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The “whitewashing” of the lower-class.

‏“First recorded in 1605-15, candidate is from the Latin word candidātus clothed in white (adj.), candidate for office (noun, in reference to the white togas worn by Roman officials aspiring for election to high office).”

I am going to use the term “whitewashing” in this article to denote the action of taking smart people out of the common pool of the population and clothing them in a whitewash of indoctrination or propaganda with the covert aim of neutering any future action on their part of radical protest.

Geoffery Bardon, a teacher who came to Papunya:

“… observed on arrival at Papunya in 1971, of the four tribal groups brought together there, the Aranda had been ‘detribalised’ and “soured” at the Hermannsburg Lutheran Mission, and that “the white man had made them earn a discontent and misery, for they had learned all the whitefella-ways, and about money, and how something or someone did not have any full worth or place because of money and other concerns” (Bardon 2004 p.7). (Christine Williams on Albert Namatjira).

The use of religious conversion to subjugate the indigenous peoples is an old “trick” of colonisers. It was used not necessarily to bring the natives close to “The Lord”, as to dull their inherited tribal totems and traditions … driving their practices and adherence underground and out of sight, if not into oblivion. As we now know, they failed.

“Albert Namatjira, being an early product of the effects of white culture superimposed on other ways of knowing and seeing, had despite the hardship, been able to carry his knowledge across to lineally-focussed painting, whereas so many Aranda people must have felt alienated at being misunderstood.” (Christine Williams on Albert Namatjira).

I recently attended a funeral service for an Indigenous person. It was a vibrant and moving ceremony, not as I would have imagined, but held in a church but without the overbearing Christian ceremony and given with random testimony from relatives and friends of the deceased. Many people were there, we three Europeans were but the few and the whole ceremony moved with a kind of flow of sympathetic emotion from eulogies to testimonies to graveside song and internment like a natural flow of water from source (mother) to destination (the burial site) to wake (tables overflowing with food).

As I say, the white influence or overbearing organisation was obvious by its absence. The beautiful care of the deceased a tribute to the inherent maturity of local Indigenous knowledge and confidence to take care of its own without “white-fella” control. No more the Albert Namatjira oppression. And it is only now a matter of time before what was wronged in the years since colonisation is righted fair and square. The Garma Conference has drawn a new determination line in the sand that Labor has given policy word to grant a voice in Parliament and MUST follow through with legislation if or when they gain office.

Same with working class aspiration. Not necessarily toward a middle-class consumerist lifestyle, but fair pay and conditions with social policies attached.

“Norm Gallagher helped to build up a powerful, national trade union organisation – the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF). He was General (National) Secretary for 31 years (1961-92). He was head of a downtrodden group in the working class – the labourers of the building industry

He was a tremendous organiser. The greatest working class organiser of them all. He became delegate/shop steward at 16 years of age and Victorian Branch organiser at 18 years. He became General Secretary at 30 years.

He did what was necessary. He had the will and determination where others failed. Norm gave everything. He gave his whole life. He devoted himself to builders’ labourers and the working class as a whole.” (Steve Black: A Tribute).

I started my working life in the building trade at 14, and can say that the BLF put the balls back into radical unionism.Put the balls back into the working-class conflicts and led the way with the BWIU to give power and voice to union demands. I don’t buy the bullshit that the likes of the right-wing in the halls of power and the Murdoch media painted about Gallagher or the BLF. I saw them in action on the multi-storey building sites and they were bloody good! They helped resurrect building workers form the most dangerous work-place environment to one of the safest … a position that is now being undermined by this LNP government.

I will make the extra point here to remind all that:

“He (Norm Gallagher) had been gaoled for three months for contempt (of court) for daring to criticise an Arbitration Judge’s decision on disallowing 1.9% wage rise to builders labourers. Norm had stated that the judge’s decision must have been written by the Master Builders Association. TV and radio had wanted his views; he gave it and that was Norm, always available. And where were those great bastions of free speech when Norm was gaoled for speaking these views? The media barons supported his gaoling.” (Steve Black: A Tribute). And/will ask: Why were those three ministers not jailed for THEIR contempt. Is there one law for some?

