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Episode 382 - Book Review - Not So Black and White

In this episode, we discuss a book called "Not So Black and White" by Kenan Malik.

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Transcript
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Suburban Eastern Australia.

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An environment that has over time evolved some extraordinarily

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unique groups of homo sapiens.

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But today we observe a small tribe akin to a group of mere cats that gather together

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a top, a small mound to watch question and discuss the current events of their city,

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their country, and their world at large.

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Let's listen keenly and observe this group fondly known as the

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Iron Fist and the Velvet Glove.

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Hello and welcome to Your Listener.

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Yes, the Iron Fist and the Velvet Glove Podcast episode 382.

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We're back this time a special episode.

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I'm Trevor a K a, the Iron Fist.

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With me sometimes with book reviews and other things.

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Where he pushes back is Paul from Canberra.

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How are you Paul?

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Greetings from Nu Oil Country.

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Pretty well.

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Yourself?

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I'm well, so well, dear listener, normally at this part of the podcast I say that

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this is a podcast where we talk about news and politics and sex and religion and all

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the things you're not supposed to talk about at a dinner party because we are

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fearless debaters of dangerous topics.

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But tonight, dear listener, we're entering the realm of talking

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about racism and the history of it.

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It's morphing into identity politics and other issues.

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Cause we're doing a book review of Kenon Malick's book

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called Not So Black and White.

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So if you thought we covered dangerous topics before you ain't seen nothing yet.

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I'm a bit concerned about this one.

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Paul.

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Yes.

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I I feel like we are going to cover news, politics, sex, and religion Definitely.

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And, you know, racism and more besides on this one, so, mm, definitely.

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Yeah, I'm going to definitely whip this one straight off of YouTube because

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I think it'll just send the algorithm crazy when it looks at the transcript.

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You know, I was, I was preparing my notes for this Paul cuz I was, I

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read the book a few weeks ago and I had some notes and then I was making

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some more notes this afternoon.

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I was dictating them into a Word document and as I was dictating, if

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I mentioned the word negro word would not write the word and would just

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do a series of star type symbols.

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Yeah.

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Interesting.

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I I, I'm not surprised that a voice recognition is just going

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to quietly edit that one out.

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Yeah, yeah.

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Yeah.

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So, so that one has had me worried about the prospects of this recording

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lasting on the YouTube channel.

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Anyway, we'll see how we go.

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And if you're in the chat room, say hello and make your comments.

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So let me just minimize the screen so I can look at my notes.

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So Paul I said I wanted this book, not so black and white.

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And one of the reasons I wanted it, because it talks about race and identity,

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and I think this is a good background warmup for subsequent discussions

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about the voice and indigenous rights.

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And so I don't know about you, but as I was reading it, I was constantly

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referring back to that issue and the Australian experience about race and.

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And how we think about race in this country in the context of the voice.

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Yeah.

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And I was going to ask you, because the book talks about, like, there's a lot

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of discussion about the US experience of racism and how these issues have

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played, played out, but it's, you know, there's obviously quite a bit different

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to how Australia has experienced that.

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And I was really kind of interested in your, where you saw those

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contrasts and where and similarities.

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Mm-hmm.

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It is, you're right.

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There was a fair bit of the African-American experience and

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really not much about the Native American Indian experience.

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In the book Canon Malach actually, actually, I tried to

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find a pronunciation for him.

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Some places they say Kenan Maek, some places Kenan Maek.

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So I'm just not exactly sure what to do.

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But Kenan Mallek himself was a Pakistani sort of ethnicity who grew up in the uk.

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Mm-hmm.

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So, but you're right, there is a fair amount of reference to sort of

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the Black American experience, which doesn't have the land rights issue

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attached to it like it does for Native Americans or indigenous Australians.

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So that is sort of left out of the book that although property does come

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into it, which we'll get to property rights, it wasn't mentioned of it

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because I think there was also a quote in there from Abraham Lincoln who

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imagined that, I'm kind of paraphrasing here, but the, the The idea the, the

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logical result of the emancipation of the slaves was they would just go back

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to Africa and colonize some bit of Africa really wasn't used in, in there.

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Did you?

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I didn't remember that quote, but it doesn't surprise me.

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Some of the founding fathers of the Constitution and then, and sort of

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leaders from previous eras had some fairly well racist ideas or notions

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or things which were common for the time but would be outlandish today.

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Yeah.

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And, and I, because I think that one, like one of the themes that I saw

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through the book was that question of.

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Integration versus assimilation versus separation.

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The different ideas about whether it was even possible for races

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to live beside each other.

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And I'm just wondering what, what you sort of thought out of, you know,

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what you got out of that and where, how you sort of see that issue.

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You know, by the end of it, by the end of the book, he was saying, for example,

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the guy who came up with critical race theory was quite despairing about the

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prospects of ever getting rid of racism.

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And, and they were really saying that if you took that view, that racism

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could never be abolished, then.

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You ended up actually maybe I can find that little bit where where

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it talks about you, you end up just going for performative results cuz

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you've given up on substantive stuff.

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So you look for numbers of indigenous people in positions of power and you

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look for window dressing as opposed to substantive things because you've

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given up on the substantive things.

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Was, was kind of one of the arguments there.

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So, I'll just give a little intro.

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So, so the book purports to be the history of race from white

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supremacy to identity politics.

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And I think it does achieve that certainly runs through a history and I

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think that's important, Paul, to look at how these things evolve is really

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important when you're trying to answer.

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Modern day questions, and we could look at that in terms of some other

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topics that we've been talking about.

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Like if you are looking at Russia and Ukraine, for example, and trying to come

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to a decision about what's going on there and who's right and who's wrong, you have

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to understand the creation of NATO and what has been happening over the last 50

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to 70 years in relation to NATO and, and the changes that have happened there.

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And you have to look at what's, yeah, happened with Ukrainian politics and

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American interference, and you just can't look at the last two years

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and, and give a comprehensive, have a comprehensive understanding of, of the

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issue without that sort of background history and context to put it all in.

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Same with you know, the current you know, conflicts.

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Well beat up conflict with China and the Chinese response is going

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to be so much heavier that they're not gonna be dominated by anybody

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cuz they had a hundred years of that and they're not gonna do it anymore.

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That's a really big thing to know about Chinese mentality in that one.

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If you just examined the people and players of today without taking that

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into account, you'd be losing context.

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And yeah.

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Even things like interest rates in the economy, like our current, the low

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interest rates that we experienced until very recently, that's all a function

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of what's happened in since the Great Depression in a, in a series of events.

