The Necessity of Reparation for Historic Injustices

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond started the topic in Sunday, 25 Jul 2021 at 1:26pm

Uni assignment i did a few years ago. This is my take on things. I'm sure this will ruffle many feathers. I hope so.
Love Blue Diamond x

The Necessity of Reparation for Historic Injustices

Introduction – Compensatory Justice
Disparities between the standards of living of humans on this planet have long been a part of our history on this planet. From the wealthy nations of the West to the developing and undeveloped nations on this globe, the diversity in the quality of life when viewed from a moral standpoint are without a doubt grossly unfair.
In this paper I will look at why historic injustices do require some form of reparation. I take a strong stance that we are more obliged to solve current injustices than to provide reparation for every act of injustice in the past. In doing this I will first investigate the historic injustice of the Aboriginal people of Australia and I will look at the argument that they are entitled to some form of reparation and why.
I will incoroporate some interesting views from Jeremy Waldron, Robert Nozick and others which will help me slowly build to my conclusion that reparation should be in the form of Non Indigenous Australians surrendering some of our priveleges as a form of reparation.

Historic Injustices to Indigenous Australians:
Australia the continent was well inhabited for many years long before white settlement. It is commonly known that in 1788 Australia was colonised as a country under the rule of the British Empire, with total contempt for the fact that it was already inhabited by a native indigenous race of people.
The way the original inhabitants have been treated, including forced assimilation, execution, stolen families and not even allowed to be recognised as citizens for a large part of white Australia’s history are also well known facts. (Poole, 1999,pp114-142)
There exists now a situation where there is a large divide between Aboriginal and non Aboriginal Australian’s that can be traced back to the moment Australia was invaded by English settlers and the brutal and unfair treatment that has followed.
So at this point now, in 2013 what is the just and fair way to make amends for past actions?
I would argue that a moderate to large amount of reparation is overdue for this nation of people, the Aboriginal people. But there are many challenges to this view point especially that of how much reparation, and what sort of compensation.

Past injustices or present suffering?
One of the questions raised in an issue like this is whether it is better to provide compensation or reparation for past deeds, which have already been done in a previous generation and cannot be changed, or whether it is better to now provide assistance to those who are suffering in their current situations and consider that as a form of moral duty.
To understand this we need to delve a little deeper into this issue and hear some differing viewpoints.
Firstly we need to understand what the best way to provide reparation. How do we judge what is the best way of giving back and how much? Jeremy Waldron states “The historic record has a fragility that consists, …in the sheer contingency of what happened in the past” (Waldron,1992,p5 )
This is saying that we can’t trace every single injustice back to the original act therefore reparation for every act would be almost impossible because it would ultimately be guess work.
In this statement he has an objection from Robert Nozick who believes it is in fact possible to address this problem by “changing the present so that it resembles how the past would have looked had the injustice not taken place” (McKenzie, 2013)
This would be a way to ultimately provide maximum reparation, but is it the correct approach? I believe this is a fairly radical approach, although it does have some merits in the fact it would be working in a positive way for indigenous people, I don’t think it is entirely the right way to deal with these issues but it is on the right track.
Waldron argues that it is based on too many unknowns. “The status of counterfactual reasoning about the exercising of human reasoning of human freedom is unclear”(Waldron 1993,p10)
Which leaves the question somewhat open about the sort of reparation that is required, but provides one clear answer to the key question. Both agree that yes, reparation to some extent is required. But how much and in what form?
Another philosopher who leans more towards Waldron’s views is Kymlicka. He is somewhat more straightforward in his assessment that property rights in particular for Aboriginals would create “massive unfairness” and also he maintains the argument “Aboriginal rights must be grounded in concerns about equality and contemporary disadvantage. (McKenzie, 2013) I agree with both these views but I don’t think they provide any active solutions.

