Papua New Guinea
"Australians appear very naive to the newly-arrived Japanese. They speak the same way with everyone."
"I can personally affirm that to stand before an audience of beaming Australians and make even the mildest quip about a convict past is to feel the feel the air conditioning immediately elevated."Bill Bryson - American
"You have no need to feel iffy about a country where "relaxation is the aim". There's nothing to be worried about if "no worries" is your mantra. People have killed for less."
" What sort or peculiar capitalist country is this in which the workers' representatives predominate in the upper house....and yet the capitalist system is in no danger?"
"You feel free in Australia. There is great relief in the atmosphere - a relief from tension, from pressure, an absence of control of will or form. The skies open above you and the areas open around you"
" The Australian, who are the men our troops have had opposite them so far, are extraordinarily tough fighters. The German is more active in the attack, but the enemy stakes his life in the defence and fights to the last with extreme cunning."
"New Zealanders who emigrate to Australia raise the IQ of both countries."
Cultural Differences between Australia and Germany
Thinkers and Drinkers
Both Germans and Australians have a history that most really don't want to talk about or think has shaped their modern culture. Ironically, not having a history to be proud of, or believing the past has not shaped the present, is also a sign of their history's influence upon their modern identity.
Germany's history as a country began in the late 19th century. In 1871, a collection of 39 sovereign states loosely federated to create the singular state of Germany. Soon, the new state was flexing its muscle. Colonies were established outside of Europe, which in turn harassed and concerned other colonial countries. Germany was pressing for war and in 1914 they got it.
Germany suffered defeat and was forced to sign the treaty of Treaty of Versailles in 1919. The harshness of the treaty and the humiliation it inflicted upon German pride fuelled a victim identity. During the 1930s depression, National Socialism gripped the population and led to the rise of Adolph Hitler. World War II was initiated and again Germany was defeated.
For Germans, the years after World War II lacked the victim identity that followed World War 1. This was partly because it emerged that Germany had constructed gas chambers for the specific purpose of killing 6 million Jews. State sponsored genocide was something that even the most patriotic German found difficult to defend. National pride was also reduced by dividing Germany in half. West Germany was administered by the capitalist west while East Germany came under Soviet control.
In the post-war years, both West and East Germany were successful in their own way. West Germany built a strong economy. East Germany built a country in which everyone had a job, an education and a home. In that regard, it basically achieved the communist aims that it set out to achieve. Admittedly, troublemakers were taken away and executed, but that was in keeping with communism's group before individual mantra. Unfortunately, killing individuals didn't improve the efficiency of its industries, or provide its citizens with things such as bananas. The desire for bananas, and a change from the 1950s way of life, eventually led to communism's collapse and the unification of Germany in 1990.
Just like Germany, Australia has a history that doesn't elicit great pride. In 1788, a fleet of criminals were dumped in Sydney and laid the foundations for Australia’s urban society. For the next 80 years, the Convicts suffered some of the worst human rights violations the world has ever seen. They were violations that subsequent generations were keen to forget. Descendants of Convicts didn't want a victim identity and non-descendants didn't want to acknowledge any kind of Convict influence on the shaping of their culture.
In 1900, the six Australian colonies federated to create the singular country of Australia. In 1915, the new country entered World War 1 to support England against Germany. In what could be seen as a very Australian story, one of the heroes of Australia’s military campaign was John Monash, a child of German Jewish migrants who had volunteered to fight against his parents' homeland. After experiencing first-hand the ghastliness of trench warfare, Monash developed a blitzkrieg war strategy that aimed to reduce the need for soldiers to die in futile bayonet charges. In 1918, Monash implemented it in the battle of Hamel and then Amiens. It was the decisive victories in both battles that broke the stalemate of trench warfare and led to Germany's defeat. Ironically, Monash's strategy was later picked up by Germany in World War II.
When Germans were turning to Hitler to build their self-esteem during the 1930s depression, Australians were turning to sport. The racehorse Phar Lap and the cricket player Don Bradman became icons that inspired Australians to feel better about themselves. In addition, football competitions saw big increases in crowd numbers.
In 1939, Australia entered World War II to again support England. In Northern Africa, Australian soldiers inflicted the first ever defeat on Rommel during the siege of Tobruk.
As well as fighting Germany in Nth Africa, Australia had to fight Japan in the pacific. Although Japan was eventually defeated, the fear of another Asian invasion created an ethic of “populate or perish.” The Australian government embarked on a massive migration program that increased the population from around 7 million at the end of the war to around 20 million today.
