Education

Hating Your Own Country

Until he stood down for an investigation of his alleged abuse of a staffer with whom he was sharing a bed, Alan Tudge was that rarity among recent education ministers: someone up for the fight to see real history taught, not the national curriculum’s compendium of Leftist memes, victimology and identity politics. Should his career be scuttled, the last hope for needed reform is a slim one indeed, as Keith Windschuttle explains.

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As soon as the Gillard government published its national school curriculum for history in 2012, John Howard entered the public debate to denounce it as “unbalanced, lacking in priorities and quite bizarre”. He accused it of marginalising the Judeo-Christian ethic and purging the British contribution to Australian history.

Howard had good reason to be unhappy. The idea of a national curriculum originated in his government towards the end of his term as Prime Minister. It was founded in an attempt to combat the radical versions of history that had emerged in some of the state’s school systems. In an address to the National Press Club on the eve of Australia Day 2006, Howard argued for a renewal of history education to promote “Australianness” to school children. He said the history of Australian democracy had become lost in the states’ school syllabuses. They had turned what was once a record of Australian achievement into a story of blame and censure. What was needed was a root and branch renewal to restore history to its proper place in the curriculum with a more positive national story.

It was not long, however, before the national curriculum that Howard originated fell into the hands of the Labor Party governments of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. The left-wing bureaucrats who had long ruled state education departments set about installing their own ideas of what should be done. The only Australian achievement they would teach was the struggle of victims against our supposedly inherent racism, sexism and homophobia and how the purpose of education in the Western world should be to combat such thoughts and “empower” their victims.

Although Labor lost government to Tony Abbott in 2013, none of the Coalition’s Ministers for Education in the subsequent eight years saw fit to displace the curriculum that caused John Howard so much concern. That is, until Alan Tudge gained the portfolio in December 2020 and saw the revised version of the national curriculum developed by the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority. As I argued here last June, that new curriculum was the most militant yet produced. It endorsed every one of the major claims made by left-wing climate warriors, radical feminists, LGBT+ advocates and indigenous activists. It was not a curriculum that taught history at all, but an exercise in the indoctrination of identity politics. It was aimed at teaching kids to hate Australia.

Fortunately, Tudge saw through the whole exercise and decided to take a stand, especially on the treatment of Australia’s history. He sent the document back to ACARA to be changed, saying:

I remain particularly concerned when it comes to the history curriculum. These are matters core to who we are as a nation. We should expect young Australians leaving school to understand how our nation is one of the most free, wealthy, tolerant and egalitarian societies in all of human history—and a magnet for millions of migrants … Ultimately, students should leave school with a love of country and a sense of optimism and hope that we live in the greatest country on earth and that the future is bright. ACARA’s April draft certainly did not meet this standard, and I was deeply disappointed in its ideological misgivings about our nation.

When he wrote this last October, Tudge had overseen some improvements, such as recognition of our Christian and Western origins, a reference to the importance of patriotism and freedom, and the removal of one assessment that tested students on whether historical statues were racist. Tudge said these were positive changes, but “there is still a way to go”.

Unfortunately, Tudge’s stance may have cost him his job. On December 2 he stood down from the ministry after his former media adviser, Rachelle Miller, accused him of emotional and physical abuse during a consensual relationship the pair had in 2017. She alleged in a public statement that the physical abuse occurred once when they were in a hotel bed together and he kicked and swore at her. Tudge denied the allegations, saying he “completely and utterly rejects Ms Miller’s version of events”. Scott Morrison announced that Tudge would be subjected to an independent review run by the Prime Minister’s Department.

However, this review will have trouble remaining independent or objective. It was given the job just two days after the Sex Discrimination Commissioner in the Australian Human Rights Commission, Kate Jenkins, attracted considerable publicity for her report claiming that one in three staff employed in the federal Parliament had supposedly been subjected to sexual harassment. It’s not hard to see a connection between the timing of Rachelle Miller’s accusation and the exposure that Jenkins’s report received in the news media.

Moreover, the tactic used by the complainant in this case is very similar to those that put Cardinal George Pell in prison and destroyed the political career of Attorney-General Christian Porter. Both these cases derived from accusations of sexual abuse for which there were no witnesses and no corroborative evidence, but where the climate of public opinion was highly charged by a major inquiry or commission appointed to find anyone accused guilty. In both cases, the ABC led the media pack as mouthpiece for the complainants. Tudge is up against the same kind of campaign.

