Debunking identity politics in the context of a multicultural society
|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'.|
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.
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 fluff, crib, fudge 'n bluff, marked entirely by ideological cliches, stereotypes, slogans, aphorisms, euphemisms and dysphemisms (opposite of euphemisms).
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.
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.
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’.
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.
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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’).
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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….
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.
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.
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.
Yes, aboriginal societies were unceremoniously shoved out of the way when at last history caught up with them, the very second anyone could project sustained naval, trade and economic power into the far South Pacific sufficiently to get past the very hostile north and western approaches to this continent, that insulated its inhabitants for so long. Inevitably, their economy, way of life and culture were always going to be regarded as a living fossil representing a long dead tradition everywhere else, whose social license and use-by date had expired eons ago!
That is why the continent was categorized as terra nullius (nobody’s land). It was very belatedly awaiting settled tenements that had been extant elsewhere for thousands of years, since the first villages were formed in the late stone age. The incoming system didn’t ‘do’ ‘wanderments’. And why would it? Why would it indulge an entirely serendipitous survivor from the deep past that did not have the slightest capacity to defend itself from anyone or anything that was ineluctably (inescapably) advancing upon it?
What is more, as the modern paradigm spread across the world, it varyingly replaced and/or modified all other native land title so as to try and replicate, as far as practicable, the new model of a much higher productivity agricultural method and the necessarily more concentrated land ownership and alienation of the commons that had started in the metropolitan centers with the onset of the enclosure movement and the expropriation/marginalization of small scale peasant holding.
This was the sine qua non (an indispensable and essential action, condition, or ingredient) for the globalization of the modern paradigm (pattern, model, organizing principle) and the emergence of capitalist and later socialist iterations of it that rendered obsolete the traditional labor intensive peasant means of rural production in all areas except two to three crop a year rice paddy farming.
Moreover, where land has been or is being redistributed back to aspiring native farmers in former colonial areas, the new peasant wannabes are discovering just how undercapitalized, unromantically hard, insecure, low productivity, debt hazardous and dead poor peasant farming really is, or how quickly the system can fall back into the hands of money lenders, bigger/smarter operators and absentee rentiers, because agricultural commodity prices reflect the economics of mechanized production across agricultural units big enough to enjoy economies of scale.
To roll back a modern system of land tenement in favor of traditional tribal ownership is even less rational than the post-colonial land experiments in Zimbabwe (where there are now suggestions it might be a good idea to bring the white farmers back) and very likely now South Africa, where elements of the ANC still haven’t digested the extent of the Zimbabwean agricultural disaster. Nor is anyone going back to hunting and gathering, other than perhaps with a rifle and a four-wheel drive. And large estate management is an enormous cultural, organizational, capital and knowledge intensive exercise in effort, risk management, asset deployment, and command and control, that demands everything of its acolytes, including a substantial knowledge base that can only be had by getting an advanced modern education, combined with a willingness to work in a very focused, sustained and disciplined fashion.
Entrepreneurialism is a culture like anything else. One has to learn it. One can give people money and land, but one cannot give them wealth. There are huge leaps from fortnightly hand-to-mouth welfare handouts, to earned income and saving, to creating capital and using it productively. Most people who suddenly come into a lot of money, just blow it.
All that heartwarming Mabo legal revisionism was really just a clutch of latter day urban liberals dressed in modern possum skins, trotting their guilt ridden prejudices out for some fresh ideological fantasizing and elaborate legal walkies, designed to cock-leg-and-piss in aboriginal pockets, and encourage them to welfare rot in the ruined detritus (debris or waste) of their stone age dreams, indefinitely...as if anyone can bring the corpse of hunting and gathering, let alone the remnants of its ‘culture’, back from the rubbish dump of history! And the pretense that it could be done has been the harshest cut of all.
Fifty years after the Wave Hill strike led by Eddy Mabo, the remnant old Vesteys’ property left after the Mabo settlement has one aboriginal employee out of 23, because the jobs require skills the aboriginal community don’t have, nor likely to ever have. There used to be 200 aboriginal stockmen, but new technology has removed the requirement for those low tech skills (http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2016-08-19/working-at-wave-hill-station-50-year... )
The land adjacent that was symbolically given to Vincent Lingiari and his people by Gough Whitlam in 1975, which was supposed to become some kind of alternative economic asset base for aboriginal enterprise, gradually collapsed and now is just a decaying holding bay for welfare recipients, except for the occasional government funded house and community building projects, which are slow to eventuate and impossible to maintain properly because there are no building trades skilled labor in the aboriginal community. They don’t ‘do’ much regular unskilled let alone skilled labor. So such exercises have to be done at vast expense with fly in fly out imported labor.
The take home is that the indigenous society of Terra Australis was an economic and cultural dodo with deeply entrenched and specialized consciousness that had been living on borrowed time for millennia before the trauma of modern times actually removed their ancient reverie, gave them the terrible truth about what their real position in the world was, and showed them the enormity of just how much new cultural information and practice they would have to ingest, to get into the game as modern players.
And that game has so far eluded most of them.
But for Mongol pressure on the Great Wall, it could have been Ming Chinese who came here in the early fifteenth century to trigger the inevitable catastrophe of a multi-millennium time hike. And if the British had lost the battle of Trafalgar, it would have been the French, or an Anglo-French combination that might have brought on some Island continent version of the mid eighteenth century North American inter-colonial wars. It could have been the Dutch if the East Indies hadn’t been quite so fabulously profitable. And then there were the Spanish and Portuguese, who if they had got lucky and found the Ballarat gold, three hundred years before the British did, they would have provided the locals with the benign governance for which they were so famous in South and Central America.
It wasn’t a matter of if it would happen, but when and by whom. It would have been a lot easier if it happened more gradually, when early farming, with its production of wealth surpluses and territorial accumulation, began to marginalize and/or absorb and/or expropriate hunters and gatherers elsewhere. The long delay made it much harder and more sudden when it came, because aboriginals were not dealing with neolithic/bronze age villagers, but societies that were infinitely more dynamic and corrosive. These entities would inevitably overwhelm peoples who were so profoundly habituated to the same rituals and habits for thousands of generations, they could not respond to a blindingly bright new day, where even the hand of friendship would wilt them with the same efficacy as greed, malice and violence.
The overwhelming lesson was (and is), that no one owns anything that they cannot defend against someone who would take it from them, whether it be national sovereignty, land, social position, inheritance, affection, industrial/commercial dominance, a job, promotion, capital or a world land speed record. Just because aboriginal populations had been here for a long time didn’t mean their social license was permanent. And pretending to them that it was and is, is lying to them.
Once nature’s defenses were breached and modern farmers and graziers arrived, hunting and gathering was instantly reduced to an obsolete archaism. And saying ‘sorry’ to them merely feeds their lingering fantasies that they are still in the right; that their ancient ways are still somehow ‘operable’ and that bringing them the blunt realities of a long overdue real world catch up is not a legitimate project that has to be responded to and embraced. It helps freeze that agenda and entrenches the inertia that keeps them just where they are; almost helpless and disintegrating socially and existentially....
