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Wednesday, 16 April 2008

What is policy for and why might indigenous Australians be rightly suspicious of policy made in Canberra?

Given the history of Australia, indigenous Australians have few reasons to trust Governments and their agents rocking up to announce trust us, we are here to help you.

Beyond that there are philosophical and theological reasons why there might be an intractable problem in assuming that there will be an easy transition for indigenous communities engaging with agents of modernity such as public servants.

The following quote from Stanley Hauerwas in The State of the University (p.37) gets us close to the heart of the matter.

Hauerwas points out that according to Charles Taylor ... the social imaginary that has shaped the world in which we now find ourselves "starts with individuals and conceives society as established for their sake. Political society is seen as an instrument for something pre-political." Political society is understood to be the instrument to help individuals serve each other for mutual benefit by providing security and by fostering exchange and prosperity. Such societies emphasize the importance of rights which "reflects the holders sense of their own agency and of the situation that agency normatively demands in the world, namely freedom."

Taylor, however suggests that the individual that enjoys such freedom is "disembodied." ... requiring that they choose to be who they want to be. ...modernity names the time when a people are produced that believe they should have no story except the story they choose when they had no story.

But if you do believe that you have a story that is not exhausted by the "disembodied" storyless individual of modernity, what then?

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