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Leonie Sandercock

Room for Manoeuvre: Writings on history, politics, ideas and play edited by Leonie Sandercock and Stephen Murray-Smith

August 1982, no. 43

A joke told annually and publicly for fourteen years closes this collection of Ian Turner’s work. From 1965 to 1978, Turner delivered the Ron Barassi Memorial Lecture and so created the site of an imagined overlap between the more formal rituals of the intellectual culture and the rowdy world of spectatordom, the VFL, the most visible and familiar self-presentation of the popular. He fabricated this site for speaking ‘our’ culture by romping around it in careful pastiche.

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Central to this collection of essays by Ted Wheelwright is the argument that orthodox economics is a positive hindrance to any real understanding of the problems of the last quarter of the twentieth century. A rebirth of the political economy is necessary to remove the stench (from the corpse of orthodox economics) that is polluting the social sciences.

Now, it is certainly true that orthodox economics (that is the economics taught in ninety-nine per cent of our Universities, practised by Treasuries around Australia and spiritual descendant of Adam Smith, sometimes modified by Keynes) casts little light on some of the most acute problems of our era – the coex­istence of unemployment and inflation, the (Mal) distribution of income between classes, the persistence of poverty, the power of the multi-nationals, etc.

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