The Solution?
So if its not handing back all of Australia’s land to the original inhabitants that is the most appropriate way to deal with past injustices, then what is?
I look at the current country I grew up in, as a white Australian. I ask myself why I never had Aboriginal friends growing up, no understanding of Aboriginal culture and why my basic understanding of Indigenous Australians is mostly 200 years old. I look at our flag, a symbol of a nation that stole a country from its original inhabitants, with no recognition of the Indigenous people at all on it. I see that Australia considered Indigenous people as less than people until only 40 years ago and I see the way that Indigenous Australians live a completely separate life to the way of life I know as an Australian. I see that the only indigenous politician I am aware of is a former Olympian and it is because of this fact of her sporting status that I know this. I see no collective power or representation of Indigenous Australians and I see non Indigenous Australians,( a culture built on a history of stealing a land and mistreating its people) still taking, taking as much out of this land as they can, with little to no regard of sharing or giving to the original inhabitants. I see a government that says lots of words about ‘closing the gap’ and bringing the living standards of non- indigenous and indigenous Australians closer together, but apart from nice words, there is no conviction, no follow through, just assimilation , and all that still remains are injustices.
As stated by Sparrow, “Continuity gives rise to responsibility on part of present generations of Australians for our history”.(McKenzie,2013). Although deeds happened in the past beyond our control, what we do now to either ignore, or rectify these issues will reflect on us in history. So if we choose to do nothing, we are contributing to the history of the mistreatment of non- indigenous Australians. And this is simply unacceptable in my opinion.

So what is fair? I believe that the way forward is a surrendering of some of our privileges as non- indigenous Australians. The simple fact is it was morally wrong without a doubt what has happened in the past. And it is also morally wrong without a doubt to ignore these facts and not offer some form of reparation in the present. But how much?
I think that going back to Robert Nozick’s argument is a start. I think Nozick is wrong to make the present resemble the past in every aspect. But I do think that it would be reasonable to restore some aspects of the way things should be. The things that happened in the past were out of our control and we can’t go back to changing the way things were. But we could change the way things are.
For some examples. Why not give at least 50% of political power to indigenous people? It surely would be a fair thing to do considering this is their country. Media control. 50 percent. Industry. Realestate. The list goes on. Why do we not acknowledge the indigenous people on our flag, or better still use their flag? Why is Australia still a part of the Commonwealth when it serves little purpose to any of us and serves as a constant reminder to Indigenous Australians that they are still controlled by the original invaders. These to me are fairly simple reparations that would have minimal impact on Australia as a whole. Perhaps, it would alter the way we live but I think it is our responsibility, morally to forfeit some of our privileges for the greater good. Basically a little bit goes a long way.
In closing, it is a fact that a huge injustice occurred to the Indigenous population and suffering continues to this day. There is no easy solution to such a burden of pain. I believe the only solutions are for the non- Indigenous population to take responsibility and sacrifice our own way of life to bring about an overall equality. Sacrifice is not an easy word. But it all comes down to right and wrong. We are in a position to give, in this current generation. What are we so scared to lose, that was never ours in the first place??

McKenzie,C.”Prof” (2013), Lecture, Historic Injustices and Indigenous Rights, Macquarie University
Poole, R. (1999). Nation and Identity.Routledge, London, pp.114-142
Waldron,J. (1992). ‘Superseding Historic Injustice’. Ethics, 103 (1), 4-28

Poole, R. (1999). Nation and Identity.Routledge, London, pp.114-142
Waldron,J. (1992). ‘Superseding Historic Injustice’. Ethics, 103 (1), 4-28

Paul McD's picture
Paul McD's picture
Paul McD Friday, 10 Jun 2022 at 9:53am

Yep, agree with all of the above @Alfredwallace. And heads good again thanks! I think it made me smarter banging it! Can only hope.
Re. culture. I think this point you make is spot on too. The culture as a whole has alot that can be embraced that could make us all better people, especially in the connection to country.
And in response to @islandbays post. That's super interesting. Didn't know much about that. I'll be interested to learn more. Will check it out. Thanks.
Have a good day gents.

