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178 responses to “What’s in a word?”

  1. Occam's Blunt Razor

    I don’t have a problem with the word Invasion.

    Yes, it was. The Aboriginals lost. It was 200 years ago. Get over it.

  2. tssk

    Wow Occam. Points for you being so forthright. But I reckon you wouldn’t dare say that to someone in rl.

    Amazing stuff.

    To put this in perspective…can you imagine if someone was so offensive to say to a veteran “Hey that cove in World War one in turkey. It was almost one hundred years ago. Get over it.”

    Say that in any RSL and you’d be carried out on a stretcher. (Of course what Occam said is usually said to aboriginals to their face as ‘helpful’ advice and we expect them to either cop it sweet or even thank us for our wisdom.)

  3. Fran Barlow

    It’s hard to think of a more apt term for European seizure of the land mass of Australia than invasion. Colonisation and occupation were manifestation of the initial invasion and in that sense, distinct.

    Yes, the connotations of the term tend to locate those using it against the invaders, and that is existentially confronting for the legacy-holders, but not as confronting as was dispossession to those dispossessed and forcibly dispersed and displaced.

  4. Russell

    I don’t know enough history to know – was the invasion/settlement of Australia planned in a hostile way, against the native inhabitants? Because I think to most people the word invasion has that meaning – that you planned to go and attack and occupy.

  5. Sam

    The history wars are back on, baby!

  6. Fine

    Yes, Sam and it will be so much fun.

    I think the reason there’s such an irrational response to asylum seekers, refugees, ‘boat people’ is that deep down we still feel guilty about this invasion and that guilt is displaced onto others who also arrive by boats.

  7. Tim Dymond

    Definition of ‘invasion’:

    1. The act of invading, especially the entrance of an armed force into a territory to conquer.
    2. A large-scale onset of something injurious or harmful, such as a disease.
    3. An intrusion or encroachment.

    All three apply to the history of Australia since 1788 at various times.

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/invasion

  8. Helen

    Oh, lordy. There will be a veritable tsunami of “Political correctness gorn mad!” and “Greenie watermelons!” (not relevant, I know, but always useful it seems), “Do-gooding latte sipping inner city leets!!1!” For our own sanity we’d better not go near the Punch or the Terrorgraph for a few days.

  9. dave

    Invasion it was and invasion it still is. Rape, murder, attempted genocide, violent dislocation from the land, destruction of culture especially language and ongoing denial by white australia that any of this ever occurred.

    I reckon OBR should offer his candid views in person to a few of the locals around Redfern…

  10. H&R

    We® didn’t invade the Aboriginals’ land because They Weren’t Using It in the First Place!™

    If you wish to broaden the scope of this debate beyond that of a cultural chestnut of the Leftosphere’s, this is the ‘argument’ you need to tackle.

  11. Russell

    Tigtog – if you don’t get the word right, people will reject the implications of the wrong word. Maybe there isn’t a right single word. So when you say they intended to occupy the land, yes, certainly they did, but the word occupy sounds like taking up residence on empty land, so that word won’t do. Perhaps to the first settlers the Aborigines didn’t seem to have the kind of ‘ownership’ of land that you could make a contract for. (Where is Paul Burns when you need him?).

    Anyhow, to me the word invasion carries implications of planning to deliberately, aggressively, seize the space occupied by others, and I’m not sure that was how it was.

  12. Russell

    I’m trying to recall what I’ve read about the first contact … I did read Inge Clendinnen’s Dancing with Strangers, and that account didn’t seem like a traditional invasion narrative.

  13. Alphonse

    @Russell, who came out with “Anyhow, to me the word invasion carries implications of planning to deliberately, aggressively, seize the space occupied by others, and I’m not sure that was how it was.”

    You’re right, Russell. It’s not how it was. As sub-humans, they did not amount to “others” from whom space had to be seized. So “invasion” is probably too mild a word, but it’s the closest I can think of.

    There’s “eradication”, but that would be Tasmania.

  14. rumrebellious

    Razor, it was an on-going process. 200 years ago for Sydney Cove, 150-110 years ago for the Darling Downs, even more recently in the northern parts of the continent.

    I read a rollicking book when I was a kid about Jandamara by Idriess(sp?) which was in the style of those thirties/forties colonial adventure books. At university, I read another awesome history book which was inspired by that.

    Now I hear there is a movie. Anyone seen it?

  15. Russell

    Alphonse – I’m not for a minute denying the massacres or the genocide in Tasmania, just wondering what the reaction to insisting that the word invasion is better than colonisation might be.

    And the reaction might be based on something as silly as people’s idea of invasion as being what they’ve seen in movies – Normandy, or the Vikings or whatever. Invasion is an action which must have had an intent – was the intent to come and aggressively seize the land of the Aborigines? I see that the dictionary definition of invade, while not necessarily being violent, also can include assault and violence. That’s where the objection could come from – the claim in the word ‘invade’ that we came here with the intent to harm.

  16. tssk

    I believe the colonists didn’t ‘invade’ per se although the original inhabitants would have seen it as such. They just viewed them as insects, a people to be pitied but swept aside.

    That of course brings us very close to perhaps genocide…which I doubt is the direction the right wing want us to move to. Too uncomfortable.

    I know! We can solve all of this by telling the peoples still put at a disadvantage that everything will be solved if they just ‘get over it.’

    It puts the onus back on the alleged victims and saves us from any guilt! Problem solved! Tomorrow I’ll solve the issue of the unemployed by telling them to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and on Friday I’ll tell the disabled that it’s all about having a can do attitude!

    How authentic am I!

  17. Ootz

    During the 1880′s Queensland’s annexation of eastern New Guinea was nullified by the British Imperial Government, based on the colony’s treatment of the native population. In particular it was noticed, that when the Torres Straight Islands were annexed, the first act of the Queensland Government was to advertise the islands for sale at five shillings an acre, in total disregard that these were the homes and property of a sizable indigenous population. According to ‘The Times’ 15 May 1883

    While there might be exaggeration in many of the stories of atrocity in Queensland it was impossible to converse with any average colonist, to read the local newspapers, to listen to speeches in parliament without perceiving that the native was ‘regarded as simply an encumbrance on the soil’, as being destitute of rights and existing ‘only on sufferance, for which he should be grateful’.To allow Queensland to gain control of New Guinea would ‘incur grave moral guilt’.

  18. Ootz

    I think in Queensland the word was ‘dispersal’. This was mainly achieved mainly with the help of ‘Wondai Gumbal’ (Native Police). A conservative analysis of Ray Evans estimates 48 000 children, women and men killed on these ‘dispersal patrols’.

  19. Chris

    Invasion does seem an appropriate word to use, perhaps conquered is another one. I’d guess that the word invasion is controversial because its in the context of potential compensation or native title land rights. Imagine the mess that you’d have in Europe if people were tringy to negotiate compensation or land rights claims for wars going back just a couple of hundred years.

    For the period when it first occurred colonisation may well be more appropriate simply because of compared to other events which would have justified the use of the word invasion (one country invading another in Europe) the aborigines simply weren’t as organised or capable of mounting anything like a resistance that a country in europe would have been used to.

  20. Ootz

    Never mind the Native Patrol, lots of anecdotes re ‘snipe shooting’ parties and ‘ridding the land of vermin’ with arsenic about, if one bothers to have even a scant look at the archives.

    Russell, Inga Cledinnen’s ‘Dancing with Strangers’ deals with ‘first contact’ where Gov A. Phillip, rather an enlightened human being, facilitates the procedures as suggested by the British naval code, from memory, and not with the settler expansion.

    Rumrebellious, you may think of ‘Outlaws of the Leopold’ (1952) by Ion Idriess in regards to Jandamara.

    As not a native born to the sunburned country, it always baffles me how this violent part of the past of our nation is being ignored or hushed up just like the convict stuff used to be and only being dragged out into the light roughly when I arrived at its shores. Where is the difference, this nation was established with the blood of convicts and that of the original inhabitants. Valuable lessons yet to be learned here too.

    Apologies for being a bit vague or scattered at times, I hope you get the gist otherwise say so. My specialist assisting me with my chronic illness calls the offending symptom cryptically ‘foggy brain’.

  21. Occam's Blunt Razor

    What I do find rather illogical is how so many Atheists persist in supporting the Aboriginal Religion of connection with land etc as part of the land rights movement.

    Yes, it was an Invasion.

    Does that mean that I support the past wrongs/crimes? No.

    Just exactly how long should you mourn over a lost war?

    For how long should you mourn the loss of cultural heritage? Should I still be mournign the loss of the sailing ships that my Ancestors worked on and use that as an excuse for a cultural mailaise?

  22. Ootz

    Chris, what about the Irish thingy, bombs going off, people being knee capped or worse. Then you have the WW I being initiated by an incident brought on by “(one country invading another in Europe) ” and that further down has brought to us the Balkan conflict in the 90′s. Where I grew up a school got shot at for teaching the ‘invaders’ language with the final result that this region became a separate state as Canton du Jura in 1979.

  23. Emma in Sydney

    The word ‘invasion’ has actually been used on City of Sydney materials for a decade or more. One councillor just decided he didn’t like it, and that he’d stir up the hornet’s nest of shock jocks and bigots. Which it did. Staff at the City have been dealing with enraged (white) people yelling at them on the phone all week. Needless to say, they don’t ring the councillors.
    Council’s decision was in line with the Aboriginal advisory panel’s advice, and the historical scholarship. City of Sydney should be congratulated for their excellent range of historical sponsorship and in-house history projects, ranging from Aboriginal history to oral history, as well as books, websites and other historical projects. It’s outstanding among Australian city councils for funding serious history.
    (Disclosure: I work on the Dictionary of Sydney, a council-supported project, although I don’t work for Council itself.) I’d link, because I’m really proud of it, but I can’t make it look right in the preview.

  24. akn

    OBR @ above:

    If the mechanisms of genocide and dispossession weren’t still in full swing then the mourning may have ceased by now. However, all of the evidence supports the argument that murder, deaths in custody, removal of children from family (the prime mechanism of cultural genocide in Australia) are ongoing:

    A Special Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Community Services (NSW) found that in March 2008 there were 4,458 Aboriginal children in out-of-home care, a number which is equal to four times the number of Aboriginal children who were in foster homes, institutions or missions in 1969, during the Stolen Generations.

    http://blakandblack.com/2011/03/16/the-stolen-generations-and-cultural-genocide/

    According to a study by Sydney University’s Institute of Criminology, the number of Aborigines in Australian prisons rose by 25% in the four years to last June. The numbers of Aboriginal women imprisoned, already high compared to non-Aboriginal women, rose by a staggering 63%.

    http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/2048

    Then there are the individual cases of well publicised killings which would, if you were Aboriginal, be a clear message that you are unprotected by law; Domadgee’s killing on Palm stands out (http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/palm-island-man-bashed-to-death-by-policeman/2006/09/27/1159337222690.html).

    And there are other examples such as torture by Tazer (footage in link): (http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/western-australian-aborigine-tasered-in-custody/story-e6frg6nf-1225934071657).

    So I reckon the mourning isn’t for the past alone. It is because the past well and truly informs the present, apology or not.

