Free speech and Australian exceptionalism

FREE SPEECH Judith Curry kicks off the new semester in US universities with a roundup of items related to free speech.

Jeremy Sammut on a collection of papers on “Australian exceptionalism” edited by William Coleman. Interesting to compare this with the collection Australian Civilization circa 1960 edited by Peter Coleman. For the editors introduction go to the Peter Coleman room in the guest accommodation in the Rathouse.

Peter referred to the suggestion that there was a turning point in the 1930s when Australia could be said to have come of age. Examples of this maturity include the expansion of the CSIRO, systematic recruitment of graduates to the Commonwealth public service, the cultural patronage of the ABC, the expansion of the Commonwealth Literary Fund, the Federal Govt decision in 1938 to take Jewish refugees and the establishment of a board to review the “crude and philistine” censorship policies. He noted the expansion of industry at a great rate, the formation of a Contemporary Art Society, the penetration of key unions by the Communist Party and the start of the National Secretariat of Catholic Action.

The notion that important things happened in Australia before the Advent of the Whitlam Experiment is a poke in the eye for the myth of the “cultural cringe”, much loved by leftwing cultural commentators, and decisively shredded by the late Hume in an important and detailed demolition job.

Public policy apart, there are all manner of myths abroad that undermine the vigour of our social and intellectual life. One of the most pervasive of these is the subject of this essay by the late L. J. Hume. The notion of the Australian cultural cringe is one of the great cliches of our times. According to legend, the humble colonials of yesteryear were “inert, deferential and passive’ before the great overseas powers, especially Britain, but this dismal state of affairs changed for the better during the 1960s, or perhaps with the accession of the Whitlam Government in 1972. Hume’s painstaking analysis of the legend is fascinating and devastating, revealing a tapestry of ignorance, selective quotation, and misreading of documents.

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4 Responses to Free speech and Australian exceptionalism

  1. Stackja

    The Left cringed before Stalin in the 1920s. Leftist Whitlam mythology knows no end.

  2. john constantine

    The new cultural cringe is being enforced by the heavy hand of their victorian kleptocracy.

    Local government elected officials are forced to kneel and cringe before satrap andrews gag laws, where any objection to the agenda of socialist totalitarianism by an elected official of the poor bastard ratepayer generates an incident report by an informant from inside their sob-bubble, then a trip to the re-education camps.

    Further offences against the gag law means being dismissed as a non-person for non- correctly speaking the non-narrative

  3. Rococo Liberal

    systematic recruitment of graduates to the Commonwealth public service, the cultural patronage of the ABC

    Hardly signs of progress.

  4. Mother Lode

    I have long observed that our elites – the ones described as intellectuals and artists, are a remarkably second rate lot.

    It is a cultural cringe by proxy – where it is the ordinary people who are embarrassed by the supposed vanguard.

    Our writers and artists are unknown beyond our shores. Our intellectuals recite the latest ideas they caught in their reading form the columns of New York and London.

    They have been born into a closed bell jar beneath which all dissenting views are kept outside and all the contests and conflicts that would have bred a stronger more illustrious breed left unfought – leaving sad atrophied pretenders posing at Fauxfacts, the ABC, SBS, the Universities etc.

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