In July 1989 the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Libertad Australia brought conservative luminaries, Bernard Levin, Paul Johnson, Michael Novak and Peter Berger to Australia to proclaim the achievements of capitalism and to denounce ‘collectivism’. Hummer managed to secrete an observer into this cabal. Cleverly disguised as a Goulburn grazier this secret agent was able to gain the confidence of the assembled businessmen, his tweed jacket and riding boots belying an otherwise Bolshevik exterior.
In the course of fulfilling his duties, the agent suffered a blow to the head. Concussion seems to have caused him to submit the following report, apparently deluded that the revolution did occur in 1919. Regrettably the report’s quality is no better than the miles of tittle-tattle in Australian Archives written by sleuths about people who were friends of your’s and mine.
AUSTRALIAN PEOPLE’S EXTRAORDINARY COMMISSION AGAINST COUNTERREVOLUTION AND INTERNAL SUBVERSION ‘D Branch’
12th July, 1989
Dear Mr. Richards,
I have the honour to report that at 0.930 hours on Tuesday the 11th day of July 1989, I was in attendance at the so-called ‘Achievements of Liberell Democracy conference’ at the Hilton Hotel, 259 Pitt Street. I took up my position at the rear of the main ballroom, ensuring that my vision was unencumbered and my shorthand notebook at the ready.
The types who wandered in were archetypal bourgeois (rough proportions 25%:haute, 75%:petit) and a motley crew they were too. Suspiciously counterrevolutionary. I surmised that they were of the same political persuasion as those flunkeys who formed the NEW GUARD APECACIN file 1931/10003) some years ago. It’s a pity big Bill MacKay isn’t around any longer because he certainly knew a thing or two out how to treat subversives.
A very shoddy video with a raucous sound track and triumphal flourishes began the day, after which a podgy man who admitted to being economist (Refer to Detective-Inspector Wheelwright. I thought this ct had been outlawed under People’s Directive 12B against bourgeois incantations) but who had trouble pronouncing words of more than one syllable (especially ‘dynamism’) introduced a bespectacled English person named LEVIN or LEWIN or LEWIS who said how pleased he was about credit card overuse and how he was not worried about the ozone layer because one ENTREPRENEUR (refer to file: has this person ever lived Australia?) was going to fill it.
The day was full of this putrid nonsense, offensive to any clean living Australian and quite frankly the place seemed to be crawling with confessed economists. Successive speakers including one KOJAK who for some reason was using the nom-de-plume of BURGER went on and on with this sort of thing, until I began to lose the will to live. Words like proactive’ and ‘mythic deprivation’ will give you some sense of the peculiar jargon the self-confessed economists used and it is no exaggeration to report that remarks like ‘inequality is the engine of prosperity’ and ‘no one seems to be willing to die for their company’ and “today is the intellectual equivalent of the Adelaide Grand Prix’ were actually said. I know that in the past I may have been guilty of embellishing some evidence but in this case I am reporting accurately. Not even you, Mr. Richards, could invent that one JOHNSON, or JOHNSTONE would say that the tenth commandment of the capitalist ought to be to promote ‘beauty’. It does seem a little vague.
After each session, people the podgy man called ‘young ladies’ collected slips of paper on which the confessed economists may or may not have written questions. PODGY (not to be confused with a Balmain footballer who hits as hard as big Bill) then proceeded to read them out over the public address system. I noted that my own questions: ‘Why do I feel that I am at a Nuremburg rally?’ and ‘Whose fault is it that none of be phones work in the foyer? The state’s or private enterprise?’ were not read out though I did not complain for fear of blowing my cover.
Nevertheless that old anti-democratic tendency ‘D Branch’ has long noted in these self-confessed economists still seems to be present and wouldn’t it be great to bring back Big Bill MacKay. Just ask DE GROOT. (APECACIN file 1932/) Whooshka!
At both lunch and dinner I endeavoured to elicit responses from the economists present and cleverly attempted to draw them out on a number of issues relevant to the people’s extraordinary commission against counterrevolution and internal subversion. One solicitor, an inveterate letter writer to the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (APECACIN file 1919/86532 – 1989/8975438) on the subject of former girl friends stealing his socks, spent a great deal of time talking about steam trains. A tall man with a long neck and an exuberant moustache who dabbled in foreign exchange told me the day had been a spiritual experience for him. I noted among those present many people who have come to the notice of ‘D Branch’ – BISHOP, B., NILE, F., LEARD, J., COLEMAN, P., BROWNING, B., COLEBATCH, H., HENDERSON, G., PAUL, J.B. were among tbe name tags I recorded. (These to be added to files.)
After dinner a Melbourne professor, G. BLAINEY or BLARNEY, spoke about how he wished he could return Australia to the way Victoria was between 1850 and 1890 because after 1890 came the Labor Party and the welfare state. I was under the impression that there was also a Depression but as you well know my memory is not very good for dates or facts.
CONCLUSION: nothing to worry about here but the organising authority, LIBERTAD, is worthy of further investigation. Smacks (no pun intended!) of that old AIR AMERICA scam and perhaps the Langley mob are up to their old tricks again.
I await further instructions.
Senior Inquiry Officer.
[Readers puzzled by this strange piece and wanting to appreciate its somewhat less than Swiftian level of humour would do well to read Ric Throssell’s My father’s son. Most of the ‘jokes’ are Petrovian – ed.]