  25. John D

    It was an invasion by boat people at a time when the British thought that they had a divine right to take from anyone without the military might to resist. Changing the name of Australia day to invasion day is only being honest.
    However I have problems with this ongoing procession of “if only….”. It is so disempowering because it is reinforcing the lie that only Europeans have the power to solve Aboriginal problems.
    “We can do it” is what Aborigines need to be saying to themselves. The stories they tell to each other should be stories of communities and individuals who have successfully overcome problems. They should also be saying to themselves that campaigns about words and apologies are just a diversion from getting on with the things they think really do count.

  26. Ootz

    Does ‘lest we forget’ ring a bell Razor?
    No remembrance day, no memorial and no recognition for these thousands of souls and dreadful deeds done to them.
    Who or what are we?

  27. Katz

    “Invasion” has a narrowly military connotation. It involves the forceful transferral of sovereignty from one state to another. This transferral of sovereignty may be permanent or it may be temporary. Thus, the US merely occupied WWII Britain, but invaded Nazi-occupied Europe, thus terminating Germany’s claim to sovereignty over Belgium, Denmark, France, etc. Interestingly, the US recognised this transferral of sovereignty when it occurred in 1940. And again, the US terminated the sovereignty of Saddam’s Iraq, but then restored Iraqi sovereignty. On the other hand, the US permanently extinguished the sovereignty of Mexico over most of the western states of the US.

    When the British established a military presence in New South Wales in 1788 the personnel of that military establishment believed that sovereignty had already passed to the British Crown by virtue of Cook’s annexation of 2/3 of the Australian continent.

    That act of annexation was based on Cook’s sincere, but erroneous, supposition that New South Wales was terra nullius. Yet it cannot be said that Cook “invaded” the Australian continent.

    The Australian situation is further complicated by the fact that Cook’s assertion of terra nullius ipso facto denied property title to natives. This expunging of property rights was very unusual, adding to the fraught nature of interracial relations in Australia.

    White settlers believed they were leasing or buying crown land, thus removing any requirement to treat with Aborigines. On the other hand, most land was leasehold, entitling leaseholders to a very narrow range of property rights. And famously, these lease arrangements enabled the resurrection of some Native Title, a fact finally recognised by the Native Titles Act.

    To Aborigines all this looked like an invasion. But whites didn’t think they were invaders.

  28. su

    The situation Ootz describes in the Torres Strait was common practice, land was expropriated from the inhabitants, carved up and either sold or leased to white people. Are there any places in Australia where land was obtained through negotiation with the Aboriginal inhabitants?

    In Rockhampton in Queensland I know that land was simply leased then sold from the 1860s onwards, and further land was granted to returning soldiers after WWI. The wholesale expropriation of these lands constitutes intent to harm even before you consider how the people already living there were subsequently treated. Contemporaneous accounts (in the region with which I am most familiar) show that people were aware of and discussed this treatment, it is a myth that the colonial mind was so enmired in racism that the harm was done, as it were, unwittingly, there was full knowledge and open discussion of this harm. Journalists, memoirists, correspondents of the time describe, often with explicit expressions of disquiet and bad conscience, the deliberate strategies by which inhabited land was taken, the peoples shot, removed, poisoned, enslaved. Really it takes a deliberate and wilful act of unknowing to remain oblivious to these events in our collective past and obscurantist terminology like “colonisation”is implicated in this process.

  29. lilacsigil

    What I do find rather illogical is how so many Atheists persist in supporting the Aboriginal Religion of connection with land

    Why? I’m an atheist but it doesn’t mean I care what other people choose to believe. Additionally, people often have a deep personal connection to their land regardless of religious affiliation and a social connection to the other people who lived there with them. Displacing people involuntarily causes obvious and ongoing trauma and I see no reason not to acknowledge that. As for respecting things like “welcome to country” speeches, well, I respect other people’s homes, too.

  30. Emma in Sydney

    Katz, did the Normans invade Saxon England? Small force, no plan to stay, no unified opposition, unclear land title and all the rest of it. Is it different just because it was longer ago? Actions have consequences, regardless of the intentions of the individual actors. Pemulwuy was pretty clear that his country was being invaded. Terrified settlers in outlying farms begging the Governor for troops to protect them from the wild blacks were pretty clear on it too, while it wasn’t clear who was going to win.

  31. Joe

    It’s not all that important for me whether or not we use a word like invasion or migration, the best tactic is probably just to use the accepted contextual terminology. Did the Anglo-Saxons “invade” Britain, or “migrate” from continental Europe? I think the choice of word is dependent on what the author is trying to say. Invasion has connotations of a military operation, migration OTOH is more about the movement of people from one area to another.

    It’s not really worth getting too excited about really. And this attempt to characterise invasion as being something inherently bad or embarrassing is historically superficial. There’s enough victimisation in our culture already without getting on that bandwagon.

  32. Mercurius

    @24, OBR, thou doth protest too much for somebody who purports to accept and be comfortable (if that is the right word) with the term ‘invasion’ and its implications.

    For a start, your follow-up questions fail the relevance test. What is the salience of your questions about ‘mourning a cultural heritage’ and your whinge about ‘Aboriginal religion’; in the context of this historiographical question of applying an accurate descriptive label (‘invasion’) to historical events?

    If you accept the term ‘invasion’, well and good. That’s what this thread is about. The rest of your questions and tendentious statements @24 seem to be your own hobby-horse.

    Just exactly how long should you mourn over a lost war?

    I dunno. Why don’t you ask a Vietnam veteran? Or the grandchildren of the ANZACS who landed at Suvla Bay?

    And especially this:

    Should I still be mournign the loss of the sailing ships that my Ancestors worked on and use that as an excuse for a cultural mailaise?

    False equivalence alert. You are part of the conquering class. You haven’t the experienced the rough end of the pineapple. So you don’t get to apply your normative standards to the victims of conquest. To do so is invoking privilege and is, in effect, perpetuating the invasion. I hope you can see that.

  33. Katz

    Katz, did the Normans invade Saxon England?

    Yes. By feat of arms the Normans extinguished Saxon sovereignty and established another. This example isn’t problematic in the least.

  34. sg

    Katz, I don’t think cook declared anything terra nullius, it was Bourke in 18 something or other.

    OBR, how can you say Aborigines shouldn’t

    use that as an excuse for a cultural mailaise

    when large numbers of them still remember, e.g. child abduction, not being able to vote, not having equal employment rights, etc.? Unless you think there are no Aborigines around today who were born before 1962 you have to accept that their complaints aren’t just dry history.

  35. sg

    and also, “use as an excuse” as if there are no actual, real, observable effects on people today due to their parents and grandparents having been excluded from land, work and the franchise … do you seriously believe people are just using the “history” of invasion as an excuse not to get a real job?

  36. Emma in Sydney

    So, Katz, a few hundred soldiers land on a corner of a larger territory, which is divided and home to a number of tribes. They kill someone who styles himself king. Most of them go home but over the next hundred years or so, some of their compatriots migrate over and stay, eventually taking over. Subsequently they rewrite history to make it a bit neater. Conquest, peasants. Words are important.

  37. Joe

    Katz, actually, it’s not that easy. The Norman “invasion” can quite easily be talked about in terms of “migration”. Both terms are legitimate.

    Equally in Australian history there were invasions, (although I think, in the context of the time they are characterised by their generally ad-hoc nature. Sometimes tolerated by the colonial administration, never officially endorsed.) And there was and is migration to the Australian mainland.

    Getting bogged down in the definition of invasion is lazy and pointless. We know that we can bend the language to mean what we want it to — that’s just a given.

    The reason for this discussion is the continuing relative disadvantage of Aboriginal Australia and can be done about it. And because nobody has any good ideas we talk about “invasion” instead.

  38. Joe

    sg said:

    do you seriously believe people are just using the “history” of invasion as an excuse not to get a real job?

    “If you can’t be just, just be arbitrary.” W. Burroughs.

    Just? Hmmm… As someone who recently went on about set theory at some length, sg, this sentence is “troublesome”.

    Interestingly there was some press over here last week to the effect that ‘the English are more Anglo-Saxon than they think and they’re not happy about it.’ Maybe that’s part of the reason why the English economy has been overtaken by financial gangsters?

  39. sg

    I’m sorry Joe, your meaning escapes me.

  40. Joe

    Tigtog, yes, well, would you believe Anglo-Saxon migration?

  41. Joe

    sg, I mean hardly anything has just one reason, no?

  42. Chris

    Ootz @ 25 – ah yes, they all turned out so well! Visited Ireland in 2005 after things had been reasonably quiet for a while and was rather (naively) surprised to discover police stations still resembled modern day minature fortresses and random road blocks in the countryside by police questioning why people were travelling.

    The reason for this discussion is the continuing relative disadvantage of Aboriginal Australia and can be done about it. And because nobody has any good ideas we talk about “invasion” instead.

    Very well said Joe. I don’t think its for lack of good intent either. Just in practice a very difficult problem.

  43. adrian

    I think plenty of people have a lot of good ideas, it’s just that they aren’t politicians or public servants and/or their ideas cost too much and might threaten or antogonise a lot of vested interests.

    Sure it’s a difficult problem, but not as difficult as the political process makes it seem to be. These days anything that’s not a tax cut becomes a difficult problem.

  44. sg

    I think I meant that “just” differently Joe, as in a put down – i think OBR is implying that Aboriginal people don’t care about invasion at all but see it as a useful way to get out of being responsible adults. Hence the “just”.

    I thought that was a pretty standard way of using “just.” As in “are you just saying you love me so you can get a root?”

  45. Joe

    Tigtog, I think you’re missing my point:

    Looked at from a certain perspective it is surely legitimate to talk about an Anglo-Saxon invasion (and in particular invasions) of post Roman Britain, but equally it is legitimate to talk about a period of immigration to Britain. Invasion and migration/ settlement/ colonisation are not mutually exclusive (they are context specific).

    I mean the period of history which saw the colonisation of Australia was a period of international European colonisation and migration. This often involved horrendous treatment of aboriginal cultures.

    Doesn’t change the historical fact that most European settlers didn’t come to Australia to invade or militarily defeat the place’s inhabitants.

    Anyway, I’m losing sight of the forest — basically what adrian says.

  46. Mercurius

    @48, well sg, OBR is obviously busy with other things ATM and isn’t around to clarify what, exactly, he meant — but I’m far from convinced the objections @24 are in any way germane to the topic of the thread. Invasion it was, invasion it is, the rest of OBR’s posturing just amounts to an (unintentional, I think,) derail…

    …perhaps OBR couldn’t simply leave it at “OK, yeah, I agree, it was an invasion”, and felt some atavistic urge to stick it to us lefties, or sumfink. It would probably go too much against the grain for OBR to offer an unqualified agreement with any one premise posted at LP…always got to get an irritating shot in under the belt…

    …but I, for one, can’t wait for OBR to report back from Wadeye and tell us how he went with his assertion @1 … :D

  47. sg

    True Mercurius but I hate this idea, it’s commonly presented – the “get over it and move on” argument, and I hate it. We’re talking about a generation of people whose parents were stolen from their homes and raised in poverty – of course they’re going to be worse off.

    It’s silly too because the intervention in NT is justified because “child abuse causes child abuse” and we need to save these kids from their abusing parents, but then when it’s pointed out that maybe the parents were abused by the state (in orphanages, and through being abducted from their parents), we’re told that this lot should just get over it and stop whining about historical wrongs.

