From Menzies to Gillard, from the Cold War to Pacific solutions, the history of Overland magazine offers a leftist version of post-World War II Australian political, cultural and literary life. This issue of Overland is its two hundredth. As Jeff Sparrow, the current Editor, points out, survival is an achievement: ‘The “little magazine” is a peculiar animal. The life cycle of the species generally follows a predictable pattern: birth (usually marked by the ritual issuing of manifestos) and rapid growth, followed by financial crisis, paralysis and death, a cycle that typically unfolds within the span of six months or so.’ Sparrow, one of Australia’s more penetrating commentators, might have granted himself more space to discuss the future of Overland, and, more broadly, to reflect on challenges facing activists who challenge the assumption that capitalism can save – is saving – the world.
Perth, like Sydney, is a city of water, but the water on display is safely enclosed in the reaches of the Swan. Here ferries and commuting speedboats plough their straight lines among flocks of red or blue sailed dinghies sailing and tacking in sudden turns like flocks of tropical fish. In Fremantle, sailors’ missions and clubs straggle around the side streets, and the mall on a Saturday afternoon is left to drunks and kids on BMX bikes. In the Book Market casual browsers can look through the latest publications from Australia and abroad, or climb upstairs to find a collection of raw socialist writings dedicated to Pat Troy, ‘one of Australia’s finest working class fighters’.