Racism: Sociological Perspectives

Australian Left Review, Aug 2014

In this article I will try to show why we must develop a critical understanding of this society and some of the ideas and theories that guide it if we are to confront racism. In doing this, I am concerned to locate theories socially and historically. Theories are not immanent truths plucked from the air, but are constructed by relatively powerful people with particular predispositions and interests. They form part of the structure of political formations, and the dominance of certain theories and certain philosophical orientations requires political explanation.

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Racism: Sociological Perspectives

Spring J Bcrghe. a once liberal sociologist such theories, how can we explain heir a rgum ents have been elaborated by Pierre van den Given (he obvious deficiencies of who has been an influential writerthoenir widespread acceptance? Clearly, race relations, van den Berghe has they fulfil some social and political recently argued th at racism also has a purposes, and it is these purposes that genetic basis. To quote: we need lo explore further. - n this article I will try to show why Strictly speaking, these are not As h o m in id s became increasingly / stan d in g o f this society an d some e x p l i c i t l y a v o i d s o c i o l o g i c a l their own and closely related species, there we must develop a critical und er? sociological theories, since they formidable competitors and predators to o f the ideas and theories th at guide it ife xplanation, i.e. the exp lan atio n of was a strong pressure fo r theformation of we are to c o n fro n t racism. In doing difference in term s of social and larger and more powerful groups. (This) this, I am concerned to locate theories historical circumstances. However, cneocmespsaertiilnygmeganrotourpgsa,nisainngdagathinesrteoftohreer socially an d historically. Theories are theories like these have proved very maintaining ethnic boundaries. (1978, p. not im m an en t truths plucked from the attractive to some social scientists, 105). air, but are constructed by relatively who have helped to disseminate them powerful people with particular beyond academ ic circles. Those who In a n o th e r influential formulation, predispositions and interests. They sympathised with the Nazis'policies in that of E.O. Wilson of Harvard, form part of the structure of political G erm an y are obvious examples, but nationalism and racism are portrayed form ations, and the d om in an ce of scientific racism has been revived more as the culturally nurtured outgrowths c e r t a i n t h e o r i e s a n d c e r t a i n recently. The w ork o f the psychologist o f simple tribalism, i.e. the genetic philosophical orientations requires Jensen in the US p u rp o rted to show need to look after one's own (Wilson, political explanation. that black children had lower l.Q.s 1976). than while children and th a t these 1 wi l l , t h e r e f o r e , b e g i n by differences were genetic in origin. His sum m arising some of the ways in work was picked up and popularised which sociologists have theorised in Britain by the well kn o w n H.J. racism so as to clarify the more specific Eysenck (1971). discussion that follows. A n o th e r variant o f biological determ inism has come from the ethologists and the sociobiologists. The form er have included po p u lar writers such as Robert Ardrey, K onrad Lorenz and D esm ond Morris. These writers claim thal h u ma n aggression is innate, based on territoriality and a corresponding hostility to those who a r e different and or members of an o u tg ro u p (cf. A rdrey, 1967, 1970; Lorenz, 1967; Morris, 1968, 1971a and b). There are, o f course, m ajor flaws in this m ode of analysis. One is that there are no discrete biological groups thal can be designated as races. In the case of the US, for exam ple, the mix of blacks and whites makes theories of biological determ inism highly dubious to say the least. Criteria for difference are equally dubious. And a mountain of evidence indicates that the tests used by people like Jensen are of questionable validity ( Richardson and Spears, 1973), In the case of the sociobiologists, one can criticise the s e l e c t i v i t y o f e v i d e n c e , t h e in terpretation derived from the a v a i l a b l e e v i d e n c e a n d i t s e x trap o latio n to h u m a n behaviour. The first o f these theories I have labelled biological determ inism . This one is