Okay, the exam was two days ago, but I didn’t want to interrupt the story schedule and didn’t want to post twice on that day, so we’re just going to finish up our notes about what the aftermath of World War 2 was like here in Australia. The important thing to remember is that this is just one perspective on the processes of history, and since statistically, you’re not an Australian, this should be new to you.
Post-war Australia was doing okay, because we’d been a primary production state. Primary production is generally more robust and resilient than manufacturing, because it’s not something you have to train for nearly as hard as you do for things like making cars or canning food. Wars are really good at depleting the workforce, but since our workforce was, well, kind of unified, we didn’t have to do a lot of retraining. Men came back from the war and became farmers, miners, or, common for my surrounding area, steelworkers. Australia boomed in its production of food and cotton for the world, and that twofold production meant we biased heavily towards the growth of lamb farms. This was the period known as ‘riding the sheep’s back.’ We went back to our Imperial Lackey idiocy and primarily exported to Britain, since we could pretend to ourselves that they gave a shit about our existence, and they would happily charge us extra for everything we bought back off them.
I am a tiny bit bitter about this, by the way. Historicaly, Australia has been an amazing source of fuel for other countries to become economically powerful, and all we ever seem to get for it is at best a token admission of thanks. It’s not even like Britain was willing to extend considerations to us during the Depression. Assholes.
Anyway, while the economy was doing okay in the postwar period, it was not doing nearly so well for us on a social front. See, the war had done nothing to abate our cultural racism. Oh, sure, there was the object lesson of what racism could lead to – HITLER HITLER HITLER – but we were somehow so arrogant as to hold onto our own racial prejudices against yellow people. Asian and non-white European immigration, we thought, was just going to ruin things.
Speaking of Europe, let’s talk about France. France is a counrty that gets way more shit than it deserves, mostly based on the bad attitudes of the population of one city, who are so snooty they don’t even like other French people. France benefitted from the American Marshall Plan, which was a project to rebuild the economies of struggling European states and help them re-estalish themselves as business-worthy capitalist nations. Apparently, Russia fielding an army that looked like locusts during World War 2 scared the living shit out of the United States. This was almost one of the first moves in the Cold War – the United States employing its economic might – which was a byproduct of capitalism – to make bulwarks following those same ideals. Think of it as capitalism franchises. The Marshall plan is mind-bogglingly important to modern Europe’s current profile, and yet the United States doesn’t seem to want to remember that they did this. That there was a time when they reached out in their own self-interest and still managed to do something amazing and great.
Of course, one of the problems there is that the Marshall plan was in part financed by heavy deficit spending, which seems to be something Americans equate to an individual’s credit card debt. Maybe it’s just my convict background speaking, but when you owe someone a thousand bucks, you have a problem. When you owe them twenty billion bucks, they have the problem.
The Marshall plan had a side effect in that Europe was suddenly in a position to try and negotiate old deals again. It was time to rebuild, and part of that meant rebuilding their production base. France, ever the smartarse, decided to found the European Economic Community, under some older, stupider name that I won’t bother with for now. This was a setup between the farmers of the related countries that they would buy all the goods they could produce, ensuring a minimum wage for farmers, and then distribute that food on the market, ensuring a steady supply of food. Good times for those involved, but those involved were egregiously French, and Britain, as Britain does, looked at something other countries did with jealous eyes. Also, they hoped America didn’t look over and see them doing something so blatantly commie with all that reconstruction money. But it was okay, because they were doing it to stifle trade practices and to make sure the more well-off farmers in the richer nations had more money while the poorer farmers could scrape by, a plan that no doubt would appeal to America.
France lobbied to keep Britain out of the EEC, and Britain said “Well, pish on you! I’m going to make my own unionised farming collective, and it’ll be better, with card tables, and wanton ladies of prostitutive means!”
And seriously, that’s what they did! Britain scooped up the non-EEC nations at that point, and said ‘we’re a union now!’ and did the exact same shit as the existing union. It did its best to copy everything the EEC did, but with fewer people, less farming, and less money, operating on the idea that eventually, the other EEC nations would try to eat Britain’s union, and thereby make one larger union. It was a diabolical plan, but Britain decided to double-dip on the whole affair. They kept on buying our exports, and holy shit did we export a lot.
Anyway, every year, Britain applied to join the union, and France, which more or less led the union, told them to fuck off, in part because they weren’t playing fair (naughty Australian importing up the back door!) and in part because they were British. Australia really owes France for this service of obstruction because at this point we still had the White Australia policy and literally no other trade partners – nobody was importing like Britain was (though of course Britain was buying from us at a favourable rate, which was almost why they were able to afford it).
Eventually, though, Italy and Germany and – there’s other stuff in Europe, I think? The rest of the community – some other Europies decided they could let Britain and its buddies in to form A GREATER UNION, or possibly EUROPETRON. Suddenly, Britain had to play nice with its local neighbours, which meant it also had to stop buying our shit – and suddenly, we were pissing ourselves.
Without a global partner to buy our stuff, Australia was essentially up shit creek, since we couldn’t manufacture things, and we needed money to do that. We turned to the United States, who told us to piss off, because they didn’t need anything we were selling and we were also nice and unimportant to any Commies. New Zealand was an even smaller economy than ours. What the hell were we going to do? There were literally no trade options left – well, no that weren’t white…
Oh dearie me.
Enter Japan. Japan was a country rebuilding in the shadow of China with two enormous craters and a strangely deferential attitude towards America at this point (well, not so strange when you remember the signatures on the craters). America, fearing that Japan would turn to its nearby Asian neighbour, China, and become a communist state, because the United States really just does not understand a fucking thing about the bits of Asia that they haven’t made into monstrous smoking craters, pushed Japan to industrialise. Now, the only thing less popular in Japan than an American idea is a Chinese idea, so Japan said fine, but we don’t have the metal and resources to do it. Can we buy your mining goods?
Well, no, said America, because you can’t afford it and we’re busy using it on our own stuff. Tell you what, we’ll do you a deal. We’ll bully that country of about fifteen million racists that blocked your Equal Rights treaty, refused you immigration, refused your trade, and became surprisingly good at killing your people in Kokoda to become your preferential trading partners.
I’m not even a bit kidding. The foreign minister who had to have worked this deal out must have been a goddamn wizard. The US offered some potential naval protection options (never fucking happened), and we sold refined metal to Japan at a preferential rate, Japan sold us their manufactured goods, and we somehow tried to stop thinking about the way Japan had been our cultural boogyman for the pasty fifty years. It wasn’t like China was going to do us any favours.
The truly loony thing is that this worked.
Japan became an economic juggernaut. Their enormously productive social structure, when bolted to the near-infinite Australian mineral reserves turned Japan from a nearly pre-industrial nation in 1920 to the biggest competitor on the world stage, and the kind of economic force that America subsequently spent their time scaremongering about in election rhetoric!
There’s one more piece to this puzzle, which is about how immigration changed, and the final removal of the Dictation Test. That’ll come up next time if I get even a single laugh out of anyone who reads this, or has it forcibly read to them.