The Conscription Conflict and the Great War
Edited by Robin Archer, Joy Damousi, Murray Goot and Sean Scalmer
While the Great War raged, Australians were twice asked to vote on the question of military conscription for overseas service. The recourse to popular referendum on such an issue at such a time was without precedent anywhere in the world. The campaigns precipitated mass mobilisation, bitter argument, a split in the Labor Party, and the fall of a government. The defeat of the proposals was hailed by some as a victory of democracy over militarism, mourned by others as an expression of political disloyalty or a symptom of failed self-government.
But while the memory of the conscription campaigns once loomed large, it has increasingly been overshadowed by a preoccupation with the sacrifice and heroism of Australian soldiers – a preoccupation that has been reinforced during the centennial commemorations.
This volume redresses the balance. Across nine chapters, distinguished scholars consider the origins, unfolding, and consequences of the conscription campaigns, comparing local events with experiences in Britain, the United States, and other countries. A corrective to the ‘militarisation’ of Australian history, it is also a major new exploration of a unique and defining episode in Australia’s past.
'The Conscription Conflict tells a forgotten story, it fills a void in Australian history. And – as the best writers of history do – the authors of this collection allow the protagonists to speak for themselves. The sound and fury of those times, the words that bounced off these very walls, still ring loudly in this book.' Bill Shorten MP full launch speech
'For Australians, a complete understanding of the Great War will only be gained by reading and thinking about the conscription debates, their outcomes and their meaning.' Luke Foley MP full launch speech
‘an important work’ Ross Fitzgerald, The Weekend Australian
‘The Most Interesting Experiment that has Ever Been Made in a Political Democracy’: Conscription and the Great War
by Robin Archer and Sean Scalmer
Part 1: Origins
1. ‘A Real Heritage of the English People’: British Liberalism and ‘Continental Despotism’
by Douglas Newton
2. Labour and Liberty: The Origins of the Conscription Referendum
by Robin Archer
Part 2: Campaigns and Results
3. Anti-Conscriptionism in Australia: Individuals, Organisations and Arguments
by Frank Bongiorno
4. Universities and Conscription: The ‘Yes’ Campaigns and the University of Melbourne
by Joy Damousi
5. The Results of the 1916 and 1917 Conscription Referendums Re-examined
by Murray Goot
Part 3: Comparisons
6. Why Was it Easier to Introduce and Implement Conscription in Some English-speaking Countries than in Others?
by John Connor
7. Conscription in the First World War: Britain and Australia
by Ross McKibbin
Part 4: Legacies
8. Legend and Lamentation: Remembering the Anti-Conscription Struggle
by Sean Scalmer
Notes on Contributors
About the Editors
Robin Archer is Director of the postgraduate program in Political Sociology at the London School of Economics and Emeritus Fellow in Politics at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. His works include Economic Democracy and Why Is There No Labor Party in the United States?
Joy Damousi is Professor of History at the University of Melbourne. Her works include The Labour of Loss: Mourning, Memory and Wartime Bereavement in Australia, Freud in the Antipodes and Colonial Voices: A Cultural History of English in Australia 1840-1940.
Murray Goot is Professor of Politics at Macquarie University and a former President of the Australasian Political Studies Association. His works include Australian Opinion Polls, Divided Nation? (co-authored with Tim Rowse) and numerous scholarly articles on elections, referendums and public opinion.
Sean Scalmer is Associate Professor of History at the University of Melbourne. His works include Dissent Events: Protest, the Media, and the Political Gimmick in Australia and Gandhi in the West: The Mahatma and the Rise of Radical Protest.
For media inquiries, please contact our Marketing Coordinator, Sarah Cannon.
While many of our books are published online for free, this does not mean that the books are in the 'public domain': copyright laws do still apply.
Copyright for all material published on this site is owned or licensed exclusively to Monash University Publishing. All rights reserved. Apart from any uses permitted by Australia's Copyright Act 1968, no part of this book may be reproduced by any process or in any form without prior written permission of the copyright owners. Inquiries should be directed to the publisher, Monash University Publishing.
Readers are free to read, copy, download, print and display a work provided that:
• this is solely for personal use or use within the reader’s organisation;
• full acknowledgement is made of the author/s and the original copyright owner;
• the work is not used for any commercial gain in any form; and
• the reader in no way alters, transforms or builds on the work outside of its use in normal academic scholarship without the express permission of the author and publisher of the publication in question.
In all cases of re-use or distribution, readers or authors must make clear to others the license terms of the work. Enquiries should be directed to Monash University Publishing.
Authors of Monash University Publishing titles are not permitted to publish these works on any website other than their personal sites, without written permission from the publisher. Authors are encouraged to post the title of their book on any website and post links on any site that direct readers to the Monash University Publishing site.
Every effort has been made to obtain copyright permissions for the images reproduced in our publications. If you are a copyright owner of materials reproduced in one of our works and have concerns regarding their use please contact Monash University Publishing.