Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Nightmare Time

John Howard announced a radical plan to prevent the social collapse of Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territories, including rampant child abuse, by proposing bans on alcohol, pornography and sequestering welfare payments where necessary. Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson has been sounding the alarm and wants the Aborigines to learn from the Jews, get off welfare and save themselves. Because nobody else will.

Aboriginal Australia is burdened by the politics that we developed in the '70s, which on the one hand was defiant, and it achieved a lot of political progress, but at the same time we also compounded a view of Aboriginal people as hopeless, marginalised victims. And the more we could play that up, the more attractive that was for us politically.

Yes, we've been victimised, and terribly victimised, but to tell our people that we're victims is a terribly irresponsible thing to perpetuate, I think, because we just create a mentality of defeat and resignation rather than struggle and defiance.

We suffer a lot of victimisation still, and I know our peoples find it very hard walking around the streets of Australia, because racism's a very evil thing. And we've got to stop making racism our burden. Really, we should make it the racist's problem. Racism should be the problem of the racist, not our problem.

My insight into this - I've really taken it from the Jewish example, because they are the most vigilant defenders against racism. They never let people forget about history, the truth of history. And they ensure that there is proper acknowledgement and people aren't allowed to be obscurantist about the truth. History is not a burden to them either, you know? They're striving for the future, they're engaging in the future.


The debate about Aborigines is not never quite about Aborigines in the same way that the debate over the Iraq isn't really about Iraq either. "Palestine" is one of those types of issues too. It is about the political conflict between liberal and conservative ideologies for whom the issue is Ground Zero. What happens to the Aborigines, the Iraqis and the Palestinians will largely be a matter of luck.

11 Comments:

Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/21/2007 07:53:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Dear Noel Pearson,

When they be calling you The Neighborhood Bully, then you'll have a real reason to quit boozing.

h/t: Bob Dylan

6/21/2007 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Yes, peripheral communities are political footballs for liberal and conservative ideologies.

I have my doubts that Mr. Howard's reforms will do any good though. The reason why is that while work is a good ethic to have, wage labor is as inherently injurious to tribal societies as a guaranteed income. In a tribal society, the most effective reward for labor is community appreciation of one's efforts. That is why songs of praise for bravery or good hunting are so important. In contrast, the power of modern money tends to corrode respect for virtue. (Indeed, the influx of American money into Vietnam led to resentment of the United State by our South Vietnamese allies.)

One of the reasons why Jewish society has been as successful as it has been is because money nowhere near as important to Jewish culture as learning and study. Traditionally, a rich merchant would feel honored to have the opportunity to fund the research of a rabbi; the merchant was the horse and the rabbi was the rider. Indeed, market dominant minorities (whether Chinese in East Asia or Lebanese Shi'ite in West Africa) tend to disdain monetary gain as inferior to scholarly study.

If the aboriginal peoples of Australia wish to emulate the Jewish example, they need to promote a class of shamans who are both knowledgeable in their sacred traditions and well educated in the ways of outside world. Whenever a society admires a rich man without virtue more than a poor man with virtue, it will succumb to either the rat race or a culture of dependency. And I regard the rat race and the culture of dependency to be mirror images of one another, as they both equate virtue with material gain.

6/21/2007 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

Well, the neighborhood bully, he's just one man,
His enemies say he's on their land.
They got him outnumbered about a million to one,
He got no place to escape to, no place to run.
He's the neighborhood bully.

The neighborhood bully just lives to survive,
He's criticized and condemned for being alive.
He's not supposed to fight back, he's supposed to have thick skin,
He's supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in.
He's the neighborhood bully.

The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land,
He's wandered the earth an exiled man.
Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn,
He's always on trial for just being born.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized,
Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad.
The bombs were meant for him.
He was supposed to feel bad.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
That he'll live by the rules that the world makes for him,
'Cause there's a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac.
He's the neighborhood bully.

He got no allies to really speak of.
What he gets he must pay for, he don't get it out of love.
He buys obsolete weapons and he won't be denied
But no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, he's surrounded by pacifists who all want peace,
They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease.
Now, they wouldn't hurt a fly.
To hurt one they would weep.
They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Every empire that's enslaved him is gone,
Egypt and Rome, even the great Babylon.
He's made a garden of paradise in the desert sand,
In bed with nobody, under no one's command.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Now his holiest books have been trampled upon,
No contract he signed was worth what it was written on.
He took the crumbs of the world and he turned it into wealth,
Took sickness and disease and he turned it into health.
He's the neighborhood bully.

What's anybody indebted to him for?
Nothin', they say.
He just likes to cause war.
Pride and prejudice and superstition indeed,
They wait for this bully like a dog waits to feed.
He's the neighborhood bully.

What has he done to wear so many scars?
Does he change the course of rivers?
Does he pollute the moon and stars?
Neighborhood bully, standing on the hill,
Running out the clock, time standing still,
Neighborhood bully.

"Neighborhood Bully" - Bob Dylan
Copyright © 1983 Special Rider Music

6/21/2007 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Howard's program, at this writing, has met with approval from a lot of people, including Aborigines. So much approval, in fact that Howard is being accused of at one stroke defeating his prospective Labor rival Kevin Rudd, who has been riding the coattails of a glowing media coverage.

But clearly the measures can only be temporary because they are obviously legally abhorrent because they create a class of persons with diminished rights relative to other citizens. Yet if those outback ghettos are being treated like they are wards of the state, it is because they are, and everybody knows it. The destruction visited on the Aborigines by patronizing policies built on white guilt for historical wrongs has not undone the wrongs, but rather, made them permanent. I wonder whether John Howard has the temerity and the fortitude to dismantle the accretion of decades worth of identity politics.

