out of it and govts. can't afford to be seen to be led by popular protest these days so it was inevitable considering the get-out clause that they would shoot for it

so what was the best possible outcome for the players? Well, this one really

If. the govt hadn't got involved
If. the ICC had been enlightened souls like you and me
If. Mugabe had realised the error of his ways...

...then a more morally significant point might have been made, but it is hardly likely to have gone that far in today's world

and therein lies the rub too; is it possible to make these significant moral points anymore?

like the olympians from mouths piece yesterday, is that sort of gesture meaningful anymore?

we are bombarded by messeges these days and some of the most revolutionary sounding are those on CAR ads, celeb-bed-in in Toronto is only local ad-rag news these days

there wasn't much else the players could do - they couldn't go and they couldn't demand their govt. cough up the cash

and as to Eng/Oz; every country, every city, every blogger has the capacity to lead the way in some way, it's only those that do who are the leaders, I say again go Oz!

ericverschoor said...

Great read nesta. Very informative.

The end result of the saga is (in my opinion) the ideal one. No publicity oportunity nor cash for Mugabe.
I understand margin's concern as how this was achieved. Ponting's, Sutherland's and the PM's attitudes could have been much more energetic, giving a non compromising image which would have avoided the perception that all were pretty concerned about their own image/pockets.
Without the loopehole in the ICC contracts, would this have been achieved?
In the 70s. many involved put principle before image. Can we say the same today?

My knowledge of cricket politics is admittedly poor, but my nose tells me that there is something putrid in Dubai (Dubai?), and it aint file's rabbit. Keep your articles comming and you will make an expert out this ignorant. Thanks

Margin said...


I misunderstood the nature of the government's involvement when I first read the piece - but as Nesta has explained, I pretty much agree the cricketers were in the right.

And Nesta is right that my concern is that a government ban carried less weight and will have less impact than a decision from the cricketers. (so the govt should have kept out of it).

Margin said...


It's Morgan Tsvangirai

You know doubt know more about your government than me, though granted I never quite believed the 'great friend of the international community' label earned by invading Iraq.

On China - where to begin. The forced abortion of 'second' children against the will of the woman concerned - the locking up of parents who campaign to find the children kidnapped for sale to westerners - the complete and total lack of free speech, dissent and opposition.

Remember - China's government conducts worse atrocities that Mugabe against its own people. But it runs its economy well so we ignore that.

And probably worst of all in regards to the Olympics - it has made thousands of people homeless by clearing them from their homes in order to build the Beijing Olympics. Many of those who lost everything have been driven to suicide, poverty, prostitution, and worse - protest (and thus arrest and disappearance).

As for why Australia tends to take the lead – England has a tightrope to walk that Australia doesn’t.

Australia often views world affairs much the same and England - but the English are also very aware that because of our past we can easily make things worse with our involvement. Our condemnation of a former colony tends to strengthen the regime that plays the anti-colonial card.

And that tends to lead to a lot of ambiguity as to whether a seemingly moral action actually hurts a lot of people.

It is a misplaced ambiguity – but it is a powerful one.

file said...

ok margin and it's clear we both want the same thing

but if you or I or nesta were in Pontings shoes could we have done anything to give greater significance to a fairly inevitable course of action?

my faith in all here at pseuds' suggests that the answer is ...
..probably yes!

but is it really fair to dis him for not finding a better way, he's a sportsman in a situation where the weight of history and the pressures of the local zeitgeist completely disempower him and he is left like a listlessly crusading patsy on valium

and to hope that a govt., any govt., would be moral enough to stand on their own 532 feet and forfeit those millions, for a principle (a moral principle of all things!) is more than I can do

I think I now understand what you're getting at and I share your desire to make the maximum possible noise over things of this import, but what is realistically achievable?

and what strategies might be most effective?


he was a little putrid before they put him in the pot, but they cooked him for quite a while...they may still have some

nesta said...

I read my article again and the fact that the Prime Minister went alone (without minders and security or cameras)to Ricky's house for lunch to essentially ask permission to legislate against the tour and then announced on telly the next day that with Ricky's 'blessing' it would be introduced should show any cynics who was in charge of this protest.

Ricky also hinted at this the next day when he said he was happy for the Government to 'take responsibility'.

I'm reasonably certain that Ian Chappell - who has been strangely silent publically about this issue - was in constant contact with Punter the last fortnight and it was probably Chappelli that was steering the ship. Chappell is currently calling on players around the world to hold a conference and find a way to rid the game of the ICC!

Ian Chappell because of his gruff and aggressive manner is also misunderstood. He gives loads of of his time (life) to helping the less fortunate than himself especially in his home state of South Australia. And he doesn't compromise when he knows he is in the right. He literally stares down his opponents. His brother Greg on the other hand is the exact opposite. In fact I don't even think they talk.

And I'm with you file



I understand the colonial reasons and mugabe especially is quick to use the race and colonial cards.

I just wish that Britain in particular would stand up for the dispossessed - because of its colonial past - in the UN Security Council more often.

Yuor description of China - which I do not doubt - is not reported in Australia. If it was jammed down the populace's throat on a constant basis I think there would be many reservations about attending here in Australia. If they played cricket the cricket press would inform us just as they do on Zimbabwe. The political press have no balls in this country they toe the psrty line every time. Just like in China.

