Labor Essays 1982: Socialist principles and parliamentary government published on behalf of the Australian Labor Party
Drummond Publishing Co,199p, $8.95 pb
Times are changing within the Labor party. As L.F. Crisp points out in his essay on the branches, the new membership is often educated middle class and keen to discuss the International Situation where once the thing was to have a few beers and raffle a chook. Even Bill Hayden, despite his cop background, reflects some of the new flavour of the party with his too often carping manner, redolent of the classroom pedant. That Labor Essays – ‘designed to stimulate creative thought within and without the party’ – should have begun to appear in 1980 seems not unrelated to the growing desire within the party for intellectual as well as emotional satisfaction.
In Labor Essays 1982, a mixture of academics and politicians address themselves to the problems of bringing change to a deeply conservative society. The enormous discrepancy between the rationalistic and egalitarian values of the writers and the realities of Australia make for a reading experience which is both irritating and interesting.