From Jennifer Armstrong:
Blaming the victim is quite common on the part of the far right. However, in Australia, it is far more common to succumb to an ideology that overestimates the power of “the individual”. Thus, directly out of this ideology comes the notion that whatever happens to one is somehow directly related to one’s “personal responsibility” — except for very extreme things like a death in the family or the contraction of cancer or something. The blaming of the victim, in the latter case, is an outcome of confused thinking more than it is necessarily an outcome of malice. The assumption that we are all rational individuals who control our destinies is far from true — and hard work does not make it true. Hard work is more likely to assure material prosperity, but to equate material prosperity with “controlling one’s destiny” is a huge mistake, and is also a form of confused thinking.
From my own notebooks:
Earlier in November I wrote this and now I want to stick to it a little better. As you can surely tell by now, that post does not mean I will go on blog hiatus. But I keep hoping work will make me less tired and that I will not have to give up as much of myself to it, so that in turn, I will not need to draw so heavily for my continued existence on the repository of self I have created here.
I will repeat my refrain: Reeducation said that to lead an adult life was “controlling,” that to be happy and successful was “denial,” and that to be an intellectual was a “coping mechanism” which must be renounced. One had to bend and bend for Reeducation’s sake, and give and give. One more try and you’ll have it right. I realized at last that if I gave it one more try I would have no self at all left. And it has taken me this long to see what Reeducation was really saying, and I still have to do anti-Reeducation exercises several times a day.
The aspect of Jennifer Armstrong’s comment I like for personal reasons is the insistence that one does not control one’s destiny. Reeducation criticized me because I had control of my weeks and days. That was too much control, it claimed. Yet at the same time, it thought I ought to be able to control my destiny.
Whenever I reenter the savage zone or the view of life I held before Reeducation, taking hold once again of the power to control days and embrace destiny, I feel lifted from me a great weight.