‘Can Kokoda challenge Anzac?’ Paper delivered to conference The Pacific War 1941-45, Heritage, Legacies and Culture, Monash University at Caulfield, 6 December 2011
233 Can Kokoda challenge Anzac (pdf provided by author)
The author argues that veneration of Anzac is flawed from a class, nationalist and internationalist perspective and looks at the competing claims of Kokoda, particularly in terms of legends that may sustain future military involvements.
Nevertheless Kokoda is likely to attract support in future because of the continuing influence of left nationalism. Imagine a major war – which is alas all too easy given the growing tensions with China. The Australian state would inevitably attempt to win over, or at least neutralise sources of opposition to the war effort; and judging by the experience of recent decades, left nationalism is the most likely source of opposition. The militarist tradition most likely to attract them is Kokoda, not Anzac. The standard concern of left nationalists – that foreign imperialists drag us into war – will always weigh down the Anzac tradition.
Compare with Hugh White’s argument about the links between Anzac and possible future military involvement. The author has published widely. Anthony Cooper has another view of Kokoda. Karl James of the Australian War Memorial consides the same issues in 2017.