The questions Simon Tormey poses in The End of Representative Politics are crucial, and we need more political scientists willing to grapple with them. His is a well-informed, well written discussion of the apparent crisis of ‘traditional’ politics, and it deserves readers beyond the academy.
Tormey’s basic argument is that the forms of repres ... More
Operating in the shadows, security agencies usually have indifferent reputations. Their very nature prevents them from fully explaining themselves. At least some of their activities, if exposed to full scrutiny, would not enhance their reputations. There is a need for security agencies, yet the nature and scope of their role, powers, and responsibilities are contest ... More
Peter Mares reviews 'I'm Not Racist But ... 40 Years of the Racial Discrimination Act' by Tim Soutphommasane
Does a law change the way people behave and think? Can it accelerate a shift in cultural norms? These are some of the questions that emerge from this reflection on Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act (1975).
Tim Soutphommasane is hardly a disinterested commentator, since he owes his current job as Racial Discrimination Commissioner to the very a ... More
I have never met an Aussie I didn’t like.’ The half-compliment was the best President Richard Nixon could muster during a restrained exchange with Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in the Oval Office in July 1973. After the turbulent build-up to this meeting, rivetingly conveyed in James Curran’s history Unholy Fury: Whitlam and Nixon at War, one almost expe ... More
Julian Meyrick, Richard Maltby and Robert Phiddian on culture and cartooning in the age of Je Suis Charlie Hebdo
Eminent psychologist Steven Pinker once described art as ‘cheesecake for the mind’. Many people think of culture as a luxury good, high up – and therefore low down – on Mazslow’s hierarchy of needs in comparison with basic physical requirements. Most of the time they are right. When they aren’t, the necessity for a detailed understanding of cultural proc ... More
The unusual case of David Hicks is one of the most spectacular and politically supercharged miscarriages of justice in Australian history. Like the infamous Boer War case of Breaker Morant, Hicks was politically scapegoated and grossly denied a fair trial. Unlike Morant – a war criminal who murdered prisoners of war – even Hicks’s accuser, the United States, n ... More
Paul Keating has an enduring allure. He has been out of politics since 1996, yet in the past year or so we have seen the ABC screen an unprecedented series of four one-hour interviews with him by an unusually respectful Kerry O’Brien; a book of his sayings still sells well, his speeches and pronouncements receive wide publicity, and now historian David Day has giv ... More
Russell Brand made headlines when he revealed in an animated interview with Jeremy Paxman that he had never voted. Fresh from guest-editing an issue of New Statesman, Brand had issued a call to overthrow the system responsible for the income disparities and environmental degradation in the world ... More
As Andrew Scott points out, Australians have a limited and very clichéd knowledge of the Nordic countries. Recently, we have come to appreciate Scandinavia for its bleak police dramas, of which The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is probably the best known. For the right, Scandinavia has long represented socialist excess, which merges with vague notions of unlim ... More
John Howard has long been concerned with countering what he regards as the domination of Australian historical writing by the left. His project was initiated before he gained the prime ministership, most notably in his Menzies Lecture of 1996, in which he claimed that most of the distinctiveness and achievements of Australian politics were grounded in the liberal tr ... More