very c o m m o n , reappearing in various guises, as we shall see later. Biological determinists argue that there are discrete races, clearly distinguished from each olher by p h y s i c a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . T h e s e inherent characteristics determ ine t e m p e r a m e n t , i n t e l l i g e n c e a n d a p t i t u d e s , in s o m e g e n e t i c a l ly transm itted way which then limits or advantages certain groups vis-a-vis other groups with a different genetic inheritance. Hence, relations of d o m in a tio n and s u bo rd in atio n have been attrib u te d to natural inequalities ? supposedly inferior intelligence, endemic laziness, a natural incapacity to cope with abstract thought, etc. This article Is based on a paper presented by Gill Bottomley at a Community Relations Seminar In Melbourne in July this year. P e r s p e c t i v e s \ A t\ A A A / \ A / \ A A A A r first. I have labelled this are brilliantly discussed in a p a p e r by he second m ode o f exp lan atio n label econom istic for purposes of o f racism is closely related to the discussion. Economistic approaches prejudice and human nature. SItnu art Hall, w h o d r a w s o u t th e s tra n d s general terms, this a p p ro a c h sees all o f a rg u m e n t presented by writers with people as antagonistic tow ards those quite different political orientations, who are different from themselves. It e.g. development theorists such as is, therefore, "natural" to prefer one's Rostow , and m arxists such as G un d er own people, an d prejudice maintains Frank. In a su m m a ry statement, Hall the cosiness o f the in -group (the idea says: that We are superior to Them). Here one is then obliged to agree that race Anthropoligists will attest to the fact relations are directly linked with economic that such sentiments are widespread, processes: historically, with the epochs o f that people distinguish themselves conquest, colonisation and mercantilist positively a n d th e ir n e ig h b o u r s domination, and, currently, with the negatively in the same breath. Max "unequal exchanges" which characterise Weber spoke o f "ethnic h o nour", "the mtheetreocpoonloimticicalrelaatinodns b"eutwndeeernddeevveeloloppeedd'' conviction of the excellence o f one's satellite economic regions o f the world own customs". If one's own ethos is economy. The problem here is not whether superior, all others are, by definition, economic structures are relevant to racial inferior. This kind o f ethnocentrism is divisions but how the two are theoretically the other side o f prejudice, as anyone connected. (1980, p. 308) who has observed the buildup of nationalism anywhere will verify. The his brings us to a n o th e r kind of ilinnteolerbaentcweeeisna veet hrynifcine hlionneoiunrdeeadn. d1 T ainpcplruodaecsh , c roi tniec i stmh a t o f o ftthene want to return to this point later, as "economic reductionism '' of the well. F o r the time being, we can see previous tendency. This a p p ro a c h th a t p r e j u d i c e by its e l f is a n could be m ore accurately described as insufficient e xplanation. It tends to sociological, though there is also a focus on individual interaction and wide range within such a category. For fails to explain why prejudice occurs exam ple, J o h n Rex has developed an unevenly. T o do that, we need a extremely com plex analysis o f the historically specific analysis. There is concrete econom ic and historical little evidence that prejudice causes c o n d i t i o n s u n d e r w h ic h r a c i s m conflict; it is m ore likely to be the developed in South Africa. These outcome of conflict. conditions included distinctions a t the Nevertheless, attitudes and ideology level of culture and values, which are im portant d eterm inants of group generated conflict between g ro u ps that interaction. They can n o t be dismissed was distinct fro m control of the means as superstructures th a t simply reflect of p ro d u c tio n (see Rex, 1970). Rex's material realities. This has been the w ork is a n impressive exam ple o f such tendency in some theories which I shall a n a l y s i s , a n d d e m o n s t r a t e s the inadequacies of eeonom ism . But an a p p ro a c h that resists or ignores econom ic explanations can become simply descriptive o r even an apology for the status quo. The South African governm ent, for example, never m entions the colour-coded control of econom ic resources whenever they offer cultural explanations for their vicious political