Fake threats, and democracy.

18 Feb

 

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Demands that we be kept “safe” by governments play into the hands of conservatives who simultaneously, and with an alarming degree of cognitive dissonance, express their distaste for a nanny state while instigating extreme measures they claim will fulfil both our expectations of safety, and their responsibility to fulfil those expectations.

All too often those measures are an opportunity for authorities to increase surveillance, harvest personal information and exert unnecessary control over citizens, resulting in an erosion of rights that does nothing to keep us safe but rather makes us increasingly vulnerable, not to terrorists but to the state.

As in the family, so in public life. The greatest threat to our safety is allegedly the stranger, in both the private and the public narrative. So we have President Trump’s seven country “Muslim” ban in the US, designed to make Americans safe. In Australia we have the secretive, punitive Department of Immigration and Border Protection, with their ring of steel around our borders and their concentration camps off-shore. Both governments justify extreme measures with repeated assurances that their only objective is to keep us safe.

However, in the case of both family and country, danger is far more likely to come from within the circle than from without: the family is potentially the most dangerous place for women and children, and terrorism is overwhelmingly perpetrated by citizens/permanent residents of the target country rather than refugees, or foreigners who enter the country with the specific aim of conducting attacks.

In a liberal democracy we are supposed to be participants. We have agency. The degree of safety we demand governments provide is incompatible with the freedoms we rightly expect. Governments are not our parents. While as children we are entitled to protection, as adults we have no such entitlements. Protection and safety must be a joint venture: we have to participate in ensuring our own welfare. Once we relinquish our responsibility, we’re on the road to totalitarianism.

Democracy isn’t just the right to vote. It’s a way of being.

Neither will government assurances of safety from external threat protect us from what is most pressingly dangerous: violence in homes and institutions.

Governments are most reluctant to commit resources to these obvious threats to safety and stability.  Instead, billions are wasted on the containment of fake threats, and we continue to face real threats grossly under-supported and largely unacknowledged. Our protection in this instance does not require state intrusion into personal life: it requires adequate money and front-line resources administered by competent and experienced citizens, not politicians.

This is an example of democracy working. Secretive bureaucracies are not democratic, and neither is taking money from those in difficult circumstances to fund tax benefits for corporations turning billion dollar profits.

The robust exchange of views between Senator Jacqui Lambie and Islamic youth leader Yassmin Abdel-Magied, broadcast on ABC’s Q&A last week, is a complex example of the degree to which fake threats dominate our discourse. It also inadvertently provided a seminar in free speech, when a number of organisations petitioned the ABC to provide a “safe environment” in which Muslims may speak.

Senator Lambie has obviously swallowed the fake terrorism threat, as is evidenced in her noisy opposition to what she perceives as the imminent danger of Australia becoming subject to what she understands as Sharia law. At present, I’d argue, Australia is faced with the rather more urgent matter of dealing with the consequences of Catholic Canon law than with Islamic tenets, sad confirmation of the theory that the stranger is not our largest and most immediate danger.

I don’t like Lambie’s views on the matter of Sharia law, or her manner of expressing them, however, such views exist and attempting to silence them is not a useful option. Currently, the voices of prejudice, fear and hatred seem to have wrenched the mic from voices of reason and good will. We are under the governance of a conservative ideology that values combat and domination over citizens’ and community interests, while offering fake protection from outside forces in order to conceal that ideology’s very real threat to civil society.

Sharia law is not currently an issue for Australia: political negligence on matters of survival such as climate change and social inequality and injustice are.

I don’t yet know how we get the mic back. I don’t think anybody does. I don’t think forcible silencing of opposition is an option. It’s impossible to dictate the tone and language in which opposition is couched. Once again, personal responsibility stands side by side with freedoms. That there are people with platforms taking little or no responsibility for their speech and its possible consequences is truly awful, but it’s reality.

For mine, freedom of speech was exercised by all parties in the Q&A example, including the freedom of organisations to get up a petition protesting the event, and the freedom of their supporters to sign it.

This is how we contest fake threats. By embracing democracy as a way of being, not just something we perform at the ballot box every few years. It isn’t any government’s sole responsibility to keep us and democracy safe, and once we relinquish agency, we have truly lost all hope of safety, and returned to infantile dependence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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55 Responses to “Fake threats, and democracy.”

