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Chapter 15 - Bogans

 

 

 

When Bertram wondered where the name 'Bogan' had come from Emmanuelle instantly found a definition in a recent journal of sociology.

 

The Origin of the Bogan Class

 

A Bogan is a consumer with only a basic education and no specialist occupation.

The term 'Bogan' arose during the era of population explosion in the old country of Australia.  A twentieth century Australian dictionary (Macquarie Dictionary) defines a Bogan as follows: 

bogan /'bohguhn/. noun
Colloquial (mildly derogatory) 'a person, generally from an outer suburb of a city or town and from a lower socio-economic background, viewed as uncultured...  Chiefly NSW westie.'

It is said that, to drive economic growth, higher credit was allocated to Bogans from the State for each additional child, irrespective of their parents' training or ability as parents or if a parent had several children already.  This is hard for us to understand today when childbearing and rearing requires at least two adults qualified for learner's permits; their commitment until the child reaches adulthood and each passing the licensing examination.  Unbelievably, in that time of catastrophic population explosion, there was no limit on the number of children one could have, even when there was only one committed adult and when even that person's commitment and parental training may have been inadequate.  

But supplemental to their role as a fertility engine, this period saw the beginning of the modern Bogan's social role.  A World Economic Meltdown marked the first time Bogans were given special bonuses to quickly boost the consumption that drove the Australian economy. Consequently the Continent of Australia remained an island of stability in troubled economic waters.  This is possibly the origin of the term 'cashed-up bogan'.  But that may have something to do with the winners of lotteries and gambling windfalls.

During The Great Fall of the 2020's the World Economy collapsed.  Economic recovery became based on the World Wide Web and a common economic standard of living was implemented worldwide for the survivors.  Additional wealth transfer to high consumers of goods and services was used to jump start the World Economy.  This is the origin of the eco-consumption bonus that a Bogan receives from the credit redistribution system, in addition to their regular annual credit 'wage' for carrying on their usual low skill occupation in the services sector.

Bogans are now the consumption engine that drives the World Economy and eco-consumption credit transfers to the Bogan economy are not just rewards for high consumption but are adjusted by the Central Credit Agents to keep economic activity within the target bandwidth. 

Obviously the term Bogan is no longer derogatory as Bogan has come to mean a super-consumer.  This is a role aspired to by the majority of people on the planet.

 

Social Mobility

As has always been the case, family background predisposes people to a particular life choice.  Once movement between social levels was exceptional. But with totally free and comprehensive education available to everyone, social class, as recognised by The Cloud, is based principally on ability and education. 

A child can elect to study and become a member of the elite: an intellectual, administrator or a technician; or they can elect to be a Bogan and live in a low skill world of material wellbeing, entertained by reality MV, popular music, sport, recreational sex and gambling. 

Of course as every Bogan knows, we live in the best of all possible worlds.  We have eradicated poverty and people are free to do or believe whatever they like provided only that they obey the simple laws derived from the ancient 'Golden Rule': Do unto others...

 

Sociology Tracts  May 2083

 

"The commentator was obviously a member of the elite given their confidence about the ease with which a Bogan can be socially mobile," thought Bertram.

"Because of their vast numbers many Bogans have never even encountered a non-Bogan so how could they aspire to something different?  Many are shocked when I first deal with them to discover that creatures like me exist in this wondrous world."

But there is some movement between the classes as educated people drop-out and adopt a Bogan lifestyle and some children of Bogans are motivated by genes or environment or accident to seek an education.

Bertram recalls that at the last 'The Bogan of the Year' awards, hosted by his Agency.  The winner of the 'Golden Pangloss', Betty Bruce, a proudly transgender consumer, was praised for having exceptional enthusiasm for joining audiences and sports crowds of all kinds;  for loyally 'following' twenty celebrities and five sporting teams; and for spending most of their time in virtual shopping malls 'hanging out' with their social network friends and following the Bogan pledge: 'Shop 'til you drop'.  

With an MV in every room, especially the toilet, Betty Bruce's viewing history demonstrated exceptional interest in both sport and reality entertainment sites.  Betty Bruce had not rested at home or been content with the local Mall but had attended real sports stadiums and entertainment venues at home and overseas on numerous separate occasions.  

