Monday, December 05, 2005


Excerpt from Christopher Pearson about the invented "terra nullius" legal doctrine that was used to give land rights to Australian blacks

"In June last year, I reported in this column on a seismic shift in Australian history-writing. One of its rising stars, Bain Attwood, had published an article calling into question the veracity and professional ethics of Henry Reynolds, the doyen of Aboriginal history. In particular he drew attention to the disingenuous uses that Reynolds had made of the obscure concept of terra nullius, which the High Court later relied on to justify the Mabo judgment and overturn two centuries' worth of settled land law. For his pains, Attwood was denounced by other historians, most notably Dirk Moses, who described it as a "patricidal attack".

By the time Attwood's new book, Telling the Truth about Aboriginal History, came out this year, terra nullius had vanished from the text, in one of those flagrant airbrushing exercises we've come to expect. So much for telling the truth. But Attwood was not the first to note the problems with terra nullius or the most trenchant critic of Reynolds's abuse of it. That honour belongs to Michael Connor, a Tasmanian historian.

Connor has written a book, The Invention of Terra Nullius, and I shall have the pleasure of launching it for the Macleay Press, Keith Windschuttle's publishing house, on Tuesday evening. Connor will prove hard to ignore, at least for lawyers and journalists, who need to know the facts, whatever use they make of them. Even in academe, Connor's skewering of so many self-important colleagues will be welcomed by the better teachers and the brighter students of Australian history.

Connor will be hard to ignore because his field work on the origins and applications of the term terra nullius is so thorough and his exposition so lucid. Reynolds pounced on it and gave it a number of sliding definitions. It became broad enough to encompass waste, uncultivated or uninhabited land, land with no owners or land with no sovereign. The conflation of land ownership and sovereignty, Reynolds's invention and unwarranted on any legal authority, was particularly helpful for impressionable High Court judges, who seldom seem to have done their homework and took Reynolds on trust.

Connor says: "For over 20 years Australian history has been written by a conformity of historians for whom terra nullius was the foundation for their telling of Australia's story. They taught us that this phrase had always been there and was the bloody basis on which the nation stands ... Never has a falser antique been palmed off on more unsuspecting buyers." "



Roger Scruton: "I wrote The Meaning of Conservatism in 1979, during the last year of a failing Labour Government, when the Conservatives were in the process of choosing a new leader (Margaret Thatcher), and also looking around for a new philosophy -- or rather any philosophy, having subsisted to that point without one. I was teaching in the University of London, and had begun to take an interest in political thought. I was surprised to discover that the politics department of my college library contained largely Marxist or sub-Marxist books, that major conservative thinkers like Burke, de Maistre and Hayek were hardly to be found there, and that the journals were all uniformly leftist. Academic political science was in the style of the New Left Review, with a strong leaning towards the idiocies of 1968, a sneering contempt for England and its heritage, and a witch-hunting tone towards the opposition, which it dismissed as middle brow, middle class, and racist". [Not much has changed!]

Animal rights inconsistent with LEFTISM!: "When I hear people argue against wearing leather, animal skins or furs, my response is that those are natural materials, unlike the plastic-based or petroleum-based products they offer as alternatives. Leather, skins and furs will biodegrade, not take up space in a landfill somewhere. Should we really, according to left-wing propaganda, be supporting and encouraging the huge conglomerate corporations that produce nylon and other synthetic substances? Giving the oil companies more sources of profit? Fostering our dependence on Saudi Arabia and other foreign countries that supply us with oil? Increasing our dependence on fossil fuels?.... Are those who are so concerned with the "rights" of rodents and chickens, as concerned with the rights of human unborn children? When anyone rails in favor of animal rights, I ask them, "Are you `pro-choice' on abortion?" Their startled response is usually, "Yes." "Well," I say, "there are people who are `pro-choice' about hunting, eating meat and wearing leather and fur." This inevitably ends the conversation"

Back to more business bashing : "Very sadly the human species has had too many thinkers who were idealists of the worst sort, placing before us impossible goals to strive for while demeaning the possible and desirable ones. Another case of the perfect being the enemy of the good. And it is really quite unjust, when you come to think of it -- with all those diligent people in business, breaking their necks to produce what millions of us want, working ceaselessly to help us all prosper, and they are routinely put down, lumped together with the relatively few crooks among them. No one does this with medicine or education or science, but somehow the members of the intelligentsia haven't managed to grasp that such lumping is unjust as well when it comes to business."

Death penalty opponents have blood on their hands: "Perhaps the most infamous case of a death penalty opponent directly causing the murder of an innocent is that of novelist Norman Mailer. In 1981, Mailer utilized his influence to obtain parole for a bank robber and murderer named Jack Abbott on the grounds that Abbott was a talented writer. Six weeks after being paroled, Abbott murdered Richard Adan, a 22-year-old newlywed, aspiring actor and playwright who was waiting tables at his father's restaurant. Mailer's reaction? "Culture is worth a little risk," he told the press. "I'm willing to gamble with a portion of society to save this man's talent." That in a nutshell is the attitude of the abolitionists. They are "willing to gamble with a portion of society" -- such as the lives of additional innocent victims -- in order to save the life of every murderer".

The looming immigration war: "What was once Rep. Tom Tancredo's (R-Colo.) own personal hot-button issue is now a national immigration-reform movement. Fanned by talk-radio, not to mention Republican mania for some kind of wedge issue now that they've abandoned fiscal conservatism, immigration is shaping up as the Us vs. Them issue, certainly for next year's midterm election and perhaps 2008 as well. Tancredo is sniffing around Iowa and has the dreaded and dread-filled potential POTUS candidate's book -- In Mortal Danger -- on the way. His Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus now has 91 members and expects to get actual House floor votes on several of its reform bills when Congress returns. With the GOP leadership in disarray, there is no telling how many votes the proposal might get."

An Irish nun convicted of rape? Sounds fanciful but it happened. Strange Justice has the story.

For more postings, see EDUCATION WATCH, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE. Mirror sites here, here, here, here and here. On Social Security see Dick McDonald and for purely Australian news see Australian Politics (mirrored here).


Practically all policies advocated by the Left create poverty. Leftists get the government to waste vast slabs of the country's labour-force on bureaucracy and paperwork and so load the burden of providing most useful goods and services onto fewer and fewer people. So fewer useful goods and services are produced to go around. That is no accident. The Left love the poor. The Left need the poor so that they can feel good by patronizing and "helping" them. So they do their best to create as many poor people as possible.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch)

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