LETS NOW LOOK AT THE DOMESTIC SITUATION IN THE WEST (US ADN AUSTRLIA AND THE ROLE OF MUSIC) IN THE LEAD UP TO 1968 – THE TRUE WATERSHED YEAR – OF THE 20TH CENTURY.
DOMESTIC POLTIICS IN THE US AND AUSTRALIA.
Now lets look briefly at Australia in all this.
From the outset, from the early 1960s throughout, Australia, first under Menzies, and then a succession of conservative leaders not only swallowed but in fact promoted the US position vis a vis containment of communism everywhere in the Third World.
In an ongoing attempt to keep the Conservative coalition in power, Menzies reinforced Australia’s military and economic ties – and hence cultural ties with the United States,
Australia swallowed their version of politics and foreign policy, and though the policy of Forward Defence, readily allied themselves and fought in US conflicts everywhere.
PLAY CD ROM _ forward defence.
Menzies purposefully instilled a deep fear of communism into Australian society and played on fears of an invasion of Australia by Asian communists. As such, Australia ended not only up in Korea but alongside them in Malaya, and we kept a close eye on the Indonesians.
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Culturally, in Australia in the early 1960s, and much a result of Australia’s close association with the US, and as a measure of the power of US culture, media and film industry, not to mention its popular music – our Americanisation process was almost complete. Nearly gone were our British strains. We were becoming more and more American by the day – that is while middle class American.
Culturally, however, in the early 1960s we were very conservative, as was mainst4ream America. With heavy anti-communist political and social censorship, almost everything out of the norm, be it progressive or deviant, was considered communist or left inspired – and therefore bad. In the early 1960s, as in the US, mainstream cultural conservatism had re-asserted itself.
In Australia, it was a time of 6.00 closing, of single beds, of the wife at home with 2.3 kids and don’t ever say the word ‘Fuck’, and homosexuals and lesbians were unheard of. As different to today, instead of Asians, we hated the presence of ‘wogs’ in our society.
And no more was this conservatism in our culture in Australia more expressed than in popular music in the early 1960s – popular music that had become Americanised.
As we shall see later, by the early 1960s, US Rock and Roll had become – what is known as or at least what Garofolo calls it Schlock Rock – a drab sanitized big business rip off, of the Rock n Roll phenomenon that had swept the West in the late 1950s.
To further understand this- the conservatism of our era, we need to look at the US – as it was from here that the majority of our cultural and political and even economic influences now originated.
THE DEATH OF ROCK N ROLL – THE RISE OF SCHLOCK ROCK AND CONSERVATISM
Folk song traditions were taken to Australia by early settlers from England, Scotland and Ireland and gained particular foothold in the rural outback. The rhyming songs, poems and tales written in the form of bush ballads often relate to the itinerant and rebellious spirit of Australia in The Bush, and the authors and performers are often referred to as bush bards. The 19th century was the golden age of bush ballads. Several collectors have catalogued the songs including John Meredith whose recording in the 1950s became the basis of the collection in the National Library of Australia.
The songs tell personal stories of life in the wide open country of Australia. Typical subjects include mining, raising and droving cattle, sheep shearing, wanderings, war stories, the 1891 Australian shearers' strike, class conflicts between the landless working class and the squatters (landowners), and outlaws such as Ned Kelly, as well as love interests and more modern fare such as trucking. The most famous bush ballad is Waltzing Matilda, which has been called "the unofficial national anthem of Australia."
Indigenous Australian music includes the music of Australian Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, who are collectively called Indigenous Australians; it incorporates a variety of distinctive traditional music styles practiced by Indigenous Australian peoples, as well as a range of contemporary musical styles of and fusion with European traditions as interpreted and performed by indigenous Australian artists. Music has formed an integral part of the social, cultural and ceremonial observances of these peoples, down through the millennia of their individual and collective histories to the present day. The traditional forms include many aspects of performance and musical instrumentation unique to particular regions or Indigenous Australian groups. Equal elements of musical tradition are common through much of the Australian continent, and even beyond. The culture of the Torres Strait Islanders is related to that of adjacent parts of New Guinea and so their music is also related. Music is a vital part of Indigenous Australians' cultural maintenance.