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And to get to those low interest rates, you really had to

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appreciate all these things.

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So my point is, it's good to have this background to understand where we're at.

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And, and I mean that's a good example as well.

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Like you've given a couple of really good examples there of how the politics

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in a situation and how that's, that sort of is portrayed in the media.

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I mean, you know, the, the China issue being a classic example for the people

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that only read the Sydney Morning Herald and trust that to get their

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news from, or you know, only watch nine they're probably looking at.

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You know, thinking, well, it's perfectly obvious that China needs to be restrained

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here if you're not looking at the history and the wider politics of it.

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So I guess here especially with the sort of that issue of identity politics in

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the book, do you think that is a kind of recent thing that misunderstands the past?

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I think people have a really shallow understanding of where we're at

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in terms of racism and identity.

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Politics really shallow.

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I have been looking at the commentary on the voice because I've wanted to when

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I eventually do this episode, you know, quote people who are for the voice,

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quote, people who are against the voice.

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Discuss the ideas, and I find that the arguments on both sides are incredibly

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shallow and really the people or the voice tend to be both sides, invariably shallow.

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No talk of class.

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I have not seen a single modern commentator talking about class.

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And you know, I'm banging on about class as as an issue.

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Nobody has mentioned it.

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And, but when you look at this book and you look at the players involved from

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Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, various other people who I hadn't heard of

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before, Franz Fannon, a Mariama Baraka, a whole host of important characters who

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were big in black Panther movement and black power and all that sort of stuff.

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Talked a lot about class.

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Yes.

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And none of that is spoken about in this contemporary discussion about

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indigenous matters that I've seen.

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Cuz I tell you, I would've highlighted it and stuck into

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my notes if I'd have seen it.

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So I think the conversation's very shallow.

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Yeah, I mean, it's interesting that, because I'd heard Noel Pearson's Boyer

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lectures recently, which were about the voice, and very interesting to

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hear the approach that he's taking, which in part is like a kind of, it's

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a bad summary, but I, I would say that his view comes from the idea of.

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The bringing back respect for the Aboriginal people and the aboriginal

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culture in ways that he believes has been sort of systematically removed.

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But also there's one where he talk, one boy lecture where he talks about

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aiming for full employment and mm-hmm.

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I have a bunch of problems with the idea of full employment, but the

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interesting thing there is the, he talks about not just full employment

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for Aboriginal people, but full employment for everyone that wants a job.

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Whether they're, you know, white or black immigrant or native, you know, anything.

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And that to me, I.

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Seems to be about the class struggle of the working class versus the the employer

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class, much more than it is about race.

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Would you sort of Well, it is, and I would've thought this whole

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voice discussion would've been a distraction from that issue.

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I dunno how he would've tied in promoting the voice as being

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anything to do with that topic.

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I dunno how he could've brought the two in together.

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I'd have to re-listen to the episode two.

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We could have segue those two together.

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I have no idea.

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But I, I, the other aspect which I saw in the book there, and there's a whole

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sort of chapter on the, the class, both sort of the, the working class and their,

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there, there's that sort of contrast between the, the basket of deplorables

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and the, the, the coastal elites.

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And that, how did, how did that class struggle there, flow into the racism

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that Kennon talks about in the book?

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Well, Kenon makes the point that you never hear the expression, the

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black working class you never hear.

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The Muslim working class, working class is, is for whites and in, in discussion

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the, the black ethnic groupings.

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Discussed as if there is no class distinction amongst them.

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That's what infuriates me.

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This idea that they are all the same.

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They all think the same.

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Mm-hmm.

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There is no class difference, that they're all suffering the same.

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It frustrates the hell out of me.

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So, yeah.

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Yeah.

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So I, I think there's a lack of recognition of that.

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And I give the same example regularly of, you know, the Jonathan Thurston's

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of the world not needing extra privileges or powers, cuz he's got

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way more than what he should have.

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The guy was responsible for a football stadium in, in Townsville, but even

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people in Townsville didn't want.

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I said, we don't need that.

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We've already got a stadium that's big enough.

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So, yeah, he's got a voice.

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Don't worry about that.

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Yeah.

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But I guess I also wondered there.

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Like I felt another theme in that struggle was I can't remember who said

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it particularly, but the, the idea that the the white working class were

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played off against the African-American working class as in, you know, the,

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the white people need to be, the white working class, need to be afraid

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of the African-Americans because they'll take your jobs kind of stuff.

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Yes.

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Yeah.

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And that sort of fed into some of that racism.

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Did you, where, how did you see that playing out in the book?

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Mm, I didn't see that emphasized in the book.

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In terms of the white working class historically.

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I thought it was very interesting when he was talking about.

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Indentured servants in America.

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So, what he was saying at around page 65 actually was when the first

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Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, there were no white people there.

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They were English and their children were English.

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Whiteness as an identity just like race had to be constructed.

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So the people at that time didn't consider themselves white.

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They thought themselves as English.

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And that was in 1619.

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And then by the end of the 17th century, American plantations were

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worked mainly by African slave labor.

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But in the initial decades there was a large European indentured

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servant work, working there.

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And basically the servants were cheaper than slaves and could be worked as hard.

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Slaves were slaves for life, so could not be compelled to work harder by

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threats of extended entrainment.

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So, so yeah, there was a, okay, actually in the early days quite a large body

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of white indentured servants who would get beaten and treated just as badly

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as the black slaves in the initial sort of creation of the United States.

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So, yeah, and he, he makes the point that just historically with

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slavery, it wasn't a, a race issue.

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And, and it race actually itself didn't come about until a more modern,

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it's a more modern construction race.

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People were defined by their community, their laws, their culture,

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where they lived rather than by the color of their skin in sort of,

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Pre-modern times was his argument.

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Mm-hmm.

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He gives different references to this and mm-hmm.

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You know, black people had black slaves, white people had white slaves and a

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variety of slaves and they were just poor, unfortunate in the community who

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were in the slave class, no matter.

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Yeah.

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But they had the same color.

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The color didn't come into it.

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And, and I guess I, I was thinking as well cuz I've read a series of historical

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fiction set in ancient Rome where of course slavery was perfectly standard

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and, you know, there was just a slave class and if you are, you know, you

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could free your slaves if you are, you know, decided to in your will.

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But, And, you know, they were to be traded and sold and, and you could be you, you

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know, you could be brought to punishment if you killed the slave, but only if

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it was someone else's slave, because that would be destruction of property.

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Hmm.

