Young & Free

[Published at Catallaxy Files 12/01/2021]

In 1942, the Special Services Division, Services of Supply, United States Army, published a booklet called Instructions for American Servicemen in Australia. The first section includes this:

The Australians have much in common with us – they’re a pioneer people; they believe in personal freedom; they love sports; and they’re out to lick the Axis all the way. But there are a lot of differences too – their ways of living and thinking on all sorts of things – like tea, central heating, the best way to spend Sunday, or saluting officers and such.

The second section, A Pioneer Land, starts out so:

Australia is one of the newest countries in the world – yet the continent is one of the oldest. A hundred and fifty years ago, it was an empty land about the size of the United States, inhabited by only a few hundred thousand natives – the Australians call them “Abos” (for Aborigines) – living about the same way they did in the Stone Age.

In a century and a half it had become a land of fine, modern cities, booming factories turning out war materials, and fighting men, famous everywhere. It’s a land of great plains, millions of sheep and cattle, of gold mines and deserts and funny animals. And it’s one of the world’s great democracies.

There are a few over-arching clichés, but this by-and-large is true of the country as of 1942. And this foreigner could see the most dramatic truth about us – 150 years from a virtually empty continent with scattered Stone Age tribes, to one of the world’s great democracies. Both young and free. No more, and it is not just the ongoing bathos that is Scott Morrison. He’s just changed the wrong word, and drawn attention to just what a servile people we have become.

(Incidentally, the truths written then reflect the remarkable transition of a Stone Age people, do they not? The best part of 5,000 years covered in 200.)

All of the achievement described here has been destroyed in less than 80 years. That in itself is a remarkable achievement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *