Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

Means and Ends: The Ideology of Dr. Lloyd Ross

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (1992), 63, (1), 25–42.


MEANS AND ENDS: THE IDEOLOGY OF DR LLOYD ROSS Mark Hearn It is fantastic that we should be depressed at the possibilities before us in Australia. Lloyd Ross, 1944.1 Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the minds of the living. Karl Marx, 1852.2 In 1932 a young socialist sat down to dissect the Australian Labor Party's failure to effectively solve the problems of leading the nation through the Great Depression. In 1931 the Scullin Labor Government splintered and collapsed; by late 1932, when Lloyd Ross's article, 'Australian Labour and the Crisis', appeared in the Economic Record, the Lang Government had been dismissed by the NSW Governor. From across the Tasman, at New Zealand's University of Otago, the 31 year old Dr. Ross methodically traced the painful dismemberment, between 1929 and 1931, of Australia's leading working-class reform party. He laid bare the Party's contradictory identity, from which grew ideological confusion, betrayal and defeat. It was a pattern of analysis which Lloyd Ross, academic, Labor activist and long-serving Secretary of the NSW Branch of the Australian Railways Union (1935-43, 1952-69), would repeat for the next 30 years, that is when his own immersion in Labor's struggles allowed him the time to pause and reflect on the forces which moulded the Party, and his own life. The purpose of this article is to examine that ideological progression, particularly during the years 1944 to 1960, when Ross produced a large body of commentary on the 1. L. Ross, 'A New Social Order', in D. Campbell, Post-War Reconstruction in Australia, Melbourne, 1944, 209. This article has been read by Professor Duncan Waterson and Michael Easson, and I am grateful for their criticisms and suggestions. Any remaining errors, however, are my responsibility. 2 Quoted in D. McClellan, Karl Marx, His Life & Thought, London,1977, 243. 25

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Author details

Hearn, Mark

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