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Big Ideas -

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(generated from captions) Dott. He's the first Australian to

win the title since Horace Lindrum

1952. More news at midday with Ros win the title since Horace Lindrum in Childs.

This program is not subtitled This Program is Captioned Live THEME MUSIC I'm Tony Jones. Hello and welcome to Big Ideas. On today's show, the Clash of Civilisations Theory Peter Katzenstein attacks the rules of the Bible and what happens if you follow for a whole year. not just the Ten Commandments, ..and I mean all of them, and stoning adulterers, but also not shaving the beard just from A to Z. in our democracy But first, the role of the Senate has always been controversial. Paul Keating Back in 1992, the then Prime Minister as 'unrepresentative swill'. wrote off the entire Upper House provider of checks and balances While some see the Senate as vital as an obstructive group, while other regard it for purely political reasons. hindering the passage of legislation IQ Squared gave both sides a platform opening the argument with journalist, Annabel Crabb, in support of the proposition unrepresentative swill. that the Senate is Ladies and gentlemen, shall we? let's level with each other, Let's not pretend we don't all do it. the urge comes upon us. Once every three years, a Federal election campaign. It happens at the end of and debates and worms Four weeks of hard hats to end the blame game. and earnest, open-handed pleas through the election pamphlets Four weeks of having to dig a trench around the front door. forming a snow drift

to go into Woolies Four weeks of being unable a beret-wearing student activist without having to explain to on competition policy. exactly what your stance is Is it any surprise then alone in that ballot box, that when we find ourselves electorally naked, so to speak, of our unprotected intercourse at the very moment democratic process... with the Australian many of us do it. LAUGHTER in the House of Representatives, Having voted responsibly that Senate paper. we mischievously unfurl LAUGHTER and using just a few choice dabs, Grab that blunt little HB pencil, with the next six years. create merry hell LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE of excitement overtakes us. What a mad, juvenile rush Is it the size of the paper? Why is that? of its comic possibilities? Is it the sheer breadth Hmm, the Fishing Party... I like that nice Bob Brown. Hmm, the Greens!

LAUGHTER He has such kind eyes. Or what about Family First? than Family Last, those bastards! So much better sounding LAUGHTER Lecruse Cookware? Hmm... Australians for Affordable Pigeon Fanciers? Why not? vaguer sounding ones? Or what about those Keeping Australia Australian. Justice for All. Or Vote one - are so mischievous Five percent of us, roundabout, to vote below the line. that we actually take the opportunity Lecruse Cookware there, Family First here, back to you Mr Votes-for-Hamsters. do the Yogic Flying Over here to the guys who that one I met at University once and then very last who seemed to be a tosser. LAUGHTER the Australian Senate Ladies and gentlemen, of the Australian people. is not a true representation when we design it specifically How could it be, that we elect. to frustrate the governments of our national sense of humour It is an indulgence for self-sabotage. and our mordant talent

is where the representing's done, The Lower House, after all, where one vote out there translates into one 80,000th directly and neatly or Malcolm Turnbull. of Joe Hockey or Julia Gillard some of those one 80,000ths As you can understand, than others. are worth more in cash terms nothing so much But the Senate resembles as a gigantic chocolate wheel, over the limit. spun by someone concertedly 35 or so, give or take a few, 76 positions. Sure, we'll give out each to the major parties. That's where the fun comes in. But the last six spots? constitution That's where Australia's and its men, women of conscience in the spirit of pure farce come together they can make life to see just how difficult they just elected into government. for the poor bastards LAUGHTER of inveterate tall poppy choppers, We are after all, a nation a perfect opportunity, and the Senate gives us a government in the Lower House, having cast a vote to elect that has the very pleasing effect to cast a second vote immediately a peg or two. of taking the bastards down LAUGHTER that we've doled out Let's just review the punishment

to governments in the last 15 years. the '96 election We let John Howard win of Democrats and Greens but we kept a righteous plague in our back pockets. Cheryl Kernot In the Senate we gave him Industrial Relations reforms, to mess up his lavish goodies for Tasmania and Brian Harradine to extort of Telstra. in return for the privatisation the mad rorter from Queensland We also threw in Mal Colston, a family-sized bucket of KFC. who would do anything for LAUGHTER

We let Howard win again in 1998,

a few extra Democrats but this time we gave him got good and buggered up. just to make sure his GST by that stage bowed out, And because Mal Colston had from Queensland instead we bowled up a One Nation Senator who helped frustrate Media Ownership reforms. the Prime Minister's What about after the 2001 election? We shall decide who comes here they come. and the circumstances in which Whatever you reckon, John. was dealing with seven Democrats, By the end of that term, Mr Howard most of whom hated each other,

one Independent Labor, two Greens, one Independent Democrat, plus Brian Harradine and One Nation. We will decide who comes to your Senate, Mr Howard. And the Australian Senate post-2004 is one of the most intoxicating demonstrations of the Upper House's comic power. John Howard won outright control of the Senate in 2004 and what good did it do him? Head spinning from the exhilaration of the thing, he promptly enacted WorkChoices and in 2007, slipped neatly into the electoral grave he had thereby dug himself. Which just goes to show, even when you win the Senate, it still finds a way of tripping you up. LAUGHTER

