The lucky country: part two

Donald Horne, The Lucky Country – Australia in the Sixties, Angus and Robertson, 1965 (first published in 1964)

p.1 ‘The Australian Dream: Innocent happiness’

2 ‘Life assumes meaning in the weekends and on holidays.’

4 ‘Australians are too easy-going to become fanatics and they do not crave great men.’

5 ‘A cult of informality derived from a deep belief in the essential sameness and ordinariness of mankind’

‘Anzac Day is the Festival of the Ordinary Man; Christmas the Festival of Family; New Year the Festival of the Good Time.’

‘the appeal of Anzac Day is as an expression of the commonness of man (even death is a leveller).’

‘Australia is not a country of great political dialogue or intense searching after problems (or recognition of problems that exist).’

6 In 1886, J.A. Froude said of Australians: ‘It is hard to quarrel with men who only wish to be innocently happy.’

Horne wrote that Australia is strongly inimical to ideas.

7 ‘Throughout the world the basis of material prosperity in the future is likely to lie, for the first time in history, with clever, educated people.’ Horne added that in Australia cleverness can be considered un-Australian.

14 ‘Australians love a “battler”, an underdog who is fighting the top dog, although their veneration for him is likely to pass if he comes out from under. At work – among the unambitious – the feeling for underdogs runs very strong.’

18 ‘Australians like people to be ordinary…To be different is considered an affectation.’

18-19 Horne believes that Australians embody ‘a complex of resentments against difference…It is only when a difference stares them in the face that ordinary Australians become truculent; and then only in a personal way.’

26-27 ‘This cynicism beneath purpose feeds our notorious philistinism…the Australian is cynical and self-denigratory towards himself as well as towards the world he sees around him…This deeply inlaid scepticism is a genuine philosophy of life, a national style determining individual and group actions. Its influence can be detected throughout Australian society. It may be the most pervasive single influence operating on Australians.’

‘What they find it difficult to do is to imagine the new for themselves.’

32 ‘The passion for egalitarianism may combine with the passion for scepticism to hide and often frustrate talent.’

‘Much energy is wasted in pretending to be stupid. To appear ordinary, just like everybody else, is sometimes a necessary condition for success in Australia.’

Part two/to be continued…