Society

Self-Loathing: The Other Pandemic of 2020

As it spreads beyond the borders of the United States, the so-called “Black Lives Matter” phenomenon has arguably been the real pandemic of 2020. North America’s most significant cultural export of the decade has been the identity-based politics that has taken root among its mass media client states, polluting the minds and harassing the streets of the “Free World”. While this is by no means limited to the Anglosphere, English-speaking peoples seem to have been hit hardest by this memetic pathogen. Australia is uniquely vulnerable due its own racially charged controversies surrounding the status of our indigenous population; it therefore serves as a useful comparison to the social turmoil currently being witnessed in America.

This essay appears in December’s Quadrant.
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Although they are more accurately an analogue to America’s First Nations, indigenous Australians’ banal self-identification along “colour” lines has seen the adoption of black-nationalist rhetoric and extreme Left symbolism from the US. Thus the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police likewise inflamed local passions, and rallies under the banner of Black Lives Matter have taken place in major cities throughout Australia, with Antifa insignia also appearing in protests and pickets. The focus of their grievance has been the discriminatory treatment of ethnic minorities, which is supposedly inherent in Australia’s politics, policing and popular culture. Mark Latham, the former federal Labor leader who is now spearheading the populist One Nation Party in the New South Wales state parliament, denounced these claims of systematic indigenous disenfranchisement as running “purely on emotion and assertion”.[1] Indeed, while Aboriginal deaths in custody are also a cause of recurrent public anger, a number of government reports have shown that the annual rates have been in decline for years.[2] Likewise, and contrary to the popular narrative, a 2017 government study concerning “unconscious bias” illustrated that indigenous women are in fact institutionally favoured in employment over white male applicants.[3]

The elevation of emotional appeals at the expense of sober analysis has had similar toxic consequences in America, and these have been amplified across the globe through its entertainment and news industries. The recent mania for iconoclasm has graduated from the fist in the air and sledgehammer-wielding lumpen-revolutionary of the street, to the only slightly more genteel sphere of popular culture. Media that openly stokes the flames of racial vengeance based on nonsense history or outright fiction, from Django Unchained to Hunters, is aggressively promoted from behind cherry-wood desks in executive boardrooms and editorial boards. In contrast, access to cinematographic classics such as Gone with the Wind is made increasingly difficult on online streaming services. These exercises in reconstructing cultural memory are consumed voraciously outside America and have deformed the historical awareness—and therefore political worldview—of generations.

As Yankee historical pathologies colonise ethnopolitical discourse abroad, absurdities arise, such as the case of the Australian Prime Minister having to withdraw a truthful yet apparently insensitive statement that the institution of slavery had no place in our history. It says a great deal about the moral cowardice of his so-called “Centre Right” government that its leader capitulated so easily to the mob, and it is precisely this political flaccidity in the domestic policy sphere that has allowed the BLM-Antifa nexus to exert a disproportionate influence over the public conscience. Social revolutionaries refuse to accept that historical narratives are often nuanced because facts rarely fit their ideological preconceptions. Those preconceptions take primacy, and the facts are cherry-picked to reinforce the favoured political bias. Thus they are oblivious to (or ignore) the fact that the first and last groups to be indentured in the New World were not of African origin; a revelation that if popularly acknowledged may begin to unravel the flawed historiography on which contemporary BLM-Antifa outrage is based.

Public intellectuals’ greatest problem in dealing with the BLM phenomenon is therefore their inability to interpret its underlying message. The slogan is not directed at the Afro-American community, despite evidence that the greatest threat to their safety and security comes from among their own.[4] A number of studies have likewise questioned, with varying degrees of controversy, the stereotype of racially motivated trigger-happy policing.[5] This belies the claim of universal black victimhood at the hands of a supposedly “white supremacist” system. Moreover, these internationalist activists for “social justice” are silent about the actual slavery still practised in parts of Africa, by Africans against their fellow Africans, as illustrated by Harry Cummins (“The Black Lives That Don’t Matter”, Quadrant, September 2020).[6] What then can the slogan’s intended purpose be other than as a meta-rhetorical device to promote—even if disingenuously—the collective political interests of the group in whose name it is chanted? If so, then it becomes a claim of priority, constituting a form of its own brand of supremacism through exclusive ethno-advocacy. In this sense, the “all lives matter” retort is simply naive because it assumes a common inclusivity that is absent from the radical’s mindset; appeals to egalitarianism and fairness mean nothing if one’s interlocutor does not uphold the same values in practice.

