Re: Bye-Bye to the >H Right Wing

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Sat Feb 02 2002 - 17:50:20 MST

I should perhaps elaborate in my previous reply to

At 06:46 AM 1/27/02 -0500, Brian Phillips <> wrote:

>> That said I have to ask.. are you a socialist?

[I said:]
> I am not now nor have I ever been a member of the Communist Party. (Are
you *nuts*?)

I assumed that this wry reference to the formula used by the vile
inquisitorial House UnAmerican Activities Committee in the USA during the
1950s would do, but I see now that it needs a bit more work.

The background political assumptions of Australians appear to differ in
subtle and less subtle ways from those of Americans, and even more from
those of many Europeans. I found a quote today that helps position our
historic standpoint; it's from Alfred Deakin, an early Prime Minister of
the nation, who in 1906 (just five years after Federation) said this:

`The best thing that Australians could do was to make the country so
productive, so good a place to live, and bring about such just and fair
conditions, with such fair opportunities for earning an honest living,
such protection against monopolies, that other people would also want to
become Australians.'

Federation was celebrated a week or so back, and occasioned an essay by
novelist and public intellectual Thomas Keneally, who wrote in part of:

`the more than 800,000 Australian children--more children than were living
in the whole of Australia at the time of Federation--both of whose parents
are on welfare.

`And whatever side of the welfare debate one takes, we are all united today
in seeing this as undesirable, in knowing that it is costly in all sorts of
ways, and brings misery and hostility into the lives of most of those

`Although... there may not be enough jobs to go around, and this may become
increasingly the case for the so-called less-skilled workers, the souls of
the poor, and the souls of those 800,000 children, are as skillfully
calibrated as anyone else's in the capacity to feel want, rejection and
despair... But the great thing is that most of us still believe our society
is flexible enough, and blessed with sufficient wealth and resources, to
amend whatever faults we see in it.' He cites Peter Botsman, a left
theoretician, who argues that `part of the achievable answer... consists
not of condemning people to hopelessness, but of "giving back control and
power to people and communities to solve their own problems". That, and
schemes of enlightened volunteerism, of creative programs that will give
dispossessed children access to a broader world, can rescue threatened
families.' He continues with appeals to the fraternal and typically
skeptical voluntarism of those who fight raging bush fires, which is akin
to the heroism of the men in New York during the terrorist attacks, except
that these people are not professionals.

This provides the flavor of Australian views; I would add (for what it's
worth, and because I was asked) that my own understanding of this sentiment
in theory and practice leans toward traditional anarchism, of a
communitarian kind--the sort of mutual support that only free men and women
can offer each other.

Don't mistake that for socialism, or I'll have to order the Commissar to
take you off to the Gulag.

Damien Broderick

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