Bongiorno, Frank: An obedient nation of larrikins: why Victorians are not revolting

Frank Bongiorno

An obedient nation of larrikins: why Victorians are not revolting‘, The Conversation, 10 September 2020

Update 21 September 2020: Dave Milner in The Shot newsletter on the low-key Melburnian cope.

Speculates about what (mostly supportive) Victorian attitudes to Covid-19 measures say about Australian attitudes to authority (our alleged anti-authoritarianism).

Citizens are capable of distinguishing between their attitude to the political class, or any particular member of it, and their attitude to those in authority who are doing their best to keep them alive and well.

There are interesting reader comments on the article.

Somewhat relevant are a couple of famous remarks by thinkers of the past: Australians see the state as ‘a vast public utility’ (WK Hancock c. 1930); Australians have ‘a characteristic talent for bureaucracy’ (AF Davies c. 1960). The laconic Aussie Anzac, not saluting officers and so on, perhaps seems less apposite.

Of course, another, more nuanced view would be that some Australians are sometimes [subservient, cooperative, racist, egalitarian, or any other adjective] and sometimes they are not. Or ‘usually’, but probably hard to judge. Certainly a long bow to say ‘always’. ‘National character’ – or ‘state character’ in the case of Victorians now – has always been a vexed subject.

David Stephens

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