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by Neville Kennard, preaching and practising capitalist

From time to time someone gets labelled a “good Australian”. It could be the latest sporting hero, or a person who has received some international recognition, or even someone who has distinguished himself or herself with a feat that makes us all identify with that person — a kind of tribal thing. Some people are truly exceptional human beings and deserve recognition.

Becoming Australian-of-the-Year is a recognition that you are a “good Australian” and some superb people have been so honoured.

But I wonder what really distinguishes a good Australian? What qualities or characteristics? Can one man’s good Australian be another’s not-so-good Australian, or even bad Australian?

When Alan Bond won the Americas’ Cup he was labelled a “good Australian” (even though he was born in England), and then when he got caught for fraudulently stealing millions of other people’s money, he was stripped of his Good Australian title, and got relabelled by many as a bad Australian. He was probably at heart a bad Australian all along, but he got lucky and his frauds didn’t catch up with him for a while.

Was Hitler a good German? Were Hitler’s would-be assassins good Germans or bad Germans?

Was Mussolini a good Italian (after all, he made the trains run on time)? Did he only become a bad Italian when the war went badly and the people hated him so much they ignominiously killed him and strung him by the feet? (And what then happened to the trains?)

Was Jack McEwen (one time Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Country Party) a good Australian by gaining tariff protection for Australian industry, thus protecting established businesses and union jobs? Or were Gough Whitlam and Bob Hawke good Australians for bringing down tariffs and making goods cheaper for most Australians?

Were the Australian soldier who obediently went to their death in World War I following stupid orders from stupid officers good Australians? Or was a soldier who shot himself in the foot to avoid dying fruitlessly, or one who deserted, or even a soldier who shot his stupid officer to save himself and his mates — were these “traitors” actually good Australians?

No doubt Che Guevara, the murdering and thieving revolutionary in Cuba is seen as a Good Cuban (actually he was Argentinian). Or Fidel Castro, who has brought his country and his people to poverty and slavery — is he a Good Cuban?

It’s a bit like something being labelled as being “in the national interest”, a tag that suits the policy of the person (often a politician) putting it forward. Can something actually be in the national interest if it violates the rights and freedoms of some of the people affected? Can a war, that kills many people on both sides and costs millions of dollars of tax-payers’ money and reduces living standards (like Vietnam and Afghanistan) be justified in the national interest? And are the people who propound and prosecute such a war good Australians?

If such a war were truly in the national interest one would think that the politicians and their families would be the first to volunteer and rush off and serve. After all these self-sacrificing servants of the people know what is best for us, and we would expect them to set the example.

Patriotism, Nationalism, Australianism, Flag-Waving and jingoistic gestures of obeisance to a cause can be signs of a shallow mind.

Rational Self Interest, Self Ownership, being true to one’s values, to one’s life and to protecting one’s life and the products of that life (property) are the highest and noblest and most ethical ideals; to hell with the politicians and the populists and the banal media who support them calling for people to sacrifice “in the national interest”.

Recommend reading

Kel Kelley’s “Patriotism as a Threat to Capitalism.”

(in order of appearance on
  1. Welcome from Neville Kennard
  2. Think Tanks Don't Work
  3. "Market Failure": Just what the government ordered!
  4. The Tragedy of the Tax Pool Commons
  5. Corporate Welfare
  6. Citizenship for Sale?
  7. I Don't Vote
  8. Voting: Right or Privilege?
  9. Stockholm Syndrome and our Love-Hate Relationship with Government
  10. Civil Disobedience: The Rules of Engagement
  11. Should Respect for Law Extend to Bad Laws?
  12. Jaywalking as a Demonstration of Individuality
  13. Government Likes War
  14. Collusion is Our Right
  15. Why Not the Drug Olympics?
  16. Unconventional Wisdom
  17. Tiger Farming: An Alternative to Extinction
  18. Looking Backwards: Mont Pelerin Society Conference, Sydney, 2010
  19. Tax Avoidance is a Patriotic Duty
  20. Kennard Writes to IPA Review Editor
  21. Genocide by Welfare: A Tragedy from the Aboriginal Welfare Industry
  22. Separating Sport and State
  23. Your Home is Not an Investment
  24. Dick Smith, Celebrity Philanthropist
  25. A Libertarian's New Year's Resolution
  26. Extend Politicians' Holidays to Create Prosperity
  27. Entrepreneurs are Disruptive, and Bureaucrats Hate It
  28. What is a good Australian?
  29. Governments Like Employment But Hate Employers
  30. The Market Failure Industry
  31. Neville Kennard: The Tax Avoidance Imperative
  32. Wot if ...?
  33. The Tribal Chief and the Witch Doctor
  34. The Tannehills
  35. Democracy versus Property Rights and Prosperity
  36. Government Doesn't Work, and That's the Way They Like It
  37. Minarchy vs Anarchy
  38. Euthanasia and Self-Ownership
  39. The Right Policies to Fix a Depression
  40. Is Howard Our Best PM?
  41. Tax Producers vs Tax Consumers
  42. Where There's a Queue, There's a Business Opportunity
  43. Authoritarian Freedom
  44. Why Classical Liberals Should Debate Anarchocapitalists
  45. The Tyranny of the Majority
  46. If you could choose to whom you paid your tax
  47. Business Should Exploit Boat People
  48. The Immorality of Trade Unions
  49. "America" vs "The United States"
  50. Sweet Anarchy
  51. The Illusion of "Job Creation"
  52. Gold Is Money
  53. Guilty Capitalists
  54. Bureauphobia
  55. Prosperity vs Growth
  56. Capitalism vs Democracy
  57. More people = More fun
  58. Self-Ownership - the very idea!
  59. Government will murder Neville Kennard if he doesn't back away
  60. The Australian Dollar Has Been Cowardly and Criminally Devalued, Harming the Poor Particularly
  61. Is Taxation Theft and Government a Tax Cheat?
  62. My Journey to Anarchy:
    From political and economic agnostic to anarchocapitalist
  63. Government Needs Bad Guys –
    that's why they like wars
  64. What Is Obscene?
  65. Traffic Economics
  66. Wayne Swan stands on the shoulders of other intellectual pygmies
  67. Neville Kennard Obituary
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