It is a very cruel joke being played on them by people who congenitally can’t tell the difference between compassion and indulgence, because they themselves are the creatures of an economic system that is built around indulgence, with a social ideology designed to service it.
This is where it gets interesting, because to try and explain the continuing paradox of a perverse romantic aboriginal iconicity and their simultaneous paralysis in the face of modernization, in an apparently well established, extremely attractive (people die trying to get here) and opportunity rich (compared with almost anywhere else), modern and now diverse multicultural immigrant successor society, isn’t simple and is covered with elaborate layers of narrative and exegesis (critical explanation or interpretation of a text) that conceal far more than they reveal.
There are two prongs to this. The first is what is going on in the dominant late modern firmament (a sphere or world viewed as a collection of people) and the other, what is not going on in the aboriginal one.
Aboriginals and their communities have become pawns in a much larger game of power and legitimacy jostling in the dominant society, manifested through competing European (and now multi-ethnic modern) ideological ‘dreamtimes’; i.e., ‘white blindfolded’, discoverers, settlers ’n pioneer modern farmers and graziers versus ‘black armbanded’ colonial invasion ’n massacre of the rightful old owners of the land.
These paint-by-numbers cartoons have been possible because aboriginal passivity in the face of overwhelming modern forces enabled all the non aboriginal parties to paint straight over them in acts of political …. dreaming.
These reflect mostly their own ideological agendas and needs, as either on the one hand, ideologically ‘Wet’ petty bourgeois bureaucratic and/or academic state functionary professional-hand-wringing-feel-the-pain empathists and moral high ground attitudinizers accuse naughty colonialist and imperialist villains of fascist genocidal invasion crimes against humanity, and on the other, ‘Dry’ realpolitik economic doers such as miners and agribusinesses, including the old Establishment at the Melbourne Club...and the young gun free market corporatists down at the Thatcherite Institute of Public Affairs, defend the colonial and post- colonial good boys club, deny that it was as bad as all that and claim manifold good deeds.
And if this drivel looks vaguely like the ‘King John was a bad king with a vicious carpet eating temper’, as opposed to, ‘He was really a decent well meaner who had to contend with bad barons who would enrage anyone into eating carpet’, you have it in one.
And it begs the question as to what the enlightened peoples’ progressive liberation fronts were doing during the colonial period, other than staring glumly at their petty bourgeois navels and very quietly gnashing their decaying teeth. Even if they were only marginally aware of what were always ‘fascist genocidal invasion crimes against humanity and decency’, where the blazes were they? Where were the mass protests demanding fair dos for aboriginals way back when? Where did they go wrong? How did they miss this glaring example of injustice and manifold unfairnesses? Why did it take until the 1960s for righteousness to carry the day?
And the answer (excuse) of course is an updated version of, ‘Had good King Richard (Bad King John’s older brother) known about his younger brother’s badnesses, not been tied up in the holy land saving the Christian World, and not got himself killed there, everyone would have been saved….’ You know, the progressive good guys who really mattered were too busy with furthering the interests of European struggling masses and organizing the revolutions of 1789, 1830, 1848, 1870 and 1917, to pay much attention to a backwater like Australia. Thus progressive colonials, although hungry for proletarian leadership against imperialism and racism, lacked the correct party line. They therefore manifestly failed in their historical mission to bring self-evident justice and enlightenment to the ignorant, peel the scales from their eyes and mobilize them to overthrow the land usurpers, restore aboriginal hegemony and march together as one towards the golden dream time….
The other and more obvious answer is that the claims made for the universal and timeless principles of the libertarian Woke historical narrative are post hoc (occurring or done after the fact) rationalization to further much more modern struggles. Aboriginals become ‘racist’ leverage for their mainly white welfarist social libertarian sponsors, who needed ‘Poor Thing’ victims of rotten imperialism to beat their regime free market competitors with, in lieu of the now defunct class struggle and socialist version of metropolitan European history….
They desperately needed that leverage because by the 1980s, when the Vietnam brou ha ha had died down after the discreditable ‘peace dividend’ after-parties on the killing fields of Cambodia and the ‘re-education’ camps of Vietnam (and the subsequent 3 million refugee exodus), they no longer had a mass/class following that they could mobilize to confront capitalism directly through grass roots action on a large enough scale to matter.
And if one needed a really brutal example of how little traction they have now really got, the present CO2 climate issue is a terrible reminder of it. Insofar as it is is going to be resolved at all, it will be because of internal contradictions between competing wings of corporate capitalism, new technology and capital flows towards it, not popular mass action, except at the petty bourgeois margins in the inner cities; you know, the 12-15% of the electorate that represent bureaucrats, students, the professionally qualified (older ex-students) and their utopian Woke trained ‘leading edge’ caf chatterers.
But the really big mother opportunity the White Wokes just couldn’t resist was the chance to use a captive community of lost souls for a really brutal social experiment to test the infallibility of the unfettered (unconditional rights stripped of responsible and accountable adult agency) libertarian ideal….and completely trashed what was left of those communities, while they were about it (See following). And the spirit of that campaign was absolutely identical to the parallel commercial/industrial experiment being rolled out at the same time; i.e., the transnational privatizing and deregulatory push towards free and unfettered markets, whose effects have been equally devastating.
The liberal ideological pushers in New Zealand couldn’t colonize the Maori colonial narrative to anything like the same extent as the aboriginal one, because the Maori were robustly assertive interlocutors (persons who takes part in a dialogue or conversation ) who (unlike Australian aboriginals) responded to European influence and power with considerable energy, curiosity, enterprise and aggression. And while they still lost the bulk of their land (retaining only three out of sixty-six million arable acres, concentrated mainly on the North Island, which was, as of 1950, about half what it should have been on an overall pro rata population basis), they were not without some political leverages or articulate modern tertiary trained leadership of their own to mediate their interests. They did not and do not need Pakeha to tell their stories for them.
There was never a Pakeha walkover in New Zealand for white historians to send their explorers ’n pioneers’ into, as if the locals just magically melted away into discreetly tucked away reserves…. Nor are Māori merely ‘poor thing’ invasion and massacre victims (other than massacring each other and occasionally Pakehas), as anyone who has read a bit of NZ history and met a few of them would readily attest. And while they have suffered many of the same pressures and adverse outcomes as Australian aboriginals, they are and always have been far more inclined to balance disciplined traditional roots and modern practice, in ways that ensure many orders of magnitude greater participation in the modern economy than their aboriginal counterparts across the ditch.
