Never far from one’s mind these days, the events of September 11, 2001, and their direct aftermath in Afghanistan and elsewhere, had to be prominent in this month’s issue of ABR, such is their complex resonance and ubiquitous iconography. To complement Morag Fraser’s essay in this issue on the consequences of ‘September 11’ for civic ...
Primo Levi, in two interviews given almost twenty years ago*, set a standard of critical sympathy that is not only exemplary, but peculiarly apt to the fraught debate about the post-September 11 world and the USA’s place and reputation within it.
Barely a decade ago, Australia was in the middle of much excitement about the Asian Century. Today, those heady days seem a distant memory. A growing number of pundits see the north as troubled by dangerous flashpoints and great power rivalries. On top of that is an America apparently in strategic retreat from the region ...... (read more)
In retrospect, the Morrison government’s win in May 2019 is not surprising. After the shift to the right in a number of liberal democracies since the election of Donald Trump, why did we assume that Australia would be immune? The assumption that Labor was certain to win resembled the attitude of most commentators towards Hillary Clinton ...... (read more)
Rémy Davison reviews 'Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe: From the Ancien Régime to the present day' by Sheri Berman
Democracy won the Cold War. As East Germans breached the Berlin Wall in November 1989 to screams of joy, a young KGB officer watched the concrete crash to the ground. Systematically, he destroyed sensitive Soviet diplomatic papers in the East Berlin embassy. Ten years later, that KGB officer, Vladimir Putin ...... (read more)
Russell Blackford reviews 'A Thousand Small Sanities: The moral adventure of liberalism' by Adam Gopnik
In an era of dogmatism, polarisation, and intolerance, visible on both the right and left wings of politics, liberalism needs more love. Part of its image problem is a widespread perplexity about what values and principles it really stands for. In different times and places, liberalism has meant many different, even contradictory, things ...... (read more)
Morag Fraser reviews 'In Denial: The Stolen Generations and the Right (Quarterly Essay 1)' by Robert Manne
Much current debate on crucial issues facing Australia – the economy, race relations, foreign affairs, for example – is conducted in the opinion pages of metropolitan daily newspapers. And ‘opinion’ pages they now are – with a vengeance. It is a symptom of the times that opinion-page editors have less and less recourse to disinterested authorities ...... (read more)
Paul Giles reviews Permanent Revolution: The reformation and the illiberal roots of liberalism by James Simpson
The argument of James Simpson’s Permanent Revolution is that the emergence of liberalism as a cultural and political category in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was shaped by the ‘radically illiberal history of ...... (read more)
Paul Williams reviews Plots And Prayers: Malcolm Turnbull’s demise and Scott Morrison’s ascension by Niki Savva
It’s a challenge to navigate the maze of books published after an election as winners and losers pore over the entrails of victory and defeat. It’s even more challenging when that election delivers a result almost nobody expected. Who’s telling the truth? Who’s lying to protect their legacy?... (read more)
Neal Blewett reviews 'Losing It' by Annabel Crabb, 'Loner: Inside a Labor tragedy' by Bernard Lagan, and 'The Latham Diaries' by Mark Latham
Although you might not guess it from media comment, The Latham Diaries (MUP, $39.95 hb, 429 pp, 0522852157) is the most important book yet published on Labor’s wilderness years. It provides a pungent characterisation of Labor’s post-1996 history; conveys a profound understanding of the challenges facing a social democratic party in contemporary Australia ...... (read more)