Last month, Leonard Colquhoun produced a short article on Noel Pearson’s draft declaration: ‘Three Stories that Make Australia’ ( http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php/article/noel-pearson-stories-from-the-heart-of-australia ). As one might expect from a man of Pearson’s calibre, this narrative is both elegantly put and a politically astute document.
Firstly, he offers national roots that aren’t merely Johnny-come-lately 230 years old, but impressively ancient ones that are a recognized part of our common heritage. Secondly, he avoids the ‘black armband/white blindfold’ history invasion/settlement wars by merely acknowledging the subjective perception of them by each side and graciously recognizes the value of the industrial/cultural package the first fleet brought with it. Thirdly, he sees that multiculturalism has moved us all along into a more tolerant and inclusive milieu of racial, ethnic and religious diversity that he feels is now increasingly willing to embrace his long term agenda.
It is astute, because he has acquired the political discipline to limit the initial ambitions of the agenda to a recognition document/template ‘of no legal standing’ that can be constitutionalized and eventually embodied into a treaty at some later time, when the coalition Anglo-traditionalist die off and the multicultural character of society further diversifies and dilutes their political influence.
The thrust of Pearson’s declaration is as close as I have seen to an ideological motherhood statement that only traditionalist diehard could possibly object to. Right?
Well he is right about the diehards, who are just bound to see it as the thin edge of a wedge, which is why the referendum proposal sponsored by Pearson was knocked back by the Turnbull government in August last year. And the Shorten opposition, while making all the right noises, has been ‘cautious,’ as one is when it comes to referenda…
But as to those of us who are not ‘traditionalist post-colonial diehards’...Wrong….Pearson’s declaration is itself a very ‘traditionalist’ expression of libertarian humanist agenda with an admittedly elegant makeover, that continues to avoid making any reference to what aboriginal semi-tribal communities are going to do about becoming committed modern citizens and problem solvers, who distribute themselves across the multicultural way of life like everyone else, in ways that would make their fellow citizens want to associate with them socially, embrace the culture they bring to the modern table and and accept their history as part of their own.
It embodies all the traditionalist liberal humanist assumptions that everyone is to blame for the parlous condition of still semi-tribalized communities except them (and their ‘enlightened’ libertarian humanist sponsors, who have had the running on ‘racial’ agenda since the early 1970s) because they are ‘the helpless victims of invasion’ and the rest of us have ‘to do something about it’. Ergo ‘we’ have to make all the moves and adjustments for ‘reconciliation’ as ‘the guilty party victim makers.’ Aboriginal society isn’t responsible for anything, because by definition, helpless victims of history can’t be. And only if ‘we’ do ‘the right thing’, then, maybe they might be able to start to get their act together; you know, give them constitutional recognition and a treaty like the Maoris have got, they’ll start behaving like them and they’ll all be saved, because suddenly they will magically get the motivation to pull their fingers out…maybe…one day…
Well actually no ...The Maori were well organized, aggressively alert, and keenly interested in the first place, in whatever it was that made the Pakeha (Europeans) so formidable. Maori representatives appeared very early after the establishment of Sydney and were schmoozed by the governor with a view to trade. And they took to modern technology, agricultural method, literacy and western religion and native hybrids of it, like ducks to water.
They got a treaty not because they were morally ‘deserving’, but because they were formidable across a wide range of criteria that necessitated one. In 1840, when the treaty of Waitangi was signed, the Europeans were heavily outnumbered, at least partially dependant on the Maori for food and transport and they were well supplied with muskets that that they knew how to militarily deploy, use competently and maintain. Ergo a treaty…that lasted effectively for as long as those conditions continued to pertain…as with any treaty.
The only thing that Pearson’s declaration has got going for It is that it is the sort of document that a corporate PR consultant would come up with as a starter pack for a really tough agenda where the goal is to slowly erode ‘no’ and empower ‘yes’, as part of a strategically crafted and protracted campaign.
That is how the political game gets played these days. He knows he won’t get anywhere if he blithely charges in or furiously swears at politicians who do not go along with him. These days it has to be the Temple Grandin school of low dissonance mass herding that is the go. And if I were in Pearson’s position, that is exactly how I would proceed, because anything else hasn’t got a prayer of getting up in one go. So we stage it out and ease it in…slowly.
But I am not in his position…So let us deconstruct this little pile of ideological PR sweetness and light….which together we will analyse by taking Pearson’s three basic propositions and subjecting each of them to a repeating critique that recontextualizes in slightly different ways his and the larger arguments that swirl around ‘race’, ‘aboriginality’ and ‘multiculturalism’...and his agenda for dealing with them.
For a start, as to our prospective embrace of ‘ancient roots’, the modern tradition that crashed into this continent in 1788 owed and owes absolutely zippity do da to the previously extant hunting and gathering arrangements that had been edged out everywhere else five to ten thousand years ago. It instantly rendered them into obsolete, indefensible and absurdly past use-by date archaisms. They only still existed here at all because of their serendipitous isolation from where all the action was happening, and their fortuitously forbiddingly hostile Northern and Western approaches, which is where all the early traffic was coming from.
What actually eventually happened was that an out-of-time system that would only support scattered micro populations was casually pulled out by the roots and an entirely new and transformative ‘greenfields’ one was planted from scratch in its place, that would support a cast of millions here and has turned the continent into a major global food bowl and raw materials supplier for two centuries now.
