Thursday, October 27, 2005

The 'warrior culture' of South Auckland, Part 2

Continued from yesterday...

NZ HERALD: Zero Tolerance on Youth Gangs: Counties-Manukau police have imposed an "always-arrest" policy for anyone caught carrying weapons or committing acts of violence, in the wake of escalating gang feuds.

I bet you're surprised, aren't you, that police are only now announcing an 'always-arrest' policy for anyone committing acts of violence. [UPDATE: Duncan points out the absurdity of the other half of the police's new policy.] I bet you thought that was what the police have been doing all along: protecting the rest of us by arresting thugs who commit acts of violence. Nope. Not for some years. As the culture of violence has increased, the response of the police and the courts to young thugs has been risible. They haven't just failed to punish the young thugs, they've censured those who have punished them-- as the unfortunate former-Senior Sergeant Anthony Solomona (photo above right) is now aware. The courts have been releasing the thugs while the police tie their own hands and prosecute their own people for assault, and only now are they announcing an 'always-arrest' policy for young thugs committing violence. It hardly needs any comment, but I'll do so ayway.

To paraphrase Tana Umaga, the young thugs that South Auckland's police deal with are not playing tiddlywinks. If the police don't get tough with the thugs when they do commit crimes, then it's all over for South Auckland. Who would want to live in a place where the police are intimidated by the criminals, and hamstrung by their political masters?

As I said here yesterday, take away the consequences of people's actions and the ability for their choices to make a tangible long-term difference in their lives, and pretty soon people won't be making long-term choices for themselves -- short-term thrills wil replace them. Take away the consequences of people's action, and over time their actions will become less and less desirable. South Auckland's violent young men are the product of a culture and a state factory school system that has brought them up to value 'others,' to devalue choice, and to disregard consequences. Today we see the result. They've been let down by their culture, they've been let down by the police, they've been let down by their teachers and by welfarism. The 'others' have all let them down... who do they have to look to in the end? Themselves. And they're making a mess of it.

Can't education help? Sure can, if it's done right. The road to independence begins with having the tools to understand the world. Dr Maria Montessori recognised long ago that the child is father to the man; she argued that education is a great force for peace and understanding, but only if education is done on rational lines.
Children are the constructors of men whom they build, taking from the environment language, religion, customs and the peculiarities not only of the race, not only of the nation, but even of a special district in which they develop.

...The child is the forgotten citizen, and yet, if statesmen and educationists once came to realise the terrific force that is in childhood for good or for evil, I feel they would give it priority above everything else. All problems of humanity depend on man himself; if man is disregarded in his construction, the problems will never be solved.

...Man must be cultivated from the beginning of life when the great powers of nature are at work. It is then that one can hope to plan for a better ... understanding."
'Cultivation' must beign with a recognition of man's nature, and its power for both good or ill. How were Mangere's young men and women 'cultivated' by the state and its educational philosophies? Let's look at one example.

When Nga Tapuwae College opened in Mangere East in 1977 it was a blank slate, a Brave New World: a new state college in the middle of a new state-built suburb. And foundation principal Ann Gluckman was a liberal's dream. From the outset Gluckman's policies were laid out and followed. All students were treated equally, no matter whether they were successes or failures or just flat-out thugs. Gluckman had the notion, still fashionable in liberal circles, that all the thugs and failures needed was love and attention; the thugs just laughed, and carried on beating the failures. Smoking, swearing and regular attendance in class were all optional; punctuality as well was optional -- if students could make it into school at all that was considered a bonus. And if you did make it in to class, literacy and numeracy skills barely featured on the curriculum.

Pretty soon, only the failures and the thugs were left; the successes had either left for other schools, or been beaten back into the pack.

If you did want to come to school on time, work hard and so find a way out of the shithole you found yourself in, Gluckman's policies didn't help you. If you wanted to be a young criminal, they didn't hinder you. Gluckman's ultimate disciplinary sanction, I was told at the time by a group of amused young thugs I knew, was to sit down with miscreants in a room dripping with tapa cloths and hug them. And talk. A lot. The young thugs pissed themselves laughing just telling me this. Last I knew most of them were just another South Auckland gang member. The other graduates of Gluckman's school are bringing up the young thugs of today.

Gluckman and her ilk never understood that mercy to the guilty is injustice to the innocent; the hugs-and-inaction policies of Gluckman and her ilk ensure that the innocent stay under the thumb of the guilty, and the violent contine to flourish. And they ignored those who wanted to work and to escape.

Nga Tapuwae College was recognised as a failure as early as Tomorrow May be Too Late, the 'Ramsay' report of 1981. By January 1995, an ERO Report was so scathing that Nga Tapuwae's Board of Trustees was sacked. Auckland Grammar's John Graham was brought in to effect a rescue, which included a name change to the Southern Cross Campus. Ann Gluckman meanwhile, after destroying a generation of Mangere's youngsters, was awarded an OBE in 1994 for "her contribution to education and the community," and when receiving a Senior Achiever Award in 2000 was described as "a popular and respected lecturer, & a role model for older people, who has a positive influence on everyone around her." I would use different words. Gluckman, however, is just an example of how liberal idiocy is at least partly to blame for the current culture in which success is impugned, and the 'warrior culture' awash with wall-to-wall losers is encouraged.

Some cultures deserve censure, and the 'warrior culture' of South Auckland is one. This is a culture that values fighters over thinkers, and groups over individuals; Attila over Aristotle, and the mindless gang over the intelligent loner. You don't change such a culture overnight, but you can continue to encourage it by rewarding the violence.

