The Packaging of Australia: Politics & Culture Wars

The Packaging of Australia: Politics & Culture Wars

The Packaging of Australia: Politics & Culture Wars

The Packaging of Australia: Politics & Culture Wars

Synopsis

This analysis of recent attempts to 'package' the nation of Australia argues for pluralism rather than dogma when discussing identity and nationhood. Provides an overview of the creation of modern Australia and discusses topics such as economic rationalism, cultural diversity and republicanism. Includes references and an index The author is a senior lecturer in history and politics at the University of Wollongong. His other publications include 'Cultural Liberalism in Australia'.

Excerpt

Modern Australia developed its distinctive cultural pattern in response to a decade of uncertainty, the 1890s. During this decade many of the values which had characterised Colonial Australia simply lost their plausibility. As we shall see, this was not surprising given the changes and upheavals, from strikes to economic depression to bank crashes, which took place during those years. It was in the wake of this uncertainty, in the first decade of the twentieth century, that the set of policies Paul Kelly has called the 'Australian Settlement' emerged. These policies helped to bring into being a cultural order: an order in which white Australians could feel at home -- an order which expressed a system of values which most of them found satisfying. These values, and the policies which characterised them -- White Australia, new protection, arbitration and conciliation, state paternalism and imperial benevolence -- formed the foundation of Modern Australia.

There was a central focus to these values. Australia was to be a unified entity, a nation in possession of a single culture, which was evolving and moving forwards in pursuit of a single goal. Modern Australia was Australia considered as a nation -- a nation which nourished and satisfied the aspirations of ordinary Australians as it provided them with both security and the hope of a better future. But, as we shall see, for all its positive aspects (and it had many), this 'Australian nation' contained a number of major flaws and contradictions. In the final analysis its strength was sapped because its virtues were so closely tied to its vices. It was left stranded by . . .

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