The system of excessive control, denials, dehumanisation and identity-emptying bureaucracy that determines existence in the Manus camp is the same one that we live with on the mainland, and that we experience day to day in our interactions with a myriad of institutions and authorities. However, as Behrouz Boochani says, Manus is the centre of this system.
In 1857, English journalist and author Frank Fowler visited the colony of NSW and wrote with much excitement that ‘our fictionists have fallen upon the soil of Australia, like so many industrious diggers and though merely scratching and fossicking the surface have turned up much precious and malleable stuff.’ Fowler’s brief nineteenth-century summation of the Australian literary landscape still resonates today.
The switch from the Greens to the Victorian Socialists represents an encouraging materialist turn. But there remain reasons to be critical of the new party. In part, my scepticism stems from the same source as Toller’s optimism: many people involved with the new political party are people who were convinced of the Greens a few years ago.
It’s true that, like Fiona Wright, ‘for so many of the years I was unwell, I was too savage to love, and kept all of my appetites satiated.’ My obscene hunger dulled feeling and desire; there was simply no room in my ever-shrinking, increasingly androgynous female body.