Monday, October 15, 2007

Howard’s constitutional reconciliation a further attack on Aboriginal people

John Howard’s recently announced proposal to hold a referendum for a Statement of Reconciliation to be included in the Preamble to the Australian Constitution reeks of last minute election hypocrisy.

Many have described it as the death rattle of a dying government.

There is some truth to this – no doubt Howard hopes that he can retrieve some electoral ground by a death-bed conversion to the reconciliation process that all decent Australians have long ago endorsed.

However, Howard is not a recent convert to reconciliation at all. He is a creature of imperialism and a racist, or, as he has expressed it, a person who seeks to “retain those cherished values, beliefs and customs that have served us so well in the past.”

The past comprises colonial dispossession of the original inhabitants by force and the threat of force, the imposition of a belief and value system shaped by and serving colonialism and then imperialism.

The past comprises the suppression of an indigenous collective culture and the oppression of the collective organisation and culture of the working class. The Australian bourgeoisie, like its counterparts in all other capitalist countries, raises the rights of the individual and the rights of the body corporate - the nation – to a position of precedence over Aboriginal and working class collective rights.

Howard trumpets this nonsense in his “new paradigm” for reconciliation: “This new Reconciliation I’m talking about starts from the premise that individual rights and national sovereignty prevail over group rights. That group rights are, and ought to be, subordinate to both the citizenship rights of the individual and the sovereignty of the nation.”

So, goodbye to collective bargaining rights and welcome to un-Australian Workplace Agreements!

And goodbye to land rights and community leasehold and welcome to “emergency” military “intervention” in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.

At the time that the latter was announced, ostensibly as a response to the Little Children Are Sacred report, I alerted readers of this blog to the 2006 Discussion Paper on the dismantling of land rights in the NT and the proposed “entry, without hindrance, of Aborigines in the NT to the mainstream Australian economy.” I said at the time that this should really read “to facilitate the entry of the mainstream Australian economy (read multinational miners and pastoralists) to traditional Aboriginal lands”. Howard wept crocodile tears all over the Report in order to achieve the objectives of the Discussion Paper.

In his proposed “new paradigm for reconciliation”, he’s at it again. No change, just another means of achieving outcomes for his mining masters: “At its core is the need for Aboriginal Australia to join the mainstream economy as the foundation of economic and social progress. This is at the heart of the work the Australian Government is pursuing under the Federal Minister Mal Brough’s leadership.”

Howard’s proposed Constitutional referendum should be opposed. It is a trick to define Aboriginal cultures as museum pieces and to force the break up of land rights and impose 1950s style assimilation (read: “cultural obliteration”).

It is a ploy to avoid the responsibility of a negotiated Treaty and an apology for the crimes of colonialism and imperialism.

“This nation,” said Howard, “spent (and wasted) a lot of time in the last 30 years toying with the idea of a treaty implying in some way e are dealing with two separate nations…We are one great tribe; one Australia.”

Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Feuhrer!

Like Hitler, Howard is obsessed with his own destiny. “The old paradigm’s emphasis on shame, guilt and apologies made it impossible to reconcile the goal with the path I was required to tread,” he declared.

As an Australian, I feel no shame or guilt about a Treaty or an apology.

Quite the opposite.

The day a Treaty is signed and an apology for the crimes of colonialism and subsequent settler governments (principally the crimes imposed on the Stolen Generation) is issued, I will stand taller as an Australian, part of one nation comprising many peoples, with one national identity based on respect for the diversity of all who live and work here. Naturally, this excludes the exploiters and oppressors.

Reject Howard’s phoney “conversion” to reconciliation.

Reject his “new paradigm” of reconciliation.

Reject the stunt of an assimilationist amendment to the Constitution.

For a Treaty on terms acceptable to Aboriginal Australians!

For an apology to the Stolen Generation from the settler government!

For an anti-racist and anti-imperialist independent People’s Australia!


See here for statements by the Women for Wik on Howard’s constitutional referendum.

