1. Aboriginal philosophy
Every week Waleed Aly and Scott Stevens bang on at ABC RN’s The Minefield for about 40 minutes on what they see as profound ethical and philosophical questions inherent in our politics and our culture, how we see the world and how we live in it. They always have a guest to help them.
This week they asked the question Can Aboriginal political philosophy and political liberalism be reconciled?
They had two guests, Mary Graham, a Kombumerri person (Gold Coast) through her father’s heritage, and affiliated with Wakka Wakka (South Burnett) through her mother’s people. She is Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland.
The second guest was Morgan Brigg, who is Director of the Rotary Program and Associate Professor in the School of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland.
The short answer to the question posed is, with great difficulty, because according to Mary Graham Aborigines do not do philosophy, rather they have a Weltanschauung.
In addition, she said place was of little importance to the settlers who followed Captain Cook, whereas the land was totally important and sacralised for Aborigines. They had no other god(s).
Weltanschauung, a word used as such in English but often translated as worldview, is a term made prominent if not invented by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant and then taken up by the German idealist philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. The Wikipedia article says Weltanschauung (pronounced velt-un-shau-oong [ˈvɛltʔanˌʃaʊ.ʊŋ]) is:
- a concept fundamental to German philosophy, especially epistemology and refers to a wide world perception. Additionally, it refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs forming a global description through which an individual, group or culture watches and interprets the world and interacts with it.
So not to overcook this, it’s how you see the world, and then what you see having perceived it the way you did.
Graham and Brigg have written a series of articles, linked at the Minefield site. I’d like to read them and have another go, but on an interim basis I would apply Florence Kluckhohn’s concept of value orientations. (Warning: she was writing in the 1950s before gender neutral terminology became a thing.)
Kluckhohn poses five question arising from the human condition, one being:
- What is the relation of man to nature?
She says we have three possible orientations:
- Man subjugated to nature
- Man in nature
- Man over nature
The Innuit and the Tibetans may be typified by the first, European colonists definitely the third. Green philosophy would tend to see the second as the only sustainable approach.
It seems to me that the Aborigines would see themselves in the second category, but not inactively so, more embedded with curatorial obligations to land and nature as a whole, which is sacred. They often say they belong to the land, the land ‘owns’ them. This goes beyond what Kluckhohn had in mind.
They also discussed the individualism of liberalism, which they see as problematic and in the end a false binary.
They spoke of a robust sense of self, but social interdependence within ‘Country”.
So it is not a matter of Aborigines people becoming like the settlers through a series of accommodations, it’s whether we are going to continue a 65 thousand-year project or forever be strangers in this land.
Having said that, what I see is one of the most urbanised countries on the planet, which is not going to change any time soon.
This is where we need the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the Makarrata Commission, constitutional change and indeed a treaty.
The citation is Kluckhohn, F.R. Dominant and Variant Value Orientations. In Kluckhohn, C, & Murray, H.A. eds. Personality in Nature, Society, and Culture. 2nd ed, New York, Knopf, 1962, pp.342-357.
I’ve used the term Aborigines rather than First Nations people, because I’m not sure Graham and Brigg were speaking for Torres Strait Islanders.
2. Always was. Always will be.
That has been the theme of NAIDOC Week 2020.
Many things have been spoken and done, including about the appropriateness of our national anthem. I think the choice was not our finest hour. It’s best sung by people with classical voice training, and sung straight as the notes on the page, not the mucked about versions we often get.
I know there are many more important issues, but some day the anthem will change, because in its present form it is simply unacceptable in view of our 65,000 year heritage.
Judith Durham’s version (lyrics here) would be an improvement, so it would only be second rate rather than third rate compared to NZ or South Africa.
In this clip Judith Durham talked about how she came up with the version, with a bit of help from her friends. I think we need more than one word (“one” for “young”) to change.
Does anyone have a better idea?
3. Women show how
The Queensland men got beaten rather badly in State of Origin, losing 34-10.
That link was mostly about what passes for biffo these days. I do think there should have been suspensions, because punches were thrown that hit the heads of opposition players, never mind that no harm was done.
However, harm was done as reported like this:
- The Maroons had their backs to the wall from the kickoff with five-eighth Cameron Munster ruled out through concussion just two minutes in after being dragged down by Tyson Frizell when he marked the ball in-goal.
“Dragged down” my **se. Frizell tackled Munster when he was in the air, going for the body, not the ball, a big no-no. So Munster cracked his head on the ground coming down, Qld were a man short, one of our best, and Frizell was not even penalised.
The bottom line is that the Blues played to their potential, and when they do they are hard to beat.
It was actually four tries a piece, but Queensland never looked like losing after pulling ahead 24-6 – until the last few seconds.
4. Biosecurity policy – is there any?
Back in 2018, Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud announced the Government would raise $325 million over three years through a biosecurity levy. They never got around to legislating it. In May they simply dropped the idea.
Now the CSIRO has warned that threats are increasing and the system needs an overhaul.
In the five years to 2017, the amount of biosecurity risk materials intercepted in Australia increased by almost 50 per cent. Looking forward, tripling investment in biosecurity over the next 10 years would still result in an increased risk.
This year Australian farmers have already dealt with one of the worst outbreaks of avian influenza, an incursion of fall armyworm, which destroys crops, and a new weed is detected every 18 days.
The increase in biosecurity risks is fuelled by global trade and travel, urbanisation, climate change, biodiversity loss, and antimicrobial resistance.
Then there is this:
- At least 75 per cent of emerging human infectious diseases originate from animals.
Hands up everyone who feels safe, given the quality of our government.