The Fight for Australian Culture - part five
People, Nation, and State
In discussing culture and Nationalism, it is useful to explore the usage of several associated terms: "a People", country, Nation, and State.
A People may be defined as a homogeneous group of individuals who share certain common characteristics, such as: culture, traditions, habits, language, biology (race/ethnicity), history; and sometimes mutual affection, consciousness of difference from other peoples, and/or the will to belong to this particular people.
A Nation consists of a people "living in its own state, ruled by its own people, in its own language and according to its own customs".(8)
As a concept that emerged in Europe, from the eighteenth century onwards, "Nation" also implies a People of a certain numerical size that also possesses "civilisation" (a word originally applying to those societies which developed to the stage of possessing cities); and thus, would be applied to modern Europe, but not to the ancient European tribes, or to any other tribes of a Stone Age culture, such as the tribes of Australia, North America, South America, etc.(9*)
A People may exist without a country (i.e. a People may exist without a Nation), as may be evidenced by the Basque people (based within Spain and France) and the Kurdish people (based mainly within Turkey, Iran, and Iraq; and in smaller numbers in Syria and in several of the former republics of the now defunct USSR); where such a people does not have territorial sovereignty. The Polish people, for many years, existed without a nation.
The reverse is also true: "A country may exist without a People" (i.e. a country is not always a Nation). While the basic sovereign territorial unit across the world is that of a "country" (although they are usually described as nations), not all countries are actually Nations. Yugoslavia (1918-1991) was not a nation, but was a country basically comprised of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Belgium is not a nation, being divided into the Walloons (French-speaking) and the Flemish people (Flemish-speaking, a language closely related to Dutch). Also, by the above definition of a Nation, Canada cannot be considered as a nation (with its large French-speaking population in Quebec), but rather as a country. In the same way the United Kingdom (Great Britain) is not a nation, but a collection of countries (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) under one State (let alone discussing Cornwall, as well as the intricate situations of the Channel Islands, and Isle of Man). The former Soviet Union was a similar case (although ruled under the iron fist of communism), as it comprised several countries under one state.
Many African countries are not nations, as being States that were arbitrarily created by the European colonial powers, without regard to tribal boundaries. A "country" is simply a autonomous legal-political territorial unit (i.e. having its own laws and government), and may or may not be a Nation.
A Nation's status as a Nation need not be affected by the existence of minorities within its borders, so long as its people retain basic control over that country and remain as the majority. At what point "a Nation ceases to be", and becomes simply "a country", can be debatable. On the other hand, it is also arguably possible that a country may evolve into a Nation (a possibility with Canada?).
As indicated beforehand, in order to comprise a Nation, a People must have its own country. The ruling mechanics of a country may be termed "the State". In Australia, the State has taken on its own particular form (as happens in all countries), and it is useful to explore the concept of the State further.
Before discussing concerns about the State, it is first necessary to outline what, in fact, the State actually is. Many people view the State simply as being the government, or perhaps parliament itself. However, there is a lot more to the concept of the State than who are merely the elected rulers. The State(10*), or State Power, encompasses a whole range of powerful forces in society. The State is the ruling government and institutions of a country (government, parliament, courts, police, armed forces, and public service). The "Establishment" is the State plus the other various bases of power within a country, such as the media, financial institutions, big business, employer groups, family dynasties (e.g. the Fairfax and Packer families), trade unions, professional associations, major political parties, etc.
The "State" is not some mysterious, omnipotent power; it is simply a collection of people, linked together by connected institutions, associations, and interests. It is a particular "class" (not necessarily a "class" in the "rich versus poor" sense of Marxist theory), or "sector", of people who have come to attain power over a country.
While the government, and parliament, are an important part of State Power, they are only part of the complicated power web. Much power lies outside of parliament: big business, trade unions, employer bodies, the public service, the Treasury, large financial institutions, social and political groups, the police, the army, and the media. Even foreign nations, as well as international institutions (such as the United Nations) may exercise some power within a country. All of these sectors have the power to potentially affect, or actually affect, the decisions and mechanics of the government, and of the country itself. Having said all that, it is normally the government which sits at the top of that mullock heap which we call the State, and holds the reins of power over the country.
