Un-Australians of the Year (Australian Doctor 4 February 2011)

February 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

Simon McKeon has just been named the Australian of the Year. I hadn’t heard of him, which is a point in his favour.

McKeon is an investment banker specialising in mergers and acquisitions. Whatever his day job’s ethics, his noblesse oblige has prompted significant involvement in charities such as the Christian aid organisation World Vision.

World Vision shrewdly promotes the idea that donors will sponsor specific individuals. This is known to increase contributions. As Mother Theresa said: “If I look at the mass I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” Stalin was more succinct: “One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.”

Charitable work is a Good Thing, even if Ralston Saul thinks that increased emphasis on charity and volunteering indicates a weakening of democracy and citizenship. Taxation — not charity — pays for civilisation. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need, and all that stuff.

A Brazilian archbishop once said: “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”

Saints are generally unthreatening and sometimes help to maintain the status quo. They get more accolades than communists.

McKeon sounds like a decent guy, maybe even a saint, but this year somebody else deserved the Annual Aussie Award. I’m talking about the unsaintly bloke who proved that just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you. Yay for Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. Perhaps a Nobel Peace Prize would be consolation.

A character in Kurt Vonnegut’s novels called mirrors “leaks” because he thought they leaked information from another universe. WikiLeaks and its mirrored sites give us information from that other universe. It’s a strange place.

Like many other Australians, I thought the current war in Iraq was a stupid idea even before it started. Unfortunately, our pre-WikiLeaks leaders were able to justify it with a pack of lies about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. It seems democracy does not imply a right to know what your government is doing in your name. The result has been a statistic of deaths.

The persecution of WikiLeaks has highlighted certain 21st century realities. For instance, major credit organisations will handle the Ku Klux Klan’s money but not WikiLeaks’. Money is power.

Come to think of it, Mao said power came from the barrel of a gun and Francis Bacon thought knowledge is power. I prefer Bacon. Assange probably does too.

If you control knowledge then you control the people with guns and money. That’s why Egypt — currently in watch-this-space mode — cut off the internet.

Assange missed out on Aussie of the Year but a magazine did declare him Un-Australian of the Year for “dobbing”. This was inane. It is not dobbing to publicise damning information about someone who is incredibly powerful and prone to extreme violence. It’s suicide.

Second place as Un-Australian of the Year, for not moderating the weather, went to God. Good call.

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