  1. Frances Potter February 18, 2017 at 7:58 am #

    Excellent piece Jennifer. I have long thought what you have put here – that there is a real parallel between so called government and living in a toxic/dysfunctional family. The problems are just the same.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jennifer Wilson February 18, 2017 at 9:58 am #

      Thank you Frances.
      The parallel is inevitable, really, given we learn our roles in families and have to consciously change them or repeat them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. havanaliedown February 18, 2017 at 9:59 am #

    Liked by 1 person

  3. paul walter. February 18, 2017 at 11:31 am #

    The message from conservatives seems a very peculiar one. It seems to be, “I don’t care, you don’t matter”, doesn’t this indicate a desolate, defeatist, envy- poisoned mindset, looking for a focus for blame?

    Anyone outside the charmed circle that occupies a niche in THEIR universe, no matter humble, is immediately shown how intolerable their presence is to the Elect; how contingent their existence is likely to be. It is almost as if the rest of us maybe just untermensch in a great detention camp with only the good graces of the likes of Turnbull and his coterie forestalling our warranted elimination. It is a sort of black shirted nihilism?

    Re Sen. Lambie on her alleged “silencing”, were such a thing possible, I found myself redressing in the direction of Yassmin Abdel Magied, however, I felt Jennifer’s trajectory was wrong. Iadded this because I heard more of Lambie’s brainwashed ravings about “muslims” from someone yesterday and consider the individual, like Lambie and Hanson, to be brainwashed. If their views are the reason we requiring “protecting”, our “protectors are on very shaky ground logically and factually, indeed. If you did not know better, despite the information vacuum, you would wonder if you were the victim of some sort of confective construction devised as an alibi for obscured, therefore sinister motives

    Was not Yassmin the one verballed (“silenced”) rather than wallflower Lambie..it seemed an unprovoked, psychotic and ill-informed attack, to me. What ever..

    But no doubt, the main thrust of the posting is correct.

    Ignoring the reality that it is the rest of the world that largely needs from protecting from “us” rather than the other way round, I think all this protection is a sort of protection racket… we unworthies pay homage to our “protectors” for fear of giving offence, much like the folk locked up on Nauru and pay for our “protection” through the picking of our pockets for the benefit of our “protectors”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson February 19, 2017 at 7:28 am #

      PW, the first word that comes to mind is tribal. We have evolved in many ways, but the instinct towards the tribe is still powerful. It’s a matter of which tribe has the upper hand. Dismal, but true I think.
      There are outliers desperately arguing for cosmopolitanism, the richness of difference but as yet, tribalism prevails.

      Like

    • Patagonian February 26, 2017 at 9:06 pm #

      “Ignoring the reality that it is the rest of the world that largely needs protecting from ‘us’ rather than the other way round”. Well said PW!

      https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2017/02/25/inside-the-sick-sad-world-the-q-society-and-the-australian-liberty-alliance

      In regard to the above, I am particularly concerned about Luke Simkin’s assertion that I could unwittingly ingest food that may start me on the path to conversion; and would like to know what foods I have to avoid in case my dietary choices result in me becoming a happy clapper.

      Like

      • paul walter. February 27, 2017 at 6:59 pm #

        Look out, you’ll be gagging at pork sausages or bacon sangas in no time.

        Thanks for your kind compliment though.
        I never cease to be amazed at how ignorant Australians and other westerners are of the wider world in which we live and which we share with people of different races who are of the same species as us.

        What passes for the sort of “knowledge” you mention, I think derives of old European folktales and Eurocentric history from school days combined with an information vacuum and anti intellectualism that discourages inquiry into certain issues often to do with politics, massaged by the oligarchy preying on a public not allowed to know itself or others.

        To believe some of the bullshit some believe, including supposedly educated people of the type you mention, doesn’t that defy a sane person’s imagination?

        Errk!

        Keep posting, I need to know I’m not the only person who finds this sort of thing disturbing.

