"Just as a tree without roots is dead, a People without knowledge of their history or cultural roots also becomes a dead People."
Malcolm X

By Malcolm X

(Excerpted from Malcolm X "On Afro-American History")

During the next three weeks, we're going to have a series that will be designed to give us a better understanding of the past, I should say a better knowledge of the past in order that we may understand the present and be better prepared for the future. I don't think any of you will deny the fact that it is impossible to understand the present or prepare for the future unless we have knowledge of the past. And the thing that has kept most of us, that is the (African living in America), almost crippled in this society has been our complete lack of knowledge concerning the past. The number one thing that makes us differ from other People is our lack of knowledge concerning the past.

Proof of which almost anyone else can come into this country and get around barriers and obstacles that we cannot get around; and the only difference between then and us, they know something about the past, and in knowing something about the past, they know something about themselves, they have an identity. But wherein you and I differ from them is primarily revolved around our lack of knowledge concerning the past. And tonight, this is what we would like to go into...

When you deal with the past, you're dealing actually with the origin of a thing. When you know the origin, you know the cause. If you don't know the origin, you don't know the cause. And if you don't know the cause, you don't know the reason, you're cutoff, you're left standing in midair. So the past deals with history or the origin of anything - the origin of a person, the origin of a nation, the origin of an incident.

And when you know the origin, then you get a better understanding of the causes that produce whatever originated there and its reason for originating and its reason for being. Its impossible for you and me to have a balanced mind in this society, as we function and fit into it right now, we're such an underdog, we're trampled upon, we're looked upon as almost nothing. Now if we don't go into the past and find out how we got this way, we will think that we were always this way.

And if you think that you were always in this condition that you're in right now, its impossible for you to have too much confidence in yourself, you become worthless, almost nothing. But when you go back into the past and find out where you once were, then you will know that you weren't always at this level, that you once had attained a higher level, had made great achievements, contributions to society, civilization, science and so forth. And you know that if you once did it, you can do it again; you automatically get the incentive, the inspiration and the energy necessary to duplicate what our forefathers formerly did.

But by keeping us completely cut off from our past, it Is easy for the man who has power over us to make us willing to stay at this level because we will feel that we always at this level, a low level,. That's why I say it is so important for you and me to spend time today learning something about the past so we can better understand the present, analyze it, and then do something about it...

Just as a tree without roots is dead, a People without knowledge of their history or cultural roots also becomes a dead People. And when you look at us who are called Negro, we're called that because we are like a dead People. We have nothing to identify ourselves as part of the human family. You know, you take a tree, you can tell the bark and tell what it is. But when you find the tree with the leaves gone and the bark gone, everything gone, you call that a what? - a stump; and can't identify a stump as easy as you can identify a tree. And this is the position that you and I are in...

Solomon Islands government ousted through parliamentary vote

By Patrick O’Connor

14 December 2007

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The Solomon Islands government of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was ousted yesterday after a no-confidence motion won the backing of 25 parliamentarians, against 22 on the government side. Sogavare remains caretaker prime minister pending a parliamentary vote, which is expected next week, to elect his successor. Opposition leader Fred Fono is one of several candidates vying for the job. Two former government ministers who were among those who defected to the opposition last month, Derek Sikua and Gordon Darcy Lilo, are also expected to nominate.

Sogavare’s removal from power marks the culmination of a protracted destabilisation campaign, orchestrated in Canberra, aimed at installing a more pliant administration. Soon after he came to power in May last year, Sogavare was identified by the previous Australian government of Prime Minister John Howard as a threat to the ongoing occupation by the Australian-dominated Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). Sogavare’s 20-month term in office was dominated by a succession of provocations mounted by RAMSI and the Australian government.

The RAMSI operation in July 2003 involved the dispatch of more than 2,000 soldiers, police and officials to take control over the Solomons’ state apparatus, including police, prisons, judiciary, public service, treasury and central bank. While launched under the pretext of a humanitarian intervention, the neo-colonial operation was driven by a concern to protect Australian corporate and strategic interests. Developments in the South Pacific, which Howard characterised as Australia’s “special patch”, have become increasingly bound up with escalating great power rivalries. RAMSI marked a shift within the Canberra foreign policy establishment toward the more open use of military force to maintain Australian regional hegemony. The operation was hailed as a forerunner for potential interventions in other Pacific states, most notably the resource-rich former Australian colony, Papua New Guinea.

The ferocity with which Canberra responded to Sogavare’s limited moves to reduce RAMSI’s control over public finance and economic policy can only be understood within this context. The Howard government’s campaign was one of two regional “regime change” operations initiated in 2006. More than a thousand Australian troops were deployed to East Timor in May last year as part of a concerted campaign to oust the elected Fretilin administration of Mari Alkatiri. Fretilin fell foul of the Howard government after resisting its demands for most of the multi-billion oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea, as well as for cultivating relations with Australia’s rivals, particularly Portugal and China.

There a number of significant differences between East Timor and Solomon Islands; the Solomons, for example, formally recognises Taiwan and has no diplomatic ties with Beijing. Canberra’s drive against both the Sogavare government and the Fretilin administration, however, were driven by the same imperative—namely the exclusion of rival powers from its declared sphere of influence.

Sogavare’s ousting demonstrates that this central strategy remains unchanged under the new Labor government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The Labor Party fully endorsed the RAMSI intervention when it was first announced in 2003. Rudd and his colleagues similarly backed the Howard government throughout its campaign against Sogavare. Following Labor’s election win, however, Rudd and his parliamentary secretary for the Pacific, Duncan Kerr, made noises about establishing better relations with Pacific governments by dealing with them in a less abrasive fashion.

The Labor government nevertheless gave the green light for the Solomons’ opposition and RAMSI authorities to continue their campaign against Sogavare. A clear signal was its refusal to respond to the Solomons’ prime minister’s public invitation for Rudd and Kerr to visit Honiara. It was not an accidental omission. Earlier this week, Rudd’s office refused to return calls from the World Socialist Web Site enquiring about his attitude, while a spokesman for Kerr said he had not received a formal notification from the Solomons’ government and insisted that it would be “inappropriate” to respond to Sogavare’s public invitation.

RAMSI intervenes against Sogavare government

While the full extent of the Australian authorities’ behind-the-scenes involvement in the manoeuvres against Sogavare in the lead-up to the no-confidence motion is not known, there is no doubt that RAMSI played a central role.

Three former RAMSI leaders—Ben McDevitt, Nick Warner, and James Batley—were instrumental in ensuring that former prime minister Allen Kemakeza avoided being stripped of his parliamentary seat and sent to jail, despite being convicted on December 6 of serious charges, including intimidation and larceny. After receiving character statements from the three, the Australian magistrate adjudicating the case sentenced Kemakeza to just two months jail and granted bail pending an appeal. Kemakeza had refused to commit to either the government or opposition side. After declaring himself to be happy with the court’s “fair judgment”, the former prime minister cast his vote against Sogavare in yesterday’s no-confidence vote.

The court’s decision proved crucial, as Kemakeza ended up holding the balance of power. Had he supported the government, Sogavare may have been able to claim 24 parliamentary votes against 24 for the opposition, thereby blocking the no-confidence motion. (The final vote of 25 to 22 reflected the absence of one government member who failed to attend parliament due to health reasons and has since died.)

After securing Kemakeza’s support, RAMSI officials launched an extraordinary police and military operation in Honiara. Scores of heavily-armed Australian and New Zealand soldiers, along with Australian Federal Police officers, were deployed around Honiara on Tuesday. Australian troops in full camouflage gear remained on guard outside the Honiara Hotel, where opposition parliamentarians had gathered. While supposedly a security operation aimed at preventing violence, the show of force was clearly aimed at bolstering the opposition and stifling any protest. Government MPs, who received no similar protection, accused Australian forces of helping to isolate opposition parliamentarians so they would not have a chance to cross over to the government’s side.

“Such a display of arms rather openly to members of the public is uncalled for and questions the very issue of RAMSI’s independence and impartiality in dealing with law and order in this country,” a government statement issued just before the no-confidence vote declared. “Now it is becoming very clear that RAMSI is working in tandem with Asian loggers who are alleged to have been providing financial support to the opposition in a conspiracy to oust the [Sogavare] government.”

Rudd responded to the no-confidence vote by stressing his determination to see the Solomon Islands’ attorney-general Julian Moti extradited to Australia. “This individual is the subject of criminal charges,” he declared. “We have activated our extradition arrangements with the government of the Solomon Islands. Nothing has changed on that score.”

