Repost: torn apart left and right

What Rhodesian culture was is very, very, hard to understand.  Even I had a hard time understanding it, because I grew up in it but didn’t recognize what either the Rhodesians or the rest of the world were reacting to.  The civil war has already started by the time I was born.  Then it finished when I was 12 and I emigrated to Australia with my family when I was 16.  Once, I emigrated, it was the start of another war, only on a psychological level.  My parents wanted me to be staunchly right-wing, but Australia was a more liberal culture, especially the university system.  My tendencies were left libertarian, although I didn’t have a name for it at that time.

So, to be independent, I had to go against everything my parents had an emotional attachment to, in an ideological sense.    It felt like a kind of acceptance of death — either mine or my father’s — when I eventually realized how hostile my parents had become toward me, when I reached in my late twenties.   I had been bullied at work, for being from where I was from. This labour union workplace considered itself a left-wing social organisation.   Someone there didn’t like me because of where I was from, and indeed I was rather socially inept in those days — too much so to see it  coming or to defend myself.   I had suffered from war trauma, not really my own, perhaps, but that of my father.   He had been traumatized by war all of his life — first the second world war, which robbed him of his father just after he was born, and then the Rhodesian civil war, which robbed him of his younger brother and sent him on call-up duty, six months in, six months out.

After all this sacrifice and ideological indoctrination against the infiltrating “communists” (the guerilla groups were trained by USSR and China), my father hated anything remotely “left-wing”.  It’s not that he took the time to understand it. He had to immediately assimilate to an entirely different culture starting from a very low status position. He had previously been a lecturer at the Polytech.   So, he became even more traumatized.

It seems he attempted to solve the problems of his profound, underlying trauma from childhood and beyond and his ideological confusion by lashing out at me. His mother had always been insensitive to him, throwing him into the deep end of every new experience, and allowing others to treat him sadistically at times, without intervening.  So, my father developed the view that I was in some sense his mother.   He became the frightened infant lashing out at her for her insensitivity to his needs.

Needless to say, this was extremely frightening and confusing to me and made it much more difficult for me to re-orient myself in Australian culture.  I’d come from a rural, tribal culture and very little about modernity made any sense to me.  I found it extremely inimical.

My failure to adapt also very much angered my father.  He saw his own failure (in his parents’ eyes) in me and my behavior.

However, I couldn’t adapt because I was becoming more and more traumatized.  People were treating me like I was a racist and uppity, when I was just extremely shy and didn’t actually know anything about people’s subjective values or beliefs.

So the right-wingers were attacking me for adapting and the left wingers were attacking me for daring to migrate to Australia. And people were still very angry, even ten or fifteen years after the war. Family members had been killed in the war, and many Rhodesians wanted to kill anyone who expressed any left-wing tendencies. This was a primitive rage.To leave the conservative culture of Rhodesia is akin to trying to leave the Aum Supreme Truth Cult. Leftists in demand of their pound of flesh make this almost impossible to achieve. If anything, the loss of the war made my emotions of betrayal even stronger.  How could you leave a situation when it was so frail and in need?  The war and been tribal and personal as much as it had been ideological.

I developed chronic fatigue syndrome — which took me many years to recover from.  My body had totally overheated due to this stress.

Most of the onlookers must have believed that this form of suffering was necessary and good for me, for they took the side of anyone who judged anything against me.

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