‘Decency’ as an extremely powerful control mechanism

The constraints of ‘decency’ and ‘respect for authority’ on display. Middle-class, white-dominated Australian culture is choking on both.

The implications of this skit are far from humorous.

The questioning of the ‘Citizen Infringement officer’ and even the over-the-shoulder instruction to him to ‘stick (the ticket) up your arse’ from those he wrote ‘fines’ for were all contained within the bounds of this ‘decency’, this ‘respect for authority’.

What Morrow was doing was not exposed and he continued doing it.

Being challenged and asked for identification and firmly questioned (i.e. not on the basis of hurt or offence) about what he was doing would have gone beyond those bounds.

Ideologies function the same way – they have inbuilt tolerances that can cater for hurt, offence, difference and questioning within the limits of ‘decency’ and ‘respect for authority’ that are carefully monitored by ideologues and updated according to requirements or developments.

What ideologues can’t tolerate is a direct, principled challenge, a push to expose those limits and to go beyond them – thereby smoking out that it is an ideology they are defending, a system of belief limited by the interests of the dominant class they serve.

There was another similar skit (I couldn’t find a copy) done at least twice by the Chaser team in which one of them, wearing the semblance of a uniform, stood at the bottom of up/down escalators and as everyone coming down got to the bottom, he told them to go back up the other one. Every person did as they were told.

All power-plays short of overt domination are made on the back of ‘decency’ and a blind submission to authority.

Question everything


Tim Wise on “Nice”

An excellent article. And I am glad to have read it on the same day the Australian media is choked with hypocrisy and ‘niceness’ after the Lindt cafe hostage-taking in central Sydney.

‘Niceness’ and the narrowest understanding of ‘decency’ are basic ideological tools.

This hostage-taking has lifted the lid on an immensely powerful lie of the dominant class in Australia – that ‘we’ in Australia are one nice, decent, happy, inclusive community (the Melbourne Cup, ‘the race that stops a nationTM’, proves this!) with the great good fortune of being distinct, because of Australia’s geography, and, dare I say it – affluence for the great majority, from a deeply troubled world.

The ideologues of capital have gone into overdrive with voices at times soothing, at others emotional or resonant and knowing, to silence comments such as I heard on the radio this morning from a ‘decent’ Aussie gentleman – ‘I thought Australia was far away from all this. It’s a wake-up call.’

No, No, No – back to sleep all you nice and decent people. Who could forget The Chaser skit (which they repeated) in which nice and decent Australians descend on an escalator and are directed by a person in the modicum of a uniform at the bottom to go back on the ‘up’ escalator. Each time I saw that skit the people all behaved the same, nicely and decently, without question, doing as they were told.

The ideologues of capital are using the hostage-taking, initiated by one who was ‘mad’ and ‘bad’ (so often the ‘analysis’), from a nation and region exploited, brutalised, betrayed and ripped apart, particularly over the last century, by activity engaged in, supported and condoned by Australia, to reinforce the self-centredness of ‘niceness’ (the capitalist ideology of ‘nice’ consumerism) and the most myopic, nationalist ‘decency’.

Dorothy, over the rainbow, would be pleased with the purity and simplicity of the message.

Not only the complicit and servile Australian media, but the world’s media will be all over this. I look forward to what will inevitably come out.

*   *   *

From the Twittersphere

Murderous, uncivilised Islamic State terrorist:

* ‘The world must stand for the news of 13 Australian hostages but it would sleep for the news of over 130000 Muslims killed in Syria’

* ‘Gaza is under siege, Homs and Damascus are under siege the café in Sydney is Not.’

Tender-hearted, civilised Rupert Murdoch:

* ‘AUST gets wake-call with Sydney terror. Only Daily Telegraph caught the bloody outcome at 2.00 am. Congrats’


Voices from Russia

01 Hypocrisy Meter


Nice people change nothing. They never have and they never will. Those who are nice are so invested in their niceness, in their sense of propriety and civility, that they rarely raise their voices above a whisper, even in the face of sweltering oppression. Nice white people were the ones who didn’t own black folks during the period of enslavement, but also didn’t raise their voices against the ones who did. Nice white people are the ones who didn’t spit on sit-in demonstrators, but also had no problem spending money with businesses that had remained segregated all those years.

To be nice is to have an emotional stake in the prevention of one’s own pain. Nice people don’t like to look at the ugly. It’s upsetting, most of all because it puts us on the hook and calls forth our humanity to actually put an end to that pain…

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