        Like

  4. townsvilleblog February 18, 2017 at 1:24 pm #

    Mind you Jen I have seen news where Muslims who live in a certain enclave of Sydney have bypassed our laws a couple of years ago and tried to marry their 12 year old daughter off to a middle aged man, as was their custom, but police arrived just in time to save the girl. That said you can’t judge ‘all’ Muslim’s by the actions of one father.
    I know a young Muslim lady who told me that the burqa is not even part of the religion of Islam, just a custom in certain countries, she herself wears no head covering she is from Turkey, and a lovelier lady you couldn’t wish to meet. Why do people always have to pick the bad apples to extrapolate their views in the media? Racism, like jealousy is a wasted emotion. Shaun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson February 19, 2017 at 7:32 am #

      Yes, Shaun, I’ve seen that news and been horrified at the plight of girls and women in some societies. And as you say, it’s impossible to judge an entire group on the actions of one individual, otherwise everyone of us would be damned, innocent or not.
      I’m interested in your comment that jealousy is a wasted emotion. What doe you mean?

      Liked by 1 person

      • townsvilleblog February 19, 2017 at 2:58 pm #

        Jen, Jealousy is wasted emotion, what does it bring to you, pain, sometimes revenge, another wasted emotion. I am not a jealous person now, I used to be it caused me hours of heartache, I was jealous because I thought my first wife was running around behind my back. When it was confirmed and she left with another man, I was heart broken. So instead of being jealous, I take life as it comes, the jealousy did me no good, it didn’t change anything, so I consider it a wasted emotion along with a few others.Shaun.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson February 19, 2017 at 6:26 pm #

          Yes, I see what you mean Shaun, I feel that way about guilt – it seems to me guilt doesn’t actually stop anyone doing anything they think they shouldn’t. Mostly they still do it & feel guilty, which is an entirely pointless wastage of emotion, imo.

          Like

          • paul walter. February 20, 2017 at 3:38 am #

            That is a pearler of a comment.

            Like

    • Moz of Yarramulla February 20, 2017 at 1:37 pm #

      Look at the history of Iran – until the mad mullahs took over women engineers were educated in co-ed schools before running round engineering at things wearing pants! It was enough to give a decent god-fearing Catholic a heart attack back in the 1970s. I mean, god-fearing Muslim. Ooops. Ahem.

      But I live in Lakemba so I’m obviously biased – I probably nee more niqab-wearing women in a week than Jacqui Lambie has ever seen. I’m mostly scared of them when they drive, because motorists are significant threat to cyclists. About 50 a year killed, compared to Islamic terrorists who kill, wait, let me look that up. Oh, none. Shit. Um, last decade? Three! Yes!, an actual number to be scared with. Three per decade. Right up there with… camels. Camels and ice skates.

      The free speech stuff I am reluctant to buy into. It’s so rarely free speech, primarily – taxpayer dollars fund both Lambie’s salary and Q&A, making it more accurately a question of exactly what speech the government chooses to fund. At the same time they license media, and manipulate the license system to narrow the range of voices able to be heard. If we had a national network of community media outlets that would make the three pillar (or is it two, now?) media laws slightly less stupid. But we don’t. Leaving us with a diversity of voices all the way from Andrew Bolt to Alan Jones. Hooray, diversity! Now with a touch of Walid Aly but enough of that, back to the Bolt Report.

      (death stats: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/3303.02015?OpenDocument – kinda fascinating to scan through and see just how overblown some fears are, and underestimated other are)

      Like

    • Marilyn February 21, 2017 at 5:50 pm #

      Hey Shaun, did you know it’s legal to marry at 14 in New York, got anything to say about it?

      I am though concerned that one man tried to marry off a 12 year old, but less concerned than I am about the thousands of so called Christians in all churches raping and abusing little boys and girls with total impunity.

      Like

  5. doug quixote February 18, 2017 at 6:15 pm #

    I will have no truck with Sharia Law. It is a concept anchored in the 8th (eighth) century and is so unsuitable for a 21st century civilisation that it should be opposed and decried at every opportunity. That Jacqui Lambie is the spokesperson most noted in opposition to it should be no reason to think it even slightly acceptable.

    It is medieval; it is unacceptable.

