Not long into the Obama era, the American comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert hosted a high-profile ‘Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear’ in Washington, DC. In front of an enormous crowd of well-intentioned liberals, Stewart made a case for a return to the sensible centre. ‘We live in hard times, not end times,’ he declared. ‘The press is our immune system. If we overreact to everything we actually get sicker.’

The Australian writer–activist Guy Rundle, who was in the crowd that day, did not see things so simply. Modern politics was indeed a shouting match, he reported on the news website Crikey, but political dilemmas this complex would never be solved by ‘asking everyone to play nice’. Not all responses to problems were even equally valid, and some, like those floated regularly on Fox News, were ‘pernicious in their error’. Was it possible that this model of liberal progressivism – one that made rational appeals to a mass of sensible citizens in a universal political language – had reached a dead end?

This short essay does not appear in the new collection of Rundle’s writing, Practice: Journalism, essays and criticism, but its theme – the tension between the breakdown of political communication and the urgent need for progressive action – appears throughout. In pieces for Crikey, the socialist magazine Arena, and elsewhere, Rundle pulls the rug out from under our politics, insisting that we’re plunging headlong into economic, social, and ecological disaster, and that there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do about it.

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    Not long into the Obama era, the American comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert hosted a high-profile ‘Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear’ in Washington, DC. In front of an enormous crowd of well-intentioned liberals, Stewart made a case for a return to the sensible centre. ‘We live in hard times, not end times,’ he declared ...

  • Book Title Practice: Journalism, essays and criticism
  • Book Author Guy Rundle
  • Author Type Author
  • Biblio Black Inc., $32.99 pb, 373 pp, 9781760641313
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During the past few European summers, several of the world’s biggest soccer clubs have deigned to visit Australian shores for branding exercises more commonly referred to as ‘friendlies’. These dull, meaningless matches are organised almost solely to line the pockets of the visiting clubs, yet they have been immensely popular. Australia’s local soccer competition, the A-League, is modelled on this slick, corporate mutation of modern sport. For the last twelve years, strategically located clubs have played in rented stadiums in front of paying customers. Soccer’s governing élites carefully control the sport’s ‘brand’ and its ‘metrics’. This is Australian soccer’s brave new world. Before the revolution, we are told, there was nothing.

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  • Custom Article Title Ryan Cropp reviews 'The Death and Life of Australian Soccer' by Joe Gorman
  • Contents Category Sport
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    During the past few European summers, several of the world’s biggest soccer clubs have deigned to visit Australian shores for branding exercises more commonly referred to as ‘friendlies’. These dull, meaningless matches are organised almost solely to line the pockets of the visiting clubs, yet they have been immensely popular. Australia’s local soccer ...

  • Book Title The Death and Life of Australian Soccer
  • Book Author Joe Gorman
  • Author Type Author
  • Biblio University of Queensland Press, $32.95 pb, 424 pp, 9780702259685

The American novelist Richard Yates once remarked to an interviewer that he had the misfortune of having written his best book first. He might have found an ally in Donald Horne, whose first book, The Lucky Country, is perhaps the most widely read piece of social criticism ever written by an Australian. Published in 1964, its famous and often misinterpreted title entered the Australian lexicon and outlived its creator. Its central argument – that Australia’s prosperity was the result of luck rather than good leadership – is a curse that continues to plague the nation’s unimaginative political class. The book’s success haunted the public career and legacy of its author. Though he was, among other things, a journalist, editor, social critic, novelist, academic, polemicist, and self-styled ‘public waffler’, in public memory, he remains Donald Horne, author of The Lucky Country.

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  • Custom Article Title Ryan Cropp reviews 'Donald Horne: Selected writings' edited by Nick Horne
  • Contents Category Essays
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    The American novelist Richard Yates once remarked to an interviewer that he had the misfortune of having written his best book first. He might have found an ally in Donald Horne, whose first book ...

  • Book Title Donald Horne
  • Book Author Nick Horne
  • Book Subtitle Selected writings
  • Author Type Editor
  • Biblio La Trobe University Press, $32.99 pb, 336 pp, 9781863959353