The “clothing in white attitude” of the Indigenous peoples and the “white-ing” of upper middle-class ideals and opinions onto radical policies thereby attempting to minimalise their effect and to attempt to “own” their radical direction won’t work anymore: Like the “Gonsky 2” proposal, the “under-funding NDIS alternative” and many other ameliorated compromises from the Right-Wing of politics. We have all become cynical of these measures to deny the majority a fair share of this nation’s wealth, health and education. The whitewashing of those with radical policies and opinions by cutting them out and rewarding them away from their support and “tribal” base will no longer work. Both the Indigenous and the immigrant ethnic working-classes demand the right of equal opportunity.

With the election of Sally McManus to the ACTU secretary and the radical approach along with John Setka, we have forces in place to confront the gross inequality current in our community and to break the back of the hopeless idealists of neo-Liberalism.

“In 1985, in a great miscarriage of justice, with the jury locked up for ten days, Norm was gaoled on trumped-up charges for so-called “secret commissions”. The judge who gaoled him was Judge Waldron. He happened to be the then Victorian State Premier, John Cain’s “Best Man” at his wedding thirty years earlier. Cain was the man overseeing the job of getting Norm and the BLF in Victoria” (Steve Black: A Tribute).



  1. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    We need strong left leaders and strong left collaborators to support those leaders to pull the pin on every neoliberal hold on our social, political and economic institutions.

    Sally McManus has come to the fore at an exciting time to speak up for struggling, marginalised people both in and out of the workforce. If she also embraces the needs and demands of unemployed workers, who also want meaningful, dignified and sustainable employment, she will win the hearts and minds of her people, even more so than Norm Gallagher, who despite his working class merits, was often seen as only representative of his selective type.

  2. townsvilleblog

    I refuse to be counted among the lower classes, I am working class and bloody proud of it, as is the overwhelming majority of Australians who want to class themselves as ‘middle class’ they are just ‘snobs’ and don’t want to be classed among ‘us.’

  3. Jack Straw

    We also need to expose the Ripp off joke that is privatisation of government responsibilties.

  4. townsvilleblog

    On Sally McManus, she is doing a sterling job, my only hope is that she continues to speak out on the many unfair things that this tory government Sally is a breath of fresh air, and she should remain very vocal in support of we working class people. We really need Sally’s strength to counter the despicable policies of this tory Turnbull govt.

  5. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Hear, hear townsvilleblog.

  6. Joseph Carli

    Yes..I agree with you, towns’…and I would want to change that naming order…reverse it to be clear, so that those of us of the “producing classes” are at the top of the list and the speculators, opportunists and business gamblers are at the bottom…where they belong with all other parasites.

  7. townsvilleblog

    JM-S, JC thanks for your backing, I am surviving on a disability pension but I did my time with the “producing classes” 21 years in fact being threatened with the sack on a daily basis and assaulted on an occasional basis. Unpaid overtime amounting to years not days oh the “producing classes” is spot on the money JC.

  8. Joseph Carli

    I got that name from an old bloke who had a forging shop in the city making and shaping industrial / heavy duty springs..a blacksmith by trade…one day this Lawyer came to his shop to pick up a job-lot and looked around sneeringly at the obvious chaos of working-shop-floor melange and pointed out the possible illegalities of the situation…to which the old Smithy looked him up and down at his suit and spat out…
    “Oh yeah…and what are you…another non-producer , eh?”

  9. townsvilleblog

    Ole’ Smithy had a wonderful way with words, yes the list of non producers is a long one, on every job there is at least one bludger, one crawler, one who thinks they should be in the managers chair and sometimes all those people are rolled into one person, who thinks that they are ‘middle class.’

  10. townsvilleblog

    JC with the volume of great articles that you are contributing lately you are now among the greats of the AIM network, I look forward to your posts along with Kaye Lee and Trish Corry, well done mate…please keep on keeping on….

  11. Joseph Carli

    For it is written : “The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing..” to that I will add..: “and the mouth empty with speaking!”….and you can count on me to keep ranting!

  12. Harquebus

    “When the missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land.” — Desmond Tutu

  13. townsvilleblog

    JC I sincerely hope that is a promise not a threat mate…

  14. townsvilleblog

    Tutu was 100% correct, even now in the 21st century the parasites don’t pay tax on their income whether that be contributions of the profits of their companies, it’s a disgrace and grossly unfair to the rest of us.

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