Long memories reflecting long histories

Asians have long memories, by necessity and by history. Our civilisations and cultures go back a long way, a very long way, “ … when the ancestors of the right honourable gentlemen were brutal savages in an unknown land, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon”. In saying this, Disraeli spoke for many of us. We have absorbed conquerors and made them part of us. We did not need to be taught by European imperialists how to govern ourselves; brutality and treachery is innate in mankind. We do not need the commercial exploiters of today to preach to us about what they like to call ‘human rights’ as they attempt to sneak into our terrain in order to dominate our economies. To date, Australia has been, and has come across to many observant Asians, as the decaying outpost of an outdated European supremacy.

The examination of Australia’s multicultural destiny, offering social cohesion and equality of treatment across the colour boundary must take place against a geopolitical background. We need to know where Australia is in a global context, and where it might be in the centuries to come, especially the powers and neighbours it might be living with. This examination will also need to identify the internal barriers, not only to social cohesion with equality, but also to acceptance in Asia.

The basal proposition of this examination is that the bulk of the world is coloured in appearance, not white. Those of us who are coloured are normally not aware of it, until some white person says so. Why is our colour relevant? In Singapore and Malaysia, we do not refer to colour (except when a Hindu mother seeks a daughter-in-law). To the white Australian, whose knowledge of history is Euro-centric and therefore short term, the coloured peoples have always been subject peoples. It is worth looking briefly at this, whether there will be a shift in power to coloured nations, and how it is likely to affect Australia.

For a time now, white people from the western peninsula of the Asian continent have dominated the world. They had increased their normal trading capacity over a number of centuries to a substantial degree, by robbery, pillage and murder, and then claimed to be empire builders. “To plunder, to slaughter, to steal, these things they misname empire” (Tacitus of BC fame). The commercial capital thus stolen from the wealth of other civilisations and cultures fuelled a very substantial expansion in Europe’s economic capacity and strength. The injected capital would have had a strong multiplier effect on the capacity of others in the trading chain to expand their activities.

Now the white man dominates the world from the North American continent; this dominance has peaked already. “At the height of summer, one knows the autumn is not far behind,” said the old Chinese. The previous dominance was from continental Europe and lasted a few hundred years, with successive dominant nations trying to scupper the others, generally successfully. European man’s dominance is well and truly over. For the limited future, a pseudo-capitalist Russia is being allowed to dominate its former territories to its south. This delays the thrust to the West from these emerging nations for a while, say a century or two, while allowing US and other Western capitalists to exploit Russia and, through Russia, its satellites.

A partnership between the US/Europe and Russia (the latter is not quite in Europe yet and may never be allowed in) is surely intended to contain the greatest threat to white men to date. China, the sleeping giant, is turning capitalist. Its form of capitalism may be unique, adapted from the Russian. The Chinese, like other Asians, have good reason to remember the imperialist nations of Western Europe. These and the Japanese played their profitable games on the Chinese mainland for far too long. China will no doubt also remember that the US blocked its efforts to relate to its neighbours in the recent past. It should also remember the opium forced onto its people. As the Irish say, “Your own deeds will long be baptised on you.”

(I wrote the above in ‘Destiny Will Out’ as an Asian-Australian. In spite of my adopted nation’s historical record in dealing with coloured peoples, and the wobbles in its relationships with Asia – I refer, in part, to its support for APEC, which was intended to prevent the members of ASEAN managing their own futures – I do believe that Australia is potentially the nation with a future.

It took the colonial-minded ignorant white supremacist a long time to realise that Asians, no matter how poor we are, are very proud of our civilisational heritage. Now that we are in Australia, as my next book, ‘The Karma of Culture,’ points out, our spiritual philosophies are already influencing, for the better, the thinking Australian’s perspective of the place of Mankind in the Universe. Hopefully, the communitarian socio-cultural surround of Asian civilisations will also begin to permeate society. So maught it be!)