Australia - last opportunity or lost opportunity? : reason, mateship and the Commonwealth of Australia

McLaren, John (1992) Australia - last opportunity or lost opportunity? : reason, mateship and the Commonwealth of Australia. Faculty of Arts, Victoria University of Technology, Melbourne, Vic..


Australia, last discovered land of the new worlds, had long been the object of old world desire. At the end of the nineteenth century, this desire seemed to have reached a culmination in the inauguration of the new Commonwealth of Australia. At the end of the twentieth century, this Commonwealth seems to have lost its way. This cycle of desire renewed and frustrated forms a pattern for Australian literature as it seeks to recover lost hopes, and is itself an aspect of the crisis of legitimation that presently affects the world. In this crisis, people have only three options. They can turn to the authority of the law, of any legal or verbal system that has always been and that continues to enshrine power as it is. They can rest their faith on some apocalyptic account of the future, such as the crumbling Maoist dogma of China or the religious fervours of America. Or they can seek to find in the past of their own communities and society a tradition with the authority to suggest a way into the future. It is the third of these paths that I am attempting tonight, but the very endeavour raises the question of whether there was ever a sound basis for hope in the experience of white settlement in Australia.

Additional Information

Inaugural Arts Faculty address, December 1992

Item type Other
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 2005 Literary Studies
Historical > FOR Classification > 2103 Historical Studies
Current > Collections > McLaren Papers
Keywords Australia, literature, history, white settlement, colonial laws, property, land rights, Aboriginal rights, literature, novels, novelists, poetry, MCLAREN-BOXB1-DOC3
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