The Necessity of Reparation for Historic Injustices

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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.

Conclusion
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??

Bibliography
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

References
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
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Paul McD Monday, 15 Aug 2022 at 7:04pm

Gday Alfred. Doing well thanks. Thanks for the share.
The rally shouldn't be allowed to proceed against the wishes of the traditional land owners. Simple.
I wonder how situations like this might change with some kind of indigenous representation in parliament. It may be just one voice to start with, but you can't help but imagine it would be a strong advocate for indigenous issues that would normally get swept aside for the sake of profiteering for those not intimately involved with the places in question. And hey, it's better than what has been contributed in the past! (i.e nothing...no voice and fighting to be recognised as human)
Hope you're going well too.

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Paul McD Monday, 15 Aug 2022 at 7:03pm

From the article...."Water is prevented from flowing regularly into the river’s tributaries by catchment management authorities and landholders who use channels and dams to divert water from the natural Avoca River system, he says.

“The lake is meant to have water in it. It’s meant to have native vegetation all around it. It needs a whole rehabilitation process,” Kennedy says. “There’s none of our totemic, spiritual species there at all. No pelican, no red tail cockatoos, no quolls. You don’t even see any goanna.”
Sad and unacceptable.

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Rabbits68 Monday, 15 Aug 2022 at 7:16pm

Some good news and another piece of the puzzle in place going forward.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-08-15/aboriginal-cultural-centre-built-...

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AlfredWallace Monday, 15 Aug 2022 at 8:05pm

GSCO. Good research. Cant argue with any of that. Australian aborigines are closely tied to our northern neighbours, the Macassar people of SE Asia. 47,500 years old is currently the accepted date amongst archeologists for the oldest existence of our first peoples, nowhere else is there a culture as continuous as ours. An interesting finish to long awaited research, its now accepted that when early colonists first arrived, it was assumed that there were approximately 750,000 aborigines but new data now predicts a population of anywhere between 1-6million. Farming practices were well documented over time by early colonists and disproved the theory that aboriginal people were just aimlessly wandering around hunting and gathering. Good chat

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AndyM Monday, 15 Aug 2022 at 8:32pm

“Australian aborigines are closely tied to our northern neighbours, the Macassar people of SE Asia.”

“ From at least 1700 until 1907, hundreds of fishermen sailed each year from Makassar on the island of Sulawesi (now Indonesia) to the Arnhem Land coast, an area they called Marege.
Makasar traded with Aboriginal people for trepang (sea cucumber), which they boiled down, dried on their boats and traded with China where it is still used for food and medicine.
The Makasar did not settle in Arnhem Land but they did have an influence on the Yolŋu people’s society and ritual.”

https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/trade-with-the-makasar

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Paul McD Monday, 15 Aug 2022 at 8:59pm

Wow, imagine the wisdom gained from 40,000 plus years and the things seen over those lifetimes that have been passed down through the generations that we're not privvy to. The mind boggles.

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AlfredWallace Monday, 15 Aug 2022 at 9:13pm
AndyM wrote:

“Australian aborigines are closely tied to our northern neighbours, the Macassar people of SE Asia.”

“ From at least 1700 until 1907, hundreds of fishermen sailed each year from Makassar on the island of Sulawesi (now Indonesia) to the Arnhem Land coast, an area they called Marege.
Makasar traded with Aboriginal people for trepang (sea cucumber), which they boiled down, dried on their boats and traded with China where it is still used for food and medicine.
The Makasar did not settle in Arnhem Land but they did have an influence on the Yolŋu people’s society and ritual.”

https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/trade-with-the-makasar

AndyM. Thanks for the info on the topic. AW

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gsco Tuesday, 16 Aug 2022 at 9:25am

What I find most amazing about the Aboriginal Australians is they lived here sustainably for like 40 or 50 thousand years, without overpopulation or environmental destruction, working together with and in respect of the land. When Europeans came here it was like an untouched land of abundance.