Moti, a respected legal academic and practitioner specialising in constitutional and international law, became the subject of a vicious witchhunt orchestrated by the former Howard government. Moti was instrumental in establishing the Commission of Inquiry into the April 2006 riots in Honiara, which threatened to expose RAMSI’s complicity in the violence. He further assisted a parliamentary review that threatened to strip RAMSI personnel of their blanket legal immunity from Solomons’ law. Moti also threatened to challenge the legality of the entire RAMSI intervention before the International Court of Justice. In response to this threat, the Howard government mounted a bogus campaign for his extradition, based on trumped-up statutory rape allegations that had been thrown out of a Vanuatu court in 1998. The central aim was to undermine Moti through constant vilification in the Australian and Pacific press as a “child sex” perpetrator.

For Rudd to again solidarise himself with this vile campaign—even after Sogavare has lost power—speaks volumes about Labor’s fundamental agreement with the former Howard government’s agenda in the Solomons. What happens next with Moti remains unclear, although Fred Fono has declared that the “first act” of the next government will be to have him arrested and extradited to Australia.

Corrupt old guard returns

Yesterday’s no-confidence vote effectively subverts the outcome of the April 2006 national elections. The elections were a massive repudiation of the Kemakeza government, which had been in power since 2001 and presided over the entry of RAMSI forces in 2003. Popular hostility toward the entrenched corruption of the prime minister and his colleagues combined with growing dissatisfaction and outright opposition toward RAMSI. Half of all parliamentarians lost their seats, including 9 of Kemakeza’s 20 ministers.

Despite the result, horse-trading between the different factions and politicians saw all 11 surviving government ministers stay in power as part of a coalition government headed by Snyder Rini, Kemakeza’s former deputy. The announcement of Rini’s government sparked widespread outrage, which culminated in a two-day riot that was sparked by a clash outside the parliament between RAMSI police and demonstrators. Sogavare came to power soon after Rini was forced to resign.

The old guard of the former Kemakeza government is now back in the saddle. Kemakeza and Rini are likely to take up prominent positions in the new government, as is Laurie Chan. Chan’s father, Tommy Chan, is a Honiara businessman who was alleged to have been involved in vote-buying deals that are widely believed to have been behind Rini’s installation as prime minister in April 2006.

The defeat of the Sogavare government has not seen any protests or violence, though authorities remain on alert and RAMSI soldiers and police continue to patrol Honiara. Whatever the immediate outcome of the political crisis, the return of the old Kemakeza government forces will exacerbate tensions throughout the Solomon Islands.

The new government inherits a social crisis, marked by escalating poverty and social inequality throughout the country, for which it has no solution. The RAMSI intervention has involved the investment of considerable sums into the Pacific country’s state apparatus, especially the prison system, police and judiciary, while a negligible amount has spent on health, education and other basic social services. The influx of hundreds of highly-paid foreign personnel working with RAMSI has led to a boom in the provision of luxury and high-cost products and services but has delivered nothing for ordinary Honiara residents except sharply rising prices, particularly for food and housing. Thousands of people, particularly frustrated young men, remain without work or decent housing in squalid squatter camps in the capital.

The situation will only worsen if the new government in Honiara delivers on its pledges to advance the “free market” economic reform agenda promoted by Canberra.

See Also:
Solomon Islands government in crisis after parliamentarians join opposition
[12 December 2007]
Labor, Liberal and the revival of colonialism in the South Pacific
[21 November 2007]
Solomon Islands’ foreign minister condemns Australian occupation at UN General Assembly
[11 October 2007]
Solomon Islands government rebuts Canberra’s child sex allegations against attorney-general
[14 August 2007]

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Celebration at Waikaremoana

Nau mai haramai,

The organisation for the celebration of the 10 year anniversary of the occupation at Waikaremoana on the 1st of January 2008, is under way. For more info check out the NEWS page on Tuhoe.net. We will update this as more info comes to hand. Be good to see you all there.

Hoi ano

Nga mihi ki a koutou katoa.

Add Tonga To The Growing List Of NZ’s Pacific Interventions

Peace Researcher 33 ran a detailed account of New Zealand’s rapidly developing role as the deputy to George Bush’s Australian deputy sheriff in the Asia/Pacific region (November 2006, “The Deputy Sheriff’s Deputy: New Zealand’s Military Foreign Policy in Asia & Pacific”, by Murray Horton, which can be read online at http://www.converge.org.nz/abc/pr33-138.html ).This described the intervention by the Australian and NZ military and police in both Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands in 2006, in both cases responding to a “crisis” and in both cases taking a partisan stance in each countries’ internal politics.

In the case of Timor Leste (formerly East Timor) the Australasian military intervention played a crucial role in removing Mari Alkatiri from the office of Prime Minister, because he was deemed inimical to the interests of the Western powers. He was replaced by Jose Maria Horta, a veteran Timorese political figure who is now very much part of “our team” in Timor Leste (thus continuing a three decades long inglorious history of New Zealand behaving shabbily towards the East Timorese people. Elsewhere in this issue you can read Jeremy Agar’s review of Maire Leadbeater’s “Negligent Neighbour”, the definitive book on the subject).

This intervention has continued, unbroken, into 2007 and provided crucial backing for Horta’s election as the fledgling nation’s second President this year. Upon winning, he promptly declared that he wanted the Australian and New Zealand troops to stay on indefinitely. The Howard and Clark governments are happy to oblige. And the Australasian deployment in the deeply troubled Solomon Islands has been extended through until 2008, despite the increasingly antagonistic relationship between its Government and that of Australia, which seeks to administer the Solomons as a colony in all but name.

Most recently Australia has extended its military sphere of influence further north into Asia, signing a May 2007 Status of Forces Agreement with the Philippines. This will allow Australian troops to be stationed in that country from 2008 and will see Australian military assistance to the Armed Forces of the Philippines which have been fighting two major civil wars since the 1970s - against Muslim separatist guerrillas in the South and against Communist guerrillas throughout most of the archipelago. This is only the second such Agreement that the Philippines has signed, the first one being with the US, its former colonial master (the Philippine government is proud to be called America’s “most reliable ally” in South East Asia and George Bush has declared the country the “Second Front in the ‘War On Terror’”).

New Zealand has not been standing idly by. In November 2006 it added Tonga to the list of Pacific neighbours in which it has militarily intervened. This arose from the crisis following the massive rioting and burning which destroyed a significant proportion of Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa, killing several people in the process. Tonga is the one of the world’s last feudal monarchies, certainly the last in the Pacific, and the excesses of the Royal Family have been chronicled by the outside world in recent years with a mixture of incredulity and outright horror. King George Tupou V succeeded his late father in 2006, bringing to the throne the man known as the Clown Prince, the worst possible person to be in charge of Tonga as it has been shaken by a years-long peaceful mass protest movement calling for democracy. The November 2006 riot erupted after the King’s handpicked Parliament adjourned for the year without addressing the democracy movement’s concerns.

But the violence was something completely new and totally out of character with the history of the pro-democracy movement. Only one mainstream NZ journalist, Michael Field, explained just who these rioters were (Press, 27/1/07; “Urban gangs wreak havoc in islands”). They were not from the pro-democracy movement, but hardened members of criminal youth gangs from both the US and NZ who had been either deported to their country of origin or sent back there by their families in a misguided attempt to get them away from bad influences. Many of them were not even Tongan-born but of Tongan descent, born in the US or NZ. Once back “home” they resumed their intimidatory habit of forming into gangs and terrorising their host community. These were the lumpen proletariat elements who rioted, looted and burnt Nuku’alofa, doing it not for any political motive but for the sheer malicious thrill of it all.

The new King and the nobles who dominate the Government wasted no time in taking advantage of this golden opportunity to smear and attack the pro-democracy movement, falsely blaming it for the riot and arresting its leading figures on sedition charges (hundreds of rank and file rioters also face a raft of criminal charges). The feudal regime’s hand was greatly strengthened by Australia and NZ rushing to its assistance, sending both troops and police to “restore order” and to track down and bring to trial those involved in the riot. NZ judges were also involved in helping to manage the resulting huge upsurge in caseload for the courts. This goes far beyond “restoring order” and is a major commitment by New Zealand to prop up Tonga’s repressive feudal regime, despite having regularly condemned it in recent years. This did not go unnoticed by the feisty pro-democracy movement, which condemned the partisan involvement of Australian and New Zealand troops and police. Clive Edwards, a Tongan politician, said: “Tonga’s government, legitimate and legal though it may be, has failed the country and its people badly and now must turn to foreign governments for support in running the country in ways that have never been necessary before and should not be necessary now” (Press, 22/11/06, “Stop backing regime, troops told”, Dan Eaton).