Unfortunately, his suspension from the ministry and the cabinet must impact on his revision of the national school curriculum, which is now presumably put on hold. So what are the prospects of going further than the few minor amendments he has made so far?

One of the obstacles any kind of national curriculum has to overcome is the fact that education is a state responsibility and the states need to be onside if the curriculum is to be delivered as it was written. In fact, when the curriculum is being developed, state bureaucrats provide the major components of the educational content.

At the same time as the original draft of the national curriculum came under fire from conservative voices last June, the Victorian government was making decisions on its own about what it would teach. According to the Education Editor of the Melbourne Age, Adam Carey, Victorian education authorities plan to overhaul Australian history for 2022. This new version of the subject will replace the current version based on historical chronology. Instead it will focus on four major themes: Aboriginal land management; race and immigration; environmental politics; and struggles for women’s equality. Issues such as the fight for LGBT+ rights and the “frontier wars” between First Australians and colonialists, Carey says, will also be given more exposure. The revised course is designed to stem a steady decline in the number of enrolments in the subject. The Age quotes a history teacher saying the new version was “trying to tap into what the kids are into”. “The course is great,” she said, “but the numbers are low and I think we’ve got to try and make it sexy.”

Meanwhile, back in the classroom, the objects of all this political pedagogy have been voting with their feet. In every state, school students who take history as a subject up to their final year at school are not responding in the way their controllers want. They find history and its current political objectives boring and prefer other courses. The numbers who now take the subject up to final year have shrunk to a fraction of what they once were.

Figures vary from state to state but, whereas about 50 per cent of all Year 11 or Year 12 students studied history in most of last century, less than 10 per cent study it today. In Victoria in 2020, out of the 10 per cent of Year 12 students who took a history course, only 1.3 per cent studied Australian history.

Because of the inevitable opposition from both state bureaucrats and teachers’ unions, the prospect of turning this around quickly by means of a revised national curriculum is all but insurmountable. The hope that Australian history could be used to teach Tudge’s view that our nation is one of the most free, wealthy, tolerant and egalitarian societies on Earth will take a lot more than the efforts of one well-intentioned federal minister, even if he does overcome the activists trying to bring him down now.

Instead, the best hope for the sentiments that Tudge and Howard endorse lies with the states. If one state decided to ditch the national history curriculum and go it alone, it could turn around the falling enrolments with a course based on the best of Australian political and cultural values. It could set an example that would instil some enthusiasm for the subject among both teachers and parents in other states as well. And, hopefully, it would also attract their children to study how these values emerged, thereby teaching them to love rather than hate their own country.

29 comments
  • NFriar

    Thank you Keith.
    I have shared this on Facebook – in my boutique private group – hoping to get some answers as to why Morrison asked him to step down.
    I am not into politics but this certainly is contrived – they obviously want Pascoe’s Dark Emu to remain in schools – who is behind this??

  • STD

    More proofs that Marxism is cultural cannibalism (uncivilised).
    One more point if I may, all the left wing rubbish they through at our white privileged faces, equality , equity , sexual deviancy(diversity), and Aboriginal discrimination (victimhood) is as about as interesting as boring gets. Most of the other students thought all of this stuff was wasted time or to quote another student in one lecture, “I will never get that time back”.
    In my formative years I was lucky enough to be taught by Nuns and Marist Brothers- how lucky I feel to have had that opportunity- I cannot remember any of the Labor Party progressive unpatriotic witches brew being served up at these schools.
    I asked my Father why he went to the trouble and extra expense of sending us to independent Catholic schools, his response,” Because they are the only ones who who care”.