It truly is the banana skin of the Australian Legislative System. And when it's not giving us comedy, it's giving us drama...or romance. Who could forget Gareth and Cheryl? LAUGHTER Or Meg and Natasha? Or Andrew Bartlett versus Jeannie Ferris One Democrat plus six bottles of cheap shiraz against one South Australian Senator, not as much of a lay down in misere as you might think. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm not arguing that the Senate is a waste of time or money. On the contrary, I think that the Senate is a precious national resource. Like the ABC, it's a federally subsidised source of entertainment and stress-release. LAUGHTER Plus, it's a potent work creation scheme for Tasmanians. LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE Why is it that Tasmania is in a perpetual state of internal warfare about the building of a new pulp mill?

Forget pulp mills! What Tasmania needs is another Senate. I mean, if you built it on the beautiful Tamar River and situated it downstream, the toxic outflows wouldn't even be that much of a problem. But let's not pretend, please, the joint is even vaguely democratic. The truly unrepresentative element of the Senate is not just that the smaller States get much more of a look-in so that one Senate vote in Tasmania, for instance, is worth in population terms, 14 New South Wales votes, it's that the Senate itself generates the tradition of turbo-charged cults of personality in which individuals tend, after a while, to make rather heroic assumptions about what constitutes a mandate. I mean, this is a legislative body in which Mal Colston, having been jacked-up on to the top of the Labor ticket in 1975

by a party taking revenge against Jo Bjelke-Petersen, could 11 years later decide that he was personally so invaluable to the people of Queensland that he could abandon the Labor party in a fit of peak about not being elected Deputy Speaker and go on to govern in his own right. A body in which Meg Lees, having been re-elected in 2001 BELL DINGS as the leader of the Australian Democrats, could calmly leave her party and decide that she would now operate as the self-styled leader of something she called The Australian Progressive Alliance, see my earlier remarks about suspiciously vague party names. Only in Australia could this sort of hilarity dictate the structure of our system of government. Only in Australia, where we take refugees from the Middle East and Asia who are doctors, surgeons, architects and engineers and make them drive Melbourne taxis, do we go even further taking people who should be driving Melbourne taxis and... LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE ..and giving them the balance of power. And I must admit I'm rather looking forward to hearing Bob Brown's imminent defence of a system which allows Steve Fielding having collected just 50,000-odd votes in Victoria could be elected to the Senate ahead of that Green's candidate, David Risstrom, who got 260,000 votes. Representative? A quarter of a million Victorians would probably wonder about that. Now I was going to introduce my other two speakers - BELL DINGS I'm about to be sat down, so I'm going to allowed them to introduce themselves, I warn you simply that Peter van Onselen wrote a doctoral thesis on the Senate and if you misbehave, he'll read aloud from it. LAUGHTER But my time is clearly at an end. Ladies and gentlemen, your Senate is a marvellous thing. Love it, enjoy it, watch it, bring popcorn, but never make the error of assuming that it represents you. APPLAUSE

I come to this debate today having worked in all the branches of government and having held the prejudices of all of them. I've worked for the Senate and I have felt the frustration

of executive domination of the Parliament and I've worked for the executive as well and I've been driven absolutely up the wall by an obstructionist Upper House. So I've actually lived both sides of this debate

and I can appreciate both sides of them very much. But the one thing that strikes me coming out of that experience, having felt both sides of it, is that although an Upper House may be mad, bad and endlessly frustrating, it is a profoundly important part of our democratic system. Upper Houses dissipate and moderate power of governments. Without them, governments have far too much power

for their own good and for the good of the people. Now this is the main point that I want to make today but before I elaborate on it, I want to just briefly divert to the actual topic of the debate.

For my part, I have never regarded the Senate

or Upper Houses generally as swill. I've always thought they're just a little bit more like breakfast cereal. You have your nuts, your flakes, a few fruit loops, LAUGHTER a soupcon of riboflavin, some iron and enough insoluble bran to really give you... LAUGHTER ..a very healthy digestive system. So, not swill but a very balanced, healthy diet.

Unrepresentative, are they?

Well, no actually, as Annabel has pointed out, they are frighteningly representative. When Harrold Carswell was rejected as a nominee for the US Supreme Court on the grounds that he was mediocre, a US Senator protested that he would make the US Supreme Court far more representative. LAUGHTER He said, there are an awful lot of mediocre people out there... LAUGHTER ..and they need representation! Yes, the Senate is a very representative chamber. It has one extreme and it has the other. You've got gay greenies, you've conservative curmudgeons and you've got men who like to dress up, as bottles. How much more representative could you get, honestly?