    It’s hypocritical and it’s a deliberate attempt to absolve the state, and the society that was responsible for the state, of any responsibility for current social problems.

    And of course meanwhile anyone who says “get over gallipoli it was a hundred years ago” is an arsehole because these things make us the society we are today.

  48. Ootz

    This thread should not be about guilt or the present situation of descendants of either party, it should be first and foremost about the recognition that awful things did happen and everything should be done to prevent happening again.

    It would not be productive if we still argued whether there is any guilt to attribute in the convict saga or whether it was simply a law and order issue or what ever. Recognition of a unsavioury past and an eagerness to establish the facts would be a good start. As I said, I am gobsmacked that we have this discussion and the general level of knowledge about the issue. Just as I was gob smacked when I learnt about the comparitive recent removal of the convict stigma. It does indicate to me that we have not the maturity yet as a nation to critically assess the recent past and thus willing to learn from it.

  49. sg

    who cares about guilt, Ootz? I migrated to Britain at 13, I’m not guilty of anything. But I lived on land confiscated from Aborigines, and actually existing Aborigines suffer health and social consequences of that. I don’t feel guilty about it but I want to see them compensated and their problems fixed.

    I also don’t feel guilty about wearing clothes from a sweatshop. But I want the system abolished and those workers paid properly. Guilt is entirely irrelevant to the topic.

  50. akn

    sg @ 51: exactly right. Recognizing invasion as the historical reality is one step, a significant one but only one step, in redressing historical wrongs the consequences of which are the very substance of modern Aboriginal experience: poverty, drug and alcohol use, disrespect, outrageous criminalization, ongoing child removal and otherwise low markers of socioeconomic status in every other respect.

  51. GregM

    That act of annexation was based on Cook’s sincere, but erroneous, supposition that New South Wales was terra nullius. Yet it cannot be said that Cook “invaded” the Australian continent.

    Not correct Katz. English law at the time (the 1770s) recognised the right of one State to invade the territory of another but required them to recognise and not disturb the property rights and usages of the occupants of the country they occupied , except through necessity, unless provided for by positive law i.e. by express legislative authority. This had some significance in English law as the British occupied increasing swathes of India under the British East India Company through the 18th century.

    This is the foundation of the recognition of native title in Australian law. See Halsbury’s Laws of England. See also the Lords of the Admiralty’s instructions to Arthur Phillip.

    The concept of terra nullius, which threw that out the window, came later, in the 1840s, when the control of squatters occupying aboriginal land became all to hard.

  52. Bingo Bango Boingo

    I’ve never heard a really satisfactory response to the point that it is unlikely that the Aboriginal communities living on British-invaded land were “first” in the sense that one could trace an unbroken line from ancient Aboriginal settlement to, say, the late 18th century or early 19th century when the British invasions first began occurring. That may well be because I’ve put it to the wrong people. In principle, is violently appropriating land “second” morally superior to violently appropriating land “third”?

    BBB

  53. Ootz

    Sg, “I lived on land confiscated from Aborigines…” Could you put a name to the people that you call Aborigines here and how their land was ‘confiscated’ in a historical context?
    Further, re “…actually existing Aborigines suffer health and social consequences of that.”, do you honestly think it is as simple as that?

  54. GregM
    well, would you believe Anglo-Saxon migration?

    The Germanic Angles, Saxons and Jutes were all in conflict with each other as well as with the native Picts and the marauding Norsemen – Vikings and Danes. Then there were the Celts, also originally IndoEuropean, in the west. It was a fairly bleak and ruthless time in history, but the Picts probably saw them all as invaders, while many probably saw themselves as migrating.

    The Picts?

    They weren’t native to the areas the Angles, Saxons and Jutes invaded. They were way up north protected by Hadrian’s Wall – and nasty weather.

    The Celts weren’t in the west at the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasions- they were right in the centre of it. The west is where they ended up (what was left of them), in Wales, when the Anglo-Saxons had finished their invasion.

  55. Salient Green

    Our modern lifestyle is toxic. Us whiteys seem to have a better tolerance to it than our Aboriginals but it is toxic just the same.

    My feeling is that we need to give back large areas of land, good land, to the Aboriginal people where they can establish a kind of traditionally constructed society with strict rules. I am thinking these will be places of retreat where the people can go to reconnect with the natural world.

    Us whiteys need this too, witness the exodus out of cities and large towns on long weekends. All societies need rules in order to be free but the susceptability of Aboriginals to the destructive forces of white society needs special attention.

    We all need to replenish the soul and contact with the natural world seems to do it for most of us and especially for Aboriginals.

    Better I think that we learn from and experience their culture of community and sustainability rather than drag them into our culture by natural selection.

  56. GregM

    I’ve never heard a really satisfactory response to the point that it is unlikely that the Aboriginal communities living on British-invaded land were “first” in the sense that one could trace an unbroken line from ancient Aboriginal settlement to, say, the late 18th century or early 19th century when the British invasions first began occurring. That may well be because I’ve put it to the wrong people. In principle, is violently appropriating land “second” morally superior to violently appropriating land “third”?

    That’s not the legal point though, BBB, and it’s irrelevant.

    Our Constitution recognises the legal point in Section 51, subsection 31 which requires that the laws of the Commonwealth allow for the Commonwealth governmentto acquire ” …property on just terms from any State or person for any purpose in respect of which the Parliament has power to make laws.”

    It does not require that the people from whom the property is acquired have to prove that they have held that title since time immemorial, otherwise they get nothing.

    It requires that if you take land off people who are in possession of that property you compensate them for it on just terms but not that they have to prove their right to possession (their property in it) since times immemorial in order for you to have a duty to compensate them for their dispossession.

    Our legal system is, sensibly, about what is just and what works, and not much about high principle and impossible proofs.

  57. Chris

    But I lived on land confiscated from Aborigines, and actually existing Aborigines suffer health and social consequences of that. I don’t feel guilty about it but I want to see them compensated and their problems fixed.

    I don’t really believe there’s much point to intergenerational compensation. I think you should only compensate people directly affected. More than that it becomes a can of worms. So whilst I do think problems of current generation aboriginals urgently need to be addressed (as do problems of non aboriginals who live in poverty) I believe in compensating for acts which were done on their ancestors about as much as I believe current day China should compensate me for land seizures from my ancestors when the communists took over.

  58. Bingo Bango Boingo

    Hi GregM, my question was not in any way a legal one. I suppose it is a kind of “what-if”, as in “what if the British invaders were dispossessing a different kind of invader who had merely done their invading a little earlier”?

    BBB

  59. sg

    Chris in this case the issue of “intergenerational compensations” is largely irrelevant because (as I keep saying!) there are several generations of Aborigines alive today who witnessed the dispossession and child abduction. They don’t need to lay claim to some historical wrong because they were there.

    I don’t get why people don’t get this.

    But I also think it would be highly unlikely that an Australian government would be comfortable with ignoring a section of the white population who were demanding compensation for dispossession of their land 3 generations ago. They would point out the negative effects on their current wealth of their grandparents being ripped off, and the govt would be listening to their complaint. The difference is that people don’t consider Aboriginal land to have represented “wealth” and don’t believe that the destruction of a culture and empoverishment of its members can have cross-generational effects. This seems really naive to me.

  60. Salient Green

    The only way you can ‘compensate’ is to fix the problem now. I don’t believe Aboriginals alive today would want compensation if they could see the government making a proper effort to ensure the Aboriginal race not only survives but makes a contribution to Australia.

  61. tssk

    Oh snap BBB! I had forgotten this one. The theory that the aboriginals had sometime thousands of years ago possibly displaced another mob. That adds something new to the debate as it paints the current victims as perpetrators leading to the twin conclusions of “they deserved it as they did it to someone else and we are magically absolved of our guilt. Hurrah!”

    Although cunningly worded in such a way that you can backtrack and fair enough too.

    No. Just no. What a load of old tosh. It’s like saying I shouldn’t feel guilty for living in your grandfather’s house where my family had moved in after murdering your grandfather and pushing your family out because I believe that sometime in the neolithic your ancestors possibly kicked someone out of a cave in a similar fashion.

    FFS. Can we just get past this and admit that bad shit happened, reparations need to be made to level the playing field and then we can all move forwards as mates.

    Or should we argue amongst ourselves about dicitionary definitions and dodgy history in order to make ourselves feel better while telling aboriginals that they need us to define them.

  62. Emma in Sydney

    One of the few ways present society can compensate Aboriginal people is to bloody listen to them when they say they want the invasion of their ancestral lands called an invasion.
    Which the Aboriginal Advisory Panel to the City of Sydney Council did say.
    And the council listened. Even under provocation and in opposition to right-wing rabble rousing rhetoric, and shock jock posturing.
    Good on them.

  63. GregM

    BBB, in a hypothetical way I can see your point, but it has no practical or moral value. As far as we know, within the constraints of their dynamic society, a people undifferentiated to us had possession of , and with that property of, their land according to their own rules and laws. And that should have been respected.

    This is not the same as what should have been done if the French had turned up five years before the British and therefore had made claims for whatever property they claimed to make them go away.

    If at the end of the Pacific War in 1945 we recoginised those who held legal title, which under the prevailing law they had won by right of conquest at the time, then we’d be still paying the Japanese back for their dispossession.

    We don’t see it that way about WW2 and nor should we see it about our occupation/ invasion of Australia.

    The issue of native title is about leaving the occupants of the land you invade in quiet occupancy of that land or compensate them for the loss of it.

  64. Paul

    The thing is though, terms like Invasion Day etc. are unacceptable to the Coalition and indeed, most of the electorate. For all of Helen’s “whining” that most people who read the Tele and the Punch don’t share her (far-) left political views, its a fact.

    If the Left hijack the upcoming referendum on including Aboriginals in the Constitution with such terms and attitudes – especially if they try to include anything about Aboriginal “ownership” of the land – it will go down in a screaming heap.

  65. Bingo Bango Boingo

    “The theory that the aboriginals had sometime thousands of years ago possibly displaced another mob. That adds something new to the debate as it paints the current victims as perpetrators leading to the twin conclusions of “they deserved it as they did it to someone else and we are magically absolved of our guilt. Hurrah!”

    Not really, no. There is no “another mob” separate from Aboriginals, there are only other Aboriginals (clearly it doesn’t make any sense at all to think of them as a single community, or people, or nation). And the earlier displacement may have occurred in 1765 for all I know. I’m not sure how that can be turned around to say that, yes, it’s OK that the British invaders raped and murdered them, except perhaps by a deranged person.

    BBB

  66. Chris

    sg @ 63 – well in the case of child abductions I think we should be compensating those aboriginal people along similar lines like we have done for the british children who were essentially removed illegally and those who were removed from single mothers because of the attitudes of the time.

  67. tssk

    Paul @ 68 has an excellent point. Anyone on the elft should stay away from this lest they be accused of hijacking this. Let us all still our tongues. Perhaps the aboringinals who thought that invasion was a good term to describe what happened should also still their biased tongues.

    Let us have these terms rewritten by right wing columnists that represent the forgetten people of Australia. The real victims here. White people who might feel a little uncomfortable.

    I offer my apologies and withdraw from the debate.