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And no one particularly talks about those slaves being, you know, African

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or from the captured Germanic tribes or anything other than just some of

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them are better slaves than others.

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Yes.

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It was a completely colored, blind situation.

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Yeah.

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So, so slavery didn't arise because of of color.

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It arose simply because of, that's where they managed to buy the cheap labor from.

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If they'd have been white cheap labor in Africa, they would've

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done the same thing and.

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But what his argument is in this book is that you had the enlightenment and you

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had these theories of universality and the equality of rights of men, but you

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had at the same time, people preaching equality, but then practicing slavery.

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Yeah.

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And, and the argument in the book is that eventually what came about

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was race became an excuse as to why these people weren't treated equally.

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And yeah, it was, it was an excuse to soothe the, the and comfort people who

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knew that they were in breach of a new moral code, but it was, they still wanted

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them, the money and the cheap labor, and weren't prepared to leave up to

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the practice that they were preaching.

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Yeah, it, it's that sort of grand irony that I think starts out in chapter

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one, talking about the Declaration of Independence, which literally

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starts, you know, we believe that all men are created equal, and yet this

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was already a slave owning colony.

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And was, you know, even after the, the War of Independence would be

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continuing slavery for quite some time.

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So it wasn't an idea that we are fighting for equality of all of the people, right?

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Mm-hmm.

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Yes.

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Do, do you ever think, we'll, we'll be able to actually, you know, see

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all men created equal, or is that always gonna kind of be ironic

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now, ah, you know, like, look at Australia, it becomes a melting pot.

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Really?

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Hmm.

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Of people eventually, people within a few generations have intermixed.

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And you know, there was, there was angst and racism against the

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Greeks and Italians, and then it was the Vietnamese and boat people.

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And I think we can say with some confidence that in Australian society

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today, those groups have, well, it's really integrated and are not suffering

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from a racist sort of situation.

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I mean, yes and no.

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I, I agree with your original sort of thesis in that, that

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racism takes a lot of time to.

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True would, would take a lot of time to stamp out because it is

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easy as a point of difference.

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And all it needs is something like, you know, COVID coming out of China and all of

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a sudden Chinese people are being treated with sus suspicion almost exactly like,

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you know, they were on the gold fields.

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Yeah.

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But give it long enough and everyone will have a bit of

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Chinese heritage in their family.

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Somewhere in the same way that you know, people ended up having a gay

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nephew or a, or a lesbian niece or something, and suddenly their

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attitudes towards gay rights changed.

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And, and you know, we're such a melting pot here that eventually

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give it long enough if people will be mixed up enough that these

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distinctions will just disappear.

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It'll take while.

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So either to answer your question Yes.

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When there is a.

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Such a mix up of people that we've forgotten that we're ever different.

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Which, which is an interesting point because I, yeah, I think of then on the

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other hand of people like Andrew Bolt who kind of want some kind of metric by

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which Aboriginal people have some have their sort of aboriginality measured

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and, you know, there are, there's a lot of debate in Tasmania about land claims

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and cultural heritage from Tasmanian Aborigines who allegedly were completely

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massacred except for the fact that many of them had married into white, or, you

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know, been married into white families and became part of the, the culture there.

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So I guess I, I wonder there, but he's not alone.

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There are people within the indigenous community who would say the same thing.

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Mm.

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Because, you know, G s T and other monies gets distributed to the states

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on a formula that increases that amount to states with the larger

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proportion of indigenous people.

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And what's been happening is that the indigenous population has been growing

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rapidly in New South Wales and the a c t and other areas with funding,

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therefore, going to those states and indigenous leaders saying, well,

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hang on, we really need that funding going to the Northern Territory.

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It's been drained away because of, of so many people now identifying

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as indigenous in these states.

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Which gets back to the, the issue, sorry, it's, it's.

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Which gets back to the issue that it really is about are

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these people suffering or not?

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And the indigenous people are leaders in that situation by implication, are

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saying there are indigenous people here in these states who are living

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in urban populations who don't need it as much as some others do, living

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in other states in remote areas.

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One, one particular bug mere of mine is the remote indigenous

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communities who are often not supplied with you know, reticulated power.

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So they have to run diesel generators, which also put out fumes

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and cost a lot of money to run.

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And that's all taken away from the money going into the community because, you

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know, That's it's treated as a cost and we should just be installing solar panels

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and batteries and having done with it.

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But anyway, that's another, that's another issue.

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Mm-hmm.

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I guess the, the hard part here, and I'm wondering whether this feeds into

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the sort of identity part of identity politics, is that there, how you see

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the book talk about racial identities that we now have and how, like, how,

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how does, can Malach sort of resolve that question of the, you know, if,

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if race is an invented construct, then why do, why are people identifying why?

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Yeah, why are they so I guess he makes the point.

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Yeah.

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Why, why are they, why, why have they abandoned class in favor of identity?

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Because you can be a, a solidarity around the issues of class and

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or you could be a form solidarity around the issues of gender, race,

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ethnicity, and things like this.

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And people, I guess, looked at the, the black power, black Panther, the

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black Rights Movement in the United States, which was seen in some ways

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as successful and used as a template by other ethnic gender groups

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as a way of getting things done.

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And even in the UK you would get sort of ethnic groups.

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Agitating for things revolving around the local IAM or other religious

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institutions would become, well, even, even like there's a couple of anecdotes

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that Kenan has in the introduction.

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Talking about you know, Indian female workers in factories or like the

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Pakistan League or I can't remember a couple of the names, which,

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which were about almost unionizing.

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Along that the lines of we are, you know, a racial group that's

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being taken advantage of just as much as we are a class, right?

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Mm-hmm.

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I, I think people saw success in that black movement and therefore, and

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it's, it's kind of, Easy because they couldn't imagine in America, for example,

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taking on capitalism, which was, you know, if you were looking at worker's

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rights and, and unionism and and, and the solidarity of the working class.

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It was just getting battered relentlessly and indoctrinated in a propaganda program

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where every American began to think they were just a temporarily unlucky

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millionaire whose time would come.

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Yeah.

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And so, so he makes, I think the point that people looked at the success of

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the, the black movement, which under Malcolm X for example was very much.

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Black people have gotta do this for themselves to gain power,

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don't turn the other cheek.

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Violence is acceptable or necessary, et cetera.

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But he also made some really interesting points that Malcolm X in particular

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towards the end of his life had traveled.

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He had left the nation of Islam and had converted to Sunni Islam.

