The “Morpeth Mind” and Australian Politics 1927–1934


  • Tod Moore

    1. University of Newcastle
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    • Research for this article has been assisted by discussion with and feedback from many individuals. These include, in no particular order, Jim Jose, Troy Duncan, Jim Walter, Verity Burgmann, Graham Maddox, Peter Hempenstall, Phil Griffiths, Marnie Hughes-Warrington, Gregory Melleuish, Nick Economou, Gionni Di Gravio, Ian Tregenza, and the anonymous reviewers of this Journal.


The publication of the Morpeth Review between 1927 and 1934 was a milestone in the evolution of an authentic public sphere for Australian political intellectuals. The Review covered several areas of political and philosophical concern, ranging ideologically from Christian socialism and idealist liberalism, through market economics, to reactionary anti-Bolshevism, within the editorial context of a strongly idealist liberalism inspired by the Oxford liberals of the early twentieth century, and both evangelical and sacramentalist Anglican Protestantism. Ernest H. Burgmann and Roy Lee used the magazine to develop a unique form of Anglican social and political activism and other members of an identifiable group of radical clergy also contributed. A.p. Elkin's writings on Indigenous politics are of particular interest as they can be viewed simultaneously as a turning toward the novel idea of Aboriginal citizenship, and at the same time as a restatement of Darwinist biological determinism and racialism, both lit by genuine compassion and affection for Aboriginal Australians.