Swiftian Dream: Types of Invasion Fears

February 15, 2024
Swiftian Dream: Types of Invasion Fears       It must have been 3.15 a.m. or so. I was on the street near the water, a little way up the small hill. The noise first made me aware that something was happening. A few shots and shouts. From the sounds I could tell it was […]

Swiftian Dream: Types of Invasion Fears




It must have been 3.15 a.m. or so. I was on the street near the water, a little way up the small hill. The noise first made me aware that something was happening. A few shots and shouts. From the sounds I could tell it was no drunken brawl. I was there only because I had awoken at around 2.00 a.m., unable to sleep and not able to drift back into the comfort of a dream. Now, I seemed to be in a dream awake. The moment was when everything turned to ashes in the mouths of many, but for me I was already tired with life. While I was surprised by the moment itself, I could see it coming for a long time. I was aging widower who had played the role of a prophet in the wilderness. A nobody but an author of local history.




It was by accident that I witnessed the moment. I was an alcoholic and I was on a self-confined retreat at Wynnum, Queensland. “It has been 110 days, six hours, since my last drink.” My name is unimportant. I am narrator of my own story. I say, “was an alcoholic”. Looking back to the “Friendly Invasion” moment, although tired of life, the occasion shocked, all of us, out wanting anything than to be sober.  In the early century people complained about something called the “Woke” movement, and it seems no one can recall what that was about. Nevertheless, being awake became a necessary survival tactic since that first early morning.




Concerned at hearing gunfire, but with the pull of insane curiosity, I eased myself down the street to the esplanade. Across, and thru the clearing, I saw hundreds of rubber dinghies with the soldiers of the “Friendly Invasion”, as the historical occasion become propagandised a decade later. At the time it had been, simply, the 150th anniversary of the Great White Fleet. That is how it started. In the late previous century, I had been writing about such acts of cultural colonialism, but that was another era. We had all forgotten, even the local historian. The Great White Fleet had originally never appeared in Moreton Bay, but it seemed a benign commemorative visit from our best-but-strange ally.




Ever since that history-breaking election of 2024, and the regime of the Patron MAGA dictators, Australia seemed to drift back to being a 21st century colonial outpost, as the scholars today discuss such things. The population, as usual, never noticed such things; unless you were at the receiving end of such policies. For a century and half, the invasion fears were planted in the Asian world. Vague memory recalled the late Bill Metcalf and his long nineteenth century history (1801-1919), talking of the local fall and rise Antipodean Utopia; more as a dystopia from a late twentieth century (1975-2000) perspective. It was a different world. Indonesia, the great invasion fear of the 1990s, now had collapsed into civil war and anarchy. China, the other invasion fear of the long twentieth century (1920-2019), came close, but, in the end, the economic cost of its military and cultural colonial expansion meant, creating a peace pact with the first of the Patron MAGA dictators, the esteemed Donald Trump. Although it came late in the Trump’s term of office, before handing over the reins to the esteemed son, the peace with China held these many decades. Russia also imploded with the new geopolitics. Other regimes followed the pattern. North Korea had been such a great ally to the Trump nation that its dynastic model was adopted for our “friendly ally”, which has now saved us in the era of Australia’s national emergency. Still that first day was an initial shock.




In that early morning, I was a local witness of Australian history changing. The commemorative fleet had launched military landings on our shores from the bays of capital cities. Parliament had been sinking into chaos for some time, and we needed “a friend” to save us from ourselves politically, although that was initially a military operation. Still, after nearly a decade, we wonder when the troops will leave and return to their home country. I recall the first shock. Units of soldiers walking the streets and setting up checkpoints. I found the courage to walk across the esplanade and to the shoreline, but nevertheless hiding my presence. I heard the few shots but I saw no death. Soldiers were so casually wandering off the sand and mud to the grass gathering points, and being given their orders, headed up the streets, more in a swagger than as an invasion force. At this stage of the “Friendly Invasion” there was no resistance movement. Australians had their fill of witnessing global violence since the Great Gaza War. We were always a freedom-loving people but we were very serious in asking the question, “What cost Freedom?” We were not like the nation of the Patron MAGA dictators, always celebrating the violent revolutionary past.