It would be amazing if there was detailed written and documented records of the culture, history, lifestyle, civilisation, environmental management and overall way of life of the Aboriginal peoples to see exactly how they achieved their balance with nature for so long.

(Maybe there is?)

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harrycoopr Tuesday, 16 Aug 2022 at 10:33am
gsco wrote:

What I find most amazing about the Aboriginal Australians is they lived here sustainably for like 40 or 50 thousand years, without overpopulation or environmental destruction, working together with and in respect of the land. When Europeans came here it was like an untouched land of abundance.

It would be amazing if there was detailed written and documented records of the culture, history, lifestyle, civilisation, environmental management and overall way of life of the Aboriginal peoples to see exactly how they achieved their balance with nature for so long.

(Maybe there is?)

Man there's heaps of books out there! Try reading some early explorers accounts... Edward Eyre is a good place to start... but remember the language of the day did have its bias.

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AlfredWallace Tuesday, 16 Aug 2022 at 1:26pm
gsco wrote:

What I find most amazing about the Aboriginal Australians is they lived here sustainably for like 40 or 50 thousand years, without overpopulation or environmental destruction, working together with and in respect of the land. When Europeans came here it was like an untouched land of abundance.

It would be amazing if there was detailed written and documented records of the culture, history, lifestyle, civilisation, environmental management and overall way of life of the Aboriginal peoples to see exactly how they achieved their balance with nature for so long.

(Maybe there is?)

GSCO. Agree. Simply, they observed and passed it on through generations. We could never achieve that level of sustainability because our societies are unfortunately driven by greed.

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DudeSweetDudeSweet Tuesday, 16 Aug 2022 at 4:39pm

Geez you tak absolute dung Alfred Wallace.

The blackfellas in Australian would have learnt the land’s tolerance of harvest by trial and error like anyone else. Of course they would’ve over harvested at times and learnt to reign it in or there’d be no food next time. Just like every other Hunter gatherer tribe in any other location across the planet. They wouldn’t have done it too often or they would’ve starved or depleted a certain species. Like megafauna for example.

Not sure what you think the rest of humanity was doing for the 100,000 years before agriculture? My ancestors and your ancestors. Living unsustainably? Or is your fantasy of immaculate fairies in the garden reserved for the fetishised noble savage? Though I’m pretty sure Easter Island must test that dream sequence even amongst the deluded.

You need to read guns, germs and steel to improve your insight and education. Find out the factual rational behind the manner of cultural emergence.

Definitely had enough of your perpetuating your Evil whitey theories…..you can stick that racist bullshit in your claka bloke.

Anti humanist, white-man scourge of the planet….you don’t have much up top do you bloke?

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AlfredWallace Tuesday, 16 Aug 2022 at 6:24pm
DudeSweetDudeSweet wrote:

Geez you tak absolute dung Alfred Wallace.

The blackfellas in Australian would have learnt the land’s tolerance of harvest by trial and error like anyone else. Of course they would’ve over harvested at times and learnt to reign it in or there’d be no food next time. Just like every other Hunter gatherer tribe in any other location across the planet. They wouldn’t have done it too often or they would’ve starved or depleted a certain species. Like megafauna for example.

Not sure what you think the rest of humanity was doing for the 100,000 years before agriculture? My ancestors and your ancestors. Living unsustainably? Or is your fantasy of immaculate fairies in the garden reserved for the fetishised noble savage? Though I’m pretty sure Easter Island must test that dream sequence even amongst the deluded.

You need to read guns, germs and steel to improve your insight and education. Find out the factual rational behind the manner of cultural emergence.

Definitely had enough of your perpetuating your Evil whitey theories…..you can stick that racist bullshit in your claka bloke.

Anti humanist, white-man scourge of the planet….you don’t have much up top do you bloke?

DSDS. You know nothing about archeology at all, just full of shit. Try reading Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe, you may learn a thing about what farming practices were being undertaken, book shows plenty of the old first black and white photos of enormous stockpiles of grain, dried grasses and other plant harvests. Looked like farming to me.