The slogan is also a part-reaction to the rhetorical memes found among the online US dissident Right over the last decade, such as “anti-racism is a code word for anti-white” which seems to have morphed into the more laconic yet far more provocative statement that “it’s OK to be White”. In 2019 Pauline Hanson moved a motion in the Senate quoting the statement, and a number of government members voted in its favour. The motion narrowly failed due to a block opposition from the broad Left, but was amazingly recalled to allow those government members who initially voted for it, to “correct” their record. Peter Baldwin, a former minister in the Hawke and Keating Labor governments, wrote in “The Inherent Racism of Identity Politics” (Quadrant, January-February 2019) that “Hanson’s point is that people are not deserving of some sort of moral opprobrium simply for being white (or any other colour). Who could argue with that?”[7] Indeed many have, both in the US and here in Australia, claiming that the slogan’s real intent is revealed by the unsavoury types who promote it online. Baldwin demurs: “The ‘message’ intended by the meme-makers is the all-too-predictable response to it.”[8] In other words, unlike “black lives matter”, this slogan’s message operates and is therefore intended to be taken at face value.

The visceral reaction to this milquetoast assertion of majority ethnic identity contrasts violently with the promotion of other groups whose interests are now institutionally protected and promoted. The sensitivity to indigenous affairs has turned into a near obsession, with a “welcome to country” (a verbal acknowledgment that the land is traditionally owned by the descendants of the local indigenous tribe) now customarily recited at the start of official receptions. Last year’s Japanese Film Festival in Sydney was opened with three such recitals; even the nominally progressive audience that attends these multicultural events was noticeably awkward. Dissent nevertheless does exist. Dr Frank Salter has proposed a more inclusive “acknowledgment of nation” which notes the role played by British settlers and their descendants in nation-building;[9] Keith Windschuttle has almost singlehandedly challenged the mythologised orthodoxy of Australian Aboriginal history in the academy and popular culture.[10] Both are considered parochial, despite their obvious egalitarianism, and perhaps also because of the academic rigor of their work. Their approach is now sadly out of fashion, replaced with a toxic oikophobia unashamedly promoted in the literary journals of the progressive Left.

Consider Alison Whittaker of the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, who reflects in a Meanjin article, “So White. So What”, on the experience of a white person’s self-deprecation in her presence as a platform from which to discuss contemporary race relations in Australia: “I wonder just what deranged pleasure she gets from me seeing her like that.”[11] Whittaker’s comments are reminiscent of Slavoj Žižek, who claimed at the Oxford Union in 2018 that the denunciation of supposedly inherited privilege itself creates a privileged “woke” elite.[12] Likewise, Whittaker complains about the apparent catharsis felt by “allies” engaged in public self-criticisms which do nothing to dismantle the structures in which they retain cultural or political hegemony, achieving instead “white self-aggrandisement through self-minimisation”.[13]

Yet the most revealing aspect of this piece is what is hidden in plain sight. Noteworthy is Whittaker’s principal concern, namely, “how to resolve whiteness”,[14] which is a “personal condition to be overcome” (emphasis added).[15] Contrast this attitude to the good-faith attempts of the establishment to arrest indigenous cultural decline, such as the passage of laws in 2017 for the “reawakening” of local Aboriginal dialects in New South Wales.[16] If the prospect of cultural entropy is so heinous to her people that legislative instruments are demanded to counteract its effects, how is Whittaker’s language vis-à-vis “whiteness” to be interpreted? We are lectured by her co-ideologues that combatting so-called “white supremacy” means “deconstructing” this whiteness, but if whiteness is essential to white people, as is claimed, this logically means the abolition of the people who embody that essence.

Geoff McDonald, former activist of the Australian Communist Party, witnessed the agitation of discord among Aborigines in the 1970s and described those techniques in Red Over Black (1982) as “a classical case of psychological war being waged against the nation”.[17] Clearly, what was once the promotion of separatist agendas has now metastasised into the advocacy for self-loathing. If otherwise well-meaning but naive Australians of European descent subscribe to this project, how else could it be described other than as a form of psychological warfare prosecuted against them—and through their own agency—by the cynical manipulation of language? I may object, and am presumably “fragile” for doing so, as if anti-fragility meant to embrace one’s abolition; indeed if “silence is violence” (yet another slogan of the BLM-Antifa nexus) then refusing to embrace the abolition of one’s personhood renders one a bad person—an inherently surreal proposition.