    The French and the Belgians have seen the thicker edge of the wedge of Islamisation, and their ban of the burqa and the hijab in public buildings is a good start. The Islamic headgear is a political statement, and just as a christian wearing a crusader cross would be unacceptable in an Islamic country so should it be here. What is our reaction to a Ku Klux Klan outfit? The same should apply to a burqa or niqab.

    https://newhumanist.org.uk/articles/4199/why-feminists-should-oppose-the-burqa

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jennifer Wilson February 19, 2017 at 7:35 am #

      Ah, DQ, the thorny question of policing garments.
      Would you prevent Hassidic Jews wearing their curls, hats and prayer shawls? Nuns wearing habits? Cardinals wearing frocks?
      And so it goes.

      Like

      • havanaliedown February 19, 2017 at 8:32 am #

        Hasidic garb does not blank out the face and identity of the wearer. Habits and frocks are work uniforms. A sack is what a chattel is carried in, not to be put over a woman – unless they are considered a chattel by that culture.

        Like

        • Jennifer Wilson February 19, 2017 at 1:59 pm #

          That is your opinion, havana. One among many.

          Like

          • havanaliedown February 20, 2017 at 12:47 pm #

            Let’s Ask An Imam for his opinion:

            Like

          • havanaliedown February 20, 2017 at 12:48 pm #

            Oops this time so you can see the subtitles:

            Liked by 1 person

            • franklongshank February 20, 2017 at 11:26 pm #

              Havana, thanks for that video. I reckon that Imam should be a YouTube rock star dispensing great advice for the puzzled Muslim community. I’ve read on The Australian website that you shouldn’t beat your wife with a stick thicker than your thumb. I never knew that. The beauty of Islam is that the Left never say boo when you trot out a Muslim making statements like that. Thank you.

              Like

                • havanaliedown February 21, 2017 at 11:02 am #

                  Good ads.

                  Like

                  • allthumbs February 21, 2017 at 11:22 am #

                    Although not articulated in law and gleefully explained by the mad Imam as to how to beat a woman with God’s approval, the reason for the ads, the necessity for the ads, has been to counter the long held tacit acceptance of beating women, not only by society in general but even by the police and the law in not recognizing it as a “true” crime.

                    Like

              • havanaliedown February 21, 2017 at 11:01 am #

                Thanks Frank. Check out the video towards the top of this thread…

                Like

      • doug quixote February 19, 2017 at 11:14 am #

        In a perfect, ideal world we could all wear whatever we wanted and do whatever we wanted, Guinevere. But here and now is Australia 2017, about as classless, open and free a society as exists on this planet.

        There is no place for the morality ideology and cant of the seventh or eighth century Arabia. An ideology disguised as a religion, and pretending to be a victim of racism. Pretending to be a victim of racism when all the time it is the greatest racist and existential threat to the modern world.

        How they must laugh as the soppy do-gooders of the west spring to defend their “rights”! As if those same people wouldn’t be amongst the first beheaded, come the Islamic supremacy. But I digress . . .

        It may not be necessary to police their absurd clothing; simply do what Kemal Ataturk did in Turkey, make it required dress for prostitutes. The burqas disappeared almost overnight.

        *(Nor is there for the morality ideology and cant of 7th century BCE Babylon nor 1st century Rome; not even that of 16th century Rome. But that is another battle for another day.)

        Liked by 2 people

        • Jennifer Wilson February 19, 2017 at 2:01 pm #

          You are entirely sensible, DQ. However, I wonder at the wisdom of forbidding as a positive action.

          Like

          • doug quixote February 19, 2017 at 7:03 pm #

            It’s the way our legal system works. You can do anything which is not prohibited.

            A positive set of rights – a declaration of rights – would risk overturning 10 centuries of English law.

            If a document of say 5 pages seeks to set out every right that exists, anything not set out would by definition be unlawful. Plenty of work for lawyers, but the profession is sensible enough to reject it.

            Like

    • Marilyn February 19, 2017 at 8:29 pm #

      You don’t have the first clue what Sharia law is so stop dribelling bullshit. As for telling women what to wear only if they are muslim you should just shut the fuck up – I still remember the days of men calling me a slut for daring to have short hair and wearing mini-skirts.

      My response to those arseholes when I was 15 was to have my hair cut shorter and my skirts made even shorter.

      Sometimes your ignorance is so fucking astounding you should just shut the fuck up.

      Like

      • doug quixote February 20, 2017 at 3:40 pm #

        Amputation of hands or feet for theft or robbery without violence; (“only one hand should be cut off for the first theft.”)