  • STD

    “Taught to hate your own Country”. In-justice, like Marlboro Country ,Marxist Country is also deleterious to your health, your coronary ( hearts )health- happiness.
    ****
    And exactly like the cigarette, Marxism should be kept from view and out of reach of children. And also in the interests of good mental health- the last thing children need is to be pawns in/of other people’s addiction.
    ****
    Angelo Gavrielatos ( Greek Communist-Greek) the world ( children) can do without you and your fellow left wing nutcases In the Teachers Federation.
    ****
    Let’s teach children the value and importance of being Australian- being really fairdinkum, just like the Australian Diggers. Dispense with this imported hangover from the French Revolution . This sophisticated nonsensical garbage from the likes of Michel Foucault and the rest of the ‘thinking intelligent’elite platter of oleaginous snails.
    ****
    The likes of Angelo Gavrielatos and the recently deceased Stuart Macintyre, want to come to this country to destroy it , because of their enabled sense of hatred – Marxism.
    ****
    KEEP ALL CHILDREN AWAY FROM THESE MARXIST PREDATORS.

  • maxpart27

    Send this request to your member of Parliament so we get a few million dollars to educate the people of Australia about the real history of the Aboriginals. We can then gather the board members as required by The Family of All Life Alliance constitution.

    Australia needs help.
    Completely inappropriate treaties are in the wind.
    They are based on ignorance.
    They do not know their history. Aboriginal people in Australia do not know what their life was like prior to the First Fleet so they cannot appreciate the enormously better lifestyle they have had since it arrived.
    The education of Aboriginal people about Stone Age life should be a prime requirement of schools because by remaining ignorant about it they have inappropriate expectations and a complete lack of gratitude of having been rescued from it.
    Any survey will presumably corroborate the above statement and should be carried out by a completely independent agency. The Aboriginal Industry is a completely inappropriate group to have anything to do with any aspect of this education process because of their fixated belief in falsehoods.
    All education mediums should be used to introduce students and their parents to their history.
    There are books written which describe the life as observed by missionaries and explorers.
    Liars such as Bruce Pascoe need to be outed and penalised for touting their products as other than complete falsehoods.
    Australia is at risk of a future based on the history as described by the Aboriginal Industry. Currently many millions of dollars are granted to education institutions and lawyers to promote the false history and its consequences including land rights. The truth seekers need to be similarly endowed with finance to promote the truth.
    Treaties are a nonsense.
    Land rights is racist.
    Remote communities promoting Aboriginal languages is a sin against the children.
    It is time we were one and not having 3% determined to mine a history of lies.
    The Family of All Life Alliance is a suitable avenue to the truth.
    A suitably large grant to secure the assistance of researchers and writers such as the people of dark-emu-exposed and Quadrant would start the process.
    Universities have too many staff convinced of a false history to be used as a whole but some individuals from them will be essential.
    The published constitution of The Family of All Life Alliance ensures that utilisation of the grant will be economical and used for the above purpose.
    When such a grant is proposed and before it is accepted a full board will be acquired.
    Can you suggest further steps to gain such a grant to save this country?

  • Petronius

    The historical revisionism in education curricula takes place under the radar of most people; even dyed-in-the-wool Lefties are not aware of the activists doing this work. It is in effect a kind of dirty work and needs to be concealed from popular opinion. It is extraordinary that the Coalition government under Scott Morrison has taken no visible and concerted government push back on this issue which goes to the heart of its party’s philosophy and followers. Yes, Minister Trudge has taken a stance but it remains a sniping exercise of his own invention. Now that he has been taken out by the Me Too movement the initiative appears to be defunct. The Coalition in the main does not seem to care, or is tacitly acquiescent to going with the woke flow. Scott Morrison is always nodding to Menzies, but he seems oblivious that Menzies was more than an Liberal icon, he was a living compendium of what makes Australia great, including it roots in the British Constitution and British liberal values. Well might Morrison say as Louis XV, Apres moi, le deluge.

  • STD

    For clarity- through sounds just like threw , the difference being, in one ear and out the other.
    Thanks to you Keith Windschuttle ,for delivering yet again ,that seemingly intangible force known and felt as, hope ( honesty).

