This process arguably began with the fiftieth anniversary of 1942, when Prime Minister Paul Keating gave his celebrated speech at Kokoda the day after Anzac Day in 1992. This was the occasion on which he revered “the blood that was spilled on this very knoll … in defence of the liberty of Australia”. Perhaps the entire Battle for Australia movement can be traced from that moment. This is at one level highly laudable: how could we not wish to remember the Second World War and recognise its significance in Australia’s national story? Certainly: except that this new emphasis stresses not the Second World War as a whole, not Australia’s contribution to Allied victory against Nazism and fascism in the Mediterranean and Europe, but only Australia’s defence of itself.
It would seem that the Battle for Australia movement is an example of historical nationalism, an interpretation, as Inga Clendinnen would say, being shaped to fit the needs of the future, not the evidence of the past. It is the product of the emergence of a school of history – and especially military history - that justifies the name “nationalist”. It promotes relatively unimportant events close to Australia over important events far away, purely on a rather simplistic calculus of proximity. It has become the new orthodoxy in Australian military history. The polar opposite is a view that sees Australia’s contribution in the context of a global war and an international coalition against inter-continental enemies, in an alliance in which Australia played its part as much as any and for longer than most. We might call this the “internationalist” school of Second World War history. It has many proponents overseas though very few in this country.
In essence, I submit, the nationalist tendency is a matter of the heart, the internationalist approach a matter of the head.
The second guy's parents immigrated from Germany when he was a teenager, he followed a year or two later and is now in his mid thirties. I still haven't worked out whether he was joking or not.
posted by vbfg at 10:13 AM on September 17 [+] [!]
« Older THE FOURTH QUADRANT: A MAP OF THE LIMITS OF STATIS... | Remember Jeffrey Deskovic? (If... Newer »
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments
Buy a Shirt