There are personal narratives to this, which have informed my attitude to the Māori…
My first home of my own (which I bought in the early ‘70s) was four doors away from a private ‘cold turkey’ drug rehab house run by a couple of pakaha (white) Christian New Zealander missionaries. The wife was a pakeha whose father had been a Christchurch gangster who abused her. She had fled her home and sat outside a Māori longhouse marae (community compound) for a week. They threw stones at her, but she refused to leave. They eventually relented and let her in. She lived with them for some years. They Christianized her and brought her up in a disciplined (even young men could get a whack or three from a matriarch if they ‘crossed the line’) but loving environment, where the first up in the morning was best dressed.
To repay the enormous debt she felt she owed them and the religion they mentored her into, she became a missionary, which is how I got to know her...
When I was working in the Pilbara for twelve months in 1971, there were plenty of Māori and Melanesian Thursday Islanders in the construction camps, but the local aboriginals preferred to squat in their flyblown humpies just out of Roebourne, within easy walking distance of the pub. If the aboriginal community had shown the slightest interest in reliably working in a modern industry, they could have walked into well paid jobs like the Thursday Islanders and Māori. The mining and construction industries would have loved to have had an educable and work willing indigenous population like the Navajo high-rise construction ‘skywalkers’, that didn’t have to be flown in and flown out, at vast expense.
[By way of stark contrast with the Australian mainland aboriginal population, between 2005-2015, Māori participation in higher education was consistently a quarter greater than the Pakeha (European) population of New Zealand (https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/statistics/indicators/main/student-engagemen...). (https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/maori/105966/maori-tertiary-edu...). And while this has tended to be concentrated at the industry training and certificate course end of the spectrum, one can see the Māori community working its way out of the ‘Rogernomics’ slump in the eighties and early nineties and demonstrating a serious resolve to be modern economic participants in a multicultural milieu. (See http://www.victoria.ac.nz/som/research/dhc-publtns/MaoriResearchStrandDiscussion... pp7-9, that teases out Māori efforts to culturally differentiate and define themselves, while at the same time growing their own economic enterprises and upskilling their participation in the larger economy).]
Māori integration and upskilling into the modern economy is a work in progress, with quite a bit of ground yet to be made up, but they are on it and noticeably catching up. (See https://nzier.org.nz/static/media/filer_public/de/31/de315bcb-3188-4760-b21d-348... )
Māori are nobody’s ideological pawns. They are very proud people. And it would be an excruciating faux pas (an embarrassing or tactless act or remark in a social situation) for some Australian well meaner to try to suggest in Māori company that they were in any sense ‘helpless poor thing victims of colonialism’, as if they were never able to give a good account of themselves, or cannot handle and get past the blows of history, and make good on their own account, both as individuals and as an ethnic group, on their own terms.
They are very not happy with what happened after the 1840 treaty of Waitangi, but they do understand that it was negotiated when there were 80,000 them, many of their young men were armed with muskets and well trained in their use, and only 2,000 Pakaha, who needed to speak Te Reo Māori to get by, relied at least in part on Māori farmers for food, and their labor and boats for transport services on land and sea.
At the time, these formidable people had sufficient leadership, organization, resources and clout to be serious interlocutors, and brought enough substance to the table to be able to strike a deal with. And while the rebellious Māori majority lost its subsequent wars against the Pakeha (and their allied Māori tribes) they never became passive, defeatist and withdrawn into an ethno-cultural twilight.
Ongoing negotiations over the treaty since the 1970s have become a tool to extract reparations and concessions for Pakeha promises that were largely reneged on in the hundred years after it was signed. The important thing about that, was that latter day re-negotiations were not just about restitution of some culturally significant land and water rights, but much more importantly, capital and institutional leverages to empower Māori communities in the modern economy. This has at least in part, stimulated far more substantial Māori community involvement in education generally, but also participation in the tertiary training sector in particular, and community economic enterprise that is commercially viable, and not a handout.
The treaty renegotiations are mainly about propelling the Māori into being fully fledged modern indigenous citizens, which they want to be, to be distributed across the economy the same way as the Pakeha are, but also armed with the cultural resources and leverages you would expect in a modern multicultural society.
None of this is to suggest that industrial revolution and the subsequent modern takeover of Australia and New Zealand by European populations wasn’t a very tough process, with ‘difficult’ outcomes for the people who were successively at the bottom end of the metropolitan and then imperial feeding chains. Capitalism and the modern period it has created was nothing if not catastrophically disruptive of ‘business as usual’. But almost wherever this thrust of modernization arrived, it adapted to local circumstances as did the natives, in varying degrees, to the modern paradigm. Australia was an exception, because the time and technology shift was so large, it proved impossible to bridge at even the most basic levels.
However, if it is the toughness department that condemns ‘white’ imperialism to being nothing more than an early template for ‘fascism’, we only have to go to the Chatham Islands off New Zealand to get some perspective. The local Moriori population had been Māori who because of local environmental circumstances, had returned to a hunter and gatherer economy. In 1835, Māori on the mainland got wind of the place through reports by whalers and chartered a ship to take them there. They proceeded to slaughter the population. The survivors were enslaved, treated with great brutality and all but 101 out of 1700 original inhabitants remained alive by the time Pakeha colonial authorities rescued them, 27 miserable years later.
The Māori made no apologies. It was their ‘culture’ you see…..
And if the Japanese Imperial Army had ever succeeded in taking over Australia, the attitude and the treatment would have been exactly the same. Aboriginal society can thank its lucky stars that the white colonial bastards fended them off. The Japanese didn’t tolerate insouciance (casual lack of concern/ indifference), slowness to obey or not obeying to their satisfaction. Its military agents would have rapidly worked out that aboriginal populations weren’t really trainable to meet their very exacting work and service standards, despite some ‘vigorous’ initial efforts at ‘persuasion’; you know, beating or flaying a few people to death; that sort of thing....
They would not have hesitated to round them all up and shoot everyone...which would have been a real ‘fascist genocidal massacre’.
The Japanese were right into genocidal massacre and mass rape. Between December 1937 and February 1938, in the city of Nanjing, Japanese troops murdered 300,000 out of the 600,000 Chinese soldiers and civilians still in the city after its surrender, and gang raped between 20,000 and 80,000 of its women. The Japanese press ran photographs and articles about smiling and giggling officers having samurai sword beheading contests….What a larf!….Over the entire war, the Japanese accounted from between twelve and twenty million Chinese….
‘Fascism’ is just another social libertarian hyperbole (exaggeration) and cliché (platitude/hackneyed phrase/aphorism) to describe anyone who is even vaguely firm in their use of authority and power. Real fascism means total militarization of the means of production, mass mobilization of populations for military service, extremist institutionalized external aggression, internal state terror, and a propensity for deliberate killing on an industrial scale.
The Japanese Imperial Army was a past master at the genre, and not just elements of it, like the German Waffen SS, or its Einsatzgruppen (Jewish, Gypsy, partisan and communist apparatchik liquidation units), but all of them. A Japanese officer could beat one of his own men senseless on a parade ground for a small disciplinary infraction, and that behavior found its way all the way down the rank and file through to anyone who came into their power.
