An Ungrateful Australian
Gary Dean, July 2001
On Tuesday, 17 December 2002 BM wrote:
<pre>> I think, on balance, that if I am to be ruled, I would much rather be
> ruled by complete fucking moron civilians than by clever army generals,
> or religious fanatics for that matter.
> A friend, who had been a lifelong marxist until the collapse of the
> Soviet Union, in a moment of possibly alcohol-induced candour, said to
> me once that to him a slightly corrupt, partially inept 'liberal
> democracy' is far preferable to a ruthlessly efficient and thoroughly
> honest socialist dictatorship.</PRE>
Oh shit, I think I feel a polemic coming on ... Or maybe it's that dodgy rendang I ate for lunch ...
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I quite agree, living under a liberal democracy is probably preferable to living under a socialist dictatorship. However your statements are loaded with some highly contentious and suspect presumptions concerning the alleged relative superiority of liberal democracy, of which Australia is a worthy representative. You seem to be inferring that living in Australia is clearly and infinitely more preferable to living in a state governed by "clever army generals" and/or "religious fanatics". (In the context above, you seemed to be alluding to Indonesia.)
OK, here's my argument: Australia sucks and Indonesia doesn't. (Sorry, I'm trying to get to the point quickly. Some of my readers have very short attention spans.) Australia is an anal-retentive, puritanical, hyper-bureaucratic society that craves certainty from cradle to grave. The notion we call "Australia" is in fact a highly effective dictatorship hiding behind a mask of pluralism and social democracy. The Australian state (yes, it's a singular animal despite federal pretensions) uses political correctness, law and hyper-regulation as weapons of repression. And woe be unto the unbelievers!
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This is me being arrested for singing
a song of dubious artistic merit.
Perth, 5 December 1980.
Australia is ruled by a pseudo-meritocratic "professional" class that has absolute hegemony over political and cultural expression. Australian pluralism co-opts and/or suffocates non-conformists in a blanket of condescending, phoney toleration and smirking supremacism. And if that doesn't work then they can always call the cops.
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Australia is the land of the living dead, a bizarre Disneyland of self-deception and self-congratulation. Not much different really from
any other modern, Western or Westernised "civilisation" on the planet at this present moment. As was said in the End of Prehistory
a quarter of a century ago, we (Westerners) have succeeded in creating societies where "the possibility of dying from starvation has been replaced with the certainty of dying from boredom."
Like other Echelon Alliance states, Australia shares the spoils of economic and technological domination, and is an active participant in perpetuating the global class system that sucks the very life out of "backward", unmodernised states and regions. And then attempts to present itself as a model of virtue and righteousness to our little brown brothers to the north.
Australians are the most annoying people on the planet (myself and present company excluded of course). They are an embarrassment to the human species. I go out of my way to avoid them. Truly, I'm not
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I used to think that perhaps there was something wrong with me, perhaps I wasn't getting something. But now I am convinced that it's Australia that's fucked, not me. If I never go back to Australia in my life I will
not feel that I have missed anything whatsoever. Living in Australia is like death itself, the arrogant, self-satisfied culture that daily proclaims that "we have arrived, we are there", utterly and smugly impervious to criticism and non-conforming thought.
I came to Indonesia over seven years ago, following three years of deliberate and fairly intensive preparation and planning. I rarely go back to Australia nowadays, and if I do it is a very quick trip and usually only for mercenary purposes.
People, both Western and Indonesian, sometimes say to me "You must love Indonesia." This, I guess, is a reasonable assumption on their part. But in fact, I don't "love" Indonesia. I'm ambivalent, frankly. Sure, the political sideshows here tickle certain small areas of my brain. And certainly, culturally there is a lot that this place can teach you about humanity. But truly, I live here because this is where I live. And most importantly, I live here because it's not
The past seven years have been "interesting times" in this part of the world. For me personally it has also been eventful. I have seen the departure of three Indonesian presidents, witnessed several waves of severe political tumult (and seen two people killed as a consequence), been victim of a number of robberies (once even inflicted a double hernia jumping from a moving town bus whilst escaping an group of angry pickpockets), been hospitalised on two occasions for months at a time with interesting tropical diseases, witnessed numerous traffic fatalities, had my house flooded to the kneecaps twice, and have been continuously and mercilessly ripped off by corrupt immigration bureaucrats. And currently I am in the process of being hunted down by a Chinese mafia gang in Jakarta because I threw a spanner into the works of their multi-million dollar sugar smuggling operation.
Not to mention volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides, murderous traffic, air pollution, endemic corruption, political leaders of mega-moronic intellect, Islamic and ethnic terrorism, and an investment climate that has all but obliterated Indonesia from the global economic map. Keeping in mind that I'm supposed to be an "Indonesian Investment Consultant", this last point is of considerable importance to me personally! Very simply, no investment, no income! Given my profession, you can probably imagine that I've been about as popular as a umm ... [insert your own
hilariously witty metaphor here].
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But for all the above, I'm still here in Indonesia. Why? Once again, because it's not Australia. At least here I know I'm alive; in Australia I can never be quite sure. "Life" in Australia is a numbing blur of certainty, repetition and sterility. In contrast, every moment in Indonesia requires complete attention. Nothing can be left to chance, you cannot "cruise" within your own personal oblivion. Anything and everything can and does happen.
When Indonesians -- or any East Asians for that matter -- think about Australia and Australians, they nearly always use words with meanings such as "arrogant", "supremacist", "racist", amongst others. I used to think that they simply didn't understand Australians or their culture, or that they were simply victims of nationalist propaganda. Actually, they don't
understand Australians, and in fact most do
simply regurgitate the bigoted propaganda that's fed to them through nationalist media. But despite this I now consider that they have accurately described Australia and Australians.
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Of course, the boringly predictable Australian response to such sharp criticism is to splutter something like "well, my country is better than yours, so there!" Australians may go on to proclaim, subtly or otherwise: "we are rich, we have powerful friends, we are white, we are a tolerant multicultural society, our social system is second to none." ... To which I can only reply: "So fucking what?"
Btw, what do you think the chances are of seeing any of the opinions above published in The West Australian
? Right, zilch. And it's not just because The West Australian
is a narrow-minded, provincial, rubbish wrapper. The fact is that very, very few Australians want to hear such opinions. They are prisoners of their own self-deceptions and the hegemony of the ruling culture.
"As we celebrate Christmas, let us think of the incredible privilege we all have of being Australians." -- Australian Prime Minister John Howard, December 2002.
Ummm, yeah, right, thanks John for the "incredible privilege". I am such an ungrateful sod.