Contrary to Robin DiAngelo’s thesis in White Fragility (2018) it is minorities—not whites—whose interests and image are now routinely promoted “as a group though institutions, cultural representations, media, school textbooks, movies, advertising, dominant discourse, and the like”.[18] The vectors of demonisation in the media are now aimed at the majority population, its history and heritage. Whittaker confesses to being able to pass for a white yet identifies with her indigenous heritage because, in the context of the zero-sum game of power politics, she is attracted to a privilege defined as the sacralisation of the only identity permissible in the multicultural regime: the “Other”. When she castigates the comfort of “whites who are comfortable in their whiteness”[19] and complains that their deference—especially if it is merely performative virtue signalling—“will never give me title to your home”[20] it becomes obvious that malice is at the core of this ideology. This particular ethnocentric attitude is now thoroughly mainstream, as evidenced by Whittaker’s comfortable station in modern Australian society.

After the incident of self-deprecation described earlier, Whittaker wonders: “she watches me dredge up some vague praise. ‘I like your self-awareness.’ There’s a long silence afterwards, like neither of us knows how to progress the conversation.”[21] The answer is obvious when one realises that Whittaker and her self-flagellant interlocutor are not engaged in a “conversation” at all; no “progress” is at all possible when the only way to “resolve” the problem is to “overcome” the very personhood of your neighbour. Breaking the core of ideological malice is possible. Examples such as Joseph Pearce and Eldridge Cleaver (a white supremacist and black nationalist respectively) have shown the possibility of such a resolution through religious reawakening and conversion.[22] But these solutions are beyond the reach of self-proclaimed anti-racists who nevertheless fetishise race as central to their liberation theology, while paradoxically claiming to fight racism.

It is hardly surprising that the caustic and revolutionary ideology of Antifa and BLM are now virtually indistinguishable. This global pandemic has been a pox on all our houses. Japan has neither a significant African population, nor does it have a legacy of black slavery, yet protests under the BLM banner have been held in Tokyo. Poland is both ethnically and culturally homogenous yet banners with “white lives matter” have likewise appeared there. Evidently, both ends of this spectrum are equally viral—both the initial subversive push and the nativist reaction against it. Once a certain momentum is reached, they do not appear to require local conditions necessary for their initial growth to continue proliferating; while many of those who fall under their spell may be motivated by the best of intentions, they are ultimately exploited by ideologues whose objectives are to achieve power by abolishing the existing cultural and political order. This suggests that these movements are not intended to resolve concrete social problems; rather, they are vehicles for an irredentist political program that spreads in the ether of abstract theory. Failure to understand this will condemn society to forever be at their mercy.

Edwin Dyga is the Chief of Staff to the Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Party in New South Wales. He was the founder and convenor of the Sydney Traditionalist Forum

 

[1] Mark Latham, Twitter, 14 June 2020 @ 7:28PM. Latham was reacting to the usual hyperbole propagated by Indigenous activists which is routinely aired on the national broadcaster and its social media platforms.

[2] This data is publically available; see for example: Paul Williams, “Deaths in Custody: 10 Years on from the Royal Commission” Trends and Issues in Criminal Justice No. 203 (Australian Institute of Criminology, 15 April 2001); Matthew Lyneham and Andy Chan, “Deaths in custody in Australia to 30 June 2011: twenty years of monitoring by the National Deaths in Custody Program since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody” Monitoring Reports No. 20 (Australian Institute of Criminology, 25 May 2013); Alexandra Gannoni and Samantha Bricknell, “National Deaths in Custody Program: Deaths in custody in Australia 2015–16” Statistical Report No. 12 (Australian Institute of Criminology, 21 February 2019); Laura Doherty and Samantha Bricknell, “Deaths in custody in Australia 2017-18” Statistical Report No 21 (Australian Institute of Criminology, 20 February 2020); Jacqueline Loudo Larsen, “Deaths in custody in Australia 1990-2004” Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice No. 309 (Australian Institute of Criminology, 1 April 2006); Alexandra Gannoni and Samantha Bricknell, “Indigenous deaths in custody: 25 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody” Statistical Bulletin  No. 17 (Australian Institute of Criminology, 21 February 2019).