Germans are very cognitive people and have produced most of the world's great thinkers in a range of disciplines. Karl Marx became one of the world's most influential economists. Marx argued that society has always been in a state of class war due to the capitalists exerting their self-interest to the detriment of the whole. Marx believed that this would eventually result in market failure and social revolution. Once the capitalists monopolised all the wealth, the majority would no longer have the ability to provide market demand. Therefore, capitalism would destroy itself.
In Europe, Marxist ideas became the basis for the welfare state and government regulation of the market. Via taxation and the provision of government services, the government believed it could protect capitalism from itself.
In Germany, Russia, Cuba and China, Marxist ideas were taken a step further and became the basis for right-wing governments that aimed to stifle self-interest in order to serve the greater good.
Freud was another great thinker that spoke German but resided in Austria. Whether he was actually German depends on whether a German was defined by national boundaries or culture. (Technically, Hitler was Austrian as well.)
Freud pioneered the practice of clinical psychoanalysis, which advocated curing mental problems through dialogue between a patient and psychologist. He also argued that most motivations in life were sexually derived. One of his most famous theories was penis envy, in which he argued female neuroticism stemmed from a subconscious desire to possess a penis.
Einstein was a great physicist who developed e=mc2. This basically proposed that energy = mass times the speed of light squared, or in more simple terms, there was a lot of energy in atoms. Einstein also developed the theory of relativity, which was used to predict the existence of black holes, as well as the mass and size of things travelling at different speeds. Many of the predictions of relativity were later found to be correct.
In addition to the thinkers, Germany has produced a great number of Nobel Prize winners. As of 2007, German had produced 80 winners.
Even though Australia is roughly the same age as Germany, it has yet to produce the same number of world-renowned intellectuals. Amongst Australian intellectuals, the lack of fame is explained as stemming from the tall-poppy syndrome, which proposes that the average Australian is jealous of their superiority. In truth, Australia's intellectuals really aren't very intellectual. Their tradition is defined by a culture of advocacy over a culture of inquiry. This makes it difficult to discuss things with an Australian intellectual because their mind is already made up. Instead of discussion, they are focussed on using derogatory caricatures, sarcasm and insults to persuade others to think the same way. In 2008, Paul Kelly, editor of the Australian, wrote:
Even though Australia hasn't produced any great theoretical intellectuals, Australia has produced some good scientists and great inventors. Australian inventions include the Jindalee radar system that transformed the $16 billion American "stealth" bomber into nothing more than an unusual looking aircraft. Other inventions include the cochlear implant, the winged keel, the electric drill, the refrigerator, black box flight recorder, nuclear fusion, differential gears, orbital combustion engine, penicillin, ultrasound, gene shears and the scram jet. The sheer number of inventions seems to show that critical and independent thinking can have an upside.
As of 2007, Australia had produced ten Nobel Prize winners. Nine of the Australian winners were for science or medicine and one was for literature. Another eight people with links to Australia have won Nobel Prizes.
German man talks about Australian stereotypes
Germans have some trouble defining German culture or defining what it means to be German. If suggestions are made that German culture is drinking beer or dancing while wearing funny hats, they usually say such cultural acts are just stereotypes or Bavarian.
Australians are likewise reluctant to use the culture of minorities to define Australia as a whole. For example, after Paul Hogan’s Crocodile Dundee created a perception that Australians were good natured larrikins, many concerned Australians felt the need to inform international tourists that they don’t say g'day or wrestle crocodiles. For Geoffrey Barker of the Melbourne Herald, Hogan's character reinforced international perceptions that "Australians are gauche, provincial and philistine".
A quote by Albert Einstein may explain why both German and Australians are reluctant to see minority expressions in their countries as representative of the whole country. According to Einstein,
Basically, Einstein was saying that if he was considered worthy of respect, people would want to associate themselves with him. If not, they would want to distance themselves from him. The same psychology can be seen in German and Australian attitudes to minority culture. If the minority culture was seen in a positive way, then Germans and Australians would celebrate it as representative of their culture even if they personally didn't conform to it. For one reason or another, not many Germans and Australians have been raised to see examples of their culture in a positive way, which in turns makes them reluctant to associate themselves with examples of it.
High culture and the Cultural Cringe
In a speech for the Centre of Independent Studies, German sociologist Jens Schroeder explained why Australia’s “elites” tend to be so critical of their country. According to Schroeder, in Germany, high culture acted as a social glue to bind the German people and in the process, gave status to those individual Germans who held mastery over it. In Australia, just as many people went to art galleries, attended the theatre or read books; however, there was no status for doing so in egalitarian Australia. The lack of status in turn led to criticism of Australia from those individuals who felt they were deserving of it.
