Australian politics, society & culture


'We Are One': Barack Obama delivering his pre-inaugural speech, Lincoln Memorial, 18 January 2009. Image: USAF
Learning from America
By Waleed Aly
Illustration by Jeff Fisher.
Built to Fail
By Satyajit Das
Recent Books about the Future
By Bill Bowtell
Chris Patten, Jacques Attali and George Friedman are past masters of the politics of prediction. They are wily, skilful and powerful servants and shapers of state and international policy. They have stood at the very apex of power in their respective countries - Britain, France and the United States - and have
The Voyage of Globalisation’s Forefather
By Simon Leys
First, though Magellan was indeed Portuguese, he sailed for Spain - personally commissioned by Charles V. His foreign origin provoked suspicion and resentment among his Castilian officers; some of them detested him, and their hostility was to climax in a mutiny that nearly brought the entire expedition to a premature
By Alexandra Coghlan
The Buddhist monk aflame in Saigon of 1963; the mushroom cloud of the Nagasaki atom bomb; September 11's Falling Man: the familiar visual touchstones of the conflicts of our age. Yet before the era of reportage and the impact photo, before the concept of - let alone the term - globalisation, one man sought to use
The Australian Labor Party & the American Democrats
By Michael Gawenda
When I arrived in Washington in November 2004, George W Bush had just been re-elected. The Republicans had held on to their majority in the Senate, and had actually picked up seats in the House of Representatives. If there was hubris in Canberra after the Coalition's election win, it was nothing compared to the hubris
Why we're still more English than American
By Gideon Haigh
It was a big story for a while, although it was more an unexpectedly extreme version of an acknowledged phenomenon than something unprecedented. Great teams visit Australia full of glorious personalities to play compelling cricket, but nothing sells like a tour by our oldest opponents. The West Indies paid a famous
Writing ‘Ordinary People’s Politics’
By Judith Brett
"I can't stress enough how important it is for you to just be an ordinary person. You know, there aren't enough ordinary persons around. There are real high-flyers and jetsetters and all those sorts of things. There's a place for them. But I just think there are too many of them. There aren't
By Robert Manne
The meaning of John Howard’s ten years as Prime Minister of Australia – how Australia has been changed, how the era will eventually be seen – can most easily be grasped if it is accepted that the period of his rule can be divided into two almost equal halves.   The first half of Howard’
Hip politics at the Sydney Museum of Contempory Art
By Justin Clemens
Recent laboratory work on locusts has shown that they can be turned from their harmless “solidarious” phase to a predatory “gregarious” one simply by tickling their hind legs with a paintbrush. Something similar happens with invitations to big art shows. As soon as those little slips arrive in the mail, the art world
The last word on Mark Latham, the man everyone is hearing but no one is listening to
By Robert Manne
Latham began to write his diary as a backbencher in 1994. His notes became interesting after he was given the shadow education portfolio by Paul Keating’s successor, Kim Beazley, following Labor’s landslide defeat of March 1996. Latham was at that time one of the party’s only thinkers. At the centre of his political
'The Grave at Thu Le' by Catherine Cole
By Drusilla Modjeska
Considering the significance of Vietnam in Australia’s post-colonial sense of itself, it is curious that it hasn’t made its way to prominence in our literary culture. There is writing by Vietnamese Australians, though it’s little known beyond their community, and Vietnam appears in the work of Australian poets who
BookScan and the death of the Australian novelist
By Malcolm Knox
Back when I was careless about what I wished for, someone asked a fanciful question, redolent of hope and innocence, about my up-coming first novel. “If you could choose, would you take critical approval or good sales?” If I could choose! That “if” was the first sign of callowness, or hubris, followed quickly by the
Still comfortable but relaxed no more in John Howard's Australia
By John Birmingham
The feeling that it was a good town to leave was only confirmed when I returned a decade later to cover the freak show that the rest of the country knew as Pauline Hanson and One Nation. I can’t recall which magazine sent me up there, but I remember only too well picking up a copy of the local newspaper, The