I left Sydney a month before the Olympics began and the event was a F'ACKing hassle. People also lost their homes and during the Olympics their roads and liberties too. Some liberties never returned.

Nothing in comparison to China obviously which is I think is slowly moving in the right direction. China, barring nuclear war will be the world's leader in a couple of decades. The Chinese people I know - albeit not Communist Party members - are generally outstanding human beings. I'm hopeful that they will lead with alot more wisdom than the US.

As for Iraq. We are a token force that does little fighting (mostly engineers) and we have yet to lose a soldier. Most think it is a folly and with the election coming the opposition are making the right noises.

I've gotta run I'm as busy as a one armed bricklayer in Bagdhad. Cheers.

guitougoal said...

worst than mugabe?this guy is leading his country to the worst humanitarian crisis,suppresses freedom, used his north korean brigade to commit genocide.
allo! at least china seems to move toward progress while zimbabwe is falling apart.
- One question, if I may, do we think moral obligation justify disobedience?-
-south hobbart lions please tell us more-
-facKing logo competition i am in -

mimi said...

Nesta: great piece. Guys: great arguments and valid discussions.
PseudsCorner/ebren: should be bloody proud to publish the article, and the bloggers proud that at no point has this highly charged issue degenerated. Rather the opposite and I am looking forward to one of you writing up the issues surrounding the Beijing Olympics. As far as I've read, humanitarian organisations such as Amnesty are still incredibly worried about Human Rights in China.

nesta said...

logos to


Winner gets a free tShirt with their own sexy logo on the front delivered to your door. Be the envy of all your friends. Enter now.

greengrass said...

many thanks for another very good and thought-provoking article!
Before I get onto the morality business, I'd love to order a t-shirt: XXXXXL please, and knee-length.

I was once on the point of offering my services to the Zimbabwean government - just after Mugabe's forces liberated the country. I'm glad I didn't - I would have served a regime that turned out to be one of the most despicable of our day.

I actively supported the struggle against apartheid, and was happy to see sporting links challenged and severed for the greater good: I knew that severed sports links would hurt the sport-mad South Africans.

Now I see that Nelson Mandela's successors in the ANC do not seem to be a thoroughly savoury bunch: we can support the struggle for freedom, but can't expect to completely approve of those who take power; it's not our country, after all.

I am - having read all the above arguments - for this ban. I well understand Margin's reasoning - a boycott along the lines he favours would indubitably have been preferable. However, something - anything! - must be good that hits at Mugabe's prestige (that's what hurts that pathetically vain man most!)and lets the people he so hideously oppresses know that some people outside Zimbabwe care.

One more thing: we must stop caring
about people like Mugabe playing the colonial card. If we allow ourselves to be guided by morals, the colonial card will gradually become devoid of value.

Young nation or old nation - what the hell does it matter? The moral choices are identical!

MotM said...

Nesta - Fine piece and fine blog to follow.

These are some of my views.

Land reform - Until I looked, I was amazed to see that the White Farmers of Zim (Rhodesia) had seized land by Parliamentary diktat as recently as the 1930s. This is within living memory. I feel uncomfortable denying even a monster like Mugabe "the race card" when it played so prominent a role in his life and that of his fellow Black Zimbabweans. "That's all in the past" won't do.

The fine is a red herring - let the ICC go to court to enforce it. Get the heirs of Kerry Packer's lawyers in to represent Cricket Australia. It would last so long that Muggers would be dead by the time the money turns up in Harare. If the ICC threaten other sanctions, Punter and co should threaten to join Brian and Shane for the Twenty20 along with Murdoch.

I agree to some extent with Margin and File. Sport is played in some very grubby parts of the world and some sportsmen would look askance at playing with British teams given our Government's enthusaism for war war over jaw jaw and British companies longstanding enthusiasm to arm both sides of any conflict. But Ricky says that Zim is beyond the pale and I think he's right.

Why not harness the internet to have every Australian cricketer, commentator, hanger-on whoever to be videoed as follows? Question ( off-camera): "Will you tour Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe?" Cricketer (first Punter, then MacGill, then everyone) "No". All posted to a Youtube site for download.

Result - Tons of publicity, Australia cannot raise a side, the tour is dropped, it spawns copycat protests and some humour and the world is reminded once more that Mugabe is beyond the pale.

"I'm Spartacus"

DoctorShoot said...

nesta good bushfire. thanks for the tip-in mouth. i believe that a suite of actions such as sporting embargos backed up by political isolation, whilst smuggling in aid and medicines, and properly supporting refugees as they flee, is better than witholding food and medicine aid whilst continuing to trade and sell arms etc as was the case with pre-blitzkreig iraq.
am personally revolted to see howard grabbing for glory off the walking cadaver mugabe, rather than providing the background grunt for the cricketers to make their own decisions.

offside said...


thanks for another article about cricket that I actually understand. That might have something to do with it being excellently written but also with not really being about cricket, as such. It's great to see a good balance on Pseuds' between the serious, in-depth articles and the lighter pieces.

Just a passing comment about Beijing. In the French presidential election, Ségolène Royal clearly stated she would consider boycotting the games on human rights grounds if she was elected. I felt we could have done with a feminine touch in leadership for a change, but we got the other guy and now there's no chance of that happening. Why boycott the games when you can sell China high-speed trains and nuclear plants? Indeed.

