So, as a staff member of the University of Melbourne, I got emailed a copy of "Dream Large" - Melbourne Uni's advertising campaign to sell its renewed focus on elitism.
It's kinda hilarious - part of me wishes I was a film student, cos it's just begging to be spoofed. My favourite one is the "Can you see?" movie, where it shows images of all these "problems" (like poverty, disease, Aboriginal children (it's not entirely clear what the "problem" is) ...) and basically suggests that Melbourne graduates will solve them. The arrogance is astounding.
It was useful in illustrating for me, one of the problems of the progressive vision that I am critiquing, the assumption that privileged people can and should "solve" all the world's problems, which overlooks our participation in the very problems.
I am reminded of a quote from Derrick Jensen's brilliant analysis of hatred in The Culture of Make Believe, he quotes Dina Chan, a Cambodian sex-worker sho says, "I want you to remember, we are not 'problems', ... we do not want you to tell us what is better for us. ... you do not understand because you do not listen."
Derrick Jensen's thesis is that the cultural imperative of White culture (this is his terminology) it to "rob the world of its subjectivity ... to turn everyone and everything into objects." For example, he applies this to the KKK, who turns black people into "niggers", the judicial system which turns them into "inmates", corporations who turn them into "workers" and "consumers." I would add - and this is one of the central ideas I want to explore in my thesis - is that progressives (in the broadest sense) turn black people into a "cause" - much as the Melbourne Model video does. Like all the powerful institutions in White, western culture that we progressives scorn and despise, we too rob the world of its subjectivity. We may do so with benevolence, but everyone sees themselves as good, don't they? I mean, even the KKK calls itself a "love group" these days.