Bob Santamaria and Bob Gould
A reminiscence of the great Labor split
By Bob Gould
As I write this, B.A. Santamaria is recovering, at the age of
after an operation for a brain tumour. It is one of the ironies of
history that alongside his own supporters and followers, who are no
doubt remembering him in their prayers, very many secular people like
myself, including many of his old political enemies, are devoutly
hoping for his survival.
Indeed, when Bob Santamaria took ill, he had to cancel a
appearance in Adelaide with Clyde Cameron, one of his main old
antagonists, with whom he has been publicly becoming friendly in the
last few years. Santamaria, in fact, in recent years, has become an
extraordinarily well-read and well-researched modern version of the Old
Testament prophet, Isaiah, particularly concentrating his keen
intellect on the obscene speculative madness of the rapacious global
version of finance capital.
Many people, including very many left-wingers, are impressed
way this 82 year-old man keeps up with the literature, and get a
twinkle in the eye as he fortifies his assaults on finance capital with
quotes from and references to assorted authorities such as George
Souros, Lee Kuan Yew, John Ralston Saul, John Maynard Keynes, and even
occasionally Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.
Paradoxically, Bob Santamaria's life-threatening illness
with the kind of stock market crack-up that Santamaria has been
predicting for quite a few months now. It has become almost a bit of a
joke at public left-wing gatherings like Politics in the Pub in Sydney,
that I often get up and preface my remarks on some economic question by
pointing out that it's a strange world in which Bob Santamaria is the
public intellectual making the most leftist statements on many matters.
It is a further paradox of public life in Australia that the
figure whom left-wingers, like myself, admire and feel represented by,
because of his courageous, sensitive and intelligent public statements,
is Her Royal Majesty's Vice Regal Representative, the Governor General,
Sir William Deane.
Sir William is, of course, an old Grouper, once a member of
executive of the Democratic Labor Party. His public utterances are
clearly a worked-out representation of his Catholic religious
conscience, expressed carefully, with his barrister's and judge's
shrewd assessment of how far he can stretch the envelope, so to speak,
in his Vice-Regal role.
The spluttering against him of the reactionary side of
politics is considerable testimony to his consumate skill in this
I don't want to simplify this scenario too much. On social and
cultural questions, Santamaria and his organisation, the National Civic
Council, and other old Groupers, hold deeply conservative views with
which I sharply disagree, such as birth control, gay rights, abortion
rights, etc. Even on the question of multiculturalism and immigration,
on which their standpoint in the 1940s was very civilised and
progressive for the period, they are now ultra-conservative.
I'm poles apart from them on those matters. I would, in fact,
out to them that the best and most courageous people in the Catholic
intellectual tradition in Australia stood out in their opposition to
xenophobia, particularly Cardinal Moran and the 1890s, who defended the
Chinese against the White Australia Policy, and was caricatured by Phil
May in the Bulletin for it.
And the redoubtable Archbishop Daniel Mannix defended German
Lutherans and German Catholic Priests against the chauvinist British
Empire madness during the First World War.
One of Santamaria's last newspaper columns before his illness
acid and rather angry defence of Catholic religious symbols against the
crude post-modern pseudo-art, Piss Christ and Virgin in the Condom.
Surprisingly, even on this question, I found myself agreeing with
Santamaria at least to some degree.
I have spent the last 30 years fighting against unreasonable
censorship, particularly in political and sexual matters. I'm proud of
that struggle and I don't regret any of it. Generally speaking,
censorship is bad. I also think that the blasphemy laws that the
Melbourne Catholic Archdiocese appealed to as a last resort should be
abolished. They are archaic.
Nevertheless, I believe that the Melbourne gallery and the
gallery both displayed shockingly bad taste in treating crude attacks
on the deeply cherished religious symbols of Catholics, as some kind of
art. They wouldn't do it to Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim or Aboriginal
religious symbols, and if they did they would rightly be seen as racist
bigots. Why do it to the Catholics?
In the final analysis I wouldn't ban the exhibitions, but as
atheist and generally an opponent of censorship, I would join the
public demonstration against this crude caricature of people's deeply
held religious beliefs.
Over the last two or three years, I have participated in or
instrumental in organising several seminars in which old left-wingers
and old Groupers have got together in a more or less civil, but often
very fiery atmosphere, to take a longer view of all the issues in the
great Labor split of the 1950s.
