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Citizen of the World

A couple of comments originally posted to Metafilter during the past month, which I’d planned to rewrite for here, but had better just post before they’re too stale.

On the recent parade of Australian MPs revealed to be dual citizens and having to give up their seats.

This whole business made me realise that as an Australian who became a dual UK national in 2007, I can no longer become an Australian Federal MP (not that I have any plans in that direction, but it’s another reminder of opportunities passing over time). I knew about the “foreign power” clause in the Constitution, but at some level must have assumed that the introduction of dual citizenship in 2002 addressed it.

But any Australian (not only dual citizens, but by virtue of being Commonwealth citizens) can run in a UK general election. Clearly, therefore, my best chance of ruling my homeland is to become the British prime minister and reinvade it. The chances have to be better than winning a referendum to amend subsection 44(i) of the Constitution.

A United Kingdom of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Australia is a tempting prospect on environmental grounds, when we have Britain giving up its coal addiction while Australia doubles down on coal mining. Given the countries’ relative economic performance since 2008, it’s also Britain’s best chance of surviving Brexit. Suddenly that “Empire 2.0” business makes sense...

25 July 2017

 

On American myths about their place in the world, as discussed in this article.

I spent three or four months in an American school in 1980 while my father was a visiting professor at a college there, and even at age 12 was struck by this myth-making. Simply having to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every morning brought it home; we did nothing of the sort in Australia. Then there were the social studies textbooks (pamphlets, really), one on the First World War which started with the sinking of the Lusitania and ended with how America won it, one on the Second World War which started with Pearl Harbour and ended with how America won it, and another on the Soviet Union and its nefarious anti-American ways. Even a kid (who had been dropped into it rather than raised on it) could tell that something was off.

On my next visit to the U.S. as a young man, at the end of a year spent studying in England, I remember watching a half-hour news broadcast on one of the main channels. The world news consisted entirely of highlights of American successes at the 1992 Olympics and a story about U.S. troops in Kuwait.

Those early encounters were a valuable lesson when it came to interpreting my own country’s myth-making, and lately the myth-making of my adopted home of the UK; in both Australia and Britain the circles of self-awareness seem larger than in Hansen’s portrait of US attitudes. Brexit has brought it out strongly in the UK, in the form of Remainer criticisms of that whole shambles and its ideological underpinnings. But Britain’s example is a salutory lesson in how long it might take Americans in general to shift their perspective: it’s sixty years since Suez, and still our politics has been derailed by imperial fantasies dressed up in anti-EU rhetoric.

8 August 2017

31 August 2017 · Politics

As Australians were British subjects rather than Australian citizens until 1948, the definition of “foreign power” in Section 44 could reasonably be interpreted as meaning anyone who wasn’t a British subject (if not, then every Australian MP before 1948 was surely illegitimate). Of course, if we allow that, then it means that Australians who aren’t Australian/British dual citizens should be ineligible to stand for parliament, which leaves the field clear for those of us who are.

Added by Rory on 2 October 2017.


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