I just read Chapter 14 of ‘The Australian Way of Life’ by John Carroll. I’d never heard of him before. It seemed all ok to start with, though I started to roll my eyes when he started on blaming the Left (class warfare is SOooo 1980s). But what got me going was on page 239 when he wanting to ‘put things in perspective’ – meaning ‘the black armband view of history’.
This is not a case of ‘the social stratum in modern societies that pioneer both the creation and the destruction of culture’ – total bullshit. It’s a sign of maturity. We don’t need to believe in Santa Claus to still find Christmas meaningful.
Australia is a much stronger and mature society for accepting these facts, and bringing them into the ‘official’ history.
By acknowledging these unpleasant truths, we are in some position to encourage other countries to do the same, rather than have these countries rightly call us hypocrites for questioning their own human rights. China is an extreme I’m sure Carroll would disagree with, but there would be extremists who would side with Carroll. The Chinese National Museum has just opened in Beijing, and is the largest in the world. The Great Leap Forward, one of the greatest man made catastrophes in history gets just one sentence - “the project of constructing socialism suffered severe complications.”, the Cultural Revolution only described in one photograph and caption.
I agree with Carroll that the ‘challenge is to do what they can in the present to maintain and improve’, and the living have more responsibility to the unborn future, and not the sins of the father.
Australia has one of the most stable democracies in the world, and despite our dubious origins, our society is defined by stability, tolerance and affluence.
Our modern societies crimes were not the stealing of land and murder. But we cannot make our crime denial or understating the unpleasant results of our success.
Carroll, J. Intruders in the bush: the Australian quest for identity (p. 229-240).
Australia: Oxford University Press, 1992
At China’s New Museum, History Toes Party Line
New York Times online, viewed April 7, 2011