Divide and Conquer

Tuesday 18 September 2007

I went to my Working Class Writing lecture/tutorial today. This week we have been reading stories by a guy called John Morrison. A lot of them are based around the waterfront in Melbourne in the 1940s and 50s. We had two blokes come in to talk to us today, the past secretary and current secretary of the MUA (Maritime Union of Australia). It was interesting to hear them talk about the changes that have gone on in society and how much more difficult it is for workers now in terms of governmental, globalisation and media control issues.

The media is such a biggie. I think of the APEC conference a few weeks ago and the media presentation of that. And the G8 and G20 protesters. And the workplace relations rallies that have occurred here in Australia recently. The media consistently represents those who are rallying as riff raff, troublemakers. The past secretary of the MUA believes these people are often labelled 'terrorists' these days - it's the new 'communism' tag, apparently.

Seems that what is required of us as good little citizens is to sit down, shut up, stay divided and conquered, and isolated. Because that is what we surely are. It never ceases to amaze me how we are so rich in comparison to past generations, and yet we are so alone. We are consistently taught that there is not a great deal we can do to change anything, that people will always look out for themselves first - and while there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that this is true a great deal of the time, I also suspect that people are desperate to feel part of something bigger than themselves.

I know from my own life just how much I need community, to be a functioning part of something bigger than myself and my own (often petty) concerns. The time I have felt that the most was when I demonstrated at the Workplace Relations rally a year or so ago. It felt empowering. I want to do something that empowers me, empowers others. I just don't know what.

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