And Doctorshoot, good to see you around.

DoctorShoot said...

thank you offside... i'll have another pint of zephs guiness special thanks.
BTW whose going to speak out against the country most likely to mop up computer scraps and buy coal, gas, food, uranium, and pay-by-clicks?? I just hope when the olympics are on that none of their players win a gold or they might all jump in the air at once and....

marcela said...

guy - "do we think moral obligation justify disobedience?"

i do. immoral obedience is responsible for some of the worst horrors ...

atrocities are atrocities - which is worse, mugabe or china? pinochet or bush? neither here nor there, i think.

excellent article, nesta. thanks.

DoctorShoot said...

....unbalance the planet, or create a tsunami and swamp Manhattan, or....

offside said...

...send us all up simultaneously to bang our head against the ceiling, or...

greengrass said...

we all have the right to take a stance on British policies, past and present, at home and abroad. I usually end up condemning them.

Wrongdoings that happened in the 1930's can be interesting and important. If I'd been around then, I hope I would have opposed them. I certainly can't afford to harbour any guilt about them - if I did, I'd be filling my mind with slag, making me less well-equipped to fight oppression today.

Mugabe's race card is just a cheap trick. We should spit at it, and give those he oppresses - almost exclusively black people - all the support we can.

What can we do to persuade British cricketers - and other sportsmen and sportswomen - come out in support of the Aussies?

MotM said...

GG - I agree that the race card shouldn't be played, but, rather than dismissed, in this instance, I feel it important to acknowledge the argument and rebut it. In almost all other instances, the sins of colonialism must be made known in history books and commemorations etc, but cannot drive debate about the way forward, else we're stuck in the (now perhaps gone forever) politics of 1689 No Surrender.

greengrass said...

Glad to see we more or less agree on this, Mouth - anything else would surprise me.

This is a great thread: I love the way that my fellow-bloggers can veer from slapstick to serious matters and back again without missing a beat!

Margin said...


Britain does quite a bit for the dispossessed of the world.

Britain is one of two G8 countries (the other is Japan I think) that has lived up to it's Gleneagles promise to double aid so far.

Britain gives a bigger proportion of GDP away in aid than any other major country (over 0.5%) and that is set to rise to 0.7%.

Britain is the only country (possibly at all, let alone the big ones) that allows recipient nations to spend the money on non-UK contracts. (Australian aid must be spent on Australian development contracts for example).

And it was the first big country to cancel third world debt.

So I'm not sure what the UK could do to 'stand up' for the dispossessed that it doesn't do already.

I know the UN Security Council should take action over Darfur (as an example) - but the UK (and France) offered peacekeeping troops - and has pushed for sanctions on the regime - but China keeps blocking every effort.

The world looks to Britain for leadership to an extent nowadays - but we can only lead so far when so few follow. ;)

On the Olympics and china - it would be nice to get a bit more mainstream reporting about that country here too. All too often people are fooled by the image of shinny new buildings.

And make no mistake - it is not a country making any progress towards enlightenment. It has adopted capitalism wholeheartedly - but has rejected democracy or decency in every way. It executes more people each year than the rest of the world combined - it tortures people in their thousands and thousands - it is attempting a gradual ethnic cleansing of Tibet - it has turned on free expression in Hong Kong.

It sickens me to think of that country ever leading global affairs. Especially when for so long we all neglected the advancement of India - A democracy with human rights.

Margin said...


over all I'd say there are three main differences between china and Zimbabwe are...

1 - Zimbabwe's regime is embodied in one (easily hated and identifiable) man - China's is made up of thousands of adherents to a structure.

2 - China's regime runs it's economy well - Zimbabwe's doesn't.

3 - China oppresses more people in more numerous ways than Zimbabwe and has done so for years. (Zimbabwe’s military has, for example, never held a woman down and forced an abortion on her - China does this to many women every day)

Unfortunately everyone's view is coloured by the second difference.

MotM said...

Margin - Very strong stuff, but I'm inclined to agree.

I heard Harriet Harperson and Hazel Blears pitching for the Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party last week. I've not much time for either, but when they outlined what the UK has done in International Development it was mighty impressive COMPARED to other nations.

Of course one cannot ringfence such work and it exists against a backdrop of arms trading and troop deployments, but Robin Cook's ethical foreign policy is an easy target for cynical journoes, but his legacy is better than a soundbite.

MotM said...

Margin - I posted in response to your first of two posts not the second.

I agree to some extent with your second, but the impact of 2. is that denial of access to the basics of life (food, water) is being used as a policy lever in Zim and that's just beyond the pale.

mimi said...

margin: thanks for the information about China. You very much confirm what I've been reading over recent years and months. Very seldom do known outrages get reported in any depth - that may not be the fault of western journalists, rather the result of a repressive regime - but recently even the hot topic of recycling and plastic waste pollution merited not a headline grab in a national broadsheet, but a feature in Guardian Weekend magazine.
And don't get me started on the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS in China.
Also there are real doubts over sporting matters regarding the training of young Chinese athletes, particularly in gymnastics, their stance over the Paralympics - all of which make very uncomfortable reading when set beside, as you say, shiny new buildings.
More from you, please.

gg said...

