'Racistentialism' by Christopher Eastman-Nagle (71)
Debunking identity politics in the context of a multicultural society
I am going to go out on a limb and say that this will not be a review in the traditional sense of the term. I normally put some time and effort into my perspective, and usually end up with something twice as long as the original. I think in this case that would be something of an overkill although first impressions tell me that there could be much to discuss.
This is also probably not going to entail much on grammar and the literary niceties. I see passion and some focus, at least in the parts that I can comprehend. There are many that I simply lose my way with the abundance of terminology and words that at times seem to be made up, at least in the context presented. This is not a criticism, since I may well lack the ability to understand. I would tend to think it is something else entirely.
In any case, I will pick and choose where I feel compelled to lend my perspective. Your presentation is forceful and intimidating at times. I can only respect someone who can go into such depth, who cares enough to put 15k words to the page in the quest to find some sense of reality and some expectation of resolution. I hope that I do not overstep my bounds.
NOTE: After reading and commenting I realized that this may not have been primarily about the Australian ‘people’ even though it comprises the major bulk of the narrative. It seems that it was about debunking identity politics. I am not going to go back and re-contextualize my comments because of time restraints, and the fact that I am not sure identity politics actually ‘can’ be debunked. I know of very few who can define or explain what the concept denotes except from an extremely personal and subjective perspective.
I will stick with the narrative as presented and as interpreted initially.
For my American audiences the subject of our aboriginal 'first people' may seem arcane, but there are resonances here. Columbus Day is being attacked for much the same reasons as Australia Day is, which celebrates the arrival of the 'First Fleet' convict settlers and their minders. And we are seeing the same kinds of iconoclastic attacks on historical legacy memorials that are no longer regarded as morally 'acceptable' and ideologically 'appropriate'.
I am not sure of your presumption of what you call ‘American audiences’ but you may be surprised. I am a single American individual and I can assure you that whatever ‘neat’ package that you may place Americans in, I would have to think that I would fit into very few of them, if any at all. Perhaps all of them, to be honest, but minimally at best. I may be a part of the great American ‘melting pot’ but I have my own spice to contribute. Above all else I am a passionate individualist, with a unique perspective and interpretation of the events both historically and contemporarily, that I have experienced or studied.
I have minimal knowledge of the aboriginal ‘first people’ but from the very first introduction to them, I have had nothing but respect and admiration of their history and the tribulations of outsiders towards them and their often mistaken interpretations of the culture and their abilities. History has shown this to be the case in a hundred different scenarios. There should be no surprise at yet another example.
We would have to determine exactly why it is that Columbus and his day are under attack. I would tend to believe that the reasons are many, and the realities are ignorantly mistaken more often than not. Columbus was by no means a hero, but he was an adventurer and an explorer, and to be these things, especially at that time, you would have to be intelligent, perceptive, ruthless, and more than a little bit insane.
I think the historical legacy memorials, which were created and understood under a completely different paradigm, tried to pay homage to some degree to those that had to endure a different existence which in time led to present day individuals and society.
Much the same as Columbus and all of our ancestors, whatever variety we wish to discuss. The attacks we see today are through ideology, ignorance and hatred. I am not sure we can even hope to truly understand the lack of information and integrity that exist to create an environment where such depraved behaviour is allowed to exist.
The rise of Trumpism and the rebellion of the old white working class against the Woke Ascendency marks not merely a 'reactionary' rear guard defense so much as full on counter-attack on the democratic post-colonial consensus that emerged after the last World War. It parallels similar political movements emerging across the old Western World, as well as the rise of an increasingly global, confident and aggressive anti secular and anti-liberal religious fundamentalism.
The superficiality of ‘Trumpism’ is a just another digression and an ideological diversion from the fundamental attack on the very essence of what America was intended to be. Trump will soon be a footnote, but as long as those that wish the dissolution of America are able to control the narrative, they will continue to use him, since he is so much more use to them as the face of conservatism and capitalism and as an example of Americanism, which they intend to destroy.
I see no ‘woke’ paradigm, just ignorant and hypocritical ideologues that presume to be interested in diversity, tolerance, justice and equality when every word uttered epitomizes the exact opposite. For me, I can only dream of a woke existence, where people build their philosophies and moralities based on reason and intelligence, deeply considered insights and open-minded conversations and debates. What I see are what they absorb with their every breath. They are the walking dead, emotionally, physically, psychologically and philosophically. With their repulsive and relentless chants of “what do we want . . . . whatever . . . . when do we want it . . . . now!” like little children, unfortunately it is not just the ‘twos’ we are talking about, but an eternal downward slide into oblivion.
You may be correct that there is some form of ‘post-colonial consensus since the end of the last World War. I would passionately disagree, but I could certainly be wrong. That war ended over eighty years ago, and the political movement that you reference has yet to show a concerted majority on almost any issue that you wish to discuss.
Americans are far too comfortable and ignorant of their own country, its economic and political systems, it laws and the founding principles that drive these systems, and yet they instinctively want Americanism, as exemplified by the millions that risk life and limb to make illegal entry into the U.S.
We are the most welcoming and hospitable country in the world, bar none, and those that think otherwise come from countries with populations of 25 million, or less, and have no comprehension what it means to grant freedom to hundreds of religions, cultures, ideologies and philosophical perspectives within a country of over 330 million individuals.
This paradigm does not exist in Russia, obviously, but neither does it exist in China or India where they have vast populations, but not with the true diversity that exists in the U.S. We must remember that diversity has nothing to do with similarities, but only the irrefutable differences between people and cultures. It would be wonderful to be able to balance the differences and live in peace, but that takes time and effort, resolve and focus, and that does not seem to exist anywhere in the world today.