        Stoning for adultery (but usually only the woman);

        The Prophet said: If he is intoxicated, flog him; again if he is intoxicated, flog him; again if he is intoxicated, flog him; if he does it again a fourth time, kill him.

        Sounds good to you does it Marilyn?

        Like

        • Marilyn February 21, 2017 at 5:52 pm #

          Fuck off, that is not sharia law and has not been used. But fucking Christians are grand at blowing whole nations and bodies to bits.

          Like

  6. paul walter. February 19, 2017 at 2:05 am #

    Dougie, Dougie, you so miss the bleedin’ obvious here, unless I am wrong… think what Ethnology might have to say on this issue.

    The one positive I can take from this thread starter here and elsewhere is the sense that I may finally be on the verge of grasping what a Foucaultian reading of a situation might infer and am grateful you have perservered with this muddle headed reader writing back for so long, Dr Wilson.

    Binaries, diachronisms and synchronisms, I can see where they all fit If I am getting my sense of this post and the responses to it to infer correctly.

    Candide, Chicken Little, Medievalism, seems all there. Quick, let’s go find a rock to hide under or a hole in the sand…at least let’s grab our blunderbusses and fire into the dark at what Paddy shot at!

    No Mid Eastern Sharia here, we don’t need it when we have our own version except that like the Cosmic Noise, we aren’t aware of it. YUet everyone seems to take it as a given that we already subjects to a grey and mysterious thrall as though it had already been imposed when we were asleep and now struggle in futility against.

    Yassmin Abdel Magied made the give away comment the other day: Sharia in its original sense is merely an aligning within a society or culture to a shared concepts and concept that facilitates social interaction, eg a meta language.

    Formal fundie Sharia courts have as much relation to the concept of Sharia as the Inquisition Chamber to the norms expressed within our ( NT Xtian) society, out which an increasingly chimerical “different “rational” society supposedly emerged, whereas Yassmin thinks of it as common lore, eg not lying, shagging your best friend”s spouse, stealing, killing etc.

    Seems something in the Human Condition that always fastens on to the differences at the expense of the similarities; oh little un-evolved species, scared little people in your Kafkaesque world.

    (Looks at watch) prozac o’clock? Nah, stick to the morning dose and keep following this through instead..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson February 19, 2017 at 7:41 am #

      Yes, PW, the Foucaultian question that must be asked in all situations!
      What historical forces have conspired to bring us to these circumstances, and who has directed those forces and for what purpose.
      I’m flattered to be chosen over Prozac, but I doubt I can offer the equivalent benefits.
      And now I’m going to a Sunday morning meditation class. To still my mind.

      Like

    • doug quixote February 19, 2017 at 11:20 am #

      Unless you are wrong, PW.

      Let me know when Islam is an open, tolerant and benevolent ideology.

      Liked by 1 person

      • paul walter. February 19, 2017 at 12:19 pm #

        I am never wrong.

        Now, go play with Havana. Or better still, have a deeper think on some of the points raised.

        You are capable of that, unlike certain others.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer Wilson February 19, 2017 at 2:01 pm #

        Let me know when any religion is.

        Like

      • Marilyn February 19, 2017 at 8:31 pm #

        And the west who demonise 20% of the world’s population for sport, blow their countries to bits, jail any who escape, try to dicate what they wear and the pedophile protectors are so fucking tolerant right Doug? Have you ever even met a single muslim person or are you just another fucking bigot.

        Like

        • havanaliedown February 20, 2017 at 8:07 am #

          I wonder why they would ever want to live here among the racist bigots that “blew their country to bits”?

          Like

        • havanaliedown February 20, 2017 at 9:49 am #

          Oh and please remind me when exactly we blew Iran to bits, and what exactly we owe any Iranians who wish to circumvent our immigration system.

          Like

          • Marilyn February 21, 2017 at 5:54 pm #

            No Iranians or anyone else are circumventing our immigration system, it’s a legal right even under our racist laws to seek asylum. As most Iranians are fleeing torture, forced conscription, religious intolerance (most are Christian or Mandaean) and other human rights atrocities they are entitled to come and ask for protection. I wish the fuck you ignorant, right wing racist wankers would all find a new island and leave this one alone.