Margin -
yes, please; more!

nesta said...

I am aware Britain and the EU does alot more than others but the bar is set pretty low. Also Iraq, arms trading and a score of other hypocrisies distort the progress they make in other areas.

The Aussie government and their dingbat bureaucrats are hardly representative of the people. We effectively live in a corporate dictatorship. As do many in so called democracies.

I know that after the tsunami a grounswell of cash and action was raised by private citizens. The government's response was laughable in comparison.

If the truth be known I'm not a supporter of any government or political system that I have encountered. Except perhaps non-violent resistance. Mahatma style. But that is a long bloody road.

That is one of a myriad of reasons that I've set my self up on the edge of civilisation. I wanted to be as far away from their deceit as possible. And to live in a community where every voice is heard. In southern Tasmania because of its low population that is possible. Our influence internationally can only be in setting an example to others - like the Green movement - for we have no real power.

I strongly believe that it is the citizens of the world that need to solve the problems that megalomaniac politicians and their money hungry corporate mates create. How we go about that without other power mad individuals taking over is beyond my understanding.

And thanks to all for reading and responding to my story. And if I may I would like to reprint one paragraph again.

Robert Mugabe is a cunning calculating dictator, and is it not time that the international community stopped allowing this thuggish tyrant to play us off, nation against nation, culture against culture, until the core of the issue - Mugabe's loathsome regime - is lost in the bickering?


The logos have been arriving thick and fast. Only 15 days to get yours in and perhaps achieve pseuds immortality. Or should I say infamy. No matter. Everyone make an effort. You never know you may unlock a fierce creative stream that has been lingering unnoticed for years. Go on. You won't regret it.

Entries to:

Margin said...


Complexity makes hypocrites of all nations.

The UK is not perfect - no country is. There is always debate about what is really moral. (Free trade, for example, is seen as cure by some and cancer by others). And of course 'more' is a demand we can all make.

So while the bar may be low, it would be much lower if the UK had not raised it.

Not that my post was meant as a Labour Party political broadcast. We have an unusual consensus between the parties on international aid now. It’s just that Labour are the ones able to act on it.

Margin said...

more on China

worth noting that while Zimbabwe uses food shortages against political opponents - China doesn't need shortages.

China's government controls the nation's agriculture pretty comprehensively and it's food supply.

It was therefore able to kill off the babies of troublesome regions in recent years with very little attention paid to it by anyone. All it needed to do was provide fake 'powdered milk.'

The 'milk' was in fact powder of no nutritional value causing kids to starve to death while not starving. And of course denying people medical advice in such areas meant no one knew what was wrong or how to save their children.

such methods are very effective at keeping people in line as they encourage people to keep eachother in line.

and don't get me started on industrial polluting of water supplies.

Margin said...

I'm really going to have to start a political pseuds....

nesta said...

Perhaps it is time to just rid the world of nations.

One People on one planet united in peace.

byebyebadman said...

Agree wholeheartedly with nesta there...this is a depressing (and at the same time illuminating and superbly written) thread!

Margin said...

how very Marxist of you Nesta.

And it would save england embarrasing ourselves at football, cricket, rugby, well all sports really.

byebyebadman said...

When do we embarass ourselves at football margin? Oh...

Franz Beckenbauer once predicted all future international football competitions would be between clubs rather than nations...maybe in his brave new world football associations could pick any players plying their trade in that country to represent them regardless of nationality - it would end the tedious 'which league is better' debate if nothing else.

MotM said...

Whilst I understand the criticism of the Chinese regime, I wonder what the alternative is (given that 1.3 billion people can't emigrate to Tas).

The Neo-Con project to bring democracy to Iraq is proving as vainglorious in execution as in conception and promulgation.

Should democracy be foist upon China via an externally promoted coup?

Is the corporate state the answer?

Is, for all its hideousness, the current state of affairs a price worth paying for the stability it brings?

I ask because I don't know and I don't know anyone who does.

nesta said...

I've never seen their movies Margin.

Do the Marx brothers like many in my community also understand that race and nation are an illusion that the indoctrinated so willingly swallow, creating perpetual war in their ignorance?

And Mouth I know it's difficult for many to understand and without a certain level of awareness impossible to concieve but love and respect is the answer.

guitougoal said...

thank you for your clarification and subtle argument
the difference between china and zimbawe is less confusing and more comprehensible- the bad and the badder- There is another major issue coming to my mind when reading this remarkable thread:
-Most people don't think so but does letting someone die not equivalent to killing them?
this is a frightening thought because if the answer is yes, then what f'acking kind of people are we?

greengrass said...

since we've ripped-off "Pseuds' Corner" from Private Eye, I think we should also rip-off Bill Tidy's hilarious send-up of Morris dancers.
Thus our logo might read:

The Bloggies

- an Everyday Story of Blog-Dancing Folk

nesta said...


I control what I am able to control and as far as I am aware I am yet to be directly responsible for another's demise or suffering for that matter. It is an unpredictable world we find ourselves in but one thing is certain, every single one of us will die. It pays to be aware of this with every breath. Incredibly with this knowledge the unforseen erraticness of life seems ordered and beautifully symmetric. All life becomes precious. And every day has meaning.

If each of us could learn to love then few would be killed needlessly.

