‘Australia and the fascist idea of Greater Britain‘, Imperial & Global Forum, 9 November 2015
Guest blog by an Australian scholar. Shows how important to Oswald Mosley’s 1930s British Union of Fascists (BUF) was to the maintenance of the Dominions as ‘bastions of the imperial spirit’.
According to Mosley, Greater Britain would be achieved through trade and economic co-operation, as well as a closely integrated armed forces and support for traditional British institutions such as the monarchy (although expressly not parliamentary democracy or the ‘rule of law’). All of the Dominions perpetrated large-scale racial discrimination informed by these colonialist ideals, but in some places, such as South Africa and Australia, racism and racial divisions had became central to the function of the state apparatus.
The White Australia policy and Australia’s agricultural resources made Australia particularly attractive to the BUF; the latter would save Britain having to rely on non-Empire producers. Australia was also seen as a favoured destination for British migration. Australia was free of racial problems and had plenty of land.
Australia did not need to be a fascist dictatorship for it to be deemed useful by Mosley and the other imperial theorists within the BUF; it was enough that it was an advanced liberal democracy with strict racially exclusionist policies and a keen sense of imperial patriotism, as evidenced, they believed, by the number of Australians who volunteered to fight for the British Empire in the First World War.