Paradox Paradise

Would you still call it nonsense, if sense exchanges its meaning with nonsense?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The White eclipse of the land of the red sun

OR, The territorial pissing over a 100-thousand year old civilisation
Aussies have been on the piss, getting pissed, drinking piss, drinking more piss and, most definitely, taking the piss for the past two hundred years.”
– From the website of an Australian beer brewer
Pissed, as a slang meaning drunk, is quintessentially Australian. My search for the reasons of the origin of the term didn’t return any satisfying answers. A possible logical explanation is not a very difficult one. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning, a substance that prevents the secretion of ADH that instruct kidneys to reabsorb excess water. Naturally, this effect causes kidneys to produce diluted amounts of urine. Alcohol relaxes muscles, and one of the first muscles to affect by it, is the sphincter muscles of the urethra – second only to the muscles of your eyelids. Now put one and one together and you will end up in the loo when you are drunk. This physiological trivia is not as trivial as most of us might think. It has an astounding effect on human civilisation and its explanations of evolvement.

It was in The Songlines, by Bruce Chatwin, I first read about the native Australians, and amazed by their superior, almost parapsychological, mental faculties. About their abilities to read land like a book. About their abilities to code and decode geographical information in the form of musical notes. Songlines are songs that describe the journeys of a Totemic Spirit. Sometimes spread across hundreds of miles, with each community singing only the part that crosses their region. Astonishingly, an experienced singer of one community is able to identify the geography when someone else sings another part of his Songline, without understanding a word of it. I have never been to Australia, or have met any of these native Australians in person. Most of the things I know about them is from this book, The Songlines, which I read eight or nine years back. After that I sure have read more about their life and culture, including the much celebrated, almost amateurishly written, novel Walkabout. The Songlines is widely criticised for being colonialist and thus unreliable as a source of information. Nevertheless, it sure has told me many untold stories about the world’s oldest living culture, and I have found his narrative neutral and detached in most parts of the book. In the book, Chatwin describes the following conversation with a policeman he met in a bar:

“[…] ‘So why do you bother with them?’ The policeman jerked his thumb at the Aboriginals.

‘Because I like them.’

‘And I like them,’ he said. ‘I like them! I like to do what’s right by them. But they’re different.’

‘In what way different?’

The policeman moistened his lips again, and sucked the air between his teeth.

‘Made differently,’ he said at last. ‘They’ve got different urinary tracts to the white man. Different waterworks! That’s why they can’t hold their booze!’

‘How do you know?’

‘It’s been proved,’ said the policeman. ‘Scientifically.’


From having different waterworks was an easy step to having different grey-matter. An Aboriginal brain, he said, was different to that of Caucasians. The frontal lobes were flatter.

‘I like them,’ the policeman repeated. ‘I never said I didn’t like them. But they’re like children. They’ve got a childish mentality.’ […]”

That’s what you can derive, when you think with your piss-mechanism. The native people were living in the land for about hundred thousand years when the Europeans landed on their coast in the late 18th century. In the next 100 years, by the time the nation christened as Australia was established, the native population was reduced to about ninety thousand from over a million. Of the 750 native groups, currently there are about 200 that survived the hospitality of the guests, constituting 2.3% of the current population with about 90% Europeans. Majority of these native Australians today live in the urban areas – bearing the mark of misfit, uncivilised, inferior race.

The Northern Territory Land Rights Act, 1976, is one of the most important legislations made in Australia after the founding of the nation. The Act was made to give back some rights, mainly ownership of their sacred land, back to the natives. Northern Territory has about 1% of Australia’s population, and is the least densely populated area in the country. Nearly half the geographical area belongs to the four Land Councils under the 1976 Act, though the native population is hardly 29% of the total in the Territory. The native population in NT is hardly 12% them in the country. It’s not that only NT is aboriginal land, or the rest 88% belongs to nowhere. It’s just that the Whites had already taken over all of the other regions except the desserts by then. And then, they found enticing deposits of minerals in the Northern Territory. And then, they found the most suitable land for nuclear waste dumping. And then, last year, the John Howard Government amended the 1976 Act. The effects were not as fast paced as the White man’s calculations, though they had managed to sign a deal for a 200-year lease of land for nuclear waste dumping.