  • Blair

    “© VCAA
    Learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
    Introduction
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are the oldest, continuous cultures in the world, having
    existed in Australia for at least 50,000 years. The uniqueness of these cultures and the wisdom and
    knowledge embedded in them are things to be highly valued by all Victorians.”
    Victorian Curriculum
    “Archaeologists found evidence of human settlement (on Torres Strait islands) dating back at least 2,500 years, [3][11] but this might change if they discover older sites. Archaeologists agree that evidence may be found in the future that dates settlement up to 4,000 years ago.”
    Creative Spirits
    Source: Torres Strait Islander culture – Creative Spirits, retrieved from https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/people/torres-strait-islander-culture

  • Kevin Donnelly

    Well written and erudite as usual – it’s correct the Abbott/Turnbull governments did nothing to remedy the cultural-left bias in the curriculum. I co-chaired the review in 2014 and Abbott was willing and prepared to act but Turnbull took over and the rest is history. I first warned about the history and English curriculums in 2008 https://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2008/09/the-dubious-quest-for-a-national-curriculum/ in 2010 https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/history-wars/2010/06/left-dictates-history-curriculum/ and in 2010 once again https://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2010/05/the-ideology-of-the-national-english-curriculum/ A more detailed account is published in How Political Correctness Is Destroying Australia – available at kevindonnelly.com.au In relation to Alan Tudge and the current liberal government nothing has been done to overhaul ACARA, the body responsible, and Dracula is still in charge of the blood bank. I spoke to Tudge in February this year to warn him about what was to happen and, once again, the so-called conservative government failed to respond. As a result the revised curriculum released in mid-2021 is cancel culture on steroids. As they say words are cheap – what is needed is a root and branch overhaul of the education system, starting with abolishing ACARA and the national curriculum.

  • STD

    Yes Blair agreed.
    I take it as a given, that the violence, murder, infanticide and cannibalism as well as the violent treatment of women and girls, gets a mention. And does Victoria make mention of the post Stone Age blight of welfare ,alcohol, drug, pornography and obesity addiction ?- for the sake of balance.
    Oops, I almost forgot, is there any mention of Aboriginal welfare and health outcomes and the correlation of that to the Gough Whitlam induced welfare state and the fore mentioned linkages, therein, the relational musings of Karl Marx.
    Is there any mention of the affect Aboriginal burning of the indigenous landscape ,and the relation to flora and fauna extinction or otherwise.?
    Has anyone looked at the extent of these burn offs and the affect this has had on levels of atmospheric pollution and levels of biospheric CO2 and the resultant climate change due to temperatures of the carbon dated past 40,000 years and beyond that, luminescence dating.
    Hint- the effect of smoke haze and cloud formation on terrestrial and upper atmospheric temperatures and pressures ,incorporating sea level rise and withdrawal as it related to the Nullarbor plain.
    ****
    “Definition of education- to enlighten.
    Enlightening-to give people greater knowledge and understanding about a subject.
    To shed light on- make luminous”
    ****
    To know- for better and for worse in relation to all the knowable facts.
    ****
    “Scam-a dishonest scheme, a fraud”.
    ****
    “Deceive- to deliberately cause someone to believe something that is not true”, eg climate activism.

  • Stephen Due

    The fundamental problem is systemic: state education will inevitably follow a socialist agenda. Conservatives will have an endless the battle over curriculum in a socialist education system. While fighting on that front, it is also important to strengthen private schools and support home schooling.

  • Ian MacKenzie

    The Prime Minister should be quite cautious about how the national curriculum now proceeds, given that Trudge’s pushback on Cultural Marxist version 1 is the only scrap his government has offered conservatives this term – excluding nuclear subs which will only be ready for WW4 or 5. If he caves on the curriculum, the current voter flow to minor parties (the “Peter Smith option”) will become a flood.

  • Ian MacKenzie

    “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are the oldest, continuous cultures in the world, having existed in Australia for at least 50,000 years.” This nonsense gets repeated endlessly. Culture is characteristic of all humans, so to say one is the oldest has no meaning. Moreover, cultures evolve and it is clear from the numerous languages present, that the cultures of different tribes were different. Which one was oldest? Given the clear paleontological evidence for culture much older than 50,000 years in Africa, why would anyone claim that Aboriginal culture is oldest?