While there are social democracies that people like to point to in northern Europe, the differences far outweigh the logistics that America has foisted upon itself, not to mention being the policeman of the planet. Many call it imperialism and colonialism, but if not for America, who would have, or could have, stepped in during any of the last dozen world confrontations? Ask yourself what language you might be speaking if not for that ‘unwanted’ influence. They sure wanted it at the time. The U.S. has little if any power and influence where they have become involved, and I see no aspects of colonialism within any of the countries it has supported and virtually saved from domination by another ideology.
As we brace ourselves for increasingly heavy collisions over historical legacy, current policy and visions of the future, the aboriginal question and the notion of 'Racistentialism' are timely reminders that we are in need of new analysis, terminology and debate that has some chance of not degenerating into polemical crib, fudge and bluff, marked entirely by ideological cliches, stereotypes, slogans, aphorisms, euphemisms and dysphemisms (opposite of euphemisms).
There is no question that all of these things you mention are desired nor prerequisites for any solution of the issues at hand, in Australia as well as around the world. Who is articulating any alternatives or adjustments that do not include a complete overthrow of the status quo? Why are we not standing up for what we know is broken and corrupted? Does the majority of the citizens of the world even understand that a change in paradigm is essential to bring about any change at all? I am not so sure it does. What then? If they do not even recognize the problems how in the world can they envision the solutions? Revolution? There are many that salivate at the thought. It will not be the birth of a new day, but the close of arguably the most beneficial time that our species has ever experienced.
The degeneration that you speak of is real and demonstrative. The problem is that no one seems to comprehend the extent of the cancer that exists.
We are now in foreseeable danger of moving into a shouting match that will almost inevitably end in warfare as everyone hits axiomatic and nonnegotiable bottom lines for which they will fight.
No argument. They are not engaging to change minds, but to control and manipulate. There can be no middle ground. It has been happening for decades. We have allowed it to happen. We have no plan to counter it. The end result seems inevitable.
My agenda here is to establish a critique of Wokeism that parallels that of the market libertarians; that it is no more benign than its fellow pillar of indulgence capitalism; and that it no longer deserves to be in the ideological ascendancy. In short, if its apparatchiks don't get down off it, debate will cease and they will be eventually pulled down, along with their equally unsustainable regime partners.
I am confused if you even know that this point has already been passed, there is no discussion, no debate, only rhetoric and coercion. The ascension, and more importantly, the acceptance of the tenets of systemic racism and cancel culture and CRT (critical race theory) has infested every level of societal interaction without a single reasoned argument. Why argue when you can intimidate? Why convince when you can simply negate the existence of your opposition?
I have no idea of the extent of what you suggest is happening within Australia, but I am confident that it will become much worse. What is the answer when those that hate the past and are in fear of the future get control of the very source of power and control of every citizen in the country, any country, with no process or freedoms to express their own perspectives? It looks like we are going to soon find out.
The legitimacy of what has become of post-liberal Wokeism, particularly in the decades since the 1960s and '70s, is now in question....
I was recently watching a news segment on a young Australian ‘aboriginal’ figure skater, Harley Windsor and his Russian partner, who recently together won a junior Grand Prix championship in Tallinn, Estonia; very nice. Such news items about aboriginal success firsts always gives me a nice warm fuzzy …...until I noticed Harley’s face, which was entirely European and as Russian looking as his partner’s.
If someone hadn’t let it out of the bag that he was ‘aboriginal’, neither I nor anyone else would even suspect his racial/ethnic/cultural roots. My irritation was aroused because this kind of fudging is so commonplace and routinely accepted by the ideological cognoscenti, it rarely gets questioned in ‘polite’ company. I mean who wants to be a ‘bigoted racist’…. anybody?
‘Bigotry’ is a favorite because it is such a nasty smear...even though it is a word that came into use during The Reformation to describe some of the more radical religious intolerance and puritanical extremism of the time, not unrelated to the fanatically destructive wars of toleration that blighted it. Now it just means anybody who has the temerity to stand up for any beliefs at all, ‘that we don’t like’.
It has come to mean anyone that does not agree with you, and reason and legitimacy of fact and validity of evidence means less than nothing. How does one argue and confront such a paradigm?
And the word ‘racist’ does rather get bandied about, even though there is more ideologically juicy crib ’n fudge, slip ’n slide and weave ’n duck around this conveniently obfuscatory term than just about any other in the language of political discourse.
And yet every political dissident is a racist, preferring their own ideology, their own religion, their own culture, to that of any other. This is not an outlier, it is a fundamental. There is nothing wrong with embracing and admiring ones ancestors and culture, it is when you condemn and vilify those of a contrary existence to the point of hatred and violence that you step over the line and commit what we call racism and bigotry. Very definable and easily demonstrable. And yet nothing is done. Abject fear and intimidation. Hard to argue.
‘Race’ and ‘racism’ are classic hollowed out clichés that are so overlaid and overburdened with historical, political and emotional baggage, they are now etymological (relating to the origin and historical development of words and their meanings) mush. This makes them prime candidates for vague, opaque and conflated meaning, ideological mystification, heresy stereotyping and powerful delegitimizing in the courts of public opinion.
Words and meanings and ideologies have been totally perverted and corrupted with the misuse and premeditated hi-jacking of words, terms and language. If no one can interpret or understand what is being said, then half the battle has been ceded to them. It creates an unwinnable argument. For you, not them.