No one was going to leave a seven million square kilometre island continent to the stewardship of a population considerably smaller than the city of London in 1800….that existed at those population levels because hunting and gathering wouldn’t support more than that. That would have been appropriate for the world of 10,000 years ago, but not in 1788 and even less so in the twenty-first century.
The suggestion that there has ever been any connection whatever between the old hunting gathering practices and the politically institutionalized and modern industrializing farming, mining and urban agglomerates that succeeded them, is fantasising. It was precisely that lack of any kind of common heritage, cultural assumptions or political/territorial leveraging (that existed between the modernizing imperium and agricultural/herding based colonial and semi societies elsewhere) which relentlessly played out in the depressingly miserable litany of intercultural failure that followed.
All over the world, the rude intrusion of the agents of modernity triggered variously dynamic responses, working down from the Japanese, who in response managed to successfully transform a resolutely inward looking medieval feudal society from scratch into a modern military-industrial state capable of defeating the Russians, within 51 years. Virtually everybody else scrambled as best they could to meet the challenge of modern times, even if that involved wrestling with colonial and semi-colonial status.
Aboriginals, in comparison with the Melanesians, Pacific Islanders and the Maori have been spectacularly notable for being the duds in the class. Their idea of embracing modernization is for everyone else to do it for them. Ergo paternalist ‘authoritarianism’ and its ‘guiltocratic’ libertine successors….One lot of imperialist villains filled the vacuum by doing what seemed obvious to do at the time, which was to take over all the ordinary functions of self governance and try and run everything. The other and later lot of masochistic empathists filled the vacuum with their (our) ineffectual hand wringing sense of vicarious fault, everytime some totally irresponsible, dysfunctional and chaotic lack of governance comes to light, like child neglect, domestic violence/sexual malfeasance and absurd imprisonment rates arising from an equally absurd propensity to offend against the law.
The children and parents of Soweto died in their hundreds in defense of their right to a modern and empowering education. We still have to employ truant officers to to run after aboriginal kids to go to school, because their benighted parents still don’t ‘get it’, because modern education isn’t ‘relevant’ to ‘their cultural needs’.
The Brahmin caste of colonial India flocked to British templated schools and universities and didn’t care whether they had to learn about the kings of England, as long as it got them a job in the imperial civil service! And ‘their culture’ travelled very nicely alongside the British one. The life and stellar career of the famous nineteenth century Bengali poet and British Indian judge, Satyendranath Tagore, was typical of the genre. And you won’t find better traditional British boarding schools than the ones in India today…that still educate the Indian elite.
While the Eddie Mabo case may have created an after the fact indulgent revisionist liberal fiction of recognizable ‘wanderments’ that would connect our current legal system to the original hunter and gatherer one, on the ground, Mabo’s legacy is a self defeating ideological ‘blankey’ comforter and crumbling netherworld welfare holding bay for people who are no longer hunter/gatherers, but still can’t come to terms/reconcile with modern life, even though their already chronically damaged society and ‘out-of-time’ culture is falling to pieces, which has been the problem since the land got carved up for modern tenements/proprietorship in the first place!
And my calculation is that as things stand, the Mabo tradition, along with whole tranches of other unsustainable theory and practice, won’t survive the eventual collapse of the libertarian humanist ascendancy (and its equally unsustainable corporate regime partners) because all that is holding it together is a social mythology that mainly props up and legitimates bureaucratic/administrative and pedagogic regime incumbents to maintain a protractedly uncomfortably comfortable status quo, that neither the regime nor ‘the clients’ really want to fix.
Everyone benefits from a welfarist system that entrenches the awful status quo and the practices and attitudes that ensure nothing changes. All the rest is just colour and movement, including big ticket constitutional agenda setting that makes the administrators look good, give the impression that they are ‘doing something’ and quietly obfuscates, excuses and blame shifts the chaos inside aboriginal communities.
The battle to spring a future proof latter day aboriginal root from within the dominant culture will be won by its capacity to seed and grow it through its economic substructure. From there it will osmose into the social relations of production and on into the superstructural cultural consciousness.
But to even start to do that means the broader still semi tribalized aboriginal community has to decide to come in from the cold, bring what is portable from the past and participate in modern life as modern citizens in ways that can translate some of the culture into everyday things and functions, across the whole economy. A smidge of that has happened in the arts, media and sport, but it needs to translate much more broadly, so that aboriginals become as familiar to us as Indians and Chinese, across all occupations, educational levels, roles and enterprises.
In New Zealand, the former governor-general, Sir Jerry Mateparae, was a Maori and ex chief of the defense of force. Last time I looked, our aboriginal friends haven’t managed a single officer cadet into or graduate out of our defense academy. The famous Captain Reg Saunders was promoted from the ranks. The first Indian American graduate from West Point did it in 1802…
I love the Defense Department’s intensive five and a half month residential ‘Defence Indigenous Development Program’ because it bends over backwards to give aboriginal young people who are chronically behind the eightball in every area of personal and educational development a chance to have a crack at a safe, secure, structured, disciplined and purposeful way of life is that is good for them and allows/encourages them to strive and thrive.