Participants in these discussions included the Communist Jack
McPhillips and the Grouper Laurie Short from the Ironworkers Union; the
left-wing Labor Party Steering Committee leader Arthur Geitzelt, and
the Grouper ALP organiser, subsequently DLP leader, Frank Rooney; the
Catholic Priest Ed Campion, and the Communist Party Secretary Laurie
Aarons; the Grouper leader from the Clerks Union, Jim Macken and the
left-wing leader from the Sheetmetal Workers Union Jack Heffernan; the
Movement organiser and later DLP president Kevin Davis; Clyde Cameron,
Tony Mulvihill, myself and many other participants on the right and the
The cautious coming together of these old antagonists on the
ground of defending traditional Australian trade union rights against
the new industrial barbarism expressed by Conzinc Rio Tinto was spelt
out recently in one of Santamaria's columns. He carefully explained
that in his view Peter Reith was quite wrong and playing with fire if
he attempted to justify using troops on the waterfront by reference to
the use of troops by the Chifley government in quite different
historical circumstances during the 1949 coal strike.
On a more local note, it was fascinating to see the unusual
of people from the Sydney left and right when Jenny George, president
of the ACTU, from the left, launched old Grouper Jim Macken's new book
defending traditional trade unionism, Australia's Unions, A Death
or a Difficult Birth? in the Strangers room at Parliament House.
Some people may view Bob Gould as a bit like Forrest Gump,
Tom Hanks in the recent American movie, but as a bit player I have been
present at a surprising number of significant Australian events over
the pst 45 years.
The very first of these was the Tuesday afternoon event at
Bookshop in Castlereagh Street in October 1954. At the time I was
working just around the corner as a book shelver in the Public Library,
now the State Library. I used to haunt Morgan's Bookshop and had become
acquainted with Alec Shepherd, the proprietor,through my adolescent
interest in Labor politics.
I was on a late lunch break, and nicked around the corner to
social gathering in the bookshop to celebrate its first anniversary, to
discover that the gathering was in a great state of excitement with
Herbert Evatt, Alec Shepherd, Alan Dalziell and other close advisers to
Evatt, locked in discussion of a typewritten document, which turned out
to be the momentous attack by Evatt on the Grouper Movement, which
Dalziell, as Evatt's private secretary, released to the press later
The Labor split of the 1950s has given rise to a number of
interesting and useful books. By far the best is Bob Murray's book, The
Split. Paul Ormonde's book The Movement, B.A. Santamaria's
autobiography Against the Tide,
Jack Kane's autobiography and Clyde Cameron's autobiographical
reminiscences are all extremely illuminating. Even in the last year or
so two major biographies of Evatt have appeared, as well as a political
biography of Laurie Short by his daughter, a major book on ASIO by
David McKnight and even a massive history of the Labor Council of NSW,
all of which have useful new material on the split.
The literature on the subject is pretty wide and still
must make my standpoint on these matters clear, and it is hard for me
to write about them without some emotion. I come of a Catholic labour
movement family and I was educated at the big, upper working
class/lower middle class Catholic School, St Patricks at Strathfield,
where I did the Leaving Certificate in 1953; and my adolescence and
early manhood were absolutely dominated by big questions of religion
and politics: the ALP and socialism, the Groupers and the Communists,
I was born into the middle of it, so to speak. My father,
Gould as he was called by his contemporaries, was a one-armed ex-World
War I digger and a Catholic. His life was an excellent expression of
the complexity, contradiction and richness of the relationship between
Irish Catholic Australians of his generation and the labour movement.
He was one of 10 children of a Fenian Irishman who emigrated in 1880
from Tipperary and settled as a small dairy farmer outside Kempsey in
After the traumatic experience of seeing most of his mates
and himself losing an arm in 1918 in Flanders, my father came back from
the war, became a primary school teacher and threw himself into the
vortex of Labor politics in the 1920s and 1930s. He was in those days a
die-hard Langite, a member of the Inner Group faction that backed the
rebellious Labor Premier, Jack Lang.
