This essay should take the main criteria for political development outlined in the first essay and assess the extent of its implementation against a case study/studies, i.e. as it has applied to a particular country or a group of people within a country, or by comparing and contrasting countries.
The essay should note where there have been advances in political development and what these have meant, or where political development has been limited or restricted and how this has impacted on the development experience and the lives of people in developing country contexts.
In my last essay, I looked at the key factors for political development. What we mean by political development is the notion of effective participation of individuals in the legal, economic and political spheres of a given society while also being able to access to basic human rights accorded to every citizen.
Political development requires nations to invest in a number of interrelated factors before outcomes can be observed. This includes investment in education and literacy, personal liberties, civil rights and accountable public institutions. The last essay explored the meaning behind each of these concepts and how they have translated into outcomes for citizens and the overall community. This essay will explore how a nation with high levels of political development can simultaneously harbour communities that are disenfranchised from the system.
It is the year 2016, and for Australia, it is a golden year. Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney have all been rated among the top 10 of the world’s most liveable cities on a number of scales due to its high levels of social inclusion, houusing and health and wellbeing (Ourworld.unu.edu, 2016).
In the year 1901, six self-governing colonies of the British Empire federated under a new nation. There were a number of reasons for this move. The colonies had felt a need for a centralised management of trade and transport between the colonies, there was also a growing fear that a lack of a defence force against regional threats made them vulnerable to invasion and finally, a growing fear of non-white immigrants had sparked a need for a centralised policy on immigration (Peo.gov.au, 2016, Skwirk.com, 2016). It was this xenophobia - a fear of foreign influence that fed into the creation of Australia and started three trajectories of political development for three groups of people.
The first group were the colonists born of British heritage. Their political development fit the criteria discussed in my previous essay.
Show development of liberty and equality
Creation of civil rights code
Development of public institutions in Australia
Education and literacy
From the 1880’s onwards, the colonies started to progressively shed the religous ties to the education system in favour of a state run, secular approach (Mayrl, 2011). The number of women completing tertiary education was increasing, which consequently shifted the perceptions of women in the public sphere and contributed to many civil rights victories for [white] women (Theobald, 1996). The development experience of Australia in the late nineteenth century also saw a dismantling of political and economic power held by large scale pastoralists resulting in a greater distribution of land between labourers, small-scale farmers and contribute to greater protections to domestic production over foreign imports (Morris and Adelman, 1989). These elements of liberty and social equality supported by a well resourced education system and public institutions conspired together with strong public institutions to call for a federation of Australia.
Though it’s easy to create a causal relationship between the elements of political development and the federation of Australia, the story isn’t that simplistic.
The fear of a non-white Australia didn’t just have an effect on attitudes towards immigrants. As Australian colonists sought to maintain their British heritage and way of life, The ancient traditions and cultures of Aboriginal Australia appeared to be a threat. As did non-white migrants. Thus, the elements of political development that worked to advance white Australians, had a deleterious effect on non-white people.
Liberty and the Civil Rights Movement
Personal liberty can be viewed as the desire an expression of autonomy. That is the right to be involved and have an influential role on matters regarding one’s life. The development of the Australian colonies saw large tracts of land removed from Aboriginal Australians under the assumption of terra nullus (Wiessner, 1999). The notion that the land was previously inhabited by ‘human beings’. As the colonies developed, the indigenous people suffered through loss of life and livelihood. It was only in the twentieth century, civil liberties were fought and awarded progressively (Korff, 2016). In the 1960’s that Aboriginal people were awarded human rights and protection from discrimination. In 1962, the government removed all restrictions preventing Aboriginals from voting in state and federal elections. In 1966, South Australia becomes the first state government to ban all types of race discrimination in employment, accommodation, legal contracts and public facilities. In 1967, Australia voted by referendum to legislate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander to be included in the census as people rather than ‘flora and fauna’. It was this moment, that started to pave the way for constitutional discrimination to be removed in any meaningful way.
