Week 4: Democracy and Its Discontents (1) The Critics
Comparisons of Australian democracy with that of other
countries, especially Britain, mostly unfavourable. The
‘Cultural Cringe’ and its democratic equivalent.
The ongoing influence of Alex de Tocqueville – his
influence on writers who influence hoe we see ourselves.
James Bryce – Modern Democracies (1921). Australians
not very interested in theory; ideas are few and far between,
and idealism non-existent.
Keith Hancock – Australia (1930). Wee gravitate towards
mediocrity; the “middling standard”. Too dependent on
government. The dark side of mateship.
Bruce Smith – a lone voice for Australian liberalism. A
political thinker of remarkable erudition and clarity. Out of
fashion for a century.
Humphrey McQueen: dominant themes of racism and
nationalism. ALP racist before socialist. It was never a
radical party. Lack of radical thinking. Australian ruling class
clings to Britain.
Russel Ward – The Australian Legend (1958). Urbanised
nation by 1910, but political and social ethos shaped by the
Aussie bushman of the 1890s. A reminder of radical origins.
John Rickard - Australia: A Cultural History (1988). How we
deal with difference. Disenchantment with democracy.
John Douglas Pringle – Australian Accent (1958). Lack of
vitality in our politics.
Donald Horne – The Lucky Country (1964). Second rate
leadership; no ideas. Does anyone care?