7.0 WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN OZ
Now, the 1970s were a period of considerable political flux in Australia as well.
As we noted last time Gough Whitlam came to power in 1972 and, like Carter later in the US, swung Australia away from a Cold War mentality to a greater focus on nationalism, self determination and greater ties and identification with the Asian-Pacific region. Whitlam down played the importance of the Cold War and fears of communism and of course had our forces withdrawn from Vietnam.
It was an era of great social progression in Australia at this time with the liberalisation of many laws, and an injection of funding and support into Education and the Arts. To me as to many others at the time, things looked good down under. No longer did we have to avoid conscription or worry about being sent to unjust Asian wars - and tertiary education was suddenly available to everybody.
END OF WHITLAM
But of course, as we know, Whitlam was only around a short time. He was ousted in 1975, many would say with US assistance as Whitlam was at the time questioning the continued presence of the US bases in the region and thereby threatening the US strategy of regional surrogates.
Either way we saw Malcolm Fraser and the conservatives come to power and a curious era emerged in which Australia for awhile was more a militarist and hawkish nation than Carter’s US.
FRASER AND SOVIETS
Throughout the rest of the decade Australia under Fraser seemed obsessed with the Soviet threat and communism, urging the US to take a harder stance with the Soviets. It was a retreat to 50s mentality in all respects and ushered in a return to conservatism at home.
I remember here in Australia - there was quite a cult following for Art Rock - one that flowed on from the Mod movement - and we were known as Stylists in those days - and our Australian gods - were the Masters Apprentices. We would wear all sots of Op Art gear.
PLAY CD ROM- THE OZ EXPERIENCE - CONCENTRATE ON WHITLAM - FRASER PERIOD.
As regards - here in Australia, its difficult to summarize 20 odd years of Australian history . But I guess you could say Australia has been slowly headed towards conservatism too, from a liberal high point (small l) in the early 1970s under Whitlam, then through Fraser -to Hawke, Keating and now Little Johnny.
So what have we seen?
4.2 FRASER and OTHERS
Under Fraser we saw a swing back to conservatism, which by and large was carried on under the Hawke and then Keating governments. We again got back on to the US -alliance bandwagon and reinstituted Forward Defense to our detriment and derision of our neighbours.
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Today in our Australian society, in the 1990s we, of course, also have the Hanson Phenomena which is basically equatable with the rise of fascism. We have a poor if not failing Third World economy, increasing gaps between the haves and the have nots, and not much prospect for the future.
As a result, many people on both the right and the left are increasingly alienated from a system run by coopted rationalists on both sides.
And what do we particularly have in this country? The conservative rump of the electorate is reacting to uncertainty, and a declining economy and the impact if globalisation with a reversion to extreme right wing politics. The reason why I say Hanson and her mob are fascist is because the movement exhibits all the hall marks of a typical fascist movement.
Largely lower middle class in an alliance with alienated working class, a populist leader and party authoritarian in nature, and opposed to organised labor, progressive values, and foreign corporate capital. This movement is essentially undemocratic in nature, racist and anti-intelligentsia.
It is also strongly patriotic and nationalist - although a confused version of nationalism in this casse. - and as with Nazis it has commitment to the state and the nation, and vehement opposition to outsiders and those considered of weaker, inferior race.
But the greatest tragedy is that it feeds on the ignorance of so many hurting Australians, either unwilling or unable to see through it.
It is a populist movement, high on enthusiasm, attracted to easy fix and short on intelligence.
Barry McGuire's Eve of Destruction
And indeed, much in this song was of direct relevance to Australia at this time. Because conscription was introduced into Australia in the 1960s. As such conscription saw young men at the age of 20 - at this time too young to vote as the voting age was 21, being sent off to an Asian War, namely Vietnam, to fight and die and not even have any vote in it. - ie. They were considered moral and old enough to kill, but perhaps not moral enough and certainly not old enough , and, mature enough to have the responsibility to vote.