Welcome to the first post of Paradigm Oz.
by John Tracey – the editor
Paradigm “ a typical example or pattern of something; a model” or ” a worldview underlying the theories and methodology of a particular scientific subject”
Oz “Australian” or “representing a pronunciation of an abbreviation of Australia”
Over the last 200 years Australia has settled into a particular “paradigm”. A British system of Law and justice, English language, cities, motor vehicle dependence, nuclear families, electronic communications and consumerism. Also homelessness, increasing obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and suicide rates.
Oz in the 21st century has developed dysfunctional habits. We are stuck in a social and ecological track that we cannot deviate from because of the sheer mass and momentum of the status quo.
Political activists and parties have developed cunning strategies for social change. But these strategies are at best tokenistic and overwhelmed by the size of the task in hand, or they remain as interesting ideological debate amongst the deck top chatter on the Titanic.
The “political” campaigns have been simply commentary from within the Oz paradigm, pointing out inherent contradictions and deep analysis but nothing in terms of a realistic response to the real situation. Too little too late is a gross understatement of our capacity for reform thus far.
Perhaps it is time to challenge the paradigm?
What if the real engine of Oz society was not the economy or the political process but the psychological and spiritual process?
Karl Marx and his adherents claim that the economy creates social consciousness. The modes of production determine our position in and perspective of the world.
Mr. Marx is not so relevant these days, but I use him as an example of European political dichotomies and discourse that operate in the same paradigm. It is the paradigm itself that needs to be reformed, not the balance of power within it.
Mr. Marx, with all respect, failed to have the vision to analyze the capacity for industrialization and economic determinism to destroy the environment and therefore the primary economic base – the land itself. His prescriptions for industrialisation as the step towards the emancipation of the working class was in fact a recipe for economic scarcity such as is evolving through our now having to pay the dollar cost of withdrawing from energy intensive, in particular fossil fuel economies. It is not the barons of industry that are tightening their belts but the working class and the rapidly expanding underclass who are suffering through the new Oz industrial relations laws and cutbacks to social services. The growing division between rich and poor is not just the consequence of ten years of a Howard government but of the restricting nature of the economy itself. Ah, but the Oz economy is growing! It must continue to grow in order to maintain the profits and affluence of the Oz paradigm. If growth slows, let alone reaches a stop, then our growth economy stalls and we hit recession.
Most of the globe has been exploited today. In Mr. Marx’s time and even into the twentieth century imperialism and colonisation saw a continued expansion of cheap raw products, cheap labour and developing markets as the European economic empires revved up the global growth economy. Today with ecological and supply restrictions of fossil fuels plus the decreasing availability of products such as, for example, timber and seafood plus the absence of new land to colonise, a growth economy is not a sustainable paradigm for Oz at all.
Marx and the Barons of industry, while being poles apart ideologically, shared a common consciousness that saw the industrial paradigm as the only one.
About the time of Mr. Marx, in Oz there was an ongoing frontier war between the new British Paradigm and an Aboriginal paradigm, including economy, had reached a point of economic stability that included personal prosperity for all. The Aboriginal Paradigm is based on spiritual (or psychological if you prefer) connection to land and family. The elders of the families controlled and managed the modes of production.
Ceremony and art as well as kin relationship were central to the economy as well as teaching and training into the modes of production. Consciousness drove economy rather than the other way around. Consciousness was created through socialisation into the natural environment, not the workplace.
The European economies of Marx’s time bear little resemblance to global capitalism today. It is logical to expect that a modern Aboriginal economy, had their not been an invasion, would bear little resemblance to the stereotype of eighteenth or nineteenth century Aboriginal lifestyle. However the Aboriginal economy was smashed completely to make way for cows, sheep, pigs, sugar and grains. The English agricultural paradigm.
Today the socialist ideal is fading and being replaced with a new ecological ethos driving movements for political change. However the notions of the environment and ecology – what this country is – is based on European traditions of science and with only a very short time in this country. The colonial ecological paradigms are greatly different from Aboriginal paradigms that have developed through thousands of years of being part of the Oz environment. The European model is to protect the wilderness from human impact. The Aboriginal model is that human impact is a crucial aspect of the wilderness. The natural habitat for the human is the bush, not the city. Since the invasion has removed the human species from the ecosystem the wilderness has lost balance without management.
It is only through dumping dysfunctional European modes of lifestyle and land management that can bring about any chance of disrupting the momentum of our growth economy. There are no models for ecological lifestyle in European consciousness, as the process of environmental destruction has been occurring in Europe for thousands of years.
I do not advocate rushing into a Stone Age existence. I do advocate rushing out of the European consumerist paradigm and consciousness that drives the growth economy. Beyond that we can only use our intellect, creativity and spirit to build a new Oz paradigm.