But if you look at the program curiculum blurb (http://www.defence.gov.au/Diversity/Indigenous/career/ADF/didp.asp) you can see what a cultural and educational mess the course providers are having to address and overcome, and just how much investment has to be put in to get the potential recruits up to speed to enter the normal recruitment training stream to become armed forces basic rankers, which is itself not a particularly high bar to jump.
The armed services are probably one of the very few institutional structures left in our deregulated society that still has a sufficiently coherent infrastructure to within limits, produce robust and disciplined individuals and patch up social product that has been poorly or nonexistently socialized. It isn’t exactly kiss-me-goodnight-sergeant-major parenting, but it is the next best thing and it is a killer app for getting motivated aboriginal kids out of the welfare cul-de-sac, into a better and more educated mainstream life, grow enduring roots into the modern world….and at the same time, have the opportunity to bring something tangible and worthy from their ancient past into the modern firmament, at personal level and into the defense culture.
However, the fact that the Defence people feel they need to make this gesture towards aboriginal communities to get them reasonably represented in our armed forces, at least at a ranker level, is a testament to the chronic paralysis, denialism and culture of self-defeat inside them. The armed forces shouldn’t have to be doing the absolute basics for young people from aboriginal communities that they should be doing for themselves.
It would at a thoroughly perverse level be a reassuring sign of their having arrived in our cultural hallway, to see pinstripe suited aboriginal mafiosi in dark glasses coming into the supreme court, accompanied by a bevy of white and aboriginal minders, solicitors and silks, to defend tax fraud and money laundering charges, instead of the usual marginalized petty crime, violence and chronic domestic disorder ...
A more positive example of this translation would be the emergence of transnational bush foods and allied products (including alcohol) industries that rival say the existing fruit, vegetable and wine industries; that is funded, managed and operated with aboriginal people represented as ought to be expected across all levels of the organization in proportion to the size of their presence in the general population, and not rather tentatively concentrated just at the bottom end. Its brief would be to shift the whole eating culture away from exotic foods to indigenous ones across multinational commercial platforms. And its brand would be an aboriginal face that represents a very ancient hunting and gathering tradition that has adopted/absorbed the modern suite of theory and practice.
The same applies to a range of industries where there is some component of ancient tradition, or an ethnic angle that can be exploited as part of the modern industrialization of aboriginal organization, labour and thought, which attempts to combine not just modern education and production, but also involve the rest of society as paying observers/consumers, employees and co-investors.
This might also apply to say bush pharmacology products; the industrial application of design and manufacture of hybridized indigenous and non indigenous fabrics, hides and skins into international identity fashion and its accessories; mass marketed iconic jewelry; bush perfumes; an aboriginal version of the scout movement, plus adventure tourism/bush practice/walkabouting; military stealth/survival courses and bush camouflage; architectural/landscape, design, furniture, decor, utensils and gardens that reflect aboriginal motifs, shapes, colours, plants and spaces; environmental/fire and land management services, embodying old custom and new science/management; inland fish farming (old style and new production/tourism); integrated camping and portable living design/products, old and new; indigenous cheffing in slightly smoky restaurants; native game tracking, athletic endurance and spear hunting as a modern sport; transnational aboriginal/indigenous travel and lifestyle/cultural immersion travel agencies….
In short, this would be a series of exercise to get into and influence the non indigenous ‘dreamtime’. The possibilities are endless and don’t have to end up as marginal labour intensive cottage industry ‘women’s business’ and half hearted flip flops kept alive with non aboriginal inputs and money…once aboriginal popular culture ‘gets it’ that a good modern education and motivation towards purposeful labour is a must have for every child, like it is with the Chinese.
It didn’t start like that for the Chinese. They thought that ‘western’ knowledge had nothing to teach them, and spent around a century getting the hell beaten out of them ‘til they figured out that it did, and then an equally baleful period recovering their rightful position in the modernizing stakes that their prevarication cost them in the first place. It isn’t ‘Western knowledge’ anymore for them. It is modern knowledge and their near fanatical acquisition of it means they are cleaning up on all the professional and business routes into our middle class, as their metropolitan Middle Kingdom ‘motherland’ heads back to being world power number 1….
Mainstream semi-tribal aboriginals could do that ... modernize ... with commitment!
And along with that commitment and the sort of activity it is bound to generate, is the much more general production of a distinctive civilizational indigenous brand that becomes a recognizable artifact within our common culture. The aboriginal flag design is a microsetp in shifting the collective imaginative horizon towards that journey, but it has to move from being ‘a bush track’ to a ‘cultural and economic highway’ to mean much in the larger scheme of things.
When that happens, aboriginal claims for special legal status turn into a quite different sort of discourse that would lead in quite different directions, as the dominant culture started to spontaneously take on not just aboriginal iconography, product and services, but the sort of things they celebrate.
Christmas and Easter are becoming tatty, commercially shop soiled and desperately in need of a spruce up, by merging/associating with other traditions, including aboriginal ones. They were once Christian adaptations of pagan winter and spring solstice celebrations which have evolved into culturally empty consumerfests in need of a more authentic ‘dreaming’, ceremony and ritual that connects back into land and landscape…Very nice, but it won’t happen outside the cultural margins until aboriginal communities move decisively towards the economic/social/cultural centre.
