The Fight for Australian Culture - part one
The Fight for Australian Culture
Why entitle this publication "The Fight for Australian Culture"? After all, culture is hardly a matter for "fighting" - surely it is more a matter of "creating"?. However - in the Australian context - this is not the case. Nationalists are fighting for a "new people", the Australian People of which both "Old" and "New" Australians are each clusters of the overall Australian people. Each people is compelled to express its own individuality; in order to break free of old cultural moulds. If it does not, then it retains its state of psychological dependence on other cultures - and therefore fails to realise its own potential. In this respect, "culture" is a matter, not only for fighting words, but for fighting deeds.
CULTURE IS POLITICS
The strict inter-twining relationship between culture and politics is a rule of the twentieth century. Widespread cross-fertilisation of cultures by dominant political powers is a matter of fact. When emergent nations have asserted their independence from other states, the banner of "cultural freedom" has been easy to read. In the early 1970s it was the so-called Maoist Communist movement in Australia (of all things!!) which recognised that Australia was suffering from the effects of cultural imperialism (that is, we were being culturally colonised); in particular, we were suffering from cultural Americanisation (via several influencing factors; especially from "popular" movies and television shows) which was smothering and destabilising the development of our own nativist culture (it was affecting our language, politics, ethics, etc.). As a strategic part of their political campaign, the Maoists introduced cultural activities which were grouped around the propagation of Australian folk heroism and nativist legends. While this tactic was only being used by the communists in order to promote their alien ideology behind the mask of "Australianism", the public "front" did at least influence many people to actually begin to think about Australian culture. This movement (or more particularly, the "front" designed for public consumption) struck a chord in a nation dominated by foreign "investment", foreign alliances, and foreign ideologies. Indeed, all throughout our national life, culture has been a political question - and we must face this question squarely.
A separate and distinct Australian culture has been identifiable from the mid-1800s. The late 1800s saw it in full bloom. Over the years, patriots have had to face the question of an Australian nationality emerging from the colonial era; we therefore have had to face the confused issue of our British past. Australia's relationship with its "Motherland" has given birth to both Anglophilia and Anglophobia (although, in recent years, the problem has all but vanished, and Australianism is the norm). The Anglophile element has always been anxious to deny the very existence of an Australian national culture and an Australian People. Any Australian sentiment in politics or economics was likewise blackened as "subversive" and - instead - a doctrine of dependence was propagated. Today - when Britain claims no power over Australia - this element, through a number of Conservative groups, continues to deprecate the emergence of an Australian cultural identity, as they believe that just the existence of this nativist identity constitutes an attack on "our British Heritage".
However; Australian Nationalists, rather than being overawed by the promotion of "our British Heritage", have come to recognise that there are actually several main aspects to our national heritage:
The British cultures are undeniably the most important outside element. Of these, the English culture is the most dominant influence; the Scottish culture is also very important (insofar to that extent that it has not been Anglicised); and we could even mention the less influential cultures of Wales, Cornwall, and Manx. All of which combine many ancient cultural influences, such as from the Celts, Picts, Saxons, Normans, Angles, Jutes, and Vikings; as well as the later Latin, Greek, and French influences.
It is Britain which has provided the basis for our culture, law, parliament, public service, society, etc. As P.R. Stephensen has said:
"Culture in Australia ...begins ...from British culture, brought hither by Englishmen, Irishmen, and Scotsmen throughout the nineteenth century. In a new and quite different environment from that of those damp British Islands we are here developing the culture which evolved there. We spring fully armed from the head of Jove, or fully cultured from the head of John Bull. Australian culture begins with a general background of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Herrick, Byron, Charles Dickens; ...We inherit all that Britain has inherited, and from that point we go on ...a gum tree is not a branch of an oak; our Australian culture will evolve distinctively."(1*)
Thanks to English being our national language, Australia can readily absorb many of the treasures of Western prose, philosophy, and general literature. Through our links with Britain, other valuable knowledge has passed - and will continue to pass - into our hands. This key aspect of our past can never (and should never) be denied or repudiated.
It must be also noted that Irish culture has been a very important influence upon Australia; perhaps even more notable as it can be considered a very distinct British culture(2*), from that of the English-dominated British "mainland" (unlike Scotland, which became an integral part of British imperialism); especially considering its continuing history of political-cultural independence and separate development, and its later struggle against the English.
Since the Irish have never had a satisfactory relationship with Britain, many of our early settlers were deportees and their early efforts at music and ballad recalled injustice and poverty. Our Irish element created much of our folklore (and interestingly, its importance is generally denied by the Anglophile section of the community).