Your summary is spot on. An intrinsic vagueness and in essence a negation of communication and the ability to argue, persuade or convince another of virtually anything at all. Everything and anything is only what ‘they’ want it to be, and to argue makes you a bigot and a racist. That is what I see today. No contest.
When the ‘racist’ epithet is thrown at someone, it makes a lot of mess which is hard to get off, is politically toxic and requires no particular intellectual ability from the thrower. When it is used to support or bolster a ‘poor thing’ significant nonwhite, almost nonwhite and white nonwhite ‘other’, there is more blame shifting, excuse making and denialist rationalization than a Heartland Institute (free market neoconservative think tank) climate seminar. Anyone who has some aboriginal genetic material in their gene pool in the last two hundred years is ‘aboriginal’, even if 95% genetically something else. And if we believe the courts, we can all be ‘aboriginals’ if we want to, as long as the aboriginal 'community' include us inside their colossally forgiving and opaque category-without-boundaries.
It immediately puts one on the defensive, and the accusation is so vague how does not refute it? They cannot. Like proving a negative, it sounds immediately like whining and rationalization and you have lost the argument without ever being given the opportunity to offer verification or legitimate evidence of their own.
You make some excellent and, from my perspective, completely valid points, but you offer nothing to validate your own positions. I am uncomfortable even mentioning it, but I agree with your view, and yet see immediately a conflict of legitimacy from those that need no legitimacy of their own.
Offer almost anyone a benefit by being a part of any particular group, ask for no verification, and you have a new member. Instant support and vindication.
Phenotype (sets of observable characteristics of individuals resulting from the interaction of their genotype with the environment) notions of ‘race’ have progressively been overwhelmed by originally complementary meanings deriving from ‘ethnicity’ and ‘culture’, which are equally slippery characters that can mean almost anything one feels like. And these already well-greased numbers are made even more elusive and remote from any plausible notion of ‘race’, by claims of self-identification and community acceptance. This makes the race/identity suite really easy to deliver into an argument to further bamboozle anyone silly enough to question the core meaning of ‘racism’. And naturally, these terms are thrown about like confetti, because the bare mention of them is enough to cut off argument and potentially tricky questions about authenticity, meaning, context, history and analysis.
Anyone not immediately intimidated and skeptical of the validity of the conversation from these initial accusations are doomed to failure. If in a forum initiated and populated by the aggressive ‘anti-racists’ the ability to prosecute a reasoned argument is hopelessly lost even before a word is spoken, what is the point in having a conversation? So much for the concept of having an open-minded and relevant ‘dialogue’ about any particular subject. If you get bogged down in the definition of words and concepts you have already lost. Curiously, they never have to do so with their own presentation. I have seen this a thousand times. Reprehensible.
What was once mainly a categorization by primarily phenotype/breeding/skin color coding to define civilizational pecking orders during the European colonial period, gradually fudged into any categorization at all that is even more arbitrary than the equally dodgy claims of any other hegemonic group trying to turn their writ into a mystificatory sacred site.
This race/ethnicity/culture suite is slow baked inside a ‘racistentialist’ (a race based existential pseudo philosophy) identity politic which is a completely self-generating closed loop, by saying, ‘I am whatever I construct myself to be’, regardless of potentially contradictory externalities, or any other benchmark that might provide some objective basis for differentiation between realistic assessment (objective quantification/genealogy), ideological and economic opportunism (political/institutional leveraging and government funding) and solipsistic (a belief that only the self exists) fantasizing about something that towards its margins becomes little more than a social club, sporting rituals and dress ups that would do the Masons proud.
The epitome of today’s trans-gender paradigm. I am whatever I wish to be, irrespective of what I am physically or psychologically or culturally. I am he/she/it/we/them if I simply wish it to be so. Nothing empirical, nothing reality based, nothing based on societal consensus. Whatever they want, and whenever they want it.
And finally, this spurious identity brew is further elaborated with the sort of ideological exceptionalism (a form of special pleading that claims a uniqueness that is not subject to the ‘prejudicial’ rules and standards of ordinary critical judgement) beloved by adolescents, turn of the century dot com ‘entrepreneurs’ and banksters circa 2008. You know, one cannot ‘understand’ or critically evaluate unless one is personally involved empathetically inside 'the lived experience' of ‘being there’ and ‘on the front line’, because the claimed reality paradigm is so shifted and ‘unique’, it is beyond mere ordinary judgement and ‘outsider’ analysis, which makes any attempt to do so ‘judgmental’ (critical), ‘prejudiced (applying legitimate beliefs), ‘insensitive’ (baloney resistant), ‘oppressive’ (firm) and naturally, ‘racist’ (???), leading to ‘unwarranted’ (without the subject’s permission) and ‘unqualified’ (see ‘being there’) ‘stereotyping’ (legitimate group political modelling) and ‘meddling’ (unwelcome ‘interference’).
Therefore there can be no definitive judgment, nothing reasoned or credibly argued. Is this not the essence of nihilism? Nothing really matters anymore because anyone at any time can refute and reject. No standards, nothing to compare against, no evidence presented and none needed. The epitome of self-absorption and irrational selfishness.
In all its many and varied contexts and terminological vaguenesses, racistentialist identity politics and ideological exceptionalism are pure unadulterated obfuscatory (confuse, muddy and bewilder) bollocks used to bog down and fob off scrutiny and accountability, that might hold anyone to critical analytical benchmarks and some sort of standard in their attitude, conduct and ideological claims.