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Traveled to Saudi Arabia and did a lot of travel in Africa, and came across

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a lot of white people who were of the strong belief that racism was a terrible

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thing and needed to be overcome, and were very friendly towards him and they

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were white and he hadn't seen it before.

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And he began to see that he'd made a mistake in not embracing.

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White people into his cause, into fighting against them.

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And just one paragraph I'll read here.

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Yeah, yeah.

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After he's traveled, it made him rethink his ideas about race.

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He met revolutionaries who were not black, but were as hostile to racism as he was.

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Malcolm realized that he was alienating the people who were true revolutionaries.

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And John Lewis, the chair of S n C C, dunno what that is, but recall

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a conversation in which Malcolm X talked about the need to shift

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our focus from race to class.

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He said that was the root of our problems, not just in

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America, but all over the world.

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Unfortunately, in the decades following his murder, it was the old Malcolm

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rather than the one he was becoming.

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That it got remembered that got fixed as the real Malcolm X.

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And just in terms of Martin Luther King on this topic, Martin Luther King

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recognized too that equality meant more than simple civil and political rights.

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What does it profit a man?

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He asked to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he

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doesn't earn enough money to buy a hamburger and a cup of coffee.

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So he launched a Poor People's Campaign telling a reporter

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We're dealing with class issues.

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So people might think of Malcolm X especially, and Martin Luther King

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as being excited on the black race.

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But in fact, by the end of it, they had recognized it was a class issue.

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Mm-hmm.

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You know, anybody talk about that?

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This is one of the most valuable things to come.

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I had heard bits of these things in other articles, but it's one of the

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more valuable things to come out of this book is, is some of the reflections

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he's got on black leaders like that.

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And I'll give you one more, which is it was good actually in

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that this introduced me to some black leaders I hadn't heard of.

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Amira Baraka, poet and critic, founder of the Black Arts Movement.

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Shed his nationalism for Marxism in the 1970s.

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He recognized the dangers of appropriating racial thinking,

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even for the cause of equal rights.

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He recognized to the importance of class in any struggle for equality.

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He came to realize that simply having black faces in positions of

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power did little to combat racism or empower working class blacks.

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And there was one other character, Franz Fanon rejected the idea

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of a singular black identity.

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That's a slightly different topic.

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So yeah, in terms of class, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Amira Baraka.

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In discussions, when I talk to people and I say I'm more interested in

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the class than race, I'm actually from the Malcolm X, Martin Luther

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King and Amira Baraka School of.

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Race relations.

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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Don't call me a racist.

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I, and I, this is, I guess, where I think some of that, the critical

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race theory that I've understand, understood, comes from is in the

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intersectionality between race and class.

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That the, and gender and other attributes.

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You know, the, the black working woman.

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Suffers all of the sort of intersections of those problems.

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Mm-hmm.

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Not just one of them.

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I in isolation.

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And thank you to Event Horizon for saying the Student Nonviolent

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Coordinating Committee is the ncc.

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Thank you.

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Yeah.

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That, that whole point about the like, you know, I felt very strongly with

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that discussion about Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, you know, very

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interesting that they only met once.

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They basically sort of shook hands, went on their way, ships in the night.

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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That, you know, it's interesting in part because I think Luther

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King preached a lot more, not.

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Tolerance of racism, but that hating the other person wasn't the solution.

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And I always I I feel very strongly that you know that saying that he

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had that hate, cannot drive out hate and only love can do that.

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Is, you know, it's vital to remember when we've got so many causes that

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we are invited to hate, right?

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Mm-hmm.

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But also on the other hand, the point that they make in the book was, is

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that Malcolm X was also saying, but we can't keep relying on the white people.

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To take our side, we actually have to fight the forces that are trying

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to put us back in their place.

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And those, those are some white people too.

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Mm-hmm.

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I'm, I'm interested where you see the, sort of the violence in that, you

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know, peace versus love versus hate, peace versus violence in the, the o

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the whole sort of history in the book.

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What, how did you see that theme play out?

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I didn't see a lot of it other than in the Malcolm X sort of scenario.

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And I don't know.

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I mean, while he turned towards concentrating on class at the

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end, I dunno whether he was quite happy for the lower class to be

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violent against the upper class.

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I dunno, I didn't, it didn't go into that.

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It's quite possible he was still happy to rely on violence.

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But use it in a, a class based scenario rather than black versus

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white scenario, so, mm-hmm.

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Yeah, I didn't see much other sort of reference to, to violence as such, but

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just on the critical race theory and the intersectionality and all that.

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Mm-hmm.

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Ken Mallek obviously critical of it and he talks of people in that critical

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race theory, movement, I think as trying to find racism wherever they can.

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Almost like somebody who's got a hammer.

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Everything I see as a nail, and he was saying that, you know, the concept of

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white privilege, a lot of the people in that movement were willing to ascribe

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white privilege to all whites, and were right in that sense, equating.

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Both Elon Musk and the cleaner in the Elon and the in the Tesla

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factory, both were enjoying white privilege in a very simplistic manner.

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Yeah.

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In the critical race theory movement, finding racism where they could.

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And he gave an interesting section on mass incarceration in the United States.

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And so I'll read a little bit about that.

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He says that mass incarceration would seem to be the classic

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illustration of many of the themes at the heart of critical race theory.

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A black man born in the late 1960s who dropped out of high school oh,

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he said that is sort of offering some alternative thinking here.

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A black man born in the 1960s who dropped out of high school has a 59% chance

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of going to prison in his lifetime.

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Whereas a black man who attended college is only a 5% chance.

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Hmm.

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That's interesting.

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I hadn't seen statistics based on, on that before, or maybe I had,

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but it's a good point to make.

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That's a big difference.

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A 59% chance versus a 5% chance both black one has gone to college and one hasn't.

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Hmm.

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And he says he quotes an analysis by this guy, Nathaniel Lewis for the People's

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Project think tank, concluding that race is not a statistically significant

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factor for many incarceration outcomes once class is adequately controlled for.

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And what he's saying is what's risen dramatically since the seventies

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is the incarceration rate amongst high school dropouts while a rate

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amongst college graduates, whether they're black or white, has declined.

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And And I'm just one more statistic.

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2017, Clegg and Guzman suggests a white high school dropout was about

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15 times more likely to be in prison than a black college graduate.

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Hmm.

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So, of course, the argument is, well, who's most likely to be a college

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graduate is perhaps a white person.

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But yeah, that, if you simplify to me to have the, I can't remember the

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statistical fallacy, but if you're comparing very different selection

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sizes, then the proportions or the percentages or the absolute numbers

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are going to look quite different.

