• Analysis through the looking glass

    ‘You may call it “nonsense” if you like … but I’ve heard nonsense, compared with which that would be as sensible as a dictionary!’ – The Red Queen in Through the Looking-Glass When Seymour Hersh published his 10,000-word essay ‘The Killing of Osama bin Laden’ last May he entered a strange and murky realm of information and counter-information in which […]

    Analysis through the looking glass
  • Dead Centre: The myth of the political centre

    In the three months since Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister of Australia, one concept more than any other has dominated the political discussion: the concept of the ‘centre ground’. In the mainstream press especially, the notion that politics has a ‘centre’ and that Turnbull has to move towards it in order to win the next election (and that he is […]

    Dead Centre: The myth of the political centre
  • A mood on the march?

    Eight years on from the global debt crisis, the most remarkable thing about US politics is that it remains the same asinine, catchpenny charade that it was in the decades leading up to it. Notwithstanding the devotees of the Tea Party, who after grabbing the wrong end of the stick with both hands proceeded to beat themselves into irrelevance, and […]

    A mood on the march?
  • On Anti-Semitism, by Frederic Raphael

    The first thing you find when you open Anti-Semitism is an Errata slip informing you that its author, Frederic Raphael, has mistaken D. H. Lawrence for T. E. Lawrence, Arthur Koestler for Arthur Schnitzler and the figure of 16,000 for 1,600 (the number of Jews killed in Jedwabne, Poland, in 1941). This is not a great start; one is entitled […]

    On Anti-Semitism, by Frederic Raphael
  • ‘You don’t know Jack, Jack!’ On ‘mansplaining’ and l’affaire Kilbride

    The leftwing website New Matilda has never been afraid to poke the bear. In recent years it has found itself at the centre of all manner of media controversies and on the receiving end of a clutch of lawsuits, some of which it only barely survived. Though it sometimes lacks judgment, it never lacks bravery. A David without the money to buy a […]

    Taking part in the Global Women's Strike on Saturday 12th March 2011.
  • In defence of the New Atheism

    ‘Another day, another tweet from Richard Dawkins’ wrote Eleanor Robertson last July, in response to the controversial professor’s latest foray into the twittersphere. Ah yes, I can remember thinking, and another article on Richard Dawkins and how he and his fellow New Atheists are disappointing progressive expectations! Not that he didn’t deserve it, mind, having just used a moral taxonomy […]

    In defence of the New Atheism
  • Not just another brick in the wall

    The decision of the Lego company not to supply the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei with bricks for a new artwork is one of the most striking instances I can recall of life imitating art. A huge and impersonal power structure combining arbitrary state power and capitalistic greed; the determination of that power structure to silence a uniquely gifted individual; that […]

    Not just another brick in the wall
  • Hating Scientology

    East Grinstead in the 1980s was not the most fascinating place for a teenager. Its historic buildings; its pioneering hospital; the fact that it adjoins the Ashdown Forest, one of the finest examples of heathland in England and the model for the Hundred Acre Wood, in which Pooh and Christopher Robin were wont to frolic: all of these were points […]

    This stoplight was on an opportunistic corner.
  • Disciplined hope: on Irving Howe

    In the long and laudable history of left-wing schism and self-inspection, this year’s winter issue of the progressive US magazine Dissent constituted something of a ‘shirtfront’ moment. It carried a piece by the political philosopher, and co-editor of the magazine, Michael Walzer, accusing the left, or a significant portion of it, of turning a blind eye to Islamic extremism. The […]

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  • Comrade Tressell’s Problem Novel: The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists at 100

    ‘The trouble with you socialists is that you don’t know anything about economics.’ The businessman – a wealthy retailer – was talking to a miner in Western Australia. ‘What you don’t seem to understand’, he continued, ‘is that every time you get an increase in your wages, the cost of living rises with them.’ ‘So what are you saying?’ enquired […]

    Comrade Tressell’s Problem Novel: The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists at 100
 

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Cholera vs. Plague: The Lesser Evil Calculus

When Lionel Jospin, the Socialist Party candidate for the 2002 French Presidential election, unexpectedly finished in third place in the initial round of voting – behind the Gaullist conservative Jacques Chirac (first) and the far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen (second) – progressive and leftwing voters in France were presented with a stark choice: should they support Chirac in the run-off […]

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Why Jeremy Corbyn Matters

Why Jeremy Corbyn Matters

“The King is dead! Long live the King!” Thus did the English aristocracy mark the death of a monarch, with words that at once acknowledge change and insist on continuity – on the idea that divinely sanctioned kingship not only survives the King’s demise but also alights immediately on the next in line, on the dead monarch’s heir. It would […]

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Blessed are the moderate: how not to talk about religious violence

Blessed are the moderate: how not to talk about religious violence

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A review of Meanjin (Vol 75, No 2)

A review of Meanjin (Vol 75, No 2)

The new issue of Meanjin arrives under a winter cloud. In a ‘note on funding’ placed next to his editorial, Jonathan Green announces that from 2017 the magazine will no longer receive financial support from the Australia Council, its application for four years of funding having been rejected in the last round of allocation decisions. Green expresses a hope that […]

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Future Perfect: Beyond the Delusional Present

Future Perfect: Beyond the Delusional Present

This essay was first published in Griffith Review: Imagining the Future. You can purchase a copy here.   IN THE SOUL of Man under Socialism (1891), Oscar Wilde wrote, ‘A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing.’ Certainly it […]

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The Mourning After: A British expat’s post-Brexit blues

The Mourning After: A British expat’s post-Brexit blues

Everyone deserves their ‘I told you so’ moment, and I don’t intend to deny myself mine. Back in the early 1990s, with the UK’s European future a matter of often angry debate both between and within political traditions, I argued against further integration on the basis that it was undemocratic and, in the long run, unworkable. The great majority of […]

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L’Affaire McGuire: Eddie is a dinosaur, not a monster. There’s a difference.

L’Affaire McGuire: Eddie is a dinosaur, not a monster. There’s a difference.

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The long wave goodbye: a review of Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism

The long wave goodbye: a review of Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism

‘This book makes no claim to be a “theory of everything”’ wrote Paul Mason at the start of Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere, his 2012 investigation of the many protest movements to have emerged in the wake of the global debt crisis. Written in the heat of the historical moment, that book was indeed more reportage than economic analysis, its […]

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On the DCA’s #WordsAtWork campaign

On the DCA’s #WordsAtWork campaign

Diversity Council Australia’s #WordsAtWork campaign copped a lot of flak last week, not all of it from the usual suspects, and not all of it unjustified. Certainly Julie Bishop’s characterisation of it as an attack on free speech was way over the top – reminiscent of George Brandis at his most self-satirising – and the broadsides from the anti-PC brigade […]

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Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your jobs

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‘If you want a vision of the future,’ O’Brien tells a broken Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four, ‘imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.’ Alternatively, you might consider this scenario, from the comedy sketch show That Mitchell and Webb Sound on BBC Radio 4 … The time is about thirty years in the future; the place, the […]

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