Published 27 October 2009 · Main Posts Talking Politics Alec Patric I travelled Europe a long time ago. Landed in London but my time in England was brief. I went to France, Spain and Germany. Only really felt like spending a lot of time in Italy. I met a man in Naples who took me to a pizzeria. He asked me how long Australia had been around, and I told him a little over two hundred years. Well, he said, this pizzeria has been around longer than that. On the wall the pictures of a family holding pizza paddles moved from full colour, to uncertain colour, to black and white, to sepia, to murky experiments in photography. Outside there were buildings that seemed occupied by Communists and others by Anarchists, but were simply community centres. I went to watch a film with him, and before the film, struggled through a massive march campaigning for peace. When we walked out of the movie, a Fascist march was moving through the same area. In that pizzeria the Neapolitan surprised me by guessing that I was an Anarchist. We hadn’t even talked politics. I asked him what the deal was with Italy. It seemed everyone was crazy with politics. I asked him why there seemed to be so much corruption and confusion in Italian politics. He said they had yet to institutionalize corruption like other countries. Whatever the reason, it still seemed pretty fucked up. I suppose his guess amazed me because where I came from we never declared ourselves unless we couldn’t help it. We didn’t fly banners from buildings proclaiming our ideals. We probably never will. But occasionally I wonder whether people who look like they’re concerned with nothing more than footy scores or rising real-estate prices might have secret ideals no one has guessed at. We might not go on as many marches as the Italians though I really do wonder what we stand for. But you can’t ask that kind of question on the concourse of Australian society without seeming like a wanker. Of course there are these kinds of blogging forums, which you are a part of just by reading this post, but magazines like Overland are rare in declaring a firm position in Australia’s political spectrum. These politicised areas remain discreet regions of our cultural conscience. Meanwhile the country continues along a course that does not change through successive governments, whether they be nominally left or right. The question for those of us concerned with that direction is how we open up a discourse on the actual political agenda of this country. Whatever way we choose to define ourselves politically, it seems the next step in our social evolution must be to move our representational democratic model to an activated agenda setting society. We need not follow the Italians into their somewhat hysterical political climate but I would actually like to see a few public buildings rolling out political banners here and there. I wouldn’t mind more room on the streets of our suburbs for people to come out freely and talk about their ideals and thoughts on our country’s future. It’d be a change to the pennants and flags of companies and corporations that we currently see draped over our city buildings, besides each major road and in every public space they can find to put up their propaganda. Alec Patric AS Patric is the award-winning author of The Rattler & other stories (Spineless Wonders, 2011), Las Vegas for Vegans (Transit Lounge, 2012) and Bruno Kramzer (Finlay Lloyd, 2013). More by Alec Patric Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 25 May 202326 May 2023 · Main Posts The ‘Chinese question’ and colonial capitalism in New Gold Mountain Christy Tan SBS’s New Gold Mountain sets out to recover the history of the Gold Rush from the marginalised perspective of Chinese settlers but instead reinforces the erasure of Indigenous sovereignty. Although celebrated for its multilingual script and diverse representation, the mini-TV series ignores how the settlement of Chinese migrants and their recruitment into colonial capitalism consolidates the ongoing displacement of First Nations peoples. First published in Overland Issue 228 15 February 202322 February 2023 · Main Posts Self-translation and bilingual writing as a transnational writer in the age of machine translation Ouyang Yu To cut a long story short, it all boils down to the need to go as far away from oneself as possible before one realizes another need to come back to reclaim what has been lost in the process while tying the knot of the opposite ends and merging them into a new transformation.