In this time of trouble, Howard gets an inquiry report – tastefully titled, Little Children are Sacred – on child abuse among aboriginal children in the Northern Territory. The 320-page report reveals some shocking facts. Like, the miners widely engage in prostitution with children as young as 12 years. The report clearly states that it’s not just aboriginal men who commit the crimes; and the widely believed view that aboriginal culture and laws protect the abusers is a plain myth. The report strongly says, “The Inquiry believes there needs to be a radical change in the way government and non-government organizations consult, engage with and support Aboriginal people. A different approach is urgently needed.” It very clearly says that the government service provision is pathetically inadequate, and there should be an urgent need to take the aboriginal ‘world view’ seriously, instead of imposing the European ‘world view’ on them. Howard flips all these pages too quickly and stops at where it says, “The Inquiry was not told many stories concerning intra-familial child sexual abuse. However, given the experiences of the community mentioned above, and noting the findings in other Australian jurisdictions, it is safe to assume that it is more prevalent than was identified in consultations.” Howard found what he was looking for, and his government decided to ban alcohol in the region and take over the communities slashing the aboriginal rights.

If you have failed to grasp the connection between the report and action, that’s only because, there’s no apparent connection at all. “"Let me say there is not a single action that the commonwealth has taken so far that corresponds with a single recommendation,'' Ms Pat Anderson, one of the authors of the report that suggested 97 recommendations for the problem, tells us. “The Government is treating aborigines like children,” a fuming Ms. Anderson, who headed the inquiry team, told the reporters. Seems like Prime Minister Howard’s attitude towards the aborigines is not any different than that of the drunken policeman Chatwin describes in his book. But there’s much more to the conspiracy.

The 2006 amendment of the Land Rights Act, 1976, allows individuals to own land, and enables them to get loans on a subsidised interest rate on that land. It’s a pretty old trick. Someone who’s not happy with the community elders decides to own his own land and approaches the bank. The bank, happily gives the loan, taking the documents. And the owner will most probably lose the land to the bank in a few years. The region, with 29% of people with ‘inferior waterworks’ has the highest per capita alcohol consumption in the world. Alcoholism has been a major concern for the communities for years, and the elders are obviously against the drinking behaviour of their people. Howard thought, an alcohol ban would be welcomed by the elders and ‘piss off’ the drunkards. That would naturally increase the chances of the drunkards wanting to be ‘independent’ and go to the banks. Exactly the kind of people they wanted to come to the banks with land. The exaggerated publicity on the grounds of alcoholism and child abuse will prevent leading socio-political agencies from opposing Howard’s move strongly. Anyone opposing the new legislation can be portrayed as ‘supporters’ of alcoholism and child abuse. Something, any organisation that needs public support will be wary of risking.

The new legislation is ready to be put before the parliament. It will scrap off almost all the rights aborigines were granted. The permit system will be removed, and any non-indigenous person can go to the aboriginal areas without any prior permission. The customary laws or cultural practices will be stripped off from their validity in courts, while all other ethnic groups in the country will continue enjoying the privilege. The Government will take over the aboriginal lands for next five years. It proposes to completely stop the funding of Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP), through which over 30% of the aboriginal adult population earns their and their families’ living. The sole income for majority of the families will be stopped that way. This means, they will be more vulnerable and completely dependent on the federal government forces, which will be taking over their lands for the next five years. That’s the wisdom of the highly evolved Caucasian brain.

Let me quote a passage from the very popular novel Walkabout by James Vance Marshall. It’s a small novel the describes the story of two American school children stranded on the desert plains of Australia by a plain wreck, who then meets an aborigine boy on his walkabout – the six month solitary journey on foot across his ancestral land as his test of manhood. The passage that describes their first meeting reads like this: “The three children stood looking at one another in the middle of the Australian dessert. Motionless as the outcrops of granite they stared, and stared, and stared. Between them the distance was less than the spread of an outstretched arm, but more than 100,000 years.” The rest of the book tells a few things humankind learnt to forget in the100,000 years.

