Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats
The Western World is adrift in “Wokeness”.
As the Babylon Bee Guide to Wokeness delightfully explains (somewhat tongue-in-cheek):
Being woke means waking up to the cause. What cause? Every far-left, radical, communist, Marxist cause we can think of. The entire agenda of the Left.
Wokeness isn’t a private religion you can keep to yourself. Once you see the world through woke eyes you’ll never be the same, and you’ll never be able to stop telling your friends about your new beliefs. Kind of like when you join CrossFit or become vegan –or get an air fryer.
One of the problems, however, of the increasing pervasiveness of wokeness is that its perpetrators will tolerate no dissent. This has resulted in the so-called “cancel culture” where dissenters are silenced and thus rational debate is inhibited. The outcome is that Australia has become a society where people self-censor their beliefs. This threatens the very fundamentals of our democracy by curtailing free speech.
But riding in the wake of this wokeness are a number of contrived catastrophes that bear a little closer examination.
It is a truism frequently propagated that if you want to understand the cause of something you should “follow the money trail”!
For example in my recent essay on politics I suggested that it was somewhat suspicious that Simon Holmes a Court should sponsor a new political movement, the so-called “Teal independents” whose principal (and almost only) policy was to accelerate the reduction in CO2 emissions. The son of Australia’s first billionaire, Robert Holmes a Court, has considerable investments in renewable energy. Any actions to amplify the impacts of climate change are to his financial advantage. So in a very real way the Teal independents rely on a prospect to have political careers by preaching climate catastrophism.
Now there are many more examples that I could instance where jobs are created and enhanced by pedalling the same sort of message. One of the more spectacularly successful involves the Great Barrier Reef. Every year we hear how the Reef is threatened by climate induced coral bleaching, sediments and chemicals from farming and pastoral activities and ravages by the crown of thorns starfish which are somehow attributed to human activity.
Yet according to Peter Ridd, former professor at James Cook University, the Reef is in robust good health. He points out that coral bleaching is a natural phenomenon that the Reef has always endured and invariably recovers from. His research suggests that sediments and chemical residues are largely contained in the inner coastal lagoons and seldom impact on the reef proper. And the crown of thorns starfish have regularly waxed and waned with no long term impact on the Reef.
Now Peter Ridd is a lone voice in the wilderness and doesn’t get the same coverage from the left-leaning media as climate catastrophism which floods our news and current affairs reporting. Many of our scientific research organisations peddle this climate catastrophism message. And why wouldn’t they because it is vastly rewarded. Governments are seemingly powerless to counter this climate propaganda and therefore to assuage the concerns of the climate-obsessed feel compelled to provide more and more funding to these research organisations. In engineering terms this is a positive feedback loop which rapidly gets out of control. With such a great incentive for those researching the Reef, it is unlikely any good news will ever surface and almost certain that reports of the Reef’s health will continue to be dire and worsening!
Political commentator, Peta Credlin has written:
By ordaining that all subjects in the national school curriculum be taught from an indigenous, Asian and sustainability perspective, officialdom has exposed its anti-Australian prejudice. Far from being proud of a country that attracts migrants from across the globe, is amongst the freest and fairest societies on Earth, and has achieved a fine balance between humans and nature, there’s a dominant left-establishment view that Australia is essentially racist, exploitative, unfair and founded on an act of fundamental injustice.
This has translated to indigenous affairs and provides another example where minority, self-serving groups benefit from preaching catastrophism. Their particular propaganda insists that racism in Australia is a prevalent and growing threat.
If you were to listen to the black activists, whose opinions are promoted by the ABC, the left wing media and a substantial numbers of academics, you would be compelled to believe that Australia is a racist country. I don’t believe that is the case.
Neither does researcher Dr Anthony Dillon who writes:
I do not deny that there is conflict between some Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, nor do I deny the reality of true racism (which can run both ways), but it is minimal. As Thomas Sowell points out, ’racism is alive but it is on life support’ Contrary to the prevailing politically correct narrative, I believe the majority of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal get on well.
If this is the case why do so many stridently insist there is a large and growing problem in Australia?
Well, unfortunately, governments don’t hold out any solutions to the supposed schism between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians except to throw more money at the deliberately inflated problem.
An emblematic issue for indigenous people has been deaths in custody. It has been thirty years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed down its final report. Many indigenous spokesmen and activists maintain that despite the Royal Commission nothing has really changed and inordinate numbers of indigenous people still die in custody.
Unfortunately this debate has been clouded by misinformation. The per capita rate of deaths among incarcerated indigenous people in custody has in fact been lower than the rate of deaths of those incarcerated from the general population. To put it bluntly, an incarcerated indigenous person is less likely to die than a non-indigenous person.
Moreover, activists have tried to prosecute a case that indigenous deaths in custody were exacerbated by ill-treatment of indigenous people by the police. However many indigenous deaths in custody result from natural causes because of the poor health of indigenous people often compromised by alcohol and drug abuse.
The fact the per capita deaths of indigenous people in custody are less than the population at large seems to be reluctantly becoming accepted by indigenous activists. This is not surprising because the statistics are pretty clear. As a result the activists have refocussed their attack to elevate indigenous victimhood.
There is no easy solution to the problem of indigenous disadvantage. But the answer is not committing more funding to dubious government programmes. To my mind we would go a long way to improving the welfare of those worst affected if we could wean them off the debilitating notion of victimhood and stop their defence of dysfunctional behaviour based on dubious notions of traditional culture. One thing is for certain we do our indigenous fellow Australians a great disservice when we allow notions of identity politics and political correctness blind us from properly assessing the nature of indigenous dysfunction.
As for exaggerating the problem of racism there seems to be principally two motives.
Firstly (just like the health of the Great Barrier Reef) it stimulates huge government expenditure which finances the “Aboriginal Industry”.
Secondly it seeks to promote the notion of indigenous victimhood. This in turn ensures that indigenous reconciliation can never happen and guarantees a perpetual pipeline of government funding.
Overall it is a pretty clever business model for the “black activists”.
It is probably of no surprise to anyone that governments are susceptible to the inroads of wokeness.
But other sectors of the economy are also not immune. Universities are a case in point. In recent decades their administration staffs have burgeoned. These staff members have no research or teaching functions but seem unduly obsessed with ensuring political correctness is adhered to in their institutions. These people have a vested interest in ensuring that the problems they have been hired to resolve are never fixed and hopefully, in their minds, even get worse. If you have been hired as a diversity officer, you have a great incentive to unearth more diversity issues rather than solve them.
The big corporates that have gone “woke” and seem more interested in virtue signalling than serving their shareholders, are populated with HR professionals that also are dedicated to finding more and more disturbing evidence of those who transgress the diktats of wokeness. And just as the previous examples I have outlined all these people have a vested interest in exaggerating these problems rather than solving them.
Unfortunately many of us are afraid to voice our opinions in the face of the opprobrium that gets hurled at naysayers and therefore remain silent whilst wokeness floods our media, our schools and universities and our politics.
Yeats’ words, in this respect, are very prophetic.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.