Bob Carr question: is stupidity genetic?
was on a vast and smoking field at the end of a great battle ... bright
sunlight ... bodies scattered everywhere ... a riderless horse galloping
in terror through the smoke ... ragged ranks of white-trousered soldiers
in black shakoes ... waving their muskets in the air ... cheering wildly
... "Vive l' Empereur! Vive l' Empereur!"
turned in the direction they were looking and the Emperor came cantering
towards me in slow motion on a white horse ... thin face with a high
forehead and gimletty eyes ...
gravely wounded soldier beside me staggered to his feet, waving his
shakoe aloft ... "Now we have won this great victory, you will
see, l' Empereur he will give us the fruits of our sacrifice" ...
blood seeped through his coat and he fell to the ground again.
Emperor was beside me now ... little darting eyes but somehow vacant,
fish-like. And the mouth! He looked coldly over the scene and the mouth
moved just a little ... "I accept the victory you have given me
with great humility", he said ... the soldiers cheered wildly ...
The Emperor turned to me with a sneering air ... "I will tolerate
no more this rabble of nations and babble of factions ... And now the
soldiers must march on Moscow". He wheeled his horse and cantered
away ... the ground trembled violently ...
then I woke up. Joadja was shaking me gently by the shoulder.
been having one of those Bob Carr dreams again".
had been ruining my sleep for days. Dr Gupta the vet had warned me about
this. It is a symptom of Possum Creek Fever. Even after you recover
from the first episode you can be visited indefinitely by terrible nightmares.
is it about Bob Carr?" Joadja asked in exasperation the next day.
café was closed but we were having a cider with Old Possum after
Jo had finished doing the books. "Is it possible he really believes
his own rhetoric? All these paens of praise to the franchised McDonalds
economy and the shopping mall culture a shining vision of a temporary,
part-time, low-wage, open-seven-days, contracted-out workforce? The
American culture of relentless hard work with high risks? The myth of
the heroic little entrepreneur? Only a simpleton or a man who had never
run or worked in a small business could really believe that humbug.
Most small businesses fail in the first year. In reality we're talking
about people so exhausted they seldom have time to devote to the service
of their community or see past immediate self-interest."
In reality we're talking about a politician's paradise", I said.
Possum shook his head with the sad resignation of a marsupial who had
seen it all before. "You can forget the idea that there's a left-wing
Bob in there somewhere, previously terrorised by a wafter-thin parliamentary
majority; a social reformer cautiously waiting for the moment to emerge.
Bob's just told us that it's going to be three more years of the same:
more privatisation, more prisons, more prisoners, more cops, more grovelling
to the big end of town. And it'll be more of the same on the drugs front
if there was anything that got Jo riled it was this.
knows that Bob's brother died of a drug overdose", she said, "Perhaps
it's time to get personal on this. Normally we don't put the spotlight
on our politicians' private lives, and that's as it should be, but when
a man choses to say that the tragedies suffered by thousands of families
are basically the result of the stupidity of individuals he ought to
have the courage to apply that explanation to his own family.
reckons he's a journalist. We should ask him to write a full account
of the tragedy from his point of view. How did it start? what personal
or family circumstances might have contributed to it? did his family
or even Bob himself go wrong in trying to deal with it?
was his brother just a stupid person who wanted to inject a poisonous
addictive substance into his veins or were there other powerful factors?
why was he so stupid? was it genetic? Because if the primary problem
is the stupidity of individuals there's nothing much to learn and nothing
that can be done about it really. We might as well let them go if they're
that dumb. A neat social darwinian solution".
if that's what he believes he ought to stand up and say straight out
'Look, I know what I'm talking about. My brother died of a drug overdose,
and what could we do? he was just stupid. You can't protect people from
discussion ambled on until the small hours but we finally agreed it
would be intrusive and unfair to go public and ask Bob to answer difficult
and personal questions.
in Whispers from the mean streets
-- Best of 1999
downloadable PDF booklet.