I would never stand by and let another in my reach be killed. Fortunately for my safety and sanity that sort of behaviour is not practised where I live.

The Bloggies. Bloggy, Bloggy yum yum.

file said...

margin, compelling points as always

nesta, lot of sympathy for your position and fully agree that it's up to us 'citizens' in 'Mahatma' style ways

national dictatorships, economic disparity, environmental responsibility and global warming are all complex issues attached to each other and a million other dominoes

as is colonial influence, as has been mentioned, and economic servitude and poverty and aids and fleecing bastard drug companies etc. etc. ad mortum

complex and symptomatic of the dominant ideologies and constructs which we consent to en masse even if not individually. Redesigning global constructs, even nibbling at the knee of only one aspect of these symptoms, is never going to be easy

governments all over the world have been consolidating their positions as secure themselves as nations with verve and zeal since 9/11 and our subtle yankee pardners re-enforced this message brutally with the instant military invasion of two sovereign nation states, one of them in ways explicitly contrary to international law and unsactioned by the UN

state is dog becoming, like you all I'm scared of China as big dog for myself and my kids, but then I haven't quite got over feeling scared of big dog USA yet

I think that there are strategic lessons to be learned from the protests of Ghandi as you say and also the Zapatistas who are still continuing to explore cultural and artistic modes of resistance, also King, X, Mandalla, Aung San Suu Kyi and others

but public protests will not be seen to be effective any more

for one, as Margin says, complexity makes hypocrites and it also divides opinion and weakens arguments so the public protests or minoritised groups will attract less supporters who feel less sure of themselves and will be countered by opposing protests of equal weight; we have been divided and are being ruled

two, international communications like this are able to educate and disseminate and discuss stuff as we are doing, but these very communications also smash 'the people' into a multitude of ideological or strategic or ignorant but impotent splinter groups. Also, while we are learning, educating and deconstructing stuff here we run the risk of satisfying our disgust at the outrages of which we speak, when we should all think about intensifying our efforts to improve the world as well as writing about whats wrong with it

Not to mention the mass majority of folk who couldn't give a toss about any of these issues as long as the news doesn't run over the start of the footie

there is a fire triangle to guide our thoughts about protest though and instead of heat, air and fuel it's noise, concept and reinvention

if a protest can make enough noise it will be heard

if the concept is good enough and deemed to be 'right' people will listen

if the messege is reinvented, recycled and renewed then the first two can be perpetuated and support will snowball

When groups get their message and arguments together and follow the fire triangle with intelligence they are able to progress

including sportsfolk, celebs and notaries in the cause can aid if their involvement is genuine butI think that the days of grand messages of cricketing boycotts have been lost in the mass of media, moral crusades and messages

creativity is part of the answer, the concept should be engaging and compete with other stories, mass gueurilla theatre is one of my favoured modes of anti-establishment expression but thats another story

personally these days, I take the view that it's all spritual anyway and the examples we make by what we say and do effect the people around us more deeply than any march or marketing campaign

and it's a better thing that we are saying all this now and not why didn't they back out after they had gone


MotM said...

I have been much influenced by Philip K Dick's pulp short story "Human is".

In brief, a woman is visited by the secret police as she is suspected of harbouring a robot who has replaced her husband. She fobs them off. Of course, she is harbouring the robot because, although it and her husband look the same, the robot is kind and gentle and the husband selfish and cruel.

The moral? We are what we do.

guitougoal said...

beautiful- I meant WE not only as individuals but as people and nations and that was my second question-the first one was do moral obligation justifies disobedience? (marcela does think so...and probably most of us do)
-ignoring mass murders, genocide, oppression is the same as committing these crimes.
consequently we do have an obligation at any cost and any price even if we falk with established rules-
don't we?- just cause-

MotM said...

Gitou - Where should I spend my £20? Another tee-shirt for me? For my boy? On famine relief in Darfur? On HIV education programmes? On my Internet Service Provider?

The Moral Maze becomes a very difficult place to be.

mimi said...

I believed in sanctions against South Africa. I still believe in personal boycotts of products from regimes you find offensive. I believe in personal action. As a woman, I have the vote because women died for our right to be part of a modernising democracy. I believe it's worth writing letters to your MP - they may be a load of self-seeking tossers, but they're the ones we have. Use it or lose it, that's the right to vote, the right to choose. Believe it or not, but I spent several years in the Westminster Village, and they care like fuck about what the people out there - which is how they refer to us as - think.
You have more power than you think.

nesta said...


Your questions require a deep understanding to answer. Instead of a philosophical position I will speak from personal experience.

The people of southern Tasmania collectively do what they can. We invite people that have escaped oppression and welcome them. We listen to their horror stories and weep with them. We find them homes and jobs and in doing that comfort, feed and empower them.

There are three levels of government in Australia and at the local and state level we have elected Green representatives for over two decades who vote to end injustice and destruction on our behalf in Parliament. At the Federal level our representative was the only member of the major parties who voted against the illegal war in Iraq. He payed a heavy personal price. We didn't need to demand it he knows what is expected.

Perhaps it's because we live in tiny rural communities or perhaps like attracts like but we have time to talk and get to know and help each other. Our differences politically and philosophically are not important. I'm not sure but one thing I do know is that we have created a peaceful example of human civilisation. It is constantly evolving and mistakes are made but most are happy and content. Therefore no public violence and hardly any crime. No-one planned it but respect for others is demanded.