He was a socialist of the old school, and a theorist about the
socialisation of credit. In the early 1930s he was a member of the
Communist-led organisation in the Teachers' Federation, the Workers'
Educational League, but as he stuck to Lang in the disputes of the
middle 1930s he had fallen out with the Communists, and was later a
foundation member of the ALP Industrial Group in the Teachers
Federation in the 1940s, which he left bitterly and forever when it
first admitted to membership Mrs Preston Stanley Vaughan, a well-known
Liberal Party member and member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Masonic
My father was one of a small group of Langite leaders expelled
the ALP along with Lang for opposition to conscription during the
Second World War. Despite his anti-Communism, Steve Gould strenuously
opposed the ban on the Communist Party in 1951. (Incidentally, the
debate over the attempted ban split St Patricks College at Strathfield
down the middle, both brothers and boys.)
I remember my father saying, with a rather dry smile on his
about a rather deaf Communist Party building worker who lived next to
us at Beverley Hills, with whom he used to have interminable and
sometimes bitter political arguments, that if the ban went through and
the coppers came to get him, we'd have to help him hide from them, and
he wasn't joking.
As an old Langite, he disliked Evatt, but he supported the ALP
strongly against the Groupers and the DLP at the time of the split. He
well understood what it was all about! Later on, when I was up to my
ears in the necessary agitation against the imperialist war in Vietnam,
he supported us unswervingly in our activities in opposition to the war.
Due to a leg shortened when his left arm was blown off during
first imperialist war, he could not march in demonstrations, but he
always proudly minded the old Third World Bookshop in Goulburn Street
when all the young ones were off at the demonstrations (a necessary
security precaution in those bitter times from 1965 to 1972).
My father finally died at 80 in 1974. He died happily, or as
as anyone can ever be said to die, still very much in his own way a
religious Catholic, about a week after the 1974 mid-term federal
elections, which Labor won narrowly, during which he had organised Jack
Lang, his old leader, to speak at a public meeting in Randwick for Joe
Riordan in the Phillip electorate, where he lived.
It was just this sort of complex but powerful tradition that
of the basic objective factors in the decisive defeat of Santamaria's
very energetic and determined attempt to eliminate the progressive side
of the Catholic labour movement tradition and ultimately to swing the
Catholic working class and lower middle class vote behind the Tory
parties in Australian politics.
Niall Brennan, in his biography of Mannix, also catches very
the force of these traditions, which defeated Santamaria's enterprise,
when he talks about his own father, Frank Brennan, a left-wing Labor
Catholic federal parliamentarian, and his relationship with Daniel
Mannix. In his autobiography, Against the Tide, Santamaria
describes his own youth, living behind, and working long hours in, his
family's fruit shop in working class Brunswick, and then going on to
the university and joining the Campion Society (the small society of
young Catholic intellectuals) and later starting the Catholic Worker.
These chapters are of absorbing interest to me. That is my bit
turf too. Twenty years on, in 1953, in my last year of school at St
Patricks, I too joined the Campion Society, by then solidly influenced
by Santamaria's Movement, and the next year, when I went to Sydney
University at night, I joined the Newman Society (the Catholic student
club) and simultaneously the Communist-led Labor Club, as well as
taking out my first Labor Party membership ticket, at the age of 17.
I had for a year or so considered myself a sort of Catholic
anarchist anti-Communist socialist, in the tradition of my father, and
I already considered myself an anti-Grouper Catholic, having shed a
brief and always rather uneasy flirtation with News Weekly
while still at school.
For the next few years my life was completely dominated by
matters. I became increasingly hostile to the Groupers. Over the next
couple of years I painfully shed my Catholic religious beliefs and
since about the end of 1954 I have considered myself a dialectical
materialist and an atheist, philosophical views which in my case have
deepened with time. The process of definitively losing my Catholic
religious beliefs and acquiring the beginnings of a Marxist
philosophical outlook was a painful but decisive development in my own
But none of this happened all at once. 1953 and 1954 were the
extraordinary years when Eddie Campion, Honi Soit
editor in 1953 at Sydney University, now a priest and a lecturer at the
Catholic University and boss of the Australia Council, Jack Callaghan,
Jerry Nelson and others, had all broken with the Movement.
In 1953 Campion had caused a minor political sensation in the
Labor movement in Sydney by publishing in Honi Soit,
the student newspaper, a graphic article exposing the activities of the
Santamaria Movement, which included a quite spectacular flow chart
outlining the organisation of that movement.
