The United Patriots Front page boasts in excess of a hundred thousand likes, which guarantees its content a substantial readership. A clip in which Cottrell whines about his legal travails has been shared a stunning 600,000 times; another in which he blames Islam for the recent tragedy in Melbourne’s Bourke Street received 75,000 views and 1800 likes.
I’ve been at a few storytelling events in which adults bring in the diaries they kept as a teenager and laugh at the things they wrote. I laughed along, but with some sense of disquiet. There are limits to looking back on your direct experience – as you lived it then – with a jovial posture. Reading through my own old experiences would not be funny. My old diaries talk of a deep sense of misery and loneliness. Reading them aloud would be enacting a cruelty to a self that no longer exists but who I feel protective of, and sad for. I also don’t think it would be an ethical representation of a woman, nor of a person who lives with mental illness, nor of myself.
The three judges for this year’s competition – Stephanie Bishop, Aviva Tuffield and Tony Wheeler – have finished their blind judging and deliberation, and decided on a shortlist of nine outstanding stories with varying approaches to the theme.
For many of us, the US election of 8 November was the apogee of a year of regressions. Historical progress implies directionality, and 2016 was a leap into the dark as far as human history is concerned.
2016 should have us reaching back into the past for answers. To find out how both the Left and the mainstream Right got history so unfathomably wrong, we should delve into previous conceptions of historical progress.
1984 was the time of radical deregulation, ‘trickle down’ economics, extreme tax breaks for the rich and a freeze on wages. This was the year Margaret Thatcher identified trade union leaders as ‘the enemy within’. In March that year British miners went on strike and for the next 12 months, Thatcher’s government would deploy brutal state force to eventually break them, achieving a major victory for the neoliberal economic agenda.