We have no army and the largest weapon in my part of the world is a rifle and you have to jump through many hoops on a yearly basis to possess one.

We do what we can but we accept that we do not hold the power. In a way I'm glad we don't. We have decided that as a community that the best way forward is for us to set an example for our children to follow. The struggle to end war and environmental destruction will be long and hard. It will take many generations and we acknowledge that and are already walking the road to peace.

From little things big things grow.

And Mouth your moral maze can only be solved by wisdom. How you acquire it is a man's most important decision. It will effect your life and your descendents. Choose carefully.

nesta said...


The list of things that my household doesn't purchase grows by the day.

On some days personal responsibility can be tough and when in a hurry annoying. It is very difficult to not buy food, clothing and other necessities and luxuries in Australia that do not come from our banned list of corporations and countries (China is at the top, marg). But somehow we manage. How we spend our earnings is one of the true freedoms in this world and on mass a very powerful protesting tool.

What does the oppressors love. Money. So don't give it to them. Pretty simple really. Why don't more people exercise this power I wonder? I know many people down my way that try this approach and it has made a difference locally. Especially in terms of dodgy chemicals in agriculture. There are other examples but our population is too small to effect global corporations and foreign governments. Again the good oil is, choose wisely.

mimi said...

In my small environment, we do a lot of exchanges of services and essentials without money. Hughie, for instance, brings me new potatoes, carrots, and fruit in season from his small-holding. In return, I bake bread for his family.
I need someone to take a friend to the airport - I exchange my time to look after their business when they need time for themselves.
There are many ways to make a small impact which may lead to greater changes.

DoctorShoot said...

folks - late breaking news - the olympics in China have been rebadged the 'reasonable games' (though I believe China & the US are negotiating the meaning of 'reason' behind closed IOC doors right now), and some new events have been included:
- The Plant for Pop Underground Event has land-mine developers excited and Serbia, UK, US, and Gods Army all fighting for top seed. France has legendary status though have been out of form since the rainbow warrior sank. Australia's form in burying yellowcake above the artesian basin is moving them into dark horse status for possible gold gold!
- The Disappearance Relay (requiring cross-border co-operation) sees China and the US as top contenders on current form, with Egypt, and a small corner of Cuba in contention. Chile, Soviet Union (now disbanded but still operating), Argentina, El Salvador, Zimbabwe, and Guatemala also in the betting on disclosed form. An appeal from Australia to include genocide as a qualifying component has seen them move into strong contention along with Uganda, Ethiopia, Germany, and most of the other countries you can think of.

When questioned on these angry new sports IOC pseudo chair seth blatter responded:
"now that our forebears are gone and we are left to carry on, what about the age of reason? we have to make it relevant don't we?!!"

BlueinBetis said...

I have followed this thread, but every time I have had something to say, someone else comes in with it, or another question is posed.....well done everybody. Especially Nesta

Margin said...

nesta and gui

Does inaction equate to murder? That is effectively what Gui asked - and I believe it does. But ask yourself this - if you could cure all cancer by breaking a baby's neck would you do so?

I fear the world learned a bad lesson from WW2 - the notion that "for evil to prosper only requires that good men do nothing" I prefer to think that if evil prospers only bad men do nothing. And as such I'd have to kill the baby (metaphorically speaking).

Unfortunately - Tony Blair agrees with my view - and to an extent applied that logic to the millions of people that Saddam killed and 'took action' in Iraq.

So then any idea about striving for what is right comes down to a judgement call. Blair might have thought occupation and democratisation was right and decent, but presumably felt that partly because he misjudged how hard it would be to do.

And hence complexity makes hypocrites. I would like to see China forced to become a civilised nation instead of just a wealthy one. But how is an unanswerable question.

That said. Democracy is the answer. Democratic nations don’t go to war with each other. They tend to grow prosperous faster than dictatorships. And they tend to foster civil liberties.

So keep the faith with democracy.

Ebren said...

Small point - but there has been one case of a democracy declaring war on another. Of course the UK was one of the two (we seem to be involved with pretty much every war in the last £1,000 years) - can anyone name the other?

Margin said...


if you mean Iceland so god help me I'll slap you...

Ebren said...

No - I hadn't remembered the cod wars.

This was a proper declared war.

BlueinBetis said...

Who else would it be?

The U.S. 1812!

Ebren said...

Actually - I was thinking Finalnd.

Finland declared war on the Soviets, we declared war on them. We bombed them and sunk 69 of their merchant ships.

nesta said...

I'm having a guess at the democracies warring question but I would suggest that the USA has declared war on another democracy more than once.

The French in North America comes to mind in the early 19th century and I also think that General Noriega was 'democratically' elected. I can't be bothered checking because I am here for another reason but I'd thought I'd try my luck at the trivia quiz.

On one other matter before I reveal my purpose I must say that Margin's philosophical questions are starting to hurt and I'm more than happy that these impossible decisions are not mine to make.

I have sent the message below around to some but I do not think all so here it is for your leisurely perusal.

