‘Is you woke, bro,’ the twenty-something going on 14-year-old asked me. ‘Is that English or some other language?’ was my not so friendly reply.
‘Harsh, dude. I’m not up for dat.’
I walked away suppressing the urge to slap the kid. Such a bad impression of an accent he didn’t understand. Something he extrapolated from a music video.
‘What the hell is happening here,’ I wondered. ‘Did Morrison sign over Australia to the Trump empire while I wasn’t looking?’
It isn’t just me being curmudgeonly in the grumpy old man sense. This goes to the very heart of why Australia was always a better place than Blighty. Or those other colonies.
We’ve always had to think about what’s right, since our colonial overlords were so obviously wrong when they followed all the rules. The American variant was to outdo the colonial overlords in malevolence, theft, and dishonesty. That crooked empire mode wasn’t much of an example for us.
In recent years we’ve had some aspiring neo-fascist politicians who’ve tried to emulate the American example. We even have a prime minister now who is desperately trying to look and sound like the planet’s biggest swindler.
Having watched the descent of the Coalition parties into an unknown circle of hell of their own making, the possibility that a sad and misbegotten creature like Morrison could exist doesn’t surprise me. What does take me aback is a new generation of ignorant youngsters who think that any American example is worth emulating. Rather than recognising how infinitely preferable it would be to cut off one’s own face with blunt shards of flint rather than coming within an astronomical unit of being anything like any stereotypical American.
What’s at stake here is the last holdout in the Anglophone world (with the possible exception of some parts of Canada), where people still understand ethics–the need to ponder actions and words in their individual contexts before concluding whether they are wrong or right. Not just jumping to conclusions because some arbitrary rule or law says so, or because personal advantage could be served by doing so.
The second worst thing we could do would be to follow the example of British upper crust corruption. The very worst thing would be to emulate pernicious species of American amoral identity politics or nihilistic plutocrat crookedness. It doesn’t matter that we have some do-gooders who favour the one, and a prime minister who favours the other. Those people are fools of the worst order.
Being able to analyse and distinguish good from bad, right from wrong, and better from worse, are attributes of independent thinking and unaffected intellectual strength that are diminished in a world focused solely on metricated rules and the class conflicts so favoured by reactionaries in Britain and the USA.
‘So, bro: Seriously! Grow up. Get your hand off it. Your “woke” is just another word for following someone else’s rules.
‘And Mr Prime Minister, go stick it in your eye: You are no kind of Christian. Just another aspiring crook in the American tradition.’