A pattern has emerged. Initially these regional Australasian military interventions are justified by some life or death crisis (such as Indonesian troops and militias running amok in their East Timor colony in 1999; or Solomon Islander mobs burning down Chinatown in the capital, Honiara, in 2006). But the troops and police stay on long after the crisis has been solved and become major partisan participants in local politics, invariably to ensure that Western interests (such as control of hotly disputed offshore oil and gas deposits in the case of Timor Leste) are given primacy. This has got nothing to do with “aid”, let alone “development”. It is a shabby tale of mini-imperialism by Bush’s two regional Mini Mes, namely Howard and Clark. It replicates the pattern established by Howard in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by Clark in the latter (NZ’s “feelgood” military participation in the illegal occupation of Iraq turned out to be shortlived and ended ignominiously before things got really bad for “our boys”). In Timor Leste, the Solomons and Tonga, Clark needs to do what she had to do it Iraq – get NZ’s troops out. They have no business being there and their continued presence makes New Zealanders complicit in a very shabby regional state of affairs.


see also:

Tuhoe to sue police

Members of the Bay of Plenty community raided by police in October are taking a class action against police, details of which will be announced today.

Peter Williams QC said the group were taking the action after a settlement offer they made to police got nowhere.

The group, comprising about 30 Tuhoe people ranging in age from under 21 to 77, sent a letter to Police Commissioner Howard Broad on November 9, seeking a restoration of mana and compensation. A positive response was not forthcoming by a deadline of 4pm yesterday.

Police arrested 17 people in raids around the country but the focus was on Ruatoki, 20km south of Whakatane, where police allege terrorist training camps were being run.

Solicitor-General David Collins has since rejected an application to prosecute a number of those arrested under the Terrorism Suppression Act. Charges remain under the Arms Act.

Mr Williams told NZPA none of the group mounting the lawsuit was arrested in the raids.

He said the group's claims would be disclosed at a press conference today in Auckland at midday. Compensation was "part of the package".

Mr Williams expected court documents to be filed in the High Court in about a month's time.

"We are not going to be pushed around," he said.

"We are talking about wrongful imprisonment, we are talking about wrongful arrest, wrongful stopping of cars, wrongful photographing of people," he said.

So far the group comprised members of Tuhoe but "we will embrace all people" abused by the police raids, said Mr Williams.

"This is a community where individuals were abused," he said.

He likened the raids to an invasion, saying up to 400 armed police descended on the community.

"It was unbelievable."

Mr Williams said the group had not agreed for the matter to go to Independent Police Conduct Authority


Aboriginal Voices from the NT

The shocking voices of those who are directly affected by the Australian Governments horrific NT National Emergency Response Legislation 2007


Solomon Islands government in crisis after parliamentarians join opposition

By Patrick O’Connor
12 December 2007

Send this link by email | Email the author

The Solomon Islands government of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has been thrown into crisis by the defection of 12 parliamentarians to the opposition last month. Among them were nine ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister Toswell Kaua and Finance Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo, who triggered the political turmoil by quitting the government after he was demoted to the justice ministry on November 8. Sogavare has since accused Lilo of corruption and mismanagement of public funds.

While opposition leader Fred Fono claimed he had the numbers to force a vote of no-confidence and form a new government, some of the 12 MPs have since switched back to Sogavare, along with other opposition members who have accepted government positions. The prime minister now says he has a 25-23 majority in the 48-member parliament, though Fono disputes this. It remains unclear when the parliament will next meet. The governor-general has ruled that it is to be convened tomorrow while Sogavare has insisted that government members will not attend until December 24.

Australian police and heavily-armed soldiers were deployed yesterday and today to strategic locations around Honiara. The authorities claimed that this was for security reasons but there is little doubt that the show of force is intended to strengthen the opposition. Australian troops wearing camouflage gear are currently guarding the gated entrance to Honiara Hotel, where opposition parliamentarians have based themselves. Government MPs earlier accused opposition leaders of locking away their supporters to prevent them switching over to the government side.

The Solomons’ government has been the target of a long-running “regime change” campaign orchestrated in Canberra. The former Howard government first targeted Sogavare for removal in mid-2006 after he was identified as an obstacle to Australia’s ongoing military-police occupation of the impoverished Pacific country.

In July 2003, more than 2,000 soldiers and federal police were dispatched under the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), along with scores of bureaucrats, legal officials, and financial “advisors” who took effective control of the country’s state apparatus, including its police force, prisons, courts, public service, central bank and treasury. The neo-colonial takeover was driven by Canberra’s concern to safeguard Australian corporate interests and maintain its regional domination amid intensifying great power rivalries that have been stoked by China’s growing economic and diplomatic influence in the South Pacific. RAMSI was hailed as a model for future interventions in neighbouring countries such as Papua New Guinea.

Sogavare came to power in May 2006 and moved to wind back certain aspects of RAMSI’s control, especially over public spending and economic reform. The Howard government responded by orchestrating a series of filthy operations—involving lies, dirty tricks and provocations—against the prime minister and senior government members.

Attorney-general Julian Moti was targeted on the basis of a trumped up extradition order relating to statutory rape charges that were thrown out of a Vanuatu court years earlier. Moti had been centrally involved in establishing the still ongoing Commission of Inquiry into the April 2006 Honiara riots. Australian officials adamantly opposed the inquiry, fearing any examination of RAMSI’s responsibility for the disturbances. Significant evidence indicates that RAMSI police and soldiers were deliberately stood down to allow the destruction to proceed. (See “The Howard government, RAMSI, and the April 2006 Solomon Islands’ riots”) Moti also played an important role in establishing a pending parliamentary review, which threatens to strip RAMSI personnel of their blanket immunity from Solomons’ law.

Opposition leader Fono has aligned himself with Canberra and pledged to satisfy RAMSI’s demands, including the extradition of Moti. Two opposition attempts to unseat the government through no-confidence motions, in October 2006 and August this year, failed, despite enjoying the support of the Howard government and RAMSI authorities.

Government minister Charles Dausabea has claimed that RAMSI is directly backing the opposition in its third no-confidence attempt. “They want to topple the government led by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare,” he said on December 3. “I appeal to RAMSI to stay out of politics and let the leaders of the country solve this issue. We are the people ... mandated by the people to run this country and not RAMSI.”

Dausabea said he had lodged a formal complaint to police after two officers, one a Solomon Islander and the other a New Zealand national working with RAMSI, followed him as he was driving around Honiara on government business. “They said that they received information from their special unit that I was planning another riot,” he told a press conference. “This is just unbelievable. I told them straight that they have no solid evidence to justify their allegations.” Dausabea alleged that the police national intelligence unit told the prime minister’s office he was planning to stage a riot if the government were removed.

Dausabea, who has opposed RAMSI, was arrested by Australian police immediately after the April 2006 riots and charged with incitement and related offences. The parliamentarian was repeatedly refused bail by Australian judges working in the Solomons’ court system and held in prison for eight months, before being acquitted of the central charges last August. If it is true that RAMSI personnel are now spreading rumours that senior government figures are preparing violence, this represents another provocative intervention by Australian authorities.

RAMSI leaders help Kemakeza evade jail time

The full extent of Australian involvement in behind-the-scenes manoeuvring against the Sogavare government cannot yet be determined. There is no doubt, however, that the RAMSI leadership wants a more compliant administration. In a revealing episode, senior RAMSI personnel directly intervened in the trial of former prime minister Allen Kemakeza to ensure he evaded imprisonment despite being found guilty on December 6 on charges of demanding money with menace, intimidation, and larceny.

Kemakeza was prime minister in 2003 and played a critical role in facilitating Canberra’s takeover. His government acceded to Howard’s demands that the Australian-led forces be formally invited to intervene and also approved the Facilitation Act, which granted RAMSI legal immunity and is now under parliamentary review. The Kemakeza government functioned as little more than a fig-leaf for Canberra’s control. While RAMSI authorities arrested and charged a series of senior Solomons’ politicians for alleged corruption and complicity with rival Guadalcanal and Malaitan militias, Kemakeza was never investigated despite being widely suspected of involvement in criminal conduct. The quid pro quo was obvious—Kemakeza did RAMSI’s bidding in return for avoiding imprisonment.

