Australia’s Fascist Attitudes

Keyvan Rahimian has just been released from 5 years gaol for teaching and organising an underground university because Baha’i youth are banned from University in Iran. His brother and sister-in-law were also imprisoned for the same ‘crime’. His wife died of cancer while he was imprisoned, leaving their daughter without her parents.

I recently read a post by a professor of health sciences, here, in Australia, suggesting that the Australian government should force religions to bring doctrines in line with ‘secular’ laws. I am constantly amazed by how supposedly well-educated people in the west are so ignorant of some of the basic reasons why secular democracy works:
1. the separation of state and religion (States should not make religions);
2 states that dictate everyone’s lives and organisational processes are no longer secular nor democratic but fascist or stalinist or maoist.
And yet these same people will parade their ‘professorialship’ to the public as if they are the expert on government, sociology, religion, democracy, and “what is for our own good”. The Iranian revolutionary Council certainly believes that their dictation is “for our own good”. There are some that believe that this attitude only lies with religious extremists. No, it belongs in the attitudes of ordinary scholars here in Australia. We could shrug it off by saying, “so lazy of that scholar” but that “laziness” has much of the current world without worthy leadership from the learned class, and our institutions in Australia fail people every day because of that.

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The Role of Government in a Democracy?

It occurs to me that, in a democracy, the role of the politician and the government is not to be gatekeepers of society but rather to provide for the needs of the people as they demonstrate that need.

As a principle, it is not for politicians to save people from themselves, nor to maintain a status quo. It is for politicians to ensure that no expression of a need of one group forces any other person or group to forgo their need or perform an action against their will, when the need of the latter does not prevent the expression of the need of the others. For example, the need to hold certain beliefs cannot over-ride another’s need to hold differing beliefs, and neither beliefs can over-ride another’s need to live their life fully;  the need to have a full life cannot over-ride the need for others to appropriate levels of sleep; the need to have money cannot over-ride the need of others to ownership.

Needs may even be categorised according to importance. Water, food, shelter and clothing against elements, and sleep because of their absolute importance to survival, must surely rank first, regardless of any other needs of any other person or group. Occupation, purpose, education, freedom and agency might rank as second and of more importance to those needs that ranks third or fourth or fifth, to get married or have a partner for life; to have the best entertainments, to build huge reserves of wealth.

We tend to call these needs “RIGHTS” but in doing so we often fail to recognise the levels of importance, projecting all needs onto a ‘rights’ banner. While I might concur that level 1 and 2 needs are indeed “Rights” in the sense that a ‘right’ is a need without which one cannot function adequately in society. I cannot see that level 3, 4, or 5 needs are, in any way “RIGHTS”.

Otherwise, given that a request for the fulfillment of a need is made of government, the governments first role is to ascertain the consequences for others of fulfilling that request. Once the consequences are ascertained, the second role is to resolve the conflicting interests. The third role is to write a law that provides and protects the access of the supplicants to the resolution of their need, and delimits the expression of that need or other’s need as relevant to prevent that expression being harmful or impossible to fulfill.

How to prevent violence against women

Domestic violence in Australia is on the rise. Women’s rights advocates are calling for a cultural shift away from the acceptance of domestic violence. Because, believe it or not: According to some surveys, one in five young men believed it was a right to hit a woman if they were drunk.

Support services for family and domestic violence:

  • 1800 Respect national helpline 1800 737 732
  • Women’s Crisis Line 1800 811 811
  • Men’s Referral Service 1300 766 491
  • Lifeline (24 hour crisis line) 131 114
  • Relationships Australia 1300 364 277

Fiona McCormack, the CEO of Domestic Violence Victoria says we need to frame the deepening crisis in terms of power and justice.

The national average is a woman murdered every week by someone known to them.

All forms of violence against women are caused by the same factors, whether it occurs on the street or in the home and whether it’s perpetrated by a stranger or someone known.

  • One in three Australian women will experience physical violence.
  • Family violence is a key driver of 23 per cent of national homelessness in Australia.
  • It comprises 40 per cent of police time.
  • It’s a factor in over 50 per cent of substantiated child protection cases.
  • Violence against women costs the Australian economy $13.6 billion every year.