What has strengthened his hand, I think, is that with Australia's ethnic composition changing to include many successful Indian, Chinese or European immigrants the power of old line liberal white guilt has progressively declined. It is hard to convince Mr. Ah Song from Fookien, who has just made a fortune in ten years after arriving illiterate in English and penniless to have much historical guilt for Aborigines who have been on welfare for decades. It would appear to the Ah Songs that there was a problem. And many Aboriginal leaders would now agree.

But the Northern Territories is vast. You could probably drop four Iraqs into it. One wonders how practical it is to enforce prohibition and behavior controls on an area that big.

6/21/2007 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Don't you think the rampant child sexual abuse might have had something to do with it, too? In a "if you're not adult enough to do something about this yourselves, then *I* will do it for you" sort of way.

And of course, there's also lots of domestic violence and men beating on their women unto death. It's not just dependence upon welfare -- it's a whole entire mind-set that's every bit as filthy as what the Muslims are trying to bring into the West. And if we won't let the Muslims play those sorts of games, why on earth should the aborigines get a "pass"?

6/21/2007 09:34:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Alexis, you are sort of right and sort of wrong.

Keeley writing in "Warfare Before Civilization" notes that hunter-gatherer societies are highly mobile, have little personal property, and are fairly flat. If someone doesn't like something, they just leave. Splintering and factionalization is a characteristic of hunter-gatherer societies. While money and wage labor do not characterize hunter-gatherer societies, it is not some "noble savage egalitarianism" nor do the agricultural societies of Vietnam and Ottoman Iraq while tribal match up with the Aborigines or the San or the Eskimos.

What characterizes hunter-gatherer societies is sharing due to survival. The hunter successful this week may fail the next. And nearly everyone is related to you.

What then is the problem? If Aborigines could be transported magically to another dimension where Australia was never colonized at all, and no other human beings existed no doubt they could survive quite well as hunter-gatherers. Never achieving anything of note, ever, but likely beside the point.

The problem is that a hunter-gatherer society is absolutely unable, in any way, to function in a modern, complex, stranger-oriented, abstract reasoning, hierarchical society. Rabbit Proof Fence made much of how Aborigine culture was destroyed by taking children from Aborigines and trying to erase their culture and language. Terrible to be sure.

But ... leaving Aborigines alone is no solution either. Hunter-gatherers with zilch nada zero tolerance for alcohol is a disaster. So too welfare, modern economies, the superiority of wage-labor to subsistence hunter-gatherer lives. Would YOU want to walk about Australia mostly naked with stone age tools or live in Air Conditioning with modern conveniences?

Very likely the only way forward will be total cultural and racial destruction of most of the Aborigines with a few tribes making a living off tourists as "living museums" the way say, Preservation Hall functioned in the French Quarter, going home to air-conditioned homes after the performance to watch Die Hard on DVD, or whatever. The solution will come as Wretchard notes because recent immigrants don't feel guilt, and the problem:

Hunter-gatherers cannot exist in any proximity to more advanced societies, is obvious.

6/21/2007 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

whisky 199:

Although I agree with you that hunter-gatherer societies are fragile, I am not convinced that aboriginal culture is doomed to destruction. Ideally, it will adapt. Although aborigines may not continue as hunter-gatherers, especially after the cultural devastation wrought by the Australian welfare state, it would be a pity if aboriginal skills and lore that would be of use to modern civilization die out entirely.

Hunting and tracking are very important in warfare, it is would be self-defeating for Australia if it wouldn't encourage some version of the old warrior code if only to augment the capabilities of the Australian armed forces.

The two innovations that can propel a primitive society into modernity are a shamanic class and a warrior class. The priestly or "shamanic" class keeps historical memory; the rabbinical class was central to the continued existence of the Jewish people. If aboriginal peoples seek to keep historical memory, they need people who keep the archives.

Then, there's the warrior class. If would be sad if the aboriginal peoples of Australia couldn't form their own regiments, perhaps analogous the the Highland Regiments of Scotland or the Gurkhas. Just as the British Army was a means for Scottish men to wear their kilts, aboriginal society could use incorporation into the Australian military as a means to continue their traditions.

Moreover, the continuation of aboriginal languages is crucial to Australian national security. Remember the American "code talkers" during World War II. It's a matter of life and death.

Yes, paying the bills is important. However, societies that venerate money are not as industrious as those that are oriented toward communal survival. If aborigines seek to emulate Jews, they need to consider what the rabbinical class has been able to achieve over the past two thousand years.

6/22/2007 12:11:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Australian aborigines, if incorporated into the Australian military, may very well become important shock troops in opposition to the Islamist onslaught. If they come to see the present majority of Australia less as oppressors who invade their home than as a buffer against those Islamists who seek to take away that which they still have, they would become great warriors indeed.

6/22/2007 12:17:00 AM  
Blogger xlbrl said...

People are thinking way to hard on this issue. The Aborigines, and all the culture that makes them unique, never, under any circumstances, had any chance of survival upon the event of European colonization. We're watching the death throes now, but the liberal policies of the past only accelerated this end.
It is little known, but the Aborigine was the very first of two migrations out of Africa, 60,000 years ago, forced by ice-age drought. They made their way, from Southern Africa, up through East Africa, and followed the coasts to India, where no more than two dozen made the trip to Australia--then a crossing very much shortened by ice-age sea levels. This accounts for the remarkable similarity in facial appearance of the Aborigine, and the rough similarity to some racial types on the Indian sub-continent.
This is truly the end of the line of a remarkable jouney.

6/24/2007 10:50:00 PM  
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6/26/2007 08:30:00 AM  

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