National elections in April 2006 saw the Kemakeza government thrown out of office amid overwhelming opposition to his government’s corrupt record, as well as growing dissatisfaction with RAMSI’s presence. Kemakeza subsequently joined the anti-Sogavare opposition after he retained his seat. Last month, however, the government claimed that the former prime minister had switched sides and accepted a government post. Opposition leader Fono has denied this and insists Kemakeza remains on board. According to some calculations, government and opposition MPs are evenly divided, with Kemakeza holding the deciding vote. The Solomon Star reported that the former prime minister earlier declared himself neutral, pending the outcome of his court case.

Kemakeza was found guilty of ordering members of the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) militia to destroy and steal equipment from Australian-run law firm Sol Law in May 2002. He reportedly told the militants that the firm had too much influence over the country’s financial institutions. While four members of the MEF pleaded guilty and received prison sentences of up to 30 months, Kemakeza, who denied the charges, was sentenced to two months jail, with another three months suspended and a fine of $SI7,500 ($US1,100). Under Solomons’ legislation, parliamentarians lose their seats only if sentenced to six months imprisonment or more—leaving Kemakeza free to continue as a MP. In addition, the court granted bail pending an appeal, allowing him to participate in upcoming parliamentary sessions.

According to an AAP report, Australian magistrate Chris Vass “said he was lenient in his sentencing and took into account referees’ accounts of Kemakeza’s service to the nation... He particularly cited Kemakeza’s role in helping restore peace to the Solomons after years of ethnic unrest and his role in inviting in the Australian-led regional assistance mission.”

Among the “referees’ accounts” were those from Australian Federal Police officer Ben McDevitt, who headed RAMSI’s policing component when the intervention was first launched, and former RAMSI chiefs Nick Warner and James Batley. “The improvements that have taken place in security and economic well-being is due to the work of RAMSI members from Pacific countries in partnership with many Solomon Islanders,” Warner and McDevitt declared in a joint statement to the court. “But without Sir Allan Kemakeza’s vision and support, it is likely there would not have been a RAMSI.”

As well as again demonstrating the hypocrisy of Canberra’s claim to be advancing the rule of law in the Solomons, the political character of Kemakeza’s sentencing suggests that a deal may have been done whereby Australian authorities ensure that the former prime minister stays out of jail in return for his political support against Sogavare.

Sogavare looks to cut deal with Canberra

The Solomon Islands prime minister has responded to the latest political ructions by redoubling his efforts to reach an accommodation with Canberra. For all his anti-colonial rhetoric, Sogavare has no principled opposition to RAMSI and Australian imperialism. He represents a layer of the Solomons’ ruling elite which has grown dissatisfied with aspects of the Australian intervention, hopes to recast RAMSI on a new basis more favourable to its commercial and political interests and is looking to other powers for support.

Throughout the period when the Howard government was seeking to destabilise and overthrow his administration, Sogavare repeatedly pleaded for negotiations. Howard, however, had too much at stake politically to compromise. His government’s entire strategic orientation in the South Pacific was tied up with RAMSI’s fortunes; it was feared that any concession to Sogavare would weaken Canberra’s position by emboldening other regional leaders, such as PNG’s Michael Somare, who were similarly looking for more room to manoeuvre with other powers.

Last month’s defeat of Howard has raised hopes in Honiara for an end to hostilities. Sogavare quickly extended his congratulations to new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd after the November 24 vote and has since said he intends to invite both Rudd and Duncan Kerr, Labor’s parliamentary secretary for the Pacific, to visit the Solomons. “I would like to see all the issues clouding our relationship to be dealt with as quickly as possible so we can move on with our lives and get on with the business of development,” Sogavare declared.

The Rudd government will be no less ruthless than its predecessor in prosecuting Australian interests in the South Pacific. The Labor Party fully supported all the Howard government’s manoeuvres in the region, including its military-led interventions in East Timor in 1999 and 2006 and in the Solomons in 2003. It encouraged the Howard government to move toward a “Pacific Union” that would systematically integrate the region’s economy and administrative apparatuses under Canberra’s domination. More recently, however, Labor criticised the former government for an over-reliance on military force and a failure to utilise diplomatic, aid and other instruments to advance Australian corporate interests. These tactical criticisms reflected concerns within the foreign policy establishment that the Howard government’s approach was generating too much opposition from both ordinary people and the political elites of the South Pacific countries.

Kerr, who was dean of law at the University of Papua New Guinea before entering the Australian parliament in 1987, said he hoped to establish better relations with PNG and the Solomon Islands. “We are not big brother,” he declared the day after being appointed parliamentary secretary. “We can’t demand outcomes that are always in accordance with Australia’s view of the world, but we can do everything possible to get us outcomes that are consistent with the national aspirations... I think there is no doubt that at least some of the leaders of our neighbours have seen Australia as somewhat too ready to use instruction rather than a partnership relationship.”

Such remarks may foreshadow the negotiation of a new arrangement between Canberra and the Solomons’ government. Whatever adjustments may be made to RAMSI, however, there is no doubt that the Rudd government will insist that Canberra retains control over the indefinite intervention.

For his part, Sogavare has again stressed that his attempts to reduce RAMSI’s influence and review its operations are not intended to force the Australian personnel out. A number of the recent parliamentarians’ defections, both to and from the government, may strengthen calls from within Sogavare’s ranks for a complete capitulation to Canberra’s demands. Significantly, Peter Boyers is among those opposition parliamentarians who have recently joined the government. Boyers was finance minister under the previous government and has now been appointed to the same post by Sogavare. He has been among the most vociferous pro-RAMSI parliamentarians. A leaked email written by a RAMSI finance official in April 2006 described Boyers as RAMSI’s “effective voice in cabinet”.

Boyers only left the opposition after the prime minister gave him a written guarantee that the government would “uphold the existing arrangements” with RAMSI.

Copyright 1998-2007
World Socialist Web Site
All rights reserved


Aboriginal people need the fires of reconciliation to be relit

Muriel Bamblett
December 11, 2007

Self-determination must be the way forward for a marginalised people.

TODAY is a historic day, not only in the life of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but in the life of this nation.

Fifteen years ago today, a prime minister, Paul Keating, in plain language and without qualification, acknowledged the basic wrongness of colonisation and its negative impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

He did it in the heart of an urban Aboriginal community, a site of resistance for Aboriginal Australia, and he called on non-indigenous Australia to imagine what life had become for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in colonised Australia.

It was a beginning point for reconciliation that was never realised, not even by his government.

With the recent change of government and the end of the Howard era of denialism, we have another chance at creating a new relationship between our peoples.

It's as if a fog has lifted — but it still hovers above our heads and continues to threaten Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with its toxicity.

What we remain unsure of is whether our rights to self-determination will be realised.

The bipartisan support for the Northern Territory intervention raises the question of whether, for us, there has been any change at all.

Let me be perfectly clear: our fundamental concern is for the safety of our children.

But what makes Australia most unsafe for our children is the racism and cultural abuse that the Northern Territory emergency intervention acts represent. Overriding the Racial Discrimination Act does not make our children safe.

Suspending rights and community control of Aboriginal land does not make our children safe. Disempowering our communities does not make our children safe.

If you are going to tackle the causes of abuse, you must empower people, you must build a response on the basis of people's strengths, not their weaknesses.

If people feel in control over their lives they have a greater sense of the future — beyond the next drink or the next hit or the next sniff of petrol.

That word "empowerment" is the critical one. Unlike the previous federal minister for indigenous affairs, I took seriously the recommendations of the Little Children are Sacred report concerning child abuse in the Northern Territory.

The authors of that report summarised their 97 recommendations in that one word — "empowerment".

They understood that what caused child abuse in Aboriginal communities — as well as the non-indigenous perpetrators the Government ignored in their response — was a lack of self-determination and a sense of despair about the future.

It is clear self-determination requires respectful partnerships and capacity-building processes.

Investments in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led solutions must be made so that the community capacity can be restored.

Responses must be informed and led by local Aboriginal communities.

It is only by strengthening the capacity of families and communities to protect and nurture children that the problems will be resolved. Aboriginal ownership and control of land and access to communities are critical to success.

As visiting American trauma expert Dr Bruce Perry pointed out, indigenous communities that are empowered and able to embed culture into their programs are more likely to be effective in dealing with the impact of trans-generational trauma.

Empowerment is all about being treated as self-determining peoples and not client communities.

We need to pressure the Rudd Government to use the financial resources their predecessors committed to Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory and reshape the intervention to one run by Aboriginal communities and agencies.

We need a new approach to indigenous affairs that is human-rights based and focused on understandings of social inclusion and social investment.

