Fraternal Secrets

          History, Fake News and Other Lies

We can only learn from the past. Yet the past is captive to peoples’ memories, and to peoples’ attitudes about the past. My parents told me nothing of my heritage, by which I mean they told me nothing of their past. In school, ‘History’ was taught so badly that I hated the subject. What passed for teaching methods would seem laughable today.

‘History’ had long been a weapon of war but I didn’t know that then. The Empire had to be respected, public figures had to be revered, family faces were set in stone. What ‘leaders’ said publically was ‘the truth’ and what they did privately was not to be spoken about – it was not ‘proper’ history. I didn’t know, either, that ‘the past’ could be buried as though it had never happened. The possibility of learning from the past was undermined by the people who lived it, and then undermined again by the people who taught it.

I’ve learnt since that the possibility of using the past to get at the truth was also undermined at the time it was happening, by on-the-spot reporting like Charles Bean’s view of Anzac Cove. Reporters didn’t get paid if they were not ‘creative’, or selective to match their employers’ wishes, and they ignored a lot. I know now that the myth-makers are like pollution – always with us and will bury us unless we fight back.

At the heart of it all is information…the creating of it, the shaping of it, the destruction of it. The battle for the hearts and minds of readers, listeners and viewers is a war. The past, ‘HISTORY”, can be stolen in different ways. It has been stolen by destroying the evidence, by hiding it, by preventing it from being published, by overwhelming it with other evidence, by mis-representing it…

All of history has been about the struggle for power and wealth – who has it? who wants it? and what happens when the fight breaks out? We are always told that wars have been won by the side that had the superior war managers. We are never told that it was won by the side which had the best spies. More broadly, the winner was the side which better controlled the flow of information, before, during and after. White Australia is belatedly becoming aware of our history of indigenous massacres, and of the generations of stolen children. I didn’t know of the Rosewood massacre of African Americans in the 1920’s until the recent movie, or of the labour spy racket run by US corporations until I read a book of the same name. Still buried are the arms trafficking and the financing of wars by banks which have proceeded in secret for centuries. The last thing we speak of within politics is the money trail, and yet that’s the reason they’re all in it.

These essays are about conspiracies that actually happened – when the ALP was being formed, as the Freemasons prospered, and as fraternalism  (mateship by another name) lived and died. The next will be on ‘Conspiracy Theories’ involving Jesuits, Jews and Freemasons. It is nearly finished. After that I will feature the material culture of the fraternal and secret societies. A major reason that that story is not known is because the things members used to show they belonged have not been recognised as valuable.

In brief, mateship came to this country in the form of fraternal or mutual benefit societies which spread around the continent with European settlement. It is a rich and dynamic history but it has been neglected to the point of invisibility. Three decades of research have resulted in many significant items coming to rest in my home. I’ve approached major institutions to donate them and find them a home. I’ve been rejected on various grounds –  “ this story cannot possibly be true – everyone knows ‘mateship’ originated at Barcaldine or at Eureka Stockade or at Anzac Cove; we only want ‘the jewels’ in your collection; you need an Assessment of Significance before we do anything.” The major sticking point with all these negotiations has been that because of this area’s past neglect, I’m the only expert in this country who could adequately speak to provenance, rarity, historic significance, etc. I appear to be stuck in a Catch 22 situation. I’m only persisting because I know this story and its surviving material culture are important. I also know that the claims I’ve made herein will be regarded with scepticism. In desperation I am now offering to fund researchers prepared to test my contentions:


Expressions of Interest are invited from researchers with regard to a paid commission: Namely – TO PROVE OR DISPROVE my contention that ‘MATESHIP’ came to this country in the form of fraternal societies.

DEADLINE: 31 July, 2018. All applications to be sent to me marked ‘Fraternal Societies’.

After this deadline, the Commission is intended to proceed in three stages:

!st: An initial payment of $500 to five selected applicants who will be asked to provide a 1,000 word commentary on the likelihood of my argument as stated above. A second payment of $500 when response submitted, whatever the response.


2nd: A payment of $15,000 to one of this five for a significant research-based response – Yes or No – to my contention. Half of Payment made at start of period, half at submission stage, whether positive or not.


3rd: A payment of $15,000 to one person selected from Expressions of Interest for an Assessment of the National Significance of my personal collection of fraternal society memorabilia.


There is no fee to apply and there will be no costs to applicants other than time. No negotiations will be entered into with regard to any personal expenses.

Thank you for your attention. Dr Bob James.

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