white australia has a black history

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Skraeling
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May 22 2007 07:22
white australia has a black history

http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=5053

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Indigenous people in Australia have survived an attempted genocide, but have suffered greatly in the process. As with all injustices, the question is “What is to be done”? The answer is that the working class must champion their cause. This would not be an act of charity. Instead, by taking up the cause of indigenous people, we would be acting in our own interests as well.

We cannot defeat the capitalists unless we are united and anything that divides us, like racism, is poison. Indigenous people are part of the working class as well, so it is necessary to take up their issues on the basis of “an injury to one is an injury to all”. We must demand the return of the stolen wages, compensation for the stolen children, a settlement for the stolen land and an end to police murders. Further, indigenous people are in no position to defeat injustice solely through their own efforts. While it is up to them to decide their own issues and priorities, they need allies in order to win. The working class is the only force in society which has both the strength and the motive to win this struggle.

Interesting. But please tell me why a notoriously racist & overwhelmingly white Ozzie working class would want to support Aboriginal struggles over land and stolen wages & children? How is that acting in the interests of white Ozzies who've benefited from this attempted genocide? And all are indigeneous people part of the working class? Most are, but not all. In fact, they are divided by class just like any other ethnic group. Class cross cuts ethnicity.

jeremytrewindixon
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May 23 2007 02:55

It might be "notorious" that the Australian working-class is racist, that does not make it true. Or particularly true at any rate; there are racists amongst the working-class as elsewhere, in Australia as elsewhere.

Skraeling
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May 23 2007 03:39

Yeah for sure, i didnt mean to generalise that the whole white working class in Oz is racist, but in comparison to white NZers, white Ozzies do seem to be more racist. Almost every NZer who visits Aussie notices the stark difference. There seems to be an incredible ignorance of Aboriginal culture and resistance in Ozzie. In comparison, whites/Pakeha in NZ have more knowledge of Maori and increasingly Pacific culture relatively speaking. Sure most of this knowledge is superficial (or patronising liberal shit) and sure some Pakeha are notoriously racist, but i think the proportion of rednecks is less than in Ozzie.

jeremytrewindixon
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May 27 2007 07:33

Ok Skraeling, I'm sure youre right that Australians are comparatively ignorant of Aborigines compared to NZ Maooris. Am skeptical that this reflects difference in underlying racism though. Maoris are what? 12% of NZ population.

I think you underestimate the capacity of the working-class to show solidarity where is needed. Ruling classes need to build a justification for oppression into their legitimating ideologies; the working-class it seems to me is freer in that sense to recognise an injustice where they see it. I know that is not all the truth but it is part of it. THe working-class is after all not an abstract entity, it is made up of people,I was present at the so-called "storming of Parliament" by the unions in Australi back in when was it ? 1996 or 7. (Not very gloriously present, this isn't meant as a boast) There were a few factors operating but what started the visible action was when police targetted the aboriginal contingent. There was union aboriginal solidairyt in action. And it can't be repeated too often that the modern land rights movement began with the protracted strike at Wave Hill.

bastarx
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May 27 2007 09:51

19/8/96. I'm very sorry I missed it although I was only just becoming interested in radical politics at the time. I'd have never got the day off work anyway. The next day one of the ex-navy fucktards I worked with said the protestors should have been machinegunned.

Luke Deer - one of the younger leaders of the ISO - wrote his honours thesis on the riot. It's not bad and FWIW he won the university medal for it. It can be found at:

http://www.anu.edu.au/polsci/marx/interventions/riot.htm

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@ndy
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Jun 8 2007 14:57
Quote:
But please tell me why a notoriously racist & overwhelmingly white Ozzie working class would want to support Aboriginal struggles over land and stolen wages & children? How is that acting in the interests of white Ozzies who've benefited from this attempted genocide? And [are all indigenous] people part of the working class? Most are, but not all. In fact, they are divided by class just like any other ethnic group. Class cross cuts ethnicity.