Deep listening is required to heal this nation of the scourge of colonisation.

Deep listening is the way through to curing family dysfunction and child abuse by curing the causes — disconnection from culture and land and the lack of self-determination that feeds into a sense of helplessness.

If we begin with listening we can relight the fire of reconciliation.

But as a young member of my staff at VACCA reminded me — we must not only keep that fire lit, we must keep it burning.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have our many warriors for truth who keep that fire alive in our hearts every day.

Non-indigenous people have the embers of the Redfern speech and the reconciliation walks that need to be relit and not only occasionally warm your faces but become a fire in your hearts too.

Then the road to real reconciliation with its signposts of "sorry" and "treaty" can be travelled by all of us and the re-imagining of a new nation that respects and treasures the sovereignty and self-determination of its first peoples with justice and honour can begin.

Muriel Bamblett is chief executive of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency. This is an extract of her speech at the "Self-determination, not Invasion" forum at the Melbourne Town Hall yesterday.


paramilitary police terror & re invasion of Tuhoe 07

TALK ABOUT TERROR - A Public Forum at the University of Auckland
Reflections on politics, history, law and media.

Saturday, December 15, 10.30am-4.30pm, Engineering School auditorium (Rm
1439), 20 Symonds St

This forum addresses the on-going fallout for Tuhoe and New Zealanders of the October 15 police action. Public discussion and comment has focussed on whether police action was ‘warranted’ and whether the Terrorism Suppression Act was ‘good’ law.

This drift in mainstream media obscuresthe real issues, which remain Tuhoe sovereignty, the compulsory nationalism of New Zealand democracy, the broken trust of state aggression
against community, the enduring relevance of local history, and a global war on terror which has brought terror ‘home’ in support of international obligations that exclude the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The object of the forum is critical reflection that will highlight the substantive issues behind talk of terror in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Respondents include: Tracey McIntosh (Sociology, AU); David Williams (Law School, AU); Stephen Turner (English, AU); Laurence Simmons (Film, Television and Media, AU); Kiritapu Allan and Teanau Tuiono (Conscious Collaborations). The format will be welcome and morning tea (10:30–11:00), a screening of a 50 minute interview with Tamati Kruger of Tuhoe, followed
by 15 minute presentations from respondents on different aspects of public talk about terror (12.00–1.00). Lunch break, followed by further responses and discussion. The forum will close with a screening of Robert Pouwhare’s Tuhoe: A History of Resistance (3:00-4:00), still unseen on New Zealand television.

Organisers: Nova Paul ([nova.paul (at) aut.ac.nz]), with
Geraldene Peters, Tessa Laird and Adam White.



Out Of The Box - A Visit With Hinaleimoana Wong

"Bring your entire `ohana together and watch our visit with Hina as she reminds us the children of Hawai`i really don't have to go and live somewhere else to make it economically. As she herself says, "we want our people to live and thrive right here."

Stand up for Human Rights in Australia: Self Determination not Intervention


Monday 10th December 2007

Australia's most significant and unresolved human rights issues will be discussed at a public forum on the NT Intervention and the struggle for Indigenous Peoples justice at Melbourne Town Hall tonight to mark World Human Rights Day.

Barbara Shaw, a town camp resident in Alice Springs and executive member of Tangentyere council, is travelling from the NT to speak in Melbourne and will join with local Victorian speakers to talk about the recent NT Intervention and the human rights violations for aboriginal people right across Australia.

"The little children are sacred report had nothing to do with land, and the Commonwealth's legislation has nothing to do with children", said Ms Shaw. "There is not a single reference to child protection in the hundreds of pages that comprise the Commonwealth's legislative package."

"John Howard neglected us for the last 11 years, now we have no rights to anything. With the intervention there's been changes to every law; land rights law, the racial discrimination act, the social security act. Minister Brough thought he had the power to take everything off us. Now the incoming Rudd government needs to get serious about restoring our rights and removing the Intervention legislation. I'm coming to Melbourne to inform the rest of Australia about the changes, to share stories of those on the ground and talk about what we can do next."

In August the Howard government passed the `Intervention legislation that over-rode the Racial Discrimination Act. In September Australia was one of only four countries in the world that failed to ratify the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples Rights because they disagreed with the phrase "self-determination". Now the newly elected Rudd government is being called on to roll back the Intervention and get serious about addressing the human rights issues that are an everyday reality for Australia's indigenous peoples.

Robbie Thorpe, Gunnai-Kurnai/Tjap-Wharrung activist, said "Until the issue of the Black GST, (Genocide Sovereignty Treaty) are resolved, Australia remains a crime scene and the relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people remains a blight on humanity. The treaty business remains central. A Treaty will provide a proper legal foundation for this country to grow as an independent nation."

Dr. Jocelyn Scutt, Human Rights Lawyer said "It was obvious no member of parliament could have read, much less absorbed, the 500 pages of NT legislation when it passed through Federal Parliament in 3 days. In those circumstances, asserting that they wanted to do `the best' for indigenous children is not credible."

"Australia must move to ratify the UN Treaty on the rights of Indigenous persons immediately. The Government should also act to ensure that the recent history is not repeated and the racial discrimination act is never again bi-passed. As the first all encompassing discrimination legislation in Australia the Racial Discrimination Act must be strengthened and it integrity maintained."

Event details: 6:30pm for a 7pm start of speakers, Monday 10th December
Swanston Hall at the Melbourne Town Hall, cnr Swanston St and Collins St.
Organised by the Alliance for Indigneous Self-Determination.

For more information contact: Michaela Stubbs – 0429 136 935
Robbie Thorpe - 0437 967 039
Jocelyn Scutt - 0412 250 504


Revoluutionary Theory #5-Zapatista

The time of revolution has not passed. Despite celebrating the collapse of Soviet-style communism and promising yet another social and economic renaissance, the world capitalist system is in deep trouble: East and West, North and South.

If you listen carefully to the celebrating voices, those of the rich and the powerful in their corporate offices and government buildings, you can pick up a nervous undertone. If you watch the policy-makers closely, you may notice that the smiles are often thin and the hands that hold champagne glasses sometimes twitch, involuntarily.

If you listen even more carefully, you can discover why. In the background you can hear another set of voices--those from below--far, far more numerous. These are voices the powerful do not want to hear, but they are having a harder and harder time ignoring them. Some of these voices are quiet and determined, talking together in bare tenements. Some are singing and reciting poetry in the plazas, or stirring young hearts with old tales deep in the forests. Some are discussing, planning their future, inventing new worlds. Many are angry, increasingly impatient, sometimes shouting on picket lines or chanting in the streets. All are talking about revolution, whether they use that term or not. The policy- makers of capitalism have good reasons to worry.

The Zapatistas

The voices and writings collected here come primarily from the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), the army that woke up the world on January 1, 1994 by seizing four towns in Chiapas, the southern-most state of Mexico.

The EZLN has organized itself among some of the most dispossessed people of the world. Its composition is almost as diverse as the outside world to which it speaks. Its soldiers are drawn from the forests, mountains and small towns of the region, both from the Indigenous and linguistically diverse Mayan population, and from immigrants from Central and Northern Mexico. Its soldiers have been subsistence cultivators and landless wage-laborers; they have grown and marketed their own export crops and they have worked on the plantations and ranches of others. They have cultivated their milpas (corn plots) on rocky hillsides and sought temporary manual work in the towns. They have toiled as unskilled laborers and skilled artisans. A very few are intellectuals drawn to the area over a decade ago by their ideals and hopes.

For those of us outside this movement, these de-
professionalized intellectuals serve as mediators to help us understand the larger political processes out of which the EZLN has emerged, and within which it continues to operate. They have drafted many of the communique's and served as the public voice for both the Army and the wider community. They speak our language and speak to us in words that are familiar. We can understand them easily because we all share the forms of discourse common to Western political traditions.

But, the words they speak, and the way they speak them, are translations of other words and discourses rooted in other, much less familiar languages and ways of being--the diverse Mayan cultures of the region. Fortunately for us, the Zapatistas are very self-conscious speakers, and often speak to us about their own speaking, so that we will understand the words that come to us through their mouths. They are the words of those who have gone before us to the people of Chiapas; they are the voices of people who have learned to listen.

As some of the statements you will find in this book make clear, the spokespersons who speak to us today are different from the urban intellectuals who went into the mountains years ago. Those intellectuals carried with them a whole left-wing baggage of theoretical and political preconceptions which proved totally inadequate for communicating with the local population.