The State is not some God-made impartial fount of justice, it is made up of humans largely brought together in pursuit of common interests and individual aims. Once such people attain a position as part of State Power, they do not want to relinquish it. They have a vested interest not only in keeping power for themselves, but also in keeping power for their common group, ideology, sector, or "class".
For instance, when the English parliament was comprised solely of landed gentry, they fought amongst themselves in squabbles for power, to implement policies relating to their different ideologies and interests; but they were united in their refusal to share their power with the "working" and "middle" classes, as they felt that such sharing of power would be against their interests. So even though they were politically divided, they were united against those who fell outside their "class" (i.e. they were united against those that did not share their vested interests and broad ideology).
Another example of the use of State Power to serve the power elite's interests and ideology can be seen in the banning of not only trade unions, but even of employees banding together to negotiate working conditions (here again, we are looking at an English example). Legislation, such as the Combination Laws of 1799 and 1800 (which banned Trade Unions), were designed to serve the interests of the land-owning and capitalist gentry, and was not designed in the interests of the nation, even though, no doubt, its supporters would've claimed so(11*).
In Australia, there are many examples of State Power being misused in order to serve the power elite's interests and ideology. In 1894, the Peace Preservation Act (also known as The Coercion Act) was brought in, due to the Shearers' Strikes, supposedly to "suppress lawlessness". It removed the right to a trial by jury, prevented the keeping of arms without special permission, gave police extraordinary powers to search premises and seize "evidence", and allowed "suspects" to be jailed for up to two months without trial. In 1917, the Unlawful Associations Act was used to ban the Industrial Workers of the World. The National Security Act was used in 1941 to ban the Communist Party of Australia, and used again in 1942 to jail various members of the nationalistic Australia First Movement. In 1950 the Communist Party Dissolution Act was brought in to ban the Communist Party, but this law was defeated in the High Court.
The point is, that the various sectors of the power elite (i.e. the Establishment) will act against anybody or anything that threatens their vested interests or their ideology. This principle applies now in modern Australia, just as much as it did in Britain (and Australia) in the 1800s.
Nowadays, the advent of parliaments restricted solely for the landed-gentry, and the passing of legislation such as the Combination Laws, are too obvious to be accepted by the modern electorate, instilled as they are with democratic ideals and relative political sophistication. But this does not mean that the power elite (the Establishment) no longer acts in an undemocratic manner to protect its interests and ideology; instead, it carries out its aims in different ways, and with more sophisticated techniques, cloaked with "clever" reasoning to make it appear democratic or in the public interest (for example, see the various "racial vilification" laws which have been brought in with the express purpose of combating the rise of Nationalism).
The State is the political structure of our Nation, and should be the political expression of our Nation. The State is vested with a trust to look after the interests of the Nation, but in Australia's case this is not happening. Indeed, with the introduction of liberalism, cosmopolitanism, internationalism, multiculturalism, and Asianisation, the State has become actively anti-Australian, and therefore anti-National.
To quote David Tremayne,
"The true nature of State Power in Australia is that of a traitor Establishment, which has always been anti-Australian (in various guises - whether subordinating Australia's culture, independence, and destiny to that of Britain, the USA, or Asia). It pretends to be democratic but is actually concerned merely with its own survival - whenever the principles of democracy clash with the survival of the Establishment's cosmopolitan-internationalist ideology, the State acts in an authoritarian, anti-democratic manner to protect itself. This anti-Australian State deserves only our contempt. Our duty is clear: Smash the Traitor State, and proclaim a patriotic Australian republic."
To sum up: A Nation is a People who share a common culture, set of traditions, language, biology, and history; who inhabit a particular territory; and who reside in their own country, ruled by their own people, in their own language, and according to their own customs.
The Nation is an extension of the individual and his family. Thus; the Nation, as the national family, deserves the same dedication and loyalty that the individual should owe to his immediate family. The Nation is the individual's extended family; it is his People.
Nationalism, as a love of Nation, transcends ordinary politics. Examples can be cited of Nationalists from both the "Right-wing" and the "Left-wing" of politics. Nationalism seeks what is best for a nation, and in all fields takes the best course or solution available, no matter whether such course or solution may be considered as "Left" or "Right". On the political spectrum; Nationalism is neither Left nor Right but Above.
The Fight for Australian Culture
Australian Nationalism Information Database - www.ausnatinfo.angelfire.com/~natinfo