Competition year: 2001
About Anthony Bernard Kelly
As we approach the end of the 21st Century, we can see that the Cultural Revolution that has occurred in the Western world during this Century can be traced back in part to the work of an obscure Australian Philosopher. The foundations for such a revolution had already been laid by the start of the Century. The Cold War had been won by the West. Capitalism had triumphed over Communism. With the fall of the Soviet Union, Socialism was no longer regarded as economically credible. One consequence of this was that Capitalism no longer seemed to feel the need to wear a human face. Wealth was generally increasing, but its distribution was becoming more uneven. Discontent was also increasing as material goods failed to satisfy the human spirit. Many people were looking for a Third Way, some economic system that would avoid the evils of both Capitalism and Communism.
Technologically, instant and open communications were even then possible, using the primitive World Wide Web. This meant that potential world-changing ideas could spread with a speed hitherto impossible, regardless of their source. Using the Web, a Swedish Utopist group had initiated a world-wide competition, calling for such ideas.
The Australian Philosopher was one who responded to this call. The number of Australians who responded was surprising, as Australians were noted more for their sporting prowess and pragmatism, than for any intellectual pretensions. Sydney had just successfully staged the 2000 AD Olympic Games. However, of a total of 78 contributions to the competition, 34 were from Australia. Australians had previously been noted for their advanced social ideas.
As long ago as the Nineteenth Century, Australia was the first Country to introduce Socialist ideas. This was done without any reference to Socialist theory. Albert Metin, the French Sociologist, noted this in his “Le Socialismo Sans Doctrines: la question agraire et la question ouvriere en Australie et Nouvelle-Zealande” (1910) Paris, Alcan.
The increase in wealth that occurred in the early 21st Century, was a function of the widespread introduction, by Governmental action, of Globalisation. This was a universal Free Trade Policy. This policy tended to increase the overall wealth of a country, but often at the expense of workers in less efficient or less competitive industries. These workers lost their jobs, their primary source of income. Governments were generally slow to accept the responsibility to re-arrange the distribution of wealth in the community. They were even slower to ensure that no citizen was disadvantaged by the introduction of a Free Trade Policy.
Even when the redistribution problem was solved, there was still an increase in discontent. The increasing supply of material goods failed to satisfy the human spirit. This posed a more difficult problem for democratic governments, as the discontent was reflected in electoral results. Very few democratic governments survived more than one term. Pandering to electoral pressures from dissatisfied interest groups did not seem to help the situation. A new approach was needed.