The epithet ‘useful idiot’ has often been attributed to Lenin, leader of the Bolshevik revolution of 19171, but there is no indication that any of Lenin’s works contain the epithet. Indeed, the Russian equivalent is translated as ‘useful fool’. The latter was in common use during the early part of the Second World War and usually refers to a naïve person that can be cynically manipulated towards an end of which they are either unaware or only partly aware2.

The Blak Sovereign Movement (BSM) have declared their opposition to the Voice to Parliament, calling the proposed body ‘a weak proposition’. The movement rejects the constitutional change in favour of movements towards treaties and Aboriginal sovereignty. Lidia Thorpe, the former Greens senator and face of the BSM, told reporters that the Voice “is in violation of our ancient protocols. It is not a self-determined body; there has been no free, prior or informed consent”3. However, I have been unable to find any information as to what those ancient protocols are. Similarly, all I could find for a ‘self-determined body’ was at a personal level of someone determining how they see themselves, of how they wish to act.

Thorpe continued: “The Voice advises on how the government can govern First Nations Peoples, but we have never agreed to be governed by the colonial Australian government”4. They may not have agreed to being governed by the “colonial Australian government”. However, whether they like it or not, they are so governed and that governing, as it is currently, has not done much to improve the lives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders5.

The senator, who said she represented BSM, proposed five elements instead of the voice to end what she called the war on Indigenous people that “started on the day the boats arrived”5. These elements are:

  1. Truth-telling about Australia’s “brutal past and ongoing colonial violence”6. This was what former Prime Minister John Howard called the black armband view of history, with others calling his version the white blindfold view.
  2. A treaty for each clan6.
  3. Implementation the all 76 recommendations of the 1992 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Neither major party has done this6.
  4. Implementation of all 54 recommendations of the 1997 Bringing Them Home report into the stolen generations. Neither major party has done this7.
  5. Adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the Howard government voted against in 20076.

While Thorpe did not rule out eventually supporting the referendum, her recent utterances have suggested that doing so would be a huge backflip for her, given that she suggested she would like to assist in drafting the No campaign leaflet, joining the likes of Pauline Hanson and sundry other racists8.

Back in 1999 we had a Republic referendum which failed. The reason it failed was at least in part because the model offered by the Howard government was to have a president appointed by parliament. This upset those republicans who wanted a directly elected president9. The latter were the useful idiots of the day for they voted no and prevented us from getting rid of the monarchy. If the monarchist then Prime Minister Howard had been genuine, he would have simply asked whether Australia wanted a republic or not. However, to ask Howard to be genuine, about anything, would be an impossible request.

Twenty-four years later and we still have not had a republic, and we are unlikely to within at least the next few years, despite the populace being in favour of it for decades. If Thorpe and her acolytes are successful in getting the Voice to Parliament voted down because it is too weak, how long do they think it will be before something ‘stronger’ is instituted? They only have to look at the years that have passed since the Republic referendum to get some idea. Do they think that when the Voice referendum is defeated, the government will then turn around and use the New Zealand solution, in which Maori are reserved a certain number of seats in parliament? Again, they only have to look at the years that have passed since the Republic referendum.

Do they think that if the referendum fails, and Dutton becomes Prime Minister at the next election, that his legislated Voice to Parliament10  will actually happen? Perhaps it would be instructive for them to revisit the words of Tony Abbott who said he hoped a referendum on constitutional recognition for Indigenous people could be held on 27 May 2017 – the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum11. Of course, that never happened. It may also be instructive for them to ask what happened to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) under the Howard government12.

It is unfortunate that we live in a nation where what needs to be done cannot be done at the pace it needs to be done; whether it be becoming a republic, funding public education sufficiently, taxing the wealthy, getting rid of negative gearing, formulating treaties with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, getting rid of subsidies for fossil fuel corporations, increasing jobseeker sufficiently, or increasing the minimum wage sufficiently. This is because vested interests don’t want such things to happen, and those vested interests pay politicians to keep the status quo, and some of them run large media organisations which support the status quo. It seems that Thorpe and her acolytes do not understand this. The No campaign must have clapped their racist hands when Thorpe decided to join them. She and her acolytes are indeed useful idiots.




  • Laurie Pullman says:

    I am on board with 3 out of 5 of Thorpe’s “demands”.

    I like to ask the Treaty advocates exactly who it would be with. I have yet get an answer that doesn’t require the recognition of some arbitrary group as sovereign, which is an obvious non-starter. Thorpe’s “clans” fall into that category, with the added bonus of being undefined. My cursory research (asking Google) suggests between 500 and 3,500 of them…

    And Thorpe wants each to have their own treaty…

    But I have long since come to the conclusion that she is mostly performative, with occasional displays of an undergraduate level naivety. I particularly enjoyed her proclaiming to be looking forward to working with the No campaign only to have them completely ignore her.I think she actually thought organisations run by conservative bigots would embrace a black woman who disagrees with them on but the topic de jure.

