australianvoice (australianvoice) wrote,

Who Are Anglo Settlers in Australia? What Are Their Crimes?

You Anglo settlers can feel guilty about your foundational crimes after you've benefited from them.

This claim is unsatisfactory as historical analysis.
1. The term “Anglo” is useless for historical investigation. How are we to distinguish Anglo settlers from non-Anglo settlers?
2. Blame for foundational crimes is based on emotional response to the undefined “Anglos”, not rational historical investigation.
3. Descendants of indigenous Australians have experienced ongoing crimes from 1788 to the present day. “Foundational crimes” are just the beginning.
4. All settlers in and visitors to Australia benefit from foundational crimes, not just Anglo settlers.

John Macarthur
British Army Officer
Pioneer of the wool industry


In 1770 Captain James Cook landed in Botany Bay and claimed possession of the east coast of the land now known as Australia for the British Empire. The conquest of this land by agents of the British Empire began in 1788 under the doctrine of 'terra nullius'. This conquest was organised and sanctioned by the separate colonial administrations created by the British at different locations. When these colonies joined together as the Australian Federation in 1901 virtually all land was under the control of new government. This government did not recognise the remaining indigenous people living on the continent as citizens of the Federation until 1967.

Since 1788 people have come to Australia from almost every part of the world including Europe, Africa, South America, North America, the Middle East, Eurasia, the Indian subcontinent, SE Asia, China, Japan and the islands of the Pacific. These people and their descendants are equally settlers, people who live and work on land conquered by the British Empire.

Trying to determine who Anglo settlers are and what makes them different is not easy because the term 'Anglo' is vague. It could refer to people who come from England where Anglo-Saxon tribes settled. It could also refer to all people from the British Isles. However people who descend from Scottish, Irish and Welsh inhabitants usually prefer not to be confused with the English who conquered them. More generally, the term 'Anglo' could simply be taken as another term for 'white', so 'Anglo' settlers would be 'white' settlers. I do no use colour words to describe people, so I will use the word 'white' as little as possible and always put it in quotes to remind readers of this.(1)

Still, however we determine the identity of Anglo settlers, why distinguish between different groups of Australian settlers in an historical analysis of Australian society? Could it be that Anglo settlers are different because Australia was conquered by Anglo invaders of the British Empire, and the crimes they committed single them out from other settlers to Australia?

The most common way to attribute blame for crimes in the past is to use the concept of collective guilt. The NAZI government of Germany invaded Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the USSR while the Japanese Imperial government invaded China. These invasions and the following wars led to the deaths of over 25 million people in the USSR, 5 million in Poland, as well as 5 million deaths among soldiers fighting for Germany. Closer to home, 3 million Japanese and 20 million Chinese died in and Asian half of WW II.(2)

Using the concept of collective guilt we can blame the Germans and the Japanese for these death and destruction of WW II. Such thinking is emotionally understandable for the victims of these crimes, but it is irrational, a kind of moral stereotype. Why? Because the blame is ascribed to ALL Germans and Japanese without regard to the actual behaviour of individuals at the time. Many Germans and Japanese had nothing to do with the WW II, and could not have stopped it even if they tried. This generalised guilt is even more baseless when applied to the descendants of Germans and Japanese. How can the children of German and Japanese soldiers be guilty of anything because of what their fathers did?

The only rational way to assign blame for the crimes in the past is to start with the leaders who ordered or sanctioned the crimes. No army can function without its soldiers following orders. No country can function without the army following orders of the leaders of the government. Guilt falls directly on the shoulders of the political leaders and the highest commanding officers in the military of any government which orders and carries out such invasions and theft. Usually these political leaders themselves are guided by a small circle of the ruling class with a clear financial interest in the war/conquest. For example some of the powerful backers of Hitler were people like Fritz Thyssen, Gustav Krupp, Friedrich Flick and the directors of IG Farben. All but Thyssen faced trials after WW II.

The history of Australia since 1788 contains many crimes. The two central crimes in Australia, as in countries like the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Israel, are murder and theft. In all of these countries many of people in the indigenous population were killed and their land stolen so it could be used by the invading settlers. There is also another crime which takes place after the murders and theft. This is the cover-up of the original crimes by ignoring them or denying they ever happened. Finally, there are the crimes committed against the descendants of indigenous Australians by successive governments. The different policies they have devised and implemented have resulted in many living in 3rd world poverty and suffering very high rates of incarceration and death in custody.


The situation in Australia is somewhat different from WW II because many of the murders were not carried out by the military. Still the members of the government in London were directly responsible and so are the separate colonial administrations in Australia. Certainly a number of individuals in the ruling class of the Empire, particularly those in the wool trade, would have encouraged political leaders to "open" land in Australia for grazing sheep. Informal groups of settlers who killed the original inhabitants or drove them off their land would have known that they would not be punished. The people who made up these colonial governments most certainly knew and approved of these actions and so did the administrators in London. Of course none of the settlers could be charged with theft because according to colonial law (terra nullius) the land belonged to nobody, so could not legally be stolen.

Today, in 2017, virtually all of the people involved in what would now be called the ethnic cleansing of Australia are dead. However these crimes are completely ignored by State and Federal governments who continue to venerate Australia's founding fathers as great men. Politicians and government officials who continue to ignore the crimes of the past in Australia are themselves guilty of a cover-up, whether they are Anglos or not. The same is true for the families of the first settlers who pretend the land their ancestors claimed was acquired without violence and bloodshed. The politicians and administrators of the Federal government, the states and territories are responsible for the policies which have allowed descendants of the indigenous Australians to live today in conditions no settler would accept voluntarily.


You Anglo settlers can feel guilty about your foundational crimes after you've benefited from them.

Since all the people who took part in organising and killing the indigenous population of Australia are dead, who are the people referred to as 'you' that are said to benefit from these past crimes? Australia is a very wealthy country, at least for the settlers from many parts of the world who are now citizens and others who find work or study here but do not become citizens. The passage quoted above fails to recognize that all settlers and visitors are benefiting from the results of the theft and murders of the past, not just the descendants of the first settlers who committed these crimes. Whoever Anglo settlers are, there is no rational reason for distinguishing them from non-Anglo settlers and visitors in any historical analysis of Australia. Furthermore, all the super-rich investors who derive their profits from banks and larger corporations based in Australia also benefit from the conquest of Australia.

Written on Ramindjeri land.


1. Over the years people seem to have forgotten one argument used to attack segregation in the US in the 1960s. A man who owned a segregated movie theatre (“Whites” Only) was shown a line of people so arranged that at one end there was a perfect example of a “white” person and at the other end a perfect example of a “black” person. He was then challenged to show where he would draw the line between those he would admit into his theatre and those he would not. The fact that any such line would be arbitrary shows that the use of the terms 'black' and 'white' as a way of distinguishing between people is itself arbitrary, relative and superficial. The same is true for other general descriptions like 'tall', 'short', 'fat', 'thin', etc.

The use of such arbitrary and catch-all terms in political discussion is even worse, as it creates artificial differences when unity is fundamental in any attempt to fight the power of the world's super-rich with their banks, corporations and obedient politicians. Where would an anti-imperialist political movement be if it only relied on “thin” people but ignored “fat” people”? So what is different about separating “white” people from “black”, “brown”, or “coloured” people in the anti-imperialist movement in Australia?

Tags: all, archive, australia, australian politics

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