Saturday 23rd of August 2014

the smoke & mirrors of tokenism .....

the smoke & mirrors of tokenism .....

a letter to Adam Goode from John Passant …..

Dear Adam

Congratulations on being awarded Australian of the Year.  Your contributions on and off the football field are great and deserving of recognition.

The award gives you the opportunity to highlight and lead the fight against racism in Australian society. But here’s the thing Adam. Racism in Australia is systemic.

It is not just that the Prime Minister who gave you this award is a racist. It is that the capitalist system he manages for big business uses racism deliberately to divide workers.

The Northern Territory Intervention was and is so racist that the Howard Liberal government had to exclude the application of the Racial Discrimination Act to it. Labor of course in power kept the intervention going.

There’s another side to this systemic racism too Adam. It isn’t just indigenous Australians who suffer it.

Anti-Muslim hysteria is another divide and conquer tactic of the Australian ruling class.

As long as we workers are fighting among ourselves over the colour of a fellow worker’s skin the better able capital is to pay us less. Fighting among ourselves means we are less likely to fight the boss for better wages and less powerful when we do so.

The bosses are cunning too. They create fake ‘enemies’ like boat people to distract us from the realities of life under capitalism. Indigenous Australians are another of that group of the fake ‘enemy’ that the bosses use to unify us around capital.

Adam, I am pleased you have committed to fighting racism. But racism against Aborigines is not just about being called rotten racist names and abused.

It is about 26% of the prison population being Aboriginal when your people make up about 3 percent of the population. It is about black deaths in custody. It’s about the mortality gap with Aborigines dying ten or more years on average earlier than the non-Aboriginal population. It is about chronic disease and extreme and widespread poverty.

These are systemic issues Adam. Your appointment might be part of a clever strategy of the ruling class to give the impression of doing something without actually doing anything. It is like Abbott’s enthusiasm for recognising indigenous Australians in the preamble to the Constitution – words without substance.

It’s like Kevin Rudd’s Stolen Generations’ Apology or Keating’s Redfern speech – fine words without in any way addressing the systemic issues.

Tom O’Lincoln summed up what was at the heart of those issues Adam in an article about invasion and resistance in Red Flag and re-posted on this blog. Let me repeat his words.  He said:

Capitalism could not flourish without crushing the resistance of people who wanted to live differently – that has been true in every corner of the globe. Private property, wage labour and the drive to accumulate capital were incompatible with Aboriginal society. That incompatibility was the basis of the genocide that followed.

That genocide and its impacts continue today.

Adam, as an Aboriginal Australian and Australian of the Year, you are in a special position to challenge the systemic racism and genocide that is Australian capitalism.  Make the most of it.

Not for you but for your people. I’ll write again in a year, Adam, and I hope together we can celebrate some real victories over systemic racism.


Dear Adam