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley Friday, 10 Jun 2022 at 10:10am

Got some more info @IB a link perhaps? cheers

AlfredWallace's picture
AlfredWallace's picture
AlfredWallace Friday, 10 Jun 2022 at 10:12am
Paul McD wrote:

Yep, agree with all of the above @Alfredwallace. And heads good again thanks! I think it made me smarter banging it! Can only hope.
Re. culture. I think this point you make is spot on too. The culture as a whole has alot that can be embraced that could make us all better people, especially in the connection to country.
And in response to @islandbays post. That's super interesting. Didn't know much about that. I'll be interested to learn more. Will check it out. Thanks.
Have a good day gents.

PaulMcD. Always good to chat, also enjoy your interesting comments and wise thought process on these matters. I refrained from commenting on Island Bays comments, my blood just started to simmer but not boil, id also like to know more IB, particularly your comment about the possible erosion of ‘democracy’. Hang on a minute, i think thats what the Māori people first thought when they were clubbed, shot and thumped by the British, maybe I’m wrong !!!!

oxrox's picture
oxrox's picture
oxrox Friday, 10 Jun 2022 at 11:06am
AlfredWallace wrote:

Shall we start on the next no consultation or communication with TIWI folk regarding Santos big grab for gas at the top of N.T.
As I said yesterday, it’ll never change.
A bit of cringe news. Wife works with large groups of Aboriginal folk. Last year on a project a company was offering to a fair number of them several pallets with hundreds of Pepsi Max boxes within, subtle bribery. Obviously one of these nuff nuffs saw a few drinking the shit. If Aboriginal people haven’t already got enough rampant diabetes in their populations, this is the kind of childish crap that is thrust upon them. You wonder why I come across negative all the time. This shit just goes on ad nauseam.
On some of her projects corporations with budgets in the hundreds of millions, spend 1 or 2 mill on ecology, botany, zoology etc, and to the people whose land it belongs then offer the local aboriginal group $70,000 and even then they still try and pay as little as possible. So basically these corporations value the aforementioned fraternities more than they value people. . What the fuck is wrong with human beings ?

So did the group accept the pepsi max? It wasn't forced down their throats was it? They have a choice just like every human on earth. You don't have to accept what is being offered.
I have friends who work with these corporations with one in upper management of an aboriginal construction company set up through native title money. It is hundreds of millions of dollars.
From what I can gather if you aren't a part of the three tribes involved with the native title money you won't get a cracker. Happy to be corrected.
They also have a contract with Rio Tinto. Rio has a 25% indigenous worker policy. They were confronted by Rio as they weren't conforming to the policy. Told Rio they aren't required to conform as they are an indigenous company. No further action taken.
I live close to where your encounter with road workers occurred in 1984. In the 25 years I have lived here and driven those and other roads, I have never encountered this. There is a lot of road works going on all around here. I am driving to Perth today and most likely will be stopped by the road workers. Some are highly likely to be indigenous. The only time I have seen anyone wind down their windows to these people is to wave or say Gday. Society in so many ways is vastly different to 1984.
Watch the 7.30 report from last night re a couple of older indigenous boys who fought in the vietnam war. They had their struggles when young with racism but have an outlook on life we should all take note of.
Same as the interview with the aboriginal rap artist put up here. Yeah she had a lot of struggles due to her mother being apart of the stolen generation etc but I mostly took positives away from that interview. Example being when she gave birth to her child whilst in prison. She there and then decided she wasn't doing drugs and stealing anymore as she wanted the best for her child. The guy interviewing her asked if the father of her child was going to do the same. She replied and this one got me. "No. You have to want to help yourself. No one is going to do it for you. If you don't help yourself it's not going to happen. He didn't want to help himself so he stayed on the drugs"
She has changed her life dramatically. All because she wanted to. Great story. Even got herself a billboard in the US.
We are all human beings who should be striving to live happily with one another. Impossible probably but we should give it every chance. Thing is, you have to help yourself and have a positive outlook to achieve this. No one will do it for you.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming Friday, 10 Jun 2022 at 12:19pm
Paul McD wrote:
stunet wrote:
GuySmiley wrote:

This "tough love" notion @stu, are you playing devil's advocate here or are you serious?

