Workers BushTelegraph (WBT) has run from 2011-2020. It was briefly in recess in 2016. WBT has tried to address three topics:
- Who owns the land? (property question), Or perhaps the land owns us?
- Worker control of production (industrial question) and
- Who governs? (political question).
Pointing the bone
Has WBT served its purpose? Are the articles comprehensive enough? No. Does it rely too much on personal communications? Yes, well maybe in the past. WBT never sought ‘balance’ in reporting especially when it favoured the wealthy and powerful, the bigoted or the sectarian — readers would have to go to the mass media for that. A number of posts on Workers BushTelegraph required a password to access. This was to limit possible hurt.
However the work of predominately one person is always going to look like a blog regardless of intentions. Not that there is anything wrong with a blog. It is just that I had hoped it would become a collective enterprise. I did everything in my power to keep WBT relevant and to avoid being politically isolated and disrespected. But perhaps this was not enough. I don’t know how to get the input needed to overcome these failings. My method was to write to people to ask permission to publish articles that I thought important. If someone asked me to take an article or video down, I would do so. Where naming a person might hurt I would try to conceal their identity. It is not anyone’s call to reveal the personal.
However I do not believe the personal is political. They must be separate, the political needs to be about the collective and the personal needs to be private. However without some balance of different perspectives it could always be said that WBT has stooped to the personal. It may mean that even the close-est comrades are wary of being associated with it. I would not want that. Hopefully I can, over time, regain trust, if lost, enough at least to participate in joint projects.
At least no one else need take the blame for these failings, they are all mine.
WBT was a lot of hard work. During January’s No to War on Iran rally a long term member of the Left in Brisbane asked me what Workers BushTelegraph was? ‘They’ had never heard of it. It suggests I devoted a lot of time to a project without participation from its main target audience, the Left and Labour movements in Brisbane. I suppose I wouldn’t be the first to do that.
WordPress says WBT had 534,618 reads during its period of operation (2006-2020). I am curious as to who those people were? Maybe it was just a few people reading WBT a lot of times. WordPress reports that WBT has a list of 3961 people ‘who are subscribed to your blog via email only’. WBT has many thousands of comments (some sent to me personally which I posted on WBT with permission where practicable). Once again if the stats are correct, who are they? There are 928 people currently following the site. They include irish poets, behavioural scientists, experimental economists, blogs about ‘literature, philosophy and society in words and images’.
Many no longer acknowledge ‘the left‘ as a valid grouping let alone readership.
In Chicago in the US there is an organisation called ‘Labor Notes’. Based out of offices in Detroit and Brooklyn, Labor Notes has a staff of nine. It works to “put the movement back in the labor movement” by publishing books, a 6,000-circulation independent monthly magazine, and a website with half a million yearly visitors.
WBT came out of the union in the Commonwealth Public Service, initially as ‘BushTelegraph‘ on an intranet in the 1990s and then in 2006 on the internet as Workers BushTelegraph. [The Australian Broadcasting Service had by then taken the name Bushtelegraph].
This online left-wing journal was influenced by LeftPress (I am a member) that used to publish books in the 1980s and 90s. LeftPress provides resources to the various movements (eg environmental, worker, anti-war, pro-Palestinian) in Brisbane such as speaking equipment, banking and other support. Its members (numbering only 5 or 6 people) are or were active in unions and local government.
WBT was an attempt to do something creative after I had been sacked from the Public Service for circulating a cartoon.
Thanks to all the contributors to WBT over the years and for the advice of comrades who have challenged by assumptions.
In the event anyone wishes to view this article or other WBT archives, please email me and I will send you a private link to the website. Be aware you may need to sign up to wordpress if you wish to view the material. However it is free and only requires a name and an email address.
I still maintain a website called Paradigm Shift and a page on 4ZZZ which has all the info on the weekly show of the same name that has been broadcasting on community radio 4ZZZ fm 102.1 Fridays at noon for approximately 10 years. Podcasts of the show are at https://soundcloud.com/ian-curr
But then they are not just about me, are they.
I am going to keep WBT going for now but only publish articles etc when requested to do so. I will not be writing articles myself but may give a short editorial summary of the articles we do publish
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