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But either way, it's still, you know, I think this gets to your

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point about class being a thank you.

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It is the base rate fallacy.

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Thank you, Joe.

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The class is, it gets to your point about class being a much more differentiating

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factor because things like education and did, did you complete high school?

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You know, what kind of family did you grow up in?

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Things like that have as a lot of effect on your class, whether

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you are black or white right?

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Or doesn't deny that race is a factor, but he's saying there are other factors

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that need to be taken into account and and it, and it shouldn't be simplified.

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There's complex.

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Relationships going on here between race and education

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and, and other factors at play.

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So I had a look at some local statistics, Paul, on incarceration and education

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found, this doesn't surprise me.

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Trevor Australian Institute, health Welfare report of some sort.

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So, big report somewhere at page 256.

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I got that far into it

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in Australia of prisoners.

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1% have a bachelor degree, 4% have a diploma, 31% have a trade certificate.

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56% have no non-school qualifications.

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Only 19% of the prison population.

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Finished year 12.

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Wow.

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The, and the interesting sort of anecdote that I've seen on this as well is that

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the, if you look at the incarceration rates in Tasmania where there is a higher

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proportion of high school dropout rate then it is, it is higher than states

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that don't have, as, you know, don't have dropout rate, same education standard.

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Yep.

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But also that the population, as we know from what we said before about, you know,

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from Tasmania, is that the population of the Aboriginal people is very, very

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low compared to other jurisdictions.

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So, I do think that it, it.

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Yeah.

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It's a, a big factor.

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So I'll just give some other statistics.

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Well, I was wondering there if do you think that's something that Ken

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Malak is kind of overlooking the, the, because you sort of said before

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he's, he didn't really look at race in English politics or in, and you know,

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we know that from India and Pakistan, there are different races as well.

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There are different racial groups.

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It, it felt to me like he didn't really a, a address race, racism in other context.

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And it, and so it's because you've got this quite clear differentiation

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of, of skin colors in the us then it, it became a lot easier to just con

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compare and contrast that example.

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And he was, he just missed out on some of the subtlety.

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Do you, do you feel like that feel like I've asked?

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I think it was fair enough, wrong way around.

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I think it was fair enough to concentrate on the US because he

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probably wants to sell books in the us There's obviously excellent

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statistics on this that are available.

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He's, we are all familiar with the figures of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King.

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There's, you know, there's a size and a richness to the whole story there

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that I think it was an appropriate place to, to, to deal with.

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I don't, you know, the book would just get enormous if you were going

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to enter into other jurisdictions and start talking about, you know, like I

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would be interested, for example, in race and indigenous issues in South

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America where I don't tend to hear of indigenous lands rights issues in South

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America, even though I've got a keen interest in South America and it would

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pique my interest if I heard something.

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There's definitely, I've definitely heard like the Y Mamo and other native

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Brazil, you know, native tribes in Brazil.

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Mm-hmm.

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You know, basically pushing against the, the sort of slash

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and burn farming of the Amazon.

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Yeah.

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It, it's such a large mixed population where nearly.

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Everyone has got a bit of native blood in them.

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They're very mixed races there, I think.

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But I get off, we're getting off topic there because I don't have enough detail

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on it, but just I don't, I don't blame Malick for concentrating on America.

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And I think, you know, what he does say about this incarceration is it's a

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complex relationship and he says that the savagery of mass incarceration

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in America reveals a complex relationship between race and class.

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To suggest that is not to deny racism or to fall into the trap of

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class reductionism, as some have claimed, it's simply not to wish

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away the complexities of the world.

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So I think he's just saying, and I think his criticism is of many of the players in

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the critical race theory movement finding racism as the answer to everything and

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white privilege being abundant no matter what the class is of the white person.

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So, That's what he was sort of saying there.

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But just to finish some statistics, cuz locally in Australia indigenous people,

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29% of the prison population, even though they're three point something

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percent, 3.3 of the general population.

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The other thing of course is prison population, 90% are male males

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only make up 50% of the population.

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So there's a strong bias against males in prison.

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Do we have a hear of special programs to specially designed

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to keep men out of prison?

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Paul, maybe they do.

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We, we, we did, but the coalition cut them all.

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Okay.

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And adults without a degree, adults without a degree, are 72%

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of the general population, but 99% of the prison population.

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Hmm.

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So it'd be simplistic to say, we'll make sure everyone's got a degree and they

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won't end up in, you know, up in jail.

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Or some high qualification or not male that'll reduce it by 50%, you know.

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Well, I'm also shows there's factors involved in a complex.

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Hmm.

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I'm also kind of reminded of the Terry Pratchett quote that, you know, living

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in living in a slum was sort of, Almost borderline criminal because it

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was just so hard to make an existence any other way, but criminality.

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But if you owned a slum, you'd got, all you got was invited to the best parties.

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Right.

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And, and where is this from?

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From a book in Terry Pratchett.

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Okay.

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Fairly sure it was, it's one of the guards series, the vibe series.

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But anyway the, the thing I'm thinking about here is the number of ca cases of

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high profile well-educated people going to the courts and then being given lenient

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sentences because, you know, it might hurt their career in future, whereas

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people who don't have the education.

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Mm-hmm.

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And I'm just, I'm kind of trying to skip over race here.

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But the, the, the lower classes, well, they just, we, we've

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gotta throw the book at them.

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Yep.

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And so I'm really, I, I wonder here if part of the reason we don't, you know,

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another reason that that statistic is as high for, you know, not jailing

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people with degrees is that judges with degrees also favor, you know, allowing

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people, you know, people who look like them with degrees from going through,

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you know, worse sentencing possibly.

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Yes.

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All sorts of inherent biases are at play.

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No doubt.

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No doubt.

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So there's one other aspect that he touched on in this book

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that I just wanted to go to.

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Yeah.

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In case you weren't going to, and this was about property.

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Hmm.

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And so, Adam Smith, famous economist, invisible Hand.

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The needs of property for him compelled restrictions on equality because we had

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at this time these notions of universal rights of, of men that were all equal.

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And we had the practice where they weren't.

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Hmm.

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And in fact, the people who had wealth and power were not really wanting to share it

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if they possibly could get away with it.

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So Adam Smith, strangely unlike today, Hmm.

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Adam Smith helped them out by saying that the needs of property

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compelled restrictions on equality.

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But Jean Jacque Russo Russo demanded that the needs of equality demanded

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restrictions on property rights.

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And he said the first man who having enclosed a piece of ground thought

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of saying, this is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him

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was the true founder of civil society.

