A concept I had held onto for a long time in art seems to have some philosophical associations I really need to explore more thoroughly. The idea itself is the “Shame Machine” a kind of social glue that in extreme cases is designed to find and shame the “Other”. It sounds ridiculous but if you think of it the idea is applicable to normal social situations all the way up to detention centres. It isn’t meant to just be the idea that the group of others is shamed directly but the way they are treated by the media and everyday people through stories and opinions adds to the overall workings of the shame machine.
The shame itself is what keeps the whole thing chugging along, whether it is the feelings of those that want things to change for the better. It isn’t necessarily even about shame itself either. It is more a machine of finding differences that can cause distress from wrong or foolish behaviour but as defined by certain groups. The idea of illegal asylum seekers is seen as wrong so they are seen as a scapegoat for the processes of the shame machine. The whole corporate owned facilities for processing them is meant to cause distress and a painful feeling of humiliation.
Tell me then what else are they for? It isn’t a uniquely Australian thing but is very much Australian. It happens from the personal social sphere as well If you are a very difficult person maybe a black sheep of the family the shame machine can be set in motion. It is a checkpoint and can be designed to create humiliation and distress to keep a ‘proper’ functioning family or group chugging along. It is mainly about fear, a fear of losing control and also about losing face. So at once it is about social control but about security and stability. The problem is the shame machine simply divides people rather than bringing them together.
I am sure there are similar concepts but I have just thought about it as an artist in Australia who tried to describe some of this concept through art. It probably works better as a concept on paper so forgive my ignorance.
It isn’t just about detention centres either but explains why the Intervention seemed so appealing to prior governments. It is just a system set in place to humiliate and distress. There are always good intentions but what you need is actually people in the communities having support and leadership roles that are part of these remote isolated communities. You don’t call in the military and expect real change.
The more light hearted version is Derryn Hinch!! “Shame”.