Now, having said that, I should say that when I did work there, the Senators that I did work with were basically your honest, hard-working, run of the mill, good people that you meet in every form of life. Maybe they were Melbourne taxi drivers in the past but there's no reason why they shouldn't be members of the Senate. Now my colleagues will elaborate further on the representativeness of the Senate. What I want to do today is to focus upon the sentiment beneath Paul Keating's jibe about unrepresentative swill. That is that we don't need a Senate, that it's an irritating obstruction of government power, and I'd like to turn that around

and say, yes, the Senate can be irritating and it can obstruct the exercise of government power, but that is precisely why we need it. The Senate's role has always been, and was intended to be, a break upon absolute government power. It was initially envisaged as a sort of a federalism break on government by being a States House. But it never really fulfilled that role as such. Instead it's applied the breaks by forcing delay in the enactments of statutes so that they can be given a public airing, and can be reviewed, and potentially improved. Now there is nothing more dangerous than giving a government the power just to whip a bill through the Parliament immediately

without any challenge or any opportunity for public debate and scrutiny. You end up with knee-jerk responses to perceived crises that are badly drafted, have unintended consequences and are usually unnecessarily oppressive.

The mere existence of a Senate, even if it does nothing else except have men wandering around dressed as bottles, forces delay, reflection and moderation, and that is its value to Australia.

Now the Senate is also a fantastic excuse for politicians and public servants. Now if you're elected to government and your party policy may commit you to implementing some kind of, well let's just call them bizarre or extreme policies, all you have to do is say to your party members, "Mate, we could never get that through Senate - those unrepresentative swill!" And then you can just happily ignore your party policy for the next three years. The Labor party's been doing it for donkey's years! Honestly, if you're in government, you just don't want control of the Senate. Ask John Howard. Winning control of the Senate

and actually having to implement your party's policies without compromise or moderation, is just a recipe for disaster, both for the people upon whom these laws are inflicted

and for the government at the polls.

WorkChoices. That's really all you need to say. Also, if you're a public servant, the Senate is a marvellous source of protection. If your minister wants to do something which is frankly insane,

you can't call it courageous these days because the ministers are on to that one. So instead you simply say, "Oh, Minister, look, you just won't get that one through the Senate. You know, those crazy Greens, they won't appreciate it and they'll stop it

so why don't we do something else?" Or, if your minister wants to do something that's completely dodgy you remind them of Senate estimates committees. "How would that play in Senate estimates, Minister? I think we might have some perception problems there. What about we do something else?" Works every time. Senate estimates committees are particularly effective at frightening ministers and public servants. Now it doesn't really matter whether they ask the right questions or crucify the right person. The mere threat of them is enough to spoil the more creative plans of ministers before they even hit estimates.

In reality, having sat through many of them, estimates committee hearings are just excruciatingly boring, but in amongst the boringness there is this tension, this fear, that grips both ministers and public servants. And that is effective in bringing governments to account

and preventing them from actually proposing policies or proposing actions that would lead them into strife. The Senate is at its most productive, however, when it reviews bills and conducts inquiries into matters of public importance. Senate committees give bills the type of scrutiny that governments fail to give them. They often get experts in to provide evidence in submissions and public hearings about how the bill is likely to operate and what problems are likely to arise. Although party politics often rules, it's surprising how often problems are identified by Senate committees and are fixed in those bills before they are enacted. We get better laws because of the Senate committee process. The Senate makes government accountable. It improves the quality of our laws. Even if it reduces the quantity of those laws by rejecting some bills, that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's incumbent upon governments, when their bills are blocked, to come back with a new proposal that's different and better. Taking into account the concerns of others can often improve the outcomes. It takes effort, but it's worth it. Whatever you think of the Senate, be it breakfast cereal or swill, it is representative. It represents all of us and our common desire to limit governmental power, improve legislation and make government more accountable.

Only the likes of Paul Keating could grumble at that. BELL DINGS The Senate is not representative swill. The Senate represents the people's will. Thank you. APPLAUSE That was Anne Twomey arguing against the proposition that the Senate is unrepresentative swill. To see the rest of that very entertaining event including arguments from senators Nick Sherry and Bob Brown. Join me tomorrow right here on ABC1 at 11:00am for Big Ideas Extended Mix. Well next up, in the early 1990s, Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington wrote the Clash of Civilisations, an influential theory that seemed to be borne out by the events of 9/11. However, delivering this lecture at the University of Sydney, another world-renowned political scientist, Peter Katzenstein, argued that the clash of civilisations theory is simplistic and untrue. Rather than being homogenous groups of similar races and religions, civilisations are pluralistic and highly diverse within themselves.

