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Yes I agree with you that the negative symptoms of the Australian culture are very much what you have described being ‘shame, servility, cynicism, ‘tall poppy syndrome’ and hostility to vision’. My interest is finding out the cause of this mentality.
I am not too sure if more people come here from non-Anglo backgrounds will necessarily be better for this country. As a non-Anglo myself, I see most enduring a fate of either being one of them or being ostracised for life, and both ways are painful victimisation to the new-comers.
One thing good about having new-comers however is that there may be more fresh-pairs of eyes at least at the beginning of their stay. Last night I watched Australia The Story of Us (episode one) on Prime: https://au.tv.yahoo.com/plus7/australia-the-story-of-us/-/watch/26293579/australia-the-story-of-us-sun-15-feb-season-1-episode-1/ (available for viewing in 28 days). And watching this gave me some new ideas.
While I have found the vulgar part of the Australian culture repulsive, last night I realised how crimes exploded in the UK and how British government shipped out the convicts without providing adequate supply for them. I saw how the convicts had to struggle to be self-sufficient and how the rum rebellion happened because the colony was not allowed to use currency.
And that led me to look up causal links between the industrial revolution and increased crime rates in Britain (inspired by your take on capitalism).
So now the picture is a little clearer for me. I see the leadership in Britain ineffective to care for its subjects, or to control the rapidly deteriorating social equality.
I see damaged and oppressed people being given raw deals over and over, and learned to do the same to others.
I see a social order that views the people as slaves to be exploited rather than resources to be supported and nurtured.
And I see Australia as a troubled teenager from a very dysfunctional family continuing its self-defeating ways learned from the early days of its life.
I hope figuring out the cause of the situation can be helpful with its healing.
There are so much more that I want to find out, and I am very appreciative of the great amount of information that you have been sharing on your blogs. I really want to spend time reading your understanding on Marxism to start with. Thank you very much for inspiring me with your knowledge and insights.
Yi Ping Wang
Dear Phil, thank you so much for your kind encouragement and support. 🙂
I just watched this clip (52:54) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j_r0Wgg0T0 , and am really shocked by the atrocities the colonists have done to the aboriginal people. Though racial genocide is no longer being carried out, I fear the spirit of genocide is well and alive in the Australian psyche, as I have seen how innocent people’s lives can be easily destroyed if they dared to defy the ill will of the abusive and corruptive authorities in Australia. Despite the great social progresses that Australian people have made in the last 200 years, there is still awful a lot Australia needs to do to redeem the horrible wrongs it committed in the past and at present, perhaps first by deny and dismiss of the wrongs no more. And raising public awareness of these wrongs contradicting a sugar-coating mainstream media is definitely a welcoming development.
Hi Yi Ping Wang, I’ve just watched the documentary you referred to in your comment. John Pilger’s study of the genocide of the Aboriginal people is excellent. Phil
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I’ve had my share of working very closely with an Australian for many years in the past. I’m not going to enter into any details, besides some further experience of a very good friend of mine, who went to Aussie as a personal care assistant of a chap, and planned to prospect the possibility of migration, as he was offered the possibility. He called me after spending 3 or 4 months there, to tell me that there’s no money to convince him to move, because “he has never met so many arrogant people” in his life.
I have no intent to generalize, but this came as a shock to me, since this guy has known the life of an immigrant before, as myself, and was used to sometimes accepting chicanery while adapting.
The worse was the fact that in his opinion, it was “empty” arrogance…
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in my posts I have obviously made very strong criticisms of Australian culture and I have made them after years of having to think about why I have had and continue to have the experiences I have in this country.
When I watched the excellent documentary by John Pilger (an ‘ex-pat’) that Yi Ping Wang referred to, which deals with the continuing, though more concealed genocide of the Aboriginal people (I understand that the rate of ‘removal’ of Aboriginal children from their families has increased – can you believe that?!), I saw in that documentary the other side of the ‘beaming’, deliberately naive, Ozzie face, the other side that I, too (though obviously nowhere near as viciously as the Aboriginal people) have had so much experience of, because of my commitment to the same intellectual vision Utzon had, and because of my belief that everything, particularly the practice of power, should always be questioned.
