Radical Intellectuals…

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Having a desktop clear off…

Radical Intellectuals: an Unacknowledged Legislature?
Andrew Milner

Charles Darwin, January 1836
“The whole population, poor and rich, are bent on acquiring wealth: amongst the higher orders, wool and sheep-grazing form the constant subject of conversation… with such habits, and without intellectual pursuits, it can hardly fail to deteriorate.”

It’s worth noting , however, that for all his condescension towards the Australian colonists, these are not the senses in which Darwin himself used the term ‘intellectual’. For him ‘intellectual’ meant more or less the same as ‘intelligent. This had been the word’s dominant meaning from the fourteenth century until the early nineteenth. It was only in Darwin’s own time that the word was first used to refer to a special kind of person, someone who ‘thinks’. The problem with this usage should be obvious: we all think, and all our productive activities require the exercise of intelligence. Indeed, it is our capacity to think, amongst other things, that makes us human. To suggest that only intellectuals ‘think’ is to deny our common humanity.

It also needs to be stressed that for most of Australia’s history its intellectuals have normally been conservative rather than radical in their politics. In the years before the First World War, the various Protestant clergies clearly played an overwhelmingly conservative social role. The Catholic church’s Irish connection certainly led it it dissent from the British imperial politics of the main Protestant churches, and to move into an uneasy alliance with the newly formed Labor parties But support for Irish republicanism and opposition to conscription during the First World War led neither Archbishop Mannix of Melbourne nor his clergy towards any wider radical sympathies.
Page 261

Quintus Servinton 1830, Henry Savery “the first Australian novel”

First privately owned newspaper, the Australian, founded in 1824

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