|Issue No 60||30 June 2000|
Letters to the Editor
None the Wiser for History
I have just attempted to read Elizabeth Faue's article on Australian Labour History. I say "attempted" because I couldn't for the life of me understand what she was on about!
This article reminds me of the structuralist fantasies which I had to read as a history undergraduate in the late 70s/ early 80s. I mean, we've had a number of fashions since then - post-structuralism, semiotics and deconstructionism among them - but they all have one thing in common: they reduce people's understanding, rather than enhance it. And of course the language becomes a guarantee of membership of an exclusive club. The only difference between this club and that of the Masons is at least the Masons are more honest: Masonic language isn't supposed to be understood by the uninitiated.
What does, "'Community' in particular has served as a rough equivalent traditional solidarities and communal sentiments, one pole of the dichotomy of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft" bloody well MEAN? It gives me the absolute shits to think that supposedly progressive history written about working people is written in such a way that a working person couldn't understand it. I can't, and I've got a qualification in the field!
Workers Online performs a valuable function for all union members, explaining and reporting on issues that are often either not reported, or reported in a biassed way. I don't think that articles such as this one assist in serving that function; it simply reproduces elitist "history", and nobody is the wiser. Perhaps historians are happy about that - I suspect not, given the hammering they've been taking in academia.
I'd like to read more articles on labour history on W/O; but this aint one of them. Oh, and even if was interested enough to look at the book, I'm none the wiser, because the review neglected to mention its title!
National Industrial Officer
Interview: Turning Tides
ACTU President Sharan Burrow reflects on the disappearance of the middle class and what the union movement can do about it
Unions: Fear and Loathing in Wollongong
For four days this week, too much unionism was barely enough. We bring you the highs and lows from behind the scenes and inside the bars of this week’s ACTU Congress.
Politics: The Group Hug
Opposition leader Kim Beazley came, saw and conga-ed. Here's what he said to the ACTU Congress.
History: Unions and Family Trees
Trade union records may not be the first port of call for a beginning family historian, but down the track a little, these records could bring to life an ancestor who previously was just a name printed on the page.
International: Fiji Bans Lifted
Fiji employers are expected to start reinstating all their workers over the next week, now that Australian union bans have been lifted at the request of the local union leadership.
Review: Room to Manoeuvre
Full employment with a highly skilled well-paid workforce is a realistic goal for Australia, despite the supposed constraints of globalisation.
Satire: Satan Subpoenaed To Cricket Inquiry
The King Commission of Inquiry into cricket match-fixing yesterday heard evidence from Satan that he never influenced Hansie Cronje to accept bribes.
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