In addition to all this, Betty Bruce had somehow allocated time to ordering sufficient drone delivered goods in all twelve accounting periods to be classed an 'X4', one who is granted the status and credit allocation of an entire family.  This performance was applauded as an example to those slackers, perhaps not as well suited to be Bogans, who had not consumed their budget credit allocation during one or more accounting periods and had attempted desperately to spend the balance at the end of the accounting year.

Bertram's Agency is responsible for keeping the Bogans occupied, healthy and of course, happy.  The Agency is known in government as 'Bread and Circuses' after Juvenal's complaint that all that was required to satisfy and secure the political support of the populace of  imperial Rome was panem et circenses - cheap food and games/entertainment.

The Agency has had great success in inventing new ways: for teams of 'champions' to get a ball from one end of a field to another; of competitively throwing various objects; of increasingly bizarre ways of negotiating a pool of water; of competitively preparing a meal against other 'Chefs' on MV; and of athletically moving around a room to music. 

Of course these activities and games usually employ only a handful of 'champions', known as 'the talent', directly. Putting more than 30 onto a field at one time gets confusing and limits the ability of particular 'champions' to stand out.  But vast audiences of viewers result.  This 'fan base' generates armies of new, essentially ephemeral jobs, organisers, trainers, publicists, make-up artists, cheer groups, and so on in addition to rivers of credit for everyone to spend, in turn, on consumption.  

These invented activities result both in Bogan employment and entertainment while encouraging Bogans to consume more elsewhere by assailing them with marketing messages about unrelated products; encouraging them to travel to event venues thus consuming travel services and accommodation; and encouraging them to buy appropriately themed goods, like supporters' clothing.  Gambling is symbiotic with these activities it encourages the 'punters' to support a team or event by giving them a financial interest in contest outcomes and depends on the the event outcome for the same reason.

The Agency supports gambling because of the 'consumption ratchet'.  The total credit in the pool is not increased or diminished but gambling stirs it from one place to another like eddies in a pond so that there are 'wave fronts' of consumption as punters hit a lucky streak and 'spend up big' forgetting or refusing to believe that a trough is coming when they will need to 'tighten their belts'.  They have economic models that show that net consumption on ephemeral goods and services is higher than in a 'stagnant pond' where consumers are more inclined to save or 'spend sensibly'.

As a technical economist Bertram strongly supports the protocol that requires redistribution of an increasing proportion of credit from high accumulators to the consumption economy.  But there are critics of this, like Miranda, who claim that all Bertram and his colleagues have achieved is to reduce humanity to 'a mindless monoculture of semiliterate drones'.

Bertram recalls last mid-summer in Ferdinand and Miranda's beautiful gardens when he discussed the meaning of life with Edmund.  Edmund took the position that Bogans know how to live life to the full, content to be ignorant consumers of goods, services and mystical beliefs.  For them the purpose of life is the pursuit of happiness and well-being, life has no intrinsic 'meaning' beyond simply living.  Edmund claimed to applaud this.  He claimed that there is no other purpose to life than to be happy and attempts to intellectualise 'the meaning of life' are always fanciful. 

He pointed to the roses and asked what they might believe to be the meaning of their lives, had they the intellect to pose such a question. "Certainly we have a purpose for them," he'd said.  "And they have the same imperative to reproduce, as does every living thing.  Sometimes this is nothing more than behaviour programmed in through generations of survival of the fittest.  Sometimes it is simply because since life first occurred cells have divided, and will go on doing so, unless stopped through lack of sustenance or some kind of trauma.   That is what life is.  But what's the meaning of that?" he'd asked.

"For Bogans, the spiritual, if they have need of it, takes the form of astrology; or a belief in auras; or the law of attraction; or crystals; or the power of a saint or saviour or prophet; possibly even a celebrity that they become fixated on, enraptured by."

According to Edmund, religion is just another form of consumption:  "Religions are really entertainment services designed to fill in the hours of a life no longer spent in basic survival:   They pretends to provide meaning but a religious service is really no more uplifting than vicariously watching sports persons and celebrities engaging in physical or social activity for hours on end.  How many would skip church, synagogue or mosque to watch a big game or a celebrity wedding?" 