In the confrontation of those preconceptions (which they now call "undemocratic and authoritarian") with the collective decision-
making traditions of the people living in Indigenous communities, those intellectuals were transformed (as were, undoubtedly, the locals). In these documents we only get glimpses of this transformation, but it seems to have been remarkable--one in which the authoritarian relations of the Zapatista Army came to be subordinated to the democratic processes of the communities. In the process the interlopers seem to have learned to see things with new eyes, to do politics in new ways.

Along the way they seem to have acquired a simple, vernacular way of speaking which makes reading their communique's and their interviews refreshing in comparison with the familiar, jargon-laden political diatribes of old-left guerrilla groups. It is probably this quality which has made the motivations, hopes and aspirations of the EZLN and the Chiapanecos so accessible to the wider Mexican community and beyond. The Mexican state's efforts to portray the EZLN as a group of outside agitators, of "professionals in violence," quickly collapsed in the face of the obvious: Theirs were not old voices but new voices, and their language was not that of ideology but of frustrated desires, urgent needs and committed determination.

Their words, the spokespersons tell us quite explicitly, come from the collectivity, not just the individuals. This, they say, is one reason why they wear ski-masks--so our reception of their voice can be divorced from the face, the personality of the individual. The desire to avoid caudillismo (someone being singled out, or even putting themselves forward, as "the leader" of the revolution) is quite explicit. This approach, of course, is primarily symbolic, as the individualities of the speakers inevitably do come through, as in the best-known case of Subcommander Marcos.

Thus formed through a political process of dialogue and collective struggle, the voices in this book articulate two fundamental messages. First, they explain why they reject the current institutions and development projects of Mexican business and government. Second, they explain their own new political synthesis and their own political proposal for the future of Mexico.


Documents of the New Mexican Revolution

Andrea Smith-Indigenous Feminism without apology

Native feminism is not simply an insular or exclusivist “identity politics” as it is often accused of being. Rather, it is framework that understands indigenous women’s struggle as part of a global movement for liberation. As one activist stated: “You can’t win a revolution on your own. And we are about nothing short of a revolution. Anything else is simply not worth our time.”

We often hear the mantra in indigenous communities that Native women aren’t feminists. Supposedly, feminism is not needed because Native women were treated with respect prior to colonization. Thus, any Native woman who calls herself a feminist is often condemned as being “white.”

However, when I started interviewing Native women organizers as part of a research project, I was surprised by how many community-based activists were describing themselves as “feminists without apology.” They were arguing that feminism is actually an indigenous concept that has been co-opted by white women.

The fact that Native societies were egalitarian 500 years ago is not stopping women from being hit or abused now. For instance, in my years of anti-violence organizing, I would hear, “We can’t worry about domestic violence; we must worry about survival issues first.” But since Native women are the women most likely to be killed by domestic violence, they are clearly not surviving. So when we talk about survival of our nations, who are we including?

These Native feminists are challenging not only patriarchy within Native communities, but also white supremacy and colonialism within mainstream white feminism. That is, they’re challenging why it is that white women get to define what feminism is.


The feminist movement is generally periodized into the so-called first, second and third waves of feminism. In the United States, the first wave is characterized by the suffragette movement; the second wave is characterized by the formation of the National Organization for Women, abortion rights politics, and the fight for the Equal Rights Amendments. Suddenly, during the third wave of feminism, women of colour make an appearance to transform feminism into a multicultural movement.

This periodization situates white middle-class women as the central historical agents to which women of colour attach themselves. However, if we were to recognize the agency of indigenous women in an account of feminist history, we might begin with 1492 when Native women collectively resisted colonization. This would allow us to see that there are multiple feminist histories emerging from multiple communities of colour which intersect at points and diverge in others. This would not negate the contributions made by white feminists, but would de-center them from our historicizing and analysis.

Indigenous feminism thus centers anti-colonial practice within its organizing. This is critical today when you have mainstream feminist groups supporting, for example, the US bombing of Afghanistan with the claim that this bombing will free women from the Taliban (apparently bombing women somehow liberates them).


Indigenous feminists are also challenging how we conceptualize indigenous sovereignty — it is not an add-on to the heteronormative and patriarchal nationstate. Rather it challenges the nationstate system itself.

Charles Colson, prominent Christian Right activist and founder of Prison Fellowship, explains quite clearly the relationship between heteronormativity and the nation-state. In his view, samesex marriage leads directly to terrorism; the attack on the “natural moral order” of the heterosexual family “is like handing moral weapons of mass destruction to those who use America’s decadence to recruit more snipers and hijackers and suicide bombers.”

Similarly, the Christian Right World magazine opined that feminism contributed to the Abu Ghraib scandal by promoting women in the military. When women do not know their assigned role in the gender hierarchy, they become disoriented and abuse prisoners.

Implicit in this is analysis the understanding that heteropatriarchy is essential for the building of US empire. Patriarchy is the logic that naturalizes social hierarchy. Just as men are supposed to naturally dominate women on the basis of biology, so too should the social elites of a society naturally rule everyone else through a nation-state form of governance that is constructed through domination, violence, and control.

As Ann Burlein argues in Lift High the Cross, it may be a mistake to argue that the goal of Christian Right politics is to create a theocracy in the US. Rather, Christian Right politics work through the private family (which is coded as white, patriarchal, and middle-class) to create a “Christian America.” She notes that the investment in the private family makes it difficult for people to invest in more public forms of social connection.

For example, more investment in the suburban private family means less funding for urban areas and Native reservations. The resulting social decay is then construed to be caused by deviance from the Christian family ideal rather than political and economic forces. As former head of the Christian Coalition Ralph Reed states: “The only true solution to crime is to restore the family,” and “Family break-up causes poverty.”

Unfortunately, as Navajo feminist scholar Jennifer Denetdale points out, the Native response to a heteronormative white, Christian America has often been an equally heteronormative Native nationalism. In her critique of the Navajo tribal council’s passage of a ban on same-sex marriage, Denetdale argues that Native nations are furthering a Christian Right agenda in the name of “Indian tradition.”

This trend is equally apparent within racial justice struggles in other communities of colour. As Cathy Cohen contends, heteronormative sovereignty or racial justice struggles will effectively maintain rather than challenge colonialism and white supremacy because they are premised on a politics of secondary marginalization. The most elite class will further their aspirations on the backs of those most marginalized within the community.

Through this process of secondary marginalization, the national or racial justice struggle either implicitly or explicitly takes on a nation-state model as the end point of its struggle – a model in which the elites govern the rest through violence and domination, and exclude those who are not members of “the nation.”


Grassroots Native women, along with Native scholars such as Taiaiake Alfred and Craig Womack, are developing other models of nationhood. These articulations counter the frequent accusations that nation-building projects necessarily lead to a narrow identity politics based on ethnic cleansing and intolerance. This requires that a clear distinction be drawn between the project of national liberation, and that of nation-state building.

Progressive activists and scholars, while prepared to make critiques of the US and Canadian governments, are often not prepared to question their legitimacy. A case in point is the strategy of many racial justice organizations in the US or Canada, who have rallied against the increase in hate crimes since 9/11 under the banner, “We’re American [or Canadian] too.”

This allegiance to “America” or “Canada” legitimizes the genocide and colonization of Native peoples upon which these nation-states are founded. By making anti-colonial struggle central to feminist politics, Native women place in question the appropriate form of governance for the world in general.

In questioning the nation-state, we can begin to imagine a world that we would actually want to live in. Such a political project is particularly important for colonized peoples seeking national liberation outside the nation-state.

Whereas nation-states are governed through domination and coercion, indigenous sovereignty and nationhood is predicated on interrelatedness and responsibility.

As Sharon Venne explains, “Our spirituality and our responsibilities define our duties. We understand the concept of sovereignty as woven through a fabric that encompasses our spirituality and responsibility. This is a cyclical view of sovereignty, incorporating it into our traditional philosophy and view of our responsibilities. It differs greatly from the concept of Western sovereignty which is based upon absolute power. For us absolute power is in the Creator and the natural order of all living things; not only in human beings… Our sovereignty is related to our connections to the earth and is inherent.”


A Native feminist politics seeks to do more than simply elevate Native women’s status — it seeks to transform the world through indigenous forms of governance that can be beneficial to everyone.

At the 2005 World Liberation Theology Forum held in Porto Alegre, Brazil, indigenous peoples from Bolivia stated that they know another world is possible because they see that world whenever they do their ceremonies. Native ceremonies can be a place where the present, past and future become copresent. This is what Native Hawaiian scholar Manu Meyer calls a racial remembering of the future.

