42 thoughts on “Invasion Day

  1. From my position as a new Australian with roots in Aotearoa I think it would be better to stop trying to wipe out first nations *then* change the date and the name. At the very least it should be a solemn commemoration not a celebration, like ANZAC Day. Do we celebrate Jewish Holocaust Day? As NSW Premier, Henry Parkes said of requesting aboriginal involvement in the celebrations ‘And remind them that we have robbed them?’.
    But it’s not my call. The people who have the right to make that call are the first nations people.

  2. Do we even need a national day? I am a kind of nationalist but only because our national polity is (sort of) democratic. It’s the democracy that counts not the nationalism. We would be better off celebrating Democracy Day than Australia Day. Nationalism must be viewed pragmatically. It is the container we need (currently, under extant geo-political conditions) to permit our democracy to exist. Nationalism is the pot, democracy is the plant. The pot currently sits on stony ground (world geo-political conditions). If all the ground were conducive, the pot would not be needed. That would be a condition of international democratic socialism.

    However, I am a realist (a “Left Realist”) and I see that democracy is actually in retreat. We are further from international democratic socialism, not closer, compared to say the 1960s. In that case a pragmatic (not jingoistic) nationalism remains necessary for those pockets which remain “reasonably democratic” (which category clearly excludes the great powers of USA, China and Russia). Indeed, a fracturing of empires and superpowers and a splintering into many smaller democratic nations (democratic polities of about 5 million to 50 million people) could likely be more conducive to progress towards democracy and socialism. Powers bigger than that seek to empire build and accrue too much power (monopoly or oligopoly of power). Power corrupts and great power corrupts greatly. This applies to nations and empires as well as to individuals.

  3. democracy is actually in retreat. We are further from international democratic socialism, not closer, compared to say the 1960s.We are further from international democratic socialism, not closer, compared to say the 1960s.

    Whatever are the merits of democratic socialism, it is not synonymous with democracy.

    If the 1960s is the point of comparison, the world is far more democratic now than then. In the 1960s, all countries in eastern Europe were dictatorships, as were Spain, Portugal and, from 1967, Greece. Now, it’s far from perfect in Eastern Europe (Russia Hungary, Poland) but it’s immensely better. Just about all of Latin America in the 1960s were military fascist dictatorships. All or nearly all Latin American countries now are democracies. There’s been less progress in Africa, but there’s been some important improvements, South Africa being the most obvious. In Asia, Indonesia (200 million people) was a dictatorship then and it’s a democracy now. Even China is better. It’s still a dictatorship, but it was a lot worse in the 1960s.

  4. Latin America is also much more democratic now than it was in the 1960s.

    I have come around to thinking that adopting the moniker “democratic socialist” is a good idea, especially in the USA and Oz, since Republicans and Lib/Nats have long used the word “socialist” to incite fear. But technically speaking, democratic socialists are rebranded social democrats rather than true socialists. Social democracy also conjures up, for me at least, images of the dullness and senescence of the European social democratic parties, so rebranding makes sense.

    But like Smith9, I’m not sure what Ikon is on about. And sorry for being OT. I’ll take any further comments, along with my bucket and spade, to the sandbox.

  5. Why waste energy on changing the date of A/I Day when there are bigger fish to fry? Channelling that energy into getting more Aboriginal kids to complete school would be just one more productive option.

    What’s the plan, change of date in five years? Five years of distraction driving the agenda at the expense of bigger issues.

    Just what is the left’s plan for closing the gap? The current model is failing and it has little to nothing the do with invasion day.

    Just for the record, apart from the public holiday I don’t give a rats about NSW Day. 1 January is a rubbish idea.

  6. Smith9,

    My mistake, I should have written that the world has become less democratic since the 1990s. That is a more supportable thesis on the standard or conventional measures of representative democracy. In turn, there are major flaws with the standard or conventional measures of democracy, IMO. These flaws lead to the miscounting of many nations as democratic when essentially they are not.

    Some articles, like the one I link to below, suggest that “the liberal world order is indeed coming apart under pressure from the authoritarians”. What such articles do not often recognize or state explicitly is that much of that pressure, in the Anglophone “liberal-democratic” sphere, is coming from internal neoliberal, corporatist, oligarchical capital: the capitalists, the functionaries and their bought and suborned politicians. In the Anglophone world, Canada and Australia probably still just clear the bar of being reasonably representative democracies. The others do not clear that bar any more. Counting them as democracies is fallacious.

