'The Tired Radical' - by M, Westralian Worker, 26 November 1926, page 11
In his John Curtin Memorial Lecture, Fitzgerald wrote that Curtin believed that:
After spending some hours with a ‘tired radical’ whose ‘spirit is bleak and barren and broken’, Curtin wrote:
The Tired Radical - "M"
I have just spent a few hours with a tired Radical.
Twenty years ago men of power moved restlessly under his stinging indictments of their policies.
Twenty years ago his battle cries and building plans for society rang through the country.
Twenty years ago there was a touch of Richard of the Lion’s Heart in the dashing confidence with which he set out to mould the world to the fashion of its dream.
Today his spirit is bleak and barren and broken.
He is no longer nourished by high dreams of a better ordered society; he smiles dryly at situations over which his spirit would have wept twenty years ago.
The crusader in him has died to give place to the cynic.
He once thought humanity capable of mastery.
He now thinks humanity is doomed to muddling.
He is a sad casualty of the war for a worthier world,
for he was a man of richly endowed mind and finely disciplined sympathies,
and still is, for that matter, although the animating impulse for leadership
that once moved him is burned out.
And the saddest thing about this man is that he might have saved himself for a career of creative leadership if he had not fallen victim to the thing that is at once the unavoidable temptation and the unpardonable sin of reformers.
He forgot the instincts of men while he was fashioning institutions for them.
He forgot that men live their way into their thinking in his effort to get them to think their way into their living.
He forgot that, in the rearing of a child or in the reconstruction of justice or in the maintenance of peace, the first things to be reckoned with are instincts that lie beneath the surface of humanity’s more conscious reasoning. I use the word “instincts” very loosely to indicate all those inner urges that control men’s actions when they are off guard.
He was too logical.
Humanity was too human.
He was an architect that paid too little attention to the building material with which he had to deal in bringing his plans into being.
He had the prophet’s impatience.
He lacked the leader’s patience.