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Tony Abbott's Ethnocentricity

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Tony Abbott's Ethnocentricity

Andrew Ryan

From Wikipedia:

“Ethnocentrism is judging another culture solely by the values and standards of one’s own culture. Ethnocentric individuals judge other groups relative to their own ethnic group or culture, especially with concern for language, behavior, customs, and religion. These ethnic distinctions and subdivisions serve to define each ethnicity’s unique cultural identity. Ethnocentrism may be overt or subtle, and while it is considered a natural proclivity of human psychology, it has developed a generally negative connotation.”

On an evolutionary level, ethnocentricity must have emerged from the breeding success of groups that worked together well whilst also shunning others, a combination of the altruistic mechanism that enables group cooperation, and the fear mechanism that occurs when encountering unknown things or situations. “Hey closefamilyunit, stay away from the unfamiliar area because there may dangerous things in there we haven’t figured out how to deal with yet”.

Later on in our history, after generation upon generation of that thing going on, for aaaaaaages, you begin to get different groups of humans – differentiated by cultural practices born of different environments – bumping in to each other due to territory expansion, and that thought pattern becomes something like “hey citizen, stay away from those people we don’t understand because we haven’t learnt to trust them yet and they know that environment better than us so they might kill us”.

Nowadays, we live in a time when all of Earth’s cultures must interact, and many, many people are extremely used to understanding, at least basically, a culture that is not their own out of circumstantial necessity, and a whole bunch of empathy. We need many people like this to keep the peace while we all get used to being in touch with so many different kinds of people. Unfortunately, Australia’s current prime minister does not appear to be one of those people, and has just outed himself to be completely ethnocentric.

It blows my mind to try to get on his wavelength, to put my feet in to the shoes of a cultural-homogenist born in the heart of the Empire, now leader of his adopted colony. Fuck that as a joke. That’s not who I want make decisions about the continent on which I am native-born. He does not understand, does not WANT to understand what it is to be born here, to have no choice but to confront the circumstances of your birth here, the births of others here, and come to recognize the shared responsibility we all have to right wrongs and grow together, peacefully and respectfully, with ancient understandings of the land guiding our lives, and the collected human experience of philosophical and scientific study guiding our use of technologies, resources and economic practices. If you want the luxury of colonial wealth, go the fuck back to England etc. We’ll get to communicate to extra-terristrial/dimensional beings first with our preferred mode of existence I reckon, so suck it, losers.

In the history of empirical expansion, most of our documented cultural interactions are heartbreakingly brutal, BUT, through learning from mistakes that make us feel fucking awful (mostly because powerful Anglo-Saxon descendants living on different parts of the planet got screwed over (after screwing over non-Anglo-Saxons for ages and not giving a shit) and were like OH FUCK LET’S MAKE SOME RULES NOW), Human Rights are a thing!

They have been a thing for like 2.6 generations now, and it is assumed that well-meaning people and governments must respect those rights when doing their policymaking and all that. Some people and governments do their utmost to uphold those rights, to respect them, while others flagrantly disregard them for the sake of whatever it is that is more important to them than the suffering of other human beings.

This disregard for the suffering of others is a sociopathic trait.

Sociopaths may have their uses in society, but they certainly should never be allowed to hold positions of authority over anything that involves the rights of – and care for – human beings that are not immediately related to them. Hell, probably not for their own families either. They’re a dangerous bunch, possessed by a thirst for power and a knack for imitation- they blend in with us folk who have the ability to empathise, they lay their traps and they take what they need in whatever way they can, and that usually leads to heartbreak, and sometimes early death. What happens on a micro level can also be seen on a macro level. Individual against individual / governments against citizens.

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Oxytocin is a hormone that promotes intimacy and bonding. It is what makes empathy happen. Oxytocin nasal sprays exist, marketed to promote well-being, stress reduction and sexual intensity. It would be good to give it to sociopaths so they stop causing emotional suffering in other people. I’d really like to shove in Tony Abbot’s nose while he’s standing in his bush-office in a remote community so he can emerge and be like “oh nowwwwww I am actually feeling what these fellow humans are saying about their ancient connection to country” instead of walking through them thinking “man, if I could just get some Chinese investors out here, I’ll go down in history for being a bloody good economic guy, I wish they’d just move to Perth” or something to that effect. I think that’s ethical way to use that spray.

But the paranoid side of me sees a big ol’ risk involved in the availability of something like this. Like, I kinda feel like there would be fairly unethical, definitely sociopathic people out there thinking of using this thing for less kind-hearted reasons than my ideal usage. Nope, there would be certain kinds of people who would probably make the spray available as a remedy for existential depression, with directions to administer it while reading a passage from an Ayn Rand novel as you keep financial stability in the front of your mind or something, you know? Which is almost what is happening anyway; it’s a natural anti-depressant type thing. “Can’t figure out your work-life balance? Here, take this, and thanks to the wonders of scientific mind control, you’ll settle back in to the psychologically, culturally and environmentally destructive society that is making you unhappy in no time!”

Sigh.