One of the very basic beliefs of the native Australians is people don’t own land, but the land owns everything that it allows to grow on it. One of many things the ‘highly evolved’ Europeans can never understand. The European idea of evolution and advancement of civilisation is pretty much skewed. And with their industrious colonisation efforts across the globe, they have successfully established their notion and standard about being civilised and advanced, in all modern communities. This allusion of evolutional advancement is the very foundation of their assumed superiority. Educated people all over the world are blinded with the belief that equality means rising to the levels of European standards of human development. I am too uneducated to understand how a society that can go helpless and paralysed, if all the electrical fuses burn simultaneously, can be called evolved and superior. Call it a highly optimistic society, if you want. A society that survives only on the hope of having every fuse intact. Or, one that is too dumb to think of such a high possibility of a few fuses burning together.

Ridwan Laher has initiated a campaign that calls for a global tourist boycott as a message of protest against Australian government’s move to take over the aboriginal lands. The campaign plan is to collect signatures of all the people around the world who think Howard Government’s move is insanely racist, and against basic human rights. More than an attack on human rights, it’s an effort to destroy a superior civilisation by a pathetically crippled one. Go and add your name to the list of people who supports the campaign. You can do it either by going to Ridwan’s blog, or by clicking on the banner you see on the right hand side of this page. Don’t support the campaign thinking you are helping the aborigines; they don’t need yours or anyone else’s help. Their way of life has survived a hundred thousand years, and will survive even after yours and mine bite the dust. Add your name, only if you think, you, the Australian government, or anyone else has no right to endanger their life and their 100-thousand years’ wisdom of land and life. The petition is open only till October 17th, 2007. If you have a blog, and if you support the campaign, you can get the banner to display in your blog from Tom.

You can download and read the inquiry report, Little Children are Sacred.
You can also read more about:
The report authors' reaction to Howard's move
Withdrawing the plans of existing government funding
Plans to nullify the validity of customary aboriginal laws

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At Wed Aug 08, 11:49:00 pm, Blogger D said...

Hi, I happened to have vacationed in Australia last winter. And I must admit I enjoyed every bit of it. However, that did not make me blind to the fact that the original inhabitants of Australia - the aborigines - were conspicuous by their absence in urban Australia.
The only place where they seemed to serve the government's purpose was at the Tjapukai Theme Park near Cairns which attracts tourists from all over the world. Of course, I cannot deny that visiting the Park introduced me to the world of tjapukais (or aborigines), their exploitation by the colonisers and their efforts to stand up again after a century of suppression. But it also showed how their sad story was being used as a tourist attraction!

The recent legislation that you've blogged about is an eye-opener and reveals the farce that the white man's burden has always been. And I hope Ridwan's efforts bear fruit.

At Thu Aug 09, 12:25:00 am, Blogger Ridwan said...

Hey brother!

I am impressed man. What a wondeful piece you have produced here. We are still moving forward and the signatures will continue to grow.

Just think if each signature represents US$2000 of tourist income for Australia. Nothing to sneeze at hey!

OK, so keep me posted on you and your doings. Good to read you again.

Be well my brother.


At Fri Aug 10, 12:03:00 pm, Blogger Jubin George said...

D: Thank you for sharing your experience. I was not surprised, because it's almost the same thing I have heard from people who live there. And the fact is, majority of aborigines live in urban areas today. Doing menial jobs or being jobless. Many of them don't know how to speak Australian either. All these are 'naturally' interpreted as indicators of being inferior, unintelligent, misfits in the society. It's not a difficult situation to understand. We have millions of people who face much similar problems in our country too. For the simple reason that they don't know how to play the game according to the imposed, and widely accepted, European rules. Let's try to walk at least a step of the talk now.

ridwan: Thank you for the nice words, and sorry for being late with this post. Let's see whether it's of any good. Otherwise, it would mean nothing.

At Mon Aug 13, 02:44:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

good work jubin !


At Tue Aug 14, 04:56:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jubin George.

Tom of Automatic Preference has highlighted your piece on Howard at his blog.

I agree with Tom. It is an amazing piece of writing.

Be good hey.


At Wed Aug 15, 01:04:00 am, Blogger Jubin George said...

scout: Thank you, if you have signed the petition. :)

ridwan: That's an encouraging bit. And it has brought in more traffic. Hope it'll show in the list too.


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