Vivre dans l’histoire

LONDRES – Il y a peu, j’ai pris part à un débat public avec Paul Keating, ancien premier ministre australien. C’est un homme intéressant, un véritable intellectuel poussé par ses démons intérieurs à critiquer ceux qui n’accordent pas suffisamment de crédit à son rôle transformationnel dans la politique australienne et à dénoncer ce qu’il considère comme du verbiage et des mythes.

Il se trouve donc souvent au cœur de controverses, qui peuvent toutefois avoir une fonction éducative. Par exemple, il a récemment rejeté l’idée que les sacrifices australiens de la campagne Gallipoli de 1916, durant la Première Guerre mondiale, avaient quelque peu créé et sauvé sa nation. Pour lui, l’Australie a atteint la majorité plus tard à Kokoda, souvent qualifié de Thermopyle australienne, lorsqu’un petit groupe de jeunes soldats a résisté à l’avance de troupes de l’armée japonaise, dont le but était manifestement de prendre Port Moresby (Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée) et de menacer le continent australien. Pour Paul Keating, la bataille de Kokoda symbolise la vraie douleur de parturition d'une Australie indépendante, et non de quelque appendice colonial britannique à des fins impériales en Extrême-Orient.

Je n’oserais mettre en doute les sensibilités des Australiens au sujet de leur histoire. J'aime trop leur pays pour cela. Cependant, les remarques de Paul Keating soulèvent une question générale sur l'histoire au coeur du sentiment d'identité qui lie toute communauté.

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