Long live Eureka (letter)by Dr Peter HuntNews Weekly
, December 18, 2004
So far, in the controversy surrounding the 150th anniversary of the Eureka Stockade rebellion, there has been little thought or commentary on the influence of English Chartists and their demands for ordinary rights we now take for granted.
Nor is there evidence of a willingness to admit the large Catholic component, mainly drawn from the Irish Catholics, in the miners' struggle.
One reason is the stubborn failure to get beyond the old inaccurate division between so-called left and right in the blurred perspectives of Australian politics.
Especially in the south of England, with the admirable leadership of William Lovett, the Chartist movement was one that reasserted the democratic values of the older, finer liberalism which embraced both the mainly middle-class aspirations of political representation and those of the industrial employees.
The "radical" workers wanted a system which would give wage justice and trade-union rights to the rising working-class. Out of all this, the labour movement was born.
It is not for illiberal "conservatives" to judge Eureka. They, with exceptions, just don't understand. And land-hunger also played a large part in the Eureka struggle.
What a pity that, as we once allowed the Communists to almost monopolise the name and symbolism of Eureka in the past, we now have urban elitists and band-wagoners to obscure the true nature of the Eureka cause.
As for official politics, it has a dangerous tendency to lust after dictatorial control and the ugly free-market wish to render trade unions innocuous, blind and deaf to the legend of Eureka, and contrary to everything we rightly call "liberal".
Long live Eureka and its noble courage.Dr. Peter Hunt,