Accountability is much too onerous. Unfair to those that have nothing to say, cannot defend their positions and are really upset that you even ask them to.
But above all, these terms and the ideological and political buttressing around them provide the narrative shell to legitimize and empower a criticism proof style of self-justifying declamatory (to speak pompously or bombastically) oracular (as in mystificatory oraclespeak) orthodox (authorized doctrine or practice), dogma (a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true), moral status and platform for infallibly authoritative condemnation, once solely reserved for church clerics.
Yet another example of a double standard, where they reject any responsibility, obligation or culpability for their words and actions while demanding an inconceivable amount of legitimate evidence from the target of their attacks. Like taking a Q-tip to a gun fight. Not going to end well.
And the whole aboriginal ‘industry’ is a past master at populating this game like an ideological theme park, with the tunnel of horrors on one side and the roller coaster of light on the other; or perhaps within an older ideological context of divine providence vs the works of the devil.
In the context of recent multicultural migration, questions of identity are fairly simple in the sense that say someone who has recently stepped off a plane from China will be bringing with them a fully intact suite of racial appearance, language, customs, religious/ideological beliefs and lifestyle preferences that reflect some blend of traditional and modern, depending on the region they come from, whether they are urban or rural, rich or poor, educated or not. There can be no question about their ‘Chineseness’.
Which ironically is the epitome of bigotry. They don’t even seem to realize that with their perspective, they have negated their own existence and legitimacy to argue their positions.
But what if one were talking about someone with a Chinese ancestor who came to Australia as a gold miner and married a white woman whose progeny all married into other ethnic cultural groups, but who still, five or six generations later, has a ‘Chinese’ passion for doing brilliantly at school and university in the sciences, studies mandarin (with an eye to future opportunity) at school, has a keen interest in his/her genealogical roots (that say include an Afghan cameleer), and loves eating sweet and sour pork? Would he or she be ‘Chinese’ in any meaningful racial, ethnic or cultural sense? Would we say, as he or she collects his or her Nobel science prize for work done in collaboration with researchers from Peking University, “Ah, there goes a ‘Chinese’ Australian!”
I don’t think so.
And even if this person acknowledged remote Chinese roots, why would he or she draw particular attention to them, when the Afghan cameleer might seem so much more interesting and romantic…. unless of course the Chinese government were offering attractive incentives to the more remotely connected elements of its diaspora (the dispersion or spread of any people from their original homeland), to become more engaged with ‘The Motherland’.
Even the Nazis, who were the very fussiest people you could possibly ever meet when it came to matters racial, would, under the 1935 Nuremberg race laws, still accept one as an ‘Aryan’ German, if one’s single Jewish great grandparent had converted to Christianity, married a Christian Aryan and his/her children were baptized in a church. The religious conversion/baptism stuff was not so much evidence of an exercise in Jewishness cultural ‘decontamination’, so much as a cultural crib to cover the awkwardly unexpected extent that Jews had intermarried (and Christian converted) into the German population over the previous 200 years.
Perhaps this is the only path to some sense of equality, this mongrelization of the human race? It certainly creates a wide swath of indecisive judgments. But then one must choose which aspect of their DNA they wish to associate with, and the intimidation and coercion works its historical and ideological influence once again gain control and domination over the masses. It really never changes, does it?
The fact was, the Nazi racial purists were prepared to place and justify a ‘forget-about-it’ line under the Jewish racial/genetic demographic in the Aryan population, for an antecedent single entry in the fourth generation back; i.e., one eighth part Jewish.
In Germany today, mixed Jewish/non-Jewish people will acknowledge their Jewish heritage and their long massacre prone history, but unless they are religious Jews, they are not necessarily going to be making a big deal about their ‘Jewishness’, any more than my own cousins (whose father was a secular Jew of orthodox parents) would see themselves as ‘Jewish’ Australians, even though to look at them, they have unmistakable Jewish genetic heritage. Their Jewish ethnicity and culture is largely tangential and incidental to them, unlike the intense feeling, discipline and sense of religious community, tradition and observance that one would find amongst the orthodox, who are the ones who actually maintain ‘the culture’.
And this is where ‘cultural’ analysis needs to be a bit more careful, specific and structured than just open-ended categories and talking vaguely about ‘my culture’....as if the damned stuff filled the room with campfire smoke, rhythm ‘n didge and a mournful choir of thousands.
If heritage is simply a ‘choice’ that I make personally in relation to any particular subject, then what is really the significance or value of culture to begin with? It is very much like joining a religion and then wanting to change the rules. The rules? They are the word of the god that you have just embraced. You have the hubris to improve on his positions? If I can pick and choose what I wish, then culture ceases to be relevant or of any real importance except when it is my best interests. Self-absorbed irrational selfishness once again.
Jewish ‘culture’ is most clearly articulated by its religious orthodoxy. It is a strict, demanding and resilient tribalism, and a great survivor in often very hostile environments. It is a culture that is as dynamic, true to its roots and as all encompassing for its devotees now as it was three millennia ago.
When orthodox Jews talk about their ‘culture’, it is a very specific, disciplined, intensive and extensive commitment that keeps their onerously (burdensomely) elaborate traditions alive and in good health, regardless of how difficult circumstances can get, or how long they would have to wait for divine providence to rebuild their tribal fortunes. And that sits alongside their dynamic secular, entrepreneurial, science and arts culture, armed with commitment to focused hard work in all areas of endeavor. Jews are heavily overrepresented in the notable achievement stakes, wherever they have gone.
