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|Title: ||Hard Cash, John Dwyer and his Contemporaries, 1890-1914|
|Authors: ||Hearn, Mark Graeme|
|Keywords: ||Australian History;Biography;narrative identity;John Dwyer;labour history;federation|
|Issue Date: ||2000|
|Publisher: ||University of Sydney. School of Philosophy, Gender, History and Ancient World Studies|
|Abstract: ||John Dwyer (1856-1934) was a London docks foreman who emigrated to Australia in 1888. Leaving his London employment on his 'own accord', Dwyer embarked upon a quest for recognition - recognition of his rights as a worker and his identity as an individual. Dwyer and his family arrived in New South Wales to be greeted by the economic depression of the 1890s, and state and employer mobilisation against organised labour and working class radicals. Dwyer was soon reduced to scraping together a living as a boarding house manager in Sydney's poorest districts, as he helped organise the Active Service Brigade, which agitated on behalf of the unemployed. Dwyer's surviving papers - twenty-one boxes of correspondence, manuscripts, minutes, handbills, tracts and newspaper clippings, plus several other volumes - document the life of a working class political radical and autodidact who embraced temperance, and who was fascinated by new ideas in religion and science - Darwinism, Theosophy and occult spiritualism. This thesis places Dwyer in the context of the intense ideological ferment of new ideas in politics, theology and science that characterised the period 1890-1914. Ideas that aggressively challenged the old certainties, and which Dwyer embraced in his project to 'change the face of the world.' Changing the world contested with the need to endure its conditions. Theosophy and temperance appealed to Dwyer's notion of duty, and an instinct to rationalise the social and economic roles he seemed unable to escape. The fragmented nature of his papers, and stop-start bursts of public activism - in politics, theosophy and temperance - reflect the tension between an urge to fight, to understand, to create - struggling against the daily demands of making a living and feeding a family. The thesis explores Dwyer's relationship with fellow radicals and workers, the labour movement and members of Sydney's social and political elite - men and women who shared and contested with his vision. Dwyer's complex and at times apparently contradictory values can be found amongst radicals and labourites alike - for example, William Lane, W.G. Spence and Bernard O'Dowd. Nor was Dywer's interest in theosophy or the occult as unusual as it might seem to modern readers. Dwyer's papers provide important insights into dilemmas that have challenged historians: the problem of alienation, the role of the individual in the historical process, the nature of working class radicalism. Issues often analysed in theoretically abstract terms, or at a broad level of historical inquiry, across a national or class-wide scale. Broad analyses of social forces or ideologies tend to distort their historical impact and meaning, failing to capture the complex relationship of phenomena such as class or ideology with individual experience. Working from Dwyer's experience, this thesis argues that it is possible to build a complex picture of working class life in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Australia.|
|Rights and Permissions: ||Copyright Hearn, Mark Graeme;http://www.library.usyd.edu.au/copyright.html|
|Appears in Collections:||Sydney Digital Theses (Open Access)|
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