system. A sociological model that has obvious relevance to Australia is the assim ilation model. Developed in the US, like so many of o u r a dopted, ideas, this model included a "race relations cycle" that moved from c o m p e t i t i o n , t o c o n f l i c t , t o a c c o m m o d a t i o n a n d , f i n a l l y , assimilation. R o b ert P a rk and the sociologists from the University o f Chicago elaborated this view of immigrants a nd, to a lesser extent, of blacks in the US. It fits well with the broader philosophy o f mobility according to individual effort within a classless society of self-made men. A c c o r d i n g l y , it h as a l s o b e e n influential in Australia, an o th e r nation of im migrants. It was, however, irrevocably shaken by the Black Pow er movem ent and militant black activity. M ore recent critiques have a l s o d e m o n s t r a t e d t h a t s o m e im m igrant groups have been more equal than others, even in the long term (Karabel, 1979; Kolko, 1976; Steinberg, 19 8 1). The perpetuation and regeneration of racism are not explicable within this framew ork. A n o th e r large body of material has focused on colonialism and the developm ent of racist theories to Enoch Powell's intervention in Britain in 1968 gave a great boost to the racists. Powell adopted a role not unlike that of Professor Blainey in Australia today. justify the pillage, rape, m u rd er and desecration th a t accom panied the c o l o n i a l e n t e r p r i s e a n d t h e establishment o f a world econom y based on colonial and post colonial exploitation. Marie de Lepervanche has detailed these justifications, in the Australian case, for the disinheritance and genocide of Aborigines, the blackbirding o f Pacific Islanders, the hostility to Asians (de Lepervanche, 1980). F ro m the Bible to biology, reasons can be found fo r the superiority o f the so-called "white" races an d the natural inequality of the others. J o h n Rex argues that the colonial heritage is still im p o rtan t in Britain to d a y , where m ost o f the immigrants come from countries that used to be colonies. Their relations with the British are, to some extent, pre-formed (and deform ed) by the experience of colonialism. Their presence in Britain testifies to the decline of Empire (Rex, 1970). This historical residue is picked u p with some force in the title and contents of a recent study of racism in Britain, The Empire Strikes Back (Centre for C o n te m p o ra ry Cultural Studies, 1983). The analysis o f colonialism has been extended by some writers to a notion of "internal colonialism", to explain continuing racial exploitation in, for example. S o u th Africa (see Wolfe, 1975) and Australia (see Hartwig, 1978). situation. But colonialism is also systematically neglected in colonising countries and in those ex-colonies, like Australia, where the colonial ideology goes largely unquestioned. i will return to this question, but I'd like to indicate what I m ean by a persona! account, which I'm sure you'll find familiar. My daughter, attending a relatively progressive state p rim ary school in a middle class area of Sydney, was assigned, in 1979, a large history project called "M an Discovers the New World". This Man, o f course, was Magellan, Cortes, C olum bus, M arco Polo an d the precolonial boys from Europe. When 1 suggested (a) that this New World was pretty old and had already been discovered, (b) that the civilising intent attributed to these adventurers was d ubious and (c) that those women and men who p roba bly did discover these lands were n ot only brutally treated by the E uropeans, but oppressed by their successors, my d a u g h ter burst into tears, her teacher became very hostile, and the headm aster gave me the "demented m other" treatm ent. Twenty years o f anthropological training could make no scratch on the patina of 400 years o f E uropea n dom ination. I believe this is a very important element in the continued existence of racism. It means that o u r very basic social understandings, o u r ideas of ourselves in the world, are founded on Cunderstanding o f racism, as we not over-emphasise the novelty of the e r t a i n l y , th e h e r i t a g e of racism. M artin Barker and others talk colonialism is central to an a b o u t the "new racism", but we should will see when we discuss the Britdiesahs and actions they describe. Stuart Hall (Inset) applied the economic theories of Marx and others to the question of racial division, concluding that "the problem is