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Meg Tasker

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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I first encountered Francis Adams when various sharp or mordant observations from his The Australians kept cropping up in my reading about Henry Lawson and his times. For one thing, Adams’s widow, Edith (though there is apparently doubt about their marital status), invited Lawson and his wife, Bertha, to stay with her in the village of Harpenden while they looked for accommodation. Lawson duly rented ‘Spring Villa’ in Cowper Road, Harpenden, and thus began his disastrous English sojourn.

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