- Australian Nationalism is ‘Neither Left nor Right’, but a Third Position in ideology and politics. There is a universal aspect in this idea which has found an echo in many countries. The slogan of a Third Position originated in the late 1970s. And it spread through all European countries. It appeared in Australia in the 1980s. Percy Stephensen once said a foreign additive when used judiciously, can fertilize the Australian native plant. It did contribute here, precisely because it fell onto a soil already historically attuned to a native political philosophy that transcended Left and Right.
- Australian Nationalism, at its origin in the late Nineteenth Century, had as its mythic core three essential components. It was Nativist. It was Labourist. It rose to visionary heights in the efforts of the literary Radical Nationalists. It had already stepped beyond Left and Right. Australian Nationalism was a promise that a veritable Working Man’s Paradise would spring forth on the Continent, a new nation with an identity of its own, free of the class and religious bigotries of the Old World and which would create a people’s state, the Co-operative Commonwealth.
- The essential messages of this Third Position have been that it would wage a class war in the sense of the struggle of the producer against the parasitic exploiter yet not against achievement and property, that it would fight for identity but not at the expense of other peoples, that it would demand independence and neutrality for Australia but would eschew imperialism of any type, that it would encourage talent but not favour the dictatorship of individuals, parties or other forces. We say that these qualities sum up the true Australian political ethos, a spirit that has appeared over the long decades since our country’s loss of direction beginning in the Menzies era after 1949 – of consumerism, suburbanism, multiculturalism, and lifestyleism.
- For seventy years after the Federation, the Australian nation-state embodied certain political attributes that are integral to the Third Position. While the Third Position was yet to be defined as a political philosophy, the Australian state in this golden period, largely reflected the will, attitudes and hopes of the Australian people. Russel Ward’s classic Australian Legenddefines the attitude of organic Australians. Egalitarian, but rejecting state intervention on personal matters. Cooperative by nature and necessity, but wary of the dogmas of state and religion. Accepting the application of state power, but quick to revolt when that power was misused. The very essence of the Australian identity was inconsistent with old assumptions about Left and Right, conservative and progressive. We are justified to say Australia was the first nation in the world to apply the Third Position policy in any serious way.
- However, during the period 1901-1970, Australia was firmly in the thrall of colonial masters. First Britain, then the US after World War Two. This is undeniable. Federation was a compromise for Australian nationalists. Third Positionism stresses the importance of national independence, meaning cultural, economic, territorial and ethnic integrity. Australia after Federation did not measure up to all of these criteria. Nevertheless, the Australian state in this period implemented policies which today seem prescient of the Third Position. A good example is the Australian Settlement– a set of nation-building policies adopted by the Australian state after Federation. The important aspects of this settlement, which enjoyed bipartisan support for decades, included:
– A restrictive immigration policy (the White Australia Policy), designed to provide economic security and ethnic integrity for the new, organic Australian nation.
– Protective tariffs to promote the ideal of national self-reliance, particularly in manufacturing.
– Compulsory arbitration for industrial disputes, designed to build a fairer country for working people, and
– A living wage as the basis for the minimum wage. Established by Justice Higgins following the Harvester Case, this groundbreaking legal decision put Australia on the road to building a workers’ paradise on the Southern Continent.
- Australian Nationalism has long confronted – and been confronted by – the post-modern Left. This Left, which constitutes the mainstream ‘Left’ in Australia today, has functioned chiefly in recent decades as the enforcer for capitalism. The Left wants to break all the boundaries of ethnicity, cultural identity, and gender. In that way, it is sometimes said that there are now really only two broad political camps: one which denies all boundaries and one which seeks to preserve them. But politics is still written in old language and most people observe Left and Right even where they are often the same in practice. Having no independence of its own, the Left practices a delusional freedom to attack patriotic and nationalist people. It may reason that globalizing capital is hastening the day of the borderless world and with it, the ‘progressive’ revolution. But inevitably, it blocs with this globalism system to defeat those it calls ‘the fascists’ (the nationalists), a unity in action never transcended and which binds them to the very order they otherwise denounce.
