The triumph of modern irrationalism
22 April 2023
Malcolm Fraser’s statement that, ‘Life wasn’t meant to be easy’ has elicited scorn from faux intellectuals for decades. The truth of his observation, though, appears to be beyond the intelligence of a political and intellectual elite, who believe, in the face of an indifferent and often cruel world, that simple ideas are beneath them. Ironically, though, their supercilious attitude is contrary to that of no less a mind than Issac Newton, who said that ‘truth is ever to be found in simplicity’. Fraser’s aphorism is about as true a statement as any human being has ever uttered. We’re all doomed to die, to watch our loved ones die, and life is hard. No one is spared pain, no matter whether the person is rich or poor, noted or anonymous, Chinese, caucasian or Aboriginal.
Also, to further the point, understanding comes after the fact. As Hegel argued: ‘the Owl of Minerva only flaps its wings at the coming of dusk’. Wisdom, then, comes after experience. Or, as Hegel’s philosophical enemy, Søren Kierkegaard, said, ‘Life is lived forwards and experienced backwards.’ The solution to life’s difficulties, then – following the Stoics – is to shoulder your burdens and stare unflinchingly into the face of the storm.
This is not, however, what the Australian establishment has recommended to Aboriginal Australia for over half a century. Aboriginal Australians have been coddled, patronised and treated like objects with no agency – except, of course, when they are uttering banal mystical platitudes about culture, ‘Welcome to Country’ or ‘The Dreaming’, which are often, to be blunt, unworthy of being written on the back of a greeting card. (At the very least, these spiritual ideas should not be taken seriously, in the same way that the fanciful notions of every mythological and religious tradition should not be taken seriously when formulating economic, social and political policy in a liberal democracy). Faced with listening to what, in first world countries, are the opinions of people with nothing interesting or relevant to say about a subject, our establishment will rightfully ignore these voices, but the very same intellectuals will listen enraptured to Aboriginal non-experts, who often have minimal or no education, as if they’re the intellectual reincarnation of Socrates. (I once overheard a Zoom call, where a senior health professional, whose job was to formulate policy, respond to a decent, naive Aboriginal woman – who had just sung her contribution to a discussion about health policy in Australia, as if she’d just cured cancer. Paradoxically, nothing she sang was related to health). The noble savage myth is one of the most pernicious and patronisingly insulting ideas in modern history.
Rhetoric, though, about the intelligent fool has a long history on the left side of politics. City-dwelling Russian intellectuals in the nineteenth century visited the country to listen to the genuine, unfiltered voice of the people and they found – only to their surprise, by the way – that the peasants had nothing interesting to say. The same can be said about the Voice referendum in Australia. We hear a plethora of flowery, faux-moral language, but nothing specific about the mechanics of the Voice or, crucially, how an advisory body to government will change dysfunctional behaviour in Aboriginal communities across Australia. Much of the dysfunction, to be precise, is directly linked to Aboriginal culture, and also to the social welfare system, which, ironically, is trying to mitigate the downstream effects of Aboriginal culture. Both culture and welfare, in a toxic combination, have inoculated Aboriginal Australia from the realities of modern life. The irony of the Voice is that the doctor, i.e., social welfare, is prescribing medication, i.e., Aboriginal culture, that is causing the illness in the first place. We have everything exactly backwards. Instead of looking inward for emotional or practical fortitude, Aboriginal Australia, with the connivance of left-wing intellectuals, has, as a default, blamed everyone but Aborigines for their problems, which is the quintessential definition of immaturity. The argument that every problem experienced by Aborigines is caused by colonialism made some sense, but not much, in the early 1960s, but, since that time, Australia has tried harder to introduce its original inhabitants to modernity, with all of its material benefits, than any country on Earth. And, just to remind people: at every stage of the journey, Australians were told the same propaganda, that the latest symbolic claim or initiative – there have been many – will be the magic talisman that cures the problems suffered by Aboriginal people. Do this one thing, we’ve been told, time and again, and everything will be fine. And also, like clockwork, we’ve been informed that if we don’t support the latest symbolic gesture that we’re ‘racist’. The fact that we have had many such claims over the years and that not one of them has worked is quickly forgotten.
Here’s the deal. Grow up. Aboriginal Australia can either enter the modern world with all the benefits which that implies, or it can remain mired in superstition and welfare dependence. You can’t have a twenty-first century lifestyle while glorifying and demanding adherence to a way of life that is not fit to face the challenges of the technological world.
This leads us to the paradox faced by successive governments in relation to Aboriginal policy. We can let Aboriginal culture, mired in a pre-modern ecology, maintain the status quo, where generations of Aboriginal people will be condemned to ignorance and welfare, or we can intervene in education policy against the wishes of parents, ‘mobs’ and the Aboriginal industry. Whichever way is chosen, the charge of ‘racism’ will follow whether the outcome is positive or negative. Heads you win, tails we lose.
So, as you can see, government cannot solve the problems blighting the lives of Aboriginal Australians. The same people who today complain about ‘racism’ would be reporting to the United Nations tomorrow about institutional racism if any Australian government took a pro-active approach to Aboriginal child welfare and education.
The only solution is the one that every individual or group is left with when all else fails – do it yourself. Sometimes leaving people to sort out their problems is a better solution than hearing people voice nice things about themselves. Fall over and then get up.
It’s worked for everyone else.