But this is their ‘claim to fame’, their reason d’etre. Without the legitimacy that comes from that historical fundamentalism what else do they have? It then refers to the abilities and the achievements of the individual and the whole structure of culture falls by the wayside. Individuals are determined to be of value, if at all, by the results of their own personal motivations and successes. There is no shared value in culture. You can be proud of one of your own being successful, but the focus is on you and what you have achieved. I am not saying that there can be no shared success, but at some point you have to do something for yourself. Every culture has its heroes and its genius. It is a small segment of the whole. Your stature is not enhanced by the words or actions of someone with your historical background. It’s about time that we reject the concept.
If one wants to talk glibly about the virtues of ‘culture’ and ‘ethnicity’, the Jewish version would be a gold standard reference point for how our aboriginal brothers and sisters are travelling at the moment and ought to introduce a measure of conservative hesitancy and humility when splashing the terms around, unless of course vague and opaque self-categorization were a deliberate ploy to avoid real scrutiny….The mere mention of aboriginal ‘culture’ is meant to induce a Pavlovian trained reverential acceptance that heads off awkward ‘racist’ (critical) questions.
One needs to be able to differentiate between what was and what has become. No one can live on past glories forever, no matter how long they have lasted, which is what I think aboriginals are doing and what their ideological sponsors are promoting. The Jews have never done that. Yahweh made them a land promise, and if they kept their part of their covenant with Him in all things, at all times, indefinitely, He in His infinite wisdom and mercy would eventually honor it. And that overwhelming belief and dynamic tradition got them over the line nineteen centuries after the Romans expelled them from ‘their’ land. That expulsion taught them that they could never take their deity for granted. That trauma signaled to them that they had to make even more effort to regain the divine favor.
The fact that the land claim and their relationship to ‘their’ God was a bogus tribal conceit invented by creatively literate priests to justify their original invasion of ‘the Holy Land’ and whose deistic historicism (the belief that the deity directly intervenes in human affairs) was so powerful it overwhelmed the older religious models, is beside the point. Making their own tribal version of it stick over three millennia by strictly keeping religious and lifestyle observances in pristine condition, is the point.
Even in defeat and under constant pressure, they did everything to keep hope alive; never relaxed, never gave in and kept the laws of the Tora, to the letter. They have been constantly preparing for the ultimate return of ‘their’ land. But they also committed themselves to the same standards in their secular enterprises, often in the teeth of intense surrounding hostility. They were constantly suffering from economic exclusion and had to be very adaptable. Education was very important. If one were a Jew, one needed, if possible, both a profession and a trade, so that if one were thrown out of one, one could resort to the other. Education couldn’t be confiscated. Wealth needed to be portable (like cash, gold, furs and diamonds), because having to flee was always a possibility.
Their reasoning may have been suspect, but the intent was completely legitimate. How can one argue with an expectation of continued success through education and ability? This should be the goal of each and every culture. Reliance on the largesse of others or the ability to care for oneself? One does not negate the other. They can exist in sympathy with one another. They are compatible.
They had and have access to a tradition that was and still is both very creative and adaptable in its working environment, as well as deeply entrenched in its customs and beliefs. They were and are no less rooted in the present than they are and have been in their past.
I would consider that a highly successful and beneficial ideology.
And when they did get ‘their’ land back, they put in place a modern state with the 11th most powerful military force on the face of the planet, with a Jewish Israeli population of just under six and half million.
An admirable achievement under the harsh circumstances. I would note that they did not take their land back by force, but by a consensus, no matter how reluctantly, to do so by their hostile neighbors. The demand by certain segments of that contingent to give back much of what was agreed upon is unprecedented and inappropriate.
People have to be really on top of their game on all fronts to pull off something as totally unlikely as the establishment of Israel in 1948 and the even less likely prospect that it would still be there nearly seventy years later, in the teeth of some really formidable enemies. And that is why, for 99.9999% of the time, with anyone else but The Jews, adaption to the often traumatically disruptive historical waves of history and a preparedness to let go of much of the past, is really the only practical way forward.
I strongly agree with many of your points but fail to see a direct connection to the issue of the indigenous peoples within Australia. Would seem to be apples and oranges. Anecdotally of interest but how does that impact or support them? I am not sure I understand the point being made here.
The take home here is that if a group cannot maintain such an enormous protracted commitment at a very high inter-generational standard, the project will fall to bits, and eventually, so will the community and the individuals within it, as their existential structures crumble alongside the customs, institutions and traditions that once held them up.
It is not a given that it will destroy the community but it will certainly create substantial changes to their paradigm which could create an environment drastically different from what they have been experiencing.
That is why the Jewish orthodox are not that fond of their more secular brothers and sisters, regard them as cultural underminers and freeloaders, and are hesitant to even regard them as Jews. And to have that attitude, it is necessary to be able to offer something demonstrably viable, that ticks all the really tough boxes, maintains the focus and discipline, and has a proven and reliable track record of being bulletproof, literally and metaphorically, for nearly a couple of millennia of living in the diaspora.
I am again somewhat confused. All of the players in that region of the world are totalitarian in the way they wage government and culture. Are you saying that the Israelis should be more open to change and cooperation than those around them, those that demand they make these compromises to promote peace and harmony? In that part of the world it would demonstrably be a sign of weakness and lack of motivation.
