Prof. Murdoch urges ‘Australianism’ [16 December 1939]

[Editor: Professor Walter Murdoch advocates an ideology of “Australianism”. Published in The Mail, 16 December 1939.]

Prof. Murdoch urges ‘Australianism’

“The Spur of the Moment” by Walter Murdoch (Angus & Robertson, Sydney). Our copy from the publishers.

Prof. Murdoch gives us another delightful batch of essays written in that breezy flowing style that makes for easy reading of useful material. His title comes from the fact that each essay was written on the spur of the moment. Fast moving history predates some of the stories, but that does not affect their qualities.

A wide variety of subjects is traversed, including education, literature, democracy, freedom, peace, and war. One point that impresses is the climax to his essay on Australianism.

“What I long to see,” he writes, “is the formation of a new party (in Australia), not to take its place in Parliament, but standing outside all the political parties; a party of education; a party with only one plank in its platform — the formation of a clear and definite public opinion on the all-important question of deciding upon and bringing into existence the Australia we want to see.”

It reminded me of an observation made by H. G. Wells when he was talking quietly in an hotel lounge while visiting Adelaide last year. “What you need in Australia.” he said, “is to educate the public to think for themselves — and make no mistake, they have the intelligence to do it.”

Both Wells and Murdoch advocate for Australia a national individuality. Murdoch says, “If we must have an ’ism (like other countries), let it be ‘Australianism.’”

Humor, wit, and hard-hitting criticism finds its place in the various essays. There is no shirking of realities, but the author’s optimism is such that he never lets them get him or his reader down. And, above all, in a friendly but telling way, he is doing a national service, for his essays reveal an ideal — a persistent effort to make Australians better Australians and Australia a better Australia.

The Mail (Adelaide, SA), Saturday 16 December 1939, page 29 of the “Magazine” supplement

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