The common denominator in most of these cases is gender.

This is something deeply cultural—a part of our history deeply ingrained in our collective psyche. It’s like we’re fish but we don’t see the water.

International research shows that violence against women occurs in countries across the world to a greater or lesser extent depending upon some key factors:

  • Rigid adherence to gender stereotypes
  • The status of women compared to men
  • Our violence-supportive attitudes

Academically gender refers to social norms, the social expectations about the roles and rights of men and women in our society. Our expectations about men and women stem from a long cultural history and are essentially sexist.

Men who choose to use violence have hyper-masculine attitudes about their rights as men and the role and rights of women. They believe they have a right as men to behave this way and that it’s women who are to blame. Importantly, they see their partners and children as their possessions. That’s why we see so many women and children murdered as payback when women try to end a relationship.

A cultural aspect of how we define masculinity is that it is seen by many as something that has to be proved over and over. Men with hyper-masculine attitudes see it as critical that their masculinity isn’t doubted or challenged, which is why these attitudes are so problematic in the context of family violence. This is particularly so when women try to end a relationship and are made to pay. We would assess that about 50 per cent of the family violence the system deals with is post-separation violence, and it can go on for years.

This (the solution) isn’t about men being less than men. It’s about reshaping expectations of what it is to be a man, about shedding concepts of masculinity that have such a negative impact on us as a society, particularly when ‘being a bloke’ involves derogatory attitudes towards women. I think that can be another way in which masculinity can be reasserted or affirmed by some men—by engaging in disrespectful comments about or behaviours toward women when they are together. With the development of healthier interpretations of masculinity we’d see a range of benefits in terms of reducing street violence, rates of violence against young men and bullying.

There are many women who experience far higher rates of violence, and more extensive violence, than others: women with disabilities, Aboriginal women and women newly arrived to Australia. There’s a common myth that certain women seek out abusers as partners when the reality is that there are men who recognise there are few options for redress for certain women and take advantage of that fact.

So what would it take to deliver a just society?

At an individual level:

  1. We need zero tolerance of violence against women.
  1. We must understand violence against women as a choice.

This is not a sudden loss of temper or control. Many times it doesn’t even involve physical abuse. It’s usually experienced by women as a range of behaviours meant to intimidate and control. It’s a deliberate choice.

  1. We must understand these are everyday men.

So many women don’t recognise they’re in an abusive relationship until it’s reached crisis, especially if they’re not experiencing physical violence.

If we’re going to prevent murders, really it’s critical we start saying: ‘No matter how disaffected a man feels, no matter how hard done by the system he is, it’s never okay to harm or take the life of your partner or your child.’

  1. We need to challenge sexist or derogatory attitudes towards women.

Sometimes people can think they have to wait until they see a violent altercation before they can do something, but the reality is men particularly can play a major role in challenging the conditions that allow violence against women to flourish by challenging derogatory comments, sexist jokes, et cetera.

If we’re going to start preventing men from being violent in the first place, we need to challenge sexist attitudes and behaviours.

Violence is the ultimate expression of sexism

At a societal level:

We need to be intervening earlier. Providing women with information on the early warning signs is crucial because it also provides us with information on the patterns of control.

Some of those warning signs are:

        • Is he resistant to you living an independent life?
        • Is he resistant to you having your own bank account?
        • Is he resistant to you socialising with friends independently?
        • Is he overtly jealous? Does he monitor where you are and what you do?
        • Is he respectful to you? He may be in the early stages but is he respectful to other women? Ex-girlfriends?

THE 20% – TAKERS, DESTROYERS, INHIBITORS, WASTERS.

“Be an admonisher to the rich..” Bahá’u’llah

In a recent community argument, it was offered that consultation would be favourable. I agree. However, consultation requires that both parties come to the table. In this case, one of the parties, a developer, has taken an attitude of ‘we want you to give us what we want, and we aren’t going to talk about what you want”.

