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This book is about the early stages of the establishment and evolution of native local government councils in Papua New Guinea. The author, David Fenbury, was in charge of the first phase of this undertaking and the objective of his book was to record the early sequence of events. He begins with an overview of the local government system in 1975 in a state of decay even while it was being extended to the few remaining areas that it had not reached by the time of independence.

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Marxists have always been concerned about the relationships of intellectuals to the rest of society, and particularly to change in society. The intellectual, being able to stand aside from immediate social pressures, is able to see the truth of what is happening, and so to correct the false consciousness of those who are involved in the everyday business of production.

Marx and Engels themselves provide the perfect examples of these roles – Engels earned the income, in his role as successful capitalist, while Marx did the thinking. Yet there is a contradiction. The conclusion to which Marx's thinking led him was that ideas themselves are determined by the material forces of production. If this is so, then the words of the intellectual who explains this process are not only irrelevant. but probably untrue, as the consciousness which has generated his ideas has not itself been a part of the productive process.

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This is a very interesting social document. A Dozen Dopey Yarns is not easily pigeonholed – it consists of the ‘writings’ of the self-proclaimed publicist of the Australian Marijuana Party, J.J. McRoach, part comedian, part media aspirant, part evangelist for pot. As such, the reader can have a good laugh, and sociologists can read a gonzo journalist’s view of the drug culture. ... (read more)

Don Chipp by Tim Hewat and David Wilson

September 1978, no. 4

It was inevitable that the phenomenon of Don Chipp’s Democrats would spawn an industry of quickie books; so far we have had two. The Third Man (which was written by Chipp himself in collaboration with the Melbourne journalist John Larkin) and now this one: Don Chipp, written by two journalists from the Melbourne office of The Australian, Tim Hewat and David Wilson. Both books are more or less bad, revolving as they do around a sort of log-cabin-to-White-House theme which is manifestly unsuited to any discussion of Australian politics. But at least Chipp and Larkin have both met the man about whom they are writing. There is no evidence that Hewat or Wilson has; and in fact their brief and boring 113 pages, padded out with an already out-of-date policy statement and a totally unnecessary index adds nothing to the sum of human knowledge, either by way of new facts or sensible analysis.

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‘The masses are the real heroes, while we ourselves are often childish and ignorant, and without this understanding it is impossible to acquire even the most rudimentary knowledge’(Mao Tse-tung, 1941) Except for the word ‘often’, which Simon Leys would wish to be replaced by ‘always’, this statement is one with which he would agree, because by ‘we ourselves’ Mao means the Chinese Communist Party. In this book, which deals with China in the early 1970s, Leys appears preoccupied with four major concerns: (1) He is a deep lover of the Chinese people (2) He hates intensely everything connected with ‘the authorities’. In his view, everything good about China is due to the people, everything bad to their government.

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Central to this collection of essays by Ted Wheelwright is the argument that orthodox economics is a positive hindrance to any real understanding of the problems of the last quarter of the twentieth century. A rebirth of the political economy is necessary to remove the stench (from the corpse of orthodox economics) that is polluting the social sciences.

Now, it is certainly true that orthodox economics (that is the economics taught in ninety-nine per cent of our Universities, practised by Treasuries around Australia and spiritual descendant of Adam Smith, sometimes modified by Keynes) casts little light on some of the most acute problems of our era – the coex­istence of unemployment and inflation, the (Mal) distribution of income between classes, the persistence of poverty, the power of the multi-nationals, etc.

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Don Whitington became a journalist seven years before I was born, and moved to Canberra for the first time shortly before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He died last year, after a tragically bungled series of surgical operations, before he was able to complete his autobiography, Strive to be Fair.

The title is taken from a remark one of the many editors for whom he worked made: ‘There is no such thing as a good objective journalist. If you are not sensitive enough to feel for your subject, to have a point of view, to suffer joy or agony or sympathy about a story you are covering, you will never be a good journalist. Don’t strive to be objective. Strive to be fair.’

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