What's more, he argues, history shows they're more likely to engage with each other than clash. Civilisations are based on urban forms of life and the division of labour, by which urban elites extract resources from peasants. There are two basic views on civilisation. I argue here for a pluralist view. that make civilisations embedded in a global ecumene. This ecumene describes a universal system of knowledge and practices that differs from a competitive international state system,

reinforcing civilisational unity. At the centre of civilisational complexes we typically find religious traditions which at times intermingle with literary ones. An alternative view of civilisations holds that they are unitary cultural programs organised hierarchically around uncontested core values that yield unambiguous criteria for judging good conduct. This view was a European invention of the 18th century and in the 19th century it was enshrined in the doctrine of one standard of civilisation. That standard was grounded in race, ethnic affiliation, religion, and a firm belief in the superiority of European civilisation over all others. The distinction between civilised and uncivilised peoples is not specific to the European past. It enjoys broad support today among many conservative supporters of Huntington's thesis of the Clash of Civilisations, a book that was translated into 39 languages. It is also held by many liberals who are committed to improving the rule of law and standards of good governance. Furthermore, the unitary argument is widely used by non-Europeans in their analysis of civilisational politics. Everywhere and at all times barbarians have knocked on the doors of civilisations. Civilisations, I argue here, are pluralist. Islam, for example, does not cohere around religious fundamentalist values. Instead, just like China and America, Islam experiences conflicts over contested truth reflecting its internal pluralism and its external context. Since it is a vast subject, let me offer only a few illustrations from this case, leaving aside similar evidence easily adduced for Europe, India, Japan, Africa and Russia. Islam is instructive because it illustrates a territorial, loosely integrated and de-centralised civilisational complex. Furthermore, Islam's stateless polity is thought to be antagonistic to both China and America. The first major scholar of civilisations was the 15th century Islamic scholar Ibn Khaldoun, who sought to adjudicate among the claims of different strains of Islam, which existed then as they exist today. In the spirit of Khaldoun, the founder of modern Islamic studies in the United States, Marshall Hodgson, has counted the opening line in Kipling's famous Ballad of East and West, "Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet."

According to Hodgson, Islam belongs neither to East or West. A truly global civilisation, Islam is a bridge between both. In the past, the Indian Ocean was for this global civilisation

the centre for the blending of different Islamic traditions including Persian, South-East Asian, Arabian, Ottoman and South Asian. Today, this rich legacy continues undiminished. Hyphenated Islam is in the existence of a rich polyglot Afro-Islam, a vigourous debate over Euro-Islam, and a pragmatic Islam in South-East and Central Asia, contrasts with an internally deeply divided Islam in the Middle East and in North Africa. Unitary conceptions assume that civilisations are culturally cohesive and that their collective identities are unchanging. Because of both the recent and the distant history of the West, this is implausible for both questions of security and political economy. Recently, after World War II,

the most determined enemy of the West, Germany,

was firmly integrated into a coalition of Western civilised democracies that were seeking to stem the tide of Eastern uncivilised autocracies. Furthermore, in the second half of the 20th century, despite the importance of Anglo-American models, varieties of capitalist democracies have remained a distinctive feature

of the West.

In contrast to this pluralist view, Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilisations restates the old, unitary thesis for our times. His became arguably the most influential book published on international relations since the end of the Cold War. For Huntington, civilisations are coherent, consensual, invariant and equipped with a state-like capacity to act. Huntington succeeded brilliantly in his objective of providing a new paradigm for looking at world politics

after the end of the Cold War. His correct anticipation of 9/11 gave the book a claim to validity that helps account for its continued relevance. Less noticed in public than in academic discourse is the fact that Huntington greatly overstates his case. Numerous analyses have established, beyond any reasonable doubt, that clashes occur primarily within rather than between civilisations. Furthermore, the book's appeal has not been undermined by the failure of the second of its main claims. Since the end of the Cold War, the relations between the Sinic and American civilisations are summarised best by terms such as "encounter" or "engagement" rather than "clash". Excuse me. In re-thinking civilisational analysis, however,

it would be a big mistake to focus only on Huntington's writing. Huntington insisted on a unitary conception of civilisations but accepted multiple standards of proper conduct in a world of numerous civilisations. Liberals follow an inverse logic. Unlike Huntington, they are often more willing to acknowledge the existence of diverse cultural programs in a given civilisation. And unlike Huntington, they have a difficult time letting go of the notion of a single standard of good international and inter-civilisational conduct. This is illustrated by vigourous and extended debates over failing states, standards of good governance, property rights and transparent markets. On all of these issues and many others liberal arguments often proceed from the unquestioned assumption of the existence of a single standard of good conduct. In liberal American and European public discourse, the West thus is widely referred to in the singular - a universal, substantive form of perfectability that is integrating all parts of the world based on the growth of Western reason. A very similar anti-Western counter-discourse also steeped in Western reasoning, exists in Asia. The voices proclaiming the dawn of Asia's civilisational primacy may shift from yesterday's Japan to today's China and tomorrow's India. But these voices are growing louder. Like Orientalism, Occidentalism characterises East and West in the singular. I argue here that the internal pluralism of civilisations is reinforced by a larger context in which they are embedded. That context is not the international system or global markets, frequently deployed concepts that suffer from excessive sparseness and abstraction. It is instead a global ecumene,