I suspect that the present public sector humanist fetishes about Australia Day and our constitutional arrangements will defocus into popular culture shifts that will give aboriginal people something concrete to celebrate about themselves and their engagement in the modern world (and ours with them), that will largely bypass the bureaucratic and political/legal policy wonks who now dominate proceedings. When aboriginal communities start to see 1788 as as much an opportunity as a downer, and that the invasion narrative is a self defeating feed in to perpetual neo traditional denialism about modernity, then we can start to have real conversations leading to grass roots dialogue that is as much personal and social, as institutional and political.
That new cultural root that connected an ancient world and new would be authentic, organic and spontaneous, but more than anything else….genuinely growing… and not on perpetual fiscal life support, political diversion and ideological fakery, pushed along by white humanities trained political minoritarians who have lost their mass base and find aboriginals a useful vehicle to ideologically experiment with, as well as try to stay in the political game with their corporate economics department regime opposite numbers; or pushed along by aboriginal leaders who like their Pan African nationalist predecessors, escaped the tribal hayseeds through modern education, but found them convenient as pawns to pursue their urban nationalist careers….
Secondly, the ‘invasion’ vs ‘settlement’ argument can’t be just glided to leg as if it didn’t matter, because it really does. The invasion narrative is central and crucial to the demands being raised by men like Pearson and his libertarian humanist supporters. More, the argument itself needs to be put into a context of a humanist ‘church’ v a corporate ‘crown’ intra regime legitimacy powerplay in which aboriginal communities are more bystanders than anything else. This is an upper echelon libertarian humanities graduates v libertarian economics graduates game that is going to empower elites, not the rank and file.
The humanist ‘church’, which the likes of Noel Pearson belong to, rests its moral legitimacy and institutional power on the invasion narrative by posing as a benign, liberating and empowering counter to and restitution for the ‘bad ‘ol days’. I will argue that they are they are nothing of the sort and they are just as much regime apparatchiks as any of the other bastards. They are not benign.
Further, the argument is so raddled with cliches, stereotypes and narrow ideological orthodoxies, the competing historical narratives are little more than propaganda cartoon caricatures. These invasion/settlement narrative parodies obfuscate more complex and intellectually authentic critical judgement with some chance of breaking the iron grip of a status quo, in which aboriginal communities are falling into an existential abyss; one that is going to be increasingly difficult for them to get out of unless the current level and quality of discourse, who is really engaged in it and the attitudes underpinning it, including the invasion narrative, change.
The spread of new population into this continent wasn’t just a bit of British geo-political imperial aggrandisement to acquire territory to use it to get rid of unwanteds, but to keep other imperial wannabes out and forestall the risk of another set of intercolonial war like the ones that blighted North America thirty plus years before 1788. Britain was in a long standing play for keeps race against the French which was a winner takes all affair and the South Pacific became part of the prize, the moment habitable land was found.
(By way of aside on this, a non commissioned sailing master and naval surveyor/cartographer by the name of James Cook, cut his professional teeth in North America during the 1750s and 60s, in naval/military operations against the French, while also doing critical cartographic work in support of them, eventually doing North Eastern coastal mapping in the immediate wake of that war.
His work was so good, his charts are still usable today.
They are a silent testament to what was later driving subsequent British interest, policy setting and settlement agenda in the far South Pacific, in which the continuing French threat in the area was a front and centre consideration, until after the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Terra Australis would not be a politically and militarily divided continent. This has been an immense mercy we have all subsequently blithely taken for granted as an always inevitable fixture of the place. It wasn’t at the time and had to be sorted by that bloodbath known as the Napoleonic wars, that were fought between 1803-15.
They cost the British Armed forces around 300,000 men, which was less than a tenth of the overall war deaths throughout Europe. It cost the French losers nearly a million men. This puts aboriginal sufferings and loss into some kind of wider perspective as to the colossal cost in blood and treasure that was being paid at the time for real estate, including here Down Under. Just because that cost didn’t have to be paid down in this region or this continent, didn’t mean it didn’t have to be paid.
Honed by constant warfare with the French throughout the eighteenth century, late century British naval dominance is why this continent was only ever visited by French scientific geographers and cartographers like La Perouse, Baudin and d’Entrecasteaux, and not by warships. But even so, during the brief 10 year Anglo-French war hiatus from 1783-93, La Perouse arrived in Botany Bay only a few days after Governor Phillip et al and reinforced the impression that the French were definitely sniffing around, and would be sending colonists of their own if given half a chance, as they had done in North America.
When Cook’s voyage reports were published, no one was more interested in them than Louis XV of France. Aboriginal Australia was doomed. It was just a question of who would get there first and when.)
The migratory wave that hit this continent was also part of the roll out of dragon capitalism, which was the most dynamic economic growth and time/event accelerator to ever appear on the historical stage, which rapidly destroyed and reconstructed everything in its path. No one was spared, whether within the imperial metropolis or at its frontiers. On top of that, as it went along, it redefined and reconstructed the nature of reality itself and the constructs we would populate it with, which we called ‘modern times’.
There was absolutely no way of evading it for long, no matter who or where you were. Not even the colossally wealthy aristocratic families that kicked the whole exercise off were able to avoid being themselves eventually swallowed in its maw, as they were systematically taxed out of existence….expropriated.