[3] Latham (see n1 supra) was relying in particular to the following report: Michael J Hiscox, Tara Oliver, Michael Ridgway, Lilia Arcos-Holzinger, Alastair Warren, Andrew Willis, Going Blind to See More Clearly: Unconscious Bias in Australian Public Service Shortlisting Processes (BETA, June 2017).

[4] For a critical review: Anthony A. Braga and Rod K. Brunson, “The Police and Public Discourse on ‘Black-on-Black’ Violence” New Perspectives on Policing (Harvard University and the National Institute of Justice, May 2015).

[5] See general sample: Roland G. Fryer, “An Empirical Analysis of Racial Differences in Police Use of Force” Working Paper No. 22399 (National Bureau of Economic Research, 2016); David Johnson, Trevor Tress, Nicole Burkel, Carly Taylor and Joseph Cesario, “Officer Characteristics and Racial Disparities in Fatal Officer Involved Shootings” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Vol. 116 No. 32 (22 July 2019).

[6] Harry Cummins, “The Black Lives That Don’t Matter” Quadrant Vol. 64 No. 9 (569) (September 2020) passim.

[7] Peter Baldwin, “The Inherent Racism of Identity Politics” Quadrant Vol. 63 No. 1-2 (553) (January-February 2019) p. 19.

[8] Ibid. p. 20.

[9] Frank Salter, “Acknowledgment of Nation” Social Technologies (blog) (23 December 2014; updated 22 January 2015) <socialtechnologies.com.au> (accessed 14 September 2020).

[10] See Keith Windschuttle’s series, The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, published through Macleay Press.

[11] Alison Whittaker, “So White. So What” Meanjin Quarterly Vol. 79 No. 1 (Autumn 2020) p. 50.

[12] Slavoj Žižek, Address to the Oxford Union, University of Oxford, 9 November 2018.

[13] Whittaker op. cit. p. 54.

[14] Ibid. p. 57.

[15] Ibid. p. 60.

[16] New South Wales, Parliamentary Debates, Legislative Council, 11 October 2017 (The Hon. Adam Searl MLC).

[17] Geoff McDonald, Red Over Black (Veritas, 1982) p. 107.

[18] Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism (Penguin, 2018) pp. 99-100.

[19] Whittaker op. cit. p. 60.

[20] Ibid. p. 53.

[21] Ibid. p. 52.

[22] These two individuals are emblematic, and their biographies are highly recommended to the reader: Joseph Pearce, Race With The Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love (St Benedict Press, 2013); Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Fire (Word Books, 1978).

14 comments
  • stephencollard

    Could you explain this sentence I am interested to know
    “Thus they are oblivious to (or ignore) the fact that the first and last groups to be indentured in the New World were not of African origin;”

    thanks

  • Doubting Thomas

  • ArthurB

    Quadrant readers will be dismayed by an article ‘How “Black Lives Matter” changed Paine’ in the Australian of Thursday 24 December, page 24. It’s about Tim Paine and Pat Cummins, who have realised that their attitudes towards race were out of date. To quote:

    “Australian Test captain Tim Paine has revealed the Black Lives Matter movement made him realise he had been living with his head in the sand.”
    “Vice-captain Pat Cummins says Indigenous writer Bruce Pascoe’s book Dark Emu had a huge impact on his views about racism and Indigenous culture”.

    The pair have recorded a conversation for the anti-racism website Reflect Forward (www.reflectforward.com.au, if you’re interested).

    I am sure that Paine and Cummins are sincere about what they are doing, but sports stars should stick to their knitting, and not support causes without checking whether there is an agenda behind it. In this case I feel that they are quite gullible, particularly about Dark Emu. I also feel the incident is a further indictment of our national broadcaster for its pushing a book that is an outright fraud.

  • Peter OBrien

    Arthur B, here is a letter (inevitably not published) that I sent to The Australian upon readiong that article:

    “The Australian is far and away the most balanced newspaper in the country, as its Letters page attests. Both sides of every issue represented. So what to make of the comments thread for Peter Lalor’s article on Tim Paine’s support for BLM and Pat Cummins for Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu? At the time of writing there were 250 odd comments and not one of them had a supportive word to say about either BLM or Dark Emu. It’s time The Australian called time on BLM and, more particularly, Pascoe’s egregious fiction.