  • wdr

    This is very disturbing- congrats to Keith Windschuttle for making it known. Their agenda could change in Victoria if Matthew Guy and the Coalition are elected- he seems quite intelligent about this kind of thing. Unfortunately, Scott Morrison and Co. seem hopeless at the national level compared with John Howard and Tony Abbott about the ongoing History Wars. As things stand, however, the Coalition is likely to lose the Federal election next year, and Josh Frydenberg’s apparent promise to bring in zillions of immigrants can only alienate millions of younger voters who can’t get onto the property ladder even before they arrive. It is interesting to note that this left-wing school agenda does not include the working class “struggle” for the eight hour day, trade unions, etc., which would have been included in a leftwing takeover of the history agenda fifty years ago- clear evidence that Race War and Gender War have now
    replaced Class War as the battle cries of the Left. The barbaric nature of Aboriginal society will of course be omitted, Orwell style.

  • Adelagado

    Time to stand up against all this ‘Welcome to Country’ rubbish too. WTC and smoking ceremonies, Aboriginal flags getting equal prominence, stickers that say ‘Always was, always will be’ etc are all designed to make Australian born kids feel like trespassers and illegal immigrants in their own country. We are breaking the primal bond between our children and the country they were born in. If they feel disconnected and unloved by their own country in the years to come we will pay for with more crime and domestic terrorism.

  • Adam J

    Completely agree with everyone here. In particular Adelagado.

    Another thing is that the first colonists did not call themselves Australians or even use that word. Yet today it is universal. There has literally never been another ethno-genesis in human history that is and was as well documented as our own. The only reason that anyone today calls themselves Australian is because other people started doing it in the colonial period. A fact which I have never seen remarked upon even once.

  • Tom Lewis

    A good article – spot on. These people never give up – we read now that in the USA the maths curriculum is being labeled “racist”.

  • Lonsdale

    Why don’t conservatives make the hopeless Coalition take an interest in our culture?

  • subrosa

    My only hope is that this will all backfire. Just like secondary school students are avoiding Australian History, word of mouth says that a small but growing number of students are transferring to Catholic schools to escape identity politics. It didn’t have to be this way. Australian history has everything that young minds could want in a history course: sea voyages, explorers, convict escape stories, rags to riches stories, inter-marriage and the creation of a nation. Students may even be surprised to discover that early records rarely mention someone’s ethnicity. Even a convict “person of colour” could gain their freedom, marry, buy land, own a business, and thrive in early Van Diemen’s Land, and you would never know they were POC unless it was mentioned in their register description – itself not a guarantee. But I doubt the current ideologues would dare bring this up, lest students start to long for a past where ethnicity and ‘identity’ isn’t enforced at every turn…

  • Stephen Ireland

    As Keith and Kevin have pointed out this didn’t happen overnight:

    Pat Byrne, the head of the radical-left Australian Education Union summed up the effect of radicalism on school curricula when she declared in 2005: “we have succeeded in influencing curriculum development in schools, education departments and universities. The conservatives have a lot of work to do to undo the progressive curriculum.”
    Neil McCoy, Education, Not Indoctrination ABC News – Opinion, 17 Oct 2008
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-10-17/education-not-indoctrination/544864

  • Daffy

    As it happens. the PM is from the wacky side of modern Christianity, and this has very little to do with historic, durable and effective Christian intellectual traditions of finding the truth and teaching it.

  • Adam J

    The word ethnicity was rarely used until the 20th Century; Australians in history were distinguished largely by ancestry (a poor substitute for ethnicity), race (white preferred) and their citizenship (meaning political loyalty and community values).
    Given the developing nature of Australian colonial society, it’s amazing that there was not more conflict. But perhaps they all recognised and appreciated the opportunities available here unlike moderns, both native and immigrant.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Thank you Keith, spot on.
    Here is a short tale about Ministerial decision-making that has only got worse with time.
    In 1975, PM Whitlam, 3 Ministers and the Head of Department of Minerals visited our exploration base at Jabiru for a couple of days. This was 5 years after we had found the Ranger uranium deposits.
    At a BBQ dinner on the Saturday night, Whitlam asked to speak to a proper aborigine, so we got Sambo from his spot in the room. After the linguistic gymnastics about the indecency of calling him Sambo (that was his proper name from birth) Whitlam asked if matters were all OK. Sambo launched into a story of how he was not getting allowances for all of his six children. We knew that he and wife Rita had 2 children and that Sambo was taking the p***, but the matter escalated. Whitlam summoned Cavanagh, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, who had just taken his first bite of the barramundi.
    Whitlam ordered Cavanagh to get onto Canberra at first light, with 10 minutes of detailed discussion to make sure that Sambo was not denied his payments. Then, they got more drunk.
    Evidence for action was entirely lacking. A couple of us tried to say there were not 6 kids, but we were not heard. Whitlam marched through with his way of dispensing justice, equity and other peoples’ money. This capsule story alerted us once more that we were in danger of ever getting to mine what we had discovered, partly because of how Canberra people “knew” about aboriginal matters – and how Socialism is such a seductively adjustable means to an end Geoff S

