An activist abroad

Introducing Mr Trenton Oldfield…

According to the Sydney Morning Herald:

AFTER Trenton Oldfield bobbed up seal-like in a wetsuit and halted the 158-year-old annual boat race between Oxford and Cambridge universities, the Australian’s anti-elitist manifestos rose to the surface just behind him. Mr Oldfield, 35, a year 10 dropout from the prominent Sydney boys’ private school Shore, left a trail of rich-bashing blog posts and evidence of a 10-year career since his arrival in London as activist, project manager and student – all focused on poverty, social inequality and decay in inner cities. A graduate of the London School of Economics, he lists among his preoccupations ”the socio-political history of fences/railings – including when they shifted from keeping things in to keeping things out”.

According to the Telegraph in the United Kingdom:

Boasting a proud sporting tradition, Shore has an enviable reputation as one of Australia’s top rowing schools and Mr Oldfield was a leading crew member during his time there. But despite initially taking full advantage of his privileged start in life, the ardent political campaigner now claims it was his experiences at the much celebrated school that ignited his long held opposition to elitism in society.

Any action against (what the British refer to as) ‘toffery’ is welcome because statistics indicate a clear disparity between the rich and the poor in this country. Trenton’s own privileged background does qualify him to take up the challenge against sham elitism which potentially results in negative outcomes for society as a whole.

However, the choice of his targets is puzzling. Oxford & Cambridge are public universities in Great Britain. The tuition fees historically cost the same as any other public university. These institutions accept enrolments from all applicants based on academic merit including those coming from disadvantaged circumstances. A couple of boys and girls from school went to Oxford University to further their education. The irony is that those individuals were almost anarchistic in their political views. If one believed the tales of their social lives, they lived and breathed cannabis, although never during the exam period because of potential memory effects! They came from rich families which would have fuelled their aspirations against a the rise of a privileged class in society, just like it may have done for Trenton. Surely a private university which has been accused of financial elitism such as Bond on the Gold Coast (photographed below) is far more deserving of derision? The same applies to any institution where a prospective student pays their way to graduate as a lawyer (for example) without gaining course admission based on academic merit alone.

Bond Uni at Night. In HDR.

That aside, protest is important, whether one opposes the imposition of the carbon tax upon polluting industries, coal seam gas extraction or even globalization. As bloggers we are acutely aware of the value of freedom of speech, without the constraints of ‘lead-footed’ moderation or censorship. Many Australians use talk back radio to voice their protest! Doesn’t the fact that people in Western Europe and Australia are now talking about elitism mean that Trenton’s sporting vandalism was worthwhile? Protestors such as Trenton can be annoying, of course. But is there not a bigger danger in saying nothing and expecting the world to change?

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