Hey fellow Pseudenoids

When I kicked off this logo competition it was an attempt to raise a few bucks so we could print a best of the corner 2007 for our mutual enjoyment and satisfaction. Now I'm beginning to wonder if we should raise the cash for a future conference in Tahiti. I'm sure our correspondent could put us all up. Then the Taproom would no longer be a virtual room but in offie's lounge room.

Seriously I think the enthusiasm shown will make this little dream a reality. My local bookshop has already agreed to stock it once it is produced and I'm sure with all our connections and expertise it will be a winner.

Many obstacles remain and we will need to somehow co-ordinate and harness our energies towards a common goal. How we do this I do not know so I am writing to get some comments about that.

I have discovered that the the corner's LA correspondent has much experience in the designing and marketing of apparel and to my complete surprise sells T-Shirts in cans that you purchase from vending machines! As they say down my way, Only in America. He has also created a nifty system for collecting and distributing credits over the World Wide Web.

Communication will be the key to our success. So send in your ideas about management of our disparate resources and I'll collate them into some sort of organised document and then distribute it for further discussion. Also if you think this idea is rubbish and these matters are already being considered without my knowledge you can tell me that too.



BlueinBetis said...

I like what Margin says about democracy being the answer. I agree.

A democratic state would be great.


We declared war on Finland because Finland declared war on the Soviet Union. When was that? Must be just prior to the start of WW2?

Margin said...

Finland was effectively engaged in a civil war with the USSR.

Many 'wars' between democracies are effectively civil wars - such as croatia v serbia, India v Pakistan (1940s) and even kosovo (1990s).

BlueinBetis said...

I suppose that makes my Anglo-American war in 1812 another example of a civil war then?

Sure that will make any American readers happy.

Ebren said...

I love the web - someone has done all the extra work for me.

Anyone wondering about democracies and war should click here.

I will edit contributions for a book of sports shorts - selection can be democratic. Others are welcome to help.

We have 156 pages at the moment - not all have been articles, and many will be out of date when publication roles around.

I can create a shortlist.

We will also need to inform the authors - which will have to be me as I have the email addresses.

A decision also has to be made on comments.

If we include them, we could fill a ten-volume encyclopaedia.

I'm leaving the t-shirts and other merchandise to people with more experience.

nesta said...

And I know someone will point out a technicality but wasn't De Fuhrer democratically elected.

nesta said...


In the spirit of this community I was hoping that everybody gets at least one article in the book.

Maybe the author's could choose what they think is their best work?

I was also hoping that we could organise it's release in late November and therefore there is still a few months for people to write other articles.

Of course you being the prince of the Corner the power is yours but I for one would like to see all contributors represented in one way or another.

levremance said...

Nesta - been a bit crook so I came in late which worked out well because while the original is excellent, the blog below the line is great too.

I'd like to see the designs. All I can think of is adapting and old but great Leunig design. I'll send it to you on the weekend.

offside said...


I don't know about the book idea, I probably wouldn't have thought of it myself (this place functions great as a "standalone"), but I'm not against it either.

If we go ahead with it, your question on whether to include comments or not is very important. I would suggest (especially after reading this here thread and Mouth's recent one on protest in sport, that the comments that really add something to the article definitely should be included.

But, as you say, it is now reaching encyclopedic proportions so I'm not sure I'd like to be the one doing the editorial work.

If we do, I'd be willing to share some of the burden, time permitting.

MotM said...

I like the book idea, but I think the vibrancy of pseuds would be missed in because many articles and responses are contemporary.

Is another possibility for Lord Ebren to approach the Guardian / Observer / New Statesman / (dare I say) Sunday Times or another glocal publication and pitch a Best of Pseuds column? Ebren would then send one article per week to the publication and a selection of comments and invite further responses. There's such a strong body of work here that I could see an editor biting on it.

Pseuds would increase its traffic and generate income from the fee that we could send to a good cause of the month.

Ebren would have to do a little more work (but not much, I hope) and his decision on what to send would be final.

Has this idea any er... legs?

Ebren said...

The book idea is problematic in that it would require people to buy it. And someone to publish it. And anyone who wanted to read our collective tappings could simply hear about the book, then go online and read the lot for free.

But the big positive is that people like books (since the internet's creation, book sales have actually risen - at least in the UK), and it would be something nice to own, put on a book shelf, and say "I'm in that".

I think a book of sports shorts has merit - and there is some excellent work here - but you have to answer the following questions first: "Who would buy it? How would they hear about it? And how would we get it to them?"

The magazine idea is fine - but the fee would have to go to the author. And that would be hard. Especially if we include the comments.

If we can leverage merchandise sales through the website, then that could work.

MotM said...

Ebren - Surely Pseuds could be e-mailed by you to request permission to go forward to the Observer and for waiver of fee? Would anyone not agree?

I realise that I'm proposing more work for you, so it's absolutely your right to say No. If you wanted to share the burden, I'd be happy to do alternate months on the admin side.

nesta said...

My original idea wasn't to print a bestseller or to make pseuds the world's number one website.

It was more along the lines of a hardcopy on the best pseuds articles of the year that we - the contributors - to the blog could own. As a keepsake and momento of the years blogging.

Buying a T-Shirt each and possibly selling a few to readers and friends was a way to fund - at least partialy - the printing of say 30 - 50 small paperbacks with a nice cover.

