BOOKS: by Kevin Ivens (reviewer)News Weekly
THE DISORGANISED COMMUNITY, by John P. Kennedy
, May 13, 2006
Organise or perish?THE DISORGANISED COMMUNITY
by John P. Kennedy
Sydney: Cushoni Pty Ltd
Paperback: 75 pages
RRP: $17.00 (incl. postage) *
* Copies of the book may be purchased by sending a $17 cheque (incl. postage) to Cushoni Pty Limited at 7 Ilford Road, Frenchs Forest, NSW 2086.John P. Kennedy, a Sydney Certified Practising Accountant and solicitor - once a leading figure in the NSW Democratic Labor Party - speaks of the cohesiveness and organisational strength of a number of non-European migrant groups. By comparison, European Australians suffer the political disadvantage that they never care to see themselves as a separate cultural group in their own right.
Kennedy warns that, if European Australians don't emulate other cultural groups by banding together, nurturing their traditions and acting as a community, they risk losing their culture altogether.
Kennedy's book is nothing if not controversial. But, in case readers should be tempted to take offence at the author's political program, it should be remembered that it is our politicians who initiated ethnic separatism in the first place, with their vote-buying rhetoric about multiculturalism - a policy about which Australian voters were never consulted.
It could be logically argued that, since politicians persist in encouraging ethnic differences in this way, it would be foolish for any migrant group not to organise to make itself heard and pursue its collective interest.
Kennedy proposes establishing a sort of European Australian Association that would be democratic, federal in structure and based on voluntary membership. It should complement, not supplant, existing European ethnic communities, and should not succumb to a selfish, inward-looking tribalism.
The question the reader will ask: is this really the best, or only, program that European Australians can pursue?
Identity politics and ethnic separatism, one suspects, may often be a reflection of a general public distrust of governing institutions.
A better and more lasting solution would be to campaign for greater probity and accountability in public life, and the upholding of the principle of equality before the law.
In this way, migrants, wherever they come from, will be more likely to assimilate, to give their primary allegiance to Australia, and to take a greater pride in our country's institutions and values.