The conversations around race in Australia survive as they do because the aboriginal response to the shocks of modern times was to slump into perpetual mourning for lost worlds and to if not ignore every effort to bring them into the modern fold, only engage on very limited and grudging terms.
By spectacular contrast, the thoroughly medieval sword wielding Japanese went from having their metaphoric front door smashed in by an American naval squadron in 1853, to watching rapturously in 1904, as their national newspapers gave them blow by blow accounts of how their completely state-of-the-art, self-built, manned, led and gloriously victorious imperial navy sent most of the Russian Baltic fleet Far East Squadron (the bulk of the fleet) to the bottom and forced what was left to surrender.
The Japanese had a different attitude, and while they were the fastest moving top feeders in the transformation into the modern firmament, just about everyone else was similarly scrambling for their piece of the action, albeit from very different starting points. And the speed and efficacy of that transition was a function of how fast people could transform ‘their culture’ so that their society could engage in the process of modernizing.
Most cultures are sufficiently forgiving and elastic to provide enough wriggle room to move right along. The aboriginal one proved not to be. Sixty thousand years of deeply entrenched business-as-usual proved impossible to break and so they slumped instead.
Many of the white imperial bureaucrats who came to Australia had cut their colonial teeth in India and Africa, dealing with natives who were on the whole, as keen as mustard to have whatever it was the whites were having, so that they could get, as in the case of India, promotion into the imperial bureaucracy, the professions and for some, the intellectual/organizational tools to become modern commercial/industrial players. By the 1880s, British university educated native Indians were working at senior levels within the British imperial administration. Gandhi was admitted to the bar in London by 1891.
And in Africa, missionary/secular education prospered, motivated by the same kind of local ambition. By 1857, Sierra Leone had its first native African bishop, Samuel Crowther. (His successors have been outstandingly successful evangelists. It is estimated that 40% of the global Christian population will come from sub–Saharan Africa by the 2060s). And colonial administrations really needed trained Africans in West Africa because whites just couldn’t survive the unforgiving tropical environment there for very long.
These colonial bureaucrats expected when they came to sunny Australia, something a bit more Africa than India, except scaled down in its ambitions, so that aboriginals could at least get a toehold into the modern system. But even the missionary-based literacy basics hardly happened. Slumping did.
In 1849, an exasperated and mystified NSW parliamentary select committee concluded that education was not a force for change within aboriginal society and redirected the funding for aboriginal children back to non-aboriginals. (https://ab-ed.nesa.nsw.edu.au/files/timeline1788-2007.pdf)
The Japanese, when confronted by the modern threat, swallowed their colossal pride and went to school en masse, so that they could be instructed by foreigners, to get their knowledge base up to speed, so that they could build a modern economy, as fast as it could possibly be done. Pretty nearly everybody else tried to do the same, but from a lower base, a bit slower and with perhaps not quite the commitment of the Japanese.
The only others besides Australian aboriginals who were notably dilatory (slack and sluggish) about modernization were the Chinese, who didn’t think they needed to learn anything from anybody, especially hairy faced powder skinned ‘barbarians’. The price of their tardiness was simply hideous; the destruction of a 4,000-year-old empire, its enormous imperial administration, education system and all the appurtenances of a centralized state. It was reduced to warlordism within 70-80 years, followed by Japanese invasion, followed by a communist revolution; hideous!
Aboriginals got the same result, but at the bottom of the feeding chain, where it was easier to tidy away the equally ghastly results of non-adaption, in reserves away from the public eye and where administrators were able to rather clumsily try to salvage something by removing and trying to modern educate part European children, who might have some chance of escape the doom of their full blood brothers and sisters. Religiously converting and educating half castes in Africa had worked quite well.
That operation slumped too, because policy collapse in the face of slumping meant not only was the system underfunded (‘pouring good money after bad’) and under supervised (out of sight out of mind), but lack of appreciation of the trauma of the salvage operation itself (ripping established families apart) compromised it from the beginning.
And while that is very easy to criticize in hindsight, all the options were poor; slumping on one side and increasing frustration leading to indifference and contempt on the other. The choice between leaving half castes where they were or trying to rescue them seemed to colonial administrators like a no-brainer at the time. In retrospect all the options very likely were just as dysfunctional as each other, whether the children were left in situ, or taken. The only options were to either rot with the losers of history or rot with its victors. There wasn’t enough intercultural common space of mutual understanding for a more negotiated compromise, so silence, failure, passivity, inertia, loss of respect, creeping exasperation and an increasing willingness to entertain tougher options filled the void.
It is not that some of this didn’t happen in other colonial theatres in varying degrees, but in Australia there was a permanent stalemate that wasn’t going to go anywhere partly because aboriginal society was just too deeply entrenched in its customs and traditions to move with the times and partly because the jump from Mesolithic stone age to modernism was just too great, from both sides of the equation.
When the wretched Chief ‘Protector’ of Aboriginals in Tasmania, George Robinson, tried to introduce the locals to settled living, peasant agriculture, Christianity, self-policing and primary education, the exercise crumbled between his fingers, as the once-wanderers died like flies from the diseases of settled life, and the rest fell into a slough of despair and torpor, dying of existential brokenness; a reminder of the fragility of the stone age princess, who died by being ‘struck’ by iron thrice.
The colonial authorities did not want a repeat of the killings in the absurdly lopsided Tasmanian ‘Black War’ where aboriginals suffered 3 to 4 times the casualties of their European enemies, but ‘protection’, whether in Tasmania or anywhere else on the sub-continent, turned out to be no better...than anything else that has been tried since.
In 1976, South African children in Soweto put their lives on the line (and hundreds died) because they were not prepared to accept not just Afrikaans as the language of education (rather than English which they saw as an an empowering international language), but the segregationist philosophy and third-rate black education system going with it, that forever condemned them to be ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’, which was the clear Afrikaner agenda.
Black Africans wanted the empowering features of a modern education, which the Boers feared and denied, which is why they closed down the black university of Fort Hare in 1959, because educated black Africans were a threat to them. Modern education meant political and economic leverage and everyone understood that; everyone! The African children and their parents ‘got’ education, furiously resented being denied it and put their lives on the line to get it.
They wanted to assimilate into the modern paradigm at all costs, so that they could get a piece of the action. They wanted ‘assimilation’, even if it meant giving up some traditional African attitudes and practices and learning the disruptive ways of the new masters of the world. Unlike the exclusionist segregationism of the Afrikaners, assimilationist education was all about the opportunity to get a place at the modern table, even if it started on a very humble bench right at the far end from the top of it.
Compare and contrast that and the efforts of our Māori friends across The Ditch, with our aboriginal brothers and sisters… In 2014 the Northern Territory government employed up to 100 truant officers to get aboriginal children to school, which is a replica of a program tried in Queensland a couple years before, and failed, at vast expense...slumping.
