[Editor: This is a chapter from Australianism (1954) by John Fisher.]
The new world
The superb administrative and organising skills found throughout society are essential for the building of the new world. A comprehensive community concept covering all aspects of human activity must be the basis of all planning. The warm sympathies and lofty ideals that are misdirected in serving the manipulative excesses of capitalism will have an enormously enhanced value in shaping the new society.
Upon the basis of these suggestions, all parasitic institutions will automatically decline, and those of value to the intelligent individual will develop spontaneously to serve more usefully his true needs. Though institutions may come and go through the ages, the individual is the permanent master whom they serve. The Arts will discard their commercial vulgarity, to enrich social relationships and beautify the minds of the common people; the human professions will cease being instruments of exploitation, to take their rightful place in the high esteem of an intelligent community; and academic cloisters, instead of inflicting senility, will stimulate adventure amidst the graceful living of a new golden age.
People in different jobs in various parts of the world often regard others as being fortunate in enjoying a more romantic existence than is their own lot. Thoughtful folk, and those who have worked at many different jobs, however, know that “romance” is a glowing aura with which the human imagination can invest any activity whatsoever. A versatile mind sees eternity reflected in every facet of life, and can inspire others to survey for themselves the horizons of the human spirit revealed on the peaks of inspiration. No capitalist way of life provides a worthwhile future, an environment in which men can rise to their full stature as sons of heaven.
Many people remark at the adventure to be found in exploring the mysteries of capitalist cities. Since civilised cities swarm with hordes of ignorant, bustling slaves, however, it can be expected that a society which cultivated instead the intellectual qualities of its inhabitants would boast a landscape entirely adventurous, magical, and haunting beyond the wildest flights of fantasy; a cultured landscape, in fact, that reflected the virile nature of the beings who fashioned it.
This thesis suggests that all society should be distributed in a more reasonable manner about the soil, and that the conception of all economic activity as a transformation from soil to individual is fundamental to progress at every point in the economy. It is in the interests of human progress and of every individual that his own and his neighbor’s skill and imagination be cultivated through a more reasonable social organisation.
The surface of the Australian continent is hardly scratched as yet and the easiest way to hasten its all-round development is to give more Australians a stake in their own country by encouraging them from the cities to the country. Properly balanced development of the continent would then occur, as its true owners united in the great adventure of fashioning it to meet the needs of a civilised and virile people, a people devoted not to passing money from hand to hand, but to unfolding the human soul to the measureless grandeur of the heavens.
Intelligence makes possible the successful co-operation of many groups of worthy people in the world to-day. One excellent example of non-profiteering community enterprise is to be seen in the work of the famed Australian surf life-saving clubs. These are spontaneous organisations of adventurous individuals who require no “democracy” inflicted by parasitic authority from above, but who organise freely from below, who are always alert and co-operative, and who welcome suggestions from the public. Traditional theories about obedient armies of trade unionists appear to be inapplicable to co-operative groups, nor does the general public demand a “democratic” say in their operation, for the pursuit of lofty and humane ideals alone inspires public confidence and it is these alone that are needed to transform the world. If the proper ideals were recognised throughout industry and society an ideal social structure would arise spontaneously and all unproductive economic excesses would disappear within a generation.
The co-operation existing already amongst many groups must be extended to include all those matters involving human welfare. When the fashion for serving high ideals, instead of money, is widely popularised, community effort will be automatically and freely united in fashioning a worthy, just, and splendid way of life, and unprecedented wonders of individual and group initiative will ignite the landscape.
Australia alone of all the nations of the world offers the best starting point for a world reformation. It enjoys the greatest freedom from old world follies at a period of the fastest progress in human history. Countless people attached to “civilised” economies are denied the opportunity of embarking upon the original personal projects needed for enjoyable living; are denied the freedom to fashion, with their friends, a secure and beautiful home life in a cultivated community. The challenge faces every individual to build his own best desires into a new world, upon all that is worthy in the old.
The primitive individual relationships of capitalism must give way to a community of sympathetic, adventurous beings, a community conception of abundance for all, which should eliminate rigid holiday periods, harassing fears, and endless clamorings for handouts from the all-powerful, destructive State. The individual is faced with the option of remaining a mere automaton, which is the choice subtly imposed on most Westerners from the cradle onwards, or of cultivating an immortal happiness in creative activity at the feet of mankind’s various sages. On the creative basis of enlightened self-interest, man might devote himself to beautifying life instead of selling it in small fragments over a counter, might enjoy sufficient leisure to achieve technical solutions delightful in their simplicity, might have time to hear the lapping of timeless waters on unknown shores.
The human mind is the greatest and least understood force on the earth. To-day most people fail to achieve an expanding happiness, are thwarted and disillusioned, and lack the perspective needed to focus their minds into a satisfying completeness. Even men of goodwill generally fail to fit an expansive personal horizon into a progressive social order. It is a law of nature that man should achieve security and progress, each in its proper realm, but to neglect this law can obstruct both. When the infinite forces in the individual are liberated the face of the planet will be rejuvenated.
The New World should provide the environment in which human genius might flower spontaneously as nature intended, to help all in acquiring the spiritual qualities which mark the more complete personality. Neither the office worker nor factory worker enjoys a mastery of his destiny, but the peasant can be both of these and also expand his mind in fashioning a respected mastery and timeless wisdom in the university of life.
Instead of treating man as a senseless appendage to a primitive economic machine, reformers should emphasise the creative potentialities of the happy, expanding personality, and advocate the fashioning of a more challenging way of life embracing the present advantages of city and country, where the rising generation might be moulded naturally into the rapturous illumination of truly civilised living. Amidst intelligent activity about the village green, symphony orchestra, library, playhouse, television, helicopters, the community workshop, etc., it should be possible for the human imagination to fashion a new, positive way of life that should unite, inspire, and electrify the whole world.
The lords of the earth must assert their mastery over their own primitive passions and environment, to serve better their own greatest good. They must strengthen all that is admirable in the old world and build it into a new Utopia, not on the sterile worship of vain human puppetry, but in the tireless search for an expanding vision of eternity. Every mortal shares a spark of the eternal, in some it is a flame. Together they would make a bonfire whose flames, by purging the excesses of ignorance, might soar to immortal heights.
Instead of leaving a heritage of confusion and barbarism to his children, instead of living an insecure life in a spirit of wistful longing for the day when his “ship comes in,” the ordinary citizen might here and now live the whole of his life in an atmosphere of festive joy, adventurous conquest, and challenging discovery, an atmosphere in which the sons and daughters of creation should acquire a spiritual excellence worthy of their immortal destiny.
105 Raglan Ave.,
Harcourt Gardens, S. Aust.
The Worker Print – 3431
John Fisher, Australianism, self-published: Harcourt Gardens (SA), , pages 29-32
automaton = self-operating machine, such as a robot; a robot-like person; someone who acts like a machine, acting in a mechanical, monotonous, routine manner, seemingly without feeling or thinking, lacking active intelligence and emotions
ship comes in = the gaining of riches; when one gains a fortune, or becomes successful (used in the phrase “when my ship comes in”, or variations thereof, e.g. my/one’s/our/your, boat/ship)
[Editor: Changed “however. it can” to “however, it can”.]