Robert John Cuthbert Butler: A Life in Three Sermons: Radicalism and Identity in the Labour Movement, 1889–1950

Author: Brendan Scott

Scott, Brendan, 2021 Robert John Cuthbert Butler: A Life in Three Sermons: Radicalism and Identity in the Labour Movement, 1889–1950, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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Robert Butler, born Robert Thomas Poxon and known variously through his life as R. J. C Butler, R. J. Cuthbert-Butler or simply Cuthbert Butler, participated in many significant events in Australia’s political and social history during the first half of the twentieth century. At the start of his political career, Butler was aligned with the radical left of the labour movement, but he ended his public life three decades later as a member of an organisation that had become the domain of the radical right. This thesis presents the biography of a middle-ranking actor involved in radical politics from 1912 to 1943 who had moments of significant influence in particular arenas of Australian politics because of his ability as an orator and organiser. First, it seeks to explore the reasons behind Butler abandoning the Australian Labor Party and the labour movement and moving across the political spectrum. Was this related to his flexible identity, something Butler appeared to inhabit throughout his life? Second, the thesis is a study of radicalism, exploring the relationship between radicals and the mainstream movement in the first decades of the twentieth century. This examination of Butler’s political activism, in whichever form it took, offers a new insight into the period of study.

Keywords: labour movemet, radical, conscription, Social Credit, identity, Australian Labor Party

Subject: History thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2021
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Melanie Oppenheimer