During his 1978 Harvard commencement address, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn delivered a stern warning to the Western world: “no weapons, no matter how powerful, can help the West until it overcomes its loss of willpower.”
The new trilateral security partnership with the United States and the United Kingdom, AUKUS, is certainly the most important development in Australian foreign policy since the signing of ANZUS 70 years ago. However, we should take note of Solzhenitsyn’s words. Technology will not save a country that does not have the self-confidence to defend itself.
Australians must be united around our shared values and sense of hope and optimism for the future. But it is an open question if a young Australian today, forced in school to think through the divisive lens of critical race theory, lectured in university about our irredeemably evil settlement, and berated each year for wanting to celebrate Australia Day, would believe Australia is worth fighting for
In his 1961 book The Evolution of Civilisations, Carroll Quigley, then a professor at Georgetown University, set out the seven stages of rise and fall he believed all civilisations experience. The final two stages, decay and invasion, occur when “the religious, intellectual, social, and political levels of the society begin to lose the allegiance of the masses of the people on a large scale. New religious movements begin to sweep over the society. [And] there is a growing reluctance to fight for the society or even to support it by paying taxes.”
Ultimately, Quigley concludes, a civilisation which no longer believes in itself is unable to defend itself. This insight is equally applicable to individual countries within civilisations.
Australia’s new nuclear-powered submarines to be obtained under AUKUS will require submariners, but they will also require a more united country which believes in and is willing to defend itself.
The good news is that mainstream Australians overwhelmingly believe Australia is one of the best countries in which to live and raise a family. For example, a recent survey of the attitudes of Australians undertaken by the Institute of Public Affairs found that 82 per cent of those surveyed were proud to be Australian.
Each year the media, led by the ABC, pushes a confected debate about changing the date of Australia Day underpinned by the divisive narrative that Australia is structurally racist and that our national holiday should be renamed “Invasion Day”. Despite being berated for years by the elites, 69 per cent of Australians want Australia Day to be celebrated on 26 January, and only 11 per cent want the date changed.
That the Australian identity remains strong and overwhelmingly positive is remarkable considering the extent to which our political class and commentariat attempts to actively undermine it.
The problem is that too many of the elites in our parliaments, media, big business, and universities hold views divorced from those of ordinary Australians. Strategic rivals take note when we are divided because it strengthens their hand.
Earlier this year, China accused Australia of being a part of an “axis of white supremacy” and argued that “though the colonialism era has long gone, the aftermath of the colonial crimes such as racism, hegemonism and interventionism still haunts the world”. What’s perhaps most concerning is that it is hard to tell the difference between these words and those uttered every day in Australian universities, and sometimes even in parliaments.
At the University of Sydney, students are invited in one subject to “consider theories of structural and cultural violence” including “critical whiteness theory” to better understand “visible and invisible racism… in a process of constructive individual and social change”. Another boasts that “critical studies, emergent trans-Indigenous and decolonising approaches inform the exploration of concepts and practices of assimilation, race, and the contemporary legacies of past practice.”
Australian elites have become obsessed with deriding our history. China has noticed and is now using the words of our elites to further divide us. But though they encourage it in the West, self-loathing and cultural cringe has no place in China itself.
As one astute US Substacker noted, China’s media regulator issued a notice in April this year calling for participation in the Chinese Communist Party’s “Party history education campaign”. The statement noted that “some [people with] ulterior motives” have “been spreading historical nihilistic misrepresentations online, maliciously distorting, denigrating and negating the history of the Party, the state and the military, in an attempt to confuse people” and destroy national “self-confidence.”
“If someone wants to destroy a nation,” the statement argued, “the first thing they do is to destroy its history”.