What the Fuck is going on in Australia?

I keep getting asked to comment on what is going on in Australia, but my response is a) WHAT is going on in Australia? I mean, when TNT Magazine rang me to comment on whether I thought the British view of Australia was outdated; wanting me, I suspect, to trash the old routines of cork hats and bbqs, in favour of the new sophistication on show at, then upcoming, Australian Film Festival in London, I was non-plussed. Yes, the British view of ‘Oz’ is outdated – and it varies interestingly according to how alert to racism people are: black friends agree its the new apartheid, white friends want to move there because of Neighbours. But my second response is b) I’ve been away 14 years, please go read some of the people writing about Australian politics who are there today. There is no excuse for cork hats, crappy movie reruns, or uninterested dismissal. Settler colonialism is rampant, the frontier is being remade. You can read whatever Pilger will come up with in his cult-journalist persona, and that would not necessarily be wrong, but you could more usefully follow the discussions of the people who tread the paths that cult-journos will not even find out about until they have their cheques signed and broadcast slot assured. So, have a look at Ange’s stuff here and Ben here where there is at least an attempt to work out what the fuck is going on in Australia.

From the second of the above links, Ben writes, in his third(fourth) instalment on the present ‘troubles’:

exceptions (iii)

to discipline the colonised
There have been sporadic reports of resistance to the intervention by people in “affected areas”. Some have responded by saying these reports are further efforts to besmirch the image of Indigenous people, while others have viewed the media as suppressing stories of resistance and refusal as part of the corporate media’s agenda to deny the existence or significance of such struggles. It is genuinely hard to get a picture of what people are doing in response, and many of the forms of response and resistance will undoubtedly remain invisible to me and maybe to the intervening authorities. Will any leak in visibility or declare themselves as a rupture of compliance and a smoothly managed takeover?

Other themes I want to develop:

Purpose and form of the the NT intervention : a re-imposition of capitalist social relations – most centrally, in relation to property/ land and wage-labor/work – through government control of consumption (where and on what welfare can be spent), distribution of commodities (control of stores, policing of alcohol), reproduction/welfare (control of services, community organisations etcetera through the new “managers” powers to take over at will any uncooperative organisations), labour (work-for-the-dole in places of extremely high unemployment making the bulk of the population conscriptable into the work of the intervention itself and anything else). Managed through every type of coercion available to the state – dependence on welfare, the use of police, potential of child removal, imposition of forced labour.

Origins of the NT intervention: not out of nowhere in response to any report, but developed over time by elites such as, but not limited to, those supporting and working in the Cape York Institute, promoting quasi-neoliberalising but statist experiments in management of the Indigenous and the neo-lumpen proletariat, to be integrated into general strategies for the reproduction (and expansion) of capitalist social relations. A conservative Third Way, intensive state management combined with the imposition of money-as-command. Moral panic over child abuse as a tactic for imposition integrated into the agenda enough to maybe appear a response.

POSTED BY theoryoftheoffensive ON 08.30.07 @ 4:39 am