Slumping is perverse and willful, but it is a very effective misère (destitute) hand where incompetence and tardiness are trumps, because everything gets dropped into a verdantly excuse rich too hard basket. But even worse, there is an ideological peanut gallery out there in the multicultural wilds of the inner-city cafes, cheering them on, with every wonderful rationalization imaginable, as to why it is impossible for the ‘disadvantaged’ ‘victims of history’ to ever raise themselves out of their pathetic and hopeless slough (swampy situation characterized by lack of progress or activity).
There is a parallel bureaucratic universe that administers this outrageous state of affairs that not only panders to it, but makes it much worse by offering human rightsie moral privatization that bolsters individuals against community accountability and delivers egoistic disinhibition (liberty with the responsible agency removed) and borderless moral/behavioral deregulation to a people that have already developed a long tradition of picking up on all the more rotten aspects of modernization, shared with the non aboriginal bottom feeders, like poor attitude, terrible diet, alcohol, gambling and drug dependency, tardy medical reporting, miserable treatment conformity and predictably poor outcomes.
Then there is the endemic permanent welfarism, (See Noel Pearson, https://aifs.gov.au/publications/reforming-australian-welfare-state/chapter-7-pa...) the egregious domestic violence, (https://mic.com/articles/49811/in-australia-aboriginal-women-are-80-times-more-l...) domestic squalor (http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2010/11/25/3076725.htm) and educational failure/nonattendance, especially in remote and very remote communities (http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/cashome.nsf/4a256353001af3ed4b2562bb00121564/be...!OpenDocument).
In South Australia, child welfare notification rates are up to near 9 out of 10 aboriginal children, compared with 4 out 10 for the rest of us, which itself is an appalling figure. (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-08/child-protection-systems-royal-commission-...).
In the Northern Territory, sexual abuse of children in remote aboriginal communities triggered a military and police intervention (‘The Little Children Are Sacred’ report 2007, pp 61-74. http://www.inquirysaac.nt.gov.au/pdf/bipacsa_final_report.pdf)
And the rate of aboriginal petty crime imprisonment is off the scale (In SA their criminal offending rate for males, as of 2014, was 16,500 per 100,000, according to the ABS).
Choose any unpleasant metric and aboriginal ‘communities’ are well ahead of the pack. Naturally, all of this is everyone else’s fault; i.e., the fault of a white colonial legacy, racism, discrimination and marginalization; i.e., nothing to do with the way that aboriginal society has responded or not responded to modern pressure, particularly in comparison to anyone else on the planet. Nor is it anything to do with indulgent ‘freebie’ welfarist libertarian ideas and the deletion of social and moral mechanisms to maintain, mentor and enforce responsible adult agency, that have been sold to aboriginal society (and the rest of us) over the last seventy years, which has destroyed most of the extant social infrastructure and handed the denuded and disempowered leavings to the sales and marketing teams down at corporateland.
The elephant in the room is the general disintegration of governance, brought on by deliberately kicking away the chocks that held it up, and then blaming colonialism and racism for the unrelentingly deepening mess in already very vulnerable aboriginal communities.
This larger trend has been sponsored by corporate indulgence capitalism as well as its once-social-libertarian-now-neo-clerical-Woke-lackeys, who have substituted disinhibition for disciplined and genuinely empowering liberty. The human rights movement has become a Trojan horse designed to destroy society in favor of markets by selling the easy benefits and ignoring the much more difficult bits. The customer is always right. Consumer ideology turns rights into freebies; anything that disarms restraint, discipline and proper training for it; removing anything that gets in the way of the formation of vulnerable and inconsequential egos who can be sold anything, because along with the misère hand, is life without boundaries, wrecking as it goes, creating a swathe of steadily worsening inter-generational moral and social inconsequentiality in its wake.
Moral humanist empathy, compromise and flexibility has become a debilitatingly compromised and weak soft touch that is so intellectually blunted, it cannot tell the difference between compassion, tolerance and empathy... and high expectation rules based bottom line destroying indulgence and excuse making!
When Maggie Thatcher said there was no such thing as ‘society’, she was referencing something other than this bald statement seen on its own. But the reality was, fundamentally, the requirements to privatize, deregulate and reconstruct freedom as disinhibition was the real agenda, and regardless of political orientation, all the libertarian regime apparatchiks, social and corporate, are on the same page and ‘progressively’ devastating the social or ecological commons as they move ‘forward’.
And the only reason that the rest of the society isn’t in as bad a condition as the aboriginal one is that it had more fat in the system to keep itself going for a bit longer, even though these days it isn’t travelling terribly well either, whether it be the pandemic of deliberate looting of the global financial system in 2008 by corporate banksters, or the looting of inner cities that followed after, by welfare street trash in London and other regional cities.
And then as icing on this corrupt cake, white petty bourgeois ideological barrackers have the brassy front to warble on about an ethereally undefinable and mystical aboriginal ‘culture’ that concretely, as we speak, is making a permanent and wretchedly degraded home for itself in the welfare sub branch of the valley of the shadow of marginalization, dysfunctional ineffectuality and willful denial of any responsible agency.
But there are winners in all this; the very same Great White (and nearly white) Hunters ’n Gatherers of the poor, downtrodden and oppressed, who find employ in the aboriginal bureaucratic ‘industry’ that spends $43,000 for every aboriginal man, woman and child per year, in perpetuity, deploying all that money for almost no discernible effect other than to keep themselves in secure stipends. And in a hundred years’ time, if it is left to them, we will be having exactly the same asinine (extremely stupid or foolish) conversations about how and why ‘helpless’ aboriginal communities have insolubly intractable problems.
But wait, no, there are successful ‘aboriginals’, who are making it in the mainstream, like the aforesaid ethnic fudger, Harley Windsor. However, a little teasing out is necessary here.
There are two ways these ethno-cultural narratives have been constructed. The first was the case of Australia’s first academic arts graduate, Charlie Perkins. He started his modern journey as a mixed-race kid of 10 (an age old enough to board away from home), living in a semi-tribal community reserve. He was removed (voluntarily in his case, which was a critical advantage, because he was sent with family blessing, not taken from them) in 1946 from his reserve to a Christian mission hostel in Semaphore, Adelaide. This enabled him to go to mainstream schools in the area and get apprenticed to a trade (which in those days is what you did if you failed/lost interest at school at the end of year 9). However, he did well as a soccer player, which became his passport to opportunity and support, and eventually that became a stimulus for him as an adult to go back to education. He was able to eventually get himself into Sydney Uni from where he graduated in 1966.