            Like

            • havanaliedown February 21, 2017 at 7:23 pm #

              Why bother having an immigration system? Or medical checks? or character and criminal checks?

              If everyone with a grievance against their shithole of birth, let them move here? Yeah right

              Like

  7. allthumbs February 19, 2017 at 3:12 pm #

    A couple of muddied thoughts.

    I am always slightly taken aback as to the perceived fragility of the power of Western Culture to withstand the relative handfuls of those mindless murdering zealots who threaten to undermine our faith in what we hold to be a superior civilization (unless of course in our heart of hearts we suspect it really isn’t a superior civilization), while pulling their own version of their superior civilization apart at the seams with tribal glee. Does that sound like a sane and viable plan for the success of us all becoming Mohammedans in the near future?

    Of the estimated 1.2 billion Muslims on the planet and despite their religious leanings remain bogged down in the morass like the rest of us as human kind, how many of them are religious backsliders who manage to profess their belief by merely throwing on garb reminiscent of old fashioned letter box or growing a beard or hitting the ground 5 times a day in compass driven devotion? Is the Haj not a manifestation of religious tourism which draws crowds much as boxing day sales do in our Yuletide season and in a good year an extended weekend or two? Because of our own hidden cynicism and hypocrisy, what we may really fear is that perhaps they are that devoted to the fairy tale of religion whereas we are not, or we rate the stupidity of their gullibility beyond our own.

    The quickest way to undermine the power of the Koran is to admit the Muslim world to the west as soon as possible. Just like the yearning for Levi jeans by the youth of the communist world IMHO was the initial impetus for the fall of the Berlin Wall and the ensuing dismantling of successive Communist Regimes around the world, so will the fight concerning the Goldilocks Mean Average (GMA) of the just right, proper and acceptable amount of clothing to cover a woman’s body will eventually mean the inevitable end of The Prophet.

    But it can work the other way, I think the phenomenon of the West’s Hipster’s beard is a reaction to the bearded zealotry of the Jihadists. A millennial emasculated manhood thing, a cosmetic manliness, a further chink in the wall of our self belief after the failure of the tattoo to make men look fierce was taken on by women from eight to eighty.

    I would propose we toss one Priest, Monk, Rabbi, Nun and Imam off the roof of a high building every day until God intervenes and stops one or all or any combination of them in mid air and lands them safely on the ground below or better still remains them levitating above and we finally have a winner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • paul walter. February 19, 2017 at 6:19 pm #

      Nicely put, allthumbs.

      Like

    • Jennifer Wilson February 19, 2017 at 6:24 pm #

      Ah, allthumbs. Wonderful post.
      Of course in our heart of hearts we doubt the “superiority” of our civilisation. Otherwise we wouldn’t have such fear of those who are not us.

      Like

    • doug quixote February 19, 2017 at 7:05 pm #

      You assume equal knowledge and a level playing field. The ignorant and the oppressed can and will act without knowing any better.

      Like

    • havanaliedown February 20, 2017 at 9:51 am #

      Nice post. I’m not sure why it’s incumbent upon the non-Islamic world to “undermine the power of the Koran”. If the culture is incompatible, don’t let it in.

      Like

  8. FA February 21, 2017 at 12:28 pm #

    I agree with the thrust of your post, but I think the foundations are wrong. I’m coming to the conclusion that all societies depend on a shared foundation narrative. That is, there is a shared story that the vast majority of the population accepts as axioms. Western democracies have several axioms that underpin society. One relevant to this discussion is inalienable rights – the idea that the individual has an element of the divine and therefore there are things the state cannot do to individuals. This is crucial because it is what keeps the police state at bay.

    To put this into concrete terms, Australia with a 51% Islamist or hardcore Catholic population would cease to be the Australia we know. This is because an element of being such a person is antithetical to Australia’s foundation narrative of individualism.

    There are then, I think, two underlying problems going on. The rate of immigration into Australia is too high, meaning that it is too hard to properly integrate new arrivals. The Department of Immigration used to put a lot of work into integrating new migrants but almost all of those programs have been shut down as cost saving measures. The second is that public education no longer instills the foundation narratives well. I think this is largely a result of the strength that the idea of cultural relativism has enjoyed for the last few decades. It is dangerous to only point out society’s problems without also acknowledging its strengths.