So, the question has to be asked, what is the big deal about ‘aboriginality’? Why has it become such a cloying and exaggerated artefact, that if even the slightest whiff (or none) of its genetic material is detectable anywhere in one’s genome in the last two hundred plus years, one is (or can be) ‘aboriginal’? Why are those roots more important than all the other ones that aren’t? And in particular, why would one identify with a group that hasn’t ever been exactly full of economic, social and intellectual top feeding role models that one could boast about at parties, unless one were directly related to that rather lonely, missionary educated, religiously devout, and ethnically unrepresentative genius, David Unaipon (a prolific inventor known popularly as ‘the black Leonardo’), who has a well-deserved pride of place on our fifty dollar note?
I think it important to make the point that these issues would be more relatable with the Black experience in the U.S. much more so than the issue of Columbus Day festivities and the person and achievements that are represented by the celebration. For decades the positions have changed but this playing with DNA percentages is something where comprehension has always eluded me. For the longest time, the determination of race was that if you were born to a black mother, you were black, which conflicts with one of our last presidents who was born to a white mother and yet is never identified, or wants to even acknowledge the fact of his ‘whiteness’. As you present, it has now come to the point where any percentage of African genetic material is enough to make your case, although your skin tone certainly plays into whatever claims are made. In this way, Europeans have been negated, or ‘cancelled’ by the term in use today, although the connotation of this concept that all of those involved have seemed to distance themselves from the word due to bad promotion and an inherently and surprising understanding by the vast majority of people as to the reality of what happens when implemented.
It is very much the same with our own indigenous peoples, with a deliberative process to determine exactly how many ‘eighths’ or ‘sixteenths’ of Indian ancestry you possess to get a piece of the resources and casinos that they now control. This has nothing to do with the horrible treatment they had to endure at times. There is nothing about this country that embarrasses me more than the lack of integrity and character our leadership and political representation displayed in the conflict with the Indian nations. Reprehensible and despicable. There is a greater relation between the indigenous peoples of both our countries than first offered with the example of Columbus but I see the similarities with both.
Yes, they were here for sixty thousand years, but all our ancestors have been somewhere or other for sixty thousand years. Aboriginals were able to maintain their long and continuous continental occupation and stone age culture here for as long as they did by no particular virtue of their own. It was their entirely fortuitous, but inevitably temporary isolation at the far end of the planet from where all the action was happening, that was always going to make them the last frontier for the peoples who were convulsing, disrupting, uprooting and transforming the rest of the world.
The very moment the rest of that world started to move away from stone age hunting and gathering and began to develop agricultural surpluses, the doom of any society and culture that did not follow that developmental track was sealed. It was just a matter of time and accessibility.
I am not sure it is quite that simple, and yet I tend to agree with what you have set forth. Outside the culture there is a radically different set of imperatives. As they say, time waits for no man, and reality dictates that change is inevitable. But as you show with the Jewish condition, the culture can change and they can enter the modern world, but it takes a huge amount of motivation and confidence in their own beliefs. It would be nice if cultures could be left to their own devices, but that is not particularly practical or desirable, but it should be the individuals that make up the culture that make such a decision.
And yes anthropologists couldn’t believe their luck that they could actually meet the very same sort of people whose only traces elsewhere were to be found in cave paintings, like the ones in France at Lascaux. However, what they found, while a scientifically fascinating insight into an ancient demographic, wasn’t a mystical revelation. It filled gaps in understanding of Mesolithic stone age society and satisfied academic curiosity, but it would hardly add much to a modern society, any more than it would have done for neolithic and bronze age village based cultures, whose own new consciousness, astronomical knowledge base and related megaliths, more abstract cosmological beliefs and developing hierarchical and territorial institutions would have pushed aside the ‘the old ways and beliefs’, and rendered them obsolete, starting five to ten thousand years ago.
And yet human beings not only survived but flourished in the distant past. To what degree is indeterminate, but some of the structures, maps, calendars, mythology and spirituality gives me great pause at times. Modern thought has little if anything to do with morality, with character or with the knowledge of self. The information and technology we have amassed is prodigious and impressive, to the point of incomprehensibility, and yet we kill and rape, we use violence to achieve selfish ends, and we dominate and coerce those around us at a level at least what was experienced ten and twenty thousand years ago, and the argument could be made that it is much worse, for the simple reason that we should know better, but we know nothing of the sort.
Animism didn’t suddenly disappear so much as residualized into increasingly minor roles in the cosmological (creation and end-of-the-world myths) pantheon (all the gods and spirits of a people), eventually becoming children's fairy tales.
Like religion, animism is provocative and compelling in its simplicity and the desire to discover answers to the questions that philosophy has been asking at least as long as civilization has existed, perhaps longer. Even without the presence of some godlike entity, there is still the possibility of things we do not understand, and ironically, may have been understood in greater detail by the peoples in cultures that no longer exist in any real respect. While I am highly skeptical in many of the alternatives and possibilities, both the philosopher and scientist in me have to acknowledge that I do not know the answers, and will let time determine a final resolution. Like God, it can neither be proven nor disproven, and may well remain so for a very long time to come.
As a small digression among many, I really like fantasy. It is this ability to think and speculate about possibilities that I believe to be the fundamental strength of mankind. Everything we have comes directly from that ability to question and create a myriad of alternatives. Even those that are deemed impractical may lead to momentous insights and discoveries in the future. The critical thinker who is open-minded to that which was considered impossible are the handful of individuals that have changed our world. It is those possessed by some evil essence that are the only ones who wish to destroy it.
