Australian Nationalism Vs. Anglo-Saxonism, part 2 of 4
In this section we shall look at some of the key themes of the Anglo-Saxonist argument and reply to them with Nationalist answers.
Firstly, Anglo-Saxonist publications keep reminding us that the majority of Australia's early pioneers were British in origin, thereby establishing a prior British right to Australia - which they see as paramount in regards to not only Third World immigrants but also to other Europeans. Of course, the majority of Australia's early settlers were British; though the Anglo-Saxonist thesis needs energetic comment.
What of the Irish element in the early settlement, or are they just "rebels" or something similar? We know from history that our colonial Establishment fought a "war" in Australia against the Irish. The issue eventually cooled, but before the days of an Australian national identity, the English vs. Irish issue was a matter of politics. Neither side was actually Australian; the argument was imported. We could note also the Irish influence in our early folk culture and mythology (like the Kelly Gang, etc.). All this, our Anglo-Saxonists overlook. Is it not important also, or does it conflict with the British ideology? If it is justified to be loyal to Britain in all things, would it be reasonable for an Australian whose name is Murphy, and whose ancestors hail from what is now the Irish Republic, to express a commitment to the ideals of the IRA? As nationalists we admire the early achievements of our British pioneers, but we haven't forgotten our Irish Heritage either.
Next, our Anglo-Saxonists place too high an emphasis on importing those of Anglo-Saxon blood; believing that such people, by their very nature, would carry on and perpetuate "British Culture" in Australia. They insist that Anglo-Saxon immigration implies retention of all cultural norms, etc., of their former society, and that their descendants would likewise be unchanged by geographical and psychological-environmental factors. And yet, the early Australian Nationalism, in which we find so much inspiration, was precisely the product of Anglo-Saxon minds. Can our Anglo-Saxonists explain that?
Lastly, our Anglo-Saxonists ignore the wide European immigration which took place in the 19th century. This immigration modified Australia and its cultural forms. Continental Europeans were important in the 1880s and 1890s, the "springtime" of the Australian Culture. Since the Second World War, firstly under the control of the great Nationalist Arthur Calwell, large numbers of Europeans entered Australia. This immigration was opposed by Anglo-Saxonist groups. Of course, a handful of these persons were undesirables; but that isn't the point. Today some of these persons and their descendants support "Multiculturalism"; but many don't. The Anglo-Saxonist ignores the dynamics, however, of an appeal to those elements of the European communities who would respond to the goal of a New Nation, free from the threat of Asian takeover.
One further area of Anglo-Saxonist mythology can now be examined. It is pointed out that Britain was our foremost friend in the protection of our Heritage. That doesn't fit the facts. The Anglo-Saxonists claim to support the old White Australia Policy. BUT ARE THEY AWARE THAT THE BRITISH EMPIRE WORKED AGAINST THE PASSING OF "WHITE AUSTRALIA" LEGISLATION?
The British Foreign Office of the 1890s was not in the least interested in permitting the Australian colonies' restrictive immigration policies "lest it offend Her Majesty's Indian subjects" as Joseph Chamberlain, architect of Britain's foreign policy, so succinctly put it. As far as Chamberlain and his ilk were concerned, the nature of Australia's ethnic mix was not of interest. Since Australia did not possess an identity, it was simply a landscape peopled by economic units. Once it seemed an Anglo-Japanese alliance was in the offing, British pressure against our restrictive immigration policies increased. Britain's last attempt to change the White Australia Policy took place in 1919, following a request from Japan for the British put pressure on Australia. Needless to say, the British Foreign Office was again resisted by Australia. Perhaps our Anglo-Saxonists would like to explain this? Can they not see that overseas masters of any type will always view Australia as just a piece of real estate of a certain economic or strategic value? The example of Britain and White Australia is relevant today - as our new ally, the United States, desires an Asianised Australia. History has proved the maxim of the old Bulletin magazine: White Australia and Independence from overseas "friends" are complementary policies.
Australia's involvement in the two world wars has provided our Anglo-Saxonists with powerful arguments for the retention of our British cultural and political heritage. World War One produced the ANZAC myth, the proof of nationhood. But they make a misinterpretation of ANZAC. The real heritage lies, not in the nature or cause of the enterprise, but in Australians "proving themselves as men".
Gallipoli was the first time that Australia "shed blood" as a nation (not just as a group of colonies); and did so on a large scale, and in a show of bravery, heroism, and "strength" - THAT is why Gallipoli was seen as "the making of our Nation". It was, on the international "stage", the proving of the "strength" of the Australian Nation itself.
However, as Percy Stephensen said in the 1930s, ANZAC showed the futility of involvement in foreign wars. Indeed, as Geoffrey Serle in his work on Australian Culture (From Deserts the Prophets Come) has argued, the blood-letting of the First World War RETARDED the growth of Australian Culture by engendering an atmosphere of political subservience to "overseas".
The Second World War brought home the question of our lack of independence. In 1942 Japan menaced Australia but Winston Churchill, in his wisdom, demanded that the Australian army stay in the Middle East. Prime Minister Curtain overruled Churchill and returned our troops for the defence of Australia. Churchill's contention was that even if Australia fell to Japan, Britain would stand and settle with Japan later. This proves our Nationalist argument.
In the past (even into the 1970s and 1980s), there have existed circles of Anglo-Saxonists who believed that the defence of our Nation should rest in a new imperial defence system. Such a notion was built on a rotten "Heritage". It was also based on a lack of understanding of the facts of Superpower contention, nuclear weapons, and various geopolitical facts. There is no salvation in British - or any other - gunboats. There never was. Any group which preached such a doctrine in the name of "Heritage" was doing the growing mass of patriotic Australians a severe disservice. It would be MISLEADING at best, and, if practiced by a government, TREASON at worst.
The 1930s magazine, The Publicist, maintained that "imports" of British culture "help to water" the native Australian plant. It was argued that British culture would always influence Australian culture more than, say, French or German culture. But the development of Australian Culture was held to be the primary objective for Australians. And the development of this culture was held as a POLITICAL task.
The Publicist reported that there existed social-political opposition to the emergence of Australian Culture. For example, there were no courses in Australian literature at the University of Sydney (until the 1950s). Australian books could not get published. The earlier flowering of Australian culture under the impetus of the 1880s and 1890s saw some of our greatest achievements: the Heidelberg school of painting, Henry Lawson, the Bulletin, etc. By the 1930s and 1940s, a new "burst" of cultural energy was under way. For Nationalists, these are the important things. An Australian tongue, an Australian humour, an Australian style of painting, architecture, and literature: do our Anglo-Saxonists laud these developments in their publications? Particularly when they conflict with dominant political values? Sadly, NO. In the journals of these advocates of "heritage", Australianism is sadly missing, something which cannot be wallpapered over by photographs of the Queen or Prince Charles.
Australian Nationalism Vs. Anglo-Saxonism
Australian Nationalism Information Database - www.ausnatinfo.angelfire.com