Category Archives: Australia
Psychology and sociology at first were regarded as unscientific because they lacked the methodology of the physical sciences, which had developed from Descartes philosophy of separate control of mind and body.
Behavioural studies attempted to experiment, control variables, sample reproducibly, be objective, control observation, hide observers, isolate subjects, hypothesise, falsify, blind and double-blind tests. Their investigations tried to omit circumstantial evidence and inference. The investigations were devoid of human value, without meaning of existence, beyond physical and biological processes.
Heidegger tried to replace the Cartesian straightjacket of behavioural research. He allowed any number of human or physical entities or behaviours. His analysis considered intentions and meanings, looking behind scenes for potential present-at-hand, or ready-to-hand, for the analyst to enumerate. His analysis made explicit the purpose of the inquiry, its provenance, trajectory, mood, ambiguities, articulation and projected future.
Heidegger’s philosophy exposed the precepts unstated in Cartesian analysis, nor evident in evolutionary analysis. Heidegger’s approach was post-structural and derivative, like the philosophies of Sartre, Foucault, Derrida, Debord and other post modernists. They looked behind the scenes for what was causing the action.
Phenomenology’s dasein (being there) focusses on values of situations, individuals and behaviours that have potential for the interests of the analyst. Its values are different from the economic values of the marketplace and are unlike the survival values suggested by evolution.
Phenomenology omits, from consideration in dasein, presences of disutility and low potential. Discrimination which omits the young, old, weak, ill, disabled, disaffected or politically divergent, because they cannot be useful, is reprehensible, tantamount to prejudice. Clearly phenomenology should not exclude, from any moral certitude, the interests of people who are disadvantaged. Disadvantaged people have rights and entitlements.
Phenomenology can be used for evil, or for good, or sometimes for both. If phenomenology’s focus is only on the healthy conforming part of dasein, the analyst’s duty to consider the rest of dasein within humanity, for caring, is derelict.
Descartes’ cogito is selective too, but his criterion of value was the observer’s ego. His analyses can neglect disadvantaged people equally, rejecting them from disinterest or prejudice, without obligation to explain. The post-structuralists want selection and bias acknowledged and explained. Heidegger’s bias was more transparent than Descartes’, a limitation.
Heidegger’s bias invites criticism when selection of subjects for their potential would dismiss other types as useless or unworthy of attention. Racial, genealogical and eugenic prejudices could be inferred. Those deemed without potential could object and seek reinstatement. This process is normal in sports and other competitions, but seldom in education. Heidegger’s philosophy can be applied in political, economic and social contexts. Where potential is selected by competition, without equal rights, application of Heidegger’s philosophy can be controversial.
Phenomenology’s gaze was screened, like polaroid sunglasses that cut out the glare, from useless things. The Being acknowledged had value to the proponent, ready-to-hand. The value could be positive or negative, for example being flooded was negative. Dasein was a lived experience of the observer, not as in Descartes’ method, a stylised interaction between an egotistical subject and an unthinking object. This would be screened out. Dasein in my view implies that the lived experience is sustainable and the experience is part of a humane life.
Phenomenology can identify not only potential for improvement but can find shortfalls in provision to be remedied. Being flooded could have the lived experience of dislocation, trauma and even death. It can reveal destruction by the flood of potential for well-being. It can be compared with other hardships for rational allocation of aid to victims and re-evaluation of capital works.
For example, public assistance to victims of cancer, Covid and bushfires can be compared with flooding. Daseins for disaster mitigation projects can have public funding arbitrated.
My coming novel Riverside Being applies phenomenology to control of the Brisbane River.
My six novels on Amazon are reviewed at martinknox.com
A nanny state has the appearance of protecting vulnerable people from incompetence, foolishness, bullies, abusers and exploiters, like a ‘nanny’ who controls unable, greedy, unruly and innocent children.
I want to expose nanny state overreach in Australia that diminishes personal responsibility, replacing it with ethics and morality, weakening self-control and becoming like a police state. It is insulting for an authority to treat me as a child when I am a competent adult.
A sign displayed at the entrance to a local park is:
BEWARE FALLING BRANCHES
In my opinion, this is overreach, without sufficient benefit to justify intrusion.
Rousseau’s social contract required all people to act for the public good. The Soviet experiment with communism prescribed state control of religion, health, education, employment, manufacturing, commerce and election of leaders. When people withdrew their support from the ‘nanny’, the state failed.
‘Some countries like Singapore are reputed to have many more regulations and restrictions on citizens’ lives than in other countries,’ said a libertarian friend, Don. ‘Germany was freest in a recent survey of regulation of alcohol, tobacco, food and vaping in 30 European countries.’
‘Maybe Germans are least well off,’ I said.
‘No,’ said Don. ‘A reason to be without those regulations is free choice. Governments have legislated to control thousands of products and situations unnecessarily.’
‘A Canadian journalist and magazine publisher says Australia has a nanny state,’ I said. ‘He wrote:
‘. . .Australia is becoming the world’s dumbest nation . . .(because of) the removal of personal responsibility and the increase in the number and scope of health and safety laws.’ Tyler Brule, 2015
‘He argued that Australian cities are over-sanitised,’ I said. ‘Many of the laws have been implemented in the expectation that they will reduce violence or improve health and safety. The excessive laws were accused of restricting freedom, ruining livelihoods and small businesses, turning the nation into a nanny state.’
