Feb 20, 2014

Razer’s class warfare: people are terrible, but blame those in power

Stop declaring the violence in Manus Island is "not in your name" or due to Australians' antipathy, because it's really not you. It's the government and the power structures we have put in place.

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

People, as we know, are a rotten affair who can tend to bad taste and malice. But then again, they do tend to get some bad press. Several of the week’s most popular analyses have held people to account for much of the heartbreak in the world. Perhaps it is time to rethink people’s culpability. Perhaps, people are not always to blame.

A very common reaction to the horror of Manus Island is despair. But the despair seems to be aimed less at the rationalised violence and policies of a government demonstrably responsible for this horror than at people. Even, and it seems now especially, from those disposed to a more structural view of violence, we hear that it is people who are to blame.

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8 thoughts on “Razer’s class warfare: people are terrible, but blame those in power

  1. Holly Murphy

    Your point that blaming “people” for problems like Manus Island means we often fail to see the structures that created it in the first place is a great one. I also wonder if blaming yourself, and getting yourself worked up into feeling quite guilty, as a good bleeding heart does, then allows people to absolve themselves of any need to think about what action to take to reform those systems.

  2. Matt Hardin

    I think you have nailed it , Holly.

  3. Venise Alstergren

    Systems worked to death by our political appointees.

  4. AR

    People are the real problem no dictator is 10mts tall using a telephone pole as a bludgeon. Ugly policies need ugly people not just to legislate but to implement, all those pathetic Jobsworths, to misquote Hannah Arendt “the evil of banality”, venal people upon whom most would not micturate were they ablaze.

  5. linda

    Hang on, both ALP & Coalition went to last election with a deliberate policy of making things as bad as possible for refugees (in the name of deterrence). They did this because they knew it would be electorally popular, as apparently it was. “people” developed the policies, “people” voted for them & “people” carry them out. All of the people had the option of not doing so. Yes there are structural, institutionalised reasons why people have done what they have, but I think you are getting overly abstract here. People who think its wrong need to keep making as much noise as we can and try to make other people change their minds. Its not a question of guilt, its a question of responsibility.

  6. Corban Hicks

    Helen’s read her Z. Bauman.

  7. Polly Valentine

    And three years on…

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