  68. Paul

    If the Coalition oppose the referendum, it’s toast and we know what their views on terms such as “invasion” and “Aboriginal ownership of the land” are. Tssk, you must know this as well as I do.

  69. adrian

    You’re right tssk, Paul does indeed have an excellent point. Once you accept, as he has done, Mr Murdoch’s right to tell us all what to think, and your duty to follow his directives, life will be so much easier.

    No longer will you have to examine an issue on its merits, that’s done for you by the good folk at the Tele and The Punch, closely followed by the coalition.

    But just how a referendum (?) and the coalition making it ‘toast’ when they have control of neither house comes into it, is a mystery, but I’m sure one of Murdoch’s organs can explain it.

  70. Patrickb

    @1
    Looks like they’re still losing, but I guess you’ve moved eh? No problem whatsoever for you as far as living high on the hog whilst an entire class of your fellow citizens live in third world conditions. It’s nice to see that racism out in the open, no mealy mouthed hypocrisy for you.

  71. Paul

    Tigtog, the fact that conservatives oppose the use of terms such as “invasion” applies both to the Sydney City Council incident and the upcoming federal referendum. This Council was dominated by inner-city progressives so they listened to Aboriginal concerns but it is hard to imagine a conservative-dominated council in places like Orange doing so.

  72. Patrickb

    “What I do find rather illogical is how so many Atheists persist in supporting the Aboriginal Religion of connection with land”
    Yes I guess you would have some difficulty with this given that you come at everything with a very closed mind, in this case you concept of religion has invaded the idea of people’s connection to the land, in some cases this can be very strong unlike in the west where we just buy and sell it at will. Land to us is almost a fungible commodity.

  73. adrian

    Aaah, get rid of that last damn apostrophe.

    [Done - ed]

  74. Brian

    su’s comment @ 31 is worth ducking back to read. For some unaccountable reason it did time in the spam bucket.

  75. Katz

    GregM:

    Not correct Katz. English law at the time (the 1770s) …

    Fallacy of anachronism.

    Cook departed on his first voyage in 1768, long before anything was promulgated in the “1770s”. After an absence of 2 years, Cook took possession of the eastern 2/3 of the continent before any change of doctrine that might have ensued in the “1770s”.

    When Cook departed Britain in 1768, British practice was guided by the provisions of the Proclamation of 1763. He exercised those principles a the summit of Proclamation Island in August 1770.

  76. Katz

    The island was Possession Island. My mistake.

  77. akn

    Whatever the vote on a mooted referendum recognizing First Peoples in the constitution, even if it fails, one benefit will be to allow an electorate by electorate break down of concentrations of racism. For example, in the 1967 referendum, Kempsey (NSW), is notorious for having not one booth vote positive. Home of the infamous Kinchela Boys Home the Kempsey area continues to this day to be a red neck wonderland of bigotry and prejudice. I reckon that sort of information is priceless and ought to be used as a national guide for the allocation of resources to Aboriginal people.

  78. Chris

    Adrian – there haven’t ever been any Australian referendums passed without bipartisan support have there? By that measure the coalition don’t need support of either of the houses to ensure it fails, they just need to fail to support it.

  79. paul walter

    The observations concerning invasion as a universal feature of human history transcending race, religion and some times culture stand out. From that point it’s obvious it’s known it was an invasion in most categories amongst this reasonably informed group, so why are we again retreating to linguistic euphemisms as to real world situation. Tigtog beautifully resolved poles at 14. Not exactly the organised all out genocide of Armenians, Jews, Russians, Africans, so many others over the last century alone, more a “green needle” looming at the hospice. The Longshanks is a motif for what then happened as first the rest of
    Britain, then the world was invaded, by Europeans.
    The Settler thing is pretty much on a par to Canada, the USA, Southern Africa, EnZed and other destinations unknown.
    But the phenomena moves vertically as well as horizontally as technology speeds up history and colonises culture. Part of it rests in anthropology, it has me in mind of all the things that turned up on SBS’s “aussies as refugees” doco, informative and an artifice in itself, laden in information to be found.
    The point is some of the worst damage was done in the twentieth century, not nineteenth, starting with Federation.
    Greg M at 68 had a neat summary, also earlier comments shine light on the relative transgressiveness of aboriginal’ treatment leading up to and at, white Australian nationhood.
    53, they need to establish certain things to determine with certainty the right and invasion-inherited needfulness of current and future indigenous people to assistance and compensation now and in the future.
    I think the current situation is a shambles, although nowhere else have settler societies been able to do that much better, although I am willingly corrected if otherwise.
    The same sort of seeming meanness has turned up as showed with the boat people, here.
    And I think technology will enable all sorts of colonisations of all manner of unforseen locations, as the future unfolds.
    In the meantime, heeding the truth that all conversation derives of teh elft threat, will leave, as decorum demands.

  80. Andrew

    The term ‘invasion’ day will never be accepted by the vast bulk of Australia’s population – regardless of the semantics of the term ‘invasion’. This debate is very harmful to the cause of indigenous welfare.

    I think the term invasion is reasonably apt. Britain successfully invaded aboriginal Australia. However, this has happened all throughout the history of mankind in lots of countries (as mentioned in many posts above). How long has to pass before the ‘statute of limitations’ expires on an invasion? 1000yrs, 500? 200? (Australia) 50? 5?

    That question highlights the silliness of this debate. The real issue at hand is that modern indigenous Australians remain at a major disadvantage to white Australia – we need to fix that. Harking back 200yrs to quibble over terms like invasion is not going to help – it’s just going to create more division as many Australians push back hard against the term.

  81. Emma in Sydney

    Andrew, the term ‘invasion’ has been accepted by the overwhelming majority of the elected councilors of the City of Sydney for over a decade and recently confirmed. Believe me, they are not a radical bunch. It was the anti-invasion crowd who were raking over the words to describe what happened 220 years ago.

  82. Fran Barlow

    Andrew asked:

    How long has to pass before the ‘statute of limitations’ expires on an invasion? 1000yrs, 500? 200? (Australia) 50? 5?

    Never. History is what it is. Do you recall reading at school about The Norman Conquest? That was a few years back now. The Spanish and Portuguese conquests of what is now “Latin America” weren’t quite as long ago, but they were invasions and they were genocidal.

    How we respond today is most salient, but sanitising the past by resort to new terminology in pursuit of rightwing political correctness doesn’t help at all.

  83. Ootz

    Thanks Su @31, yes in my eyes, having done a cursory reading of what happened in Queensland and hence refrain from making general statements on what went on in other states, it was a bloody landgrab, nothing less and nothing more. From what I understand the colonial office was aware of what was going on but could or would not do anything about it, since many members of the parlament were involved in the scam. For example, R G W Herbert, Queenslands first premier, was a (silent) partner with that scoundrel Dalryple in ‘claiming’ the land that then became ‘The Valley of the Lagoons’ station in the upper Herbert. This is the reason I was using the above example of the annuling the New Guinea anexation. What I am saying is, forget about the semantics, get to know the local history of what happened. Knowledge is a the key to unraveling the truth.

    Further, thanks akn for using ‘First Peoples’ instead of Aboriginal. It is very convenient to lump them all in one basket and deal with them thus. Thats why that term was cunningly introduced in the first place. Admittingly indigenous social structures and relationships are very complex, however they are also the key in understanding of what is going on in places like Yarrabah and why to some extent Palm Island is the mess it is. It also hihglights the role and effectivenes of the native police in the initial conquest, and I stress here, I do not apportion blame to these for the massive bloodshed, but it is a tragic fact. Few days ago I had a talk about that topic with a friend who is from Seattle US, and it appears that similar ‘methods’ were effectively applied to clear that land of its original peoples. Without aknowledging the diversity of the indigenous peoples you got buckleys to even begin to understand what is going.

    Apologies, since updating to firefox 5 my spellchecker is not working anymore and as you might have gathered english ain’t my first language.

  84. tssk

    So what has this shown? Ultimately this shows just how easy it is for the left to be trolled by the right.

  85. wilful

    Mercurius, tssk, the diggers I knew would have kindly told you to fuck off and not speak for them thanks.

  86. akn

    Andrew @86:

    This debate is very harmful to the cause of indigenous welfare.

    Why? Because paternalistic honkies say so? Let’s unpack that: it’s harmful; because it upsets whitefellas to stand accused as the beneficiaries of an undeclared inavsion. If only the blackfellas would just get over it, play nice and agree that the invasions was in fact an extended picnic of mutual tolerance and understanding then our institutions would start employing them, encourage them to finish school, stop jailing them in obsecene numbers, stop killing them in jails, stop Tazering them in police stations, stop letting them roast to death in the back of prison vans and stop takin’ their kids away. But until then, well, of course no-one could expect whitefellas to behave rationally in recognising civil rights and equlity before the law because, well, we get so upset about being called invaders. What a gross insult that is, how dare they, the ingrates.

    Is that about right, Andrew?

  87. akn

    Ootz: I agree completely that the truth lies in local accounts of local events. My own extended research into massacres in the Hunter Valley (not published) supports this. FYI: the father of Steele Rudd (author of the ‘Dad and Dave’ series) left a diary, discovered only recently, which provides the first and so far only direct eyewtiness account of a massacre in Qld. Extracts were published in the Australian Literary Review in the same week as the linked article in The Oz:

    The recent discovery of a memoir of the 1850s frontier offering graphic accounts of the slaughter of Queensland Aborigines casts a fresh and confronting light on settler history. It makes, at times, for painful reading. The recollections are those of Thomas Davis, a former convict who worked on the Darling Downs and farther west around the town of Surat in the 1850s. His memoir was preserved, and no doubt polished, by his son Arthur Hoey Davis who, under the pen-name Steele Rudd, created the popular characters Dad and Dave in the stories published in 1899 as On Our Selection.

    (http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/arts/inside-the-killing-fields-of-queensland/story-e6frg8nf-1225934285579).

  88. Labouring the Point

    Quite amazing that one can have a dictionary definition that shows what happened in Australia was not an invasion but people say it supports their case.

    It makes one think this is catallaxy.

    There were no armed forces and no battles between armies.

    There was a settlement consisiting of prisoners and soldiers to ensure they remained prisoners.

  89. Fran Barlow

    LtP said:

    Quite amazing that one can have a dictionary definition that shows what happened in Australia was not an invasion but people say it supports their case.

    What’s amazing is that you think invasions demand battles between armies. The term comes from the Latin for “walk” (vadere) + in for the motion towards.

    While the historical experience is typically of organised and structured assaults and resistance, the occupation of Mexico by Cortes was for all practical purposes, a one-sided slaughter. Similarly, when the Maori attacked the Chatham Islands in about 1842, there’s no real evidence of any substantial organised resistance amongst the Moriori, but it was an invasion nevertheless.

    The only real requirements are for the ingress of those exotic to the territory, and their seizure/appropriation of the land, the natural resources and features of the built environment for their own purposes.

  90. akn

    Amazing Fran. You’re one of the few other people I’ve ever come across who are familiar with the Maori attack on the residents of the Chatham Islands.

  91. adrian

    Amazing how many people only see what they want to see:

    Dictionary.com

    an act or instance of invading or entering as an enemy, especially by an army.
    2.
    the entrance or advent of anything troublesome or harmful, as disease.
    3.
    entrance as if to take possession or overrun: the annual invasion of the resort by tourists.