Liberty however, is more than rights acquisition. In 2007, the federal government introduced a range of measures as a response to allegations of widespread child sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. Social welfare payments to indigenous families are awarded on the proviso that the family engage in socially acceptable norms. This includes maintaining school attendance and complying with the law (Jordan, 2016; Billings, 2011). Compulsory welfare quarantining was another measure introduced to ensure that Aboriginal families spent their income on food rather than alcohol. This paternalistic approach to self-determination is highly contradictory and unsurprisingly, was rejected by many Aboriginal communities (Maddison, 2008).
If we take the concept of liberty to mean the freedom of expression, The cultural assimilation policies of the early 1900s ensured that Aboriginal Australians had none of that - unless they denounced their traditions.
The quest for Civil Rights
Civil rights for human beings have their roots in religion and spirituality. Perhaps it is because we find some of the original assertions that human beings are inviolable and like all living creatures on this planet, possess a sanctity. Aboriginal spirituality asserts that all humans act out a grand narrative, and all reality is a manifestation of such a narrative (Brady, 1996). Aboriginal spirituality often possesses a pattern thinking is also the source of Law.
“It was Law that sustained the web of relationships established by the Ancestors, and the web of relationships established by the Ancestors formed the pattern that was life itself (Kwaymullina, 2005).”
The pursuit of land rights has often been viewed under a settler narrative where land is viewed as an economic resource that Aboriginals feel entitled to. Aboriginal people view land not as a commodity to be ‘owned’ but as custodians by which they have are accountable to all creation to protect it (Grieves, 2008).
When Christian missionaries came to Australia in the early 1800’s, their work was primarily with orphan boys and girls in the provision of schooling and early forms of welfare. Towards the Aborigines, Christian missionaries saw a need to civilise them through the provision of the same model adopted for female orphans. Young Aboriginal children were taken away from their parents, taught basic literacy and numeracy and instructed to become domestic servants for the colonists (O’Brien, 2008). In the early 1900s, individuals of mixed descent that presented as ‘light-coloured’ were taken away from their parents and consigned to institutions to better themselves (Loos, 2007). Darker skinned Aboriginals were isolated from the mainstream community. As World War 2 came to close and the atrocities of the European holocaust came to a close, policies towards Aboriginals started to shift from having a racial element to a cultural one. This had meant that many of the policies associated with assimilation remained, however, the terminology changed. Civil rights for Aboriginals came at the cost of their culture and traditions and in many cases their race.
Human dignity in a secular nation often manifests itself in the form of civil rights. Civil rights is one of the key qualities to achieving a sense of equality
Civil Rights and the Aboriginal experience
Civil liberties is one of the key qualities to participation in the political process.
Ethics and Values
The role of a national set of values
It takes only the addition of an underlying assumption that some humans are more deserving than others to change the way political development is played out.
Criteria Outlined in the First Essay
Liberty and Equality
The Quest for Civil Rights
Accountable Public Institutions
Education and Literacy
There are a number of factors that facilitate political development. However, as stated above, each of these factors depend upon factors of their own and are often interrelated to the development of other factors. Personal liberty cannot develop without a welfare structure that ensures that all sections of the population are have the same access and opportunities to exercise their freedom. Egalitarian structures do not develop without a fundamental premise that humans are worthy of respect and dignity - that is, the existence of a civil and human rights code. These three concepts rely on effective public institutions that are able to protect such freedoms, distribute welfare and enforce the rights of all citizens within a given community. Public institutions rely on good governance and accountability in order to produce developmental outcomes, which without, concepts of liberty, equality and civil rights would continue to be an abstract ideal. Finally, no society would have proper development outcomes without significant investment in its education system. Education is more than schooling. It is the raising of awareness of a community to improve its own material position as well as address increase the participation of individuals within our global society. It is because nations invest in education, there can be local debates about liberty, equality and civil rights in the first place.