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April 20 , 2008

Australian Intellectuals

Their strange history and pathological tendencies


Why are Australian Intellectuals and academics so hostile to contemporary Australian life? Why do they so often hold disparaging views of their fellow Australians? This was not always the case. In the nineteenth century Australians of an intellectual disposition sought to work with their fellow Australians to build a better and freer country. But from the end of the nineteenth century, beginning with the Bulletin an intellectual culture emerged which was adversarial in nature and increasingly hostile to the aspirations of ordinary Australians. This culture of intellectuals became embedded in key institutions, including the universities, the world of the arts and the ABC. It became a subculture isolated from mainstream Australia in intellectual ghettos. It is a world which bristles with hostility, negativity and nihilism. History has been a favoured domain for Australian intellectuals and they heartedly condemn the Australian past and the Australian people. The only problem is that the more they blacken the past the more they turn off students from studying history. The result is a real crisis in the study of the Australian past. The only way forward is a much more sober and sensible approach by intellectuals, especially in terms of appreciating our Western heritage. About the Author: Gregory Melleuish is an associate professor at the University of Wollongong where he teaches Ancient History, World history and political theory. He has published widely, especially in Australian intellectual history including Cultural Liberalism in Australia and The Power of Ideas.
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