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How many crimes, wars and murders, how much misery and horror the human race

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would've been spared if someone had pulled up the stakes and filled in the

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ditch and cried out to his fellow men?

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Beware of listening to this imposter.

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You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to everyone

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and the earth itself belongs to no one.

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So that was Russo.

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And then the Scottish Juris.

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George Wallace was unequivocal in his condemnation of slavery and his

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anti-slavery Radicalism came more easily to him because of his unusual

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lack of respect for private property.

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Property that bane of human Felicity Wallace wrote Must necessarily be

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banished out of the world before a utopia can be established.

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So we had the theory of universality with the enlightenment.

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We had the practice not living up to it.

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We had.

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Intellectuals like Adam Smith justifying inequality, the needs

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of property and capitalism.

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But we had others who were ready to go the whole hog on equality.

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Hmm.

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Often because they had no respect for private ownership of property.

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And I find the property argument interesting because one of my problems

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with the voice debate is a lot of the commentary is that indigenous people

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have been here for 440,000 years.

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It's really an argument of, well, from their point of view, we

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were here first, so it's ours.

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Hmm.

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And that's seen as a good argument.

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And I don't like the argument of we were here first.

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I don't think it's a good argument in the same way that yeah, I, I think

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it's a very, very poor argument and it seems to be accepted as a good one.

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And people like Russo and George Wallace would say it's not a good argument for

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anyone to claim property in a special way.

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But then you'd agree with the pervasive idea across aboriginal

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cultures that they belong to the land and it is not the other way around.

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The, this, the, you know, the, the land the places belongs to

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no one and people existed on it.

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I dunno that all indigenous people accept that way of thinking about land rights.

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I would, would you say a majority did?

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I'd have to look closely at the wording of the America Macata statement and others.

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But because to me, I think it's an important to distinction between

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the sort of the, the history of we were here first mm-hmm.

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Versus the the, the Colonial property rights argument

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about here we were here first.

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You know, the, the, the, the, the only way that the colonists were essentially

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able to justify themselves was by de just deciding that there was no prior owner.

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Because at that point, as you say, you know, Russo says, Someone had enclosed

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a plot of land and said, well, this is mine and you people should keep

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off it because I want it for myself.

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Mm-hmm.

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I see that as a different form of being there to the aboriginal idea of simply

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being a part of the land, land being part of its history, being attached to it.

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But, you know, let, let me read some of the comments I've been hearing.

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So, Osmos, Samarius Greek commentator whether you're a Greek born Australian,

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an Indian migrant Australian, a young Arabic Australian, we all have two homes,

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the one that houses us, and the one which we identify as our ancestral home.

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Most of us are in this country because of some form of

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dispossession, be it economic, cultural, religious, or political.

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The land that has given us this incredible second chance belongs

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to a 43, 40,000 year old culture.

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We respect their deep ancestral history.

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We want to thank them for it so belongs to a culture and someone like Paul

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Bonno, you would've heard of him.

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Mm-hmm.

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Can we get it?

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The primary motivator, the voice is recognition of the injustice.

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Meet it out to those who are bloodily dispossessed of the

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land they owned for 60,000 years.

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Still both people coming from the western ownership of property point of view.

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Yeah.

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And this is the advocates for the voice.

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This is, yeah.

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I'm just giving you the counter that I'll, it seems a traditional national I used as

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creeping into this look in, in a type of, a type of special property rights that was

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being envisioned by Rau in that certainly.

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Unequal in that sense.

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So, yeah, I guess I'm making the point.

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And I guess for people who are interested in this topic by Malik's book and read

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that section of what Adam Smith and Russo and and who was the other commentator?

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George Wallace had to say they were very non-private property as part of

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their push for equality and anti-racism.

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Because the thing that really resonated to me when I sort of reading through that

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was the, the modern sort of, I couldn't help but feel like the modern descendant

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of that is the prosperity gospel.

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The idea that that, you know, that from coming from Adams, that sort of, you know,

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the,

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the value of the property that I own implies a con

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curtailment of the, the freedoms.

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But, and, and therefore I should be allowed to acquire more of it.

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Morphing into the kind of acquiring property is good and hard work and,

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you know, diligent labor can achieve that of the sort of Protestantism.

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And then into the.

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Were they both justifications for an an unequal result?

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One relying on God and the other one relying on a better overall economy.

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Yeah.

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Did, did you feel there was a sort of a, a progression at all in that?

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No, I see them as just relying on two different convenient rationalizations

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for doing what you want to do and and finding an uncomfortable result and

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going, oh, how will I explain this?

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Oh God.

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Or well, it's worthwhile trickle down everyone benefits in the

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end, it'll work out for all of us.

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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I see them as two different sort of reasons for.

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What, doing what you wanna do.

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One of what, one of the things that I did wanted to a want to ask you about,

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which we kind of touched on earlier and I was hoping to get back to was

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in sort of talking about violence one of the things that you know, he, that

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Malik ends with the Christchurch mosque attack and other similar attacks.

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And, you know, it really ro made me think that terrorism I I is a, a force used to.

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You know, it also like the, those people are committing acts of, of

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terror in part to be able to say we've pushed back against them.

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Right.

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And the link lynchings and other, you know, beatings of slaves that

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tried to run away and so forth.

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And it, you know, seemed to me also to be a form of terrorism.

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You know, it's, is a, you don't dare speak out or vote or do, you know, keep the,

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the rights that you should have because, we'll, you know, we'll kill you if you do.

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Did you honestly didn't see much, I didn't really see much

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reference to violence in this.

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I didn't, I didn't really.

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Read much talk about the different groups resorting to violence as such, so Okay.

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Sort of pick that up in, in the discussion about the Christchurch.

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I can't remember that in the book to tell you the truth.

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Okay.

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I can't remember.

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The Christchurch might have skipped in the, in the end of the 10th chapter.

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Right.

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Talking about, because you know, there's sort of discussion of the, the

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white identity that kind of emerges out of a reaction against the Ah yes.

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Black identity.

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Yes.

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And those that then comes into all of the stupid conspiracy theories

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that mean that we have to, you know, white people need to fight back, which

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is just another form of terrorism.

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Yeah.

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I kind of skipped over that chapter in my summary notes here, where

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he talks about the emergence of.

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Of, of white identity as a reaction to certain events.

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Yeah.

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Mm-hmm.

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But yeah, unfortunately I don't really have much notes on that.

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So, yeah, he does, he does talk about that emergence of a white

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identity as a reactionary thing.

