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January 14th 2009 print

Michael Connor

Australiaphobia

The distinctive feature of Australiaphobia is a desire to hurt, inflict pain, and wound Australian society.

The distinctive feature of Australiaphobia is a desire to hurt, inflict pain, and wound Australian society. Street graffiti – “AUSSI TO DIE” – is as eloquent an example of Australiaphobia as a Fairfax opinion article.

In 1950 A.A. Phillips named the cultural cringe and pointed to a rift between intellectuals and the community. A critical intelligentsia, he claimed, has a positive or even creative influence if their criticism comes from a shared sense of community. Without this it becomes  “disdainful separation”. What Phillips called the intellectual’s irritation has developed into Australiaphobia.

Across the years it has spread from the alienation of Donald Horne’s Lucky Country to the disdain of Stuart Macintyre’s A Concise History of Australia.  Macintyre’s book, translated and marketed internationally, is written from a viewpoint which makes us forever rootless “settlers” in our homeland.

Australiaphobia is nourished by internationalism, anti-Westernism, and a dislike of liberal democracy – but it is more than these things. It is not a synonym for “un-Australian”. It is the expression of a specific and particular hatred and fear of Australia and Australians.

There are two strands discernable – elite Australiaphobia and street Australiaphobia.

Elite Australiaphobia is an exaggerated and deliberately hurtful critique used by vanity-liberals to de-legitimise Australia, our institutions, and traditions. It is a status marker which separates progressives from patriotic parochials.

Street Australiaphobia is failed multiculturalism. It is anger and fury which has sometimes been turned violently against individuals.

When the children of the Left’s multicultural policies clashed in Cronulla in December 2005 Police Commissioner Ken Moroney called them “un-Australian”. Responding in the Age academic Marilyn Lake linked old history fundamentalism and Australiaphobia: “The mob was clearly unmanly as well as un-Australian, but what is un-Australian about assaulting women? And what is un-Australian about calling for racial exclusion in the name of the nation? Is not racial exclusion a deep part of our heritage, as traditional an Australian value as mateship? Indeed, in the masculine melee last Sunday in Sydney, mateship provided vital reinforcement of white solidarity, in that traditional Australian way.”

Lake scratched the ideals of tolerance and fairness to which the police officer was referring in a critique which offered neither meaningful analysis nor a solution – the insult was her message.

Elite Australiaphobia contrasts the moral superiority of the user with the moral inferiority of Australian society. It is neither positive nor forward looking but prosecutes Australia for vileness the pure author has discerned in our past. It precludes any acknowledgement of simple goodness in our society.

Street Australiaphobia is the present tense of our ghetto suburbs. It is loathing and fear and contains the seeds of violence. It also denies the goodness of our society, and challenges our right to exist. Fanaticism and Australiaphobia are a dangerous combination.                                  

Elite Australiaphobia is wounded liberalism; street Australiaphobia is early warning of the coming storm.