    A major problem is that capitalism itself is antithetical to democracy. It is not in any way a partner of democracy. The more that capitalism is unfettered, the more democracy itself is fettered and then destroyed. Representative democracy itself is far from true democracy. Originally, it represented an advance over previous forms of autocratic government. Now it has been institutionalized into a form to contain and repress true democracy while giving free rein to capital.

  7. sfdc: because many of the failures to help first nations people are caused directly by refusing to listen to them. Perpetuating that because of the failures doesn’t help. The Uluru Statement from the Heart was a perfect example of that, and ideally us immigrants should be trying to do better, not worse.

  8. Ikonoclast : are you suggesting that the People’s Democratic Republic of North Korea might not be named entirely honestly? Or that the USA is slightly more democratic than China because it has one more state-approved political party, but neither are really democratic?

    (the nonsense hidden inside the US political party system is quite incredible. I mean literally, you wouldn’t believe it if I just wrote it out for you. It’s not particularly hidden, much of it is unremarkable “the way it’s always been”. But … read up and be grateful you live in Australia).

  9. Moz
    The Uluru Statement is a perfect example of what’s wrong with the current debate. You don’t move forward by looking backwards. The wrong done to Aboriginals has been acknowledged over and over again. You can’t ignore the past, but reinforcing Aboriginal victimhood pretty much guarantees they will remain victims. They are badly let down by their leadership.

  10. The Uluru Statement was misrepresented, denigrated and rejected almost immediately by the govt; that is the perfect example of what is wrong. The wrong done has not been fully revealed nor acknowledged.

    You move forward with regards to the past, it is what Australians like to pride themselves on (lest we forget).

  11. “In the Anglophone world, Canada and Australia probably still just clear the bar of being reasonably representative democracies. The others do not clear that bar any more”

    New Zealand says hi. So does Ireland.

    And while we are at it, so do the US and UK. It is ludicrous to say they are not democracies.

  12. Smith9 – Ikon has a point and not a nit pick or “neoliberalism”. Still a democracy by your metric yet Economist describes the US as a “flawed democracy”. Russia has democratic laws but you try and use them in Russia as a Russian. The US could easily slip up or down and still retain it’s constitution and laws. A few exec orders here, a declaration of emergency there. Flawed by trump syndrome. Flawed democracies. USA – 7.01–8
    ” The US fell below the threshold for a “full democracy” in 2016 and is now rated as a “flawed democracy”. The main cause of the US regression was a serious decline in public trust in US institutions in 2016. This year the country’s overall score remained the same, and the US remains in 21st place in the global rankings.”


    And USA easily qualifies as a putative oligopoly too.
    “Putative oligarchies
    “A business group might be defined as an oligarch if it satisfies the following conditions:
    (1) owners are the largest private owners in the country (2) it possesses sufficient political power to promote its own interests (3) owners control multiple businesses, which intensively coordinate their activities.[13]

    Confusing frustrating and vigilance come to mind. Even worse: the Electoral College.

  13. Smith9,

    Apologies to NZ. “In the Republic of Ireland, under the Constitution of Ireland, both languages (Irish and English) have official status, with Irish being the national and first official language.” – Wikipedia.

    I attempted to use anglophone in a very limited sense meaning nations where English was the national and first official language, spoken as a first language by a majority. It appears that is not the received definition of anglophone so that is my mistake.

    There are many arguments about what constitutes democracy. There is an even an argument that mere representative democracy alone (often flawed in itself with poor voter turnout and first past the post voting), in a political-legal system which widely guarantees the rights of a relatively few rich capitalists and upper middle class persons but which widely erodes the rights of the majority of workers, the precariat and many minorities, is not true democracy at all. The UK certainly fits that bill. Indeed, without “democracy at work” and democracy in all important social spaces there can be no true democracy at all.

  14. The US, with its President being elected by electoral college and the executive being nominated by the not directly elected President, is not a good example of democracy.

  15. Our democracy is certainly flawed. An illustration of that is the media kerfuffle over Bill Shorten choosing not to accept an open invitation to meet American citizen Rupert Murdoch in the US. Technically non-citizen Murdoch may not have a vote but in reality he has power and influence that arguably exceeds that of the poorest one million voters, especially now that those voters are for the most part not unionised.

    Still, a flawed democracy is better that no democracy at all. If we were Chinese citizens living in China, we would disappear into an internment camp if we discussed politics like we do on this forum.

    The Uluru statement’s main point is that indigenous Australians should be guaranteed a voice in the Australian Constitution. I disagree with that. I support a Constitutional preamble that respectfully acknowledges the First Nations but not a voice for what is, after all, three per cent of the population with most of those folk being of mixed heritage. I also note we have 4 indigenous Australians in the current federal parliament.

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