I think it is important to not get too far ahead of ourselves and just try to focus our energies on the next step.

If after we each have a 2007 pseuds almanac and all contributors have one in their possession well then maybe we could combine our collectiveness towards selling the few remaining copies and making 2008 bigger, better and profitable.

I desire a book with our musings in it. Nothing more or less. I couldn't see it happening if someone didn't step up and try and get the ball rolling. This I have done. Gui will make excellent T-Shirts shipped to your door in a can. The money that remains should be used to print as many books as we need. If we still don't have enough I'm happy to throw in some more credits for my copy.

If I am in it under law the State Library of Tasmania must buy it and I would be most pleased at that happenstance.

That is the motivation from a simple practical man in the wilderness on the edge of civilisation. Consider it.

zeph said...

Mouth, something about your idea worries me, though I'm not sure what - perhaps it's that a big paper wouldn't let us have space without wanting editorial control?

As I see it, if we want a proper paperback book for ourselves to keep and give to friends, we will have to self-publish, which last time I looked costs about a thousand pounds for a first run from the UK companies (which are mostly US owned, so prices probably comparable there). These companies will put the book onto Amazon etc, so in theory there is worldwide distribution BUT Amazon are not obliged to have them 'in stock, deliver in 24 hours'. This is where the catch comes, as customers don't buy those books that say 'delivery in 3-4 weeks'! So to get Amazon to 'stock' the book we would have to get into publicity, marketing and all that stuff, and I don't think any of us wants to go there. So the chances of selling enough copies of the book to get the money back would be slim, I fear.

So we would either have to raise the money between us (hence Nesta's original idea of selling T-shirts) or we could settle for a more modest 'book' of a desk-top publishing kind.

mimi said...

Much easier to have this discussion here - all those emails were killing me!
I agree mostly with the last 2 posts from Zeph and Nesta. Keep aspirations realistic. Good things can be done in a DTP sort of way.
I'm more than happy to bring my skills to bear, and depending on what we go for, may be able to rope in some old mates to help.
Sorry that I haven't got time to stop and ponder on this longer now. I will be back later in the afternoon.

BlueinBetis said...

Multi tasking here.

I'd be willing to buy both a book and a t-shirt, maybe more, to help a worthy cause. Whatever format. But it'd have to be easy to post, since we all live all over the place.

On the democracy thing,

I just heard something that nearly made me start smoking again....

On the BBC Radio 1, over the internet, not something I usually listen to, but I work with a couple of girls who like the music...Anyway, the presenter, had obviously been asking the general public what they thought of Gordon replacing Tony. One irate listener had sent in an email or text, that was read out, without any comments after it saying that "I didn't vote for Gordon Brown, if he's got different policies I'm stuck with them, we should have an election"

The pillock that wrote that, joined with the other idiots at the BBC, that didn't correct him, or bother to explain how our democracy works, have more control over the future than I.

Democracy would be a wonderful thing.

[sighs wistfully]

zeph said...

BinB, unfortunately large sections of the British public think a Prime Minister is the same thing as a President. Don't get me started...

file said...

2 right bib!

'Democracy WOULD be a wonderful thing, reminds me of what they used to say about communism 'It would be great but it doesn't work.'

I like to think that political ideologies and social constructs too are evolutionary things and that there is a better world beyond democracy as she presents herself

lots to say on this on but in the end, when nation states, static governments and the whole money thing have collapsed we will come back to wondering more about the real meaning and value of life and our social organization will reflect this

this is the nostalgia we all look forward to

but for the present if we only spent as much time working out how to make things free as we do on making profit we would be going in the right direction

but, fully support ebran and nestas meglomania!

like mimi I'll buy some t-shirts and look forward to helping making it 'appen

GO Oz, revolution, pseuds', ...

mimi said...

file: I think it was Mouth proposing world domination and we all know and support ebren's desire to be a media mogul! Personally, now I've had time to think a bit more, and am home properly for the day, I'm with nesta on this one. What I would like, and would pay for, is a hard copy (but not just me cutting and pasting a few bits into Word) version of most of the articles and the best threads that came from them (which obviously would include this one - though maybe with the t-shirt book debate edited out). I'm sure all of us have a few friends who would be interested in having a copy, but mostly it would be a record of some very strong writing, and a demonstration of how people often with very different views, can debate sensibly and learn from each other. Same goes for the T-shirt idea. I for sure know at least half a dozen or so folks who would buy and wear. We should also beware of vaunting our ambition too high and creating an idea so complex that all we do is talk about it and nothing actually happens. Keep it simple and neat, and it will be done.
I would suggest that someone(s) - and makes sense perhaps if it's ebren, drops a piece onto the site just for us to work out what we're doing, and thereby keep everything in one place - a kind of virtual taproom of the t-shirt but without the drinking. If that could include somewhere where we can dump design ideas, all the better.
And would save those increasingly complex round-robin emails!
Any thoughts? I know it wasn't my idea at all in the first place, and hope nobody thinks I'm speaking out of turn, but once a Production Controller, always the same, and I'd hate to see all the energy that has started this dissipate without achievement.

guitougoal said...

that precisely what nesta is doing,centralizing and organazing. aren't we lucky.
free-t -shirts for the pseuds members it's a possibility,we will work on it-

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