Whether this decisive shift is described as an ‘invasive’ negative stereotype’ or a seamlessly dissonance free business-as-usual ‘settlement’ positive one, is at least on the face of it, irrelevant anyway. Nobody’s social licence is permanent, for anything. If one cannot secure/defend a relationship, or social role, possessions, a job, promotion, an industry, your land, or your country or its position in the world order, you lose it and it isn’t yours anymore, as it very nearly wasn’t when the Japanese imperial forces appeared on Australia’s doorstep in 1942. So why should aboriginal tenure have been any different…other than as intra regime propaganda leverage or a latter day Rousseaian ‘noble savagist’ ideological self indulgence?
Time of tenure is not of the essence. Everybody’s hunting and gathering ancestors were somewhere or other on the globe 10,000 - 65,000 years ago. And the only reason the ones here stayed that way was because no one could get in or out the place until someone had the motivation, wealth and technology to project sustainable power into the Far South Pacific.
It was pure luck it wasn’t the Ming Chinese who arrived here in the early fifteenth century, under the eunuch admiral Zheng He, whose massive fleet of nearly 28,000 men and 317 ships, some of them 120 metres long, was eventually called away from its voyages extending from east Africa/Arabia to what is now Indonesia, because of entirely fortuitous barbarian pressure on The Great Wall.
And it was luck that kept the Japanese out in 1942, because if we hadn’t been rescued by the Americans, our aboriginal brothers and sisters would have rapidly found out what ‘fascism’ and ‘massacre’ really meant; you know, being rounded up and shot en masse, as a whole ethnic group, all in one go; that sort of thing, as the Chinese found when they lost between 12 and 20 million of their people at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army. Its eye watering brutality and ruthlessness was exemplified in ‘The Rape’ of Nanjing in the winter ‘37-’38…which was a massacre of between 100 and 300 thousand Chinese soldiers and civilians and the rape of between 20-80,000 women….Perspective….
My ancient iron age Briton ancestors had been on their island for forty to sixty thousand years when the Romans arrived and took over/invaded/settled/whatever….and mercilessly put down resistance. The Britons had to get over it and learn to live with them and do as they were told. Over nearly four centuries, they Romanized and when the bastards left, the Britons mourned, because they knew and loved what they were losing and properly feared what its loss would mean. The Gauls across The Channel were the same. They initially fought the Romans tooth and nail, but became the empire’s most loyal citizens, right to the bitter end, because over time, they were honest enough with themselves and practical enough to recognize that the Romans brought with them a superior social and economic system in the wake of their superior military one…as long as it lasted.
The indigenous way of life here was just dumb lucky to last as long as it did, and not so lucky, because instead of being gradually overrun and absorbed by late stone age villagers, it got a ten thousand year slam/dunk by an avalanche of ‘global villagers’ streaming out of primary accumulation stage capitalism, which is the price anyone would pay for being a historical latecomer to the biggest economic, social and cultural convulsion in the history of our species.
Whether it is characterized as an invasion or a settlement, local aboriginals, unlike most other colonial and semi-colonial peoples, have not so much mismanaged as slumped their way through this very tough for everybody shift, and have showed an enduringly obdurate unwillingness to learn new ways and ideas…and abandon old ones that didn’t or couldn’t work anymore. And not surprisingly, this turned colonial policy towards them, which had been primed by the much more positive modernizing engagement with other colonial peoples elsewhere (who were much more interested in whatever it was the white people were having that gave them so much power) into a hopeless game of one hand clapping, no matter what it did, whether well intentioned, indifferent, or anything else.
The reality was that the whole migratory experience from 1788 on was a ‘resettlement’ exercise for everyone involved from the detraditionalized peasant/urban displacees from the industrial revolution in Britain, who came with the first fleet to the modern equivalent of Mars, to aboriginal displacees, who were equally compulsorily ‘resettled’ in equally uncomfortable and distressing circumstances. Modernization was tough all round.
But it was also a ‘resettlement’ in terms of time as well as spatial/geographic relationships, as hyper-dynamic new economic pressures subjected whole populations to massively accelerated and compressed event successions that uprooted every kind of tradition. Everyone experienced some version of ‘future shock’ and the need to scramble and keep scrambling to find new niches for themselves on the existential cliff that is modern times.
The argument is infinitely more complex than the sort of infantile Monty Pythonesque historical parody about ‘good King Richards’ and ‘bad King Johns’; you know naughty imperialist invasion and poor thing aboriginals, that passes these days for historical narrative and discourse.
In that context, the helpless invasion victim narrative provides an indignantly juicy excuse rich legitimacy for hopeless inertia and paralysis that can never be solved, is everyone else’s fault and must be permanently administered and embalmed by the well paid white sisters and brothers of humanitarian mercy…and their grandchildren…who will maintain this paralysis forever…if it is left to them.
And in this they are increasingly aided and abetted by a small but growing class of all-but-non indigenous petty bourgeois brought up and educated ideological ‘metrobigene’ cronies, whose ‘aboriginality’ provides a very good impression of ‘aboriginal’ progress, even as the vast majority of urban and remote still semi tribal communities keep imploding into nightmarish disorder and chaos. This is what you get (and not just for aboriginals, but non aboriginal and bank board ‘world-owes-me-a-living’ social and corporate welfare recipients) when one foists on them welfare as a permanent intergenerational system, sauced with irresponsible disinhibition posing as liberty, theft as ‘enterprise’, indulgence posing as empathy, and asserting unconditional rights/privileges with all the training, disciplines, obligations, stewardship, moral integrity and autonomous/self-managing social agency ripped out.