Another element of our national culture is Continental European, weaker perhaps than the first two but still very important and likely to increase in influence. This European heritage reflects in our "Heidelberg art" of the late 19th century, for example, and in subtle ways in architecture and other areas.
Yet another part of our national culture stems from American influences. To be clear on this point; here we are talking of early American influences, such as on the goldfields in the 1850s, on our constitutional development, and on our early labour movements (or should we write "labor"?). We are not referring here to the crass, materialist, cosmopolitan influence that America is having on Australia today, as that is not part of our national culture; such influences can rather be described as being "anti-national culture".
P.R. Stephensen once wrote about the influence of foreign cultures upon indigenous culture:
"There are two elements in every nation's culture - the imported and the indigenous. English literature, for instance, developed through centuries of contact with Latin and Greek, and with directly contemporaneous imported French and Italian and other "foreign" literatures. ...The impact of foreign cultures upon a native culture is the greatest possible stimulus to literature. ...Survey the whole field of English literature, survey the English language itself, and you will find it overwhelmingly rich in elements of foreign and imported cultures. ...With such an example before us of the English plant fertilised by phosphates from all countries, we Australians can prepare to plant our own culture here. The imported phosphates will stimulate our native plant to grow; we cannot do without them; but it is the plant rather than the phosphates which concerns us must."(3)
However, to our way of thinking, the most important constituent element of our national culture is our Native-Australian heritage. It is truly ours. It belongs to every native-born person of European descent. This Native culture is the promise of the Australian nation and people. The myths expressed in verse concerning Ned Kelly, "The Breaker", the Homestead, the Outback, the shearer, the strike, and mateship belong to no other land but this. In the 1930s and 1940s this promise of the 1880s was recalled with a certain Anglophobic vengeance to wake up a stale official "British-Australia", but this in no way lessens its meaning for our present situation. Indeed, the synthesis of the old "phobias" and "philias" has led to a new Australianism which recalls its origins as references, but not as gospel.
And so, it is the native influence that is the most important element of Australia's national culture.
As P.R. Stephensen once put it: we are being forced to be Australian "almost against our will".
For nationalists, a clear definition of "Australia" and "Australian" has become an urgent question. The importance of this question is due to the ravages of Americanisation, multiculturalism, and the rubbish-ideology of the "Asian Destiny" planned for Australia. It is ironic (or prophetic) that just as these anti-Australian creeds circle for the kill (i.e. the death of our national identity) that truly Australian voices proclaim their rigid and uncompromising Australianism. However, in the "patriotic camp" there remains a considerable amount of confusion as to exactly what is to be defended. There are two broad strands of thinking. The first element seeks to defend our British heritage and the idea of an "Anglo-Saxon Australia". Since it is this which the Grassby-Zubrzycki-Kalantzis type of multiculturalist frequently attacks, the old-Right rises automatically to the defence of an idea which does not even approximate Australian reality. The second element defends our whole national heritage and, in particular, the Native-Australian ethos (which welcomes both "Old" and "New" Australians into its ranks). It is imperative that the Native-Australian movement must win out in the end.
Our Culture is under attack! It is the promise of our new nation which anti-Australian forces are attacking. Intriguingly, the old-Right falls into line with the multiculturalists, who proclaim all residents of Australia of Italian origin as "Italians", of Russian origin "Russian", of Polish origin "Polish", etc. The old-Right maintains that the Old-Australian type is a "British ethnic". Voila! No more Australians! Nationalists cannot approve of such "logic", no matter whether it comes from "Right" or "Left".
Australia faces the double-headed threat of Multiculturalism and Asianisation. Multiculturalism seeks to swamp our national identity and culture with cultures from all over the world, thus stifling the development of our indigenous Australian culture. Often Multiculturalists claim that there is no Australian culture, a tactic used to allege that Multiculturalism is doing no damage to Australian culture (as they say there is none!!). Asianisation is also a massive threat to Australian culture, as it entails the cultural and demographic destruction of our national identity.
The fight for Australian culture is surely part of the struggle to free Australia from foreign influence, infiltration, and control (politically, legally, economically, and culturally). A community with no identity is one at the mercy of others.
As Nationalists, we must stiffen our faith and pride in ourselves. We must raise up the old Australian spirit of self-reliance.
If we can awaken the Australian fighting spirit, that resides within our People, then we can truly proclaim that
THE FUTURE BELONGS TO US.
The Fight for Australian Culture
Australian Nationalism Information Database - www.ausnatinfo.angelfire.com/~natinfo