A ‘mate’ is a mate, right? Wrong, argues Nick Dyrenfurth in this provocative new look at one of Australia’s most talked-about beliefs.
In the first book-length exploration of our secular creed, one of Australia’s leading young historians and public commentators turns mateship’s history upside down. Did you know that the first Australians to call each other ‘mate’ were business partners? Or that many others thought that mateship would be the basis for creating an entirely new society — namely, a socialist one? For some, the term ‘mate’ is ‘the nicest word in the English language’; for others, it represents the very worst features in our nation’s culture: conformity, bullying, corruption, racism, and misogyny. So what does mateship really mean?
Covering more than 200 years of white-settler history, Mateship demonstrates the richness and paradoxes of the Antipodean version of fraternity, and how everyone — from the early convicts to our most recent prime ministers, on both sides of politics — have valued it.