Australia Redux

Don Watson had this to say a couple of years back about John Updike's "Rabbit" novels and their parallels to Australia. Just as valid today, maybe even more so after the election on Saturday. Everyone's still numb, by the way - except for everyone who voted for Howard, of course. They're delirious and it's all I can do not to be sick on their jackboots.

Anyway, Don Watson:

Take his patriotism: it is mainly vapid because patriotism nearly always is, and American patriotism is particularly vapid. All patriotism looks backward, and with a distorting mirror. Lacking both their [Americans'] history and their myths as well as any satisfactory "sacred text", we could do the sensible thing - we could make the guiding principles of Australia its diversity and pluralism, its inorganicness, the absence of oppressive and constraining symbols (the flag and the monarchy, for example, are meaningless), and seize the chance to create a post-modern republic or a "republic of opportunity" as Guy Rundle called it in the last Quarterly Essay - and a very civilised society. Australia is as much a lifestyle as it is a nation - we should make the nation in that image.


Refugees frighten us. Reconciliation with Aborigines, native title, a republic - these things consistently prove too much for us.... Australia cannot face the truth that its life is its own and no one else's...

Banana, anyone?