Virtue

IF THE SPRING OF popular government in time of peace is virtue, the springs of popular government in revolution are at once virtue and terror: virtue, without which terror is fatal; terror, without which virtue is powerless. Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is therefore an emanation of virtue; it is not so much a special principle as it is a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our country's most urgent needs.

It has been said that terror is the principle of despotic government. Does your government therefore resemble despotism? Yes, as the sword that gleams in the hands of the heroes of liberty resembles that with which the henchmen of tyranny are armed. Let the despot govern by terror his brutalized subjects; he is right, as a despot. Subdue by terror the enemies of liberty, and you will be right, as founders of the Republic. The government of the revolution is liberty's despotism against tyranny. Is force made only to protect crime?

—Robespierre, Maximilien

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Explosives

THE MINING COMPANY RIO Tinto was recently responsible for the blasting of a set of highly significant caves in Juukan Gorge in the Hammersley Ranges. This was legal; Ministerial authority under Western Australian law gives consent to this kind of mining development, which can then not be held up in other courts. By contrast, Heritage Acts across the States protect non-Aboriginal cultural heritage more elaborately. In Sydney, the Sirius Building, whose redevelopment was, in a similar way, given direct consent by the Minister, was looked over by the Supreme Court, and saved from demolition. Plain racism explains a great deal of the distinction, but not everything.

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Work and life

AS IF IN REPLY to this blog's April Fools Day contribution to working-from-home advice and St Valentine's Day questions about clerical companionship, Michael Koziol of the Sydney Morning Herald has written in favour of offices and workplaces:

I think we tend to undervalue the social experience of seeing our colleagues: the lift encounters, the desk-side chats, the coffee runs. I suppose if we happily discard those things now it will only go to show how little they really meant all along. But we'll miss them, I suspect. They're much better than staring at a screen.

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Zombies

IT IS NO WONDER that zombies are such a fixture of the horror genre. To be reanimated after one's own death, both with and without the key elements of your identity, treated as a less-than-human shambling artefact and played either for revulsion or comedy---what could be more terrifying? If there is one constant in zombie stories, it's the fundamental indignity of the afterlife: their shambling, angry peacelessness. The zombies naturally want to eat or kill the living, and it's never really a surprise that they should want to. In the first reel of the film, it's always the present that calls upon the dead; a spell, perhaps, or a toxic gas, but the present is always being haunted by the past, and unable to understand its own culpability, without context, or deal with the consequences. If you aren't scared of your own identity becoming reanimated after your death, and used by selfish characters to further a plot-line not of your choosing, maybe you don't have enough imagination.

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What kind of grubs

ALAN JONES HAS ANNOUNCED his planned retirement and with his exit from our politics, both NSW and Australia will be a little bit better, a little bit cleaner, a little bit less self-satisfiedly hateful. You will read members of Parliament, celebrities, other members of the press, eulogising his career, paying tribute to a public man, or most predictably of all, describing him as complicated or ambiguous. It's all garbage. The man was uncomplicatedly, straightforwardly, the worst and most toxic public figure of Australia's last half-decade. Our political and cultural life will be better for his absence.

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