Horne, Donald: Looking for leadership

Donald Horne

Looking for Leadership: Australia in the Howard Years, Viking, Ringwood, Vic., 2001

Almost his last book. Among wide ranging comment on the Australia of 2001, he asks ‘What use is the Anzac myth?’. In response, he writes of the post-World War I mental illness of his uncle and father, Anzac Day services in a country town in the 1930s, the ‘endlessly repeated shibboleth’ that the Gallipoli landing made Australia a nation, the ‘tatty rotundity’ of Prime Minister Howard’s 2000 speech at Anzac Cove, the relative neglect of World War II commemoration (and of Federation) compared with World War I commemoration and the irrelevance of the Anzac myth to Australia’s role in what we now call ‘the Asian century’.

We can go on honouring Anzac Day, and we can go on honouring the democratic qualities and sense of service of people who will be, increasingly, dead; if we wish, we can muse about being Australian. But we shouldn’t imagine, as people used to at Muswellbrook when I was a boy, that the Anzac military tradition has anything to do with any imaginable real future.

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