One of the most enduring images of my indifference was watching Ray Martin ecstatically display footage upon his august program, of particularly swarthy fans of unmistakably eastern Mediterranean background dance, scream and hysterically re-affirm their commitment to Australia through a medium that has until very recently, been the preserve of a migrant subculture and one which has attracted the derision of the wider community in the past. In an age where the Grand Potentate of Parliament shrinks from using the term 'multiculturalism,' choosing to apply in its stead, the term 'integration,' it comes as no surprise that our media should focus in a sinisterly clever fashion upon the de-woggification of Australian soccer.
As Toula Nicolacopoulos and George Vassilacopoulos point out in their groundbreaking study: "From Foreigner to Citizen: Greek Migrants and Social Change in White Australia 1897-2000," the key forms in which we manifest our existence here are paradoxical. Though lip service is paid to communities forming their own organizations and sub-structures, the way in which this is done is heavily regulated and prescribed by the state, originally in order to keep sub-cultures away from the mainstream. As a result of such government-sanctioned behaviour, the sub-cultures remain isolated, suspect and constantly having to prove their loyalty credentials to their host country, that is perpetually unable to accept them as they are.
It is thus not without coincidence that Ray delights in the bunch of swarthies applying their own tolerated evil for the common good. For while 'ethnic' soccer is evil as it perpetuates and promotes discourses that inhibit the mass reception and adoption of dominant values, building upon its sub-structure and twisting it towards the greater glory of homogenous de-woggified Australia is a convenient way to channel minorities' separatist tendencies for the common good of the state. Viewed through this prism, the triumph of the Australian team is nothing more than a capitalization of years of hard work and dedication by 'ethnic' soccer fans. In their 'ethnic' manifestation, they were isolated and unacceptable. In their love for soccer permitting them to thoughtlessly cast aside their cultural identity or subordinate it to the game however, they are accepted by the mainstream and they sybaritically delight in this supposed newfound acceptance. What in actual fact it is, is a cleverly disguised insult.
A triumph for Australian soccer, would be the co-existence of 'ethnically' based teams, along with others who draw their supporters from diverse ways of life or geographies. What we have witnessed in the recent age, however, is the inverse and a mirror image of the community regime that Vassilacopoulos and Nicolacopoulos so cogently describe in their book: a mainstream purposely subordinating minority institutions to the level of sub-institutions and while allowing them to exist, effectively isolating them and at the same time creating a mainstream status quo, entry to which may be open to all but only if they openly espouse the dominant cultural discourse in its entirety. Sadly, in our naivety, we tend to read this gesture as an opening, or acceptance of the mainstream of our way of life. It is not. Rather, it is an ethnic cleansing of it and it is we, through our past nationalistic antics and promotion of civil strife, who have handed the mainstream with the tools with which they may justify their work.
Even if we did realize the agenda behind the mainstreamlining of the 'world' game, as opposed to the 'Australian' game with its own 'Aussie' rules, our own sybaritic and struthocamilic tendencies do not rouse the hysterical reaction displayed by this diatribist, in most of us, vis a vis our cultural identity. This is yet another aspect of the debate which is dealt adequately in Nicolacopoulos' and Vassilacopoulos' masterpiece, wherein they explore the idea that the concept of multiculturalism, as it has been understood and applied by various governments, relegates culture to a mere iconic gloss upon the dominant culture, a superficial addendum of difference, much like parmesan cheese on spaghetti, that may add flavour but in the end, is superficial and never of the essence of the main dish. Unfortunately, this approach to the co-existence of diverse cultures has vastly influenced the way we see ourselves. Our forms of national expression not only convey the message that we are harmless and interesting and thus to be tolerated, but act as a method for proving to ourselves that we exist, long after our acts and indeed that existence, has become bereft of anything other than superficial meaning. They are as much a panegyric or thanksgiving dinner to our hosts for permitting us to be centerfolds in the Playboy of social cohesion as the slogan of this publication: "keep in touch with being Greek."
That the gradual shift from multiculturalism to integration has been one of semantics rather than essential shift signifies the immoveable sub-stratum of our conceptual home. Try as we might to delude ourselves into thinking that we are accepted here, with all our accretions and discontinuities on an equal basis, on odd occasions, the definition despots assert their definitive rights proprietarily. When the Grand Potentate of Parliament, (whose vociferous contributions to the immigration debate of the eighties have been largely forgotten by the Orwellian proletariat and the ministry of Truth,) abjures the in essence useless word multiculturalism for that of integration, he is not prefiguring a departure from previous directions, only the gloss that served to mask them. What in fact he is doing, is re-asserting the doctrine of Terra Nullius, that is, that this land had no original inhabitants, and that we owe our existence and toleration to the good-graces and benevolence of the Anglo-Saxon colonists who appropriated this land for themselves and formed a government. It is therefore incumbent upon us as φιλοξενούμενοι, to accept our host's instruction as to the appropriate forms of cultural manifestation, as well as to the compulsory adoption of core values, until such time as the process of de-fragmentation is complete, as exemplified in recent statements by various politicians, some of Greek extraction, but whose precedents can be found in the playgrounds and workplaces of the 1950s, that the populace must accept "our" ways, or go back to where they came from.
The Greek term that we employ to describe ourselves: παροικία, is faithfully in keeping with the above doctrine. We are not within the οίκος or home but instead παρά, after, despite or ancillary to it, much like a symbiotic secretary bird picking ticks off a buffalo's back. As long as we perform our function obediently, we will not be shunted off into the billabong of origin, there to face the crocodiles that caused us to leave in the first place and it is worthwhile listening carefully to our purveyors of power, who have taken great pains to remind us of this recently.
So if there was a war between Australia and Greece, who would you fight for? Or to rephrase, if there was a soccer match between Australia and Greece, who would you openly support? Whatever the answer, you can be sure that the hawk eyes of the mainstream media will be fixed upon you, awaiting a chance for you to prove your disloyalty to your host and engage the suspicions of the dominants in your direction once more, possibly causing you to be vociferous in your support for the desired outcome. And who will I support? The Mongolian harmonic throat-singers of Tannu-Tuva, of course.