not whether economic structures are relevant but how the two are theoretically linked This loo-brief sum m ary of some approaches to racism may have shown up t h e i n a d e q u a c y o f m o s t explanations. But some explanations have trem endous power. Stuart Hall, Professor of Sociology at the Open University in Britain, continues to produce brilliant analyses of racism providing models which can be used to structure sociological views of racism in certain ways. Hall emphasises that racism can n o t be explained in abstraction from the other social relations. It is not a universal. Different racisms must be understood in the context of specific historical, economic and political conditions, existing class relations and ideological practices. I c a n n o t pretend to tackle such a m a m m o th task here, but 1 will altempt to point out some of these elements in a consideration of contemporary racisms. The "New Racism" in the 1980$ By the mid 1960s, Conservative and L a b o u r had agreed on the control o f b la c k i m m i g r a t i o n , t h u s g iv in g s u p p o r t to the an ti-im m igrant and anti-black sentim ent in the country. In 1968, the fam o u s intervention of Enoch Powell gave a great boost to the racists. D raw in g on his colonial experience as a Professor o f Classics, Powell described himself as feeling like the R o m an who saw visions o f the River T iber "foaming with much blood". This apocalyptic vision would be realised in Britain unless black im m igration was drastically reduced. Powell m ade three public speeches in 1968 which reiterated the same themes ? th a t o rdin ary (white) English people were being overwhelm ed, intimidated and dispossessed by the deluge of (black) immigrants. At the sam e time, Powell has refused to be described as racist. A ccording to him, he is not arguing that blacks are inferior, ju st t hat they are different and that this difference would cause fear and reaction a m o n g the white p o p u la tio n (see Barker, 1983, p. 40). / end o f the 1950s when, as he put extremely im p o rta n t and which have ohn Kex delected a resurgent In these speeches, Powell raised racism in Britain tow ards the several them es which have been it, "racist jokes began to be heard rienlevance to us here in Australia. One working men's clubs" (1973, p. 176). of these themes is "the genuine fear of In 1958. there were violent clashes ordinary people". Barker describes it between black and white residents of as "a central weapon in the T o ry Nottingham and N ettin g Hill. The a rm o u ry " (p. 15). M argaret T h a tc h e r "hooligans? held to be responsible herself used it in a m ajor speech in Were punished, but the activities in the January', 1978, which suggested that Notting Hill area of such well-known the "British character", which "has racists as Sir Oswald Mosley were done so much for dem ocracy and law not widely p u b li c i s e d , let a l o n e th ro u g h o u t the world" would react to restrained. the fear of being swamped (ibid.). Such fear, therefore, is a fear o f loss of a way o f life, o f a valued and valuable culture. S u b s e q u e n t T o r y s t a t e m e n t s d e m o nstrate that this British way of life is seen as essentially hom ogeneous, cementing the unity of the nation. A challenge to that unity is therefore a threat. T o q u o te Enoch Powell: The disruption o f the homogeneous we, which forms the essential basis o f our parliamentary democracy and. therefore, o f our liberties, is now approaching the point at which the political mechanisms o f a "divided community" take charge and begin to operate autonomously (from Barker, 1983, p. 21). F u r t h e r m o r e , t h e f e e l i n g o f co m m u n ity is portrayed as hu m an nature, that same h u m a n nature which rejects alien-ness. Powell again: An instinct to preserve an identity and defend a territory is one o f the deepest and strongest implanted in mankind, / happen to believe that the instinct isgood, and that its beneficial effects are not exhausted. (BBC I, 9 June, 1969, quoted in Barker, 1983. p. 22). M a r l i n B a r k e r a n a l y s e s t h e developm ent o f this new T o ry theory which links race with nation and which is legitimised by reference to h u m a n nature an d co m m o n sense. Closely linked to the increasingjingoism of the Th atch er governm ent, this new racism has been alarmingly successful. A t this point, we can see several elements o f the theories/ i d e o l o g i e s I s u m m a r i s e d