For much of the world Summer is a time of resurrection and new prospects but meanwhile in the Australian continent it is a time of endurance and impatience. Summer proper is yet a month away and some have already endured the threat of one bushfire and one tropical storm. Personally I have endured neither as the closest the fire reached was 10km away and the storm we received last night spared us from any damage but both were a reminder of the uncertain times ahead.
The relentless heat and suffocating humidity of the asian subtropics are a punishment endured by all and the urge for flight is tempered only by our unpreparedness. The strain is not only that thrust upon the individual but that of every aspect of our nation; our economies look bleaker, our governments appear increasingly futile and our moral direction more objectionable by the day.
Two weeks ago I received a call from a friend who graduated university with me and shared for a long time unemployment with me. Some months ago he managed to get a mining job, a 4 month contract, and in that call he notifies me that his boss is looking to take more people on and he has put myself and another uni graduate on the list. Later he alerts me that the other bloke got called and rejected the 4 month contract and that I could expect a call next. That was two weeks ago and it became clear on the day that my friend was not the only one putting desperate friends forward for temporary employment.
I appreciate without measure the efforts of my good friend and I feel no frustration towards him but instead I feel it directed at myself. I allowed my hopes to rise out of complacent pessimism and into the sunlit uplands of so called optimism and it was my own expectations that permitted me to feel pain that day. For the first time in 11 months since graduation and the second time in 2 years have I felt employment so close denied from me. Both of our desperations are in stark contrast to the kids who got their jobs the easy way, by having mum or dad in the right place or by ticking the right affirmative action boxes and they are now enjoying European and American holidays and settling into the life of the aspirational middle class.
It is for this inequality that I wish for circumstances in this country and the world to worsen instead of improve because no one will ever learn if things improve and people will quickly forget that the hard times existed at all. Only by bringing enough people to their knees will people realise that this is not the right way of doing things and governments may be questioned: how much longer will you ignore us? If you wanted us to live in poverty then why did you educate us? If you didn’t want us to question you then why did you teach us to read? If you wanted the youth to stand in line and obey then why did you encourage them to dream?
I am really finding it hard to console with individualism because I see it isolating people, obsessing them over their own lives and ignorant to the lives of others. A handful of people are doing well but apparently the poor are not their responsibility, miners in jobs are not responsible for miners out of jobs. Capitalism is more than happy to have innumerable people languish in invisible and forgotten poverty so long as we don’t know about it, so long as the people we know have wealth and power.
The people’s will and desire for change were embodied in Trump’s election victory, not because people like Trump, but because the only alternative vision for change was suppressed by the democratic party. I personally dislike Trump and having watched a number of his video blogs I am convinced he is a legitimate imbecile but I studied the philosophy of democracy at university and not only do I accept the outcome, all of us must also learn from it and fast. Everyone, from media outlets, to politicians to whomever you decide to name, everyone was wrong every time about Trump. “He won’t run for president” oh no “He won’t win the nomination” oh crap “He won’t win the election” oh fuck.
I made it a personal point not to speculate unnecessarily about Trump because it’s been a long time since we’ve seen this sort of nationalist populism and the last time we did half the world burst into flames. Now over 70 years on we have an entire rogues gallery of nationalist leaders aiming for the respective prizes, in America, in France, Britain, Germany, Poland, Turkey, Russia and of course here in Australia. During the cold war nationalism was stoked for the proxy wars of social demagogues but now we have Nationalism for the sake of Nationalism? I don’t know anymore.
All of this accumulates at the end of a painful year which I scarcely could’ve predicted at its entry. A lot has changed; I held my first job and quit my first job 4 months later, I graduated from university, the first of my family to do so, and I have been the first of our family to be unemployed. Yet much has remained the same; the hopelessness of mining unemployment, the failure of expectations and the expectations of failure. So begins our summer of discontent and its advent is earlier than most would’ve appreciated.