[To put this latter day against-the-odds modern assimilationist triumph into some sort of context, the first Māori did it in 1893. The South African black university of Fort Hare opened its doors to students in 1916. By 1880, there were 45 black colleges in existence in the US. By 1890 in British India, there were 60,000 Indian matriculants with 70% of the middle level management of the colonial system in the hands of non or part Europeans; a tradition incidentally that goes on today from within British style Indian elite ‘public school’ boarding institutions and universities, still deeply indebted to these almost completely intact legacy institutions left by British colonialism.]
So….. the only way that young people in Charlie’s reserve community were going to get on in the world was to escape theirs and be brought up by non aboriginal mentors, to make their way in the modern firmament. It was a tough gig in those days and not just for aboriginals. Anyone who was a bit ‘foreign’ and ‘different’ got the same treatment, whether ‘reffos’, ‘Paddies’, ‘Krauts’, ‘Wogs’, ‘Wops’, ‘Dagos’, or just a slightly autistic Plummy Mouthed Pommy Bastard’, like me. And if one had a thick skin, could ‘take it’ and/or was any good at sport, one got by, and Charlie certainly did on that front.
Charlie didn’t get anywhere because of his aboriginality. He got somewhere despite it. He came out of a system that brought out the worst rather than best, in a community in really parlous condition. He had to suffer the reputational damage of his people (‘racism’) and their internally self-defeating voices on top of the ordinary barriers to an outsider in a provincially narrow and insular society only just beginning to open up to the world.
He moved into this dominant society chronically behind in educational attainment. As has already been noted, modern education was long standingly not a priority inside aboriginal communities and white administrators had long since given up trying to make them go to school. So attendance was voluntary, desultorily (half-heartedly) attended and, not unnaturally, very poorly funded. Charlie really struggled, failed at school and was apprenticed to fitting and turning. He had to battle his way through all the way, with a gutsy resolution to absorb the setbacks, ignore the internal voices and the external detractors, to try and make something of his life and talent.
But because of that, and his sporting prowess, he did keep attracting important mentors and supporters, who at critical times were willing to invest effort, money and time into him, because they could see he was worth the trouble. And that kept helping him get over the line, building momentum and building him into the habit of kicking goals, literally as a soccer player and metaphorically in everything else he did.
At university, he was rapidly assimilated into the emerging 1960s dominant white liberal petty bourgeois version of history, of which he naturally became a prominent tailor-made pinup boy.
He very understandably took like a duck to water to the white-guilt-poor-helpless-thing-victim-my-story, not just from the hopeless, ugly, defeated and defeating politics of slumping, and the miseries of the paternalism that was the response, but the university union caf undergrad ‘culture’ developed by cliques of youthfully authoritative ideologues, who already ‘knew’ all the low down and had all the positions on Vietnam, South Africa/Zimbabwe and the oppression of aborigines, and could keep it really simple for themselves as much as the struggling masses, in three easy to remember words; racism, imperialism and colonialism.
They had absolutely no presentiment that the Viet Cong and the Khmer Rouge were not benign, black African nationalism (with the exceptions of characters like Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu) wasn’t either (dictatorship, corruption, economic decline/collapse and failed statism), or that there was far more negative stuff going on in aboriginal communities than just white racist paternalistic bastardry. But their colossal ignorance and selective vision was no barrier to the success of their slogans, or the saving grace of absolute dogmatic certainty, or the political force of their assumed self-righteousness.
Charlie’s Freedom Rides were fabulous razzmatazz PR and gave his white 'progressive' student supporters the thoroughly mistaken impression that they were really getting ‘to know’ the ideological inside dope on the struggles and oppressions of their new, but very slight aboriginal acquaintances, while passing on the message of ‘liberation’ not just from ‘paternalistic racism’, but (as it turned out) anything at all; you know, life without boundaries.
Anyone familiar with Charlie’s exploits liberating the Moree swimming pool from racial segregation should check out the heart-warming legacy he, his white confederates, the bureaucratic aboriginal industry he helped found, the local aboriginal community and the moving feast that is capitalism, collectively left behind for his and their successors to enjoy. See http://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/story/2541039/moree-hits-rock-bottom/
Chaos and decline...
The constitutional referenda that included aboriginals in the census and brought their affairs under the ample bureaucratic wing of the federal government was not only a feel-good bonanza, but it promised wads of new funding and jobs in a whole new federal bureaucratic industry.
From there, like many of his white university mentor/supporters, he was assimilated into a good job in said aboriginal affairs bureaucracy and he was a pretty good bureaucrat. Good luck to his arm. Better than being a fitter and turner, and light years from the Rainbow Town reserve from where he was so fortuitously plucked, and turned, with a great deal of support, into that still all too rare a specimen, the ambitious and successful aboriginal.
The truth was that Charlie Perkins owed zippidy do da to his ‘aboriginal heritage’ other than a brown skin and some childhood memories of a pretty grotty life in a place he made very sure he would never stay in longer than quick visits to see the rellies.
Charlie’s home reserve was your typical Slumpy Hollow, because the whites had no idea what to do with his people other than tidy them out of sight for the lowest possible cost; where everything crumbled and fell down because the community had got its head up its dreamtime where the sun don’t shine, and where hapless white officials, who would be rather somewhere else, practiced frustrated and futile paternalistic one hand clapping.
No one could be bothered...slumping...unlike the indigenous Melanesian Thursday Islanders in the Torres Strait, who went on strike against the paternalistic system and won...way back in 1936 (the year Charlie was born)
The Thursday Islanders went on strike because they were very tired of being arbitrarily lumped in (Blacks are all the same, aren’t they?) with the feckless ineffectuality and incompetence of their very distant mainland cousins, that had justified across-the-board paternalism in the first place!
The much loved John Douglas, the ex-premier of Queensland, who took up The Residency there between 1885 and his death in 1904, worked collaboratively with the Thursday Islanders and resisted paternalism in his bailiwick, because it was plain that it was an entirely unnecessary Brisbane policy import to be imposed on mostly hard working, missionary educated and god fearing community that was nothing like its mainland indigenous neighbors, were quite obviously capable of managing its affairs and clearly keen to do so.
When he died, they suffered the paternalism and resentfully put up with it for over thirty years, until the anger boiled over from a pearl fishing industrial dispute that politically widened as it went.
And even as late as the early 1970s in the Pilbara, while they were very circumspect about how they expressed it to white guys like myself, the missionary educated ‘TI’s’ didn’t approve of the local aboriginals and thought that they and some of their grottier social practices ‘let down the team’, as in, ‘We have been involuntarily lumped in together with them and their poor performance therefore reflects badly on us, as well…’.
But it wasn’t just the administrative paternalism that was a dysfunctional failure in the Slumpy Hollows all over outback mainland Australian. Equally mystified, futile and frustrated white missionary predecessors to later more secular humanist do-gooders, attempted to make their aboriginal charges objects of religious inclusion, modern education and charitable good works with the same wretched results as their government administrative counterparts. The donating charities had just enough money to employ people and set up the basics, but it never created any community momentum and really, for everyone, including government funding agencies, the investment was pouring good money after bad.