I spent 1954 working by day at the Public Library, and by
moving in this turbulent milieu of young Catholics beginning to fight
the Movement, going to meetings of the Newman Society in a derelict
terrace house next to the pub opposite the university in Parramatta
Road, where we had feverish discussions about the Movement, which still
appeared to have the full support of the Catholic hierarchy, and where
we discussed far into the night the complex questions of Marxist
atheism versus Christian existentialism, listening to the lectures of
the very persuasive anti-Movement Catholic philosopher, Father Con
I also attended meetings of the Labor Club and became
fascinated and persuaded by the Stalinist seriousness of the Communist
Party members who dominated that organisation.
That year I also joined the Steering Committee, the factional
organisation of the left in the ALP. In particular, I remember Eastern
Suburbs Zone meetings at Peters Corner in Randwick, where we very
conspiratorially fought back against the Santamaria Movement, which was
at that stage riding high and controlled the ALP executives in both NSW
I vividly remember first hearing Arthur Gietzelt give one of
my then mind, very impressive, scientific reports on how to beat the
Groupers to a central Steering Committee meeting in a strange space,
rented by the Esperanto Society, under the Harbour Bridge at North
This meeting contained such people as diverse as Charlie
the Australian Workers Union; Con Wallace, a colourful city ALP
identity who owned the Hasty Tasty at Kings Cross; Tony Mulvihill,
later ALP assistant secretary and a Senator; Edna Roper, later a Labor
MLC; Issy Wyner of the Painters and Dockers Union; Bob Sutherland of
the Public Service Association; Doug Morey, who later became mayor of
Waverley; Tom Morey his brother, a tally clerk who later became the
state member for Bligh; and a very callow me.
I acquired at this time an awed respect for the extraordinary
political energy and ruthless political professionalism of Gietzelt,
who was the dynamo of the struggle that eventually smashed the Movement
in NSW, and who was the critical liaison point, so to speak, between
the broad Steering Committee coalition against the Groupers in the ALP
and the Communist-Party-led broad left faction in the ALP-affiliated
Like many others, I have retained a good deal of this respect
Arthur, despite subsequent bitter political differences. That year,
1954, I attended as an observer in the gallery my first ALP annual
State Conference. Coincidentally, this was the first conference in the
Town Hall, and I have not missed attending a June Conference since, in
the 1960s and the 1970s, almost always as a delegate. (I've never for
that reason managed to attend the main part of that other great regular
Queens Birthday weekend Sydney cultural event, the Film Festival. Such
I remember hanging around the draughty Town Hall corridors of
1954 Conference completely dominated by the Groupers, having a
weekend-long, intense political discussion of social democracy versus
communism, with my then mate, Denis Freney, at the time, like myself, a
rapidly leftward-moving member of the ALP.
We stopped our discussion from time to time to watch the
riding high in the conference below. The flash-point that year was the
struggle of Jack Dwyer, then a part of Ray Gietzelt's ultimately
successful battle to up-end the Groupers in the Miscellaneous Workers
Union, to get into the ALP.
Arthur Gietzelt and Edna Brown moved and seconded his
the ALP. Then a grey-haired little union official, Bill O'Neill of the
Australian Railways Union, the wild and colourful crowd-pleaser to the
Grouper Mountain at the ALP conferences of those days, made one of his
incredibly exuberant red-baiting speeches, to deadly effect.
At the height of his peroration, O'Neill waved his arm and
into the air, and shouted, referring to the applicant's long-past
Communist Party membership: "Once a Commo, always a Commo!" Conference
then overwhelmingly rejected Dwyer's application.
Freney and I bitterly returned to our theoretical discussion
corridor, our own movement to the left markedly accelerated by the
sight of the reactionary forces manifestly on the march on the
conference floor below. It was to this fantastic build-up of political
tensions that Dr Evatt's personal declaration of war on the Groupers
lit the fuse.
People like myself in our many hundreds, including a very
number of Catholics, rallied to the side of Dr Evatt, and we followed
energetically the generalship of Arthur Gietzelt and the old broad
Steering Committee for the next few years in the rapidly widening
I remember many pro-Evatt rallies, bitterly contested regional
conferences and the volatile 1955 NSW conference that the Groupers won
despite the incredibly nimble chairmanship of Joe Chamberlain from the
federal executive. I have a mental image still of the anti-Grouper
floor leadership of the Conference, the trio of Tony Mulvihill, Bob
Sutherland and Arthur Gietzelt moving around that Conference like ninja.