that expresses not a common standard but a loose sense of shared values entailing often contradictory notions of diversity in a common humanity. This loose sense of shared values centers on the material and psychological well-being of all humans. Well-being and the rights of all humans are no longer the prerogative or product of any one civilisation or constellation of civilisations or political structures. Instead, technology serving human well-being and norms of human rights are de-territorialised processes that have taken on a life of their own and provide the script for all civilisations and all polities. This ecumene does not specify the political route towards implementation. It does offer a script, often not adhered to, that provides everywhere today the basis for political authority and legitimacy. All polities claim to serve the well-being of individuals. And all individuals are acknowledged to have inherent rights. The existence of these processes enhances the pluralism that inheres in civilisations.

It undercuts both the imperialism of imposing single standards and the relativism of accepting all political practices. That was political scientist, Peter Katzenstein, addressing an audience at the University of Sydney. Watch him develop his argument further on our website: The Great Potato Famine in the mid-19th century had a profound effect on the lives of poor people in Ireland and Britain. A million people starved to death in Ireland alone and more than a million faced lives of extreme poverty and hardship. The plight of the poor became a popular theme in the art of the day and here at the Art Gallery of NSW, curator Richard Beresford examines how poverty was represented in Victorian painting and drawing. But much the most important picture in the entire lecture

would have to be this one. It would have to be Richard Redgrave's The Seamstress, which was originally painted in 1844, exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1844, but the original picture exhibited in 1844 has disappeared, and Redgrave painted a repetition in 1846 and this is the one we're going to be seeing when the Victorian Visions exhibition opens at the end of May, 20th of May. And why is this such a significant picture? Well, um, if you think about it, artists had not actually confronted the issues of human misery in paintings before. This is a political painting. It's a campaigning picture about the plight of needle women in the 1840s which was a horrible social problem being investigated at that time by a Parliamentary commission which presented its report in 1843, and in various books and articles which appeared at that time, including one entitled Slaves of the Needle, which also appeared in 1843 in a periodical called The Pictorial World, which was a particularly stinging use of the term "slaves" of course because the slave trade had only quite recently been abolished with the great enthusiasm and support of the British populus who were very, very sensitive, therefore, to the idea that slavery still existed in some form in their own population. But it did. And, the, the, the... the one, the one piece of writing which actually brought that to everybody's attention in 1843, appeared in the Christmas issue of Punch. And there it is. It's The Song of the Shirt and it was written by a poet called Thomas Hood.

This is actually what it looked like in the Christmas issue of Punch 1843. And it was the poem which totally grabbed the attention of the whole of the British populace. Everybody read it. First of all it was published in Punch, then it was repeated in the Times and in other journals.

And everybody was talking about this poem because it suddenly struck a nerve. And I'll just read you the opening stanzas - "With fingers weary and worn, With eyelids heavy and red, A woman sat, in unwomanly rags, Plying her needle and thread, Stitch! Stitch! Stitch! In poverty, hunger, and dirt, And still with a voice of dolorous pitch, She sang the Song of the Shirt." And actually, when Redgrave exhibited his picture, he added a stanza from the poem to the description of the picture in the catalogue. And the stanza which he used was, "Oh, Men, with Sisters dear! Oh, men, with Mothers and Wives! It is not linen you're wearing out, but human creatures' lives!" And it's very, very difficult for us, now, today to understand the impact this poem had at the time. But it was based on an actual court case, which had taken place,

in which one of these poor seamstress ladies, had been taken to court for theft and it emerged from the proceedings that she was working a 14-hour day and that she was earning a maximum of seven shillings a week. But, you have to remember that these seamstresses, many of them went blind, and if they hadn't actually already gone blind they were probably on their way to going blind. This particular seamstress is working until the early hours of the morning. As the clock shows, it's half past two in the morning, there's no light, there's just a candle to work by.

