This is the Australia I know – a racist, authoritarian culture gagging on its ‘decency’

Video of the tear-gassing of a child in prison

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16 thoughts on “This is the Australia I know – a racist, authoritarian culture gagging on its ‘decency’

    • Hi Tulika,

      These videos yet again expose the lie of this country being ‘laid-back’ and egalitarian – above all, ‘decent’ – a euphemism for the conformism Aussies most pride themselves on.

      The first video shows how ‘reasonable,’ how ‘fair and sensible’ vicious authoritarianism can be.

      Beneath the walrus-fat of a happy, consumerist affluence for the majority, Australian culture is conservative and deeply authoritarian (the authoritarianism is generally internalised, hidden), with ugly little empires everywhere.

      The ideological spinmeisters are already hard at work to contain and ‘bury’ this story.

      They are amply assisted by the fact that when Aussies see it, they react on the basis of their comfortable ‘decency’ being offended (‘It is an aberration, an exception’), but they don’t recognise, refuse to recognise what it tells them about their culture – and themselves.

      Phil

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I don’t know the story and the video itself is too vague for me to make a judgement. For instance, someone might tell us that a poor fellow was locked up in small room for 10 years, and so we immediately feel bad for the person. Then the next sentence changes our position. Here we discover that the man was locked up because he murdered his whole family with an axe. As to this short video, there may be alot of stuff going on that has yet to seep out into the public, so our perspective is obviously going to be biased right from the get go, and when it comes to police investigations, there are several legalities and hoops to jump through, as well as confidential matters so as to conduct an appropriate inquiry into a case. There is nothing in this recording to support your claim above. The man in the chair could very well be contained for the safety of others and his own well-being. Those officers were as gentle as nurses in a Seniors Home. Perhaps you have gathered baggage along the way that has given you jaundiced eye for such affairs…

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    • Hi Jason,

      I am very surprised at your comment. To tether anyone in that manner is the most obvious torture, and it is all the worse that it was done to a boy.

      He and other boys in that prison were also tear-gassed in their cells (I have a link to one of those events in my post) and repeatedly bashed and degraded by those guards.

      The behaviour at that prison was first exposed on the Australian national broadcaster the ABC a couple of days ago. The link is: http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/four-corners#playing

      The day after all of this was exposed on national TV, the prime minister announced a royal commission to investigate the Northern Territory’s youth detention system. I have never heard of a royal commission being set up in Australia with such speed.

      But the purpose of commissions is never to get the facts, to determine how to solve the problems, it is to control and contain political damage. As a barrister stated in the show, since the previous royal commission into the behaviour of the dominant culture towards Australia’s indigenous, things have got worse.

      The prime minister refuses to widen the scope of that commission despite many calls to expand it and involve other states.

      The dominant white culture in Australia prides itself on its ‘decency’ and in this, its hypocrisy is extreme. The ongoing genocide of Australia’s indigenous (now by parliamentary, bureaucratic and ‘correctional services’ means) is one (and most important) instance.

      Australia’s involvement in attacking Afghanistan, Iraq and now Syria is another. The rejection of many of those escaping the devastation and suffering caused by Australians in those countries, resulting in more deaths and suffering is another. Australia’s ruthless and thieving behaviour towards the East Timorese is another. I could go on.

      I believe in speaking the truth (as Aristotle defined it, to say of what is that it is) and mutual respect and am totally opposed to authoritarianism and the abuses of power.

      Phil

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      • Hi Jason,

        thank you very much for your reply. There are two points regarding your first comment that I want to respond to.

        The first, concerning the manner of the guards’ speech to the tethered boy in the first video is that the reason why they spoke as they did was because they knew they were being recorded.

        In the Four Corners show on the ABC the guards several times referred to the cameras, asking if they were recording or telling the others that they were recording.

        The second is with regard to what I might have brought from my own life to my perception of the abuse documented on those videos.

        Because I believe that everything should be questioned and have lived to do so in areas that most interest me, I have, and immediately, come up and lived my life against basically the same authoritarianism meted out to those boys.

        I have obviously made no secret on my blog of the bitterness I have felt as a result of some of those experiences, which have affected me very seriously in ways that you are not aware of and which have underlined to me the depth of petty, vicious, vindictive authoritarianism in this culture.

        The same authoritarianism documented on the latest Four Corners.

        It is why I call this culture a convict culture.

        And I have given a great deal of thought to expressing, to releasing that bitterness.

        Not only do I see it as a necessary step towards moving beyond it, that bitterness is aligned with an entirely justifiable call for accountability, not only with regard to myself but far more importantly where the impact of mysticism on Western culture is concerned (as I have often posted about), with regard to the most gross and deliberate failure in social responsibility by generations of ideologues, careerists, supremacists and assorted hacks.

        They should be held to account so that the lessons of their failure can be addressed.

        Even in how some of these people address mysticism now (a subject they would never go near prior to the decline of po-mo, itself suffused with mysticism) I see the words of Marx and Engels being borne out.

        While they bathe daintily, weave cobwebs and crack fleas on the spiritual shoreline, they dare not acknowledge its revolutionary content, once Marx and Engels had stood the dialectics of Neoplatonism upright on a material basis – the content that now foretells the fall of the exploitative class they serve.