    Either LTP doesn’t know the meaning of ‘especially’, or he or she imagines that the British were entering as friends of the indigenous population.
    Either way yet another troll…

  92. Salient Green

    @95, could you explain how the dictionary definitions below, in your view, show that what happened was ‘not’ an invasion.

    1. The act of invading, especially the entrance of an armed force into a territory to conquer.
    2. A large-scale onset of something injurious or harmful, such as a disease.
    3. An intrusion or encroachment.
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/invasion
    Thanks to Tim Dymond @ 9.

  93. Salient Green

    Whoops, @94 I meant, sorry Fran!!!

  94. adrian

    Snap SG!

  95. Fran Barlow

    My initial training was as a history teacher, akn. The Chatham Islands invasion was a gut-wrenchingly tragic and illuminating episode.

  96. PinkyOz

    Does it really matter this much. So much media attention, so much angst, so much finger pointing and for what purpose exactly?

    There is no doubt that European colonisation/settlement/invasion (or more likely a mix of all 3) was universally bad news for aboriginals and their culture, no argument could be made otherwise because we know that’s the case up to and including today.

    Focusing on 1788 will not improve aboriginal healthcare, will not save an aboriginal child from poverty neglect or abuse, will not prevent an aboriginal from becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol, will not improve education/workplace/living standards of aboriginal people as a cohort and will not make relations between aboriginal and European-descended people any better.

    I’m all for a dialogue between Aboriginals and Australians in general as to what can be done to start repairing the relationship and make progress to really address these problems, It’s important that we do. This sudden re-emergence of ‘Invasion day’ talk is a sideshow to sell papers and stoke European guilt over the uncontrollable, when we should be focusing on the things we can control.

  97. Paul Burns

    Well, I dob’t even know where to begin.
    Clendinnewn’s Dancing with Strangers first, I suppose. Its a wonderful account but its view of Aboriginal white relations is, IMO, a little romanticised.
    Now, the historical problem of invasion. And that’s what it is, because its a debate that will never be completely resolved. I’m going to restrict most of my argument to the Botany Bay-Port Jackson area, as its broadly the Sydney Basin the Council and the Aboriginal Advisory Panel are actually talking about.
    One hypothesis advanced about the initial occupation of Sydney is that only the First Fleeters were intended to be sent here as convicts, where they would die off or return once their sentences had expiured. despite its elegance, I don’t find it convincing, and in any case, even if it was so the intentions of the Pitt administration changed by about 1790.
    Secondly, some of the Eora, notably the Cadigal (I think) about Botany Bay were not at all welcoming to the Europeans. This view was somewhat reinforced by the French under La Perouse opening up on them with several cannon.
    Other bands around Port Jackson, though not, from memory those up the Georges River, were more welcoming. There seem to be two reasons for this: first, they thought the European sojourn was tewmporary – they identified them as they would any other Aboriginal band passing through their territory and staying for a short while. Secondly, some Aboriginal leaders or would be leaders, such as Bennelong saw personal advantage in co-operating with the whites, not just in terms of status and prestige though. Bennelong wanted Phillip’s military forcesto help in intra-tribal warfare, but Phillip, wisely refused.
    to take sides.
    By the time the Sydney band realised the white occupation was permanent and should be resisted, about early 1789, most of the districts Aboriginal groups had ben decimated by the smallpox epidemic, and thewre were too few of them to offer an effective resistance.
    I’m not going to canvass the various atrocities inflicted on both sides for the period 1788-1792, except to note that in light of later events, they were quite low-level on both sides. Not until very late 1792, early 1793, when the whites moved into the Hawkesbury, did full scale war break out. This war between whites and blacks continued about the continent on and off until about 1936, if I remember the date correctly from vol. 1 of C. D. Rowley’s destruction of Aboriginal Society.
    I will address the miltary aspects of the conflict in another comment.

  98. Ootz

    Heh, an example of armed conflict that went on close to ‘home’. One Jack Kane, which was a participant in the act, gives following account to N B Tindale (Tindale Expidition Diary 1938, p.417)

    In 1884 he took part in a police raid which lasted a week, culminating in a round up at Skull Pocket and others following at Mulgrave River and near Four Mile (Skeleton Ck, Woree I think). At Skull pocket police officers and native trackers surrounded a camp of Yidinydji blacks before dawn, each man armed with with a rifle and revolver. At dawn one man fired into their camp and the natives rushed away in three directions. They were easy running shots, close up. the native police rushed in with their scrub knives and killed off the children. A few years later a man loaded up a whole case of skulls and took them away as specimens. (Jack Kane said) “I didn’t mind the killing of the ‘bucks’ but I didn’t quite like them braining the kids.”

    Some kind of truth and reconciliation process would go along way to put the current sanitised recent Australian history aka ‘Settler myth’ to rest.

  99. Fran Barlow

    I seem to recall, Paul, reading of something like organised indigenous resistance in the area around what is now Geelong, Victoria around 1800, and the involvement of a European in this. Is my memory correct here?

  100. Paul Burns

    Comment 94, I think makes most of the points I want to address re Aboriginal European warfare. much of my thinking is based on my reading of Connor’s book about Aboriginal warfare – (Not the RWDB from Quadrunt, btw.) and various other texts.
    The first thing to recognise is that Aboriginal military tactics and strategy was like nothing else the British had ever encountered, either in North America with native American tribes, in the Caribbean with the Caribs, or in the Pacific region. Basically, the Aborigines rarely fought pitched battles among themselves which resulted in a decisive outcome, and from the early evidence, it appears that when they did, such melees came to an end as soon as there were first casualties or shortly after. So, the Europeans were faced with a kind of warfare with which they were totally unfamiliar, even in their experiences of guerilla and Indian warfare in North America. The first Aboriginal tactic was payback. They speared some-one who had offended them, or relatives of that person. This was usually achieved either through single combat (I think) or more importantly, through ambush. Aboriginal women played an important part in this. They were used to lure the intended victims to an isolated spot where they could be attacked. One Aboriginal band tried to employ this tactic against Dawes and king on the Georges River in mid January 1788, but fortunately for them, King and Dawes refused to land on the river bank.
    The British, imnued with the honour code, thought the Aboriginal mode of warfare dishonourable, but that was how the Aborigines had fought amongst themselves since time immemorial.
    The British were very fortunate that the Eora were decimated bt smallpox in 1789, because, as was likely, if all the bands had had the numbers to fight them once they realised the Brits had come to stay, they would have wiped them all out. At the time the Aboriginal spear was technologically superior to the British musket. An Aboriginal warrior or warriors could throw with great accuracy a considerable number of spears in the three minutes it took a European to prime and load a musket.
    So, given this and the former comment I made, was thisa an invasion? The Aborigines in Sydney certainly thought so, but by the time they realised it they did not have the numbers to effectively resist because ofd the smallpox epidemic. They did not all resist in the first place because they perceived the initial settlement as a temporary sojourn, long familiar to them from their own cultural practices. OTOH, the Aboriginews on the Hawkesbury in late 1792-early 1793 knew from the experience of the Port Jackson and Botany Bay Aborigines (unfortunately the name of their band escapes me) that when the British moved into their territory this would be a permanent settlement. Resistance and war was immediate.

  101. tssk

    Wilful @91. You’ve missed my point. However I did run this past one of my mates and here’s his response.

    It’s a low cowardly trick to use our ANZACs who made great sacrifices on your behalf as part of a tricky arguement using false equivilance. OBR need not and should not even deign to answer such a dishonest hypothetical. Most of my digger mates wouldn’t give you the time of day. No wonder the left get such short shift.

  102. Paul Burns

    Fran @ 105,
    I don’t know. I specialise in the history of the Sydney area, with particular emphasis on 1788-1792. Sorry.

  103. Fran Barlow

    tssk:

    No wonder the left get such short shift shrift

    .

    What a self-righteous fellow your “mate” is! Little wonder that rational people look with such suspicion on soldiers.

  104. Ootz

    Good point Paul Burns re muskets. Not surprisingly Terry breech loaders are mentioned in several eye witness accounts of clashes with awe.

  105. Labouring the Point

    There was no invasion as the dictionary definition shows.

    The only armed people around were glorified prison officers.

    It produced a settlement of both prisoners and freemen.

    The analogy with Cortez nails it.

    Cortez was there only to conquer the country and bring riches back to Spain. Fran says invasion doesn’t demand to have battles. in almost all cases they do. Moreover the ‘Military force’ would not have stopped at Botany Bay but like Cortez move across the land.

    Here we had a settlement as I said before. If they were going to invade
    They didn’t have enough soldiers nor resources for said soldiers and if they attempted it there would have been no one to cover the prisoners

  106. adrian

    To labour the point, Labouring The point doesn’t understand the meaning of ‘especially’ within the context of the definition above. Maybe you’re confusing it with ‘exclusively’.

  107. Emma in Sydney

    “This sudden re-emergence of ‘Invasion day’ talk is a sideshow to sell papers and stoke European guilt over the uncontrollable, when we should be focusing on the things we can control.”

    FFS, it was brought up by the conservative councillors on CoS Council and one independent and one Liberal voted to remove the word ‘invasion’. I don’t know how many times this has to be said.

    As for Labouring the Point, go and read some history. Or Paul’s comments. There were 736 convicts on the First Fleet, out of 1530 people. They had 269 sailors and naval officers, and 245 Marines.
    The Sirius carried 6 cannons, 8 swivel guns and 14 ten-pounder guns, as well as muskets and ammunition.

  108. Paul Burns

    Labouring the point,
    Several of the trusted convicts had guns, including McIntyre, Phillip’s huntsman, who used to more or less shoot Aborigines the way he shot kangaroos, apparently. He was speared for his trouble.
    One of Phillip’s great problems in the early years was that the NSW marines (who are different from the NSW Corps),refused tyo overseer the convict, to the point that Phillip had to have convict overseers sent out in the Second Fleet. The convicts were a pretty docile lot mostly anyway, despite being petty thieves, forgers, prostitutes etc, etc. The real bad’uns didn’t make it to NSW, except for some convict mutineers. They were hung at home.
    The marines saw themselves as being in NSW to defend the settlement ahainst the Aborigines and possibly the French.

  109. adrian

    Good to have your expert input here, Paul.

  110. Labouring the Point

    yes the first fleet came to botany Bay then decided to go to Port Jackson as BB was not deemed suitable.
    They stayed there. Sounds like settlement to anyone else.

    If the Marines were there to invade then they would have done that however they didn’t.

    Emma go and find out what an ‘invading force’ would have both in terms of men and weapons.

    Paul , gosh soldiers who are glorified prison officers not liking their job.
    wow

  111. akn

    PinkyOz @ 102: the truth of history matters a lot. The concluding stanza of Lawson’s ‘Freedom on the Wallaby’ is illustrative: .

    So we must fly a rebel flag,
    As others did before us,
    And we must sing a rebel song
    And join in rebel chorus.
    We’ll make the tyrants feel the sting
    O’ those that they would throttle;
    They needn’t say the fault is ours
    If blood should stain the wattle!

