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Barry Smith

Bauman’s point of departure

Dear Editor,

Boris Frankel bursts in through open doors. He gives Zygmunt Bauman and me stick for speaking our truths (ABR, October 2001). Viewed in its own terms, what remains of the Left in Australia is in a bad way because it has failed (1) to clarify its ethics, norms and values and (2) to develop alternative visions and policies upon them; because (3) there is no popular bearer or social movement available to carry these invisible ends; and (4) because there is no evidence of popular support for a new society, present unhappiness and misery notwithstanding. If this is not modern, what is it? (If the Soviet and Nazi experiences were not modern, what were they?)

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The visit of H.G. Wells to Australia in 1938–39 provides a spectacle of provocation under difficulties. The provocations were mostly Wells’s; the difficulties he shared with his hosts. The outcome was disappointment all round.

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