The libertarian humanist regime that runs the aboriginal industry is not benign. It is an administrative arm of the deregulatory and privatization agenda of indulgence capitalism; i.e., an economic system whose production and consumption is geared around indulgent egoistic fantasizing, where the limitations of mere needs and wants, or for that matter any discipline that might obstruct impulse buying, no longer constrain production growth horizons, or any ‘other impulses’. These include a lot of grotty ones over which the victims of this process no longer have internal control mechanisms to deal with them.
And just to press that point, its humanitarian socially deregulatory and privatising ideology declares discipline and constraint as ‘authoritarian’ and ‘repressive’ consciousness…and regards any desirable fantasy-want-need as an unconditional right which no one has to first earn and learn anymore because indulging customers rather than empowering citizens is what democratic societies have fallen into. An indulgent economy produces an indulgent society armed with indulgent libertarian ideology that eats its children and anything else it touches.
The humanitarian libertarians deliver a deregulatory and privatized social culture of liberty and rights that is identical to its corporate version, which can be cut and pasted straight across to sales and marketing inc, for it to take over the space and turn the ideologically ‘liberated’ (disabled internal self management controls) into social software stripped shop troops and contractor drones, who really are helplessly enthralled by the most powerful management tools ever devised.
It is a very sophisticated form of privatized totalitarianism that is a much of a gulag (the name given to the Soviet labour camp system as popularized by Alexander Solzhenitsyn) as any of its state totalitarian predecessors, but the prisoners cannot bring themselves to leave because they are held not by barbed wire and guards, but visions of paradise brought to them by the proud sponsors, that destroy them as surely as any other slave camp charnel house.
Indulgent libertarian humanist management is not benign because its separation of liberty and rights from the very onerous demands of social and moral education and responsible adult agency, disempowers and destroys the autonomy and human character building reproductive infrastructure of its wretched clients, which is now everybody, because it now effectively controls the entire system of social administration; i.e., education, social welfare, health and substantial tranches of the law and politics.
But aboriginal communities are much worse and more immediately affected than bank boards, which at least originally had a bit of upper crust existential fat to live off…for a while.
Aboriginal communities haven’t been traveling well for over two centuries, so they were bound to get ripped to shreds immediately by the laissez-faire so called libertarian and human rights agenda pedaled by the humanities trained ‘libertarchs’ since fantasy based indulgence capitalism rolled out in the late 1960s; i.e., fantasy based production churn where the iconic imaginative dimensions of products and services become more important than their concrete uses and utility, more quickly disposable than their often already deliberately truncated useful life, are consumed by people who have had so much of the autonomous social software removed they will buy anything and all the above is legitimized by a libertarian social ideology that enslaves them to their desires (liberties) and entitlements (rights).
The invasion narrative and its humanitarian carriers have a very nasty ideological underbelly that is difficult to see until you join all the dots…and have a good look underneath.
It is a bit like the libertarian sexual revolution where you only get to see the ‘liberated’ fun bits on the surface, don’t notice that its now spineless floppy infrastructure has been boned out and the underside leaks toxicity everywhere. Its chronic laissez-faireism routinely sexually interferes with and wantonly ‘includes’ its children in very adult social and sexual agenda that in normal societies they are not allowed anywhere near, until they have the moral precepts, social training and maturity to deal with its very considerable ramifications beyond the purely genital.
The humanitarian agenda is not benign, no matter what it is, and the invasion narrative, its main ideological underpins and its exponents have left a very a nasty legacy for its clients and their children to clean up, that is going to take at least as long to fix as the time it took to put it in place, which is around 50 years now.
And thirdly, Pearson’s anticipation of how multiculturalism is going to roll out over time is likely to fail for all the reasons that aboriginal communities have failed before. Everybody who comes into multiculturalism has to be willing to carry limited traditional cultural baggage and unequivocally embrace and learn the ways and knowledge of the evolving secular modern order we inherited from colonial/imperial times.
If that fails, the experiment will promptly disintegrate into competing territories, or a new ethnic group establishes dominance, like the Chinese for instance, whose motherland might well turn the place into an imperial satellite, or Islam perhaps gets the guernsey…or mixtures thereof…or whatever.
Be assured that when the nasty modern ‘invasion culture’ and its institutions are eventually overthrown…and they will be…the world will suddenly become a much less indulgent place and infinitely less forgiving of the attitudes that now prevail in aboriginal communities and among their non aboriginal libertarian sponsors.
As time goes on, a multicultural society increasingly won’t necessarily share the same common interest/heritage in what was once the dastardly imperialist common history, or even much loyalty to its legal and philosophical precepts.
Sudanese or Somalis, who are refugees from really brutal civil wars, are not necessarily going to care very much about aboriginal ‘problems’ and ‘histories’, when not only their own have been much more immediately traumatic, but they have found sanctuary here and opportunities, for good and ill, that they could only dream of indulging back ‘home’ whether because of poverty, war and famine there, and quite aggressive and routinely applied community based social discipline that they do not get here.
