A nation is a vector of its citizens’ clamour.
As we more cynical and paranoid know, that vector is easily, and usually, subjugated by an elite.
Such forces wag Australia’s tongue-politic, confusing and worrying our Asian neighbors, amusing the wider world.
One hundred years of democracy has ended in this once fine country. The executive conclave now wields erosive legislative barrage upon the fading rights of its ignorant squabbling charge – the Australian people.
That, however, probably concerns you not. You, dear visitor, most likely wish to understand the people, the populace, that noisy sea of hostile faces you fear you hear barracking ugly behind a rude, arrogant, intellectually-devoid press.
First the bad news
Those Australians among us who ever stopped to think about this nation or its standing in the world community, are at a deep loss to make anything meaningful of it.
To encapsulate Australia and its people, imagine America’s brassy ersatz Las Vegas spread thick over three million square miles at the Pacific’s heel. Twenty million itinerant gamblers prowl the gaudy commercial cavalcades seeking no more than profit, leisure, and gratification.
For two centuries, from all over the globe, restless curious refugees pitched camp in far-western suburban hellish sprawls around glittering unstructured coastal cities to begin an unrelenting life grinding their neighbors into the dust.
Their children, typically obnoxious, ruthless and faithless – trapped between intangibles of their parent’s lost culture and the illusional “Spirit of Australia” – proceeded with unfettered confidence to be king of the local commercial warlords, adding one more gaudy shingle to the iconic clatter of their local “Zoned Commercial.”
Those not betting theirs and their family’s lives on the casino-commercial of small-time barter went digging up the countryside of the worlds largest quarry, encouraged financially and ideologically by the nouveau-riche barons owning a series of the most short-sighted, selfish, destructive federal governments this once-egalitarian land suffers in its short brilliant history.
If this bitter darkness does not quite gel, dear foreign visitor, with your sense of reality or the snippets of Aussie life gleaned from your own fleeting visits (or upbeat assessments by traveling friends) then I might at least kindle your suspicions, that your imagined “Australia” is a shiny racist coin in search of a scratch.
Visitors naturally perceive places through their personal outlook on the world. An Australia experienced will fit, by filtering, into each’s own model of reality – usually a media cliché blending seamlessly with the interpersonal liaisons, the meeting and matching of behavior and ideas between tourists, guides and locals.
But do beware.
This easy-going, larrikin, egalitarian, friendly and generous people are easily spooked.
Like a herd of grazing cattle – indeed, like any collection of creatures on God’s Earth – the serenity of the scene deceptively cloaks an ebb and flow of sensory energies, relaxation and alert, fear and flight, prejudice and suspicion, amity and enmity, welcome and rejection.
Gentle zephyrs of generosity and sociability are swept aside in sudden storms of hatred and xenophobia.
Australia is a largely suburban place with an empty interior. Its population highly mobile, roughly one motor vehicle each, few walk to the local store, few commute in bus or train; family outings feature family cars; gangs don’t rumble in the hood, they rumble inter-suburban-convoy.
Few, very few, know their neighbors.
And everyone feels at a loss.
Youth, between partying, endure morose dark emptiness – awareness erased and intellect crushed during childhood in missionless, overly and overtly politically-correct, socially oblivious classrooms of formal education.
And adolescents of intellect? Well, they once filled the streets, colleges, parks and parliaments with righteous protest seeking land rights for gay whales. Today, sadly silent, they meekly tread the mills of academia, skirting excellence in science and arts for commerce and IT. Perfect fodder for what they imagine, without imagination, their perfect world.
The middle-aged middle class, intellectually plateaued, spend three decades in lemming-like quests for real estate adorned with trinkets of success – only to waken and find their lives over, pockets full, minds empty, spiritually devoid.
Intolerant gray nomads sweep the highways with camper convoys, their hardening arteries feeding hardened minds and positively concrete emotions.
Indigenous Australians suffer, trapped and mostly outcasts camped near hot dusty country towns, simmering in fatalistic bitterness between a forgotten dreamtime and forbidden dreams.
Like all godless, gambling, greedy cultures, Australia’s is as shallow today as any facile, fragile, feckless frontier. Fully self-sufficient fifty years ago, this nation’s entire mission statement now comprises merely exporting minerals in return for consumer electronics.
Infrastructure, formerly great (efficently run or not, but efficient employers) edifices of engineering, managed by engineers, is now mostly lost to private globalism, and socially-dysfunctional bean counter kingdoms of little relevance or use to a population driven into publicly-financed privately-owned “services” that – the people discover to their dismay – only the wealthy owners’ offspring can afford to patronise.
This once delightful little nation, which boasted a truly genuine cultural spirit born of its growth, struggles, and emergence from a colony in the 19th century, is today no more than a pigs’ trough, it’s ‘spirit’ a mere publicist’s slogan that turns dry in the mouths of patriots.
Lobbyists’ task near complete.
While nothing differs in a population’s quest for consumer status – a Grail whose light has blinded all since the beginning of the industrial age – what is startlingly and distressingly different is the intellectual and social desolation in the nation’s leaders who are intent upon no social agenda other than subverting the entire infrastructure into bankrolling projects of the powerful elite.
The Australian federal government is a corporate branch office that functions as a revolving door feeding newly minted politicians into company directorships, along with their (only yesterday) confidential portfolio of ministerial knowledge.
Do I sound bitter?