earlier. First, the appeal to hu m an nature as an e x p lan atio n of the naturalness o f racism. Second, the m ore sophisticated socio bio logical arg u m en ts a b o u t instincts, crow ding and tribalism. The p op u larity of Eysenck's work also justified the suggestions of (hose who talked ab o u t the supposed dilu tio n of the British "race" with inferior stock (a process described by the N ational Fro n t as "mongrelisation"). The relatively strong anti-Nazi feeling in Britain has, fo r some time, prevented the relics of Nazism from p a ra d in g to o openly. The largest o r g a n i s e d f a r r i g h t p a r t y , the N ational Fro n t, claims no affinity with the Nazis o r the fascists. By contrast, the N F m akes sta tem ents a b o u t the i m p o r t a n c e o f p a r l i a m e n t a r y d em o cracy (at the same time as they use s t r e e t v io le n c e a n d o t h e r a u th o rita ria n strategies). M uch of their election cam paigning, however, emphasises nationalism, law and order, and a n ti-C o m m u nism . Within this fram ew ork, they have opposed coloured im m igration and argued that the "ultimate progress of m ankind depends u p o n the White nations" (Taylor, 1979, p. 127). T aylo r believes that the increasing su p p o rt for the N F over the 1970s encouraged m ajor party elites to include these issues in their own platform s. The Conservatives have had close relations with the NF, sometimes including dual membership (Barker, 1983, p. 26). Enoch Powell was not given im mediate su p p o rt by his party colleagues after his 1968 speeches, but the su p p o rt has been growing until, as I pointed out earlier, the themes which he had broached emerged, though in milder form , in a m a jo r speech by M argaret T h a tc h e r 10 years later. Mrs. T h a tc h e r has b ro u gh t several other them es to som ething o f a crescendo, with the jingoism of the Falklands W a r a n d her continuing em phasis on law and order, as she tran sfo rm s Britain into a police state. A ccom panying these measures has been the attack on the welfare state and reprivatising of welfare. The family, for example, should assume responsibility for child care, and for care of the ill and the aged. Hence we have an e n o rm o u s emphasis on the virtues of family life (that is, ?good" families, responsible, h a rd w o rk in g and patriarchal ? not the kind of family life the A fro-C aribbeans have been p ortrayed as having). Andrew Jak u b o w ic z has argued that m any Asian im m igrants in Britain have co? operated with T hatcher's strategies. however, ? unem ploym ent, inflation The values and ideals o f these Asian and the end of the postw ar boom ? b u r e a u c r a t s a n d b u s i n e s s m e n the fragility of the accord became c orrespond closely tcvthe Conservative apparent. Keynesian policies were ideals. Thus, the rights o f workers to based on continued growth, and the reasonable conditions are subsum ed n e w e c o n o m i c p r o b l e m s were u nder "family responsibilities" or "a intransigent. It was at this point that cultural predilection for hard work". the critiques of Milton Friedman The rights o f wom en are subsumed began to attra c t attention, partly u n d e r "the culturally a p p ro p ria te role because they resonated with echoes of of a subservient wife and m other" basic liberal thought. Friedman (Jakubow icz, 1984). Accordingly, the argued, a m o n g other things, that there Thatcherites can be seen to have must be a reduction in government s u p p o r t f r o m t h e i m m i g r a n t expenditure and th at governments population by this strategy o f must concentrate on controlling the "selective ethnic revitalisation" (ibid.), money supply. These controls on governm ent expenditure naturally r which I would like to weave into heap. h e r e a r e s e v e r a l s t r a n d s attacked the position of workers, emerging fro m this discussion especially those at the b otto m of the o u r consideration of the revival oRfoss Poole offers an excellent racism in Australia, These are by no analysis of these developments in a means separate strands, but they do p a p e r c a l l e d " M a r k e t s a n d require special attention. O ne of these M o th e r h o o d ? (1983. pp. 103-120). He has to do with the historical, political points o u t th at the breakdow n of the and economic context o f the new tripartite accord has sharpened class racism. It is p a r t of an ideological conflict. But: package developed by the Right in monetarist policies