Thursday 31 July 2008

2020 Summit: a case of censorship?

On the 19 and 20 April this year the Rudd Government held an ideas summit at the Old Parliament House in Canberra. Labelled "2020 Summit" it invited 1000 people - "some of the best and brightest brains from across the country" - to, as the website says, "tackle the long term challenges confronting Australia's future".

The stated intent was not only to receive an input there and then, but also to continue the exercise by allowing the general public to post submissions to their website. By the end of the year those submissions would be perused by the government. In all there were 10 broad themes (1. Productivity Agenda - education, skills, training, science and innovation; 2. Australian Economy - the future of the Australian economy; 3. Sustainability and Climate Change - population, sustainability, climate change, water and the future of our cities; 4. Rural Australia - future directions for rural industries and rural communities; 5. Health - a long-term national health strategy - including the challenges of preventative health, workforce planning and the ageing population; 6. Communities and Families - strengthening communities, supporting families and social inclusion; 7. Indigenous Australia - options for the future of Indigenous Australia; 8. Creative Australia - towards a creative Australia: the future of the arts, film and design; 9. Australian Governance - the future of Australian governance: renewed democracy, a more open government (including the role of the media), the structure of the Federation and the rights and responsibilities of citizens; 10. Australia's Future in the World - Australia's future security and prosperity in a rapidly changing region and world).

By the middle of May the website was ready to receive further submissions and on the 16th I posted my thoughts on topic 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, and 10, also sent in via hard copy on the 19th.

By the 11 June all submissions could be found on the website except one, 7. Indigenous Australia. On that day I sent a letter pointing to the omission and included the text once more. A second query was sent on the 26 June. Still no response nor did that submission appear, and so yet another letter was sent on the 17 July.

As of today, the 31 July, my submission on indigenous Australia is still missing, despite the obviously functioning process that allowed many others to have their posts published in the meantime.

I hesitate to be cynical and cry foul. I won't go as far as entertaining the idea that the whole exercise was a publicity stunt for our prime minister to present as being receptive to his populace by surrounding himself with already agreed upon ideas and no others. I won't suggest that not having to argue with pesky opinions may be smoothly efficient but it won't be democratic (Kevin Rudd just loves efficiency). Oh no.

All my submissions were written from the perspective of Otoom; that is to say, considering society as a system and identifying positive and/or negative dynamics under the given perspectives. Under that view the role of indigenous people in today's world, especially in developed nations, is a troubled one. This is not the time to enter into the detailed argument, suffice to say that, generally speaking, endeavours by many governments and organisations here and overseas produced no successful outcome. None of those initiatives were conducted using a technically and societally comprehensive model of the mind - firstly because until now it did not even exist, and secondly because the originating mind sets veered between forms of colonialist authoritarianism and new-age sycophancy.

So here is that submission once more:

The following is based on a model of the mind that sees human activities as systems. What is defined as a particular system depends on the current focus. Therefore the model is scalable, from the thought structures of an individual to groups to society at large. Since an activity is an expression derived from a certain capacity, it can be circumscribed as a property of a certain type. Under this view we can do away with words such as race, culture, religion and/or politics, and substitute them with demographic, functionality, and spiritual and/or secular ideology. The model already predicted the outcomes of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the riots in France and Sydney, the implosion of so many Pacific Island states, and much more besides.

As the debate about indigenous people everywhere shows, a nomenclature that substitutes 'demographic' for 'race' is far more productive. In the world of today and the future what determines a person's situatedness is not skin colour or their cultural background, but how they perform within the context of their society. Using 'race' makes this topic indeed a "delicate" one.

When 'culture' means a specific mind set and no other, problems arise if its surrounds have reached a higher complexity. While a hunter-gatherer culture is preventing its members from creating even a written language, entire empires have come and gone and right now we enter the age of space travel.

The insistence of any mind set to remain true to itself poses a hindrance in a dynamic world. Whatever romanticists might say, China would not be where she is today had she aligned herself with Tibet rather than aligning Tibet with her standard.

Generally speaking, in Australia opportunities exist for anyone provided their inherent capacity allows them to participate. To what extent shortfalls are addressed by the overall system becomes a matter of balance. The question of whether members of indigenous demographics ramp up to the common standard or whether they choose to exist in virtual anthropological zoos remains first and foremost for them to decide.

In the past under-performing demographics were swallowed up by their betters. In today's world we have the luxury to create political buffer zones, but their existence relies on available resources. Observing the current trend lines around the globe this situation may not hold for much longer.

Although a more complex society needs more resources to maintain itself, it also affords more opportunities to its members. In this context and considering the emerging trend lines an indigenous mind set will not be a constructive partner in preparing ourselves for the challenges ahead.

Due credit to all those whose submissions contained comparable views. The current text is derived from a perspective that is formal and independent of culture and politics.

The question is not so much whether indigenous people decide or are forced to change; it is becoming a matter of what type of conditions will confront all of us with their sheer inevitability.

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