Which country is this?
- First nation in modern history to secure full unification without killing anyone.
- First major nation to have achieved independence and sovereignty without killing anyone.
- First nation in modern history to appoint a Jew as commander of its armed forces,
- Never had any form of slavery or serfdom.
The answer is below the cut.
The answer is, of course, Australia. [Though a commentor below suggests Canada also qualifies.] The list of attributes is taken from historian Claudio Veliz's article "The Infamous Omissions from Australian History" in the October 2013 issue of Quadrant. The burden of his comment is that the Australian achievement tends to be talked down, particularly in academic and "progressive" circles. This despite Australia is also the first English-speaking country to have a Labour PM, a pioneer in modern democratic governance, in unionism and in such things as the eight hour day.
Nor is this the case of being a country with a great future behind us, as folk say of Argentina. (Though that is not as cruelly dismissive as Henry Kissinger's description of Argentina as "a dagger pointed at the heart of Antarctica".) Credit Suisse recently released a report that Australians have the highest level of median wealth in the world. Though partly an artifact of exchange rates, what is not such an artifact is that Australia has one of the most even distributions of wealth among developed nations. Nor that income growth in the bottom decile has continued to be comparatively high. Lack of any recession since 1991 and persistently low unemployment helped with that, of course.
It is true that some indenturing was morally dubious, to say the least, though Veliz does consider the matter in his original article. And obviously the process of the settlement/invasion of Australia involved violence, repression and dispossession.
Nevertheless, the reality is that Australia is a remarkably successful country and has been for a long time. It has had its failures (don't get me started on land use regulation and what is laughably called "town planning") and less successful periods. But even a less successful period in Australian history would be a wonderful change for many other countries.
It is worth pausing occasionally and remembering. After all, if we do not acknowledge genuine success, how do we get any idea about how actually to improve the human lot?
[An earlier version was posted at Skepticlawyer.]