As a child, I was read a ‘fairy story’ about a beautiful princess and a young prince who wanted to marry her. Her father didn’t want to approve his suit for her hand, because if he ‘struck’ her with iron three times. she would die. The prince assured him that he would remove all iron implements from their life and persuaded the father to accept him as a son-in-law. He eventually relents. Of course, the inevitable ‘accidents’ happened despite all the prince’s best intentions, and she did die, with her grieving and now helpless husband looking on at her bedside.
This is an iron age myth of the interaction between iron age and stone age peoples, which is a lot more benign than what actually happened, but it draws attention to the terrible fragility of stone age society in the face of the new technology.
And let us be clear as to what that means. The death of the princess is symbolic of a larger ‘death’ within a given historical timeline. History’s losers ‘die’ because they can no longer carry the ‘zeitgeist’ (the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time) that animated, legitimized and empowered their span upon the stage of history. The fundamental truth of history (if there is to be ‘truth’ found anywhere) is that every new regime is built over the literal and metaphoric corpses of its predecessors; every last one of them.
But it is the deliberative conclusions made by the individuals that survive that determine whether that new ‘regime’ is to be one of freedom and benefit, or the pain and suffering of coercion and tyranny. Choices perpetually exist that are overlooked or dismissed due to fear or ignorance. We have much more ignorance than we need.
In my culture, such moments were encapsulated in the Roman, Viking, Saxon and eventually Norman invasions of Britain. The Norman King William crushed Saxon insurrection when in 1069-70 his troops massacred/starved perhaps up to (but probably rather less than) 100,000 people. The regicide of Charles 1 after a long and bloody civil war was another.
When part of the regime starts to have regrets, it is sure sign its own ‘time’ is coming, because the wear and tear of history has worn down its legitimacy, revealing its own weakness, self-doubt, shortcomings, decadence and inability to coherently and confidently focus on why it still has a right to be there. It is vulnerable to anything floating by, like any old entity waiting to die, usually first symbolically and then later concretely, as a fact of history.
Is it truly the ‘wear and tear of history’ or is it the degenerative environment created by the incompetent, the ruthless, the horrendously and irrationally selfish, or is it some kind of natural progression? In every instance I have ever seen, it is the quality and integrity of the religious and political ideologies that deteriorate over time and creates a dystopian paradigm with an inevitable conclusion. No regime has ever gone out a winner, or on a winning streak. They all wither and die from the inside. The epitome of a cancerous growth.
Pathological identification with history’s losers is a bit like an inverse Stockholm Syndrome, whereby the winners fall for their victims by clutching redeeming latter day defeat out of the jaws of discredited old victory.
But even many Empires had beneficial and positive aspects and concepts. The fact that they could not sustain them is founded in other attributes and vices that brought the systems down. Even today in the U.S. it seems that it is in decline, but not because of the system as originally created and developed, but by the intrusion of corruption, nepotism, drastically ideological and hidden agendas, irrational self-interested and incompetent players with no concern for anything past the time of their own existence, even in relation to their own families and legacy. It is the existence of these horrible individuals that are allowed to remain in power by the very people they have sworn to protect that dilutes whatever positives that the system may have made evident to begin with.
Without individuals of moral philosophies, those of character and integrity and with the ability to think critically, there is nothing that can replace what already exists without those same inappropriate players taking over within the new paradigm. Without fundamentally and consistently good people, it is simply the attempt to do the same things over and over again, and expecting to achieve a vastly different result. As we all know this is commonly known as insanity.
And yes our aboriginal brothers and sisters have been very easy for urban ‘intellectuals’ to romanticize into Rousseauian ‘Noble Savages’ blessed with an ideal lifestyle ‘at one with nature’ and ‘the spirits of the land’. But the truth is that this might only be very nice for everyone if the population of this over seven and half million square kilometer island continent were still between three and seven hundred and fifty thousand (or whatever the latest Woke 'historian' has fluffed it up to), which was what is speculated to have been here before the outside world crashed in. That micro-population, which was divided into small bands spread across the continent, was likely the maximum sustainable for an ultra-low productivity ‘walkabout’ economy with a Mesolithic stone age standard of living.
The challenge is to recognize whatever beneficial aspects we can take away from an investigation into the culture, to continue to respect and understand the existence that they had to endure, to put all the information into a reasonable historical context, and to conclude what could be an advantage or a benefit to us all in the future. It is the same with every culture that has ever existed, whether it be the Australian aboriginals, the American Indians or the African tribes. A cornucopia of failures and successes. It is our objective to determine what may help us as we walk into the future.
All up, this insignificantly small and scattered continental population was around 150,000 (or more) fewer than the city of London in 1800 and the lower end of that estimate was the same as the accumulated British army losses for the Napoleonic wars, which were about par for the course for major territorial conflicts of the time. To have pretended that the population of a small European principality could legitimately claim some kind of continental 'nation' sovereignty would have been regarded as laughable. For those still in possession of their rational faculties, it still is.
The concept of ‘property’ is well beyond the understanding of most of our demonstrative protestors on the street. It would do them well to comprehend that which they condemn. I find it amusing that while they will tell me I cannot own the resources below my feet, or should not, it is perfectly logical to them that a handful of individuals, even if the first to set foot on some parcel of land, up to and including a continent, can claim sovereignty simply because they existed. Not an easy conversation by any means, but without focus and context, there can be no discussion, no definition of problem and absolutely no considerations of resolutions.