And any fault in the work that she does is going to be taken out by her employer and her wages are going to be docked accordingly. So the idea of her actually receiving a maximum wage of 70 cents a week, I don't know what it translates to in actual money,

is inconceivable. She would certain have received a good deal less. She probably had a family to support. And here is the morsel of food which she's been eating

while she's working into the early hours of the morning. So it was a desperate, desperate situation and it was one which Redgrave's painting was specifically intended to draw attention to. If you read on The Song Of The Shirt you'd discover that this girl

actually had come to London from the country, and she had lived a beautiful, fresh and innocent life amongst the fields. And so this plant, this dead plant in a pot on the window sill is probably intended as a reference to her former life. There's the engraving which appeared at the time which is interesting because if you look very closely you'll discover there are a number of differences. So this engraving is probably the one which was made of the original painting, now lost, which was exhibited in 1844. And here, funnily enough, the clock stands at half past one rather than half past two - just a subtle change which the artist thought he would improve in the second version. And this second version, which has only just been discovered in the research on this exhibition, was actually painted for a man called Lord Northwick, who lived in this grand Palladian house called Thurlston House in Cheltenham. And it's a very interesting point because of course, these pictures, the first thing you want to know about them, really, is what area of society they were painted for, because the painting of peasants, the painting of very very destitute, poor people, belongs in a way to an aristocratic tradition. It belongs to the tradition of Teniers and to genre painting, Ostade and the 17th Century and so on. Pictures which are of exquisite quality but of very poor people and which were collected by the rich. And in a funny way, that does seem to be what happened with Redgrave's Seamstress. Although one would not necessarily expect it. And, ah, this picture is so important, really, because although John's version of it was exhibited proudly in the gallery of Thurlston House, the engraving was widely distributed and many, many artists painted pictures which were inspired by Redgrave's Seamstress. Here's one Anna Blunden. This is one by Frank Holl. This is a man called Daniels. This is a Charles West Cope. They are all variations on a theme of the solitary worker, or in some cases with a friend or in a group, working away sewing in a Garret.

And the most surprising, perhaps of all, of these derivatives, is a marble sculpture by Marshall Wood, which, in a way, rather, loses the point of the destitute quality of the seamstress, but this is the Song of the Shirt by Marshall Wood, and funnily enough, this statue was in the collection of the Art Gallery of NSW. So we did have a Song of the Shirt here from a very early stage, but this is one of the things that has been disposed of. Why was it disposed of? Well, we've excessioned a lot of things over the course of time, largely because of lack of storage, and also to do with conditions and so on and so forth. It's one of the aspects of the story of the gallery, but it'll come up again once or twice in this lecture series. Here are other derivatives, because in paintings,

there's a tendency for artists to be a little politer in their treatment of these, um, er, ugly subjects. And here are, in prints, the often sometimes humorous, but much bitterer comments which you get. Here is a contrast by John Leach made between needle money and pin money, so the life of the seamstress set against the life of the maid. This is one I particularly like here, which is another cartoon from Punch, which is an imaginary exhibition which takes place in China of various English, um, types, social types - there are aristocrats, there are artists,

and there's the seamstress.

And you can see she's exhibited in case four, and this is the catalogue of the exhibition written for its Chinese audience in the mid-1840s. The caption, which is highly ironic, reads, "The women who live by the needle amount to many thousands and are easily known by the freshness of their complexions and the cheerfulness of their manners. Indeed, nothing shows the humanity of the barbarians in a more favourable light than the great attention which is paid by the rich and the high, to the comforts of their milliners, dressmakers and seamstresses. Women of noble title constantly refuse an invitation to parties, rather than press too hardly on the time of those who have to make their dresses." By contrast, on the right, is another cartoon from Punch which takes up a line in Thomas Hood's poem in which it appears that the seamstress is sewing not just a shirt, but also a shroud - her own shroud. And so, by this terrible employment she has, she's working herself into an early grave.

And that grave might have come in many ways, and this is - er, one of the most likely, is that a person in the position of the seamstress would've been turned to prostitution, prostitution would've led to birth, to illegitimacy, and ultimately to suicide, or infanticide. These were both two terrible social problems of the period, very little dealt with by artists, of course, but here, dealt with in a very rare picture by GF Watts, again, in the Watts Museum in Compton. Ah, with a wonderful Whistler in the background. Look at this - this is incredible. This is late 1840s and Watts is already doing Whistler. But this is the story of a poor woman who has put an end to her own life as was also represented by George Cruikshank in this unfortunate engraving from a series know as The Drunkard's Children.

The actual title of the engraving is wonderful - it's,

"The poor girl - homeless, friendless, deserted and gin-mad, commits self-murder." They don't do titles like that today. LAUGHTER And it comes from a series called The Drunkard's Children, by George Cruikshank, which is about a family torn apart by alcohol. Now one of the answers was, of course, emigration. And here is a print which shows the idea of emigration, as it appeared in its most cheerful light. Here is where we are, on a street corner, with chimneys belching smoke in the background, in a state of destitute poverty. "This is how we will be when we get there." And she's with a family, all around a table groaning with food, palm trees seen through the window, and so on and so forth. So this was the image in the minds of those who set off on that frightening trip saying goodbye to Old England, as they do in Richard Redgrave's painting The Emigrant's Last Sight of Home, in the Tate, in London,

