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Wogblog and multiculturalism « Previous | |Next »
April 6, 2003

The melancholy cultural critic over at a heap of junk for code has a post called good ole wogblog. It responds to the recent criticism of public opinion by the conservative ethnics over at Wogblog who are full on in favour of the war. The cultural critic connects Australia waging a war on Iraq to multiculturalism within Australia.

Wogblog runs the standard line on multiculturalism one of white Anglo-Australians oppressing the migrant ethnic communities. The twist in the conservative ethnic discourse is to attack the [middle-class] left as being full of shit and falling into a moral abyss. This is the left that has historically defended multiculturalism in Australia, initially from the working class exploitation (canon fodder) of migrants, then in terms of an aesthetised cultural diversity, now in the postmodernist terms of representation, difference, identity and the other.

My sporadic reading of wogblog is that it is working class multiculturalism with an intense dislike for left liberals, the chattering class, the academic left and elite cultural types who love their caffe latte. It is of the people.

So what sort of multiculturalism is defended by wogblog.One that has changes working in migrant communities so that there is a loosening up of old ethnic traditions, customs and habits. It is less embattled and defensive; not in the sense of Anglo-American assimilation; rather it is one more open to taking what it useful from Anglo-Australian culture and discarding what is a handicap in Italian culture.

Such a multiculturalism would fracture the conservative discourse that John Howard appeals to, since whatever the minor shifts Howard has made, his contituency has been, and still is, resolutely in favour of assimilation in the name of national cohesion. The effect of Wogblog operating in this conservative discourse would be to undermine--white ant it---from within.

If Wogblog is genuine about multiculturalism in Australia (ie ., not an assimilationist in disguise) then wogblog stands firm with the left in defending defend the Islamic and Arab ccommunities from the institutional racism of Anglo-Australians who despise this cultural difference and see these ethnic communities as potential terrorists. Of course, as is well known, Wogblog hates the left, and so the effect that Wogblog has as a conservative ethnic is to fracture multiculturalism into conservative and left factions and sets them against each other.

Wog blog in short is a trouble maker. A fairweather friend of the national security state.

We can say more though, if we look at the war on Iraq from the perspective of multiculturalism If we do so we see that its got a coloured dimension, which is rarely mentioned. It is mostly white Anglo-Americans fighting brown Arabs. And so Wogblog's fiery war talk places him on the side of the whities who are killing Arab civilians with cluster bombs. And where is the left that Wogblog despises so much? Why using their skills to defend the Iraqi people from the spin about the destruction wrought by Anglo-Americans bombing their country with cluster bombs in the name of freedom.

However, Wogblog has little respect for the left (ie., left liberalism) and dismisses their anti-war arguments, and in junking them as just so much hot air and empty rhetoric, wears the mantel of anti-intellectualism. So maybe the wog in the wogblog is just a mask worn by an old fashioned neocon operating on gut feeling?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:59 PM | | Comments (9)


Or maybe the wog doesn't see everything in terms of race like the left does. Maybe the wog realises that this isn't a race war.

After all there a significant proportion of Hispanic and Black soldiers in the US army. The Brigade of Ghurkas are in Iraq too, they are "brown" as you put it.

"Defending the people of Iraq"? This post transcended your usual fanatical devotion to the left, and starts to approach delusion.

A few more posts like this and I will begin to believe that you are really a rightie in disguise, trying to destroy the remaining credibility of the left.

You raise soem good points.They deserve soem consideration.

I never said it was a race war. My position is that the war is being fought by the Americans for geo-political reasons.

I said that if you view the war through the eyes of Australian multiculturalism, then the coloured dimension comes into the foreground.

Why bother to do this? Well, the right in Australia don't see it that way. Nor does the left. But these are not the only perspectives on the war.So why not try and transgress the horizons of the entrenched positions where each talks past the other?

Why not see things from a different perspective and loosen things up?

The view of the war from Indonesia, for instance, is quite different from right and left in Austrlia; especially if you are radical and Islamic. The colour has a resonance there. Colour is to the foreground in the Middle East, where it gives credence to the understanding that this is a clash of civilizations and the Anglo-Americans are the new colonizers in a long list.

You do not think that ordinary people in Jordan, Syria, Iran etc see the war as the left or right do in Australia do you?

I gave some links to 'the left defending the people of Iraq' to show what I meant. Obviously you never read the links. So I will spell it out.

They show, by using a UK example, that the left in Anglo-American countries are fighting the war in terms of countering the spin, public relations and fog of their respective governments and by default the media.

In other words they are acting in terms of a critical public reason. This intervention appeals to old fashioned notions of truth and using truth on behalf of,or to further freedom as the self-determination by the Iraqi people.

That would mean fighting the 3 Anglo-American governments to ensure that Iraqi democracy is a substantive one.

If there are conservatives out there doing that, then I will line up with them. I would do without reservation as there is a lot that is of value in conservatism.

We would line up against those neo-cons in Australia who are only to keen and eager to trash the liberal democratic values that Australians have fought so hard for. They have succeeded in making these values part of the ethos of civil society.

From what I can see it is the neo-cons who want to trash this democratic ethos not the left; and the neocons do so in the name of the national security state.

But I can be persuaded that our downhome necocons are not anti-liberal and are not out to trash a democtratic society.