Prior to colonization, Native communities were not structured on the basis of hierarchy, oppression or patriarchy. We will not recreate these communities as they existed prior to colonization. Our understanding that a society without structures of oppression was possible in the past tells us that our current political and economic system is anything but natural and inevitable. If we lived differently before, we can live differently in the future.

Native feminism is not simply an insular or exclusivist “identity politics” as it is often accused of being. Rather, it is framework that understands indigenous women’s struggle as part of a global movement for liberation. As one activist stated: “You can’t win a revolution on your own. And we are about nothing short of a revolution. Anything else is simply not worth our time.”

Andrea Smith is Cherokee and a professor of Native American Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and co-founder of Incite! Women of Color Against Violence and the Boarding School Healing Project.

thanks to


Revolutinary Theory #3 Franz Fanon

Franz Fanon (1925-61) was born in Martinique in the French Antilles in 1925. He was educated in Martinique and in France and in 1943 he joined the Free French Forces in Dominica before being posted to Morocco. His anti racist sensibilities were sharpened by his wartime experiences as black Free French soldiers were treated as subordinate to their white counterparts and experienced racism on a daily basis.

After the war, Fanon continued his studies at Lyons Medical School where he took a course in psychiatric medicine as well as studying philosophy and editing a number of political magazines. After furthering his studies in psychiatry, he was appointed head of the Blida-Joinville Psychiatric Hospital in Algeria in 1953. In 1954 he resigned to join the Algerian rebels, the FLN, fighting an armed struggle for independence from French colonial rule. This led to his expulsion from Algeria and a lifetime of critical, theoretical and practical work fighting against colonialism and racism.

As Deborah Wyrick usefully points out in her excellent introductory study, Fanon for Beginners, his work can be divided into three sections. These being; the search for black identity, the struggle against colonialism, and the process of decolonisation.2 Fanon’s work on black identity was formed through his experiences in psychiatry and is deeply influenced by the work of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan. This stage of Fanon’s work is best illustrated by his
powerful book Black Skin, White Masks. This work can be seen as a pioneering example of psychoanalytical theory being used as a critical tool in political theoretical writing.

In Black Skin, White Masks, Fanon suggests that colonialism, with its explicit conceptual under-pinnings of white racial superiority over non-white peoples, has created a sense of division and alienation in the self-identity of the non-white colonised peoples. The history, culture, language, customs and beliefs of the white colonisers are, under colonialism, to be considered as universal, normative and superior to the local indigenous culture of the colonised. This creates a strong sense of inferiority in the colonised subject and leads to an adoption of the language, culture and customs of the colonisers by the colonised as a way of compensating for these feelings of inferiority in their self-identity. This creates a divided sense of self in the subject formation of the colonised.

This adoption of the culture and beliefs of the colonisers leads to a sense of alienation from their own culture by the colonised. Fanon also suggests that the adoption of the language and forms of representation of the colonisers has further negative effects on the indigenous subject in that representational stereotypes are constructed which tend to infantilize, primitivise, decivilize, and essentialise them.3 Fanon’s work on the role of representation in the construction of self-identity clearly shows the influence of the theories of Lacan, in particular his concept of the mirror-stage of identity formation. Here Lacan outlines a theory of identity formation in reference to the image of completeness in the body of another person outside of the self. This occurs in early childhood and begins a process of identification with images in the construction of the self which continues throughout adult life.4

‘As I begin to recognise that the Negro is the symbol of sin, I catch myself hating the Negro. But then I recognise that I am a Negro. There are two ways out of this conflict. Either I ask others to pay no attention to my skin, or else I want them to be aware of it. I try, then to find value for what is bad - since I have unthinkingly conceded that the black man is the colour of evil. In order to terminate this neurotic situation, in which I am compelled to choose an unhealthy, conflictual solution, fed on fantasies, hostile, inhuman in short, I have only one solution, to rise above this absurd drama that others have staged around me, to reject the two terms that are equally unacceptable, and, through one human being, to reach out for the universal.’5

The second stage of Fanon’s critical activity is the struggle against colonialism, which grew out of his active involvement in the Algerian war of independence and his membership of the FLN. This can be found in his works Dying Colonialism and Toward the African Revolution. Given the revolutionary nature of these writings and the context in which they were written it will be unsurprising to find that they are deeply influenced by Marx and the discourses of Western
Marxism6 including the work of the Marxist structuralist Louis Althusser. The complex discussion in regard to importance of Marxist thinking to the project of post-colonial theory would entail a large digression and unfortunately will not be manifested here.7

Fanon’s important contribution to the struggle against colonialism is his concern with history. For Fanon, the work of the struggle against colonialism involves the ‘claiming back’ of their own history by the colonised from the negative or nonexistent versions of it produced by the colonisers. He stresses the vital importance of the culture and representations of their past being central to the creation of both new positive forms of subject formation and new forms of social organisation which are necessary in the newly independent post-colonial era. This emphasis on the creation or rediscovery of new forms of history or the understanding of history in the plural shows some affinity with the work of Michel Foucault, albeit from a position inspired by a Marxist concept of the dialectic rather than Foucault’s non-dialectical post-structuralist analysis.

Much of this work can be found in Fanon’s most famous and widely read work, The Wretched of the Earth. Published in 1961, with a preface by one of his intellectual influences, Jean-Paul Sartre, Wretched of the Earth is a passionate and revolutionary work of political critique and is a cornerstone of post-colonial theory. ‘colonialism is not satisfied merely with holding a people in its grip and emptying the native’s brain of all form and content. By a kind of perverted logic, it turns to the past of the oppressed people and distorts, disfigures and destroys it… . … .To fight for national culture means in the first place to fight for the liberation of the nation, that material keystone which makes the building of a culture possible.’8

The process of decolonisation relates to the third stage of Fanon’s critical activity. Along with the reclamation and reconstruction of their own history and culture as the basis for the new post-colonial forms of nation and national identity, Fanon also discusses two further ideas which are of vital interest to later post-colonial work. These are concepts of ‘colonial space’ and ideas
surrounding the role of the middle-class intelligentsia in these new nations. Both of these ideas stem from Fanon’s understanding that it is important for postcolonial nations to develop new forms of social democracy rather then utilise existing colonial institutions and simply fill existing administrative positions with indigenous people. Using the example of city planning and urbanism, Fanon suggests that these colonial institutions are inherently racist, as they reproduce and construct the concepts and ideas of the colonisers. For example, most colonial cities contain areas where the colonial administrators and business people live and work. These are zones of privilege which largely exclude indigenous people and as such, they construct and reproduce the ideologies of the colonisers. Fanon argues for the radical rebuilding of these urban areas and all other forms of colonial administration and government in ways which will
construct more democratic, post-colonial forms of social organisation, to thoroughly reject the ideologies which underpin colonial rule.

He also argues that the education sections of the colonised population must be aware that their education is based on the ideologies and beliefs of the colonisers and although they are indigenous people, they must take care not to reproduce the concepts and beliefs of the colonisers in the period of postcolonial rebuilding.

Many of Fanon’s insights have been developed by a new generation of critics and theorists who have taken his ideas as inspiration but moreover have extended their scope through the application of further contemporary forms of post-structuralist analysis, whilst retaining Fanon’s radical spirit.


1. For more details on these ideas see McLeod, John. Beginning Postcolonialism
Manchester University Press, Manchester 2000 pp. 6 - 34.
2. Wyrick, Deborah. Fanon For Beginners
Writers and Readers Publishing. London 1998 p. 3.
3. Ibid p. 34.
4. For more details on Lacon’s theories see Bowie, Malcolm. Lacon
Fontana, London. 1991 pp. 17 - 43.
5. Fanon, Franz. Black Skin, White Masks in Ashcroft, Bill. Griffiths, Gareth.
Tiffin, Helen.
The Post-Colonial Studies Reader
Routledge, London. 1995 p. 325.
6. For more details on Marxist theory see McLellan, David. Marxism:
Essential Writings
Oxford University Press, Oxford. 1989.
7. See Wyrick, Deborah. Fanon For Beginners op. cit. pp. 122 - 132.
8. Fanon, Franz. The Wretched of the Earth in Ashcroft, B. Griffiths, G.
Tiffin, H.
The Post-Colonial Studies Reader op. cit. p. 154.



