Category: Society

The Empathy Trap: Progressives and the Perils of Compassion

The Empathy Trap: Progressives and the Perils of Compassion

It’s the first week of winter here in Australia. Time to move the herbs to a sunnier spot; to fetch the heater up from the shed; to throw an extra blanket on the bed … And, of course, to dig out the jackets and jumpers from the walk-in robe, and stow the colourful summer gear: the sarongs, the short-sleeved shirts, […]

Read more ›
Tweaking Capitalism: On Rutger Bregman’s Utopia for Realists

Tweaking Capitalism: On Rutger Bregman’s Utopia for Realists

Most writers on utopia tend to take a ‘two cheers’ approach to the subject. Utopias are all well in theory, it is said, but attempts to put them into practice are bound to end in disaster. The political experiments of the twentieth century tell us all we need to know: utopias should be regarded, not as serious political interventions, but […]

Read more ›
Political Correctness Gone Sad: On Trigger Warnings and the Appropriation of Trauma

Political Correctness Gone Sad: On Trigger Warnings and the Appropriation of Trauma

Good news for US exports this month. Australia, my adoptive country, has also adopted the trigger warning. Taking its lead from US campuses, Melbourne’s Monash University has obliged its academic staff to review their course materials with the aim of identifying content that may be “emotionally confronting” for students, and is set to attach fifteen advisory statements to subjects dealing […]

Read more ›
Wolf-Whistle Politics and the Conservative ‘Case’ Against 18c

Wolf-Whistle Politics and the Conservative ‘Case’ Against 18c

If, like me, you’ve been following those who’ve been following the latest thrilling instalment of the free speech wars in the past few weeks you’ll have noticed a certain consensus forming among the Canberra commentariat. Applying its fingers to the nation’s pulse and studying the transcripts of her many summer barbecues (the barbecue being to public sentiment what the Olympic-size […]

Read more ›
Generation Snowflake: On Claire Fox’s I Find That Offensive

Generation Snowflake: On Claire Fox’s I Find That Offensive

A question for ideology wonks: what do the following books have in common, apart from the fact that they’re all related to the issue of freedom of speech and expression? On Tolerance: A Defence of Moral Independence, by Frank Furedi; Trigger Warning: Is the Fear of Being Offensive Killing Free Speech?, by Mick Hume; A Duty to Offend: Selected Essays, […]

Read more ›
Show Us the Money: The (Radical) Case for UBI

Show Us the Money: The (Radical) Case for UBI

Ah, Finland! Land of saunas and heavy metal bands. Of unpronounceable nouns and the freedom to roam. Of Santa Clause and archipelagos. Of clean air, clean skin, and clean criminal records … And, now, of the world’s latest experiment in Universal Basic Income, which a whole array of public figures, from Elon Musk to Yanis Varoufakis, agrees is A Bloody […]

Read more ›
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 […]

Read more ›
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 […]

Read more ›
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 […]

Read more ›
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 […]

Read more ›