There is an idea in the west that a thing, called capitalism, belongs to a western way of doing things. Capitalism is a term used by Karl Marx in the 19th century to describe a macroeconomic dynamic he was seeing. However that dynamic is a fractal social dynamic that can be observed since the agricultural revolution and, therefore, has its roots in prehistory.

Global_Distribution_of_Wealth_01Community research in the 1970’s in third world and first world communities, of all races, found that 20% of the community (usually certain families) tend to own 80% of the wealth. Zooming in on this, 20% of that 20% own 80% of the 80% of wealth I.e 4% own 64% of wealth and that fractal continues down to the most wealthy people on the planet. In line with this tendency, a recent report in “The Guardian” showed that 1% of the global population owned 48% of the global wealth.

Widespread poverty exists where there are no checks on the fundamental cause of this bias. For the fundamental cause lies in the shameless audacity of the few to assert their right to that wealth by any means available. There seem to be few internal ethical checks among this group and so only external checks in the form of human rights laws and taxes, maintains some favour in community. In countries where these laws are missing or malleable, poverty and injury is endemic.

Nonetheless, in all communities and nations as a whole, the economic bias exists, driven by the anti-community attitude.

Thomas Picketty (2013) has shown that only when heavy taxes apply to this 20%, does the whole community or nation thrive both economically and socially. Meanwhile it seems that, in every community and nation, it is important for the welfare of the community, to be mindful of those families who are organised to harvest the assets of the community for themselves. Without being mindful of these and creating community methods for redistribution, the gathering of the community assets, the destruction of the environment and the resources of the future, and the frittering of social capital, will continue until all is lost.

In the solution to poverty in the world, even if all the middle class people gave all their money to the poor, 80% of that money will end up in the hands of the wealthy 20%. In first world communities, the community spirit, the social capital, the aspirations, and the possibilities for improving welfare, continues to diminish so long as these groups remain unchecked.

Even of those who, having amassed incredible wealth and who then decide to provide some of that wealth to community through philanthropy, the question might be asked, “If your product, your profit, was more modestly priced, might not that product have been accessible to more, inspired more, opened more to the possibility of contribution, and therefore created vastly more innovation than the philanthropy that comes late to the growing problems.

Loosing Our Head For Humanity

I am grateful for having, over the last 30 years, come under the influence of the great contemporary religious philosophy, The Baha’i Faith. Forged in the middle east during the 19th century Baha’u’llah raised a counter culture to the prevailing corruption, religious distortions, and fanatacism of Islamic mainstream of the day. The early followers of that counter culture were also murdered, beheaded, staked, etc, in their thousands. Their contribution to the world is not only in their courage to stand for peace, justice, and a dramatically new view of a global humanity as one people by reason of the diversity of our histories, but that, they saw the world itself as fleeting shadows in which the actions of fanatic and hateful people are simple consequences of a void that exists when nothing real is being created. They saw that ‘real’ was their being as selfless before God, and all human beings regardless of the inability of those humans to ‘know’ the ‘reality’ and distinguish it from the void. They saw that ‘real’ is the unity among human beings, a complete forcelessness, a devolvement of self to the larger miracle of existence. These early disciples didn’t cogitate about this reality or its influence on society, rather they just WERE that reality. And so they died, often cruelly, expecting nothing but seeing that all ‘fire’ creates the space for a new being to exist, and tempers the character of those new beings so that they can create new and extraordinary life in that space. This space is not a geographical space but a transformed and enhanced way that humans BE in the world, in fabulous peace, justice, love, equity, oneness and detachment.

Those who have gone before us, who lost their heads in the heady fragrance of spiritual love, and those who, now, have lost their heads to living in a world of equity, surely allow us all to loose our heads to love for humanity. There will be much deliberation about how to contain ISIS and other terrotrists, how to destroy the evil that it brings. Yet, so many strategies will only be modestly successful, for every strategy will be tainted with hatred and revenge and bitterness and greed. And as such, the strategies will dampen some fire, only to also feed another. So it shall be as we all, as one humanity, learn that it is only in that detachment from our personal interest, can true justice flourish and only in justice can peace and security be established throughout the world.