They are just as likely to see aboriginals as giving black people a bad name as side with them against European ‘racism’, because unlike most white ‘progressives’, they tend to live in suburbs where they are more likely to see aboriginal group ‘culture’ at work, first hand. White progressives live in nice tree lined suburbs where the discreet charm of bourgeoisie and its shared top shelf brand values sit very nicely with educated multiculturalism. It isn’t quite so all sweetness and light in the not so nice ends of town.
Our African brothers and sisters know for absolute certain that if one can’t make it in Australia, one won’t make it anywhere. All this baloney about recognition in the constitution and a treaty as a solution to aboriginal problems represent just another disabling layer of aboriginal community denialism about what it actually takes to get on here in a multicultural context, which our African friends know long before they arrive; which is why people risk dying in boats to make the journey. And that denialism will keep aboriginals and their children just where they are, languishing at the bottom of the social and economic ladder, and their ideological advocates and their grandchildren where they are very likely always going to be, nearer the top, indefinitely.
But of course indulgence capitalism is a veritable fantasy land where dreams can come true if one’s marketing and sales department is good enough…and Noel Pearson is a smart man. He knows just how the system works and how to get one’s name and fame into the history books, written by his white and just off white friends in high academic places…whose agenda is a permanent dysfunctional status quo where nothing much changes except the rhetoric of the incumbents and their scribes.
Getting aboriginal recognition in the constitution and a treaty is mainly color and movement make-work for lawyers and bureaucrats that legitimizes as it santizes as it entrenches the miserable status quo that Noel represents, which is a sorry thing to say to someone who has worked so hard and so long for his people, to suggest to him that he is likely to share the fate of his now successfully discredited colonial predecessors…and fail for exactly the same reasons…because he isn’t dealing with the attitudes in the aboriginal community that keep them just the way they are, the way they always have been, in a deeply conservative, reactionary and ultra-traditionalist rut that keeps relentlessly going down hill, because it doesn’t like and still won’t accept, ‘black on the outside, but ‘white’ in the middle’....when what they really should be meaning, is ‘modern-in-the-middle’.
Constitutional ‘inclusion’ sounds great if you are a bourgeois intellectual and inveterate cafe chatterer in a fashionably educated and expensively sorted inner suburb of a big city, but after dark any night, it doesn’t mean a thing in the parks of Alice Springs…the drunkenness, drugs, petrol, brawls, battered women (80 times more likely to end up in hospital with injuries inflicted by the man in their life than non aboriginals), grossly prematurely knowing children, squalor, litter, vandalism and theft; all inclusive.
That is where the real battle is Mr Pearson. It is fought on the ground. It fights the internal status quo. It models changed behavior and attitude. It asserts that there are rules and they must be followed. It won’t tolerate laziness, excuses, backsliding and disobedience to doing right. It’ll hold poor practice accountable and struggle against it. It will demand responsible adult agency and proper preparation for it amongst children that will leave them as capable citizens who can themselves pass on that legacy to their own children. It’ll ask the tough questions about what can be carried into a multicultural future and what can’t and expect definite answers that will be relentlessly followed up. It’ll uncompromisingly demand commitment to group and individual empowerment through high standards in all things at all times. It’ll see virtue and integrity as non negotiable bottom lines. It’ll be hard ball and everyone will playing for keeps, especially with people who do not play along.
The cadre who bring this agenda into the public realm will be prepared to be martyred for it, because there will be some who are so entrenched in the status quo, they will want to intimidate, injure and/or kill its prospective disruptors…and will continue to do so until they are discredited and defeated.
And it won’t be just aboriginals who have to go through such an exercise, for governance collapse affects everyone. It is just that aboriginal society has been particularly hard and quickly hit by its lack, which might make it a leader in producing the fix, because they are the ones most under immediate and urgent pressure. All the indicators of governance collapse in aboriginal communities are flatlining.
The 2016 Nyland South Australian Royal Commission into the welfare system found that overall, an appalling four out of ten children would be subject to a welfare notification before they reached their majority. But wait for it, that rose to nine out of ten aboriginal children. The then premier was so appalled he suggested this must be a result of overreporting. It took a whole posse of social welfare heavies some time to convince him otherwise….
Multiculturalism will go through its own and similar crisis of governance and the inevitably traumatic choice as to whether to divide along ethnic/cultural/religious lines, or unify around a new secular/imperial paradigm or try to maintain/resuscitate the old Anglo/European tradition….or whatever.
Call me old fashioned, but I was brought up on Mao’s cultural revolution when I was at uni during the later 1960s. I think some version of a compulsorily inclusive diet of intense ‘class struggle’ and ‘attitude rectification’ workouts, public ‘speak bitterness’ meetings to ‘discuss’ and ‘action’ unconscionable behavior, ‘enthusiastic’ reading of Marx, Lenin, Mao and studying fascinating party documents, every evening, along with all inclusive vigorous daytime labour on the commune farm on a no produce no eat basis, while the children are brought up by the commune, would do wonders for semi tribal aboriginal communities….and quite a few non aboriginal ones, come to think of it…like the entire board cohorts of our financial institutions…and their administrative flunkeys, sales panderers and marketing stooges.
More realistically perhaps, the religious fundamentalists that have been moving in from the margins since the 1970s are now the most likely candidates for this kind of shift, and Islam in particular. This is because Christianity, it least in the old west, has been so battered and marginalized by its exposure to modern times, whereas Islam hasn’t.
