A few months after the 2010 federal election, Geoff Gallop delivered the annual Hawke Lecture at the University of South Australia. In an address focused upon political engagement, he canvassed some possible reforms to the Australian political system. Among a number of other proposals ...
I will always remember the first time I heard Kim Beazley Sr speak. It was at Kingswood College at the University of Western Australia, a year or two before the election of the Whitlam government. He spoke on the question of Aboriginal land rights, culture and spirituality. It was a spellbinding address which put the sword to the prevailing doctrine of assimilation. It wasn’t just the content of the speech which captured the interest of the student audience but the passion with which it was delivered. Like many there, my own thinking on the subject changed forever.
Any summary of Clive Hamilton’s contributions to public debate thus far would focus on two themes: his savage criticism of modern society and its ‘fetish for growth’; and his rejection of contemporary politics, in particular the theory and practice of social democracy. He sees the implicit faith in growth and markets, and the avoidance of a realistic analysis of power, combining to ensure that modern politics is ineffective in tackling the causes and consequences of the contemporary epidemic of unhappiness.
The subject of fear and politics has often captured the attention of the political left. Indeed, I am immediately reminded of two wonderful books: In Place of Fear (1952), by the British Labour politician Nye Bevan; and The Fear of Freedom (1941), by the post-Freudian and socialist Erich Fromm. Whilst Fromm set out to understand the roots of fear in the human condition, Bevan sought practical solutions to the most obvious manifestations of fear in a world that had been shaken to its foundations by economic depression, fascism and war. Both were democratic socialists who believed that the insecurities which led to fear could be tackled through political, social and economic change.
For a brief moment following the collapse of communism, it appeared that such a solution might be within our grasp. Some even talked of ‘the end of history’. How wrong they were, as we witness the rebirth of insecurity associated with global warming, international terrorism and nuclear proliferation.