    The wattle, of course, had already been drenched in Aboriginal blood even as Lawson wrote this. One of the indicators of genocide is denialism in which Australian cultural life is very rich indeed. The revelations of relatively recent years about massacres came as a deep shock to many people including me. Our personal history was torn away as we were forced to realise that the pastoral landscapes, wilderness areas and national parks were in fact killing fields for First Nation people. The most significant work in my own personal journey here is Henry Reynold’s ‘The Whispering in Our Hearts’ which allowed me to understand that I and my family are in fact part of a long dissenting tradition in Australia of opposition to racist and gencoidal policies towards First Nation Australians. Part of that is sustaining accurate historical accounts that challenge the dominant narrative of happy, colonial settlement by minimising the murder that accompanied the theft of land. Consequently it is highly significant to argue at every instance for the term invasion over any other.

    .

  112. PinkyOz

    Emma, It really doesn’t matter who brought it up (Though, surprise surprise, conservatives again), the point is it was reported again and again with so little thought to the bigger picture. The media chose to emphasise the trivial bickering between councillors and their supporters instead of getting to understand why it is important to talk about this or address the wider issues that resulted from those actions.

    I seriously don’t care about what to call the European invasion/settlement of Australia in 1788 while people are dying, starving and being routinely discriminated against because of their heritage. That is the argument I take to this, less talk more action.

  113. Paul Burns

    Labouring the Point,
    Between Cortes and Botany Bay there was an extraordinary phenomenon called the Enlightenment. Australia was so far as I know the first country to be occupied by Europeans in the Enlightenment.
    Socondly, as I’m sure Arthur Phillip would have told you at the time with some warm feeling, the British were NOT like the Spaniards. For one thing they had learnt from their experiences in North America that it was much wiser to come to some way of working wityh indigenous peoples, other than outright warfare if it was possible. This did not mean they were above ethnic cleansing (the Acadians in Nova Scotia), germ warfare against native peoples (Amherst in the Seven Years war) or outright and long bloody warfare (the Caribs in the British West Indies), Its just that they preferred not to operate that way unless they had to.
    In any case the question of whether we’re talking about an invasion or not is irresolvable IMO. Events did not play out uniformly all over Australia up to 1936. What is absolutely certain, and it is recognised in our best general military histories, is there was a guerrilla war of resistance by the Aborigines that went on for nearly 150 years and many Aborigines participated in that war because they thought the Europeans were invading their territory. But perhaps the subtlety of that argument just escapes you.

  114. Alphonse

    Katz @ 30“To Aborigines all this looked like an invasion. But whites didn’t think they were invaders.”

    If the British thought the locals were human, they would have thought of themselves as invaders. But they were worse than invaders. They thought the locals were sub-human. Their actions were those of invaders but their motives were worse, not better.

    Russell @ 18 dodged this point.

  115. Labouring the Point

    Paul ,
    you talked a lot but could not or would not address the point of why the ‘invasion force’ stopped at Port Jackson and went no further.

    It doesn’t matter who you wish to bring up no force invading a country does that.

    The Yanks went right on to Baghdad and conquered Iraq. That what Invasion is all about pre or post enlightenment

  116. FDB

    LtP – you cannot be correct (even in your own terms of reference) unless you don’t believe Aborigines are humans, or you believe they did not have ownership of the land on which they lived.

    Which is it?

  117. Ootz

    There are well documented clashes between the 17th regiment and the Noonuccal in the early ‘settlement’ of Moreton Bay. I think Ray Evans ‘Fighting Words’ covered it.

    BTW A while ago I was confronting a resident Japanese friend of mine about the silence in Japan re WW 2 war atrocities, particularely in school curiculums and the enshrinement of war criminals in the Yakusuni shrine. His immediate response was to point to the ‘conquest’ of the original people in Australia and how everybody here conveniently ‘forgets’ about the horrible truth on which this nation is built.

  118. Katz

    The First Fleet travelled through some enemy territory on the way to Botany Bay. Relations between France and Britain and France and the Netherlands were very frosty. Indeed, the Dutch at Cape of Good Hope contemplated incarcerating the First Fleet. The British Admiralty at the time were well aware of Dutch and French antagonism and indeed suspected a secret confederacy between them to prevent the British from establishing bases in the neighbourhood of Asia. Alan Frost’s “Convicts and empire: a naval question, 1776-1811″, is a thrilling account of these great power rivalries and the place of the Royal Navy in them.

    Marines were a constant component of the crew of any latter-18th-century warship.

    Marines were, as the name suggests, sea-based soldiers. They were trained to shoot at human targets from the rigging and to act as boarding parties during sea battles. Their training certainly did not involve incursions into unknown territory. As PB says, they felt themselves to be round pegs in square holes in NSW.

    The major deployment of Marines before 1788 was during the War of Jenkin’s Ear 1740, a naval action against Spain.

    One cannot make any particular conclusion about the intentions of the British in NSW towards Aborigines from the presence of Marines in the expedition.

  119. Robert Merkel

    But most European-descended Australians don’t like to think of our ancestors as invaders. Maybe we should get over that and be honest about it.

    Yep. We need to get over ourselves.

    We came in, took the land and destroyed the culture of the previous inhabitants, often at the barrel of a gun.

    It’s not the whole story – and there is a great deal that is laudable about what we did with the place once we took it – but it’s an essential part.

  120. Katz

    Alphonse:

    Katz @ 30“To Aborigines all this looked like an invasion. But whites didn’t think they were invaders.”

    If the British thought the locals were human, they would have thought of themselves as invaders.

    Huh?

    The British thought of the Aborigines as British subjects, as established by Cook’s annexation in 1770.*

    You moralising has vitiated your historical perspective.
    _____________
    *Interestingly, Aborigines kept their British identity after the Australian Constitution denied them of Australian citizenship in 1901.

  121. Labouring the Point

    sorry FDB but invasion doesn’t stop at Port Jackson so both points are invalid.

    Settlement does stop at Port Jackson however.

  122. Occam's Blunt Razor

    What have the Romans done for us?

  123. Paul Burns

    LtP,
    Simple. As others have observed, they didn’t know the territory. They didn’t want to get lost in the bush. Several convicts trying to escape were, and (I think) 3 marines, (I can’t be bothered going through all the FF sources on my bookshelf to count them up) were lost and died in the bush around Sydney and Parramatta.
    When Phillip carved out a very wide track from Parramatta to Sydney shortly after Parramatta (Rose Hill) was founded, he issued strict instructions that people were not to stray from that track. He did this because they had about a 98% chance of never finding their way home if they did. They would either starve to death or get killed by Aborigines.

  124. Ootz

    Unfortuately this conveniant ‘silence’ does not allow the many consciencious voices at that time to be heard. Not everyone was ‘happy’ with the proceedings. From ‘Residence and Rambles in Australia’ Blackwoods Magazine, Sept 1852

    Extemination is then the word – wholesale massacres of men women and children…. These terrible razzias occuring in the remote back settlements and pastures, are for the most part ignored by the local authorities – crown land commisioners, police magistrate, and others, or else considered a justified negrocide.

    I think we should be now as a nation be mature enough to aknowledge our humanity in badness and goodness and face the truth squarely.

  125. Emma in Sydney

    The invasion didn’t stop at Port Jackson. They were farming at Rose Hill in 1788, Windsor in 1791,Toongabbie by 1792. By 1805, there were Europeans living at Penrith, Richmond and Camden. In 1814 a road over the Blue Mountains. For a society with a shortage of draught animals and no engine power, that wasn’t bad going. Needless to say Aboriginal people were not consulted about the theft of their land and game.

  126. Emma in Sydney

    Google ‘Appin massacre’, for the military destruction of most of the remaining Dharawal people. Directly ordered by Governor Macquarie, and carried out by soldiers of the 48th Regiment in 1816.
    http://www.phansw.org.au/ROPHO/broughton.pdf
    It’s depressing that so many Australians cannot bear to look squarely at our history, and see it whole.

  127. Ootz

    Good point Razor, the Romans gave us Boudica .

  128. Russell

    “If the British thought the locals were human, they would have thought of themselves as invaders. But they were worse than invaders. They thought the locals were sub-human. Their actions were those of invaders but their motives were worse, not better.
    Russell @ 18 dodged this point”

    No Alphonse, I didn’t dodge it, I just don’t know if it’s true. I too read “This Whispering in our Hearts”, a fantastic book, so I know that not all the early settlers thought that the Aborigines were sub-human.

    But most European-descended Australians don’t like to think of our ancestors as invaders. Maybe we should get over that and be honest about it.
    Yep. We need to get over ourselves.

    We came in, took the land and destroyed the culture of the previous inhabitants, often at the barrel of a gun.”

    Robert – who is responsible? Everyone who is non-indigenous? So the post-war migrants from Europe, the Vietnamese migrants after 1975?

  129. adrian

    It’s crucially important how we characterise this ‘settlement’ because as others have noted our understanding of the past informs our attitudes to the present.

    To call it anything other than an invasion is to willfully ignore the realities of history for ideological or other ahistorical reasons. I just wish some white Australians could get over themselves.

  130. Wombo

    @ tigtog and GregM, re that little side-conversation (and apologies to all for long OT post):

    The myth of broad Celtic origins for the peoples of the British Isles is just that, a myth, largely wishful thinking on the part of overly romantic Victorian scholars.

    Actually, the myth is particularly attached to the outdated definition of “Celtic” as a racial or ethnic category, connected to a poor understanding of the archaeological record, rather than as the linguistic (and is a broader, more questionable sense, cultural) one, which is what it is widely understood to be today (debates over La Tène, Hallstatt, Liguria or Herodotus notwithstanding).

    Unfortunately variations of this myth that continues in a peudo-’scientific’ manner today. The Oppenheimer article linked to, and his book on this subject too, are flawed in precisely this regard. He continually conflates language with “racial” (particularly genetic) traits.

    For example:

    “Our ancestors were Basques, not Celts. The Celts were not wiped out by the Anglo-Saxons, in fact neither had much impact on the genetic stock of these islands “.

    This is – quite frankly – bollocks. The genetic evidence is straightforward enough, and I don’t contest it.

    But so is the linguistic, cultural and historical evidence. The inhabitants of the “British Isles” at the time of the Roman conquest were overwhelmingly “Celtic” (not “Basque”, nor “Germanic” – neither linguistically, nor culturally) in the sense it is conventionally understood in academic circles.

    Oppenheimer rightly uses the genetic evidence to attack the “migrationist” model, but then he goes on to construct a germania ab origine model which is equally as spurious, and smacks all-too-strongly of the old Greater Britannia “right to rule” mentality fostered by successive regimes in England.

    The orthodox view is that the entire population of the British Isles, including England, was Celtic-speaking when Caesar invaded.

    Which it was. The orthodox view is backed up by the orthodox evidence, and doesn’t rely upon using genetics as an indicator of language.

    But if that were the case, a modest Anglo-Saxon invasion is unlikely to have swept away all traces of Celtic language from the pre-existing population of England.

    History fail. First, this fails to take into account the fact that there were several centuries of Roman rule in between, it gives no apparent thought to cultural or linguistic change, the relationship between political or economic dominance and language, or the extended period during which Anglian, Saxon and Jutish power gradually established itself across the island.

    It also ignores the likely temporary continuity of Celtic language (or, more likely, an amalgam) use in the countryside. In a largely non-literary society, there is unlikely to be any evidence of this. There is only limited evidence of it in Gaul after the Roman then Frankish invasions, but it is enough to show that it took place.

