Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

The Australian Left, Nationalism and the Vietnam War

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (1997), 72, (1), 163–184.

Abstract

The pervasive nationalism of Australian politics informed most explanations of why Australia was involved in the Vietnam war offered by the contemporary Left. The most prominent opponent of the war, the left Labor MHR Jim Cairns, believed that Australian involvement was a consequence of a cultural cringe, in foreign policy, towards the United States. The Communist Party of Australia and sections of the Labor left under its intellectual influence, offered a more materialist explanation: Australian governments were subservient to a small wealthy group of individuals or monopolies which were in turn subordinate to US capitalism. The position of the pro-Beijing Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) was a radical variant of this account, accompanied by more militant rhetoric and tactics. Trotskyist groups rejected Australian nationalism and this facilitated their recognition that Australian capitalism, which defined Australian nationalism, was pursuing its own interests by supporting the United States in Vietnam. Research since the end of the war has confirmed this analysis.

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Details

Author details

Kuhn, Rick

Table of Contents

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