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Gillard on the culture wars « Previous | |Next »
June 21, 2007

Deputy Labor leader Julia Gillard, last Monday night, marked the 75th anniversary of Australian Quarterly with some comments. She said:

Our culture, and the advantages it gives us, is endangered. I find it bizarre that when our culture has so much to offer our country, some want to undermine it through a vindictive, short-sighted and imported culture war. Their attempts to denigrate people such as our philosophers, artists, writers and even climate scientists as out-of-touch, inner-city elites, and to claim our egalitarian values are unsuited to new economic necessities, risks subsuming us into the blancmange of an emerging global monoculture.

The assumption that is questionable is "imported'. True the conservatives have adopted some aspects of the culture wars from the Republicans in the US, but it is also a homegrown conflict.

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Australians are deeply divided as is our culture. It fractured from the impact of globalization during the 1980s with the floating the dollar, liberalised financial markets, a freed up labour market regulations, reforms to the ramshackle tax systems, and the national agenda of competition policy under Hawk and Keating.

Australians have responded differently to the ongoing effects of globalization --eg., nativist and cosmopolitan-- and these differences have been politically developed to create a divide between two sides of politics --conservative and liberal. Its' a crude dichotomy but it indicates that a unified Australian culture does not exist. Nor am I persuaded that the conservatives are subsuming us into the blancmange of an emerging global monoculture, as they oppose aspects of a global culture --Hollywood and explicit sexuality of consumerism.

Gillard then addresses the Australia's responses to a global monoculture:

In terms of world culture, we're unique: young, unusual, at times exotic and usually undermining authority. We can choose our path. We shouldn't feel we have to sing along in harmony with the rest of the world to have a positive effect on it. But we can dance like no one else. The last thing we need is culture warriors trying to force us to conform. It's by doing things our way and by continuing to nurture and celebrate our own culture that Australia will best confront our challenges and go from strength to strength.

Gillard indicates a nativist response in terms of a dynamic Australian culture standing up top a mass global (American?) culture. But Australia's national "unified" national culture of the 1970s has fractured along regional lines. Australians live in diverse regional states(Victoria, Queensland, WA, Tasnamia etc) as well as the nation-state

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:09 AM |