    Yet there are only half a dozen Celtic words in English, the rest being mainly Germanic, Norman or medieval Latin

    There are more than “half a dozen” Celtic words in English. Many of them come via Latin, others via proto-Germanic languages, others again through Saxon, more still through medieval and modern Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and Irish. This quote indicates a clear (and, knowing Oppenheimer, almost certainly deliberate) misunderstanding the relationship of language to ancient society.

    One explanation is that England was not mainly Celtic-speaking before the Anglo-Saxons. Consider, for example, the near-total absence of Celtic inscriptions in England (outside Cornwall), although they are abundant in Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Brittany.

    Notice too the near-total absence of inscriptions in any other language in England? Notice also how many of those Celtic inscriptions in Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Brittany date from *after* the Celtic language was isolated in these regions? Piss-poor argumentation.

    Genetic tracking shows that the bulk of the ancestry of modern Britons derives from Basque-region pioneers who came over after the last great ice age and who later interbred with pioneering Scandinavian and Belgic (Germanic) peoples, so that the British population was actually genetically very like the Western European population, which is in hindsight unsurprising given the evidence we have of cultural interchange.

    The genetic makeup of the British population is indeed very like that of the rest of Western Europe (with the particular qualification of the Atlantic Fringe population of Europe, which shares its own distinct markers).

    But here again we get more conflation and confusion. “Belgic (Germanic) peoples”? Firstly, there is no such thing as a “Belgic (Germanic)” genetic marker. They are both linguistic indentifiers, and Belgic was a Celtic language (admittedly sharing many features and words with neighbouring Germanic tribes. No surprise there.). Despite spurious attempts to locate Belgic as a “fourth branch” of Germanic, its speakers were firmly a part of the Gaulish (ie Celtic, rather than Germanic) cultural, economic and political sphere at the time of Caesar’s invasion, and for some centuries both beforehand and afterwards.

    What *is* interesting on that front, by the by (and it’s part of what Oppenheimer relies on for his silly thesis), is the distinct linguistic, cultural *and* (it turns out) genetic continuity between the Belgic areas of Europe and the areas of south-east England which were inhabited by Belgic tribes during the immediately pre-Roman period.

    This is what Oppenheimer is trying to get at here, but he exposes his agenda by his deliberate and innaccurate conflation of the two.

    A picture thus emerges of the dark-ages invasions of England and northeastern Britain as less like replacements than minority elite additions, akin to earlier and larger Neolithic intrusions from the same places.

    This is largely accurate.

    There were battles for dominance between chieftains, all of Germanic origin, each invader sharing much culturally with their newly conquered indigenous subjects.

    This is not. The battles for dominance also involved Romanised, unRomanised, and “post-Romanised” British, Pictish, and Irish groups, frequently in alliances with various parts of the Germanic ‘newcomers’ (there is also evidence of continental Germanic presence in Britain *during* the Roman period, almost certainly as mercenaries, but this almost certainly indicates a separate phenomenon).

    Again, the situation is not at all close to what happened in Australia when the British invaded.

    Agreed. Fervently. Best to leave that comparison well alone, then.

  131. Adam

    Surely it was both invasion and settlement? Settlement may be an accurate term for characterising aspects of what was a large-scale process (the entirety of which was clearly visible to very few, especially early on).

    The political reasons for choosing to emphasise invasion rather than settlement (in stark contrast) probably aren’t as obvious as they once were. I doubt that it’s possible to imagine settlement in the way it was understood before late C20th Aboriginal activism and the emergence of Aboriginal History. Having said that, there are still obvious reasons for vigilance about how the past is characterised.

  132. Wantok

    My date pad thought for the day seems to sum it up: waste not fresh tears over old griefs – Dante

  133. Wombo

    With regards to the actual topic, I agree with Fran:

    It’s hard to think of a more apt term for European seizure of the land mass of Australia than invasion. Colonisation and occupation were manifestation of the initial invasion and in that sense, distinct

    Pemulwuy? Jandamurra? Yagan? Windradyne? The “Black War” in Tasmania? Sounds like a contested invasion to me.

    As for the whites not seeing themselves as invaders, I give you Western Australian barrister E.W. Landor, 1847:

    “We have seized upon the country, and shot down the inhabitants, until the survivors have found it expedient to submit to our rule. We have acted as Julius Caesar did when he took possession of Britain.”

    Also, from memory there were at least two (local) treaties negotiated in the 1800s, both of which were nullified by potentates further up the British foodchain, who recognised the potential implications they could have…

  134. Ootz

    With respect Wantok, I am not talking about tears or blame nor guilt. It is honesty I am concerned with.

    “Honesty is the best policy. If I lose mine honor, I lose myself.”
    Shakespeare

  135. Katz

    As Henry Reynolds demonstrates, as time went on after 1788, more and more whites, and even some officers of the crown, came to recognise the truth, which is that whites were invading the lands of Aborigines and were depriving them of their autonomy, their property, their livelihoods and their spiritual heritage.

    One of the earliest examples of these changing attitudes was David Collins, who was the first Judge Advocate, accompanying Phillip on the First Fleet. He later became the first Lieutenant Governor of VDL.

    However, discussants tend to speak of the British as if their intentions and ideas and feelings of guilt or self-justification didn’t change between 1788 and the mid-19th century.

    This simply isn’t true. And it is worth repeating that the land laws of the 1830s resurrected a recognition of Aboriginal property rights.

    It should be stressed that deliberately Whitehall forbade local colonists any say over land policy, recognising that Australian colonists were determined to ensure that Aboriginals remained completely dispossessed.

  136. sg

    Ootz:

    A while ago I was confronting a resident Japanese friend of mine about the silence in Japan re WW 2 war atrocities, particularely in school curiculums and the enshrinement of war criminals in the Yakusuni shrine.

    You can find English translations of middle school history books here and I think you’ll find they aren’t quite as you depict. For example, the Shimizu Shoin book refers to violence against the elderly, women and children in Nanjing; Nihon Bunkyo Shuppan has a sub-chapter entitled “The Japanese Invasion of China” and refers to the massacre of Chinese civilians in the Nanjing Massacre. Kyoiku Shuppan refers to the massacre of Chinese civilians (The Nanjing Incident) and describes Manchukuo as a puppet government.

    These are books for children aged 12-15, so obviously some of the more delicate topics of conversation that surround these stories are not included in the text.

    If you’re looking for apologies from the Japanese government for the pacific war you can find a full list on wikipedia. For example, from the PM in 1992: “I apologize from the bottom of my heart and feel remorse for those people who suffered indescribable hardships”.

    Japan has also offered war reparations, and has been very active in international aid throughout the region. Yet you don’t even think they’ve apologized. Perhaps you should try to update your stereotypes about Japan, and wonder why your friend might think Australia more than a little hypocritical given we only apologized in 2007 for the dispossession of the natives, and still argue about whether or not we can describe what we did as an invasion.

  137. Russell

    “still argue about whether or not we can describe what we did as an invasion.” is it that, or is it arguing against an inference that we are here illegitimately?

  138. jumpnmcar

    “”"”(“still argue about whether or not we can describe what we did as an invasion.” is it that, or is it arguing against an inference that we are here illegitimately?)”””

    If someone uses the word “we” , can they please define the “we” they are talking about.

  139. murph the surf.
  140. Mercurius

    Gosh, I take a break for 24 hours in the hope that OBR might provide a robust explanation of what he meant #24, and all he can do is quote Monty Python? How insipid.

    What have the Romans done for us?

    Good point, OBR. I must remember to thank them for destroying the Second Temple.

    And then there’s wilful @91:

    Mercurius, tssk, the diggers I knew would have kindly told you to fuck off and not speak for them thanks.

    Pot, meet kettle.

    I didn’t speak for the diggers. I did suggest OBR might like to have a chat with them. Do you see the difference?

    But thanks, wilful, for coming in and speaking for the diggers anyway. It’s nice to hear what the diggers think, through you. I’ve never before been told, vicariously, to “fuck off”. Quite a rhetorical feat you have managed.

    I’ll shush now. It’s very rude of me to interrupt while you’re speaking for the diggers.

  141. adrian

    Yes indeed, sg. It’s a rather unfortunate sterotype that does a great disservice to the Japanese.

    Incidentally and completely OT, I remember travelling to Southern Laos from Vientinae on a series of old buses, and passing over an unbelievable number of bridges of all shapes and sizes. All of them were funded and built by the Japanese government – a major foreign aid exercise.

  142. Mercurius

    @146, Jumpy, have you read the linked news item in the post? The ‘we’ is the councillors of the City of Sydney. Because a representative panel of Aboriginal advisors asked them to.

    Perhaps you don’t want somebody to be speaking ‘for you’. If not, you could always move to Switzerland where they have direct democracy.

    Well, some Aboriginal people are speaking for themselves now, and they would like us to refer to the events as an ‘invasion’, for the same reason that Jewish people would like you to refer to the events of WWII as the Holocaust. Is that really so much to ask? Is it really so difficult? Do you really wanna quibble about it?

  143. akn

    Lawd helpus Bob Carr has fallen off his ‘thoughtlines’ trolley:

    For these people, who became Australians, it was not invasion but another chapter in the story of European expansion and one that produced a prosperous and democratic and happy colony within a few decades.

    What he neglects to mention amidst this welter of relativism is that the ‘prosperous and happy colony’ was subsequent only to land clearances, mass murder, military expeditions and numerous instances of single and small scale killings. I daresay that those who enjoyed the benefits of this brutality did think that they inherited a ‘lucky country’ as they washed the blood off their hands.

    Here’s Donald Horne on the genesis of the term ‘lucky country’:

    “I was about to write the last chapter of a book on Australia,” recalled Horne. “The opening sentence was, ‘Australia is a lucky country, run by second-rate people who share its luck.” … It was meant as an indictment of an unimaginative nation, its cosy provincialism, its cultural cringe and its White Australia policy.

    Lucky country, happy country, same trope from the same second raters as ever.

  144. Joe

    Russel, it’s not so much that “we are here illegitimately.” I think a hidden implicit aspect of this debate is about the concept of nationality and citizenship.

    A very significant characteristic of this debate is that it is not primarily between representatives of the historical protagonists/ antagonists. It’s much more a debate between contemporary political parties — a kind of proxy war. It’s very difficult to be clear on what exactly the discussion is about. Which is a great shame, because it really just causes pain and uncertainty and a kind of further disenfranchisement of people wrt political debate.

    Anyway, wrt nationality and citizenship: A citizen is a cultural artefact, you become a citizen of Australia. Australian institutions confer citizenship on people, but do you have to be Australian to be a citizen? –No. At the moment citizenship is more of a bureaucratic or technical status described almost purely in legal terms (there’s a bit of a ceremony, you know, you may get a gift voucher to take home).

    But as a national culture, Australians have an historical tradition. It involves things like the destruction of the culture and the death of a significant proportion of the indigenous population, the convict history, the great depression, ANZACs, post war immigration etc. etc. This is the national story, we don’t just create it our of nothing by portraying it, it has some basis in historical fact. It is also important to many people’s identity and deserves serious research and respect.

    It is a disservice to have a political debate about whether or not English colonists invaded Aboriginal Australia, when this is really an historical question. You can’t take this seriously. This is a kind of contemptuous way to treat our national history.