I was one of the many anti-Groupers from all over Australia
flocked to Melbourne during the first decisive Victorian election after
the split. The Cain Labor government lost power and the Grouper
preferences put the Liberals in, but in working class electorates the
Groupers were decisively defeated by official Labor, which they
gratuitously abused as Evatt Labor. They lost all their seats but one
and they held only about a quarter of the Labor vote, and the shape of
Australian politics for the next 15 years emerged.
I worked for Dinny Lovegrove in Carlton. We followed the
around, pasting over Grouper snipes with grey "Labor rat" snipes, which
were an exact replica of the red-rat posters with which the Groupers
had been harassing whoever they called Communists for the previous few
Needless to say, Lovegrove, a rather colourful ex-Communist
switched over from the Grouper side at the last possible moment in the
split, won the seat comfortably. The battle that went on for control of
the ALP and the trade union movement took place in draughty ALP branch
meetings on week nights in public school rooms and town halls all over
Australia, in regional and state ALP conferences in bigger draughty
town hall rooms on weekends, in trade union executive meetings and
conferences, in bitterly fought trade union elections and even in shop
stewards committees on the factory floor.
It was still an age when activists of the left and right sold
newspapers and dished out leaflets and pamphlets. The Grouper paper News
Weekly was the organ of the right. The Communist weekly Tribune
and Jack Lang's personal weekly paper, The Century,
with its long, detailed anti-Grouper articles written by labour
movement figure and journalist Jim Ormonde, were the bibles of the
left. It was still the age of small pamphlets.
The Grouper pamphlet, Labor Nails the Rebel Lies, and
the Communist pamphlet, Catholic Action at Work,
being typical of a wide, wonderful and colourful popular literature
that circulated widely. Frank Hardy's vast, rambling, rather unliterary
novel of Australian life, Power Without Glory played a curious
and deadly role in turning the tide against the Groupers in the
Australian working class.
Despite its ostensible literary defects, this extraordinary,
shambling collection of Irish storyteller's anecdotes, with its odd
mixture of sporting scandal, criminal and corruption stories, major
political scandals, scurrilous personal gossip, and other odds and
ends, caught the imagination of the working class and middle class
Australian reading public.
Little documents, purported keys to Power Without Glory,
giving the alleged real names of all the characters, sold for quite
high prices in those times in pubs all over Australia. The book became
the all-time Australian bestseller in working class circles, far
outdistancing the Bible.
This was unfortunate from the point of view of the Groupers,
for amongst all the other stuff in Power Without Glory they
were amongst the villains and the left and the Communists were the
heroes, and the Power Without Glory view of the Groupers became
quite a powerful ideological force in Australian society.
One can well understand the rather unforgiving attitude of the
old Groupers and the still existing News Weekly at the time of
Hardy's death a couple of years ago. No novel of Australian politics
has ever had quite such an impact as Power Without Glory before
The civil war for control of the ALP and the unions was very
fratricidal. There were two essential poles of attraction. On one side
was the Stalinist, but still very powerful Communist Party, with
perhaps six or seven thousand members and on the other side was the lay
Catholic organisation, the Movement, possibly a bit smaller than the
Communist Party, with about 4000 members.
The ideologue of the Communist Party was Lance Sharkey and the
ideologue of the Groupers was B.A. Santamaria. Both studied and
publicly commented on the strategy of the other from time to time. In
the immediate postwar period the aggressive stance of the Communist
Party alienated the centre and the Labor Left but by the early 1950s
the aggressive stance of the Groupers had done precisely the same thing
in reverse, and the Communist Party, trying to be on its best
behaviour, managed to form an alliance with the centre and the Labor
left, and the Groupers were crushed.
The bitterness of this civil war for the labour movement was
heightened by the fact that the social composition of the two broad
factions, left and right, and the two more elite groupings within them,
were very much the same. By and large the participants on both sides
were the best and most serious elements of working class Australia,
generally self-educated people with a real interest in ideas and
strongly held beliefs.
They were people used to tithing themselves financially for
organisation of their choice. The Communist Party and the Santamaria
Movement, for instance, both raised prodigious sums of money for their
newspapers, pamphlets and other activities out of the purses and
pockets of ordinary people of modest means.
Both broad factions were capable of rather incredible feats of
electioneering, particularly in trade union elections, in those far-off
days before telephone polling. The Groupers were specialists in
door-knocking, but after a while the left were no slouches at this
either, despite their attacks on the Groupers for using door-knockers
outside the particular union's membership.
