We’ve failed somehow to make it clear that these minority groups want equality, not domination.
Mistakenly perhaps they blame liberal movements such as those for female equality and minority rights as the enemy, as they can only stand by and witness their own opportunities being swamped by such groups.
These are the people who blame their loss of opportunity on the growing vocal demands of groups who were previously kept in their place – women, indigenous people and homo- and trans-sexual.
South Africa is in many ways a very different country to that envisaged by political activists of the 1970s.
For one, the equitable society they anticipated would replace apartheid remains a chimera.
Instead, a process has taken place that political geographer Gillian Hart calls the “denationalisation” and “renationlisation” of the economy under the African National Congress (ANC).
As one abiding achievement of that decade – the trade union movement – begins to splinter, it is important to revisit the 1970s and engage critically with both its mistakes and achievements.A recent essay in the 2017 Winter issue of Meanjin, entitled ‘In Defence of the Bad, White Working Class’, got me thinking about the vexed question of class and whether indeed Australia can still pride itself on being a classless society.The author, Shannon Burns, grew up in a white working class suburb of Adelaide but ‘migrated’ over time, through education and employment opportunities, into the liberal, middle-class, and hence fully qualifies as a commentator on class disparities.Burns’ essay in part makes the point that the privileges of the middle-class may have deafened us to the true conditions of those who still languish as poor, white working class.It’s with some trepidation that anyone should draw attention to white victimhood, given that historical indigenous disadvantage has been so firmly established as a sine qua non in intellectual circles.It was estimated too that another 150 companies which depend on Ford would also be affected.There was talk at the time of re-skilling and re-employing these several thousand workers but little evidence so far.The structure of employment has transformed in the past twenty years and some groups have borne the brunt of those changes.Here in Geelong these’s evidence of an employment wasteland caused by the closure, almost a year ago, of Ford auto factory with the loss of 1,200 workers (including those in Broadmeadows, Melbourne).ABS statistics in June this year showed that Australian households have never been wealthier but the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has revealed that ‘people in the bottom 50 per cent of the community own just 6 per cent of the overall nation’s wealth.’ Three million live below the poverty line.Of course only a percentage of these people are white but they are one of the groups who have fallen through the cracks and off the radar.