Bertram had protested, saying that amongst the gifts of civilisation are the arts and culture: the world of ideas.  "We can be swept away by great music, inspired by great painting or sculpture or elevated by the precision and beauty and expression of the dance." 

But Edmund had scoffed:  "These are the ways we educated people use to express our superiority.  Our higher culture.  We acquire esoteric knowledge of classical music or painting or ballet or ancient Greek gods or Latin so that we can think of ourselves as sophisticated."

"To the average illiterate Bogan this is all just incomprehensible shit," he argued.  "To a Bogan most classical music lacks a beat to dance to or a maudlin lyric about love or betrayal or motherhood or death, that they can cry to or get excited about. Those 'high culture' classic portraits we've learnt to recognise are just crap pictures of dead people, " he asserted. "And what are they?  Attempts at aggrandisement by people whose acolytes or relatives or themselves commissioned their image in a fit of hubris.  They're just early 'selfies'.  But they're nowhere near as representative or revealing as a 6D 'selfy' is today." 

He was warming to his argument:

"A Bogan would tell us that other figurative paintings are not as revealing as photographs either: the nudes don't work as pornography and the landscapes are often blurry or contain some incomprehensible classical allusion or metaphor.  They would tell us that most non-figurative art looks like it was done by a child or monkey or it's something from a geometry website or colour sampler and most installations seems to involve an artist having-a-lend of our common sense.   'Dancing with the NYGirls' on the MV is much more fun than ballet.  As for Opera, do you call that screaming singing?"

"Yes but I like those things because they make me think, possibly in ways that a Bogan can't comprehend without my education," objected Bertram.

"So what makes our hypothetical Bogan art critic wrong?" he demanded, reaching the point of his argument. "Is it their fault they lack education and are functionally illiterate?  That they have no access to great literature or poetry or classical music?  What is art and poetry?  It's nothing but a huge pile of excrement excreted by so called 'artists' and exclusive to a tiny fraction of the insignificant human species; valid for an infinitesimal duration in the vast timeframe of life on earth.  You can't possibly claim that this so called 'culture' has any bearing on the meaning or purpose of biological life, of which we comprise two-thirds of five-eighths of fuck-all." 

By this time he was exceeding even his own penchant for hyperbole - and wasn't that the punch line from the limerick about Hall, the mathematician with the hexahedronical ball?  After a minute or two he seemed to reign himself in and continued in more moderate terms.

"For all of us who share this biological life, every animal and bacterium and plant on the planet, life just is.  And so it has been, for around three and a half billion years, give or take a couple of hundred million.  We inherit life from our parents, without so much as a by-your-leave, and hand it on to our children in the same way, if we have any.  We are born with life, use it how we may. The only thing that is exclusive to us is our own death."

"If you exclude culture, becoming cultured, or skilled in cultural endeavours, like playing an instrument or even just appreciating good music, or composing poetry or painting or visiting great art, from the legitimate goals in one's life, you are left with a very shabby shell of an empty existence," Bertram had protested.

But Edmund was undaunted.

"Nonsense!" he exclaimed.  "Why is sexperiencing the NYGirls or water-skiing or power-surfing any less life fulfilling than sitting half asleep in some nineteenth century ballet?  At least they are taking life full-on.  They're not moulding away in an intellectual backwater rehashing, for the millionth time, Tennyson or Nietzsche.  That has no more validity than memorising the great moments in their favourite game and knowing all the players.  And remember, this 'high culture' has its roots in, and much of it remains, an expression the now totally discredited institutions of the European class system." 

"Cultured people are still wanking about, pretending to be the decedents of courtiers or 'knights of the realm' or in some special, undefined way, superior," he added.

"All right, if you want to dismiss several hundred years of 'high culture' as being meaningless in a world populated by Bogans, you can't deny that the same culture gave us the beginning of the scientific age.  And that's not meaningless, that has given us today's technology," Bertram had argued.

