Wadeye: Failed State as Cultural Triumph
Patrick McCauley, Quadrant, 1 July 2022
The politically expedient and prideful apology from Kevin Rudd to all Aboriginal people on behalf of all Australians angered me. That it was so popular drove me to despair. I cannot shake off the feeling that this current fad amongst left-wing governments (even the Vatican) to apologise for past wrongs is really scraping the very bottom of the “spin” barrel and is in fact a form of political arrogance that will do more to exacerbate past tragedies than to redress them. The inimitable Theodore Dalrymple suggests:
…official apologies for distant events, however important or pregnant with consequences those events may have been … have bad effects on both those who give them and those who receive them.
The effect on the givers is the creation of a state of spiritual pride. Insofar as the person offering the apology is doing what no one has done before him, he is likely to consider himself the moral superior of his predecessors. He alone has had the moral insight and courage to apologise.
On the other hand, he knows full well that he has absolutely no personal moral responsibility for whatever it is that he is apologising for. In other words, his apology brings him all kudos and no pain.
Plato defined love as the “desire for the perpetual possession of the good”. The classical Greek thinkers disapproved of compassion—they saw it as a type of pity and doubted its reasonableness and therefore its justice. Nietzsche declared that human beings wallow in pity as swine do in mud—that their pity for others was indistinguishable from their pity for themselves and that they must master their compassion in the name of higher considerations. Perversely, it is the left side of politics that has defined a dreadful orthodoxy based on “the good” as compassion and human rights (equality, equity, positive discrimination, affirmative action, social justice, global ethics) together with a deep and pervasive hatred of the world of civilisation and of men. We are now expected to hate ourselves, our country and Western democracies in general, in order to be considered intelligent and humane beings. In order to love Aboriginal people, we must hate Australia, its history, and Australians.
Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word.
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
For me, just emerging from two decades of the abuse and discrimination meted out by the Family Law Act, Rudd’s maternalistic apology became a nemesis in a life decimated by this left-wing orthodoxy based on compassion. I had spent several years working with Aboriginal people back in the Seventies before my futile attempts at love under the domestic matriarchy, and so I decided to take a teaching position at the isolated Aboriginal community of Wadeye in the Northern Territory, to see first-hand how the Rousseau-inspired Coombsian theories had played out in reality.