Friday, 28 March 2008

Help, help, we're being oppressed!

malcolm_x Californian columnist for 'The Free Radical' Michael Vardoulis sent me a reflection from afar on why Maori activists need to learn about independence and self-reliance from the likes of the late-career Malcolm X (right) ...

Yes, Maori individuals have a lot fewer historical claim to bitterness than Afro Americans, or especially Native Americans and Hawaiians!  Whatever their legitimate complaints, at least New Zealanders never suffered the stain of slavery while proclaiming the protection of individuals' rights.  These are individuals whose ancestors were never enslaved -- not at least in New Zealand after the British arrived.

Maori individuals need to shake off the great state fixation too many seem obsessed with.  There is a kind of philosophical 'judo' that Malcolm X represents, insofar as the pride of self-reliance he talked about is essential to survival as an individual, and it would apply to Maori as well.  His message of "why look to your former 'masters' and  the government which supported them, for anything?  The only thing a (insert arbitrary racial identity here) individual should seek from the government which supported their former master is to be left the hell alone!"

Maori-Anarchism04   The lesson that needs to be tattooed on the soul was expressed perfectly by Isabel Paterson: "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you've got" -- including, if you let them, your pride in your self-reliance.  Self-reliance does not come from sucking nanny's tit, or from the marshmallow embrace of collectivism -- it comes from standing on one's own feet and beginning to take responsibility for one's own future as an individual.

And then we have the conclusions one can draw universally on the issue of 'race' from what Rand wrote so perfectly: the only genuine solution to racism is a color-blind government supporting the same rights for all individuals as individuals; anything *other* than that merely perpetuates the evil of racism, and (not incidentally) the careers of political figures who benefit from the perpetuation of the problem rather than achieving solutions. 

Liberty HAS been stolen from many different arbitrary groups (though compared to what others have suffered over history, including many Europeans it's much harder to find in the case of post-1840 Maori) and in any case it's ultimately irrelevant to the much more important issue of regaining that liberty, which can only be achieved in a society where only the rights of the individual are upheld regardless of any arbitrary 'group' status either placed upon them or with which they choose to identify

   Hell, the Brits stomped all over my mother's ancestors in Ireland, and the Turks all over my father's ancestors in Greece.  I don't go looking for handouts from Downing Street or Istanbul!  I just pursue a society in which the individual is protected from being interfered with, knowing as a result that no arbitrary group can be singled out either for persecution, or for restitution.  The people who stomped all over my ancestors are long dead and buried -- those alive now bear no guilt for what their great-great-great grandparents did to mine.

RichardBBoddie2 But, I fear I preach to the choir.  It's individuals of Maori, Afro-American or Native American backgrounds which need to 'get it'... as my mentor Richard Boddie (right), a former student of Malcolm X, is fond of saying, "People are deluded en masse and enlightened one at a time." 

The lesson of Malcolm's own growth and change over his life helps to show that lesson is true -- and dangerous to those who would hope the lesson is never learned.

The interested reader might appreciate PC's review of Spike Lee's film 'Malcolm X' that appeared in The Free Radical at the time of the film's release.  [NB: Some light editing of Michael's post has been done for sense and context.]


  1. Michael Vardoulis28 Mar 2008, 11:46:00

    Ethnic pride, I'd like to add, conflicts with the notions of entitlement and reparation. Not to mention the fact that ethnicity is a function of the individual, which is to say, an individual can be as 'ethnic' as they choose to be. There is nothing wrong with appreciating and identifying with positive aspects of one's ancestry.

    There are a lot of 'cool' things about my mother and father's 'people' (Guinness, Ouzo, etc), just as there are lot of really 'cool' things about Afro-American ancestry (music, oratory, literature, athleticism) and Maori ancestry (the same, and throw in really scary war dances that inspire rugby victories). I can't figure out how ancestral pride somehow became connected to entitlement, as if it was a crime against one's ancestry to *not* insist on a government handout in the name of that ancestry. Given that just about every ethnic or ancestral arbitrary 'group' has been oppressed, wouldn't it make more sense to honor one's ancestors by fighting to insure government will never allow or become the instrument of oppression *ever again* for *any* individual?

  2. Maori were made slaves by Europeans.

    In return for there freedom Maori had to sign away thier land.

    Maori were the first to demostrate Passive Protest (like Ghandi)

    I like to not think of it as a Government handout, after all after years of slavery/displacement of families/Profiting off Land and resources stolen from Maori) and rasict laws banning Maori from trade. Its not a handout. After the public works act in the 70s removed a further 40% of land owned by Maori.
    After burning Maori in Churches.

    The whole one nz one nation is bull...Maori could nt vote....what a great NZ democracy.

    I am aware that in the US, the government allows african amerias to remain on welfoare for as long as the like, but all other people can remain on it for only 6 months.

    Is this not another form of oppression, and what about those who have hard times and are becaoming homeless.


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