and ending up, of course, as in Ford Madox Brown's incredibly famous picture, The Last of England. Now, I don't want to go into this picture in too much detail, but I just want, at this point in the lecture, to introduce a couple of works by Ford Madox Brown. Perhaps, particularly, just to mention this very, very important picture in Manchester which does belong, in a way, in a lecture about poverty, because it features, in the foreground, this poor group here of a motherless brood of which the elder daughter has taken on the task of looking after the younger children. The little baby in her arms has a black ribbon at its shoulder, which indicated that it's in mourning for its dead mother. Clearly, the father has either disappeared or died in some way and this little group of children are obliged to look after themselves in a state of destitution. But around them is Ford Madox Brown's amazing allegory of work. "Work" is the title of the painting, and work is its subject in many, many different guises. And most particularly, it is the picture which puts on a pedestal and offers for our admiration the activities of the British navvy here, who is greatly respected throughout Europe for his capacity for hard work. But not only the navvy, but also on the right, here, the brain workers, as Ford Madox Brown called them, who are Carlyle and FD Maurice - Carlyle being the author whose works gave inspiration to the painting. So a remarkable work, and I'm going to come back later in this lecture

to the idea of the heroic status of the worker. That was Richard Beresford speaking at the Art Gallery of NSW and you'll find his lecture in full on our website: Well finally today, there are a lot of rules in the Bible which even the most religious of us no longer obey.

But what would happen if you did?

Journalist A.J. Jacobs spent a year attempting to adhere to even the most archaic of biblical laws. He didn't wear clothes made from mixed fibres, he avoided menstruating women. He even tried to stone an adulterer. Here, talking at the Commonwealth Club of California, he recalls his year of living biblically. He's with writer and broadcaster, David Ewing Duncan. My first question, A.J., is having done a little bit of experimentation myself - and this is a question that I get all the time -

why? Well, I am delighted to be talking to a fellow self-experimenter. I guess it comes down to the fact that I think it's one of the best ways to learn about a topic. But even more than that, it's one of the best ways to improve your life. So for instance, there's a project I did

called The Year of Living Biblically, where I tried to follow all the rules of the Bible for a year, and I mean all of them - not just the Ten Commandments, but also not shaving the beard, and stoning adulterers - just from A to Z, so -

and it was a wild year - fascinating, I learned a lot,

but I've also taken away so much from it that has changed my life for good. Just to give you one quick example, Thanksgiving, gratitude -

I was saying during my biblical year all these prayers of thanksgiving because that's what the Bible tells us to do. And I started to realise

there are hundreds of things that go right every day

that we just gloss over and take for granted and we focus the three or four that go wrong.

So it radically changed my perspective and that's why I do these things is almost to get a fresh perspective on life. What's really going on here, A.J? I mean, this is one journalist to another here, OK, and we'll share this with others but - I mean, ultimately, we're out to get a great story, that's what we do, right? Right. I mean, was that your original motivation

but you've taken this almost to the level on an addict at this point. I do. I feel I am addicted. Well, of course, a lot of it is that I am a writer and as we were talking before backstage neither of us had a particularly outrageous childhood, you know, I'm not the son of carnie workers or, you know, my father had an occasional glass of wine, so I'm not gonna be writing about my childhood but I want to make my life interesting by diving into these fascinating topics and living them. So, certainly the writing is a motivation but changing my life is equally a strong goal. Is that something that developed out of this? I know, I read that the first experiment you did, if you will, was several years ago and involved La-Z-Boy chairs Right. Tell us about that. This was sort of when I first glimpsed the possibility of this kind of writing. I worked at a magazine called Entertainment Weekly that covered movies and TV and La-Z-Boy had just come out with the most sophisticated chair

in chair history. It was - a refrigerator was in there, and a butt massager and everything but an outboard motor. So the idea was to push the limits of luxury and leisure to its absolute limits

and have me sit in the chair for 24 hours watching TV. And actually, that was not the most illuminating experiment in the history of experiments, but it did give me a sense of this type of journalism

and I'd always been a fan of George Plimpton and there's a long history of - there's the book Black Like Me where the writer chemically darkened his skin and went around 1950s South to see what it was like to be a black man. So there's a long history of this type of journalism and I just don't -

I feel so lucky to be able to make a living like this. (LAUGHS) Touche. Yes, exactly. And you mentioned in the book Nellie Bly as well

and for people that don't know Nellie Bly she was a 19th Century writer who I think may have invented this although I'm sure if I go back in history someone else undoubtedly did it. But among other things