‘We’re steeped in nanny state laws,’ said Don. ‘We have mandatory bicycle helmet laws, gun control laws, prohibitions on alcohol in public places, plain packaging for cigarettes, pub and club lockout laws and permits for picnics on a beach. These are only a few. They are ridiculous. A senate enquiry investigated laws and regulations that ‘restrict personal choice for the individual’s own good.’ It’s an oxymoron. Australia’s criminal legislation has gone too far.’
‘Our gun control laws are reasonable,’ I said. ‘Other nations envy us.’
‘That may be an exception,’ said Don. ‘A nanny state excessively controls, monitors, or interferes with people’s private actions or behaviours that are deemed unhealthy or unsafe.’
‘What is state-like about a nanny state?’ I asked.
‘The term is an echo of ‘nation state’, which is a body of related people in a country. A nanny state has a nanny figure parodying a monarch,’ said Don. ‘The government may be autocratic and resented by the people.’
‘Utopians like George Orwell have satirized cradle-to-grave care by the state,’ I said. ‘Scandanavian welfare comes close. Israel, Cuba and former Soviet countries have achieved some success, but opinions about this differ.’
‘How wonderful to have every want supplied by the state, with little or no personal expense!’ said Don. ‘How wonderful to be securely employed under good conditions, without having to compete with others! Being without luxuries would not matter, because everyone would be without them.’
‘Orwell in his book 1984 satirised a totalitarian hell, with control of every aspect of life, including thinking and talking,’ I said.
‘During the Covid pandemic, various technologies were proposed to be mandated: quarantine, masking, vaccination,’ said Don. ‘Nanny state conditions were protested in some countries.’
‘Most interventions have been adopted democratically and objectors are usually a minority,’ I said. ‘Aboriginal people have had a state nanny doling out welfare payments, alcohol and houses.’
‘Objectors to nanny state provision are sometimes labelled as haves, capitalists, authoritarians or conservatives. Nanny state supporters called have-nots, socialists, Bohemians, nihilists and free-loaders,’ said Don.
‘Babying adults is self-defeating,’ I said. ‘I have protested provisions intended to keep streets safe for pedestrians, having the opposite effect. Zebra crossings and traffic calming obstacles encourage mindlessness on the roads. Children do not learn to cross safely. They step out into a trap and are squashed. Youths will speed, choosing the fastest streets to rat-run.’
‘Consolatory education is harmful,’ said Don. ‘Nanny state education has courses for every child to succeed too easily. When young people leave school and get jobs, they are expected to perform but when they are criticised, they quit.’
‘Poor people pay subsidised rents, with nanny state support, as if there can be no market correction that would charge them a fair price.’ I said. ‘They are like babies, fed by umbilical cord. They cling to benefits that others have had to work to achieve.
‘Electricity users, instead of reducing their bills by conserving power, expect the government to pay the increases.
Our nanny state sometimes helps with the cost of disabilities. If claimants fake symptoms, others could have to pay too. I had a student who claimed to have dyslexia and required to write on dark purple exam papers. Her ruse included writing with a black pen. I was ruining my own vision catering to her faked needs, when I realised her pretence was a rebellion and I refused to implement it.
When a nanny state wants positive discrimination in favour of a type of individual, the validity of the claim and its provision have to be administered, at significant cost to the community.
A sign displayed at the entrance to a local park reads ‘Beware falling branches.’ Parks are places where visitors go to be exposed to conditions as in nature. They should not have their wits dulled by instructions. This is nanny state overreach.
When you encounter nanny state overreach, please call it, for the rest of us. Australia is not the World’s dumbest nation, is it?
My novel Turkeys Not Bees is a story about how two young people confront a nanny state.
Available on Amazon. Reviews see martinknox.com
250 years in the future, Australia’s small densely populated neighbouring country Bhakaria could cast envious eyes on large and sparsely populated Australia. Martin Knox has written a speculative fiction novel The Grass Is Always Browner.
Immigration is discouraged by Australia’s harsh climate and by strict border controls. Nevertheless, workers enter and a religion Yamism grows, with a majority of Australians becoming followers.
The nation has suffered severe droughts and famines, dispersing city populations for self-sufficiency. Low-lying areas are flooded by rising sea levels.
The story follows the epic rise of the Yabras, an indigenous family who become a dynasty ruling democratically with science.
Will Prime Minister Abajoe be able to limit immigration, end religious conflict, prevent civil war and maintain peaceful relations with Bhakaria? Siti, a feisty Bhakarian woman activist, becomes his partner.
The story continues through 50 years, with dystopian realism and rearrangement of the institutional furniture to accommodate future Australian society, trending now.
Abajoe leads his people to avert conflict, copying strategies that worked for historic statesmen: Chiang Kaishek, Mandela, Ghandi, De Valera and Parnell. Will he be able to create lasting peace?
The book is 462 pages of relevant content, delivered with page turning at a brisk pace.
Available: Amazon. See reviews: martinknox.com
When an individualistic man and an individualistic woman combine talents as postgraduates, they are very successful until nanny state ‘levellers’ force them into competition with ordinary folk. They become reality entertainers, earning media profits and gaining obedience for government pandemic restrictions. Will they and the elite be able to resist, with non-violent civil disobedience? Turkeys Not Bees is an action-packed story, in which Megan and Chance discover each other and philosophies that shape their lives together.
Book available on Amazon. Reviews are on blog: martinknox.com