When Michel de Montaigne coined the word essay it was in the context of a series of wide ranging reflections on the Sceptical philosophy which sought to limn the minimal contours of knowledge and wisdom. Kevin Rudd has similarly sought to provide us with a sketch of the minimal contours of an Australian political tradition of what he terms ‘social democrat’ ideology. How we interpret Rudd’s essay hinges on how we understand the Australian tradition which is posited under this rubric, but a brief examination of the history of Australian political ideas quickly introduces a dilemma and this forces us to choose whether to link the essay to the social liberal tradition or the Fabian and democratic tradition, or if to both traditions then which combination of what elements? This paper explores the two main strands of the national political tradition in a search for the conceptual foundations of Rudd’s proposed ‘social democrat’ ideology.
Australian Political Studies Association Annual Conference 2009 (APSA 2009). Australian Political Studies Association Annual Conference 2009: Refereed Papers (Sydney 27-30 September, 2009)