Australian Identity Crisis

By Mark Uhlmann
Published in The Social Contract
Volume 8, Number 2 (Winter 1997-1998)
Issue theme: "Australia's identity crisis"
http://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc0802/article_712.shtml



Your sons and daughters will be given to another nation, and you will wear out your eyes watching for them day after day, powerless to lift a hand. A people that you do not know will eat what your land and labor produce, and you will have nothing but cruel oppression all your days. The sights you see will drive you mad....The alien who lives among you will rise above you higher and higher, but you will sink lower and lower. He will lend to you, but you will not lend to him. He will be the head, but you will be the tail.

- Deuteronomy 28 32-34, 43-44

Immigration, multiculturalism and a fashionable belief in an Asian destiny have produced a heated debate about Australia's future and what it is to be an Australian.1

Far from being of interest only to Australians, this identity crisis is of relevance to all New World settler nations, particularly the English-speaking countries the United States, Canada and New Zealand.2

The north-east Asian region is predicted to emerge as an economic powerhouse in the next century.3 At the same time most of the world's population growth will occur in Asia. No settler nation of basically European stock is geographically closer to the heart of Asia than Australia. The largest Muslim nation on earth, Indonesia, with a population of over 207 million, is literally on its doorstep.

The impacts of economic and social changes in Asia will be felt, if not first, then most dramatically in Australia, with its population of about 18 million. It is now, and will be, a valuable case study for other Europoean settler nations in how to handle - and how not to handle - engagement with Asian nations.

Since its formation Australia has battled to come to terms with its geography. It responded first by excluding Asians. These days, among the elites, the fashion has gone to the opposite extreme, to the point where they have claimed that Australia is "part of Asia" and must embrace its "Asian destiny."

Australia is unique in that it is a Western nation next to "the Far East." As former Prime Minister Robert Menzies said "the Far East is to us the near north." Far from reveling in this uniqueness, Australian elites seem determined to erase it in a bid to "fit in" in the region.

"Far from being of interest only

to Australians, this identity crisis

is of relevance to all New World settler nations, particularly the English-speaking countries

the United States, Canada

and New Zealand." At the same time European settlement in Australia is presented as a history of guilt, not only because of the past immigration policies, but because of the treatment of the indigenous, Aboriginal population. This distorted history of guilt is used as a political weapon to undermine the moral right of Europeans to continue to possess the country. The elites exhibit little concern about the real welfare of the Aboriginal people.

This edition of The Social Contract provides a critique of the Asian-destiny school. Articles include critiques of immigration, multiculturalism, the guilt history school and economic globalization. An alternative vision is provided in which Australia asserts its European traditions and seeks to enhance its national sovereignty while remaining outward-looking and seeking good relations with Asian nations.

There are differences in emphasis in these articles and not all the writers would agree on a set course that Australia should follow (and the views expressed are those of the authors), but these articles do criticize the current orthodoxy and will provide valuable points of comparison for North Americans in particular. While Australia is a unique nation-continent there are many similar features to our experiences.

Mark Uhlmann

Joseph Wayne Smith

Guest Editors

1 K. Betts, Ideology and Immigration, (Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Victoria, 1988); R. Birrell, A Nation of Our Own, (Longman, Melbourne, 1995).[Both books are available from the Social Contract Press, 1-800-352-4843.]

2 See J. W. Smith, G. Lyons and E. Moore, Global Meltdown Immigration, Multiculturalism and National Breakdown in the New World Disorder, (Praeger, Westport Connecticut, forthcoming), and The End of the Modern Age Race, Nation and Global Anarchy into the Third Millennium, (Macmillan, London, forthcoming).

3 Huntington, Samuel P., The Clash of Civilizations and the Re-Making of the World Order (New York Simon & Schuster, 1996).

About the Guest Editors

Mark Uhlmann is a Canberra-based journalist and writer. He is author, along with Graeme Campbell, of Australia Betrayed, (Foundation Press, Victoria Park, Western Australia, 1995).

Joseph Wayne Smith is Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Geography, the University of Adelaide.

[NOTE A special 1,000-copy run of this issue is being printed in Australia and will be available in that country for circulation to politicians, academics, journalists, activists, and interested parties.]

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