    And the implied issues surrounding things like citizenship, national identity and OMG, indigenous welfare (ostensibly a significant issue related to this “debate”) are autonomous and need to be clearly defined and debated elsewhere.

  145. akn

    It is a disservice to have a political debate about whether or not English colonists invaded Aboriginal Australia, when this is really an historical question. You can’t take this seriously. This is a kind of contemptuous way to treat our national history.

    Without doubt one of the most bizarre formulations I’ve ever seen. While history is a specific discipline the idea that it is discrete is very peculiar as is the notion of a break between early Australian history and the current conditions of Aboriginal people such that their current social experiences can and ought to be considered in the absence of a history that includes genocide.

  146. jumpnmcar

    Merky@150

    “”Perhaps you don’t want somebody to be speaking ‘for you’. “”
    No “Perhaps” about it.
    My Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander friends * have told me ,that, they feel the same way.

    “”"Do you really wanna quibble about it?”"”
    No, I know when I’ve met my match in that department .

    All the WW2/Jewish/Holocaust stuff is OT and you know it.

    * There are some A and TI people i know who aren’t my friends

  147. Joe

    akn,

    yeah, but you see, you’re doing it already: contemporary Aboriginal compensation, welfare, etc. may be justified on the grounds of historical events, but the events themselves are not founded on opinion or political ideology. They are historical fact. You can have an historical debate about the facts…

    Now, you know, I think, that politically we’re not in disagreement. Historically, we agree on the main facts as well.

    But the argument being brought by some people (the councillor mentioned above), that British people didn’t invade Australia 200+ years ago isn’t political. It’s essentially historical. Either we respect historians and let them do their work or we just don’t care and we’re the stupider for it. We should listen to people like Paul and Wombat, who have spent time studying history, if we’re interested in history.

    We are only writing contemporary history, OTOH, when we act like galoots and claim, “My granddaddy made this countree the place it is today, may he rest in peace…” I mean, I’m already embarrassed that we have Tony Abbott as opposition leader. In a hundred years, when people read about the turn of the century, I imagine that Abbott will not be a figure, who Australian’s will look back on a representing significant values. We have to be careful that we too are not remembered for being dogmatic ignorami.

  148. murph the surf.
  149. GregM

    tigtog, what Wombo said @137.

    Except he said it far better than I did.

    As he has pointed out the Celts were a western european cultural/linguistic grouping, not a discrete ethnic group. I did not represent them as being such a discrete group.

    It is one of the great what-ifs of European history as to how it would have developed had Julius Caesar not been so successful in his Gallic campaigns which destroyed a great centre of emerging celtic culture.

  150. GregM

    Katz @81

    Fallacy of anachronism.

    Ignorance of history and law. I am not surprised.

    Read the High Court Mabo decisions and learn something about what you are pontificating on.

  151. pablo

    I have no doubts it was an invasion, a slow invasion rather than a blitzkrieg. For example by the early years of the 19th century there were British garrisons at Appin, (south of Sydney) Bathurst and Green Hills (Maitland). They were there to protect ‘advancing’ settlers from the natives and usually followed skirmishes or ‘outrages’ by the local clans. To avoid further confrontations the British instructed that no settlement beyond the 19 counties be permitted. Check them out. They still adorn your title deeds… Northumberland, Durham, Cumberland.
    Needless to say the early squatters cared ‘squat’ for the directive from London and the worst of the NSW crimes against humanity occurred over the next three decades to around 1850.

  152. Mercurius

    Fine @7:

    I think the reason there’s such an irrational response to asylum seekers, refugees, ‘boat people’ is that deep down we still feel guilty about this invasion and that guilt is displaced onto others who also arrive by boats.

    The Australian Peaceful Asylum Invasion

    By Tony Abbott.

  153. GregM

    A citizen is a cultural artefact, you become a citizen of Australia. Australian institutions confer citizenship on people, but do you have to be Australian to be a citizen? –No. At the moment citizenship is more of a bureaucratic or technical status described almost purely in legal terms (there’s a bit of a ceremony, you know, you may get a gift voucher to take home).

    ??????????????????????

    Citizenship is not a cultural artefact. It is, perhaps, a legal artefact. It confers certain legal rights and responsibilities on those who have it. It says nothing about culture except the the extent that of those whose citizenship is conferred by naturalisation have to swear an oath or affirmation committing to some basic social and legal, but not cultural, values.

    but do you have to be Australian to be a citizen?

    Well yes, obviously and definitionally so.

    But as a national culture, Australians have an historical tradition. It involves things like the destruction of the culture and the death of a significant proportion of the indigenous population, the convict history, the great depression, ANZACs, post war immigration etc. etc. This is the national story, we don’t just create it our of nothing by portraying it, it has some basis in historical fact. It is also important to many people’s identity and deserves serious research and respect.

    That is all cultural artefact. You can be a citizen and an Australian and know nothing, and care nothing, about it. If you are called up for jury duty, one of your duties as an Australian citizen, or if you go to vote, one of your rights as an Australian citizen, no-one is going to put you through a questionnaire about your knowledge or opinions on the destruction of the culture and the death of a significant proportion of the indigenous population, the convict history, the great depression, ANZACs, post war immigration etc. etc.

    You won’t even be asked (thank Christ) if you know or even care about who Don Bradman was and why you should think he is or was important to Australia and your identity as an Australian citizen.

  154. akn

    Joe:

    Thanks for unpacking all that. We’re now in agreement.

    Cheers.

  155. Ootz

    Thanks sg@144 to hammer my point home, albeit on my expense (I did say ‘awhile ago’ tho).
    According to Simon Winchester in ‘The River at the Centre of th World’ there is a sign at the entrance of the Massacre Museum in Nanjing that reads:
    “to commemorate the victory of the Chinese people in the anti-Japanese war …… to educate the people …… to promote friendship between the Japanese and Chinese people ….”

    I live in hope that Australia one day grow stronger and has the guts to display a similar grace towards events in the past.

    As Tacitus noticed “A bad peace is even worse than war” and I would argue, by extension of wombo’s argument @137, that one thing the Romans done for us is they gave us the ‘Irish problem’.

  156. GregM

    According to Simon Winchester in ‘The River at the Centre of th World’ there is a sign at the entrance of the Massacre Museum in Nanjing that reads:
    “to commemorate the victory of the Chinese people in the anti-Japanese war …… to educate the people …… to promote friendship between the Japanese and Chinese people ….”

    What does the Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo say about the same event?

    I would argue, by extension of wombo’s argument @137, that one thing the Romans done for us is they gave us the ‘Irish problem’.

    While I appreciate that having made an offensive comment about the Japanese on which sg has rightly pulled you up on and that you have tried to make an appropriate apology about that ypu are not doing so with your witticism about the Romans and the ‘Irish problem’.

    You made a comment above about the Swiss district of Jura and the consequences, in the Swiss context, of an act for its oppression, so please try to see, within the Australian context, with so many of our people being of irish descent, and given what the cultural divide that existed in Australia even fifty years ago on that issue, how frivilous and uninformed your comment is.

  157. Ootz

    Thank you GregM for making me aware of my clumsiness. My deepest apologies to anyone offended, as I can see now (to my horror) that it could also be used to make a point too awful to write here. What I meant is invasions can leave legacies with long time lines if not approriate peace is achieved. But obviously lost he plot somewhere along the Roman invasion, the Celts retreat to the west and the present conflict in northern Ireland. I’ll sinbin myself for this embarrasing comment.

  158. Emma in Sydney

    I should point out that I don’t work for the City of Sydney, though I do work for one of the many historical projects it supports (I’m seconded from the University of Sydney). The City is exemplary among local governments in this country in having a fully fledged City history program with 3 full time historians working on the city’s history, with oral history, walking tours, publications, and support for historical projects like the one I work for, the Dictionary of Sydney. http://www.dictionaryofsydney.org has published more than 600 articles about the history of greater Sydney (much bigger than the City of Sydney area) and the City provides both cash and in-kind support for this innovative online project, without demanding any editorial oversight.
    There isn’t another City council in Australia with better credentials for supporting real historical scholarship that is inclusive of all the communities and constituents of the city, and trying to disseminate it as widely as possible, so that Sydney’s stories become better known.

  159. akn

    Emma above: good point. The Metro Land Council (Gadigal) has initiated local walking tours in Redfern and the City taking in numerous sights of significance in modern Aboriginal history in the City and Redfern/Waterloo. I’m sure the Council is aware of this initiative. The Sydney City Council is no laggard in either respect or recognition of First Peoples.

  160. silkworm

    All the WW2/Jewish/Holocaust stuff is OT and you know it.

    I agree. Worse than that, it’s derailing.

  161. Mercurius

    All the WW2/Jewish/Holocaust stuff is OT and you know it.

    I agree. Worse than that, it’s derailing.

    It’s not a derail if it comes from the OP, old chum.

    That analogy was actually provided by the Deputy Mayor of Sydney, in the ABC News item linked to in the original post. Sheesh, links are there for a reason, y’know?

    Besides, Jumpy, Noel Pearson also thinks it’s pretty on-topic, actually:

    Mr Pearson told his audience that the Aboriginal community could learn from the experience of the Jewish people, who he said “fight staunchly in defence of the truth.”

    “They are a community who have never forgotten history and they never allow anybody else to forget history,” he said.

    “They fight staunchly in defence of the truth. They fight relentlessly against discrimination. But what they have worked out as a people is that they never make their history a burden for the future.

    I don’t agree with him that Jews are ‘unburdened’ by their history; but he’s darn right that cultural identity has been preserved through commemoration, shared notions of identity, and essentially, millennia of refusing to ‘get over it’.

    Now, anyway, about Tony Abbott’s use of the word ‘invasion’ to describe a few people arriving in boats

  162. Emma in Sydney

    One of the reasons the whole thing came up in Sydney is that today the Council history program is launching a new Aboriginal history booklet, researched and written by historians, with advice from the Aboriginal Advisory Panel. Check it out: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/AboutSydney/VisitorGuidesInformation/HistoricalWalkingTours.asp

  163. Katz

    Ignorance of history and law. I am not surprised.

    Shorter GregM: If I brazen it out, maybe no one will notice that I have exposed myself as a fool.

  164. Paul

    Of course, the Europeans had a decisive advantage because of their diseases. Neither the Native Americans or Native Australians could have repelled the Europeans.

  165. murph the surf.

    @158 – no idea – perhaps Emma could enlighten us?

  166. sg

    GregM and Ootz both raised the topic of the Yasukuni Shrine, which I think in this context is a bit overdone – like all Japanese shrines it’s not actually connected to the govt and most govt officials through the modern era have scrupulously avoided connection to it. But it’s interesting as a representation of Japanese revisionist thought about the war. Attached to it is a museum of Japanese military history called the Yushukan. I visited that museum a few years ago and put a review here (my old blog about life in Japan). I followed it up with a further (largely irrelevant) note on Japanese conservatism, because one of the really interesting things about the Yushukan is that it is modeled on the latest foreign ideas about museums, and by international museum standards is probably pretty good.

    If you’re interested in finding out more about the context of Japanese war revisionism, the Yushukan is an excellent place to start, and I recommend it as a (challenging!) cultural activity if you visit Tokyo.

  167. wizofaus

    Hostile takeover?