Over the colonial period, the latter was being kept in semi colonial and colonial backwaters that insulated it, ironically with the conscious ‘help’ of colonial authorities, who used it as an apolitical conservative quasi legal bastion of their regimes They used a modified version of Sharia with some of its more ‘medieval’ rough edges trimmed off by combining a colonial official and a Sharia ‘adviser’ to work out local justice compromises between western and Muslim law.
By the end of WW2, European Christianity looked like it had gone 15 rounds with a boxing champ. Islam however was as Fresh as a daisy and woke up one post-colonial day to find their third most holy site under Zionist occupation, which started the anti western and anti secular ball rolling inexorably into the twenty-first century…gathering the faithful in ever greater numbers for Islam’s next big adventure…inside secular consumer societies that have had the existential heart ripped out of them.
And while none of this is necessarily in immediate prospect, the status quo is in such a mess that something is going to have to give and it will be major, and not necessarily that far away. Things like this can move very quickly and unexpectedly Who would have predicted in 1913 that the Russian empire would be a union of socialist republics four years later, led by a tiny group of people who in 1913 were notable mainly for bloody bank robberies and their presence in Siberian prison camps?
What I am flagging is that the future is increasingly unlikely to be simply an extension of the past and that the problems that we now confront are far deeper than the sort of institutional change that is being contemplated by Noel Pearson et al. The problems of his people (and the rest of us) go into the fundamentals of what makes social and economic life viable.
More, the fabric of the multicultural society he wants to propagandise and colonize is far less stable than it looks, because we have already introduced change vectors that are much more far reaching than they appear on the surface. The Anglo imperial consensus on which multiculturalism depends, isn’t as strong as he thinks, because it has been increasingly and relentlessly attacked by secular humanist and religious fundamentalist elements and its demographic support base is diminishing. Nor is the rule of law that supports that consensus and respect for it traveling well, either at a macro national or micro community level, or the international one. The lines between criminal and lawful are blurring. And beyond that, there is no moral consensus left, so much as a free-for-all that any opportunist special pleader can enter freely.
And above all, the global order established after WW2 is obviously disintegrating, which means almost anything can happen. It almost did in 2008, because the massively egoed narcissists who were and are running the financial system seem to have forgotten the fundamentals (social dementia) as to why they are there; that they are only stewards and that the industry isn’t just about them and their solipsistic quasi legal vision of it.
Aboriginals are just suffering the same disease at the other end of the social spectrum, because deregulation and privatization of the social system has the same baleful effects, only with different leverages and theatres for dysfunction, irresponsibility and abuse of power. So a treaty with them is going to have about as much effect as one with the banksters might have. Zero. You could pave the roads with treaties and it would still be… zippo.
And what is happening between the social and economic extremes isn’t any better. The social welfare system is drowning because the social system is. You can’t demolish the system that is supposed to turn adolescents into real adults without eventually destroying society with it, until all that is left are the Pied Pipers of Cool and the Proud Sponsors, drowning us in goods and services while we all go existentially bankrupt. You can hardly tell it’s happened until you get the app….
I think Pearson’s vision of what a multicultural society is going to look like is so business-as-usual, as is his blithe supposition that it is going to favour his agenda, or even hold in place the larger libertarian humanist agendas already deployed. I may be wrong, but I get a sense that we are in period not dissimilar to that after the death of Edward V11 in 1911. There was a gathering gloom and uneasiness that was staved off by the overwhelming belief that European civilization was invincible. But the reality was that it had become so unstable that even the smallest mishap could trigger a maelstrom, which is what happened.
Today, both sides of politics think that their particular economic and social version of deregulated and privatized ‘progress’ is invincible and their mythologies fail safe….
But as in 1911, one could only dimly tell that that the status quo was not fail safe. Clarity had to wait until events revealed the wisdom of hindsight. In the meantime, we placed then and place now our bets and punt on history. And it is given to few to even get a place, (let alone a win) in the history anticipation stakes (prediction). Even if one is a winner in the foresight department, how that rolls out will be an endlessly complex and unpredictable game of chance, opportunity and capitalizing on it by whoever and whatever happens to be floating by at the time.
Martin Luther, when he posted his theses against Church Indulgences in 1517 (that wretched word again) on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, had absolutely no idea what his actions might trigger, other than perhaps him ending up either being forced to recant, or burnt at the stake.
No one can predict just how and when the axes of regime change line up and lock in. I doubt if anyone was more surprised than him when history gave him the nod, then swamped his minuscule agenda (important as it was at the time) by sending Europe into a one hundred and fifty year convulsion that was the crucible of modern times. Its bitter and bloody echoes could still be heard in Ireland until the turn of this century.
Martin might have kept is mouth shut if he had had any presentiment of what his actions would ultimately lead to….but some other bunny would very likely have got the guernsey of history if he had bowed out.
Watch this space. Beware of anything that puts too much weight on the prospects for the status quo continuing for much longer. Treat anything the likes of Noel Pearson and his sponsors have to say with a large grain of salt. And watch for aboriginal Imams as they move into aboriginal communities….That should be ‘interesting’. They will be doing the dirty and dangerous regime shifting work at the grassroots, while guys like Pearson cruise around in the halls of power, making the right ideological noises and getting all the right head noddings for increased bureaucratic budgets for more worthy humanitarian bureaucrats and lawyers…for the assault on constitution hill.
My money is on the Imams.