World-wide, Germany is famous for its beer. It was the first European nation to introduce beer standards and the desire for a form of quality control helped Germany build its reputation. In addition, German beer brands benefit from the impressive culture of the Bavarian minority. With an average annual per capita consumption of around 170 litres, Bavarians are known as the world's most beer loving people. They celebrate their love with the Oktoberfest beer festival. While many Germans often dismiss Bavarians as not really German, the rest of the world sees them as German and gives praise to all of Germany in the process.
Australia is also quite famous for its beer, although the fame stems from stereotypes of beer love instead of an obsession with quality. Per capita beer consumption in Australia is actually quite low. In 2009, per average per capita consumption for Australians over 15 was 106 litres of beer a year, or about 8 glasses a week. Most of the consumption is done by the ocker Australian male who comprises just 10 per cent of the population but consumes around 80 per cent of the beer. The high consumption rate by the minority also helps define Australia's positive reputation as a whole.
The independent German speaking states that existed prior to the federated German state produced some of the world's greatest classical musicians. These composures include Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Richard Wagner, Johannes Brahms, Johann Sebastian Bach.
After World War II, Germany continued its impressive musical tradition. German composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen and Hans Werner Henze began experimenting with electronic sounds in classical music. It was their experimentations that eventually gave rise to technotronic. Today, Germany has the largest electronic music scene in the world.
Rammstein is one of the leading German bands. Their music and video clips are highly artistic and confront taboo topics such as terrorism, homosexual cannibalism, national socialism, and religious temptation. Rammstein’s videos showcase a lot of Nazi themes, which is quite understandable considering that Germans are constantly informed of their Nazi history, if only to make them ashamed of it. The brutality of Nazi history perhaps desensitises Germans from confronting brutality in other areas of life. Another feature of Rammstein's video clips is the band's willingness to act as the bad guys. It is a relatively unique trait amongst world musicians.
In the realm of Australian music, the name AC/DC stands alone. Since their inception in 1973, they have sold 200 million albums worldwide and their songs used in countless car commercials over the decades.
Unlike some global rock bands, AC/DC never portrayed themselves as the saviours of the environment or the poor. Instead, they just sang about drinking, having fun and sex. In many ways, their music seems to show a penal fingerprint. They reignited a sense of defiance with songs such as "TNT." They continued the Australian tradition of taking the piss out of the pompous with "Big Balls"; a song that equates the elite's quest for social esteem with a proud declaration of testicle size. They sang of debauchery with "Touch to Much" , female empowerment with "She's Got Balls" and explored the criminal element with "Dirty Deeds", "Sin City" and "Jailbreak."
Rammstein - Rosenrot
RAMMSTEIN ich will
Both Germans and Australians are keen travellers, but both approach the world in slightly different ways. Many Germans approach the world in fear that they will be seen as a Nazi. In Europe, the fear is well founded. A large number of western Europeans view Germans as the same people who supported Adolph Hitler. In China, Russia and Japan, the opposite is the case. Japan was a Nazi ally so there is no social status in criticising Germans. As for the Chinese, many view Adolph Hitler as a strong socialist, like Chairman Mao, who stood up to America. Furthermore, Communist theory is based on the work of Marx and Engels. The Communist Party of China has historically praised Germany for that reason. Russians also seem to like Germans, perhaps because East Germany was turned into a Communist state that was praised by the Soviet leadership.
Australians have traditionally approached the world in a positive way. Songs such as Land Downunder, and I Still Call Australia Home have created an idea that the world is exciting and there is adventure to be had. Unlike Germans, Australians don’t fear being disliked. Of course, there are many countries that don’t like Australians. For example, Asians generally view Australians as rude, lacking in culture, disrespectful and unrefined. That said, many like the fact that Australians are mostly relaxed and fun. Likewise, the English have traditionally seen Australians as corrupted by the Convict streak, which, for many English people, makes Australians a lot of fun. Even though some nationalities criticise Australians for lacking culture, it has never really bothered many Australians to the extent that they worry saying they are from Australia.
