On Mateship

Clif makes some excellent comments in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about the young blokes who were rioting on Sunday.

Dr Evers thought that what perhaps the riot displayed most was the power of mateship.
“Most of those guys wouldn’t have had a clue. They could be wound up by all the fascist groups in the world and wouldn’t know. But they could have been there because one of their mates reckons the outsiders [needed] to be taught a lesson,” he said. “And, you know, all those young blokes driving to the beach suburbs in their cars from the western suburbs to fight are being driven by the same thing – mateship.
“You hate who your mates hate. In Australia, mateship is stronger than racism.”

So, in other words, Clif is saying the mateship with one’s mates is stronger than one’s personal views on racism. He also has an excellent article here which I read as directed to his surfing mates and not for the middle-class intelligensia.

The violence over the weekend is rooted in a recent history of tension and resentment. It’s the result of a wider sentiment of fear in the community, brought about by our failure to satisfactorily tackle the misunderstandings and myths we have about each other.
Rather than engage in the blame game, perhaps these events are a wake-up call to begin questioning ourselves about whether we have made people feel welcome, and who we have and have not bothered getting to know.

The specific problem is that “reactionary nationalism and the heteronormative homo-social bonds between young males here figured as “mateship” are both refrains. I have discussed the refrain of reactionary nationalism here. In a discussion with Az in my comments to this post, I write about racism and mateship in a different way to Clif above. It is necessary to isolate the pure positivity of mateship before it combines with the destructive refrain of reactionary nationalism.

I mean positivity in two senses. Its ontological positivity, i.e. asking the question “what does it do?” Plus its social positivity and here it is a question of function before there is anything but the minimum form or content. (I won’t bother indenting the extract cause it is too big.)

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