In 1998, the prominent ARM delegates booked into the plush 5 star Hyatt hotel. The ACM delegation stayed together in a motel at Narrabundah and came into the city in convoys in a small bus. The ARM functions in those days included candlelit dinners in five star hotels.
This was when the elites believed their politicians' republic and a new flag were inevitable, and they were not afraid to show their utter contempt for anyone who did not accept their agenda.
I was reminded of this by a recent piece in a London newspaper by a republican.
"My hero Thomas Paine must be spinning in his grave," writes Brendan O’Neill in “The Diamond Jubilee confirmed that today’s shallow republicans are way snobbier than royalists,” in the leading London newspaper The Daily Telegraph on 5 June 2012.
The prominent editor of Spiked online, and before that, Living Marxism, says Paine would be spinning in his grave not necessarily because there is still a monarchy in Britain, “something he was fighting tooth-and-catapult against 250 years ago.”
“Today it isn’t royalists who look down their noses at everyday folk viewing them as a malleable mob without a brain cell between them,” writes Brendan O’Neill.
“Rather it is republicans, or “republicans”, who do that.”
“ Once upon a time, being a republican meant trusting in the people, seeing in the mass of society the potential for reason and self-governance. Now it means precisely the opposite: distrusting the people, sneering at them for being an easily brainwashable mob of forelock-tugging freaks.”
What an historic turnaround , he says. His observations recall the Australian Republican Movement at least in its celebrity phase in the nineties, the candlelit dinners in five star hotels and the condescension towards the rank and file, a condescension often expressed in the opinion and even the news columns of the newspapers, and over the airwaves.
They told us that “never are the peasants more revolting than when tugging their forelocks”. They informed us that certain groups of people – rough translation: the thick and uncultured – have been swallowed up by an “orgy of deference” to the Queen.”
“The great irony of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations,’ he says “ is that the most overt snobbery emanated, not from the House of Windsor or its posh cheerleaders in political and media circles, but from so-called republicans”