The War on Tokenism

i truly am really, really sorry. Not for the things i have done so much as for the things that i have not done. Not for a lack of understanding of issues that surround me so much as a lack of desire to act on any of those issues. and maybe for being content to sit by and watch others campaign, protest and argue about the issues that really count. At least, i think they do.

Count, that is…

You have my fullest and most sincere apologies for the absence of a professional writing style. If i cared just a little bit more then i am sure the motivation to engage your attention in a witty, subtle and incredibly academic way would inspire me towards higher learning, so you would benefit from the resultant greater clarity of thought and communication.

It saddens me that although i have a socially acceptable knowledge of the “Global Warming” phenomena, i simply cannot bring myself to subscribe to a website and buy carbon credits to offset my nefarious consumption habits. Nor can i bring myself to spend an extra 50c to allow a movie theatre to buy carbon credits to offset my enjoyment of a movie about polar bears.

i apologise for leaving the cold tap on while i brush my teeth. Water is a scarce resource and as a citizen of the driest nation on earth i should be able to muster up enough enthusiasm to allow me to make the extra effort to perform a task so simple as turning a tap. Yet i can’t.


i do care that you read this note. i really, really do. Truly. As a member of one of the future minority groups on this planet (Caucasian male), i am ignorant enough to think i have something worthwhile to say – and arrogant enough to think that what i have to say counts.

If only I could shed the shackles of my Judeo-Christian environment then maybe I could entertain a bit more than simply a passing interest in the goings-on of the balance of the world that does not inhabit the same island I do. But i can’t.

And what is it that gets in the way of my full and active participation in these very important events? Tokenism. The modern scourge. i am declaring war on Tokenism. It’s impact is insidious – not as obvious as global terror campaigns yet far, far more menacing towards our health as individuals and, ipso facto, our society (see, told you i could not avoid my developed nation, Caucasian, Judeo-Christian outlook).     

Why is Tokenism important? How does it take hold?

Tokenism is important for any number of reasons. Let’s start with the obvious:

It detracts from what is what is “important”.

It allows individuals to be controlled by those who have a greater grasp of information.

It diverts the efficient allocation of resources.

It makes us all look silly. 

Tokenism takes hold when there is a lack of information (as opposed to data) or a lack of willingness to seek information (or even an inability to seek clarifying information).

When combined with a reduced capacity to sort data into information and an increasingly specialised work regime if we are not careful then most of our thinking will be done for us, in nice easy-to-digest packages.

Here are a few books to get a handle on some of this stuff from folks far more learned and academically rigorous…

Affluenza by Clive Hamilton (2005) Allen & Unwin. Crows Nest NSW. A brilliant study of the conundrum whereby Australians are more wealthy than they have ever been yet consistently show poll results of being the most fearful and pessimistic at the same time. A great read – even if the author does get a bit on the soap-box a bit (always remember that everyone has a bias of some sort).

Voltaire’s Bastards The Dictatorship of Reason in the West by John Ralston Saul (1992) Penguin Group, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. A fellow suggesting that maybe pure reason is not so useful as the sole determinant of what is good or bad for a society.

The Lucifer Effect How Good People Turn Evil  by Philip Zimbardo (2007) Random House Company, USA (this is a strange one as the relevant referencing page suggests that this edition was published “by Rider in 2009″… not bad when i sit here in July 2008…) A very interesting study of how we can be interpolated into specific paradigms by the environment in which we find ourselves. i liked it as a study of how easily even intelligent people who are aware of the limitations of an experiment, will find themselves carried away by the circumstances in which they spend their day-to-day. A bit like the Blue Eyes/ Brown Eyes experiment and just as intimidating in what it says about our ability to be objective in the face of daily world realities.

The Republican War on Science by Chris Mooney (2005) Basic Books, Cambridge MA, USA. A thought-provoking study of how a Government can manipulate information to make the public question the validity of scientific thought and research to distort knowledge to their (the politicians’ and self-interest groups’) advantage. Scary stuff.

4 Classic Quarterly Essays on Australian Politics (2007) By Quarterly Essay, an imprint of Schwartz Publishing Pty Ltd, Victoria, Australia. Specifically the essay by Raimond Gaita, titled “Breach of Trust” – which covers the authors thoughts of the Australian Government’s use of media and spin when communicating anything to do with the Iraq War. i certainly did not agree with the overall thrust (see my page on the Iraq War) but the article is well-written and nicely logical with just a touch of good old emotion.


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