How Big F Friends Are Better Than Small f friends

How Big F Friends Are Better Than Small f friends
Friends celebrating victory by dancing
Big F and small f friends celebrating victory in Adelaide c. 1945. Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria.

After a turbulent week in Australian politics, we are onto our thirtieth Prime Minister. The sixth in 11 years – it’s getting hard to keep up. Along the way, there’s been a lot of debate about Big L and small l liberals, and it got me thinking about the difference between Big F and small f friends.

Our key conservative (right-wing) party is the Liberal Party (big L liberals). Our twelfth and longest-serving Prime Minister Bob Menzies created the party, through an alliance of smaller conservative parties. Mainly in opposition to the left-wing Labour Party.

The party was liberal in the philosophical small l liberal sense of liberty and equality. I’m not sure what it is now. Greater minds than mine have pointed out the discrepancy between conservatism and liberalism.

Big F and small f friends

If the same Big L/small l logic applies, then Friends must share a close and exclusive bond, while friends have a loose bond of commonality.

Which suggests that there ought to be an intermediate kind of friendship. The sort based on expediency – kind of like your work friends. Who may or may not be promoted to actual Friends. Or demoted to friends.

And this, in a way, takes us way back to the virtue of friendship, with its layers of friendship. Friends (big F) are a small group of people you can really rely on – your inner circle. Your (small f) friends are a larger group who offer you the protection of their numbers – you tribe so to speak. And there is an even larger number whom you also call friends, but are really more along the lines of acquaintances. People you once knew and would sacrifice without a second thought. Aka cannon fodder.

There’s clearly been some political expediency in the leadership debacle. But wheels within wheels, it’s not clear who fell on their sword, who was stabbed in the back, or who was stabbed in the front.

Hilariously, while assorted online sources don’t seem to have much idea who Scott Morrison is, they have already added his name to the list of Prime Ministers. I hope he doesn’t get too comfortable, it doesn’t look like he’ll be there for long.

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