Andrew Fraser: Australian Left And Right Scholars And The "White Australia Policy"

Roundup: Talking About History

Forty years after Australian governments began to distance themselves from the White Australia Policy, advances in genetics, paleo-anthropology, psychology and medical science are placing the universalist doctrines of racial egalitarianism under serious pressure. A vast range of studies in several disciplines have revealed real and important differences between the races in cognitive and athletic ability, behaviour and temperament. [See author's footnote.] The time is clearly ripe for a courageous and well-informed reappraisal of the White Australia Policy and the decision to dismantle it. Unfortunately, racial realists, concerned to bring common sense to contemporary Australian debates over race and immigration, will be disappointed with two recent books on the White Australia Policy.

The first to appear was written by Keith Windschuttle, a former Marxist academic turned independent neo-conservative writer. Hot on the heels of his controversial revision of the "black armband" view of Aboriginal history, Windschuttle has upset yet another academic apple cart. In The White Australia Policy, he sets out to refute the orthodox leftist charge that the immigration legislation enacted shortly after Federation was racist.

On the formal level that is easily done since the Immigration Restriction Act 1901 did not explicitly prohibit non-white immigration. Instead, prospective immigrants were required to pass a dictation test by writing out 50 words in any European language selected by immigration officials. But because both the intent and the practical effect of the dictation test were to sharply limit coloured immigration, Australia was open to attack from progressives around the world and, especially during the Cold War, from newly assertive post-colonial regimes in Asia and Africa.

During the past 40 years, a home-grown generation of New Left historians routinely portrayed Australia as a racist pariah nation on a par with South Africa. Since the '60s generation began its long march through the institutions, Australians have been taught to approach their past in a self-hating mood of enthusiastic shame. To his credit, Windschuttle has been one of the few historians to resist this form of intellectual self-flagellation.
This is the crux of Windschuttle's argument: Because the White Australia Policy was never based on racial nationalism, it could be -- and was -- jettisoned once the original political, economic and cultural justifications for its adoption lost their potency. "The proof that Australia wore the policy lightly was the ease with which it discarded it."

In other words, if the White Australia Policy really had been steeped in "racist paranoia", it would be difficult to explain the fact that dismantling it in the 20 years from the mid-1950s onward "required no major cultural upheaval and was accomplished with a minimum of fuss by liberal politicians with values similar to those held by the original sceptics and critics when immigration restrictions were introduced in 1901".
The problem, in short, is clear: the Australian nation is bereft of a responsible ruling class. The solution is, in principle, no less obvious: namely, the restoration of a ruling class rooted in the reinvigorated folkways of an authentically Anglo-American civic patriotism, a ruling class reattached to the history and destiny of its own people.

But the problem of an irresponsible ruling class wedded to open borders is not confined to Australia; it threatens the survival of European civilisation as a whole. As the secular crisis of European modernity deepens, the soul of our society cries out, unheeded, for salvation. Charles Murray puts the point bluntly. Western elites, he charges, "are living a lie, basing the future of their societies on the assumption that all groups of people are equal in all respects".

A great many politicians and scholars know or suspect, privately, that there are real differences between racial groups; still they support immigration policies demanding public prevarication about the putative evils of racial discrimination (even though any immigration policy -- short of completely open or completely closed borders -- inevitably favours some groups over others). Such mendacious elites pose a greater threat to Western civilisation than the Islamic militants they choose to harbour in the heart of the citadel.

Footnote: Andrew Fraser's sources include Vincent Sarich and Frank Miele, Race: The Reality of Human Differences); Michael Levin, Why Race Matters: Race Differences and What They Mean; and J. Phillipe Rushton, Race, Evolution and Behaviour: A Life History Perspective.

[Editor's Note: This is an extract from a 6800-word article, Rethinking the White Australia Policy, accepted by Deakin University's law review then rejected on legal advice by Deakin's vice-chancellor Sally Walker.]

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