    • admin says:

      Like you, I think the ‘treaty for each clan’ is unrealistic, to say the least. She seems to forget that we have a legal system which in part enforces such things and having hundreds of treaties would create an enormous number of extra lawyers, beavering away at making sure these treaties were adhered to. I also think that Thorpe is not the sharpest tool in the shed, and is indeed about keeping a high profile. The fact that she seemed surprised at the ‘low key’ welcome she received from the likes of Hanson, says much about her acuity.

      • Laurie Pullman says:

        I was tempted to post her story to r/leopardsatemyface ’cause they love a minority sucks up to right wingers only to get the cold shoulder story.

  • CLIVE PEGLER says:

    peter ‘i’m not a monster’ dutton might be one of them although the ‘useful’ bit is probably a bit of a stretch. ‘The Chaser Weakly’ recently produced a letter on the voice from peter ‘i’m not a monster’ dutton which is most (not) informative, but i now cannot find the link ….. although i copy/pasted it in full on my fb page. can paste it here should the popular consensus of the mob demand it. 😀

    • JON says:

      The gutless prick Dutton again displayed his true colours when he refused to say whether he agreed with the clueless Price’s comments on indigenous trauma/history/disadvantage. So much for his claim to have turned over a new leaf on indigenous matters (as we know he was one of many conservatives who refused to acknowledge the national apology).

      Price, who claims to speak for aborigines, apparently doesn’t have even a basic grasp of their history post white settlement. I think she probably does, but like other extremists she simply refuses to acknowledge it because of her ideology. Alternatively, her brain is so full of opinionated conservative garbage there’s no room for reality.

      Curmudgeons both.

  • JON says:

    I think it’s a simple matter of Price loving the limelight and faux adulation of the rabid conservatives and racists she appeals to, and whose opinions she represents. Her delusions of grandeur will disappear as soon as this referendum is decided. Irrespective of the outcome she has no future in indigenous policy or improving outcomes for those still languishing. Given she has nothing else to offer I expect she will become an irrelevant CLP lifer.

    There may be legitimate reasons why decent people will vote NO – although I can’t think why apart from fear of the unknown and a defeatist attitude that the Voice will simply be ‘more of the same but with different faces’. Not a single utterance I’ve heard from Price and her falsely fawning supporters justifies a NO vote. The questions are very simple – constitutional recognition and guaranteed input to federal parliament.

    As far as Price is concerned, I’d go so far as saying that her intentionally ignorant opinions have no place in a cohesive society which understands its REAL history. Reasonable Australian adults – and I don’t count Price, Dutton, Abbott and co in that group – can recognise the advantages and development that white settlement/”invasion” ultimately brought while simultaneously recognising the huge upheaval, injustices and disadvantage the first people suffered. Price’s attempts to sweep the warts and all history of colonisation under the carpet and replace it with an unreal benign white armband view is akin to a child covering his/her eyes in order to hide, or avoid discomforting things.

    She’s just another neocon living in a fantasy world of her own making.

    • admin says:

      Howard came up with the epithet ‘black armband’ view of history, and the riposte by many to that was calling Howard’s view the ‘white blindfold’ view of history. One thing is for certain, he is a white christian supremacist; a christofascist.

      • Laurie Pullman says:

        White shoe view of history would be another epithet, but I guess no one under 40 would get it.

        I wouldn’t call Howard a christofacist. I reserve that descriptor for the likes of Cory Bernardi. Howard is an old school socially conservative Thatcherite. Church is only for show and Sundays until they get old enough to face their own mortality when some start trying to save their souls by grovelling.

        • admin says:

          I think the reason that Howard doesn’t appear to be a religious nutter like the fruitcake Bernardi is that he hides it well.

        • JON says:

          When I was young and politically wet behind the ears I used to think Fraser was the devil incarnate, and couldn’t contemplate there being worse conservative “leaders” than him. History shows I was not even in the ballpark. Along came Howard, who even supporters admitted was a lying rodent. I loathed Jackboot Johnny so much that it was impossible to think there might be worse examples of the right yet to come. Wrong again. Up popped the ultimate ideologue Abbott, a religious hypocrite beyond anything I’d seen in public life, a man bent on destruction who cared nothing for the country or its people. Surely we’d scraped the bottom of the barrel I thought following his thankfully speedy demise, although by this time I’d seen enough to know anything was possible. And indeed my fears were soon realised with the rise of the second great liar of our time, Morrison, whose government plumbed the depths of corruption, dishonesty, deceit, immorality, and gross incompetence. Morrison was the ultimate religious hypocrite but didn’t and still doesn’t have the self-awareness to recognise it let alone the humility to correct it. His humiliation and repudiation took far longer than it ought to have (thanks largely to a gutless and compliant – obsequious in the case of News Corps – Fourth Estate), but short of a complete breakdown in our social fabric (or maybe an economic meltdown) I highly doubt there will be much appetite for his ilk again in my lifetime, even among rusted ons.

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