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What is the Measure of True Freedom?

What is the Measure of True Freedom?

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The measure of freedom in any society is the degree of inclusion for those who stand on the margins, those who linger on the edge, and those who suffer in silence. The potential and eventual realisation of inclusion is evidence of a free society, of genuine enfranchisement for all who seek it. Good rulers take care of those who come under their authority, including those parties on the losing side of military conflicts. Freedom is not achieved by overturning the results of conflict, revising the past, or instilling guilt and shame on the victors. 

Every nation was formed as the result of conflict, either with other nations or political groupings, or because of conflict within nations. Often it was military conflict over boundaries, land, culture, or history. Many nations, over time, have brought the losing side of conflicts under a broader national umbrella, often promoting, and preserving some elements of their culture and history. It is how a nation treats the losing side in conflict that really defines the substance of freedom available to citizens. 

The great lie of Australia is that Australians have never been in a war. It is a doctrine we are taught from birth that our first conflict was against the Turks at Gallipoli. Not only is this fiction – our first engagement was with German troops in Papua – but it reflects a deeper, more traumatic deceit. Australia was forged in blood. There is not a town in rural New South Wales that does not contain memories of this war. Other states are the same. Australia was built on the blood of aboriginal people against whom the colonial administrators fought in many wars across the young nation. 

One of the great achievements of Australia is the freedom granted to the losers of these wars to enjoy full participation in Australian society. This itself has been a long and bitter struggle, but it remains true, nonetheless. 

The other day, I drove past a billboard sign that was historically incorrect. It read: ‘Drive responsibly, you are in Dharawal country.’ This local tribe was exterminated by early English settlers and colonial troops, though a remnant survived. Their history is awful and telling, brutal, and tragic, and it is a story that should be told.

The sign however is a lie, and it is this lie that goes to the heart of what is wrong with societies when they seek to subvert democracy and replace it with fascism, complete with fake history, fake propositions, and fake expressions of justice, which are in reality, efforts to divide a nation and pit one group against another. 

This sign was part of corporate propaganda to support the idea that aboriginal Australians own the land of Australia. This is reflected also in the absurd and racist ‘Welcome to country,’ that all are forced to recite, like a secular rite before every meeting or gathering, that each small part of Australia is owned by a local aboriginal tribe, and we must ask permission to enter it. 

The sign was inaccurate and historically incorrect. Where I was driving was not the territory of the Dharawal people, but it was their territory before they lost it. They lost it because they lost the war with the English who came and defeated them. For some strange reason, there are still those in Australia who do not believe that war took place between the many aboriginal tribes and British troops and settlers.

History tells a different story. They are often called the frontier wars for a reason. This was war; there were combatants, casualties, and crimes. It is a bloody history, a violent history, and in many cases, a shameful one, but the fact is, aboriginal Australia lost the war, or wars fought against them. 

It was incumbent on colonial authorities to care for those who lost against the Crown. It is to Australia’s lasting shame that aboriginal people were not cared for, elevated, respected, or welcomed until much later in our history. Governments, churches, and other social organizations have blood on their hands, and this is the dark truth of the fiction of this land of peace Down Under. 

The fact is that aboriginal land ceased to be theirs and it is no longer their land. They lost it. Their people died for it, they shed blood for it, and while blood soaked into the earth, another flag was hoisted over it, and new laws governed it, and a new authority owned it. It belongs to the Crown, and to whomever the land is leased or granted.

This rule even applies to land secured under Native Title legislation; the Crown cedes this land to claimants. This is what we call history, and we will do well to remember it, that just like every other war in history, to the victors belong the spoils. This is the natural order of things. 

The Voice Referendum was an immoral effort to impose secular guilt, overturn the natural order, and restrict freedom because of race. It failed because Australians are sick of racism, political hypocrisy, and special interests. The Referendum result was a middle finger to the establishment, a faction within Australia that has been trying to overturn democracy and replace it with fascism. The government and their 60,000-strong voluntary militia told us with a straight face, ‘We are having a vote soon, and you must only vote yes, or else you are a racist bigot.’

This kind of puerile rubbish is what is left of Australian political discourse after almost a decade of the promotion of fascism that really began in the dying days of Obama’s reign in America. If the moon shines on the water, then America is the moon, and Australia is the pale reflection. Those who protested Covid Hysteria were called terrorists, fanatics, and bigots, but watching the Yes Campaigners march across the nation reminded me of the Hitler Youth, and China’s Red Guard, recruited, devoted, brainwashed, and totally loyal to the state. 

What was behind it? It is about money and power; it always is. Most Australians are like everyone else; they just want to work, enjoy life, and participate in family and community life in a safe and pleasant environment. They vote for their representatives and assume they are the ones in whom political power resides. They are wrong. Power resides in those who bypass and use democracy to advance their special interests. 

Australia, like all democratic societies, attracts political parasites who make a lucrative existence lobbying for their cause. Protectionists, human rights campaigners, environmentalists, miners, farmers, and churches are just a few examples of these political parasites who have been sucking the blood of democracy for years.

This tiny group of people live in a kind of bubble – high salaries, inflated egos, contempt for ordinary people, and a commitment to bypass the democratic process by getting to the politicians behind closed doors. This bypassing of the democratic process and the concentration of power within a few corporations or special interest groups is the foundation stone for the rise of a fascist state. 

From time to time, this lobbying makes perfect sense and the causes advanced resonate within the broader community. To advance special interests and be able to recruit or reflect the will of the nation is a rare skill, but some pull it off. Often, however, the ambitions of these lobbyists are so out of touch that their projects collapse in spectacular fashion. 

