Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Repetitive Aussie apologies

Australians are special people. When I returned to my native land in 1985 for a lengthy stay, I was alarmed to discover that many of my compatriots were victims of a mysterious physiological affliction known as RSI: repetitive strain injury. In a nutshell, Australians who had developed the habit of using their hands to perform repetitive manual tasks enabling them to earn their living (a hugely ordinary situation throughout the planet Earth) found themselves stricken down with mysterious painful symptoms that prevented them, alas, from carrying on their work. Having just left France, I was intrigued by the fact that this affliction appeared to exist only in Australia. Was there a demoniacal "magnetism" in the geographical specificity of the Antipodes that was dealing a cruel blow to Aussie workers, and making them incapable of working repetitively at a given task? Maybe it had something to do with Vegemite consumption. I wondered, but I never found an answer to my interrogations. Meanwhile, I returned to France, where people were still working manually as usual...

These days, there's a new epidemic in Australia: a compulsive need to apologize... to accelerate the "healing process" in all kinds of domains. On 13 February 2008, the Australian prime minister apologized formally to the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal children who were removed forcibly from their family context in order to be brought up in a Westernized environment. On 16 November 2009, the same prime minister apologized formally to a second group of citizens, referred to as Forgotten Australians, designating individuals without parents (for many reasons), placed in institutions... and maybe abused in one way or another.

From my observatory in France, I remain highly skeptical concerning the well-foundedness of the current Aussie media razzmatazz about Kevin Rudd's apology to these so-called "forgotten Australians". It all sounds rather silly to my European ears. Sure, there were sad cases of infants without parents, kids being abused, adolescents without guidance, etc. But was it worse in Australia than anywhere else on the sad planet that emerged from World War II?

To my mind, my compatriots would do better to concentrate upon the sole political problem that faces modern Australia: the fact that our gigantic resources (mainly mineral) have been raped by international capitalists who don't even leave enough in our nation's piggy bank to build a decent infrastructure of roads, railways, defense systems, etc. Australia doesn't need apologies. It needs a violent political revolution of a left-wing kind (maybe with blood) and new republican thinking.


  1. I recently returned from a trip to Australia after being away for 20 years (I lived there for a short time in the 80's). I was quite surprised at how, when the conversation turned to any marginalized group, Australians had only the most sensitive things to say. It was a bit tirin, and such a change from my experience 20 years ago. I wrote about it on my blog. When a taxi driver in Cairns made a slightly sexist comment about the weight of my luggage, I just about hugged him. This was my Australia!

  2. I'm still waiting for my apology from John Howard for me having to put up with him for 11 years.