By B. Whitaker (Eds.)
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If we talk about the 'rights' of the Australian Aborigines (as against the rest of the Australian population) what rights, and whose rights, are we talking about, and what is the justification for claiming that such rights exist at all? The Australian case is a relatively simple one. The numbers are small, and there are relatively few variables. The Paramount Power has an English cultural tradition. If we could all agree that one and only one course of action was right and proper in this simple case, in the present situation, then it should be fairly easy to extend the argument to other more complicated cases such as those looming up in New Guinea and elsewhere.
Any sudden change, for better or worse, removes these props and gives rise to insecurity and anxiety about one's identity. In such psychological states the seemingly clear-cut identity of others is envied and resented. Well-defined and visible social groups become an easy target. The well-known and well-criticised, though still valid, study of the Authoritarian Personality and subsequent research support the idea that the prejudiced person expresses in his attitudes an attempted defence against the discomfort stemming from deep-rooted conflicts about his own identity.
In his psychoanalytic ego psychology Erik Erikson has made this the central process of inner development from infancy through adulthood. To the extent that the early insecurity remains, a person experiences the visibly apparent clear-cut identity of others as evidence of his own personal failure which is deeply resented. If he can convince himself, however, that even while clear cut, the other's identity is inferior, the comparison is easier to bear: at least he is not a Jew or not a Black, however uncertain he is about everything else.
Minorities. A Question of Human Rights? by B. Whitaker (Eds.)