she took Jules Verne's book Around the World in 80 Days literally and, I'm not sure - did she make it in 80 days? I believe she did. That's right. But then she did something that was a bit dangerous - she had herself committed to the New York City Insane Asylum and this is in 1887 and that was not a pretty place at that time. She exposed the abuses, yeah. She was really a remarkable woman. I can't believe there's not a movie about her. There we go. Well, there's a couple of movies being made of your book but would you ever take that kind of dangerous route in this reporting? Most of what you're doing, I don't know - it might be psychically somewhat damaging at times which we'll get into but she really actually risked, potentially, her life 'cause of the way they treated people in those days and I was thinking, "would she get trapped in there?" Yeah, I know, it certainly was dangerous. As you say, I think my specialty is more the intellectually and socially dangerous so I don't put my - like George Plimpton got punched by a boxer - but I go and try to push these social situations to the extreme. And, you know, it can be pretty awkward and dangerous to my marriage as we were discussing backstage. We'll get to that in a minute but is there anything that you would not do? Oh sure, there's a lot. First of all, I have to get veto power from my wife so I get a lot of suggestions from readers on what I should do next and one suggested that I do all the positions in the Karma Sutra and write about that but my wife put the kibosh on that pretty quickly, which was OK by me, I actually did not want to do it, it seems like a lot of work, a lot of stretching that might be painful.

Potentially dangerous. That would be physically dangerous. So, yeah, there are certainly ones that I don't do. Wasn't that in exchange for giving your wife foot-rubs for a year? Yeah, that was sort of what we settled on.

I don't know who gets the best end of the bargain on that one. So, what I'd like to do here is talk about some of your stories and just fire some questions at you and the Bible - The Year of Living Biblically - did you actually stone any adulterers? I hope there are none here tonight. I don't see a pile of stones here.

I was able to stone one adulterer, yes. You were!? That's right. I was in Central Park at the time and I was wearing - at the time I was really trying to get into the biblical character so I had on my robes and my sandals and I had a huge beard and a man came up to me, an elderly man actually, he said, "Why are you dressed like that?" and I explained to him, I'm trying to follow everything in the Bible from the 10 Commandments right on down to stoning adulterers. And he said, "Well, I'm an adulterer, are you going to stone me?" And I said, "Well, yeah, that'd be great!" I mean, he offered. So then at that point I took out a handful of stones that I had been carrying around because I had been hoping to run into an adulterer for quite some time and this was sort of a lovely coincidence. And he actually was a very aggressive adulterer, he grabbed the stones out of my hand and threw them at my face. So I felt - an eye for an eye, the Hebrew scriptures say - I can throw one back at him. So that was how I stoned - and it was obviously a bizarre experience but it did allow me to wrestle with some of the more profound issues that I struggled with in the book because that was the whole idea of the book, was really to wrestle with these big issues like religion through an interesting point of view. And, you know, one of the big ones was how can the Bible be so wise and compassionate and wonderful in some places and so seemingly barbaric and atavistic in other places. So that was sort of the time when I really got to wrestle with that. And I guess we think of fundamentalists but you were sort of an extreme fundamentalist

because not everyone follows that stricture in the Bible. In fact, there's a certain selectivity, I guess,

with modern fundamentalists. Absolutely. That was what I found and that was one of the big themes of the book is that fundamentalists say that they are doing everything in the Bible literally, they're following everything, but they pick and choose, we all pick and choose from the Bible. And fundamentalists will say this is a bad thing, they'll say, "Oh, you're just practising cafeteria religion." but my response is, "What's wrong with cafeterias?" I've had some delicious meals at cafeterias. There's some very nice ones out there. So it's all about what you choose from the Bible,

the parts, what dishes you take out of the cafeteria, because in the Bible there's wonderful things about compassion, loving your neighbour, embracing the outcasts, but there's also a lot of sexism, a lot of homophobia. So it really is where you concentrate, you know, so we have to wrestle with the Bible ourselves. There's also a lot of smiting. Did you ever smite anyone? I never got around to smiting. I guess God is supposed to do it. Yeah, that's true, God is more of a smiter. Yeah.

And there's also - just one more question on that - how many oxen did you sacrifice? That was a difficult one - sacrificing the oxen. The closest I came actually was - part of the year I embedded myself with lots of different religious communities to see how they took the Bible literally, so I spent a lot of time with Hasidic Jews and evangelical Christians and I think I might be the first person to out-Bible-talk a Jehovah's Witness. That was very exciting 'cause he came over to my apartment and after 3.5 hours he looked at his watch and he was like, "I've gotta go. I can't take this anymore."

But, anyway, the closest thing to sacrifice

in modern day New York is a ritual that some Orthodox Jews practice where you take a live chicken and you sort of say your prayer and you actually hold it over your head and then the chicken is slaughtered in front of you. So that was the closest I came to sacrifice. That was journalist A.J. Jacobs discussing his book The Year of Living Biblically. He was at the Commonwealth Club of California. And that's all for today, hope you enjoyed the show. You can watch the rest of A.J. Jacobs' talk along with the complete versions of everything else from today's program on our website at: And I'll see you tomorrow at 11am right here on ABC1

for Big Ideas Extended Mix when IQ Squared debates the proposition that the Senate is unrepresentative swill. I'm Tony Jones, have a good afternoon. Closed Captions by CSI

This program is not subtitled This Program is Captioned


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