have been presented opposition to what they generally within a political discourse o f much describe as "socialism". ( F o r exam ple. broader appeal, in which the notion of Mr. H odgm an always refers to the class conflict is subsumed under a more current Australian governm ent as "the traditional liberal rhetoric. It is through Hawke socialist government". It this supplementation that monetarism has always makes me think that there must been translated into the remarkably be a n o th e r governm ent I d o n 't know effective political instrument o f the past a b o u t, but the adjective is im portant, ten years" (1983, p. IOS). even if inaccurate.) In fact, the aim s of The main elements o f this rhetoric are: s o c i a l i s m h a v e b e e n l a r g e l y (a) individual freedom, including an a b a n d o n e d by social dem ocratic emphasis on free enterprise and parties concerned with the "benevolent private property; m anagem ent of capitalism" (Poole, (b) the free m a rk e t and the equilibrium 1983, p. 105). The post-war consensus model of m arket forces; between capital, the state and (c) th a t state, necessary to protect organised labour ensured that the property, control money supply and la tter gave up ''more radical aim s of m aintain order; socialisation and redistribution in (d) socialism, the contrast to these return for a share in longterm three elements and "the acme of capitalist grow th" (ibid.). In most oppression and inefficiency". advanced capitalist countries, this T o qu o te Poole again; consensus included increased stale Theforce o f this rhetoric does not reside in in tervention in welfare, economic its empirical and theoretical adequacy but guidance and some measures of minucthhe etxhtaetnt isto cwohnitcahinietdcorbryespwoandys otof redistribution. These policies were aspiration, resentment and "common given theoretical sup p o rt by m a jo r sense" in everyday experience. It is p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s a n d w e r e important to recognise the nature and accom panied by relative prosperity source o fits appeal? even to those against and considerable political stability. whom it is ultimately directed. (1983, p, There were critics such as Ayn Rand 109). and F,A. Hayek w ho warned a b o u t These principles have com bined with a "creeping socialism", but M cC arthy- rhetoric which Poole describes as ism and the cold w a r tended to "moral conservatism", including the ab so rb m uch of the anti-socialist reassertion of traditional sex roles and rhetoric. o f patriarchal au th o rity within the With increasing econom ic crisis. family, an acco m p a n y in g critique of A u str alian Left Review 89 Racism on two fronts: In Its more blatant form In the Northern Territory and on campus, where it is directed against Asian students. s e x u a l p e r m i s s i v e n e s s , a b o r t i o n , hom osexuality and pornography. O th e r elements have been patriotism a n d a return to religion, usually o f a fundam entalist kind. In Britain, as we have just seen, and in the US and Europe, racism is a n o th e r element in this set of ideological practices. The Australian Context ome of these elements of struggle ?^ a r e a l r e a d y f a m i l i a r t o Australians, e.g. the work of the R azor G ang in cutting back state services a n d the rise of nationalism (perhaps at its most absurd when represented as the feverish support of t h e a c t i v i t i e s o f m i l l i o n a i r e yachtspeople). We have also seen r i g h t w i n g o p p o s i t i o n t o a n t i discrimination legislation ? an o pposition supported by the wealthy and powerful wives of wealthy and powerful men in the nam e of the "majority of women whose voices can n o t be heard". M onetarism has also been with us for some time, as have the theoriesof Ayn R and and Hayek, both favourites o f Malcolm Fraser. Racism, however, has only recently resurfaced in Australia at a semi? official level. Marie de Lepervanche (1980; 1984) and others (C u rth o y s a n d M arkus, 1978; L ippm ann, 1973; McQueen, 1970) have dem onstrated the official uses to which racism has been pul since the Europeans invaded this country, but it had receded considerably from public statem ents and ideology. Nevertheless, racism has never been honestly confronted in Australia at an official level in the way in which sexism, for exam ple, is beginning to be confronted. This is a country whose very foundations are racist, but where racism and the heritage of colonialism