Yes they did stone age really well, considering how much practice they’d had, but who wants to live a stone age way of life now, even if it were remotely possible, except perhaps as a tourist who might, as a transient observer, appreciate an ancient narrative of place, of tall tales and true from the legendary past….? It might even work as part of a Duke of Edinburgh style living-off-the-land challenge for young bourgeois urban softies in need of a bit of bush ‘hardening up’. But it there is no way of bringing the stone age back from the dead, because even in really remote Afghan villages in the foothills of the Himalayas, the local gunsmith can make you a moderately reliable and serviceable AK47, for a very reasonable price, from scratch.
But who actually believes in land spirit worship anymore? Are we getting all indulgently dewy eyed about aboriginal ‘culture’ because our own is bankrupt and we can no longer bring ourselves to believe our own creation myths any more? Anyone for Genesis? …. I don’t think so. So what is the river serpent telling us that Adam and Eve don’t?
I have no issues with individuals believing in land spirit worship, but it is the idea that they somehow can arbitrarily proclaim themselves as caretaker without the need to converse, discuss, debate, consider and determine exactly what it is that needs to be done.
We should all respect and venerate the planet we live on, but there will always be practical considerations unless the intent is to create a genocide of historical proportions to bring the population numbers into a more manageable number. No one is promoting that . . . . yet. It’s in the works.
It can only be education, and philosophy is a part of that, that can ever hope to bring about a resolution through true cooperation and understanding. I see no intent or even acknowledgment that this might just be the answer. I hear nothing else in the cacophony of the demands of the ignorant. But then again, that would suggest that their positions are of little or no value whatsoever.
Why is it in some circles really fashionable to make fun of the Biblical Genesis and then go into reverential overdrive about equally unlikely stories of ‘the spirits of the land’? What sort of ideological gobbledygook is that? And is it really a good idea to be blithely encouraging the more atavistic (relating to or characterized by reversion to something ancient or ancestral) and reactionary (diehard opposition to ‘progress’ or reform)) elements within aboriginal society when so many of them haven’t really got their heads around the modern realities?
There seems to be an intense dislike of religious belief systems for any number of reasons. One is that the morality of many religions often clash with the ideology of those we may call secular. The contradictions lie in the fact that they both paint their criticisms with the same broad brush of generalizations, when they should be determining similarities to set standards, and argue differences with all of those ‘attributes’ that they both profess, tolerance, open-mindedness, empathy, etc. I find that I disagree with both of them most of the time, and ironically, for the same reasons.
While religion and God are quite mystical, the natural mysticism is easier to embrace and there is no real dogma or hierarchy within the parameters of this spirit worship. This reduces the effort needed to confiscate the legitimacy that others feel for the movement.
Sure, modern societies are making a mess of the Garden of Eden, and they’ll have to do something about it if they do not want to end up themselves on the rubbish dump of history. But it won’t be ‘the spirits of the land’ that wake us from our modern dreaming so much as scientists, or failing that, disaster. And we won’t be going back to hunting and gathering, even if the worst happens; Mad Max perhaps...Aboriginals have nothing to tell us about that because they haven’t the first idea how we are going to support twenty-two million people in an environmentally disturbed, chaotic and violent world, or even themselves if the government welfare money stops turning up every fortnight. The old bush skills aren’t what they used to be in most places these days….
Things are rarely and obviously black and white in practice. I am not so sure that investigation and contemplation of the ‘spirits of the land’ could not be instrumental in making an attempt to get back to some natural basics such as respect, empathy, compassion and cooperation. Perhaps not in the context of the ‘stone age’ as you put it, but with the addition of our modern knowledge base as well as technological and scientific findings. A blend of both might give us the opportunity to discover more about ourselves as well as those around us, and give us a more substantial and legitimate chance to make some of the changes that are so desperately needed.
Instead of allowing us to be pulled backwards into that Stone Age, maybe we can pull the best of what they may have understood within nature into our own paradigm to create change.
Sure, some elements of aboriginal communities still have an extensive knowledge of their environment, and it has become increasingly obvious that the rest of us have plenty to learn about their traditional fire management practices, bush tucker and pharmacopoeia.
There you go. There are valid and rational reasons to look at what is known as the big picture, and refrain from throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
Had aboriginal communities been more engaged with their modern neighbors, and got enough modern education to be able to adapt their very considerable knowledge to modern forest management, horticultural and agricultural production methods, and marketed them properly, these practices and products would have impacted fire management, taken up significant space in our food and drug manufacturing and distribution chains, and gone into export overdrive, long ago. And in the process, some of our aboriginal brothers and sisters would have made some serious contributions to fire management science, made some money out of native species horticulture and showed the way out from being fortnight to fortnight welfare pensioners to being professionally paid forest managers and environmental scientists, to being enterprising creators of wealth.
The question being who is it that gets to make such a decision? They need to want to do this, and it is irrelevant what the rest of us think is an appropriate response to the relentless march of time and technology. This is not to say that I don’t agree with you to a large degree, but only that the issue of coercion is what perverts and corrupts our own modern systems to begin with. We need a more rational and human-based perspective to accomplish such an objective.
Right now, the main players in the indigenous foods industry are, as one might expect, non aboriginal. Ditto for bush pharma products. And the sellers of indigenous food are presently screaming for more supply because their local and global customers are realizing these products are very novel, tasty and nutritious eating.
How does one attempt to control such an environment without coercion, more laws, and that simply complicates the whole corruption and power struggle thing among the parasites and opportunists that feed off of any society at any time throughout history? This is a fundamental question. I support the right of people to take opportunities and turn it into something positive and beneficial. How do we rationally control the time and effort a fully legitimate individual puts into a creative and innovative outlet? I am not sure that mankind is mature enough to even consider this question. We have failed miserably to this point in the attempt to address these kinds of issues.