Changing Fortunes

I subscribe to the theory that there is a natural movement between conservatives and radicals. I am sure it is a generational thing. I was a radical, my parents and children are conservatives. I expect my grand-children to be radical.

Within that framework there is also a national psyche which reacts to the nation’s perceived place in the world. If there is a national uncertainty then nations pull in towards themselves and conservatism is the ruling passion. Isolationism becomes the underlying mantra. When a country is sure of its place in the world, it is a lot more expansive and more radical. In the past, both America and Australia have had a national “cringe”. That was when the young took obligatory voyages to the “Old World” to gain a cachet of sophistication as their own country was seen as backward. Everything produced within America or Australia was seen as second-rate and was compared unfavourably to European equivalents.

America had its “cringe” well before Australia and gained a confidence in itself during two world wars where it was able to see itself as the saviour of the Western World. Australia only began to lose its inferiority complex during the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Now we are seeing the beginnings of a major shift in world perceptions in both countries.

America is beginning to fade as China grows in world importance. Oh, there will be posturing and resentment and possibly doomed pre-emptive strikes from those Americans who have not learnt the lessons of history. Yet it is certain that China will be the world leader soon. They already own most of the American Dollars in the world and the banker is the one who calls the tune.

The American psyche is moving back to an isolationist, self-centred and conservative position in response to the unformed sense of an impending fall from leadership. There is a thinning of the skins of Americans. They are subject to exaggerated responses to criticism. At the same time, America is in a moral decay which is evident within the great urban areas which are becoming increasingly run-down because there are not enough financial reserves left after a series of expensive foreign adventures to do the domestic housekeeping.

On the other hand, during the last quarter of the twentieth century the Australian psyche made its final release from what has been a dependency on British approval, exemplified by Sir Robert Menzies’ couplet on his relationship to the British Monarch;

“I did but see her passing by
And yet I love her till I die.”

That release was vocalised by Harold Holt and his “All the way with LBJ” during the Vietnam War. This, in its turn, led to a dependency on American approval most recently visible in John Howard’s devotion to George Bush jnr. and all his policies.

The change in national perception is easiest to see in the changes in Australian foreign policy For the first half of the last century, Australia sent its youth to fight for Britain. During the second half, they were sent to fight American wars.

Now Australia is full of a new-found self-confidence and is swinging onto an upward spiral because we are supplying many of the raw materials China needs to grow. This is leading to a prosperity and an optimism within the growing middle class.

The election of Kevin Rudd in Australia indicates that finally Australia is becoming its own self. No longer beholden to Britain or America, we are making it on our own. Our economy is in good shape because of the
demand from China, our arts are in a healthy state and our ingenuity and inventiveness is undeniable. With the educational emphasis coming from the new Government there is every chance that when the materials boom ends in several decades, we will have a strong and intelligent population ready to be mined for further prosperity.

Since the second world war, Australia’s political sense has swung in decade-long cycles. Kevin Rudd and his new, outward looking Government has around ten years to set a national agenda for the next century. With a growing Asian component to our population and an awareness that Australia is in the Asian region, we need to find ways to retain our Australian way of life while interacting with our neighbours.

While America begins to shrink back inside its borders, Australia is beginning to flex its wings.

6 Responses

  1. I’m still reeling with excitement over our change of government.

    this was the first federal election I was eligible to vote in – how wonderful to be on the winning side :-)

    Well done, Nurse. Carry on – – –

    Umm – no, I don’t actually mean, Carry on Nurse – – I couldn’t. I’m not Sid James!

    Like

  2. Congratulations … not only for voting for the first time but for being a smart thinking Aussie to boot! Now all we hope (and the signs are good so far) is that Kevin can really fly!

    He doesn’t really need to fly. He just needs to be honest!

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  3. My daughter is thinking of going down under. She figures if she gets her PhD there, you all will let her stay. I’ve already told my other kids, get out as soon as you can… It’s getting scary over here.

    I’d be over there in a flash if I thought I could get in. I know the immigration line over there is HUGE and that they’re VERY selective.

    I think it’s great… for you all… but for us over here in the colonies ((bleh!)) The 2008 election is looking bleaker and bleaker.

    Unfortunately Australia is not yet accepting refugees from the American Nightmare. Graduate students, however, seem to be quite welcome.

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  4. Is Nurse Myra implying that she’s just turned 18?

    Would that make the salivating comments provided by her would-be suitors from her vixen-blog potentially illegal?

    ADG

    I am not one to ask a lady her age. All ladies are ageless. However, have you noticed the accent she uses on her blog? It seems to be trans-Tasman.

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  5. Perhaps even Trans-ylvanian.

    ADG

    That is always possible – I keep waiting for the “Killer Black Sheep to suddenly invade!

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  6. accent? whaddya mean? I don’t say fush un chups or jun un tonic…..

    of course I’m only eighteen (not sure how I’ll explain my sons away – oh that’s right, they’re my big brothers)

    Ahh, Thut uxplains uverythung :)

    Like

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