chapter  7
“1968” in Australia
The student movement and the New Left
ByRussell Marks
Pages 17

The year 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of perhaps the last potentially revolutionary moment in western democracies. “1968” is less symbolic in Australia, but there was a moment of renewed radicalisation among predominantly middle-class university students between about 1965 and 1972. This chapter charts the radicalisation of the “new left” generation out of rising affluence, expanding universities and of course Australia’s participation in the Vietnam War with conscripted forces. Young radicals directed their radical energies in various directions (Marxist revivals including Trotskyism and Maoism; SDS-style participatory democracy movements; counterculturalism; political economy; re-writings of Australian history) after the disenchantment of the 1966 election, which confirmed for many that reformism was hopelessly doomed. This chapter introduces readers to the ideas and events which marked the new left generation in Australia before its radicalism was largely overtaken by the election of the Whitlam government in 1972.