There is no room in such a place for individual effort or individual achievement. Tennis ace Chris Lewis has described the mentality perfectly: the 'crab bucket mentality':
Anyone familiar with the behaviour of a bunch of crabs trapped at the bottom of a bucket will know what happens when one of them tries to climb to the top; instead of attempting the climb themselves, those left at the bottom of the bucket will do all in their collective power to drag the climber back down. And although crab behaviour should not in any way be analogous to human behaviour, I can think of many instances where it is.
So can I. In such a place, one looks not to oneself but to others: 'Don't stand out, fit in!' becomes the siren cry. And this is the tragedy, and with it -- I suggest -- the link with religion. It is no accident that South Auckland is as awash with churches as it is with social workers, but the churches themselves appear to have no solution; indeed, their numbers have grown even as the problems have. The latest young thug arrested for belting other teenagers around the head with a baseball bat is described as a "church-going, youth-group-attending schoolboy" -- the church-going didn't stop his brutality. The number of churches only mirrors the number of community problems. Is there a link? Ayn Rand describes one; the link she says is essentially the 'crab bucket mentality' plus renunciation: the result is mysticism.
A mystic is a man who surrendered his mind at its first encounter with the minds of others. Somewhere in the distant reaches of his childhood, when his own understanding of reality clashed with the assertions of others, with their arbitrary orders and contradictory demands, he gave in to so craven a fear of independence that he renounced his rational faculty. At the crossroads of the choice between 'I know' and 'They say,' he chose the authority of others, he chose to submit rather than to understand, to believe rather than to think.

Faith in the supernatural begins as faith in the superiority of others. His surrender took the form of the feeling that he must hide his lack of understanding, that others possess some mysterious knowledge of which he alone is deprived, that reality is whatever they want it to be, through some means forever denied to him.
South Auckland urgently needs a change of culture, and effecting such a thing takes as long as it did to produce the present culture of destruction. Youngsters there need to begin looking to themselves, with their own grasp of reality as their starting point. And if they are to climb out of the crab bucket themselves they need both an ally and a goal. The goal must be their own, a path they find for themselves; their ally is not Ann Gluckman and her ilk, it is a philosophy of individualism, the tools with which to understand it, and protection from the thugs so they can follow it.

More tomorrow...

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5 Comments:

Blogger waymad said...

Superb post. As an intelligent loner, I have always been deep-down antipathetic to crowds of any sort, and your article articulates that very well. You may also have run across Roger Sandall at culturecult.com - a kindred spirit, methinks. And thanks for the Windschuttle link, too.

10/28/2005 09:43:00 am  
Anonymous Mangere Gal said...

Disagree with your comments about Ann Gluckman & Nga Tapuwae. I speak from personal experience as one of those Mangere youngsters you refer to as having been "destroyed" by Gluckman's liberalism. Mrs Gluckman's vision was the vehicle which encouraged myself and many others to choose to achieve...

4/16/2006 07:18:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Hi there Mangere Gal. Thanks for your comment. May I ask in what field you're pursuing your achievement?

4/18/2006 05:03:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A pumpin' and humpin'. Too busy doing nothing much of anything to respond these last three years.

9/29/2008 01:06:00 pm  
Blogger Noosalover said...

Did you ever meet Ann Gluckman? You obviously didn't go to Nga Tapuwae. She was an uplifting force for many of us. I know of many successes from the school. I think your heresay accounts are very weak in truth. I know successful graduates from the Ann Gluckman years at Nga Tapuwae College. Success in many and varied fields such as Police, Nurses, Builders, Property Developers, Business managers and owners in many diverse fields, Real Estate Agents, Accountants Lawyers, Share brokers, Computer Techs, IT workers and a few in the Armed services and they are just from my circle of friends that I continue to remain in contact with or know personally. I know many who became good parents to offspring that would make any family proud. Yes I know there were thugs and believe me it was only a school of 800 so me and my friends knew them all, but they arrived at the school that way and they weren't a dominant influence and were in the minority. Every school in the area had thug problems Aorere, Mangere College, Otahuhu College, Onehunga High and Ann Gluckman wasn't in charge of those schools. If anything it was more dangerous to walk through the Mangere Town Centre than walk through Nga Tapuwae College. Lower socio economic areas the world over suffer issues in society and schooling. I remember I also met some drug using and dealing scum at university that came out of Auckland Grammar in the Graham years but I don't tar John Graham or his policies with the blame. The board of Trustees was sacked and that story is a lot more complicated than Ann Gluckman and liberalism. I do not remember any hugs from either Ann Gluckman or Deputy Principal Mr Warne either. To blame Ann Gluckman for the inherent woes of the area at the time and to try and quantify the results of her policies real or perceived is rather shallow and from my experience incorrect. Since your information comes second hand from 'thugs' who I would suggest have problems with both perception of correct behaviour and honesty your placing credence on their account points to a lack of shall we say journalistic scrutiny. I had 3 brothers who also went to Nga Tapuwae all successful. One as a foundation Pupil. I went from 3rd to 7th form at Nga Tapuwae College and I can tell you two things I know the Ann Gluckman Nga Tapuwae years better than you ever will and that the following assertions [quote]""From the outset Gluckman's policies were laid out and followed. All students were treated equally, no matter whether they were successes or failures or just flat-out thugs. Gluckman had the notion, still fashionable in liberal circles, that all the thugs and failures needed was love and attention; the thugs just laughed, and carried on beating the failures. Smoking, swearing and regular attendance in class were all optional; punctuality as well was optional -- if students could make it into school at all that was considered a bonus. And if you did make it in to class, literacy and numeracy skills barely featured on the curriculum.""[/quote] are factually incorrect. Good luck with pushing your wheelbarrow it might sound a bit better if you try lubricating it with some facts and or first hand experience.

12/15/2008 01:14:00 pm  

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