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Okay.

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One, you know, I, I guess the key thing, and we can sort of in the next five to

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10 minutes or 15 or whatever, just sort of wrap it up, but the, I think the key

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thing that I enjoyed in it is, is people's misguided priorities and on Black Lives

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Matter here he says many who have taken up the Black Lives Matter banner, like many

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within the race consciousness movements.

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Historically follows conflate the necessity of challenging racism with

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the building of racial solidarity.

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Pursuing the second makes achieving the first more difficult.

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Hmm.

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Even within America, there is no single identity or set of interests that bind

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together all black people and only black people, still less all people of color.

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To assume that there is only reinforces the power of the black elites and

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diminishes the voices of black workers making it more difficult

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to tackle the problems facing those at the sharp end of racism.

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So I, and, and that's sort of part of the byline of this, of this book.

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Where did I write in the notes?

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It was yeah, it was that the more we despise racial thinking,

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the more we clinging to it.

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And people are.

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Mm-hmm.

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How do you mean?

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People are objecting to racism by coalescing around race and using

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that as their tool to fight racism.

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Whereas they should be embracing an entire community.

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Martin Luther King was getting white people to his marches

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as much as black people.

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Yeah, yeah.

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Which is your traditional thought in opposition to Malcolm X.

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And he was getting this, this is a ideological thing

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that we should all embrace.

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And it's actually harmful to the cause to make it a race based fight.

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And I think that's a trap that people are falling into.

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Con, conflating the necessity of challenging racism with the

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building of racial solidarity.

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It should be.

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It should be broader than that, I think.

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Mm-hmm.

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How does that like I feel like there's an intersection there to the class argument.

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There is where,

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because it should be, should be more about where is the suffering,

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where is the harm, where is the hurt, and where's the disadvantage?

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And that should be colorblind.

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And let's all look and try and address that as, as what the priority is.

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I, I mean, I guess I, I have a slightly different take on that, but I, I'm

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happy to put that aside to another day.

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I, I think the, I agree with you that you know, it, the, and the interesting

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thing about your formulation there is that you didn't need to say which class

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we were going to deal with or help.

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You just said, we need to identify the people that need our help.

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It's evidently not the millionaires.

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Right?

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Well, we spoke about changes to superannuation laws that people with

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over a certain million, millions of money, million dollars in SPR will lose

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their percentage of a tax concession.

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I'd put it to you under critical race theory, that that unfairly disadvantaged.

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White elderly males, and we went, well, that's okay, because they need a bit

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of disadvantaging added into the pot.

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You know, it was a, that, that would've had a Yeah, but I feel like an unfair

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effect on a small ethnic, on a particular ethnic and gender and age group.

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But we were like, okay, that's all right.

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In sometimes discrimination is okay, privilege away from people who have it,

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rather than rather than removing something else from the people that don't have it.

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It's, I, I guess my point is that we we're prepared to discriminate and

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disadvantage, you know, take away these advantages where we see it's obviously

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the right thing to do and it's about Color doesn't come into it, does it?

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Yeah, yeah, yeah.

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Just on the same point.

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And I was, I was gonna sort of also touch on that idea because you touched

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on it before that you know, there are, was it Clarence Thomas, the Supreme

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Court Justice as in the us who's an African American man and you know, quite

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happily, you know, an arch conservative and, you know, voting against seems to

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be voting against the very same sex, sorry, the very racial marriage act that

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allows him to be married to his wife.

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It's hard to, you know, I can kind of imagine a whole class of

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working white poor in the US that can hate him equally because he's

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rich and you know, well educated.

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He's a classic example of, you know, just having representation

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isn't gonna change things.

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Yeah.

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For the people of color, for example.

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So more and more we are seeing people from minority groups getting into

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position of power and screwing over.

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You know, if, if they happen to be a Tori conservative, they'll

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happily screw over a form.

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Yeah, yeah.

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Working class certain, a certain senator from the Northern Territory Yeah.

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Might be involved in this.

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Exactly.

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So just on this sort of idea as well.

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Page 2 62, he says the inward looking binding politics of identity, The outward

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looking, bridging politics of solidarity, the former mobilizes by emphasizing shared

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membership of a particular identity, be that gender, sexuality, race, or nation.

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The politics of solidarity also stresses the collective endeavor,

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but views commonality as emerging, not from particular identities, but

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out of the shared set of values and beliefs and the struggles to win

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acceptance for those values and beliefs.

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So that's a good description of the difference between the politics of

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identity and the politics of solidarity.

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But that's what he's saying.

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I think it's well put and I know, which I prefer.

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It's, it's hard though to see exactly where those differences are.

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Sometimes it's easy.

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You think So the people who talk about race and identity in my

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people never talk about class.

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It's easy to see.

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It's either they spot 'em a mile away.

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Okay?

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Spot them a mile away.

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I, what, what I guess I'm thinking of there is that the talking about

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the identity is often an, an identity which involves those shared values,

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those common, increasingly it doesn't.

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Increasingly identity is these fixed notions of fixed characteristics

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of your gender, your sexuality, your your race your color, and,

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and not your ideological belief.

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It's, it's rare for people to say, come on, we're all communists.

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Let's band together under this ideological.

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Banner that we've all decided to adopt as a, as a, as a theory of living?

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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Because people are adopting solidarity because of, of fixed characteristics

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and it's not healthy for them or for us.

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And I'm kind of reminded of that meme that goes around with various captions of

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sort of our two workers you know, white and a black, you know, man sort of with

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hands locked together in solidarity.

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They're not sort of fighting each other.

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They're, you know, helping each other giving each other strength.

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And, you know, you'd think that it would be easy to say, you know, workers unite.

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You know, poor people unite.

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But we keep on being divided off into, you know, single moms and,

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you know, working single parents and the elderly and so forth.

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Divide and divide and conquer.

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It's, it's, you know, the oligarchs and the powerful don't

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want people organizing together.

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So we'll encourage movements like the whole beat up over trans people.

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You know?

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You think there was one in every street corner the way Yeah.

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Is, is give it to it and it, it's just a beat up to keep people.

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Part of it is to, to distract, to divide and to prevent people coalescing together.

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I, I was wondering that about that as well, because.

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There's a couple of times, I don't think he particularly used the phrase

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moral panic in the book, but there's certainly sometimes where he talks

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about the the things that, you know, black people or, you know, people of

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different races, Chinese were, were accused of, you know, being dissolute

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and drug addicts and, you know, perverted and all those sort of things.

