• I’m with Him: Identity Politics Goes Home

    “So, the first question we must ask ourselves is, what is a Boggart?” Hermione put up her hand. “It’s a shape-shifter,” she said. “It can take the shape of whatever it thinks will frighten us most.” “Couldn’t have put it better myself,” said Professor Lupin, and Hermione glowed. “So the Boggart sitting in the darkness within has not yet assumed […]

    I’m with Him: Identity Politics Goes Home
  • Media Culpa: Journalists Take Responsibility for Trump

    The late Alexander Cockburn once suggested – mischievously, as was his wont – that the principal reason The New York Times published a “Corrections” column every morning was to convince its readers that everything else in the previous day’s paper had been 100% true, morally as well as factually. In this way The Gray Lady maintained her reputation as America’s […]

    Media Culpa: Journalists Take Responsibility for Trump
  • Crying Freedom: On Chris Berg, Andrew Bolt and Paul Ritchie

    In October 1976 an aged Austrian economist assumed the podium in a Melbourne hotel and delivered, extempore, a speech that set libertarian hearts racing. The economist was Friedrich Hayek and the occasion was the Annual General Meeting of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), which was then in the process of transforming itself into a radical free-market think-tank of the […]

    Crying Freedom: On Chris Berg, Andrew Bolt and Paul Ritchie
  • 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 that ‘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 […]

    Future Perfect: Beyond the Delusional Present
  • 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
  • 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.
 

OTHER RECENT POSTS

Mooting an Elephant

Mooting an Elephant

When economist Branko Milanović first published his now-famous chart showing changes in global income distribution between 1988 and 2008 he furnished the world with a neat explanation for the various anti-establishment types now rocking the boat of Western politics: sandwiched between the Asian middle class and an increasingly bloated 1% – the winners from twenty years of ‘high’ globalisation – […]

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From the archive: Katter talks through his hat about same-sex marriage

From the archive: Katter talks through his hat about same-sex marriage

This article was first published in the Sydney Morning Herald on August 23, 2011. * Of all the stupid and spiteful things said at last week’s rally against same-sex marriage, one of the dumbest, and indeed most clarifying, fell from the lips of Bob Katter. Quoting from Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock – ‘Belinda smiled, and all the […]

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Double Disillusion

Double Disillusion

First there was Trump, then there was Brexit, then there was the Australian Senate. Not all developments of equal moment, though underlying each of them, we are invited to believe, is a common foundation: disenchantment with the political class. Lashed by the winds of globalisation and regarding our dwindling pay packets with alarm, we are turning our backs on the […]

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Cholera vs. Plague: The Lesser Evil Calculus

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

BEARDED MAN: Could you be quiet, please? What was that? WISEGUY: I don’t know; I was too busy talking to Big-nose. SPECTATOR: I think it was “Blessed are the cheesemakers”. BEARDED MAN’S WIFE: What’s so special about the cheesemakers? BEARDED MAN: Well obviously it’s not meant to be taken literally; it refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.                                                 –– […]

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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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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.

Just when you thought it might finally be over – the demented accusations, the non-apology apologies, the corporate lemon-sucking/opportunistic advertising – two very different interventions served (briefly) to resuscitate the latest Eddie-centred shitstorm … One came courtesy of The Footy Show’s Sam Newman. Looking, as he invariably does, like a man who’s been injected with Botox at precisely the moment […]

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Analysis through the looking glass

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 […]

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