Thursday, July 29, 2010

Brown Paper Bags, Refugees and Going Gaga: Fear and Loathing Down Under.

Housing for refugeesImage via Wikipedia
I just walked home from the station through the cold of night. A typical Melbourne drizzle was trying to after years of drought. I wasn't expecting to come home to find my blog page searchable on the web, but it was.

What a nice feeling to come into the warm and dry my hair.

Not so pleasant for an asylum seeker incarcerated in one of Australia's concentration camps, I suspect. Or for a suppliant at one of our over crowded and understaffed mental health wards. There is no asylum or anyone anymore, unless of course it is somebody carrying brown paper bags of cash.

Yes, yes, we all know how right Foucault was about Panopticons, of the need to shut down those awful places where people who were mentally troubled could be given asylum from the harshness and calamities of life in a modern society. It used to be mandatory to give someone a bed if they fronted claiming to be feeling suicidal or homicidal. Not anymore. Now they can just  be turned away and go home and hang themselves in the peace of their family home. What 
Foucault failed to appreciate was how the Neo-conservatives would co-opt his well-meaning critique and use this to shut down these state funded sanitariums and transfer the money to building Pantechnicons to house anyone seeking asylum and drive them to the point of insanity.

DADAAB, KENYA - AUGUST 24:  Newly arrived Soma...The Panopticon is no longer a physical construction but an idea which monopolizes the discourse within the lifeworld. The Neo-cons, now having colonized all the major political parties, continue this imperialism of ideas, this hegemony, into the lifeworld itself through the media of language.  Habermas was always closer to the mark than the short lived Foucault, who like a pop star gained notoriety with his untimely death.

The only response that these neo-conservative friends of low taxation and the rugged individualism of late-capitalism is to go around with their brown paper bags to any private jail builder they can find, to any tin pot government who will listen to the lovely rustle that these bags are said to make, and to dog whistle to the hounds of outer-suburbia, people who have fallen through the rather large cracks of a chronically underfunded and inequitable education system, who bark back the very words uttered by their political masters.

The political system is in danger of losing its  legitimacy as this conspiracy between left and right ignores the people at every level of decision making, preferring, instead of a deliberative democracy with robust forums, focus groups who are stacked with people who nobody knows, from suburbs that few have heard of, with people whop are possibly amongst the less informed in the society.

I am in danger of going Gaga. I'm sure I'm not alone. The ridiculousness of the political system risks turning sublime in a way not witnessed since the stupidity of 1930s Europe prior to the outbreak of WWI (part 2) or the European Civil War as it is perhaps more accurately called.

Meanwhile, boats are still arriving, camps are still being built, and more and more people go untreated in the community with a myriad of untreated mental illnesses. Of course, the illicit drug trade  which loves the brown paper bag and no doubt ensure that one or two make their way into the hands of politicians, police and the judiciary, has a significant input into creating these mental instabilities, as too do alcohol and tobacco, the two biggest paper bag industries of them all.

Gusmao and Ramos-Horta, the prime minister and president of East Timor respectively. have until now resisted the Brown Paper Bag diplomacy of the new Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard. How long will this last for, I wonder, with Oil money now being waved around right under their noses? Meanwhile, the concentration camps are overflowing and more must be built, no doubt complete with military bases to defend the outer suburbs from invasion.

Oh, what a lovely life. Shop till you drop! Don't worry, the economy is going gangbusters, you can borrow on your over-inflated mortgage. And who cares about asylum anyhow.   Stuff you Jack, I'm all right. They can all go and hang themselves for all I care.

No doubt, some of them will.
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment