Philip Ferguson plf13 at
Thu Aug 3 18:58:00 MDT 2000

Lou Paulsen writes:

>Phil thinks it's clear that the indigenous Fijians are the oppressors and
>the Indo-Fijians are the oppressed.  I would NOT go so far as to say that
>"the Indo-Fijians are the oppressors and the indigenous Fijians are the
>oppressed," because I don't think it's that simple.  It's not like South
>Africa.  Both groups have been oppressed by imperialism.  Neither group
>contains imperialists.  Neither has tried to crush the other group
>completely or exploit its labor.

Perhaps, Lou, you would like to quote where it is that I said the
Melanesian-Fijians are the oppressor of the Indo-Fijians.

Of course I do not hold this silly view.

What I said was that the Melanesian-Fijians are NOT racially oppressed as
Melanesian-Fijians.  This is patently true.  There are no laws, nor social
practices, which exlcude Melanesian-Fijians on the basis of race.

There are, however, a range of laws and social practices which exclude
Indo-Fijians.  Land ownership is one.  Equal political rights is another.
Property rights and political rights are decisive matters, not peripheral
issues, so this exclusion is extremely important.

The oppressor in Fiji is imperialism and the system that it put in place
there.  *Up to now*, the prime local agents of imperialism in Fiji have
been the chiefs and the army brass, both of which are *entirely*
Melanesian-Fijian.  This does not, however, reflect upon Melanesian-Fijians
per se.

You don't advance the cause of the downtrodden Melanesian-Fijian masses by
giving backhanded support to right-wing coups, military takeovers and the
denial of the basic democratic rights of the Indo-Fijians.  All this does
is perpetuate the racialised divisions and the denial of equality.

Of course, you also don't advance the cause of liberation in Fiji by
calling, as the Aussie DSP and sections of the NZ left does, for
imperialist sanctions or by ignoring the material conditions of the
Melanesian-Fijian masses.

The problem with the position taken by the two Lous is that it doesn't
offer any way beyond those racialised divisions.  It just suggests that the
Indo-Fijians are a dodgy group who aren't really legitimate Fijians and
don't deserve equal rights.

Philip Ferguson

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