The Guardian • Issue #2085


Loving whose country?

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2085

Around this time of year, the question of liking, loving, or being proud of our country comes up a lot. At Invasion Day events, people all over Australia commemorate the dispossession and genocide that took place (and is ongoing) as part of colonisation. Public figures like NSW Premier Chris Minns feel they have to say something positive. Minns said that Australia is the best country in the world, but of course, didn’t explained why all other countries aren’t as good. A better question to ask is this: is it really our country?

This is always a good question in Australia, where ownership has been contested for a long time. Technically, the country belongs to the British. That’s why we have Elizabeth Windsor’s face on our coins, and will eventually have to look at her son Charles’ mug every time we use cash. Our soldiers still sign a document showing their allegiance to the Windsors when they enlist.

Really, this land belongs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were here for some 60 thousand years before Europeans. On a day-to-day basis, it feels like the country belongs to all the people who live here – unlike Charles Windsor, we pay taxes and vote here. It feels like our country. Is it?

For a supposedly democratic people, it’s amazing how many things Australians, Indigenous or not, have no control over. Every 3-4 years, we have a choice of two major parties to vote for, both of whom want our military to be a working part of the US armed forces. We weren’t consulted on US marines being permanently based in the north of Australia. We were not asked if we wanted to spend millions on building a runway strong enough to take B-52, nuclear-capable bombers. Of course the people of this country weren’t asked if they felt like spending more money on nuclear-powered submarines than we’ve ever been spent on anything.

The latest military news is that Japan wants to test missiles in Australia. The people of this nation are not going to be consulted about that either.

A lot of people are nervous about ‘patriotism’ and love of country, and with good reason. These concepts have been misused by hate groups for a long time – as we can see in the pretend-rage about ‘Australia Day’ from opportunistic conservatives, that’s still happening. But there’s nothing wrong with liking the country you live in, and the community you share it with.

The Communist Party of Australia is working for real sovereignty for this country with recognition of land rights and a treaty. We’re working for an independent country, with alliances freely chosen by the working people – the vast majority – of this country. When we campaign against AUKUS and for peaceful relations with other countries, we are campaigning for an Australia we can all really love and be a part of, not the sort of cardboard patriotism that bigots bow to even as they prepare to do the bidding of the USA.

This country is pretty good. Let’s make it ours.

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