This is a deeply conformist, authoritarian culture, as it was at the founding of its brutal, savage, white domination (I highly recommend Pilger’s documentary). And it has become much more conformist and mean, the authoritarianism more deeply ingrained, since the 1980’s.
Australians (in a nation which has everything – wealth, climate, low population number, geographical position) are allowing themselves to be herded by the agents of capital down the dead-end goat-track of fear, greed and, crucially, exploitation:
‘Forward, Australian people!’
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the people knew
Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die,
Into the valley of Greed
Rode the twenty-three million
Private education to right of them,
Private health to left of them,
Superannuation in front of them,
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Greed,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the twenty-three million.
(With apologies to Tennyson)
This ‘happy’, ‘friendly’ nation behaves ruthlessly and in the meanest possible manner towards asylum seekers, people escaping devastation and chaos that this country, in the service of its master, has several times been party to causing.
Compare the numbers even attempting (?!) to come to this country which has everything with those fleeing to other parts of the world, regions already struggling. There is no comparison.
The great majority of Ozzies just can’t see this.
Have you ever been driving a car at night along a country road when you round a bend and in the light of your headlights, you see a rabbit stopped in the middle of the road, looking at you? That’s the look.
You ask yourself ‘How is it possible that the rabbit doesn’t move, doesn’t realise?’
The Australian artist Albert Tucker once described himself as ‘a refugee from Australian culture’ (which he later denied).
With regard to the country you live in, the question should not be ‘Which is better than another?’ (as they used to say on the SBS – ‘The world’s an amazing place’). It should be ‘Which country best meets your requirements, which offers you the greatest potential for achieving what you most want in life, all things considered?’
I plan not to spend the remainder of my days here.
Filippo del mondo (not an Australian, but an internationalist)
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Cool poem! Thanks for sharing this, Phil. 🙂 As with which country to stay, well that is a very personal issue. As with me, I do not see a viable way for me to move to another country permanently, so I have to put up with this mess in Australia. At times I feel sorry for myself as I mourn the losses that I have suffered in nearly every part of my life. Then I realise that the less I am burdened by hopes for personal success, the less fearful I am of the battle between me and the force that I destroys the goodness in Australia. Australia nurtured a warrior spirit in me, and to that I am grateful. Yet I am distraught to see the destruction of physical emotional and spiritual wellbeing of the people here especially those who chose to conform. Cheers and best wishes 🙂
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Very sad, Phil, sad indeed to hear your agony…
Unfortunately, I have many colleagues -health professionals- which spent longer periods working there, but none chose to stay, and the motive was again sometimes the arrogance they encountered. A lady was specifically upset to have been the target of repeated sarcasm as many times she went to a pub, because of her British accent. She said it didn’t matter how many times she went to the same place, people thought it to be funny to crack the same “joke”, until she became fed up.
I honestly don’t understand how in the world an Australian can poke fun about anyone’s English accent, when oftentimes one needs an interpreter to understand them…
No offence, mate;-)
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This is what immature people do (no matter how old they are), that they have such a low self-esteem that they love to pick on anything different in others to make themselves feeling a little more worthy. I suspect in Australia many people have such a low self-esteem that they don’t know how to respect themselves let alone others. Nowadays the mainstream media keeps sugar-coating the Australian spirit (‘toughness’, ‘fair go’, ‘mateship’) and Australian ‘humour’ (which is mostly vulgar and sarcastic) in order to raise this fragile esteem of the nation. However they don’t realize that self-esteem and self-respect do not come from what we tell ourselves who we are but what we do with our lives. Despite some good and brave souls Australia produced, such as Whitlam, Assange, Pilger etc, the morally and intellectually apathetic approach the government and majority members of the general public with their public and private affairs will continue to deteriorate the well being of Australia. Two quotes to share:
– “In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
– “Truth has to be sought—in tears, in sorrow, in desperate revolt; here a little and there a little gained, and when gained held against all comers for the sake of humanity and sometimes at the cost of life itself.”
Cheers and best wishes
Yi Ping Wang 🙂
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Thank you Yi Ping, for your heartfelt and well thought reply. All the best, Moshe
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