Ironically, even though few Australians fear saying they are from Australia, Australia has developed a culture of one Australian criticising other Australians in an international environment. For example, Men at Work’s Downunder, which most Australians thought was patriotic, was really intended to be an insult. It seems that when they were singing, "I come from a land down under where women glow and men plunder", Men at Work didn't think Australians would see the lyrics as a compliment. A similar form of cultural confusion was seen in the song Red Gum’s “I’ve been to Bali too.” The song was intended to be a criticism of Australians going to Bali to have fun instead of to learn about local culture. The criticism went over most Australians' heads and they just thought it was celebrating going to Bali to have fun.
A particularly odd characteristic of some Australians is to work through the media and education industries of other countries to portray Australia as a racist country. Despite defining their homeland with racist stereotypes, the Australians don’t feel they will be seen as personally racist. Therefore, they still proudly say that they are from Australia.
Since World War II , many Germans have been trying to convince the world that they are not Nazis. In contrast, many Australians have been trying to convince the world that they are. One such Australian was the late politician Al Grassby. According to Grassby, identifying one's ancestors as Australian on a census form was a sign of racial supremacist attitudes that would be comparable to killing 6 million Jews. In his own words,
In 2006, 37.1 per cent of Australians cited their ancestry as Australian on the census forms. If the Grassby stereotype were to be believed, then Australian businesses that construct gas chambers should be doing a roaring trade.
In 2008, actor Hugh Jackman told an American audience that a policy of eugenics ruled in Australia up to the 70s. According to Jackman, the Australian government devised a policy of removing mixed-race children from Aboriginal communities and raising them in white society. According to Jackman, mixing Aboriginal blood with white blood somehow preserved white blood and prevented its corruption. In Jackman's words:
Jackman's thinking was unsound. If the Australian government was motivated by eugenics, then it would have believed that it was making whites inferior by bringing Aboriginal blood into white society. Meanwhile, it would have believed that it was protecting black supremacy by keeping white blood out of black society.
In 2007, Australia's leading intellectual (as voted by his peers) Robert Manne, sent The Australian newspaper an article which argued that Australia was entering a Nazi style era of political control. In an editorial, The Australian responded:
In 2009, journalist Gerard Henderson provided a good summary of the culture of equating Australians with Nazis:
The desire of some Australians to see themselves as Nazis partly may stem from the lack of drama in Australian life. For more than a century, Australia has seen almost no social conflict (by world standards) and there has been no great human rights barriers to kick down. Amazingly, even though 20% of the Australian population are migrants, Australia has been spared the type of cultural conflict seen in France, England and America. In the absence of social drama, Australians wanting to pride themselves on their social conscience have had to create mythical problems that they can subsequently solve. In some ways, these Australians envy South Africa with its apartheid history, America with its Ku Klux Klan history and Germany with its Nazi history. Human rights problems provide opportunities for human rights heroes. Australia's social stability does not. Admittedly, the last 40 years of government policy in relation to Aborigines has been a disaster, but that has been because Australians with a social conscience have acted stupidly, rather than with malice. As painful as it is for some Australians to admit, Australia just doesn't have the human drama that leads to the kind of humanistic symbolism that wins Nobel Peace Prizes.
Germans probably fret a lot about Nazi stereotypes because they have a strong desire to be proud of Germany. Some of the desire to be proud of Germany is reflected in Germany’s national service law. Men must serve either nine months in the military, or at least six years in a civil protection organization. Families oppressed by the Nazi regime do not need to do the national service. Women are not required to serve either.
Australia does not have national service and attempts to introduce it have always been divisive. In World War 1, the Australian government tried to introduce conscription. This led to division between Australians whose loyalty was to Britain and Australians whose loyalty was to Australia or Ireland. In 1916, the Government held a referendum to give itself the power to conscript Australians and send them to war. Australia voted no. An anti-conscription poster said at the time:
In 1917, the Government again held a referendum on conscription, but censored any advertisements that promoted the no case. Australia voted no again. The majority of volunteer soldiers fighting in the war also voted no.
In World War II, the government introduced conscription but limited it to the defence of Australia in the pacific. Because it involved protecting Australia against a Japanese invasion, it was accepted without much protest.
In 1951, conscription was introduced during the Korean War. All Australian males aged 18 had to register for 176 days of training and five years of service in the central military force. The system ended in 1959.
In 1964, conscription was again introduced, and conscripts were sent to fight in Vietnam in support of America battling a communist insurgency. Because it involved forcing Australians to die in a foreign country, it provoked a violent backlash that led to intense social division on Australian streets. Conscription was banned by the Australian parliament in 1972.
Questions to think about
Comparing Keating to Hitler
"Australia's culture has always been characterised by someone trying to make rules to live by, and someone else trying to break them."