are curiously unexamined. The "antidago" riots in Kalgoorlie in the early '30s are not well know n, n o r is the "blackbirding" of Pacific Islanders to Queensland in the 19th Century. Colonialism and post-colonialism are extremely im p o rta n t and poorly understood in Australia, despite the c o n t i n u e d e xistence of c o lo n ia l attitudes and institutions. ? ' ? e v e r a l consequences follow from ? ^ this condition of selective amnesia. One is an identification with the colonisers, including, for exam ple, an assum ption of "natural" superiority to Australian blacks and to o th e r non-whites. The civilising effect of Europen settlement also goes largely unquestioned. Related to this is a collective paranoia that allows bogeys such as the Red Hordes and the Yellow Peril to be used, with effect, for purposes of political mobilisation. All o f these elements have been well utilised by racist groups and others who would reject an y association with such groups. F o r example, the Im m igration C on tro l Association letterboxed Sydney householders in the 1970s with pam phlets depicting red and yellow arrow s rushing dow nw ards from Asia to Australia. M ore recently, N ational Action seems to have taken the lead with spraypainting graffiti a b o u t the "Asian invasion". The egregious Professor Blainey has also touched on several o f these themes, talking a b o u t a ''new Asian Australia policy" (The Age, 20 M arch, 1984)and warning th a t Asians will be the "inevitable possessors of this land" ( The Australian, 4 M arch, 1984). We have moved, he claims, "from White A ustralia to S u rre n d e r Australia" (The Age, 3 April, 1984). Professor Blainey has moved the debate off the lavatory walls (where it perhaps belongs) an d onto the front pages of the newspapers. He has been congratulated by some for his "well reasoned contribution to an im p o rtan t debate" (The Australian editorial, 21 M arch 1984). O th er have com pared him with Enoch Powell, who also gave a high level legitimation to racist claims. Certainly, the Victorian president of the R SL , the Big Brother M o v e m e n t , a n d t h e o t h e r w i s e marginalised racist associations have been grateful fo r the media coverage and for the influential su p p o rt from an unexpected quarter. Blainey has articulated, a t great length, the themes o f n a t i o n a l i s m , i n v a s i o n a n d B r i t i s h n e s s , e x p l a i n i n g h i s intervention in terms o f concern for the p o o r a n d the unem ployed, who are, he presumes, suffering because of the governm ent's purp o rte d ly proAsian and anti-British im migration policy. Like M argot A nthony and Flo Bjelke-Petersen, he speaks as a privileged person representing the d o w n tro d d en masses. In th a t respect, his technique is certainly reminiscent o f Enoch Powell who always brought into his speeches the ordinary Englishman and little old ladies with genuine fears o f the blacks (Barker, cannibalism. Fraser himself has just 1983, pp. 37-42). re-emerged from the heartland of the Although claiming th a t he "might new right, the American Enterprise have thought twice" a b o u t m aking his I n s t i t u t e f or P u b l i c P o licy in original com m ents if he had known W ashington. what the reaction would be (The Age, The ideological package of the new 20 M a r c h 1984), Bl a i n e y has right is not w ithout its inconsistencies, I continued to stir this rather noisome and the interconnections between the mess o f pottage, seemingly intent on practices I have been describing are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. At extremely complex. It is, however, j the same time, the Liberal Party, who im p o rtan t to d e m onstrate th a t there I initially criticised his com m ents (The a r e i n t e r c o n n e c t i o n s , t h a t the I Age. 3 April 1984), have subsequently resurgence o f moral conservatism, of embraced them with a kind of fervour, nationalism and of racism is no mere I placing themselves in the rather historical accident. Obviously, there is I c o ntorted position of criticising a c o n s i d e r a b l e s u p p o r t f o r these I policy they instituted while in strategies, but we should also bear in j g o v e r n m e n t , b u t p r e s u m a b l y mind their likely outcomes and those expecting to gain support by kicking a people at w hom they are directed. can which resonated so well for They have persuasive power partly Blainey. because of their apeals to "common sense", to the "genuine