See here for a statement by leaders of the Catholic Church in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

See here for the racist and assimilationist subterfuges of the imperialist servant Howard.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Support the organisation of an Aboriginal and indigenous peoples nation .
Maoists in the tradition of the Leninist support of oppressed colonial peoples should declare their support for the self determination of all the indigenous peoples and call for an d aid these first people to unite as one nation for mutual self defence in a self governing federation of nations on their own scattered lands and territories .
Further in order to establish economically viable conditions of life for their communities reparations for stolen land and natural respources and for past robberies not just of land but by the super-exploitation of labour kept on Black wages for generations by the colonialist. Reparations should be demanded and paid.
Think of the billions in natural recources currently being robbed by white settler Australia. today. Some of it used in the future fund to pay all sorts of benefits for workers employed by the settler state.While the Aboriginal peoples live in capitalist created poverty;.
The first thing to realise for communists is that despite the often good support that has been given in many reformist struggles to the Black peoples of Australia in the past, it has never been given in the spirit of communist internationalist support.
A major ,or fundamental Communist or Marxist principle, is to support the rights of oppressed peoples and nations to self determination and it is the duty of the working people and especially communists in the dominant colonialism to especially aid such peoples living under colonial oppression in their struggle for national liberation.
A communist party that sought to follow the road blazed by Lenin was formed in Australia 1921.But despite the clear guidance given by the communist third international on such questions, a study of the historical practice of the Australian communists shows that apart from the occasional militant word by the parties every now and then and the good work carried out by individual members ,the Communist parties have never ever supported firmly or aided in the development of any concrete movement to support fully national self determination of the indigenous peoples. For example did communists ever support in the past a struggle for de-colonialism and black self determination in the very large areas of Australia that had a majority black population such as in the Northern Territories?
(Considering Papua /New Guinea as a separate question )
This is a reflection of the fact that 'Australia "itself was formed in an anti -aboriginal constitutional unity of racist white settler colonialist states.
According to their constitution Aboriginals were excluded from and could not be even be counted as being Australians. Yet all these states were themselves formed on militarily seized and illegally occupied stolen Aboriginal land.
The communists themselves and their political parties always accepted in practice the illegal domination of the colonised peoples by the white settler Australian nation .Even if they can be proud of the fact that often campaigned for a more humane conditions against racism, and the law to be enforced in a more egalitarian manner, For Aboriginal human rights, as 'equal rights "for Australian working people etc.
The expansion and consolidation of the white settler state on aboriginal land has been a continuing process since 1921 too.
The communists were happy to declare the Black peoples as honorary equal working class brothers or as the reserve army of labour but never by practical recognition of their national rights as the indigenous first nation peoples of this land.
But, of course there could never have been nor can ever be real equality between the colonial oppressed peoples and their oppressors under any state organised by a ruling class as a constitutionally racist state .
This was true in that other white settler state apartheid $outh Africa and remains true . also in Australia.
We can see the continuing reality of that national oppression again, in the current white settler paternalist intervention into the affairs of the aboriginals communities and the army led reinvasion for the "leasing" of aboriginal lands by the white settler state. This apartheid type state first disallowed their own anti-discrimination laws in defiance of international law and international human rights standards as agreed by civilised humanity at the united nations.
So that they could go back to colonialist genocidal land robbery and economic war for the further destruction of the first nation communities.
Their own their 'Australian" land deeds will remain without legal basis and fraudulent until such time as a treaty with the rightful land owners is made ,despite their show of amending the constitution 40 years ago to get themselves a better non -racist image in the world by declaring that aboriginals were now 'Au$tralian" too.
To support treaty rights means support for building a united first peoples nation, that is so an actual treaty can be made by equal nations .
It's a bit like ;How can you talk about socialism under imperialist domination ,until you actually win independence and control your nation .
Talking socialism is a waste of time when imperialism and colonialists are in control of your national lands and wealth creating labour capacity.
Do communists actually support self determination for our oppressed peoples or, I am sorries and reconciliation with the white settler state written in a forward or a feel good preamble to the white settler constitution good enough for them too.
Its not a question of racial discrimination but national oppression.
What would Lenin say?