You seem to be viewing this from the sort of rigid position you would accuse Howard of having. viz It is less embattled and defensive; not in the sense of Anglo-American assimilation; rather it is one more open to taking what it useful from Anglo-Australian culture and discarding what is a handicap in Italian culture.
Migrants have been coming here for 200 years from all over, adding some things from their original culture and dropping others, at the same time changing the practices and perceptions of the host culture. Anglo-Australian is a far different type than just 30 years ago, and so is Italian-Australian, Viet-Australian etc. This self-serve approach is not restricted to migrants. The Oz yesterday had a piece that pointed out how Aboriginal kids in Kalgoorlie are really big on the ghetto gear favoured by US blacks. I guess my point is that regardless of multicultural policies, which have been useful in informing ignorant strands of the host culture, newcomers like everyone else will live their lives according to what gives them the most contentment. It certainly won't be according to what middle-class lefties from the intelligentsia dictate. Migrants don't usually get security of tenure.

good points. I accept the mix and match that actually goes on at street level. Its great to see and very postmodern.

But a central strand of Australian conservatism has been opposed to multi-culturalism since the 1980s.That was where Howard stood in the mid-1980s along with Geoffrey Blainey.They were opposed by liberals like Peacock, Kennett and Greiner.It cost Howard the leadership of the Liberal Party.

Howard has shifted since then. But it is not clear that the Hansonite conservatives or the Quadrant ones have followed. Their conception of Australia is Anglo-Australia.

And some strands of wog culture affirm their wog identities at the expense of being Australian. Being Australian is defined in ethnic terms ---Anglo- rather than in terms of citizenship.

It is not clear that they affirm being both Australian and belonging to an ethnic migrant culture. Their ethnic model is an either or.

OH Slatts, I forget

dont get too carried about the tenure stuff. Its been undermined-mostly contracts these days.

I never hand tenure and academic friends of mine who tenure were downsized.

The middle class ain't what it used to be you know.

Gary, I know post-modern is supposed to mean anything you want it to, but to credit it with what I describe as ''self serve'' multiculturalism is a bit rich. For the past 150 years, long before post-modernism was ever babbled, settler influences have continually distilled the anglo content of the anglo-australian culture you refer to. We hang onto whatever's useful like law, westminster, and for now, the monarchy. Our judiciary, constitution, trade union movement were heavily influenced by 19th century Gaelic and American settlers; our dryland farm and irrigation practices by German settlers (as you'd know in SA); viticulture by Swiss, Italian, German migrants; aquaculture by Greeks and Slavs, cuisine from all over, but since the mid-1800s, there have been Asian influences. Of course, since the Gold Rush there have been Jewish traders, Sikh hawkers, Afghan camel drivers. You may argue that there was an anglo-australian (more anglo than oz) at the centre of power until the Whitlamites came along. And that would be more so in Adelaide than in other Australian cities. That's another point, Australian culture has a regional determination. Irish Catholics in southwest Victoria, German Lutherans in SA Mallee, Italians in far north Queensland, Chinese in Bendigo, European Jews in Melbourne and even more recently Viets and lebs in western suburbs of Melb and Sydney all brought their life experiences to the mix. And generally with harmonious results. Interesting you bring up Blainey's comments in the 1980s, for no other incident exposed the intelligentsia's ignorance of mass society as much as that. At the time, industry was going through massive reform and much of the working class was about to become the underclass. Blainey knew as Australia's eminent historian that nothing is more conducive to civic unrest than the perception that hosts' jobs were to be sacrificed while incomers arrived in ever-increasing numbers. That's a fact of life -- a truth if you like -- and no amount of wishful thinking by cowardly, tenured idealogues in academia would change that. Blainey was right to raise a note of concern. The lazy left erupted in a shower of bile, but plenty of rational commentators and social planners knew what he was getting at and policy subtly changed. For the better as recent history shows. Talking po-mo, reckon Saheed would have to be the poster boy of that particular movement. He has more truths than a 60s newsagent on Friday night.


I accept your historical acount. And the regional differences--it is what helps to justify federalism in my view--ie., the states are a political form for regional difference--populist and elite.

I'm not saying that.The mix-n-match multiculturalism on the street has nothing to do with postmodernism. It is a representation of that street activity, as is Blainy's conservative account. I support Blainey's intervention---a good example of critical intellectual at work and Stand oppsoed to the attempt by the multicultural left (left liberals?) to close him down rather than engaged with his views.

What I do dispute in your account is the reduction of the multicultural opposition to the conservative response to multiculturalism to the tenured academic left. Bash the left academy if you wish as part of the cultural wars.

But you do need to acknowledge that the Blainey/Howard position was also deeply opposed from within the Liberal Party. This was a battle about what sort of society Australia should be and it criss crossed many different sections of soceity.
It was not the simple black and white divide that you make out with Blainey versus the academic left.

The post is all about wogblog yet none of the comments are.

Maybe wogblog is exactly who they make themselves out to be. A wog with an opinion beholden to none.

Big Deal.

If you have to resort to conspiracy neo-con theories in order to explain wogblog then Occam's Razor trumps you.

I cannot control the comments.

Is wogblog is a wog with an opinion be holden to none?

In the discourse of multiculturism the wog culture bit and the conservatism bit are fracture lines.

Where's the conspiracy theory in that?