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DudeSweetDudeSweet Tuesday, 16 Aug 2022 at 6:35pm
AlfredWallace wrote:
DudeSweetDudeSweet wrote:

Geez you tak absolute dung Alfred Wallace.

The blackfellas in Australian would have learnt the land’s tolerance of harvest by trial and error like anyone else. Of course they would’ve over harvested at times and learnt to reign it in or there’d be no food next time. Just like every other Hunter gatherer tribe in any other location across the planet. They wouldn’t have done it too often or they would’ve starved or depleted a certain species. Like megafauna for example.

Not sure what you think the rest of humanity was doing for the 100,000 years before agriculture? My ancestors and your ancestors. Living unsustainably? Or is your fantasy of immaculate fairies in the garden reserved for the fetishised noble savage? Though I’m pretty sure Easter Island must test that dream sequence even amongst the deluded.

You need to read guns, germs and steel to improve your insight and education. Find out the factual rational behind the manner of cultural emergence.

Definitely had enough of your perpetuating your Evil whitey theories…..you can stick that racist bullshit in your claka bloke.

Anti humanist, white-man scourge of the planet….you don’t have much up top do you bloke?

DSDS. You know nothing about archeology at all, just full of shit. Try reading Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe, you may learn a thing about what farming practices were being undertaken, book shows plenty of the old first black and white photos of enormous stockpiles of grain, dried grasses and other plant harvests. Looked like farming to me.

You just decided to go off on a unrelated rant about a seperate tangent ?

That’s cute.

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Supafreak Sunday, 28 Aug 2022 at 6:47pm

https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2022/08/25/filmmaker-rachel-perkins-.... "The Australian Wars has the potential to benefit how current and future generations understand the Australian historical narrative, benefit journeys of healing and shared understanding."

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AlfredWallace Monday, 12 Sep 2022 at 5:52pm
Paul McD wrote:

http://www.kooriweb.org/foley/news/2000s/2000/smh25mar2000.html

PaulMcD. Hi mate. Good article,thanks.

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Paul McD Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 9:28pm

"so don't say a thing if you don't wanna go to war"
And who could blame the anger.....DEADLY. Crew on here in denial still don't understand what deadly represents. It's the mirror you refuse to look in.
or you could say a thousand meaningless uneducated and barbed comments like the previous poster...... .. war would be completely justified. I have chosen my side. The side of right. The usual slime on here will take that statement as a trigger.
Instead its the respect and recognition of humans. Suffering humans who do not need to suffer if not just for a change of perspective, a change of ideas.
Heal the past before you move forward. Not fight fire with fire, because we can expect the same consequences. The same ones this dogmatic structured institutionalised white system of the monarch has enforced for 200 years. At the expense of Indigenous Australians!! In their own country!!!!!!! Could you believe that!?
Time to give!!!!!! Reparation is not a dollar sign. It's giving and sacrficing what YOU 'believe' to be rightfully YOUR'S, where morally you know that deep down it was never yours to begin with.
Anyway, this songs dedicated to Goodsy...or was it Cyril, no i mean Eddy. And that's just a few years of bloody footy!! Imagine the real world! ha! Actually don't, no one want's to do that do they? Better just make a new policy eh??

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Paul McD Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 9:33pm

Gday Alfred Wallace. Thanks mate.
btw the comment about the above commenter obviously wasn't you,.....10 guesses....although you'll only need one or maybe 3 for who it was. They walk amongst us!!!!! haha
Hope you're going well mate.
Cheers

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Supafreak Thursday, 22 Sep 2022 at 8:09am

Rachel Perkins journeys across the country to explore the bloody battles fought on Australian soil and the war that established the Australian nation, seeking to change the narrative of the nation. https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/watch/2067619395917 episode 1

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Paul McD Thursday, 22 Sep 2022 at 1:22pm

Cheers Supa.