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White Australia has a black history
indonesia / philippines / australia | indigenous struggles | opinion / analysis Tuesday March 06, 2007 12:10 by MACG - Anarkismo macg1984 at yahoo dot com dot au
Australia is built on stolen land
The working class is the only force in society which has both the strength and the motive to win this struggle.
Australia is a country built on stolen land. The indigenous people were in sole possession of the land on 26 January 1788 and have never sold or given away an inch since then. Any land which they do not occupy has been taken from them by force. To this day, the theft continues.
The facts of the dispossession and its consequences are public knowledge and available to anyone who inquires. Through massacre, disease, internment and forced dispersal, land was “transferred” to the Crown, which generously granted its newly-acquired wealth to farmers, pastoralists and other settlers as capitalist real estate. Almost all productive land is now in the hands of non-indigenous people.
After the stolen land came the stolen children and the stolen wages. The story of the stolen children is one of attempted genocide. From the late 19th Century to the middle of the 20th, indigenous people of Australia were called a “dying race”. This was not so much an observation as it was official policy. The ruling class was troubled by a proliferation of “half-castes”, children almost always of indigenous mothers and white fathers. It was (usually unwritten) government policy to remove them and absorb them into white society. Meanwhile, the “full-bloods” were expected to continue to die out, thus eliminating potential future claimants of the stolen property.
The stolen wages are another appalling story, of State policy to defraud indigenous people of their hard-earned wages. It has been most extensively documented in Queensland, but it went on over all of mainland Australia. Indigenous people, under the control of State or Territory governments, were contracted to work on farms or as domestics and their wages were mostly paid into trust accounts under the control of local police, with a small fraction doled out as an allowance. The trust accounts were plundered by the coppers and the pastoralists and the State governments helped themselves to most of what was left. And, to cap it off, child endowment and pensions were siphoned off into State government hands, with the collaboration of the Commonwealth.
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.
* This article is from the first issue (February-March 2007) of "The Anvil", the bulletin of Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group (MACG).