In my Australian caution, still unsure what I was witnessing at the time, I crept into a large Moreton Bay mangrove. In the dark, but enlightened by the ships’ searchlights across the landing sites, I saw a single sentry guarding the empty dinghies, the water lazily lapping up to his boots, on a patch of sand in the middle of mud and dark waters of the Bay. I was nervous he would see me, and kept still. A few minutes later his torch flashed onto me in the midst of the branches. I am sure he saw me, even as he pretended not to. Years later it made more sense, it was a “Friendly Invasion.” We were in a world of pretence. Each of us had a role to place. I trembled, frozen, an old man crouching in the mangrove, and, “my friend”, six or eight metres from me, glad he was on sentry duty and being entertainment for that old man in the strange tree. The solider was in a state of peace, not having to walk up into the street, where dangers lurked.




After a good hour the scene unexpectedly changed. Another wave of dinghies hit the shores, not with soldiers, but parties of unusual-looking civilians. They reminded me of an ancient film, when a such thing existed, of impoverished migrants arriving to the country. They did look friendly but their presence was a mystery. The behaviour of the single casual sentry gave me the assurance I could go over to these new non-combatant arrivals, gathering on the grass. They were happy to see me, and the soldiers organising them on the esplanade were out of sight. Amongst a large gathering we had the compassionate and kind chats. I found out that night that the military, of our friendly saviours, did not trust our own service class, and these were working-class migrants of their own: the military’s trusted provisions in keeping soldiers comforted – food service, household duties, and, of course, sexual favours.




As I was chatting, I thought I was having a Dreamtime vision. A man who was to become a great mate in these years, appear to fall out of one of the houses aligning the esplanade. I soon realised he did not fall, but scramble out of the window very fast and crept up to us. He had seen me come up and mingled with the crowd of strangers, and when the attention of the soldiers guarding the migrants turn in another direction, he made with haste to welcome the visitors. He was a Turrbal man. Still very dark in the appearance thinking after these many centuries. In such a shock the two of us became as Australians one, we bonded immediately in this era of the “Friendly Invasion”. Uncertain how things were to turnout, and gleaning information from the service migrants, Tom and I forged a plan. As, I, a very old widower with most of my family past and my daughters living overseas, and, Tom, a very recent divorcee and most of his mob in other places, had an opportunity for a radical turn. We decided to pretend to be members of the service migrant party which had just landed. We were pretty good at one of the regional accents. Black or White, it did not matter. We could act the part of any patriot.




So, it has been several years working in the migrant-run military kitchen. The staff is friendly with me, an elderly man of an uncertain age, in better health than he ought to be. Even the libido is there, just sitting there; like I had been sitting there, many days ago, in a mangrove, alert-but-calm. Ready. Just thinking about it I am aroused. But I am too old, and these days there is no romance generally. We all too tired. The young barely make it into performing sex. There is rarely bromance as well. Tom and I are good mates, but even so, our worlds are too far apart to be close. It was and always be in the cultural outlooks. Nevertheless, in days of the “Friendly Invasion”, it is good to have peace. The early 21st century era of the culture-history warfare had long gone. Today we just have invasions.




Featured Images: top to bottom, right to left.



  1. Page 27 of The Queenslander Pictorial, supplement to The Queenslander, 12 September 1914. (2014). John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.
  2. Gullivers_travels.jpg ‎(602 × 500 pixels, file size: 75 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gullivers_travels.jpg;
  3. A 1908 Australian postcard welcoming the American ‘Great White Fleet’ to Australia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_White_Fleet#/media/File:Australia_Welcomes_the_Fleets.jpg
  4. Kansas sails ahead of Vermont as the fleet leaves Hampton Roads, Virginia, on 16 December 1907. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_White_Fleet#/media/File:Us-atlantic-fleet-1907.jpg



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Neville Buch (Pronounced Book) Ph.D. is a certified member of the Professional Historians Association (Queensland). Since 2010 he has operated a sole trade business in history consultancy. He was a Q ANZAC 100 Fellow 2014-2015 at the State Library of Queensland. Dr Buch was the PHA (Qld) e-Bulletin, the monthly state association’s electronic publication, and was a member of its Management Committee. He is the Managing Director of the Brisbane Southside History Network.
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