Author(s): David Kemp
A Democratic Nation- Identity, Freedom and Equality in Australia 1901-1925 tells the story of the political battle after Federation to achieve unprecedented levels of social and economic equality, while preserving both national independence and individual freedom.
As the third book in a landmark five-volume Australian Liberalism series, A Democratic Nation shows how Australians, inspired by the exceptional democracy they had achieved, set out to perfect its principles while protecting it from a world they saw as increasingly threatening.
The period saw political battles within and between Liberal and Labor parties as attempts to protect identities defined by nation, class and race confronted ideas of individual freedom and equality.
As the war of 1914-18 between the European empires gave rise to unimaginable horrors, economic chaos and continuing violence, the Australian Labor Party shattered and the Liberal Party became submerged in a new Nationalist win-the-war alliance. In peacetime it struggled to restore the nation's social and economic health under the weight of pre-war and wartime identity-based policies.
Throughout years of divisive political conflict, the Australian people would remain largely faithful to their hope of a land that would give them freedom to chart their own destinies, and would resist the siren calls of those who promised a conflict-free world by the use of centralised power to reconstruct the industrial and social order.