  • colin_jory

    Keith, what you tell is ugly, evil and nauseating. It simply shows that the Orwellian Left takes for granted that wherever it gets power it can perpetuate that power indefinitely, and that it not only can but should implement its agenda by exercise of that power without inhibition or restraint, and without regard for any other views, With the Left it’s always “winner takes all” — and always the assumption, which alas is usually vindicated, is that everybody else will cower before Leftist power, or simply pretend, like Pangloss in Voltaire’s “Candide”, that all is well with the world and so the Leftist status quo should be accepted.

    That said, when last I taught in New South Wales secondary schools, the biggest problem with the years 7-10 History curriculum was that, although it contained plenty of Leftist and Feminist doctrine seeded here and there, it attempted to cover an enormous scope. The Year 10 course specifically sought to present key events and themes in Australian history from the late-nineteenth-century federation movement to the day-before-yesterday; and as a result, the Leftist indoctrination was in effect diluted to insipidity in a sea of non-controversial historical facts and themes. I do not believe, nevertheless, that Australian History should be extended to years 11 and 12. It is educationally far more important that senior modern history students be given a reasonably good overview of the history of the Modern World beginning with the Industrial Revolution, exactly as when I studied senior modern history in secondary school in the 1960s, with Australian history featuring only incidentally and in small degree. (Having Honours and Masters degrees in Australian History, I cannot be accused of prejudice against it!)

  • padraic

    Congratulations on a timely article. Keith – could not agree more with your observations and conclusions. And Blair – thanks for exposing that VCAA juvenile undergraduate tripe. I was under the impression that we all came out of Africa – Aborigines no exception – and the last time I looked African culture was alive and well.

  • Elizabeth Beare

    I and many other women are so sick of the harpies in the ABC Cabal screaming blue murder about some confected ‘sex’ episode in order to destroy a Conservative Minister. Grow some balls, Scott Morrison, and ignore them. Women will in general thank you for it.
    Re-instate Minister Tudge to continue with his good work for our children and grandchildrens’ learning.

  • Farnswort

    A very important piece – thank you, Keith.

    Tudge has rightly warned that younger generations are being taught that Australia is not worth defending and may not fight for Australia in the advent of a military conflict. Surely this represents a major security risk for Australia and therefore an issue worthy of the PM’s attention. Yet ScoMo is MIA. He either doesn’t understand what is at stake, doesn’t care or is happy to go along with the woke left’s agenda.

  • brandee

    My summary would be: Morrison is the problem, and so is Paul Fletcher and the feral ABC!
    Ps. The Education curriculum in NSW has had no reform from the state Education Ministers who seem always to be from the woke end of the Nationals.

  • whitelaughter

    well said Elizabeth Beare

  • Tony Thomas

    It is absurd to refer to wandering bands of 30-40 as “Nations”, as in “First Nations”. But there is another less-recognised absurdity, that the “First Nations” have a ca 50,000 year “continuous living” culture. It is this alleged “continuity” that supposedly makes Aboriginal culture unique in the world. The fact is that white settlement disrupted the original Aboriginal cultures, until today only bare elements survive in the far North and in the Central deserts. What pretends to be Aboriginal “culture” in 95% of cases is now just a mish-mash of selected Western concepts (e.g. new age feminism, Gaia etc). In fact large swathes of original cultures would today be illegal (eg child marriages, initiation tortures, wife-beating, indiscriminate payback murders etc). Prominent “cultural” manifestations today like Welcomes to Country, smoking ceremonies etc are just recently invented pantomimes. So I don’t know where this meme of “continuous living culture” comes from. The few elements that have survived include dysfunctional things like domestic violence and having to share hard-earned goods and housing with all and sundry relatives.

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