"But it was those so-called cultured people, the 'chattering classes', who were the main protesters against technology, if not science itself," Edmund had replied.  "Many of them went out of their way to be ignorant of science, preferring instead to worry about old furniture or 'metaphor in Wordsworth'.  The merest mention of genetic modification or nuclear power or nanotechnology and their heads started spinning and steam shot out of their ears, as they had two generations earlier over the 'dark satanic mills'.  Few of this lot left anything of value or significance behind them except perhaps yet another review of the latest play in the yellowing pages of some long defunct newspaper or perhaps a commentary on the doings or eatings or matings of fellow wankers. Their main function, in retrospect, was to force science to remain vigorous in defence, to maintain a healthy immune system against clowns like them.  Some were even awarded PhD's for yet another treatise on Plato or Aristotle, as if there was anything new to say after two and a half thousand years."

Here he had paused for breath and after a few moments of sullen contemplation, presumably about people being rewarded for engaging in redundant rehashing of past thinker's work.

Bertram found Edmund's cynicism stimulating.  He had a way of making one consider the big picture.  Obviously he is right in some ways.  We each get thrust from our mother's womb into this world, without any option.  And after a couple of years start to realise that we are human.  We soon discover that humans alone have the wit to realise that we have a wit.  I think therefore I am.  Lots of other things are too but it seems that the other 'higher animals', also complex colonies of cells like us, lack the wit, the organisational sophistication of their neurons, to realise it.

As Bertram had said to a friend in the sailing club, when discussing how smart some birds and many mammals are: "...but only humans have sailing clubs with a trophy case containing silver trophies.  Only humans keep an honour roll from some past conflict, " as they contemplated a large display case and a fine wooden board with fading gold writing headed 'The Great War 1914 - 1918'.

But the conflict is not forgotten to us because there it is, a list of the dead.  Some, marked with a K, were killed in the conflict but everyone listed has long returned to dust again, as have their children and their children's children.  There have been many other conflicts since but this one had a special place in the history of the World and this is the only one in which every participant is remembered somewhere.  But this roll is no longer kept to honour the dead.  Like the old photographs of yachts and their ancient sailors, it demonstrates the pedigree of a club, that was already so well established when the conflict began that it contributed a hundred or so members to the conflict.  No other animal has such sophisticated or complex motives.

"Only humans worry about love and death and striving and awards and building and racing boats and refining metals for trophies and craftsmanship. Only humans record or create tales or sing of skill, sacrifice and perseverance.  Only humans have culture," Bertram had added.

Because he is about to pass into dust, well ashes, Bertram has been wondering and worrying about his own legacy. 

Obviously there are his four children, the present reason for his imminent death, and his grandchildren Alexandra and George, the next generation. But what else comprises his legacy for the future? 

More than most he has helped to create the Bogan economy.  But is that something to be proud of?   Maybe.  It was designed to prevent a collapse of the World Economy as population fell back to a sustainable tenth of its peak numbers.  This was not decimation, the removal of a random tenth of a Roman legion as punishment for failure, this is reverse decimation the involuntary removal of nine tenths.  Chaos and a complete collapse of all institutions may well have resulted. 

And although the Bogans might consume like drunken sailors to keep the economy functioning, they are still only achieving a fraction of previous rates of consumption.  World energy and fresh water demands have halved already and much of the planet's failing biota has been restored.  He can take some credit for that.

While Bogans are largely illiterate, thanks to technology, they are nevertheless excellent communicators, well connected and engaged and middle class in their values.  Materially everyone enjoys spacious homes that are regularly demolished and expanded with the latest gadgets.  Poverty is a thing of the past.  What better Bogan consumer than a slightly impoverished one: "Here have some credit to buy an MV and while we're at it, what about a jet ski?"

He has ensured that his own children are educated and anything but illiterate.  Each could read and write early. Each had been disciplined to behave in a civilised manner aboard, while being encouraged to question any fact given to them by anybody, particularly their teachers, not in a spirit of disbelief but to understand the reasons for the teacher believing it themselves:  Why do you believe that there is a god?  Why do you believe in ghosts, Holy or otherwise? Why do you believe in atoms? What is an electron?  How do we know Napoleon existed?  Why do you think the world was not created yesterday, along with all our supposed memories and evidence of a past?

The younger children certainly benefited from older siblings and mentors:  "My son Charles and my granddaughter Alex are extremely precocious.  And on that point even Edmund, her father, agrees." 

"Why, only yesterday they were going on about Byron again.  They can recite long passages of Don Juan by heart and have been familiar with all Shakespeare's plays since before they were teenagers."

 

 

 

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