False Idols and Broken Dreams

by Gary Foley
Tracker Magazine 1st February 2012

If capitalism is an economic system whereby the inevitable result is the majority of the wealth of a nation ends up in the hands of a tiny minority, then I think that such a system of economics is deeply flawed.

Surely an economic and social system that resulted in a more equitable distribution of wealth would be a better system. If the wealth of a nation were more evenly distributed through targeted taxation and other legislated mechanisms then there would be more money in the private purse rather than in the bank accounts of people such as James Packer or Gina Rheinhardt. More money in the public purse would more than provide for universal free public education and comprehensive health and social welfare programs.

The difference between the type of society I envisage and that of a rabidly free market economy of the sort Australia has become, would be that the super rich would have to cope with around a mere $5 million per annum instead of $1000 million per annum.

Anyone who would claim that $5 million a year is impossible to live on has a serious mental problem and possibly major delusions of grandeur. Yet our mainstream media glorify and render admirable such greed and tell us these are ideal role models for we mere plebs to admire and emulate. We often hear of the imaginary “American Dream” whereby in the United States supposedly anyone can through hard work and ambition can become a millionaire and even maybe President. In other words, America is the land of free enterprise and equal opportunity.

Yet America today is probably the most unequal society among all Western nations. The disparity between the rich and poor in America is vast. America imprisons and executes more of its citizens than any other western nation, and a grossly disproportionate number of those are non-white. Because of bizarre laws in relation to gun control, America today is murder capital of the world. And recent dramatic failures and fraud in major economic institutions have almost brought about the collapse of the US economy.

All of these facts make me think that the so-called American Dream is either deeply flawed or a complete fabrication. This is important for us here in Black Australia because for at least three decades this nation has begun to unquestioningly embrace all things American and has been subtly seduced into a white-Australian version of the 'American Dream'. The idea that unfettered free-enterprise should be paramount and that social safety-nets and government-sponsored programs such as public health and education should be privatised are notions that have become dominant in Australian political life without any real public debate.

When Australia as a nation embraces such ideas it necessarily impacts on us as Aboriginal people. The importation and imposition of foreign ideas and culture has for two hundred years had a profound impact on us. Firstly it was a British culture that invaded, stole our lands and subverted our religious beliefs and replaced them with Christianity. Then that British culture evolved into and Australian culture that had deeply embedded notions of white-supremacy.

So it is of great concern that now we face an invasion of questionable ideas from American culture and one has already seen the results of some of those ideas.

For example, the lunatic notions such as 'mandatory sentencing' and 'three strikes and you are out' policies, which were dreamed up by crypto-fascists who dominate the law enforcement agencies in America since the time of right-wing President and B-grade Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan. These policies were introduced into the Australian legal system by WA Premier Carmen Lawrence in 1996 and the NT followed suit in 1997. The result has seen a dramatic increase in the incarceration rates of Aboriginal people in both the WA and NT jurisdictions since the introduction of this legislation.

Since then other uniquely American ideas have slowly infiltrated Australian thinking. We as Aboriginal peoples have been subjected to 200 years of misguided and at times genocidal policies and imported ideas that ultimately were discredited and disowned, and yet we now face further suffering from extremist ideas that have emanated from one of the most dysfunctional societies on earth, the United States of America.

We should resist, or at least analyse more critically some of these ideas and concepts that are today being peddled by some in our midst.

Gary Foley
1st February 2012


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