I understand there's a great many people who'd like Aboriginal culture to soak in formaldehyde and remain frozen in time forever - speaking metaphorically of course. Yet like it or not, Aboriginal folk - individually and whole communities - have to find a way to plug into the Capitalist system if they are to succeed.

The crunch, of course, is that it's at odds with their traditional way of life hence we arrive at the intersection of two great civilisations and the challenge of how to mesh them together. I'm not sure we can count the progress so far as a success, therefore I think, as in all significant negotiations, all options should be on the table.

I think this actually hits on the real uneasy part of this discussion. Culture.
My original post was aimed at rethinking the perspective from a white fella and the framework of our current society, 200 plus years post settlement.
Something i note in Indo's posts is the continual need in his eyes, for Indigenous culture to be abandoned so as to move into the more successful and prosperous whitefella culture.
But who says this culture is the correct one? And how can we, as the invader (historically speaking) proclaim our culture is the superior one on stolen land and force assimilation to those it was stolen from. Morally, shouldn't it be the other way around? Should we not be the ones embracing Indigenous culture and offering our own culture, but not forcing it?
This was the reason i wrote this. How do we go about merging two cultures and allowing ourselves to question our very own culture and if it is indeed the right way to live, on someone elses land.
And one last thought. I hear that statement, 'close the gap' and i find that the most intolerable and degrading catchphrase of the lot. When the system is set up with the foundations in colonialism, what gap is there to close except to force assimilation or be damned??
Lastly, why do Indigenous Australians have to find ways to 'plug into the capitalist system' when it was introduced to this country from a foreign entity in the first place.
There is surely middle ground here, but in my opinion, which may be wrong, but it has always seemed to me it's all one way traffic and hence, therein lies all the current problems we have.

I actually thought Stu's post hit the nail on the head.

There seems to be some people who want indigenous people and traditional culture as something to be preserved like an exhibit in a museum.

The idea that this is what indigenous people want isn't supported by any real evidence, there is no real movement to go back to living a traditional lifestyle 99.9% of indigenous people anywhere in Australia embrace modern life even people in the most remote communities don't reject things like money, electricity or any modern mode cons no mater how basic, because they are no different to you and me and enjoy things that make life easier or more comfortable.

To suggest the rest of Australia embrace the main aspects of indigenous culture which is a hunter gatherer lifestyle is completely unrealistic anyway. (as is most aspects housing, diet, system of law, language that was not universal, transport etc)

Hunter gather lifestyles are only sustainable with very low populations, i was reading more about the bone studies on indigenous bones i linked the over day and they even found some indigenous populations pre colonisation had high levels of bone stress due to poor diets/malnutrition the conclusion being the population even at that point in these areas had reached a capacity limit of what the local resources could provide.(even though they moved around)

BTW. I never suggested indigenous people should abandon their culture, i clearly said the aim should be to abandon negative aspects of culture while keeping positive aspects of culture, instead of some blanket idea that all cultural aspects are good and should be preserved.

Non indigenous Australia respects and acknowledges positive aspects of indigenous culture more than ever, be it arts, ceremony, cultural lands/sites, use of native plants for food or medicine, even local dialects are taught in some schools, even use of fire to maintain the landscape has been something talked about a lot on recent years.

Also there is no such thing as white culture in the same way there is no such thing as black culture, and capitalism isn't a white thing its a global aspect of the modern world.

Theres also isn't just two cultures to merge in Australia there is already possibly hundreds* of different cultures that sit side by side as Australia is made up of all kinds of ethnic groups many still strongly embrace all types of cultural aspects.