  • Stephen

    I think most people who know would say I’m a pretty calm inoffensive sort of guy. But…one thing that really gets my blood up is when I’m confronted by sanctimonious wind bags. To me this term perfectly defines the BLM movement. Frankly the USA (Australia too) is now one of the least racist countries in the world. Pretty much the only serious racism to see there is BLM’s racism towards whites (and Asians, Hispanics et al). BLM is a disease which which makes it’s victims glory in their ignorance and fail to have any insight into their own extreme racism. Americans don’t travel much. They should spend some time in Asia (for the sake of brevity I wont mention other parts of the world that also qualify) where racism is rampant and often deadly. BLM seems to be a complaint without a prescription. White people are simply evil and can do nothing to wash away the guilt. Dr. King’s advice to judge people by the content of their character not the colour of their skin now falls on deaf ears. BLM is a pandemic of stupidity.

  • ianl

    >” … ideologues whose objectives are to achieve power by abolishing the existing cultural and political order …” [such as Antifa, BLM …]

    Critical (Cynical) Theories, by Pluckrose and Lindsay, published Swift, 2020 – recommended for understanding the true depth of cynicism involved with those of the post-modern power lust persuasion. Logic, rationality, hard evidence, painstaking and sceptical enquiry, the very essence of the blood-won Enlightenment, is completely discarded.

    I do not expect this book, as precise as it is, to have impact on the ideologue trajectory. Informing the very core of this ideology seems to be envy combined with malice. This is utterly immoveable except through equally irrational means.

  • lbloveday

    The Australian did publish my on-line comment:
    ************
    Specifically they would do well to read the book Bitter Harvest by Peter O’Brien which is a scholarly vivisection of the compendium of errors, misrepresentations and misquoted sources in Dark Emu, but in tune with these “woke” days, does not get a mention in the media, academia or schools.

  • Peter OBrien

    lbloveday,

    I saw your comment and greatly appreciated it.

  • Peter Marriott

    Peter, perhaps you should send, free gratis, a copies of your book Bitter Harvest to both Paine and Cummins, before the naive fools get too far up the blind alley they’re obviously in I think, and hopefully it will go some way to possibly removing some of whatever wool they’ve had pulled over their eyes…or at least starting to remove it. To think the captain of our national cricket team could be so naive and unsceptical about a so obvious political & idealised dreaming fiction like Pascoe’s book almost beggars belief. We need a captain with a little more wisdom than Paine I think and I can now see why the ABC are so keen on him…and the heir apparent, Pat Cummins.

  • Peter OBrien

    Peter Marriott, in an attempt to get some acknowledgement of Bitter Harvest in the wider community, I have already despatched, gratis, copies to many commentators and other figures such as history professors. My stock of gratis is running dangerously low.

  • Peter Marriott

    Peter, Thanks for the response and I can understand your position. The political climate at the moment is such that many people seem to be only reading and hearing what suits their pre-conceived mind set, particularly the young and credulous and of course the usual virtue signalling types. Those who already know the truth, which probably means practically everyone born in Australia over the age 50,( outside the universities and some sections of the media that is and even they probably know it, but don’t want to admit it ), can’t believe anyone could possibly fall for Pascoe’s fairy tale and so aren’t worried about having to read it either. I fall a bit into that last category myself but don’t worry, I’ve corrected my mistake and ordered a copy the other day, all paid for and it’s on it’s way, and I look forward to reading it in the near future.

  • Peter OBrien

    Peter Marriott, thanks and ‘you beauty’ to to you and I hope many others follow your example. Also, I really hope you enjoy the book and look forward to your feedback ,
    cheers
    Peter

  • lbloveday

    A warning:
    .
    I read of Cardinal George Pell: Prison ­Journal Volume 1 in an Andrew Bolt column “…now published by Ignatius Press”, went to their web-site without looking further and ordered a copy as a Christmas present on 23 November, paying $US17.39 for first-class delivery on top of the book price of $US19.95 with an anticipated delivery date of 5 December.
    .
    Now Dec 28 and no book.
    .
    I’ve since been informed it is also available from Freedom Publishing Books.

  • Lacebug

    And thanks to this brilliant article I have added a new word to my vocabulary: oikophobia.

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