The most exotic events in the calendar of trade union
elections in the old Amalgamated Engineering Union, before the big
metal trades amalgamation. The rather archaic rules of the very
important AEU banned printed propaganda in union elections, but some
canny Grouper established the precedent that handwritten election
addresses were legal under the union rules.
Quite a few times in the late 1950s and the early 1960s I was
a couple of hundred assorted leftists who would voluntarily assemble
night after night in a big room in the Buffalo Hall in Regent Street,
admitted strictly by password, laboriously producing handwritten copies
of an election address for some leftist or other in the AEU.
Our only wry consolation for this dreadful but necessary
was the reflection that somewhere else in Sydney in another draughty
hall, a couple of hundred Groupers were doing the same thing. Many of
the activists on the right and the left were effective self-taught
public speakers, with considerable wit and often home-spun erudition,
and the stormy ALP conferences of those days, with spectacular speakers
like Laurie Short or Bill O'Neill on the right and Tom Uren or Win
Childs on the left, were colourful, unruly, long-winded, interesting
The backdrop to this political battle was the beginning of the
boom. The activists of both factions were the self-educated elite of
the Australian labour movement, but by and large they weren't exactly
monks or hermits. They were engaged in the political battle by their
lights, as they saw them, but they were doing other things also.
Many a Communist Party activist in industry was also starting
little business somewhere, or building houses in the outer suburbs and
speculating in a modest way in real estate. One spectacularly
successful electrical discount house was started by talented working
class members of the Communist Party and got its initial impetus
through members of industrial branches of the Communist Party
throughout industry in Sydney selling television sets on commission
during the boom in the early days of that medium.
Similarly, on the Grouper side, Paul Keating's father, Matt
Keating,was not untypical of many right-wing Labor Catholics out of the
working class who started small businesses — in Keating's case, a
successful small engineering workshop. It's not surprising that many of
the activists on both sides in this battle were improving their
position in Australian society as the opportunities presented
But as these people's material position improved, they still
believed that it was right and good to lend their financial and
physical support to the causes they believed in, and the battle between
the left and the right was fought between people who knew a thing or
two, had plenty of tricks in their arsenal, knew how to raise money for
their respective causes, and no longer had the arse out of their
trousers, so to speak.
There were even often family relationships between people on
side of the divide. Many members of the Communist Party -- possibly a
majority — came from Irish Catholic families. Many of the anti-Grouper
Labor Party members were still practising Catholics. Many old friends
found themselves on opposite sides in these battles, which sometimes
mediated the bitterness and on other occasions made it more intense.
It was like a bloodless version of the Irish, Spanish, English
Greek civil wars. The deliberate but unprecedented decision by the
leadership of the Santamaria faction to give their preferences to the
Liberals, thereby keeping them in power in parliamentary elections, was
the decisive turning point in this political battle.
They succeeded in keeping the Liberals in power for the next
years, but their influence in the working class rapidly declined. The
majority of Catholic workers continued to vote for the ALP and the
Grouper faction was further isolated by its logical and, in a way
courageous, but deeply mistaken stand against the humane social mood
and the great social upheavals of the 1960s and the 1970s.
The Groupers, like everybody else in the working class
wanted the best possible education for their kids, and like everybody
else, they took a great deal of satisfaction as their kids poured into
universities, getting a better education than they had been able to
aspire to — particularly in that brief few years, a moment really,
under the Whitlam Government when higher education was free.
But even the children of the Groupers were not immune from the
social upheavals of the times. Many a pro-Viet Cong, hippie,
dope-smoking student at Monash University in the late 1960s was the
child of a working class Catholic supporter of the Victorian DLP. But
all that is another story.
My youth and early manhood were completely dominated by this
political battle, for nine or 10 years. Most of the fighters on both
sides were older than me, and most are gone now. I remember them all
with great respect and considerable affection.
Those working class Australians, both allies and opponents,
books, newspapers and pamphlets I soaked up were my university in life
and politics. It was a very important war, and my side ultimately won,
more or less, which I still regard as a good thing.
The things I learned in those battles came in very useful
instance in the struggle against the war in Vietnam, in which I became
intensely involved. I also learned from the battlers of that generation
of Australians, both my allies and opponents, the subtle point that
it's a human thing to try to prosper in life, but that what can make
some human beings different is their capacity to devote their energies
and resources, as well as to prospering in life, to the causes that
they favour for improving the human condition.
December 4, 1997