Defending our National Identity

Notes on Australia's Culture

1) The depth of Australia's civilisation

It has been said by some that Australia's civilisation and culture has only the experience, depth, and basis of just some 200 years. How wrong they are!

While the Australia-specific part of our culture and civilisation is just over 200 years old, the depth of our civilisation goes thousands of years beyond that.

Those that settled Australia did not "step off the boat" as some primitive form of Neanderthal Man, with just some sort of Stone Age civilisation; they arrived here bearing within them some thousands of years of European heritage and civilisation.

Australian culture was formed using British culture as its basis. Indeed, the formation of modern British culture itself has to a certain extent lent upon a Latin-Greek-French basis. The natural procession of cultural formations explains the mechanics and existence of Australian culture, but in no way negates the remaining fact: Australia processes a distinct and unique national culture of its own.

Australia is a part of wider European Civilisation and of the wider European Culture; in 1788 we diverged along a path that was different to those of the nations in Europe, but one that nonetheless carried with it the depth of all prior European Civilisation (especially that of Britain).

Australia's culture is unique, and its primary basis is that derived from its native-born heritage, history, and environment; however, its depth is that of the wider European Civilisation and Culture.

2) The concept of "Australia" and "Australian"

"Australia" is a European concept. The Aborigines knew the earth that they walked on simply as "the land" or "the world" - they had no concept of Australia as a geographic, or continental, entity. It would be more correct to say that the Aborigines belonged to the "Dreamtime", rather than to Australia.

The Aborigines certainly had no concept of Australia as a national entity (nationalism itself is a European concept, which arose in the eighteenth century, out of the ruins of the old Empires and feudal states); they themselves did not constitute a nation, or nations, as - just like the European peoples at a similar Stone Age level of development - they were simply a collection of tribes.

Modern rendering of tribes as "nations" is farcical, if not downright idiotic (or intellectually dishonest, as some writers have a vested interest - whether ideological or sociological - in seeing the status of some native tribes being lifted up to the status of "nations"); no matter whether such tribes referred to are American Indian, Australian Aborigine, European, or whatever.

Thus, the very concept of "Australia", and the vision, destiny, and identity of Australian Nationalism, belong solely to the new European people of the "sixth continent": the Australians.

Note 1: Aborigines are a part of Australia; they are "Australian" insofar as they are "Australian Aborigines", their tribes are part of the Australian experience, but they are not "Australian" in the European or National sense of the word. As Michael Mansell, the Aboriginal activist, said "I'm an Aboriginal, not an Australian"[1]. Aboriginal activists are also known to refer to themselves as being a part of "the Aboriginal nations"; which indicated their recognition that they are not part of the ethnically-European Australian nation [2]. Aborigines are part of the Aboriginal People, not part of the Australian People; these are two starkly different ethnic-racial concepts, and one cannot be a true member of both.

Note 2: The word "Australian" was used by some early explorers to describe the Aborigines. The term was used in a purely geographical sense (i.e. not in a National sense), and such use of "Australian" as a reference to the Aborigines soon passed. The Aborigines were also called "Indians" by some early explorers, but the usage of that term regarding the Aborigines also passed.

Note 3: Asians, Africans, Arabs, Maoris, Pacific Islanders, and other Third World ethnic groups in Australia may be considered by law to be legally "Australian", to be legally recognised Australian citizens, they may even be born in Australia, but they are not "Australians"; that is, they are not a part of the homogeneous Australian Nation (the Australian People) which is based upon the Australian nationality of those of European ethnicity. A piece of paper does not make someone an Australian, being a true part of the Australian Nation does. Australia is a Nation; a Nation is a unified homogeneous people sharing a common country, culture, identity, language, and racial background; therefore, those Asians, Arabs, Africans, etc., residing in our country are simply "Australian residents" - they are not, and never will be, part of the Australia Nation. In the European, or National, sense of the word they are not "Australian".


[1] Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Lateline, Friday Forum, Broadcast: 20/7/2001 [TV program transcript], ABC, 20 July 2001. [The show's host was Mark Bannerman; guests were Michael Hodgman, barrister and former Liberal MP, and Michael Mansell from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Legal Centre].

[2] Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Press release from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Canberra, Australia [A Murri perspective on federation and the new millenium], Catholic Justice and Peace Commission: Archdiocese of Brisbane, 1 January 2001.
Michael Anderson. Gumilaroi Aboriginal Elders seek a head count for nation building, Perth Independent Media Center, 25 April 2005.
Michael Anderson. 7 Australian Aboriginal nations seek union,, 12 April 2005.
Michael Anderson. Seven NSW Indigenous nations seek union, Perth Independent Media Center, 12 April 2005.
Saswat Pattanayak. Australia faces aboriginal wrath, Saswat Blog, 11 February 2004.
Yagans Head Media. Australia Day, Invasion Day or Aboriginal Sovereignty Day?, Melbourne Independent Media Center, 9 January 2007.

Defending our National Identity