- Erik Peacock
- Erik is a public policy professional and owner of the online training course in democracy and civic action: www.3ptraining.com.au The Blog …explores ways to create a sustainable and just community. Explores how that community can be best protected at all levels including social policy/economics/ military. The Book Erik’s autobiography is a humorous read about serious things. It concerns living in the bush, wilderness, home education, spirituality, and activism. Finding Home is available from Amazon, Barnes&Noble and all good e-book sellers.
Thursday, 13 September 2018
Reflecting on White Male Privilege
As a middle class white guy I am supposed to reflect on my racial, gender and class privilege. Well, I am always up for a challenge, so not only did I reflect, I actually did some research. This is what I found.
My ancestors came from the Jutland Peninsular on North Germany. They were Saxons who invaded what is now England in the fourth century. They had the privilege of coming after the Roman occupation, so missed out on the salt mines. We also got to subjugate the Celts who lacked the basic organisational skills to compete militarily.
Our capital was Mercia – now Coventry, but pretty soon we were in a war of extinction with the Danes who invaded next. Over two generations we fought them to a standstill and made a peace treaty. Then in 1066 everyone got conquered by the Normans - Vikings who had settled in North Gaul (France). They were an extremely cruel race who imposed a system of absolute feudalism that lasted for centuries and kept most of the population as little more than slaves.
However freedom never fully died in our hearts and we started eroding executive power beginning with the Magna Carta in 1215 and eventually developing a system of Parliament along with the Monarchy, giving women the vote, and abolishing slavery. In fact, my white male privileged ancestors were the only people in any time or place in all of history to abolish slavery by choice. The Islamic world still hasn’t.
We also adopted Christianity which taught us that there is a rational, consistent, and moral creator. With this world view we assumed the universe must also be consistent and rational. This led to the early development of science, helped along by the Reformation and the Renaissance. We also developed the rule of law, patents, and banking, which taken together led to the industrial revolution. Along the way we fought off the French, Spanish and Germans, Nazism, and the Catholic Inquisition.
Now the most technologically developed culture/race ever known, we swiftly colonised most of the globe. We didn’t do this because we were better or worse than anyone else. We did it because we had the guns, the discipline and the organisation to do to other nations what they wished to do to us, but were unable to.
My grandparents were born into working class poverty. My paternal grandmother came from a slum in a time before social security, and was largely uneducated. My paternal grandfather worked from the age of 12 to support his family during the Great Depression. Between them they saved and worked their way out of poverty by establishing a successful business. Along the way WWII happened and Coventry was heavily bombed. My paternal grandfather was a pacifist and worked at the local factory. Obviously he survived. My maternal grandfather fought in North Africa where he lost many of his mates. A generation of young white men gave their lives to protect their wives, mother, sisters, and girlfriends. Today, they would be called bigots.
After the war the mood was socialist and my parents got to go to University – the first generation in either family to do so.
In 1979 we moved to Australia. Today Australia is a modern developed country because it got colonised by the British. Colonisation wasn’t any prettier than when we colonised the Celts in the fourth century – but that happens when you spend 40 thousand years not getting around to inventing the wheel or the paint brush. Less than 50 years previously Australia had barely escaped being colonised by Imperial Japan who would hardly have treated us better. Now we are being quietly colonised by China who killed perhaps 40 million of their own citizens during their 'cultural revolution' and now seek to make us a vassal state.
Australia was undergoing its own experiment with socialism. As a result of this I too got to go to university. I lived on a pittance, studied hard, graduated with honours, and now earn about the same as an average plumber. My white male privilege did not entitle me to any assistance from anywhere, unlike my equally white but supposedly Aboriginal colleagues.
After being long-term unemployed I got my first real job (part time) that landed me $25,000 gross. I saved $10,000 net and invested in a house. It was lived in by two alcoholic bachelors who pissed in the carpet and accumulated rubbish and kangaroo carcasses. It was what I could afford. Now it is a beautiful property with an orchard and hand crafted timber kitchen which was designed by my wife.
As I sit in my kitchen I feel that I am indeed ‘privileged’. I am privileged to live in the blessing of opportunity bought with the suffering, sacrifice, and vision of those who went before.
To speak negatively of that is to dishonour my ancestors, my race, my culture, my faith, my family, and the community that raised me.
So yes, I have reflected on my privilege.