In the end, political policy degenerated into keeping the slumping decently out of sight, because no policy was delivering anything. Nor was it likely to, any more than it was going to in the equally incompetent, dysfunctional and devastatingly undermining hands of the social libertarian orthodoxy that followed.
By way of contrast, the Thursday Islanders helped support their church from their own funding. At considerable expense, the entire community, including the Melanesian faithful (no wads of government aboriginal funding in 1913) built a chapel wing onto the Quetta cathedral church as a memorial to John Douglas. In particular, the beautiful stained glass window in the knave, of an ageing Saint John, with a face in Douglas’s likeness, was funded exclusively by the native population as a thank you for so long defending them from being lumped in with aboriginals on the mainland and giving them the appropriate as well as benign governance they deserved.
On Thursday Island they still celebrate the coming of missionaries on July 1st 1871 as a public holiday to mark ‘the coming of the light’. The position of Christianity on the island and in the region is similar to that of New Guinea, where it is a central part of the way of life and culture. It is a modern overlay on muted (but persistent) traditional beliefs and practices, much in the same way as in Europe during the ‘Dark Ages’, when Christianity spread and superimposed itself atop older pagan practice.
By the time white paternalism crumbled on mainland Australia, missionary Christianity crumbled with it, because in the end, that was all that was holding it up. The Christian message mostly didn’t get through because none of the new messages were getting through to a culture whose conservative and reactionary insularity and overwhelmingly long tradition of stasis (a state or period of stability during which little or no evolutionary change in a lineage occurs) paralysed it in the face of sudden, dramatic and totally unprepared for change.
At least if you looked at Charlie, you could tell he was aboriginal, and no mistake, which meant no one at the time had any trouble figuring out who and what they were talking to when they made his eventually famous acquaintance. The same cannot be said for Lilly Brown who was the first ‘aboriginal’ graduate from Cambridge university in 2013 (152 years after the first African American son-of-a slave did it). She is just like Harley...Lily white, but with perhaps a bit of southern Italian somewhere…
But she is different in a second important respect. Whereas Charlie got his thoroughly depressing cultural roots from the reserve he left behind as a kid and his intellectual cultural perspectives from the union caf, Lilly got stories about her aboriginal ‘cultural roots’ second/third hand, partly from the child memories of her uprooted mixed ancestry grandmother (like Charlie, removed from home as a child, but in her case, involuntarily, which almost guaranteed she got neither enough aboriginal nor modern culture to do any good in any direction), and partly from the petabytes of uni library material that now plots the white liberal line on the perfidies of white fascist Australian colonialism.
Unlike Charlie, she’s a born and bred culturally European urban petty bourgeois from the semi-rural outer eastern suburbs 40 km out of Perth and has had the same opportunity to be successful as any other kid in the multicultural mix of that community. She would have been 500% better off than any of her Sudanese or Somalian peers. And unlike them, she could get a Charlie Perkins aboriginal scholarship to Cambridge.
She is the face of ‘aboriginal’ success, and it is Arnhem land to a grain of sand that when one looks at all the aboriginal firsts that are not sporting or arts heroes, they are all Lilly Browns. Unless they have somehow and with great difficulty in the face of community indifference/hostility to ‘white’ (modern) education, escaped the cloying tribal clutches like Charlie did, they are very likely mostly culturally and genetically European ‘metrobigenes’ from the ‘indigenous lite’ school of empathy, identification and political correctness, growing up within a petty bourgeois lifestyle just like their well-meaning missionary predecessors did...and, like them, growing up to take most of the aboriginal administration budget for the same worthy and inevitable reasons….jobs for well-paid bureaucrat administrator/carers and academics, adding to the colonial perfidy pile up in uni libraries.
The Lilly Browns and Harley Windsors create the quite false impression of indigenous ‘progress’, when the reality is that back in semi-triballand, it is all turning to custard as ‘communities’ crumble into semi chaos. The Lilly Browns are a propaganda tool for a regime that is collapsing into chronic crisis and more into denialism about it than the tobacco industry was about the health impacts of its products.
It’s a bit like Reichsminister Goebbels’ protestations in the last months of WW2, that state of the art automatic assault rifles, Super Tiger Tanks and jet fighters were ‘throwing back’ the enemies of the Reich in occasional minor tactical victories that in reality were part of an overall strategic retreat. These technological and tactical ‘saviours’ were nothing of the sort, and neither are the Lilly Browns and Harley Windsors. They are ideological ‘racial’ cribs who create a quite false picture of ‘aboriginal’ progress, behind which are communities that are in the throes of existential annihilation, because in the end, that is what happens to people who have a history of poor adaptation to changing circumstances compounded by a white liberal social ideology and political practice designed to keep them that way.
The entire ethos of present dialogue over ‘aboriginality’ is covered in political cant, sloganeering, ideological groupthink and whole wardrobes of Emperor’s New Clothes. And it has become a thoroughly revolting and disgusting imbroglio for all concerned.
The emergence of the modern world has been traumatic for everyone at some stage, whether they were peasant displacees from the enclosure movement, forced migrants into the grim and satanic mills of the industrial revolution, involuntary custodial and often very poor economic frontier migrants going to remote, alien and sometimes hostile environments on the imperial outskirts, and the newly subjected peoples in them who were themselves being forced into being catch up time migrants right at the bottom of the feeding chain. At some point, it all caused trauma, suffering and hardship for everyone but a very few who were right at the top of the economic pile.
And even those fantastically wealthy British aristocratic families who did so well out of the agrarian and subsequent industrial revolutions and the imperial system that grew in their wake, are getting their turn at the rubbish dump of history, at the end of a systematic process of expropriating them by taxing them out of existence. No one’s social licence is immune to the winds of change.
But there have been spectacular redemptions out of the hardships that came with the growth of capitalism. These have emerged from the often-terrible conditions of industrial society, as people looked for opportunity and the challenges the new circumstances brought with them; education, ideas, new wealth, political revolution and collaboration in enterprises that transformed the world for both good and ill and that have made us what we now are, warts and all.
Anyone who has tracked the movement of the wretchedly exploited indentured labor for the plantations and mines in South East Asia and the South Pacific in the nineteenth century, can see the enormous influence those laborers and their descendants have had. Singapore is a centerpiece for the Chinese and Indian communities that spread throughout South-East Asia and the south Pacific in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Those colonial and semi-colonial migrants from China and India had to take enormous risks, endured terrible hardships, were often hated (and still are) by the locals, were paid pitifully small returns for their labor and had to resist legions of temptations that would separate fools from the very little money they had, so that their children would have something a bit better. And enough succeeded to put their stamp on the world we now have.
So, what have our aboriginal brothers and sisters brought to the table that might have added some value to the common weal? And the answer to that is painfully little. The only skill that many of them seem to have mastered really thoroughly is self-defeat. And their non aboriginal sponsors and champions have made an art form out making that look like a heroic tragedy with more excuses than flies on a hot day.