In Australia, the Voice Referendum was one such example. It was about guilt-tripping white Australia with a twisted and sick version of history, promoted by a tiny group of largely wealthy aboriginal lobbyists and their allies, all with an eye on the prize – contracts, grants, power, and access to power – and they were salivating so much that their excitement blurred their eyes, and they could not see the glaringly obvious, that the population was unconvinced. 

You see, this tiny but powerful group of aboriginal lobbyists and their white friends are in trouble and have been for decades. The conditions for aboriginal Australians have been improving. Government programs, charities, and corporations have done much to bring this about, as well as new education policies, but more critically, other ethnic groups are now competing for the vast amounts of money these aboriginal lobbyists saw as exclusively theirs by virtue of their special position in Australian history. 

The welfare pie has more people sitting at the table now, including thousands of Ukrainian migrants, and every dollar that goes to the Ukrainians is money that will not go to the gravy train that keeps the aboriginal lobbyists and their white friends employed. Most migrants who come to Australia are happy to be here and are amazed that it is a society that ostensibly celebrates equality and a fair go for all. Their vision of Australia does not include the handouts, special treatment, welfare slush fund, and white guilt that has been part of Australian politics since the 1970s. 

The Voice was to secure this funding and power well into the future, thus denying new migrants the enfranchisement and equality they so earnestly seek. For the lobbyists, the failure of the Voice was a catastrophic disaster. As compensation, the sinless and spotless can rest assured that their single vote still carries weight and in the next election, they and all the 9.5 million racist bigots who voted no can enjoy what is called democracy, something the fascists so earnestly sought to overturn. 

If Australia belongs to aboriginal people, even though they lost the war, even though they did not prevail, then why stop there? Surely, this logic can be applied to every nation in every continent, for every ethnic group. Why do we make an exception for Australia?

China has over 50 ethnic groups, each with their own histories, cultures, and identities and yet they are all Chinese. Maybe Beijing should return all the land to its original inhabitants; after all, it was their land, and maybe they want it back again. Take Britain. The original inhabitants were the Britons, whose land was invaded by the Germans, the French, the Vikings, and the Dutch. Almost every nation from Europe is represented there. Maybe, the lands of England should be returned to those who were there first, even though they lost the wars, even though they did not prevail. 

I recently returned from Russia. The Russian Federation has about 200 ethnicities, as well as indigenous peoples, such as the Bashkir and the Tartar, with their own histories and stories of their encounter, and eventual integration within the rich ethnic tapestry that is modern Russia. Peter the Great ordered the establishment of a copper factory deep in the Ural Mountains, created in 1724 where the early industrialists engaged in bitter conflict with the locals for many years. 

This was a war, and the Bashkir lost. They fought well and bravely and today, they are proud of their history, their identity, and they are also proud of being Russian. Take America. Will they return all their lands to the native Americans? After all, they were here first, it is their land, and it belongs to them, according to the new logic of the land Down Under. The whole direction of this revisionist view of Aboriginal enfranchisement is contrary to the laws of history, and it is perverted, unjust, and undemocratic. Special racial treatment in a democracy. What a disgrace. 

The reality is that wars shape the world and there are winners and losers. That is just the way it is. If you want the land, go to war, and take it back. Otherwise, it is not yours to assume and your existence rests upon the magnanimity, mercy, and morality of those who are in authority.  

The Voice Referendum was an illegitimate land grab, and it reflects the spirit of the age. Along the borders of Russia, the remnants of old empires are seeking a return to the glory days of the past. When the Soviet Union fell, these echoes of ancient power began to dream that old borders might be restored, old dreams might be revived, and old fortunes might be regained. Poland, Hungary, and Ukraine are but a few of those who seek the glory days of the past. They all see land as power, boundaries as wealth, and territory as legacy.

They fail to see that greatness can reside in other things entirely and it suggests that the great European project of the EU may fail because some of its members wish to pursue an illegitimate, ill-founded, and ill-advised search for an elusive past that is long gone. Even Brexit foreshadowed the rise of British interest once again in the Pacific reflected in AUKUS, an echo of empire. Germany too, longs for the good old days. But the past is gone. It has been swallowed up by dust, recalled in dreams, and often shaped by disappointment.

True greatness is found in individuals who know that they are free to pursue their goals in life, free to express their opinions, free to create, free to work, free to love, and free to live. This is true greatness for a nation. It is not land or boundaries or geography, or even history, it is freedom. 

Let us not doubt the love that people have for their nations. Men and women fight under their flags and die for their nation, which they call their own, a nation they love, a nation they serve, and a nation that is theirs. Whatever their cause or flag, history is often the story of men and women who truly believe in their place under the sun, and we respect all who fight with honour with mercy. We can be reminded that the bonds we share transcend flag and nation, and that if we talk of blood, we can be assured that the same blood runs in all of our veins. 

As I said at the beginning, the measure of a free society is how that society brings people under its banner, under its flag, those who win, those who lose, those on the margins, and those in the middle. A free society is not one that carves out special deals for special people, but one that offers the possibility of a positive future for all, one where everyone is welcome, and a nation where everyone can call home. This is freedom, and it is worth fighting for.



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Author

  • Michael J. Sutton

    The Rev. Dr. Michael J. Sutton has been a political economist, a professor, a priest, a pastor, and now a publisher. He is the CEO of Freedom Matters Today, looking at freedom from a Christian perspective. This article is edited from his November 2022 book: Freedom from Fascism, A Christian Response to Mass Formation Psychosis, available through Amazon.

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