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(Eds). Fanon: A Critical Reader
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Fanon, Franz. Black Skin, White Masks
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Fanon, Franz. A Dying Colonialsim
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Fanon, Franz. Toward The African Revolution
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Fanon, Franz. The Wretched of the Earth
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, an introduction to Fanon.
http://carmen.artsci.washington.edu/panop/home.htm, k.i.s.s. (Keep It Simple Stupid) of the
panopticon is a cultural theory and new media literacy
http://ernie.bgsu.edu/~ckile/cultstudslinks.html, A site for Cultural Theory links

Revolutinary Theory #2 Remembering the Black Panthers

Remembering the Black Panthers
An example of revolutionary defiance and militancy

By Carlos ‘Carlito’ Rovira
The Panthers’ action at the California Statehouse in 1967 launched them onto the national spotlight.

Forty years ago, in October 1966, the Black Panther Party was born. This was one of the highlights in the history of the U.S. revolutionary movement, and the Black liberation struggle in particular.

Young African Americans dared to stand up and challenge the rule of the capitalist state, to the point of arming themselves to demand an end to Black oppression. Their vision of Black emancipation evolved into a vision of the liberation of all oppressed people and the smashing of the capitalist system.

The U.S. government, terrified by the potential for revolution and the influence these Black leaders and freedom fighters were gaining, resorted to the most extreme violence to destroy the BPP. It is a campaign that is still felt today.

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, as the party was first called, was formed in Oakland, Calif., by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. The name—and the famous panther logo—came from the Lowndes Country Freedom Organization in Alabama which organized for independent Black political action with the help of Stokely Carmichael and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

The formation of the Black Panther Party was the culmination of a resistance movement over the long history that characterizes the oppression of African Americans in the United States, from the lashes of slavery to the beatings and murders by the police in modern times. It grew up in the aftermath of the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X—a powerful voice for militant Black self-determination and liberation. It drew inspiration from the Deacons for Defense and Justice, organized for African American self-defense against racist Klan and police terror in the South.

The Panthers recognized the need for an organization that was capable of addressing the racist violence that the Black masses faced. Every gain being made by the Civil Rights movement was being matched by violence and lynchings by racist cops and the Ku Klux Klan, in the North and South alike.

The right to armed self-defense

The Panthers won respect and admiration for their militancy and defiance in the face of the racist police state. For example, less than a year after their founding, on May 2, 1967, a group of 30 Black Panthers walked into the California state capitol building armed with shotguns and automatic rifles. The armed but peaceful demonstration was to protest the Mulford Act, aimed at prohibiting citizens from carrying firearms on their persons or in their vehicles.

As the Panthers walked towards the entrance of the capitol building, they were approached by television and other news media. They used the occasion to call upon African Americans everywhere to arm themselves against the systematic brutality and terror practiced by the power structure.

But the party’s efforts went far beyond their call for armed self-defense and their patrols of racist cops. They also carried out consistent community work, gaining the confidence of the people not only in the Black community but among other oppressed nationalities as well.

Panther chapters sprang up in the African American communities of major cities from coast to coast. Wherever they established branches, they tried to set up outreach programs like free breakfast for children and free clothing drives. They used every one of these opportunities to expose the avaricious nature of the rich and powerful who exist at the expense of the poor.
The Panthers became a symbol of militancy and discipline in the Black community.

The Panthers were influenced by Malcolm X’s rejection of “turn the other cheek” pacifism for the Black liberation struggle, as well as by the socialist movement in the United States and around the world. Their “Black Power” salute combined with street corner sales of Mao Zedong’s “Little Red Books” of quotations.

The international situation during this period also contributed to the birth of the Panthers. The 1949 Chinese Revolution, the 1959 Cuban Revolution, the Vietnamese Revolution and the heroic struggle of south Vietnam’s National Liberation Front against U.S. imperialism, along with the other national liberation struggles in Africa, Latin America and Asia had a great impact in inspiring revolutionaries in the United States, including the Black Panthers.

Their militancy and revolutionary politics quickly put them in the center of the African American liberation struggle, as well as in the growing mass movements that were sweeping the country.

Capitalism is the problem

More and more, the party put the blame for the plight of the African American people on the capitalist system. It rejected the view that the problems of racism could be solved within the confines of the exploitative system, or that it was possible to accumulate enough capital in the Black community to rival capitalism with “Black capital.” Instead, Panther speakers called for socialist revolution within the context of the Civil Rights era. Their uncompromisingly revolutionary and anti-capitalist stance was the most prominent in what became a new trend within the Black liberation struggle of the 1950s and 1960s.

As part of the political training of its membership, the BPP studied Marxist literature like the Communist Manifesto and the writings of Mao Zedong.

The Black Panther Party was a disciplined and organized revolutionary political entity. The Panthers put forward the need for professional, organizational sophistication in building a revolutionary political party.

While the party’s Ten-Point Program reflected its political views and line of march, it was the membership rules that ensured the internal discipline of the organization. Membership rules touched a range of matters, including mandatory collective study of revolutionary theory; respect for women inside and outside the BPP; and respect for the property of the poor.

Revolutionary multinational alliances

The Panthers advocated a united front of revolutionary organizations to guarantee the success of a revolutionary struggle in the United States. Their organizing efforts extended to Puerto Rican, Chicano, Asian, other nationally oppressed people and the white working class.

They forged alliances of various kinds, such as with the American Indian Movement and Cesar Chavez and the farm workers’ movement. The Panthers stood in solidarity with the struggle for women’s equality, especially supporting those sectors of the women’s movement that were anti-imperialist and anti-racist. To the surprise of many, on the heels of the Stonewall rebellion, Panther leader Huey P. Newton publicly supported the struggle to end gay and lesbian oppression.

The Panthers perspective was toward building a multinational alliance of revolutionary organizations. Their most notable effort was the Rainbow Coalition, organized in June 1969 in Chicago by Panther leader Fred Hampton, which consisted of the Black Panther Party; the Young Lords, a U.S. organization of Puerto Rican revolutionaries; and organizations representing Chicanos, Asians and poor whites. Hampton’s vision was to eventually merge these allied organizations into a single revolutionary entity, to forge a revolutionary organization with representation from the full spectrum of the working class.

Wherever their agitational work was conducted, on the streets, on campuses or at public events, the Panthers upheld the principle of solidarity with the liberation movements in the oppressed and colonized countries. At the height of the Vietnam War, the Black Panther leadership made an open gesture of internationalism by offering to send party members to fight alongside the National Liberation Front in their struggle against U.S imperialism.

Fierce U.S. repression

Faced with the Black Panther Party’s tremendous growth and revolutionary orientation, the U.S. government struck back. It organized a massive political-military campaign, involving the FBI and police departments around the country, to destroy the Panthers’ leadership.

In a now well-documented campaign called COINTELPRO, or Counter Intelligence Program, the FBI orchestrated covert operations—personally overseen by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover—to provoke conflicts between the Black Panthers and other organizations. They employed a network of infiltrators and provocateurs to disrupt the party’s discipline and leadership.

Police attacks were common. Cops routinely raided party offices and the homes of Panther members. Dozens of Panthers were killed outright, often in cold blood. The most notable of these cop assassinations was the Dec. 4, 1969, murder of Fred Hampton in Chicago while he slept. He was 21 years old.

Dozens more Panther members and leaders spent years in prison.

The campaign to jail Panther leaders and activists long outlived the organization itself. Mumia Abu-Jamal, who at 16-years-old had been the minister of information in the party’s Philadelphia branch, was framed up and sentenced to death in 1981. He has been in prison ever since, despite a worldwide effort to save his life.

The Black Panther Party ultimately could not withstand the government onslaught. The combined police attacks and covert operations compounded internal differences. Unable to withstand the tremendous repression, by the mid-1970s the Black Panther Party was essentially defunct.

Lessons for today

Bourgeois historians often try to downplay the role of the state in the destruction of the Panthers. When they do acknowledge the state repression, it is to discourage revolutionaries—especially from the oppressed nationalities—from taking action. Do not dare to struggle, you cannot stand up to the power of the capitalist state.

Revolutionaries draw different lessons. The rulers were not then and are not now invincible. The fact that the U.S. government relentlessly attacked the Panthers before they had a chance to steel the discipline of their rank and file only points to the need to build disciplined organizations of professional revolutionaries today in preparation for the battles to come.

As long as capitalist oppression exists, the rise of revolutionary movements, like the one that gave rise to the Black Panther Party, is a historical certainty. The Panthers showed that revolutionary ideology and organization, embraced by the most oppressed sectors of the working class, is what the ruling class fears the most.

Everything the Black Panthers did and the sacrifices they made will not be in vain. Those organizing for socialism in the United States embrace their history and strive to emulate their courage and revolutionary spirit.