- In the globalized world as it has developed, particularly after the fall of Soviet communism (1989-91), the struggle against the Left has been superseded by the struggle against the Right. It is capitalism that has carried out the revolution from above. Capitalism has harnessed the ongoing cyber revolution and technology and trade and the cross-border flows of labour to undermine all identities and all semblances of national independence. Capitalism has held up the vision of the raceless, genderless man, free to move across the earth as a consumer. Capitalism has merged several of the old imperialisms into New World Order imperialism which would impose itself by force. The Right with its ideal of economic man contradicts the principle of Traditional Man; inside the new imperial boundaries, all become cogs in a machine.
- The Third Position is a programme and a charter myth for the reinvigoration of Australia’s traditional social order and its historical promise. It defies the leftist principle of cross-identity sameness. It defies the rightist principle of unity in the marketplace. It is said Third Position synthesises the Left and the Right in some new dynamic, but we cannot accept that. True, it takes from the Left some of its methods of organization and its critical understanding of how a state may work in the service of a dominant class and so on; and then it adapts from the Right some of its occasional principles of family and gender and property and achievement. But it stands for itself as a true cause.
- Australian Nationalists observe that some would-be patriots want to place us within a ‘Dissident Right’. But to place us along a continuum with rightists means that we end up somewhere on a line with Liberal-connected ‘conservatives’ after passing through a dissident (sic) group who remain inconsistent between them and us. Those who want us on that continuum aim to rob us of what we are: a Third Position. They may do it out of bad conscience, or they may do it because they think it’s a sensible notion, but the result is the same. Equally, the conservative Right views Nationalism as ‘collectivism’ and would denounce it as a form of leftism. The survival of the old bunyip (pseudo) aristocratic families within the conservative parties supports that notion (they are the social betters to us all, they would have it), even as they merge their financial holdings with capital from Asia! The expropriation of that sector of capital by the nationalist state would settle that cultural and class question. They are hardly allies, but opponents.
- The Third Position, in practice, is a sharp-edged tool, a dialectic in the political struggle. Consider: It is not pacifist, but it does not preach a warlike road; it says we fight when we must. It is not for a melting-pot world, but it does not support bigotry and supremacism. It seeks the road of differentialism and identity for all. In the case of the Aboriginal population, it favours neither assimilation nor false sovereignty doctrine, but a program of cultural and racial survival. The third position always searches for constructive alternatives. It can create a reactive programme to the dominant narratives. To advance the cause of Australian Nationalism, it contests all un-Australian narratives.
- The Third Position seeks Australian solutions to Australian questions. The Right, in whatever mode it comes, is burdened with overseas considerations and class-riven philosophies, with pretence and craven submission. It lives in the past days of its glory and calls it promises a future derived from the barren utopia of progress. A Third Position Nationalism does not salute old empires and old alliances, nor pander after the sterile aspects of limiting (sic) constitutions and old laws. It is not about ‘my country right or wrong’, but rather, if the country is ‘wrong’, it seeks a way to cleanse it. Errant political children who would adopt Windsor monarchism to retake our freedom, or who would embrace the pretty colours of dead fascism, or some other ideology, to assert identity, fail their people and in a certain way, raise their hands against the constructive effort of the nationalist struggle – no less than the globalist Left which brazenly denies its nationality. We are grounded to our earth. We seek our national liberation as we permit all others to achieve theirs.
- Third-position politics can reverse the trend to defeat the cause of Australian survival. The traitor class carried on a revolution from above which showed there was neither a social base nor a cultural enclave that would not be contested by its stronger forces against those forces of Australian Nationalism. However, this politics must locate actual new bases to conduct the struggle, issues to sustain it and develop it and the historical armour to protect it. A new aggressive politics must be forged. Being able to shatter the old labels and ways is the first start in equipping the new generation for the struggle. ■