Why not? White, working class Australians have supported such struggles in the past, do so now, and will in future. To the extent that white working class Australians do so, an important, perhaps fundamental expression of racism is overcome (and vice versa). And it's true that not all indigenous people are working class: just the vast majority. Further, indigenous people occupy a different cultural and social position, both historically and within contemporary Australian society, than do (non-indigenous) ethnic minorities; the two are not equivalent. As for land rights and stolen wages: outside of a racist ideological framework, the latter issue is fairly straightfoward. Indigenous workers performed labour, they are entitled to payment for it (as is any worker), and the withholding of such payment is unjust (as would be the case for any worker). This is partly why the issue has received widespread support within the labour movement. The former issue is also a question of social justice. The case of stolen children too, has provoked widespread condemnation by white working class Asutralians and, as in the case of deaths in custody, is an issue which has affected non-indigenous Australians as well.

Skraeling
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Jun 9 2007 08:18

Sure a small or perhaps tiny minority of white working class Ozzies genuinely support Aboriginal struggles, but my impression is that the vast majority don't. Situations like the riot in Canberra seem to me to be the exception rather than the rule. Of course i'm viewing things from afar and might be completely off the mark. My impression is still that the majority of white working class Australians are at best ignorant of and apathetic towards Aborigines, and at worst extremely racist. sure, these attitudes waver according to the level of struggles (i'm not suggesting white racism is with australia forever), but i was actually stressing that white Australia has a long way to go compared to NZ in indigenous matters. What's wrong with a little cross cultural comparison?

I never got around to criticising MACG's article. My main criticism of it is that it isn't materialistic. It makes a moralistic appeal which is more in tune with liberal humanism. I think white working class Australians are probably more likely to support Aboriginal struggles not on the basis of some guilt based moralism, but on the basis of common material interests eg. in a struggle where both working class whites and Aborigines share a common enemy -- capital.

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@ndy
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Jun 12 2007 06:00

Well, I think that the first question that needs to be asked is: how does one actually go about measuring the degree of support for 'Aboriginal struggles'? Further, this question also requires a definition of these struggles: their aims, methods, and results. On the one hand, one may safely assume a great degree of commonality in these; on the other, Aboriginal (and Torres Strait Islander) struggles are as diverse as the groups and individuals from which they're constituted.

Aside from the Canberra 'riot' -- which I think is not a good example in any case, and for a number of reasons -- one of the moments in history which is most often invoked as being a measure of white (that is, non-indigenous) attitudes towards indigenous peoples is the 1967 referendum; the 40th anniversary of which recently occasioned some reflection in the media. On that occasion, a campaign was conducted around a referendum, the results of which -- to cut a long story short -- would enable the Federal Government to make legislation concerning the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

http://www.naa.gov.au/fsheets/fs150.html

Quote:
The removal of the words ‘… other than the aboriginal people in any State…' in section 51(xxvi) and the whole of section 127 were considered by many to be representative of the prevailing movement for political change within Indigenous affairs. As a result of the political climate, this referendum saw the highest YES vote ever recorded in a Federal referendum, with 90.77 per cent voting for change.

In other words, in 1967, 90.77% of the voting population wanted 'change' with regards the status of indigenous peoples.

Well, that's one measure.

Another is the degree of popular support for 'reconciliation'. In 2000, around 150,000 people marched across Sydney Harbour Bridge in support of this notion.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/767202.stm

This and similar events took place in the context of recent legal decisions (Mabo, 1992; Wik, 1996) which placed the issues of land rights and the establishment of a treaty between black and white (back) on the political agenda (not to mention, of course, as a result of decades of struggle by indigenous peoples for rights and recognition).

So: yes, a cross-cultural comparison is useful, but a) unlike Aotearoa / New Zealand, to this point there has been no treaty between Aboriginal peoples and the Crown, and b) it was only very recently that the legal fiction of 'terra nullius' was overturned. Further, indigenous peoples constitute something like a little under 2% of the population in Australia, whereas in Aotearoa / New Zealand, Maori constitute something like, what, 15%? For this and other reasons, I'd agree that there's 'some way to go'.

Two final points:

1) As well as having an institutional or structural foundation, racism is a cross-class attitude, and I'm not convinced that the working class is necessarily more racist than the middle class;

2) While I agree that a shared understanding of having a shared class enemy is useful, I'm not convinced that 'Aboriginal struggles' can be reduced to struggles between capital and labour.