Some of these groups have actually preserved aspects of their culture more than where they immigrated from, for example there was a great discussion on ABC radio a while back on how many Italians in Australia hold onto tradition and way they do things(culture) much more strongly than they do in Italy, so many italians in Australia have presevered the Italian culture of the period they immigrated while back home things have changed and evolved to be very different (generally less traditional )

* Hundreds might sound like a stretch but considering there is 300 ethnic groups just in Indonesia that often have very different cultural aspects, housing design, food, language dialect, traditional beliefs etc, it's not a stretch, it's the same deal for Indigenous Australians they aren't really one set group as such with one set culture, many cultural aspects vary from different regions, even cliche things we think of as being Aboriginal like didgeridoos were only used in certain areas.

seeds's picture
seeds's picture
seeds Friday, 8 Jul 2022 at 10:53pm

Couple of good movies on world movies and NITV tonight. Mad Bastards and Radiance.

san Guine's picture
san Guine's picture
san Guine Saturday, 9 Jul 2022 at 11:28am

In June 2018, the Australian Electoral Commission renamed the federal Division of Batman to Division of Cooper in Cooper's honour.

Supafreak's picture
Supafreak's picture
Supafreak Sunday, 10 Jul 2022 at 7:15am


Paul McD's picture
Paul McD's picture
Paul McD Sunday, 10 Jul 2022 at 7:20am

Unreal!! @supafreak. Looks like a natural footer to me.

AlfredWallace's picture
AlfredWallace's picture
AlfredWallace Sunday, 10 Jul 2022 at 9:01am
Supafreak wrote:


Supafreak. What a great timeless photo. The look of no urgency, we could all take a lesson from this fella, Gotta admire the amount of initiation scars on his breast and lower abdomen.

Supafreak's picture
Supafreak's picture
Supafreak Sunday, 10 Jul 2022 at 9:28am
AlfredWallace wrote:
Supafreak wrote:


Supafreak. What a great timeless photo. The look of no urgency, we could all take a lesson from this fella, Gotta admire the amount of initiation scars on his breast and lower abdomen.

I’m curious to when they first started this mode of transport .

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Sunday, 10 Jul 2022 at 9:40am

Out the back...!

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher Sunday, 10 Jul 2022 at 10:42am

Cheers for sharing that photo...These tide riders surf off the Moon.
All see the Moon burns fuel from full to empty as it blazes across the sky.
As Full Moon wanes the tides drain which drifts or (drains) their ocean craft to the next Island.
First nation could surf the tidal trade delegations to China (Moonshine / Tobacco + Yams / Rice)
Island hopping from Tassie to Antarctica onto South America.

First Nation are indeed the colonizers of our Oceans...just none care to notice...Hence this Forum!

These top end tides measure 11m wave face or (Front) of complete sea volume.
Basically, this cool cat casually surfs an 11m high wall of water between islands.
Yes! Indeed...pure surfers of the largest longest tidal waves!
Surf big clockwise seas wide'n'slow then trim Anti Clockwise fast'n'tight thru the Strait Shories.

These original pioneering ocean navigators also had 5x better vision than us folk.
Pretty much navigate around all oceans spotting a land outcrop.
This is why Empires valued & sought indigenous navigators.

First Nation peoples were the best island spotters & hoppers...
Can view next destination to plan accordingly.
This in turn cuts down on loading extra resource, so craft design & integrity is 100% true & assured.
No need for a flurry of fluffy white sails or VIP upper & hesitant lower class decks...

That's why all of us here instinctively & instantly see a fellow true surfer at one with the sea.
So long as Moon was visible thru the clouds or reflected in nature...Surf just Surf the tidal waves!

We can see these return phenomenal Oz / Indo tide effects

6th Dec 2021 Bono Bore wave front of equal power...
Crew can see & feel this powerful natural force shaping our worlds...only comes natural to surf it!
All say Aye! Exactly...The only way to travel!
Tip : (Can click 2x speed to raise the fear factor!) or just chill.

Paul McD's picture
Paul McD's picture
Paul McD Sunday, 10 Jul 2022 at 11:12am

Unreal. Thanks TBB. I was actually wondering about alot of the stuff you just posted above. Fascinating. Cheers.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher Sunday, 10 Jul 2022 at 12:26pm

Paul McD do we all (Thanx!) Just earn't the crew an exclusive Part 2.

Cont...crew are just backing up these Aboriginal Tidal bore surfers.

