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Patriotism Exists in the Eye of the Beholder

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Patriotism Exists in the Eye of the Beholder

Andrew Ryan

Sometimes I get this creeping paranoia that one day I will be hunted down and attacked- if not physically, then certainly perhaps journalistically, or even personally. And lately I’ve noticed this vague fear of persecution slowly increasing, and I think it’s because ever since this government was elected in to power, I’ve found myself wondering if my interests and ideas could eventually be interpreted as downright Un-Australian, and thus, worthy of attack.

I think it’s fair to say that the combination of ideals, understandings and beliefs I hold are a little radical; at least they are when you look at current Australian government policies, associated business practices and environmental protection issues. I am more socialist than fascist, I am more green than business minded, I am more involved with the arts than with sports, I would encourage civil disobedience, do not support the military, I am more anarchistic than respecting of authority, and I believe that the idea of private property is a socially destructive force.

Given that the ABC has been accused of being Un-Australian- an attempt to demonise them in the eyes of a more conservative public- then I could feasibly be accused by Tony Abbott, and any of his supporters, of the same, or worse.

I used to be repulsed by this country- our history, our politics, our television, our sports culture; but these days I’ve come to see that, fuck it, I am actually really proud to be who I am, and where I am, in a lot of ways: proud of the land that fostered the world’s oldest living culture, proud of the people who keep this culture alive in the face of such brutal past attempts at genocide and complete assimilation, proud of the people in the country who are devoting their energies to social equalities all over. And continuing with what I said about positivity last week: I have chosen to focus on those elements, to embrace them. I love those aspects of this country, and want to see them flourish and inform our future.

So I am certainly not Un-Australian. I was born and raised here, I have never left this land’s national boundaries, and, like many Australians, I am of both European settler and native ancestry. I’m probably as Australian as they come. I just don’t necessarily agree with the views apparently held by the majority, and I CERTAINLY do not trust our armed forces with the treatment of anyone who isn’t rich and white.

The Un-Australian call is dangerous; certainly more dangerous than letting asylum seekers enter Australian waters, or reporting that our navy may have injured asylum seekers and that Australia did some spying on Indonesia. Any repercussions of these things are far less dangerous than the effects of our Prime Minister yelling, “UN-AUSTRALIAN, YOU’RE UN-AUSTRALIAN” at our national advertisement-free broadcaster, because if the commercial news-media consuming public accept this call of non-patriotism as eagerly as they did with the anti-Rudd and anti-Gillard government headlines, we’re at risk of a veritable nationalistic rabble against the only voices of reason we have in this corporate mediacratic, neoliberal empire we live under- and the destruction, privatisation or otherwise, of this voice of reason.

I don’t think it is such a stretch to say it’s likely that we may start to experience even more accusations of educated left-leaning points of view being Un-Australian. Anti-intellectualism is already rife in this country, with repeated attempts by those who can profit from it to convince “your average Aussie” that well educated people think everyone else is a dumb hick.

Tony Abbott himself is extremely well educated, but he talks really, really slowly, using repetitive catch phrases and buzzwords so that no one, no matter what their education level, will get lost. But in all of this, he says nothing. It is no wonder that people with a good to high level understanding of the English language, political theory and social equality etc etc do not trust this man. He, and politicians like him, profit from a dumbed down population. No one else does, especially not the dumbed down population, and certainly not the educated left-wing minority looking for a way to get some more social equality all up in this country.

Naw, instead of an informed population who realises that in our land of plenty we can actually more evenly distribute our resources than we do- and that it is possible to implement new structures in order to do this, encourage new industries informed by multi-culturalism and egalitarianism, maybe with an emphasis on shifting to a more technocratic society in which experts can decide on things they know more about than career politicians…- instead we have a government that essentially bullied the population in to voting for it by overwhelming their limited news consumption time with bullshit headlines and right-wing neoliberal bias, and as a result we are about to have disability pensions cut, higher costs for TAFE courses, a Eurocentric history curriculum put back in place, and a whole bunch of protected environments messed with.

I just… don’t understand. Well, I do. Ego and greed wins all. And that is really, really sad. And frustrating.

So perhaps, with all of this in mind, you can see why I might be a little fearful of eventual persecution. You only have to look at history to see what extreme anti-intellectualism has done to populations, what happens when governments are unchallenged by the media and the population, the wider social effects that environmentally ignorant and colonial-master governments have on the population as a whole…

I’m not saying Tony Abbott and his government are evil, or capable of atrocities, or anything like that- but I am scared of the hateful precedent they have begun (hah, perhaps even continue) to put in place to ensure that the too-busy-for-in-depth-news-and-politics-analysis masses are not willing to listen to anything a well meaning, well educated left-leaning person might have to say about a proposed new path for the future of this country.

The key to seeing the reality of any situation is to look at who could profit from it, and how. I won’t be happy until I live under a government that has let go of elite profiteering, and allows current and future generations of the broader population to equally profit from our resources and the combination of our many varied cultures too. Honestly, I don’t expect to be “happy” for quite a while, but I’m willing to keep working for it. Capitalism isn’t sustainable, and I wish there was a way to talk about that, to teach people about it, without someone bringing up failed communist states and misunderstood ideas about socialism and anarchy.

Something to watch, with this in mind, when you’ve got time for a movie: There is no authority but yourself.