12 Jul. 2009

The reporting of the shooting of an Australian mining apparatchik in Indonesian-occupied West Papua in Australia is predictably a fog of sentimentality. The obvious individual tragedy that occurs when people are killed – we all have families, many of us have children, etc. – completely obscures the political issues, which are not personal, but larger. This man's personal motivations are relevant to him and his family: yes, surely he was trying to earn money to provide a relatively opulent life for his family in the Australian metropole. This is a consistent motivation among the servants of imperialism. In a sense, the concatenation of such motivations provides the motive force for imperialism: it may even be possible to say that such motivations are, in a strict sense, evil, because of the morally bankrupt behaviour that they lead people to engage in.

For whatever reason, this man has engaged in an operation which is utterly politically dubious: the theft of the patrimony of a colonised and oppressed people. Well should they shoot him. Of course, it's possible that it is not the Papuan resistance that has shot him. It is possible that pro-Indonesian forces shot him precisely to discredit the resistance. It is possible that he was killed for reasons having to do specifically with the politics of business, with commercial interests and bribes, for example. We have only speculation, but the media story casts what has happened banally as 'tragedy', regardless of any facts.