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Note to the GG – Ditch the Separatist Ideology!

Gary JohnsApril 9, 2024

Governor General designate Sam Mostyn made her reputation, among other things, in human resources, now known as people and culture. The inimitable Janet Albrechtsen crowned her queen of quotas for the number of times she took a board role as the designated woman.

She is in the vanguard of progressive separatism, an ideology that holds that individuals are not much more than part of a group, either a privileged group, white heterosexual males, or an oppressed group – women, black, gay and so on. People and culture aficionados love identity politics. They obsess about an inclusive culture in an organisation, including everything except business culture, i.e. getting the job done. Their raison d’être is that business owes the employee a living and has to celebrate their ‘difference’.

Mostyn recently spoke at a funeral where she spent 10 minutes acknowledging Aboriginal people. It was an elderly white bloke's funeral, nothing to do with Aborigines.

The bottom line of this mindset is that any differences in the outcomes between white hetero males and any other group are attributed to an abuse of power held by the white hetero male. Putting aside individual choice, ability and desire and not ignoring the importance of group context in peoples’ lives, what else could it possibly be? Let me suggest. Remove all societal barriers to individual success, and there will still be a spread of outcomes, some of which are attributable to group characteristics such as physicality, culture, history, and choice. As Thomas Sowell says, difference is not discrimination.

We may live in groups or at least identify with others of similar characteristics, class, gender, sexuality, race, and so on. Still, we also identify as supporters of a football team, union, neighbourhood association, book club, or nation. While each of these may consist of people of like class, gender, or race, few have rules that forbid entry to those of a different class, race, or gender.

Progressive separatists push too far the distinctions that, while still apparent and perhaps historically prohibitive, no longer apply with anywhere near the same force. Seeking to rectify legacy outcomes by separating people into these historical categories is most unlikely to help the ‘oppressed’, but it sure helps those in the vanguard of separatism.

A Governor General must unite the nation. In that regard, a career based on separation is not a good CV. Her Excellency, nevertheless, should be judged not by her track record but by whether she ensures positive inter-group contact. Mostyn must bring people together in at least four situations, as suggested by Yascha Mounk in his recent work, The Identity Trap.

‘Equal status members of different groups need to enjoy equal status’. For example, teammates playing in the same competition grade should be treated equally. When Her Excellency hands out women’s football awards, she should ensure that no men are in the women’s team. Unequal capacity on the sports field is unfair and dangerous.

Adult men who identify as women do not pass the equal status test.

‘Members of different groups need to have common goals.’ There must be some joint projects that different groups—rich and poor, disabled and able, gay and straight, men and women, black and white—can work on. Progressive separatism reduces the number of common goals. She needs to identify common goals. What about safe borders?

‘Members of different groups need to actively cooperate to accomplish their goals.’ Progressive separatism reduces the number of occasions for active cooperation. There needs to be some practical collaboration. Local focus may be best suited for clean-up after floods and bushfires. Perhaps Her Excellency could hold the hose?

‘Support from authorities and customs.’ In the era of progressive separatism, many institutions are creating procedures that invite conflict. Whether it is woke corporations like Woolworths refusing to stock Australia Day bunting or Reconciliation Australia pushing a treaty, members of different groups need to be encouraged to get along by those in authority.

Her Excellency should loudly proclaim that Australia Day is cause for celebration. Invasion Day is most certainly not. It is divisive to encourage bleating by distant descendants of a group that had no chance of holding this continent while the rest of the world progressed beyond hunter-gatherer economics and customs.

The very idea of Australia and Australians fall apart under the progressive separatist ethos. Marginalised groups have been told to emphasise and find strength in difference. The Governor General had better learn very quickly that having gained the prize through separatist ideology respect from Australians will come from ditching it.

Gary Johns is chair of Close the Gap Research.

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