Non participation in the modern experiment is not an option. We can pretend it is for a while until the rotting foundations of this false consciousness caves in on itself. ‘Culture’ is a bogus defense against modernism. We can invent fabulous excuses for why it can’t be done and why falling by the wayside into the valley of the shadow of alienation, and existential annihilation is everyone else’s fault and the inevitable product of authoritative sounding ‘isms’, ‘disadvantage’, poverty, the outrageous ‘injustices’ of history and blah blah blah.
Welfarism is just an instrument of the status quo designed to protect it rather than its protégés.
If the kids in Soweto were prepared to put their lives on the line to get a piece of the educational and eventual political and economic action, why are we still trying to persuade aboriginal kids to go to school in remote communities? The latter need to see what the former could see...the possibilities, and possess a willingness and commitment to seize them, no matter what the obstacles are, like Charlie Perkins did.
This is a multicultural society. We make the journey into the modern mainly urban firmament much easier by encouraging people to bring part of their culture with them as part of not just making them more comfortable and less alienated by the migrant experience, but to enrich and mingle our populations. And as long as they do not try to import too much and cantonize/ghettoize themselves in it at the expense of participation in the broader modern experiment (or what is left of it) it may prove to be a successful exercise, until one day, like all things, it isn’t, as the western, secular, democratic and capitalist driven unifying factors attenuate (reduces the force, effect or value of). But we will just have to deal with that when it happens
That is the challenge to our indigenous brothers and sisters, who have not had the good fortune to have been plucked out of a culture of failure by committed modern institutional, middle class and familial mentors. It is time they took it up in their hearts, ran with it, sacrificed and risked everything to make it happen, as every other survivor of the trauma of modern times has had to do.
And only they can make that commitment. We cannot do that for them. And if they can’t or won’t, spare us the bullshit. Spare us the empathy, for the rest of us can see through it as spurious self-serving battening on ‘poor thing’ minorities, because getting a real mass following is no longer an option for the current crop of ‘churchy’ establishment do-gooders. Worse, the real beneficiaries of the empathy are the empathizers, not their ‘clients’. And political virtue has become the victim of its pumped-up self-righteousness, which politically is all it has got left to bless itself with.
The language of liberation has become hopelessly corrupted by expurgating (remove matter thought to be objectionable or unsuitable from) the critical ideological and social infrastructure and discipline that actually constructs high integrity individuals, empowers them with strong values and gives them the capacity to exercise authentic autonomous agency. It destroys them instead of progressing them. Thus the ‘liberationist’ language of race, ethnicity and identity has not only been hijacked, cribbed and fudged into an opaque and pre-emptive ideological attack tool, but it has been used a cover up for abject blame shifting, fantastically expensive failure and social destruction, by grooming vulnerable populations into a lemming like existential and social march, with all the safety gates left open.
All the client ‘beneficiaries’ can see is that the vacant space off the edge of the cliff will take the weight off their feet for a while, and that what happens at the bottom is just another slump. But what it really is, is something that is as close a seculars can make it to living in hell.
All these ideological sponsors have done in the nearly 50 years since 1970 is encourage land claims local communities can’t really manage without outsiders taking all the critical roles, and focus community attention to wallow in a permanently lost stone age past instead of engaging with the present and future, and coming to terms with turning defeat and displacement into an opportunity to move on and kick some goals for themselves and particularly their children.
If they can’t make it in Australia, they are never going to make it anywhere
Even in the way Australia Day is treated as a maudlin ‘Invasion day’ of grieving, simply delays an acceptance that not only was 26th January 1788 just that, but also the beginnings of the modern experiment in this continent that they are invited to join and benefit from as modern citizens, alongside a myriad of other peoples who do recognize the enormous benefits and rewards this country and its modern traditions offer them, and who often have had access to far fewer resources and boast infinitely more violent pasts than any aboriginal has had to manage and deal with in living memory. We have heard the ideological bullshit for too long and it is time it stopped, so that aboriginal communities can honestly face where they are really at and give this place their best shot.
It is waiting for them to catch the ride that started in 1788.
Get on with it guys, because if you don’t, the only real career path left is prison, sprinkled with intermittent periods of waiting to go back, and in the meantime, making the lives around you a lean and mean time, until you mercifully go back to your real home….And your sons will likely be the same. And your daughters will carry the same abuse and scars as their mothers...indefinitely.
Don’t you dare talk to me about racism mate. It is just a nasty weaseling dysphemism and miserable excuse for well-earned reputational damage that you are going to have to live down by changing your attitude and getting your arse into gear. Losing reputation is easy. Getting it back is hard. It is the same for anybody. Suck it up. Have a good hard look at your own prejudices for a change. Get a life with a bit more give and a lot less take. Have enough interest in the modern world to not just absorb its bad habits, but its good ones, so that you can become a real modern citizen instead of a Golum, inhabiting a dark place, nursing your resentments and the loss of the ancient ring of power, going blind with egoism and lashing out at/preying upon those even more feckless and impotent than you.
The age of indulgence is coming to an end. Get used to it.
The stepfather of my brother-in-law is half aboriginal. His mother was the last full blood of her tribe. He has made a career for himself as a union official. Throughout his life, he has gone back to his country for periods of cultural refreshment, during holiday breaks and long service leave. He has now retired up there to be near his people (even though they drive him nuts). He has done his duty as a tribal elder. He has earned his way and paid his dues. He has been both a modern man and the traditional tribal member and elder.
We need more and better education for his grandchildren than he had because we now live in a post manufacturing economy that requires service industry skills. They are getting that and they really do not need any special help from government. They are all but Europeans. His grandchildren have culturally moved on. But what they are really indebted to their grandfather for is not his aboriginality, but the legacy of his strong character, modern values, focused attitude and preparedness to work hard and consistently. That is what has stood his descendants in good stead. Without that positive legacy, their future would have been much more hazardous. Without him, they might well have been still using their ‘aboriginality’ as a crutch to justify their poor attitudes, marginalization and need for lifelong handouts. They owe their grandfather big time, because of the kind of man is. His ethnicity is beside the point.
Keeping his children at arm’s length from the tribal rellies by holding down a regular urban job well away from them has empowered his progeny to become modern citizens without being crippled by a loser legacy that they would then hand on to their own children, to disable them as well.
And fundamentally, that is the rub. Racistentialism is ideological bullshit that serves the interests of its purveyors, not its wretched subjects, who have been systematically screwed by their libertarian so called benefactors, almost beyond help, by being fed the false values of indulgence capitalism, its marketing and spruiking of desire, the disinhibited determination to sate it any cost, and the revolting sanctimonious hypocrisy of its quasi clerical/ecclesiastical social administrators and self-styled moral guardians.
May they all rot in the valley of the shadow of marginalization and the opprobrium of decent society.