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And I guess I just wondered, feels like there's a also a sort of a, a a, a common

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tool in that division strategy of is, is to sort of go for the moral panic.

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You Yeah.

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I mean, it, it, it happens.

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Yeah.

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It's again it's to the advantage of powerful people to keep less

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powerful people fighting amongst themselves over, over issues so

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that they don't band together.

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And so I've got, yeah.

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Yeah.

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So I've got one final question.

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Mm-hmm.

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Because I feel like this was a book that you were hoping to read because it would

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talk about a particular issue that you already knew you had strong opinions on.

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So I'm wondering if what, what were the, what were the things that, where

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you really found yourself thinking, oh, that's really changed my view of it.

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Oh, look, to be honest, I don't think it's changed my view on, on anything.

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I found it quite affirming of the things I already thought, because I've read

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already a fair bit of Cannon Malick, okay.

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Over the years in articles and books and things.

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And so I've, and I really can't remember disagreeing with him much on these things.

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I, I knew where he was gonna head with this one.

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So, for me, I was just hoping it would present ideas and concepts and and

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stuff that I could use in to further the arguments I already had in my head.

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And I think it's achieved that, so, okay.

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So yeah.

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Yeah, I can't really, there were things that I just didn't quite know.

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And really, it probably don't matter that much in terms of how much historically

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racism really wasn't skin color based.

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And it was, probably wasn't aware as much of that, but doesn't really matter.

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It just not an important issue.

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It's just interesting.

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Certainly the stuff about Malcolm X is.

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Has changed towards the end of his life I wasn't aware of.

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And that was good to understand.

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I think he's got a beautiful turn of phrase in a way of saying things like

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he says here the question people ask themselves today is not so much in what

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kind of society do I want to live as?

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Who are we?

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Who are we as become defined less by the kind of society they want to create than

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by the history and heritage to which supposedly, supposedly they belong.

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So, just a, there's good turn of phrase and a good way of saying things and

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he's very much a class-based thinker, like just right at the beginning.

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Now let me just find so, he says at the very beginning of the book that he grew up

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with Paki bashing in the UK in the 1970s.

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Mm-hmm.

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So he was a victim of that racism.

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The racism drew him into politics.

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But learnt social justice is bigger than racism in a person's skin.

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Color, ethnicity, or culture provides no guide as to the

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validity of their political beliefs.

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He realized shared values were more important than shared skin

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color, ethnicity, or culture.

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So, so I just find that really spot on and that's you know, when I'm talking

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to people in life I, I just don't care about their fixed characteristics.

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I'm interested in the things that they decide in terms of

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ideologies and why they decide them.

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That's what, that's what interests me.

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So, so yeah, I'm sort of on board with Ken Malik so much, so I can't say he, okay.

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No, but it's but it, and it is nice.

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It is nice.

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I, I agree with you on I'm, I'm getting a re a message saying I'm

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trying to restore the connection.

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So I dunno, I'm still coming through, but seems to be okay now.

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I do think it's nice to have someone who's done the research that can

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kind of confirm all of those things a bit like you know, reading the

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Carbon club and seeing, yeah, okay.

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There really was this group of people behind the scenes that were doing

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all of this stuff that, you know, now makes sense of what we publicly saw.

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I guess the, the, how this may, it's probably a, a tangent for another day.

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Okay.

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Another, another form of class to me is cast.

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And.

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You know, in, in Indian societies, but also in Arabic and in other, what we

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might call the subcontinent societies.

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There are these very distinct casts which kind of also say you are a laborer or,

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you know, you are an untouchable, you should never be able to do anything.

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And I really kind of wondered I found myself thinking this, I can't remember

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how I was reminded of it, but it sort of, after I'd finished you know, thinking

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that it, you know, for Indian people and for other, you know, other races

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where there is a lot of different.

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So there's a lot of different class variety in, in terms

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of their, their money.

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But also, and I mean even in the, you even see this in England in the upstairs,

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downstairs of that idea that, you know, if you were born into a peasant family

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or a servant family, the very, very best that you could ever hope for is to be

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the, the head of the under servants.

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Mm-hmm.

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You know, you would never actually, as, you know, you could never even

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aspire to have property, you know?

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Mm-hmm.

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Yes.

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Well, you couldn't aspire to choose an identity.

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So in sort of the pre-modern world, you, you just, your identity was a given.

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And it was only in the, it was based on the community that

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you were ensconced in and.

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You know, with the industrial revolution and the breakdown of community and then

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with the coming of the Enlightenment, Malik explains the first time in

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history as people became detached from their communities and a and

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a prescribed identity, they, they started to have a choice of choosing

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an identity, if you, you like, okay.

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That they didn't have before.

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Is, is that a substitute for class then in that struggle?

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Well, I guess people have taken it that way.

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That's the people have forgotten class and have just concentrated on identity.

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They've, they've given up on class.

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So, but I think it's coming back.

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I, I think it's coming back.

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Yeah.

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I well, I don't particularly want to eat the rich because they're unusually fatty

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and probably contains lots of toxins.

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You know, but, but no, you know, the, the idea of the far, you know, that

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we are in late stage capitalism is becoming more and more acknowledged.

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And, you know, we're looking at riots in Paris that were quite substantial

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over the, what's to do with the retirement age being increased.

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But more and more people are gonna return to a class-based bite because

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it's now becoming obvious that capitalism has reached its late stage

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and something else is around the corner.

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So it was hopeless before, and people resorted to the sanctuary

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of a, of a, of a race based.

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Bite.

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But I think people can tell that there's something gonna happen, so.

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Mm-hmm.

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Mm-hmm.

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Which might be a good place to finish off.

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Yes.

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On that.

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Thank, thank you very much Trevor for allowing me to ask you all those questions

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and interject with opinions of my own.

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Very good.

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So, you can look at the books that you think you might want for next month, Paul.

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I will look at one that I have a look at my list.

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List and see suggested one before and I'm trying to remember what it was.

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I'll find, find it if you are willing to give it a go.

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Well, I'll weigh it up.

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I'm not gonna commit so after all That's right.

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Like, like a United Nations rite of veto.

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I'm I'll, I'll exercise as a major power whenever I feel like it.

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So, alright.

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We're dear listener.

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Well thank you.

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In the chat room for people there who stayed on and listened.

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Hope you enjoyed that one as something a bit different.

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I'll be back with Scott and Joe next week, the range of the

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usual topics and bye for now.

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Talk to you later.

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And it's a good night from him.

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The Iron Fist and the Velvet Glove
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