Australia vs. California

Colin Ross compares Australia with California and South Africa, stressing the importance of the settlers’ national character to a country’s development.

“The defining factors are always: sun, air and soil”, asserts Ross, the experienced evaluator of foreign countries. [p. 31] Rather than import their ways of life, settlers have to adjust to the givens of climate and geography. The rest of the text makes it clear, however, that those conditions can be harnessed differently, depending on the settlers’ national character.

For Ross, Australia, California, and South Africa are similar as “southern virgin territory, sun-kissed land, that Nordic, white men have chosen to be their new home” [p. 31]. But California is shaped by the high tempo and business-mindedness of the US-American east coast dweller, while such enterprising spirit has been missing from Australia’s development. Thus, the cultivation of  its territory has been rather lax, as settlers preferred to live “a comfortable life with a moderate workload”. [p. 32] (South Africa, meanwhile, is distinguished in Ross’s mind by its abundant and allegedly “cheap and willing” native workforce. [p. 32])

This assessment of Australia’s untapped potential is crucial to the claim, voiced by Ross among others, that in the face of Depression and overcrowding, Australia has a moral obligation to share its territory with a bigger number and a wider variety of European immigrants (see: Support from a British journalist).

Joachim Schätz

Colin Ross. [Excerpt from] Das Neue des neuen Kontinentes. In: Der unvollendete Kontinent. 1. Aufl. Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus; 1930; 31–33.

Topic: Kulturboden
Case: Oceania-Asia trip 1928-30

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