    What we are seeing now is a result of the decline of social cohesion as belief in our shared story wanes. I think too many people have lost faith in the superiority of our culture. That’s what makes us a civilisation in decline, and that is what must be addressed if we wish to recover. Otherwise we’re on the same path that all human civilisations have trod before – eventual collapse.

    Like

  9. paul walter. February 21, 2017 at 5:26 pm #

    FA ,Perhaps a loss in social cohesion comes down to the breakdown in trust between different components within society.

    If there is an onslaught on social cohesion it actually comes from those imposing rubbish like the Centrelink rort and parallel policies for nakedly self serving reasons, policies that ramp up social tensions.

    In a stressed sort of (basically) monocultural society, say Germany in the nineteen thirties, history seems to demonstrates Volkischness can deteriorate to primitivist tribalism in aninfo vacuum, as Jennifer Wilson mentioned earlier.

    The rate of immigration is as “high” or as low as politics allows and when it is our sort of politics the benefit of multiculturalism are lost as the thing is mishandled, while mega phones like Alan Jones ratchetup anxieties in the background.

    Like

    • Moz of Yarramulla February 22, 2017 at 8:04 am #

      I’m much more persuaded by the “social cohesion” than the “shared foundation”. You only have to look at the ongoing lack of civil war in NZ between the Maori and the British to see how a shared foundation isn’t necessary (unless you consider a war between two bits of a nation can be a shared foundation).

      The other counter is, of course, nations like the Scandinavian ones that have extremely high shared foundations but seem to be tilting towards the French trap as social cohesion reduces. Viz, by emphasising integration rather than multiculturalism they’re creating ghettos full of hated-feared others,who are then blamed for failing to integrate.

      There’s also the Picketty et al argument that when the great bulk of society are economically secure they will be happy with high immigration, even of refugees. But once they’re economically precarious it’s very easy to get people to fear and resent immigrants. I think it’s worth noting that in the USA the “white working class” who swung to Trump are overwhelmingly not the precariat but the middle classes. They *have*, and they fear losing it. Albeit mostly what they have is privilege rather than cash. Maybe not economics after all… egonomics?

      Like

      • FA February 22, 2017 at 12:40 pm #

        By “shared foundation” I mean the underlying narrative of a society. We are story telling apes. I would argue that in New Zealand the arriving Europeans and Maoris combined their stories into a single narrative in a way we’ve never accomplished in Australia.

        I’d also argue that Scandinavia, particularly Sweden, have been working to undermine their shared foundation story and that is the reason for collapse in social cohesion. The world’s first “feminist government” that submits to things that Marine Le Pen won’t shows the new story is not consistent. It’s when a society is only criticised and none of the good that it provides is recognised that this problem occurs. It seems to me the ancients understood this. Consider the Egyptian creation story. Osiris, a stand in for the Egyptian state, was old and half-blind and thus allowed a great many tyrannies to go unchallenged. This is what led him to be murdered by his brother Set who then led a real despotic state. Isis, Osiris’s wife, partially resurrects Osiris in order to birth Horus. Horus defeats Set but also completes the resurrection of Osiris by giving him one of his eyes and they then rule together. The point is, it’s not enough to just criticise the state, because that way leads to totalitarianism, like Set, you must also resurrect the good in the state and give it new eyes to deal with new problems. (Yes, Jordan Peterson has influenced my thinking.)

        There’s good recent evidence that it isn’t fear that drives conservative thinking, but the disgust reflex. (1930s Germany can be easily recast through this frame, as among the Nazi party’s early acts where to literally clean up the factories; killing insects and rodents.) How open borders should be, whether national borders, sexual moors, or whatever, is the central conversation in society. Left wing people tend to be for more open borders because it leads to more creativity and novelty which left wing people value, whereas right wing people tend to be for more closed borders because it also leads to disease and social unrest as right wing people value conscientiousness. At any point in time, we don’t and can’t know where the borders should be to deal with the issues of the day. It isn’t a matter of either side being correct as the changing environment means it has to be an ongoing negotiation.

        Like

        • Anonymous February 22, 2017 at 1:19 pm #

          Evidently

          Like

        • d24 February 22, 2017 at 1:24 pm #

          You appear to be blissfully ignorant of the last 176 years of New Zealand History.

          Like

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