It is said the Oz/Chinese Trade banked up 5,000 years...(Measured from imported hop strains)
Let's just imagine the only way these Aboriginals could surf that far is on the annual Bores.

tbb feels it's important to further explore this untamed surf history...mostly as it warrants attention!

Chinese "Stand Up" Bore surfing began 907-960 bc ... or over 3,000 years ago.
Then it stands to reason that the Chinese "nongchao'er" (Wave Riders)
Learnt how to stand up surf their bore waves" from watching the annual Saltwater crew arrival.

Aborigines expanding Stand up Wave Surfing to China & Tas' Reed craft surfing to South America.

It also makes sense to rise from sitting to standing position to identify as annual trade partner.
Thereby the Aboriginal surfs the head of the dragon in standing position to allay fear.
Surfers know that rider must adapt a changing line to keep with speeding wave...
Meaning constant sudden shifts of weight transfer... also a reason to stand in rivers or lose yer ride!
Here we see the lineage of balance & confidence of such a surfer.

The small payload of sly Grog / Hops / Tobacco / Pearls is worthy for such an epic journey.
tbb has not read of any Chinese Surfers making the return journey...1,000's of years ago!

By 483 BC "The Spirit of the Waves" Flag Flying surfers commemorated Wu Zixu (God of the Tides)

The Necessity of Reparation for Historic Injustices
tbb nominates the inclusion of First Nation > Chinese bore surfers into Surfing's hall of Fame!
Also celebrate World's most ancient o/s trade route to help mend our current short term impasse.

Paul McD's picture
Paul McD's picture
Paul McD Sunday, 10 Jul 2022 at 12:59pm

Brilliant TBB. I second that nomination!! I too thought the bloke pictured had a natural surfers stance. Thanks again. Very thought provoking and would love to uncover more too. The original Wozzle!!

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher Sunday, 10 Jul 2022 at 2:44pm

First of all...the above Raft needs to be given some context or put into Aboriginal Surf History.
Salute amazing historical Surf artists for Mapping Oz surfcraft History.
David Payne redrafts Donald Thomson's sketches into a zoom friendly Australian Map
Best to share this map as Museum Pages usually vanish! If yer keen...print off a copy for keepsakes!

Supafreak asked when this raft became transport...presumably prior to Aboriginal migration.
One must consider the timeline & need to travel...
It's unlikely that many would venture into the unknown without reason.
If the tides receded enough to sight landfall or (100km thru aboriginal eyes) then others will venture!

Historians date the Raft migration to Australia 50,000 y/ago.

Which of course raises Supafreak's question
Oz raft theory
Was the initial crossing by a brave 'logger'...
Did that logger happen upon Oz Mangrove shoreline to return with this bountiful Taxi raft.

Imported Raft
The magroves were on Mainland where raft was constructed
Aboriginal of Origin but of adjacent shoreline make or even earlier water crossings

tbb long read his region was devoid of Ocean Craft only to find it centred Sea craft design.
From Logs > Raft > Hand planes > Moulded > Dug Out > Tied > Rolled > Gathered > Stitched > Resin.

From this point on at this moment of must consider any / all above options for crossing!
Meaning! The best craft is the most resourceful craft relative to that shore & for passengers & loads.
That's why tbb included the Map which shows that beachscape dictates surfcraft design.

eg: A good surfer on shown Mangrove Raft can combo 2 Hunting dogs + a Campsite. Yeah! Exactly!

Probably blow up the internet trying to trace back this raft origin any better & historians say so!
There are certain West African traits that appear as far as east Coast Dolphin Training.

Can go back much further with rafting though...
Rafting from Africa to South America 30 million years ago. (2 articles)

Paul McD's picture
Paul McD's picture
Paul McD Friday, 5 Aug 2022 at 6:28pm

The Boy From Boomerang Crescent
Good onya Eddie. Give em hell!! Legend. A warrior who's unafraid to stand up regardless of personal consequences.
(special mention to Josh Jenkins who came out and backed him up today.)