Participants in my study described detention as a constantly shifting system of rules and prohibitions. Games of soccer were permitted, and then banned. Games of pool were allowed, and then banned. Colouring-in was encouraged, and then banned. Excursions were organised, and then cancelled. Visitors were permitted to bring homemade meals into the facilities, and then they were not.
An indication that something has gone awry for our rulers is the resurgence of interest in socialism, particularly among young people, that neoliberals worked so hard to make anathema. As with different leftist formations overseas, the Victorian Socialists are one attempt to respond to the world we now find ourselves in.
Flight finishes in Melbourne on 21 October. But it is not the last time Australians will be presented with the lives, names, terrors and dreams of people seeking refuge. People like Aryan and Kabir, like Behrouz, like my family nearly 70 years ago.
There’s an emphasis on self-empowerment within contemporary feminism which I think is hugely important. But I also think that the idea of self-empowerment can become tangled up in capitalism’s consumer culture, and social media-driven narcissism, in ways that can warp it into an aggressive individualism. The kind of thinking I’m referring to privileges the ‘right’ to do whatever one wants to do for themselves over anything resembling genuine and thoughtful care for other people.
Last week, people gathered around the Opera House in Sydney, disgusted by how politicians had allowed a World Heritage public space to be sold off to the destructive and predatory gambling industry. As the protest swelled, it was reported how ‘the whole kitchen staff from the Bennelong restaurant gathered at their windows and gave the protesters a standing ovation.’ While a worker takeover of the Opera House seems unlikely, it also seems instinctively no less fair to give them a say in how their workplace is run.