        I do not and would not use the experience of the boys in the videos (or that of anyone else) as proxies or as a proxy for my own issues. That would be dishonest.

        Having to think about my issues in relation to ‘authority’ and class domination has, however, given me a far greater sensitivity to and awareness of how ‘authority’ and domination are manifested, and how much damage they result in.

        I have also come to recognise the depth of authoritarianism in sunny Australian culture – it functions through ‘decent,’ ‘laid-back,’ ‘nice’ and particularly through ‘egalitarian.’

        The dictum is ‘Salute without question these concepts as they are interpreted in the dominant culture and you may be one of us.’

        If this is ugly, the ugliness is not mine.

        Best wishes as always,

        Phil

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      • I hear ya. There’s an old Latin saying: ‘We are only as sick as our secrets.’ To fully heal we have to enter back into that cave of darken ignorance and speak our own truth. Thank you for sharing your light & understanding… JY

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  2. I know a different Australia. Two friends are living there, one of them half-native, does a lot for her community and her people. The other one emigrated from England some 30 years ago.

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    • Hi Inese,

      From The Canberra Times 26.07.16
      ‘The only thing that led to the abuse by Northern Territory youth detention centre guards being exposed on Four Corners on Monday, apart from hundreds of other incidents, was the presence of working video cameras, former youth detainee and prison inmate Mervyn Eades has said.

      Mr Eades, 46, who was incarcerated for more than 18 years between the ages of 13 and 31, is one of a group of indigenous community leaders who want the terms of reference of the royal commission into youth detention in the Northern Territory extended to cover the broader issue of indigenous suicide.

      He and other participants in this week’s National Suicide Prevention Conference in Canberra said an epidemic of suicide and self-harm, particularly among the young, was tearing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities apart.’

      Many (particularly indigenous) have strongly criticised the latest royal commission (and this after the Aboriginal Deaths in Custody royal commission, 1987-1991), both for its compromised head and its (as always) narrowest ‘terms of reference’.

      In my view, those who ‘know a different Australia’ do so because they accept – either the givens (‘we are fair/kind/decent’ etc. or they question the givens in a way that is itself acceptable to the dominant culture and particularly, the dominant class.

      In other words, they do it in a ‘nice’ way. They don’t really ‘rock the boat.’

      If one believes, as I do, that everything should be questioned, and, in questioning, one should follow that logic through, the response will be immediate, both from the society generally (‘we don’t like trouble-makers’), and from the agents of the dominant class (‘we deal with trouble-makers’).

      While this can be seen in any society, not only is the Aussie tolerance for criticism extremely fragile (a carry-over from the convict origins of this nation), the profoundly hypocritical aspect of this is how convinced Aussies are of their utter decency.

      The ongoing plundering of the impoverished East Timorese of their one major resource by Aussies is one e.g. Their (servile to the US) attack on Afghanistan, Iraq and now Syria, resulting in many deaths and immense suffering is another.

      Australia’s rejection of refugees (by every possible means, including ‘let ’em drown, they brought it on themselves’), often from the devastation Aussies have contributed to causing and in breach of Australia’s UN obligations, again resulting in further deaths and suffering is another.

      Australia’s ‘outsourced’ (i.e. imposed) concentration camps for refugees in impoverished neighbours resulting in further deaths and suffering is another.

      Above all is the ongoing genocide of Australia’s indigenous by the dominant white culture, no longer with guns and poison but by parliament (such as the ‘royal commission’ just established), bureaucracy and ‘correctional services’ etc.

      I despise hypocrisy, and the white Aussies are masters at it.

      One last e.g., also from this week.

      The media has been full of athletes and ‘sports figures,’ in the most solemn, outraged tones, calling for those nasty (i.e. ‘commie’) Russians to be banned from the Olympics because of state-sponsored drug-taking.

      But when a sports doctor in Melbourne, who has been involved in a long-running case over drug-taking in Australia’s hallowed Australian Football League threatened to blow the whistle and had his home shot up and was hit in his face by shrapnel, where were these ever-so-decent Aussies then?

      Nowhere to be seen or heard, of course.

      If you had time I would strongly recommend watching Monday’s Four Corners show (http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/four-corners/NC1604H026S00) to get a sense of how the dominant white culture treats indigenous youth not only in the Northern Territory but, as a commission with widened ‘terms of reference’ would quickly reveal, across Australia.

      Phil

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      • Phil, no way I would argue with you about the subject I know very little about, neither I have said that the video wasn’t true or anything. I just said that I know a different Australia, and it is different because there are some people who are actually DOING something to make it different.

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      • Hi Inese,

        I appreciate that if a person thinks something should or could be better, they should ‘get involved’ to try to bring it about.

        But my experience since 1982 in ‘doing something to make it different’ regarding the impact of mysticism on Western culture, which went and still essentially goes against the dominant ideology, has given me much first hand experience of how ruthlessly the agents and ideologues of the dominant class operate in Australia.

        Phil

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    • Hi Inese,

      while I’m not a Marxist I do have the highest regard for Marx and subscribe to his epistemology.

      But here is something I do like and that is that you didn’t walk away, and replied.

      I hope you have a very good afternoon!

      Phil

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