fears of j ^ ^ b v i o u s l y , s o m e v a l i d ordinary people" an d to long- I ? B com parisons can be made established folk ideologies generated j between the Australian and the by the kind of selective amnesia 1 j British situation I described earlier, m entioned earlier. But they are also I especially if the conservative parties persuasive because they are rooted in | here pick up on the Blainey initiatives existing practices and relations. and, in effect, align themselves with the far right. The other pro g ram s for To explain a little further ? I m oral conservatism are well advanced, "com m on sense", for example, is what especially in Queensland where science people regard as natural. Som e people I teachers are now required to teach call it "horse sense". But most of our I creationism. Mr. Fraser, presum ably sense is, in fact, learned, and learned j w i t h t h e s u p p o r t o f o t h e r within a particular context that is, as I conservatives, has been reportedly have shown, historically formed, I a s s e m b l i n g his o w n t h i n k - t a n k Appeals to c o m m o n sense are usually I (Sydney M orning Herald, 9 June appeals to the status quo, and this I 1984) to include such well know n often means appeals to prejudice. I freedom fighters as Professor Leonie C o m m o n sense must be treated with j K ram er (an outspoken critic of Equal acute scepticism. Em ploym ent O pp o rtu n ity ) and Hugh Similarly, studies of nationalisms I M organ o f Western M ining who has have revealed their status as "imagined arg?ued a kind of Christian mission for com m unities" (Anderson, 1983). If we mining and associated the land rights had a better historical sense, we would movem ent with backwardness and be better equipped to ask "whose nationalisms arc these, an d how have they been constructed?" W hat does it mean to me, f o r exam ple, to identify with some overweight footballer who probably beats his wife? The various Australian nationalisms that have been c o n s t r u c t e d h a v e b e e n overwhelmingly male, Anglo, white and possessed mainly o f physical atrributes. Why have the rest of us been left out? C e r t a i n l y , t h e M i n i s t e r f o r I m m i g r a t i o n , t h e Mi n i s t e r f o r Aboriginal Affairs and the Prime Minister have recently spoken out against racism. But the assault on racism, as on sexism an d other ideologies that legitimate dom ination, will require a coherent and sustained analysis and a genuine desire for change. Such an assault would have to c o nfront the entrenched structures and ideas 1 have been discussing ? th a t is, not ju st making people more to lerant, but redistributing resources The current governm ent, therefore, is faced with an immense task if, in Jakubowicz's words, they wish: to wrest back the space swamped by conservative rhetoric and political domination and re-establishfree and open debate within which redistribution goals concerned with social justice become legitimate once more. Geoffrey B la in e y 's i n t e r v e n t i o n has made this task even m o re difficult by suggesting that problem s of the distribution of resources can be linked to a government bias tow ards Asian im m ig ra n ts . T h e o ld t a c t i c o f scapegoating takes us further than ever from the central issues. Hall, S. (1980) "Race, articulation and societies structured in dominance", in UNESCO: Sociological theories: race and colonialism. Hartwig, M. (1978) "Capitalism and Aborigines: the Theory of Internal Colonialism" in Wheelwright, E. and Buckley, K. (eds.) The Political Economy o f Australian Capitalism. Vol. 3, (ANZ Book Co.). J akubow icz, A. (1984) "Ethnicity, M u U i c u l t u r a l i s m a n d t h e Ne w Conservatism" in Bottomley, G. and de Lepervanche, M. (eds.) Ethnicity, Class and Gender in Australia, (Geo. Allen and Unwin), Karabel, J, (1979) T h e failure of A m e ric a n so cialism rec o n sid e re d ". Socialist Register, 204-227. de Lepervanche. M . (1980) "From Race to Richardson, K, and Spears, D. (eds.) Ethnicity", Ausi. N.Z, Journal o f (1973) Race, culture and intelligence Sociology, March, 24-36. (Penguin). Lorenz, (Methuen). K.olko, G. (1976) Main currents in modern American history. (Harper and Row, N .Y.). Lippmann, L. (1973) Words or Blows. (Pelican), Morris, D. (1968) The Naked Ape. (Corgi). Morris, D. (1971a) The Human Zoo. (Corgi).


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Gill Bottomley. Racism: Sociological Perspectives, Australian Left Review, 2014,